My DH is traveling to Mannheim for work (instead of zoom! yay!) and I'm joining him; we arrive DUS Nov 22 (via SFO --> LHR) and depart on Dec 9 out of Munich at 8 am. This is our first trip anywhere since covid began.
The first half of our trip is set (2 nts Köln + 5 nts Hamm + Münster visiting friends, via train) but we need help with the second half: 8 days / 8 nights starting in Mannheim and ending in Munich. We currently have 2 nights in Mannheim: Nov 29 - Dec 1. Not sure if Heidelberg is best as a day trip from Mannheim or a stop on our way further along ... the castle overlooking town & river look spectacular.
With just a quick read of the forums I'm overwhelmed: Heidelberg, Bad Wimpfen, Würzberg, Regensberg, Bamberg are all intriguing (along with the auto museums in Stuttgart) & Ludwigsberg ... My brain is exploding!
Options seem to be:
Mannheim --> Würzburg --> Nuremberg (too big? yet maybe not) --> Regensburg --> Munich ?
Mannheim -->Heidelberg --> Stuttgart --> Ludwigsburg --> Augsburg --> Munich ?
Mannheim --> further south to the German Alps --> Munich ?
Not sure about train routes, which places to use as base & for how long + day trips. As I said, I'm overwhelmed.
If you have strong preferences, tell me why one is better than the others. My head is spinning. We'd love to see smaller towns / cities that weren't destroyed in WWII (Münster is lovely, but much had to be rebuilt), but also want to see iconic Bavaria.
FYI: We briefly visited the Sauerland (where my great grandparents were from), Cologne, Münster, Soest & Detmold in July 2018 & Dec 2019 (loved the half timbered houses & countryside), and spent 24 hours on layover in Munich in 2010. We love architecture, history & good food. In Dec 2019 we visited Vienna, Amsterdam, Münster & Cologne and had a fabulous time, but I’m a bit claustrophobic; I preferred the smaller Christmas markets with room to move around. Loved Vienna's small markets & wide pedestrian-only Graben w/ beautiful lights. Münster & Essen had beautiful decorations too + fabulous food: grünkohl (with + w/out wurst), käsespätzle & flammkuchen – all so good. The Christmas markets in Cologne were my least favorite – too crowded & claustrophobic, but the cathedral was impressive. This time, we’ll use Cologne to visit Aachen as a day trip & get over jet lag.
We’d love any & all advice re train routes, favorite places & for how long, where to stay, what to eat etc.
Do any markets outside NRW have grünkohl? If not, what regional specialties should we look for?
I appreciate any insight you can offer.