We're planning a trip this December to both Germany and France primarily to see Christmas markets. I'm posting this in the Germany forum because we'll be spending the majority of our time there. I'm just looking for some opinions on this potential trip, mostly to make sure I'm not missing something I don't know about or something like that.
We will have 11 -12 days on the ground. Because there are direct flights from Atlanta, we're planning on flying into Stuttgart on a Sunday. We never sleep well on the plane, and because a lot of things will be closed on Sunday, this gives us a full day to acclimate, nap and recover from that. I've seen a lot of mixed opinions on Stuttgart, but I'm confident that we'll enjoy it, especially using it as a hub for further exploration in the Baden-Wurttemburg region. We know the days will be short this time of year as we were in Dresden and Berlin during this same time period four years ago, and we're okay with that. We will not be renting a car and instead relying on trains for all of our city to city travels.
Day 1 (Sunday): Land in Stuttgart, get acclimated, purchase rail passes, etc. Possibly see the main Christmas market there that afternoon and evening
Day 2 (Monday): Explore Stuttgart: This could just be the city itself -- or getting into the Porsche and/or Mercedes museum if the weather is dreadful.
Day 3 (Tuesday): More of Stuttgart in the morning. This afternoon, we're planning on heading to the Christmas market in Esslingen
Day 4 (Wednesday): Train to Strasbourg -- We plan to use this as a base for the next four nights. We'll do sightseeing here before visiting the various market stuff in the afternoon/evening.
Day 5 (Thursday): Train to Colmar -- sightseeing here
Day 6 (Friday): Train to Colmar again -- we plan to use the Christmas market shuttles to visit three to four of the Alsace villages' markets.
Day 7 (Saturday): Strasbourg - finishing up anything we missed here?
Day 8: (Sunday): Back to Strasbourg: Possibly go up to Ludwigsburg for the Palace there.
Day 9: (Monday): Day trip Baden-Baden and back
Day 10: (Tueseday); Day trip to Tubingen and back
Day 11: (Wednesday): Day trip to Heidelberg and back
Day 12: Fly back to Atlanta from Stuttgart
I realize we'll be spending a fair amount of time on the train. But we're kind of train crazy and totally good with that. None of the distances are so outrageous that we feel like we're wasting too much time on these day trips.
I know nobody can truly answer this for us, but I'm worried that we're spending too much time in Strasbourg. I feel like I could possibly eliminate a day there and use that to get a day trip into Gegenbach or Schwabish Hall or even Ulm. I'm also aware that we're backtracking a bit to get to Baden Baden. I'm not convinced that's something we need to do, but the significant other actually added that as input, which is something I don't usually get from him. So I thought I'd include it.
Is there something else in the region that's not to be missed? We don't want to get down into Switzerland (doing that next Fall), go as far North as Frankfurt, and we've already done parts of Bavaria.
Finally, does anybody have any hotel recommendations in Stuttgart? We were planning on staying near the train station for obvious reasons, but given how efficient the commuter trains have been in other German cities, I'm confident we'd be fine staying elsewhere in the city too. I just don't know where else that might be.
Thanks for wading through my wall of text!