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Munich, Nürnberg (and Luzern)

Greetings! I will be traveling in Germany and Switzerland this summer, provided they open up for vaccinated Americans. I arrive in Munich on August 29 and depart Zurich on September 8. Right now I plan to stay three nights in Munich, then either one or two nights in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) before heading to Luzern (Lucerne) for one or two nights and then on to Lauterbrunnen.

My questions:
1) If I stick with spending three nights in Munich, I can spend two nights in EITHER Nürnberg or Luzern. Which would you recommend and why?
2) I'll likely get to my hotel in Munich about 2:30-3:00 pm my first day. I plan to explore Munich but not go to Ludwig's castles (seen enough castles). Given that, would you recommend I stick with my plan of spending three nights in Munich, or do you think two is enough?

Any insight is appreciated! I've been to Germany a couple times but not this far south nor to Switzerland. Thanks much.

Kim

Posted by
6823 posts

spending three nights in Munich, I can spend two nights in EITHER Nürnberg or Luzern. Which would you recommend and why?

Luzern because you are flying out of Zurich. It does not make sense time wise to go to Munich and then to Nurenburg which is in the opposite direction of Zurich airport. If you really want to go to Nurenburg you could squeeze in a daytrip from Munich. It is about an hour by train more or less.

I plan to explore Munich but not go to Ludwig's castles (seen enough castles). Given that, would you recommend I stick with my plan of spending three nights in Munich, or do you think two is enough?

I was not impressed by Munich and think it is over rated. The amount of nights depends on what you think you want to see there. Do you know what you really want to see there? Knowing what I know and have seen beauty wise in Luzern and the Lauterbrunnen valley area I would skip Munich all together if faced with the choice.

Posted by
5886 posts

If it were me, I'd skip Nürnberg and add those days to either Luzern or Lauterbrunnen.

Reason: I didn't think N-berg was that different enough from any other southern German city to merit a visit on your short schedule. Unless you're into the history. I'd much rather spend the time in the mountains.

Posted by
891 posts

How are you travelling, Kim? Car, train? I would probably opt to continue in a southern direction and omit Nuremberg unless it is a favorite goal. I like Munich and can spend days there, but it depends what your interests are. The main sights? Outdoor activities? Would you consider heading south instead and visit the Bavarian Alps, Innsbruck, etc. There are more places to visit than the castles.

I know heading south is easy via train. And from Innsbruck, the Arlberg Pass train route to Switzerland is supposed to be scenic. It is on my list, but I have travelled it yet.

Enjoy your planning.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for your insight, everyone! Sorry I didn't include in my original email that I will be traveling via train and that I already have three nights booked in Lauterbrunnen before heading to Zurich to stay the night before my flight the next morning.

I'm interested in Nürnberg for the Nazi/WWII history, including the documentation center and tunnels/cellars, as well as the Germanic National Museum. I saw all of them on Rick's show, and they seemed interesting. (No, I'm not a white nationalist LOL.) After hearing from you all, instead of staying two nights in Nürnberg I will probably spend one night and two days there to experience these things and also because I tend to be very slow in museums, then do two nights in Luzern. I initially thought of doing a day trip to Nürnberg from Munich but decided I might want more time in Munich, especially since I will be jetlagged on my first partial day there.

Thanks again!

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the guide rec!

I was planning to take a train or bus from Nürnberg to Luzern, and then after my time in Luzern, take a train or bus from there to Lauterbrunnen. But I see now how many trains are needed to go from Nürnberg to Luzern, so it would be better to go from Munich. Will do more research and figure out everything.

Kim

Posted by
25551 posts

The journey by train from Nürnberg to Luzern isn't particularly onerous, it just takes a while. Around 6 and a half hours with only a couple of changes.

For example, the 7:41 departure from Nürnberg is an ICE (the fastest German trains) with extremely comfortable seating even in second class. At Karlsruhe you have a convenient 18 minute connection onto another ICE heading to Chur in Switzerland (where the Bernina Express starts). You take that next to the Black Forest to Basel, which is at a three country border of France, Switzerland and Germany. An 8 minute connection (easier than it sounds, or add in a break here for lunch and take a following train) here puts you on the train Lugano on the Italian border. Luzern is only 2 stops on that train and you will arrive at 5 past 2 pm just in time to get your bearings and grab a late lunch (plenty to graze on even before you leave the station) or a boat ride on the lake.

From Munich you can do the trip in one connection, say the 8:55 to Zurich HB, and a 13 minute connection to the train to Luzern, getting in at 9 minutes to 2pm.

So the train from Nürnberg has you getting in an hour earlier and arriving 14 minutes later. To me that's pretty much a wash, and all down to what you want to do on the trip. There is one more change of train on the route from Nürnberg, that shouldn't be a problem.

Posted by
726 posts

I would not rush Nürnberg other than been there done that. Don't think you have enough time for Schweiz. I think you should either stay in Deutschland or Schweiz. Time of year matters too.

Posted by
2508 posts

I've debated on how to handle the above guide recommendation since it was posted. Since it's out there, I'll give you my experience, which was Tour Guide Kevin made me swear off American tour guides in Europe for an extended period of time. A friend and I spent a couple of days with him in December 2015. He definitely knew his stuff and delivered an efficient tour, but...

He showed up early at the hotel on Day 1 of touring and pressured us to start the tour early because he needed to pick up a van before the rental place closed for another tour he was doing the next day. On Day 2 (WW2 Combo Tour; we skipped a day between tours), his demeanor was that of bombastic American living in Europe. He cracked condescending jokes about Germans and purposefully parked at a 90 degree angle to the ordered German parking at one site while commenting about that driving Germans nuts (the Germans indeed gave us the stink eye as they walked past us). He referred to the Nazis at one point as knuckleheads, which just seemed weird. It was a very non-Rick Steves, non-"embrace the culture" experience. I sent him an e-mail afterward expressing my impressions of the tour, and he was gracious in his reply, so hopefully he has cut out that stuff.

I would encourage you to read his own words, though. His responses to his very few negative reviews on TripAdvisor are enlightening, I think. For the record, none of the 3 negative reviews are mine! https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187310-d5015232-r422349169-Nuremberg_Tours_in_English-Nuremberg_Middle_Franconia_Franconia_Bavaria.html

Final thought: You've heard the US spin on WWII and Nazis all your life... wouldn't it be more interesting to hear a native German's spin on those topics as you tour Nuremberg? I regret that I did not choose that path for my guide in the city!

Posted by
2269 posts

Dave did not care for his experience with Kevin of Nuremberg Tours in English. We had a great experience and I highly recommend him. Dave references Kevin's 3 negative reviews on Trip Advisor. On Trip Advisor, Kevin has 431 "excellent" reviews, 9 "very good" reviews, and 1 each for "average", "poor" and "terrible". One of the 431 excellent reviews is mine.

We were late to the start of our tour because the train was late - he didn't mind and didn't cut the tour short. He waited for us when he didn't have to. For what it's worth, I wouldn't object to anyone calling Nazis "knuckleheads".

I don't remember how he parked.

Posted by
2508 posts

EP -- I'm glad you had an excellent experience. And you are totally correct on the TA numbers. I will readily admit he has 98% excellent ratings on TA (up from 96% when I gave him my feedback, so maybe my feedback was helpful to him 🙂), and my comment made reference to "his very few negative reviews." That's not my point in referencing TA. My reference is to the content of his replies to those very few negative ratings. Things like...

Regarding my driving, you are clearly confusing me with someone else
because that accusation is totally without foundation. I think your
nasty head cold on that day was getting the better of you. Your
atrocious breath was certainly getting the better of me.
[emphasis mine]

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the extra info about trains and guides.

Kevin indeed has hundreds of "5" ratings, including some as recent as last year, but his responses to those three that are less than a "4" and even some to customers who gave him a "4" are unprofessional. I might very well be happy with him as a guide, but I do prefer to have guides who are from the country I'm visiting, when possible.

Posted by
621 posts

The train from Bavaria (either Nuremberg or Munich) to Switzerland is all you will accomplish on one full day of your short trip. The flights Nuremberg-Zurich or Munich-Zurich take less than an hour (plus 1 hour arrival at the airport early). The Nuremberg Airport is easily reached by local train. Having done both, I would strongly recommend the flights.

Have fun.