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Itinerary help needed

I am overwhelmed to say the least lol. We are hoping to do a self guided Germany trip in late July, early August 2023 for about 14 days.
We want to see Cologne (and do a day rhine cruise), Neuschwanstein Castle, Nuremberg, Munich, some WWII sites and camps, black forest, bavaria,
We want to have a loose itinerary with must sees and maybe sees.
I know I"m all over the place here but we've never been to Germany, want to see the highlights but make it not crazy over the top busy. We did a similar trip a few years ago to France and it went well but I had been to France before and already knew the lay of the land a bit...Germany is a new game for me.
Which airport do we fly into? into 1 and out another? Car rentals? Not opposed to only having a car for part of the trip (example in France we had a car in Normandy but not Paris).
WOuld love to base out of a location for a few days at a time vs. changing hotels every night.
Any advice and suggestions appreciated.
Coming from Ontario, Canada - at the moment flight prices are crazy, hoping to figure out the best pricing in that regard as well.

Posted by
8201 posts

I assume you're flying from Toronto? You can catch a flight on Aer Lingus to Dublin. Then take a connecting flight to Dusseldorf. On your return trip, fly from Munich to Dublin and catch a flight back to Toronto. They should be fairly priced. That is if the flight times line up.

Dusseldorf is about 30 miles from Cologne. The cathedral there is absolutely incredible. We've seen it 3x. In Cologne, you could either catch at train going up the Rhine River or ride a boat upriver. Or you could rent a car in Cologne. Bacharach is a very popular town on the west bank to spend the night.

You could make your trip going toward Munich--like we've done many times. I like to make a circle around Munich dropping into the Austrian Alps and Tirol. I'd skip the Black Forest as it's out of your way and not as scenic as The Alps & Southern Bavaria. I suggest not going to Nuremburg as it's pretty far up north. You can get plenty of WWII around Munich area.
Munich is a very major city and very important to visit.

Posted by
1676 posts

We did a half-day Rhine Cruise out of Mainz, which is easily accessible by train from Frankfurt. So, if you fly in or out of Frankfurt airport, that could work. We stayed a couple of nights in Mainz.

My favourite sight in Munich was Nymphenburg. Not only is the main room in the main castle absolutely breathtaking, but scattered about the grounds are four other "mini palaces"--you know, in case one is out strolling and has a palace emergency. ;) They are all different from one another.

The Residenz was another place that I thought was very worthwhile visiting. Also, many tourists like to see the Glockenspiel. The Englisher Garden is nice, too.

We flew home to Canada out of Munich airport.

Posted by
6735 posts

"WOuld love to base out of a location for a few days at a time vs. changing hotels every night.
Any advice and suggestions appreciated."

I think you have the right idea about staying in base towns for several days. That will allow for the flexibility you are looking for, and you won't have to plan your trip minute by minute or even day by day.

I don't necessarily think it's a good choice to adopt the specific sights you have in mind. Not that they are bad choices individually, but collectively your list reflects Rick's emphases in a big way, and IMHO, Rick tends to emphasize things that reinforce well-established North American stereotypes about Germany and Germans in order to spur interest and hook readers and clients. His advice focuses a lot on the tid-bits of history that the average North American already knows about Germany... Nazis, WW II, concentration camps... The sights and destinations he promotes often make "entertainment connections" that are familiar to Americans (N'stein becomes a goal because Walt Disney modeled Sleeping Beauty's castle after it... reading Hansel and Gretel means you should visit the deep, dark Black Forest - which it is not, btw.)

The Rhine Cruise takes 1.5 - 2.5 hours; Bingen > St. Goar or Boppard is the most recommended stretch of river. This is not particularly close to Cologne - it's often wise to stay in the cruise zone for a few days since there's a lot to see and do there - if those things interest you - besides the river cruise.

There are many interesting places and regions in Germany in the 15 other states outside of the one you have zeroed in on most (Bavaria.) What sorts of activities do you enjoy most? What sorts of museums interest you? Some further reading is probably wise before you begin booking places. The rest of Germany has some great hiking and biking spots, some great driving routes, some terrific, well-preserved old-world towns, some great wine regions, as well as less tourist traffic.

Below are just a few places/routes/sights for a detour off the tour bus route...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Fairy_Tale_Route

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Wine_Route#:~:text=The%20German%20Wine%20Route%20or%20Wine%20Road%20%28,of%20Rhineland-Palatinate%2C%20the%20route%20was%20established%20in%201935.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Timber-Frame_Road

https://www.schloesser-und-gaerten.de/en/monuments/palaces

https://en.visitmosel.de/cycling/mosel-cycle-path

https://en.harzinfo.de/things-to-see-do/hiking

http://www.loreley-info.com/eng/rhein-rhine/walking-hiking.php (w/ links to towns and sights)

Posted by
365 posts

My first question is where can I fly direct to? In your case I’m guessing frankfurt? That’s easy enough and central enough to make a good base. While “in one out another” can work- I’d rather always make a round trip with no connecting flights work personally.

From Frankfurt you could go right to Munich via train and spend 5 or so days, car to Black Forest area 4-5 days, then spend some time on the Rhine with visits to Cologne, Burg Eltz, etc for 3-4 days before flying home via Frankfurt.

Posted by
2460 posts

Fly into Frankfurt, train to town on Rhine ( Boppard is a good choice altho I always stay in Bacharach ). Day trip to Cologne, day to cruise between Bingen and Boppard. Another day to tour the Mosel or other places on the Rhine. Train to Nuremburg. day trip to Bamberg and/or other towns such as Coburg or Kronach. Day trip to Rothenburg ( stay late and take Night Watchman tour) . Train to Munich. Day trip to Neuschwanstein ( train, organized tour, or car rental to also visit Linderhof, Wies church ). Day trip or better still, a couple of days in Salzburg. Fly home from Munich

Posted by
2354 posts

I agree with Stephen. Skip Neuschwanstein. See Salzburg if at all possible. Much more charming than Munich. See if you can fly out of Salzburg. Return the rental car in Freilassing and take a taxi to Salzburg to avoid high fees for renting in one country and returning in another.

Posted by
374 posts

You can day trip to Nuremberg, Salzburg and Dachau concentration camp from Munich

Posted by
14580 posts

If you're staying at least 2 nights in Cologne and want to see a WW2 site, there is one nearby, a bit over one hour by train....Vossenack in the Hurtgen Forest (Hürtgenwald),

From Cologne central station, you change trains in Düren, the junction point for that area on the left bank of the Rhine. The big military cemeteries are there in Vossenack.. This was the battle preceding the Bulge and has been described as a meat grinder.

Posted by
1321 posts

Frankfurt, Köln, Nürnberg, München public transport. Rental from München and tour Bayern and Baden-Württemberg. Return the rental in Frankfurt. Time allowing a stop in Heidelberg. Parking in the cities could be challenging, dependent on where you stay.

Posted by
21 posts

I lost track to where you want to go but we were in Germany 4 years ago. Traveled by train to the 3 destinations in the country which was very easy to maneuver. We stopped at Rothenburg Ob De Tauber to visit the beautiful village for a few days. I loved the train ride overlooking beautiful small bavarian towns. We then traveled to the Neuschwanstein Castle and I thought it was beautiful . After taking the train, you hop on a bus which takes you to the site. The castle peaks out amongst the trees. Such a pretty site. we did not take a tour but walked around the area and up to the castle. I am glad I went although, yes it was alittle out the the way. we did not stay there but moved on to Salzburg. We flew into Frankfurt, traveled around many countries and flew out of Frankfurt. It is cheaper to travel in and out from the same city. Train travel was great. Oh yes we did take a day Rhine river ride which was nice when we first arrived in Germany.

Posted by
1676 posts

I can't agree that it's necessarily cheaper to fly round trip vs open jaw. It really depends on the cities involved. But even when it is cheaper, it may not be enough cheaper to be worth the time and money spent in backtracking. For instance, I just did two searches on Skyscanner for the same dates: one flying round trip from Toronto to Frankfurt and one flying into Frankfurt and out of Munich. In this case, there WAS a difference of $180. But then, one would have to factor in the cost of travelling from Munich back to Frankfurt--not $180, but it still makes the difference less than $180 Can. In addition, factor in the time involved. I just did a very brief search for travelling to Frankfurt from Munich by train. The cost varied from ~$20 Can (if one travels at midnight) to ~$80 Can. The trip takes over 3 hours. So, that would mean either adding on 3 hours to a very long travel day, or travelling to Frankfurt and spending the night before flying out, which would add to the cost.

To me, time and convenience are also worth money when I'm travelling. I avoid backtracking, if I can help it.

Posted by
374 posts

If you like cute little medieval towns, I recommend Rothenburg ob der Tauber I stayed 2 nights there and it was highlight of my German trip (alongside Berlin). They have a medieval wall around the town you can walk through. Berlin has soooo many WWII sites and the people are so friendly I highly recommend at least 3-4 nights there.

I started with what I loved about Germany because now I'm going the places I stayed that I did not like. So for Neuschwanstein, I stayed in Fussen for 3 nights. The castle is nice but Fussen itself was not my favorite the people were just not in a good mood, I don't know if it was the weather (I went in June and believe it or not it was rainy,cloudy and about 50 degrees for 2 weeks) or what but everyone kept not wanting me to pay with a credit card even to the point of them lying and saying their card machine was down, I had to insist on paying with card and would you believe it, their card reader always worked. That type of thing bothers me, I can respect if you have a sign up that says "Cash only for purchases under X amount" but don't lie to me.
I also stayed in Munich for about 5 nights for the day trips I will mention next, again, another town where I didn't really enjoy the vibe. Their famous beer hall was a nightmare, we couldn't get service and honestly I just wanted to leave the town after that. The cashiers everywhere here and Fussen were just very cold and maybe it is a cultural thing but I did not enjoy it. I day tripped to Nuremberg which was lovely, very charming. The site of the Nuremberg rallies is actually depressing like it is not kept up so weeds and trash were everywhere it just looked sad. Their documentation center was being remodeled so it was a waste of time super tiny a quick walk through, don't go unless it is fully reopened. I day tripped to Dachau, very very moving, sad but everyone should go to at least 1 concentration camp in their life. I was shocked at how big the camp was, I recommend the tour but as soon as you arrive get ticket bc it sells out.

Posted by
14580 posts

"...saying their cash machine was down" Yes, that sort of occurrence happened to me at least twice if not more in France in the late 1990s. The first time it happened I gave in, didn't argue, pointless, since I knew I was in a position of linguistic inferiority.

You never know whether the clerk or waiter is telling the truth, or merely doesn't know how to use the credit card apparatus because my card was the American type in contrast to those over there, or just plain lazy, not wanting to be bothered.

The second time was in Strasbourg, the waiter really didn't want to deal with my credit card, you could just tell. This time I had someone who spoke French, was quite comfortable in the language. She took issue with this waiter, so the dispute went back and forth,... finally, she demanded to talk to the guy's supervisor, who showed up and told him directly in French what the problem was.

With the supervisor the credit card was accepted. Why? Because the waiter simply did not know how to work that hand held card apparatus. So, he told us this fairy tale something was wrong with my card...not the case at all.

Posted by
272 posts

Having looked at the places you'd like to visit, and having been to all at one point or another, I think the itinerary Stephen put together looks very easy to do to accomplish everything you'd like to do. I do agree with him that you should definitely visit Rothenberg ob der Tauber, and take in the Night Watchmans tour. It really is wonderful.

Posted by
264 posts

Why not start with one of the itineraries from Rick's or any other travel books? Cross off what you don't want to do and add what you do want to do.

I am in the two city for flights club, unless you are doing a loop around the country. I acutally got a cheaper fare for this February going to Frankurt and coming out of Amsterdam, visiting Belgium and Netherlands along the way.

I will being in Koln for 3 nights and will be doing a trip report when I return in late February.