Munich/Prague/Berlin questions

We have a 12 day trip planned at the end of October. Flying Into Munich and out of Berlin. Will rent a car. Our current thinking is that we will spend 4 nights in Munich, 3 nights in Prague and 4 nights in Berlin. Do you think that's about right for the amount of time in each city?

Thinking about a side trip to Salzburg for a day when we are in Munich. And will stop in Dresden on the way up to Berlin.

Tentatively have a place to stay in Munich and Prague. Not sure where to stay in Berlin.

Any help/comments/suggestions would be much appreciated.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4737 posts

Unless you're seeing other places besides the ones you listed, a car is only going to be an expensive hindrance. You may have trouble finding one you can rent in Germany and take into the Czech Republic; you'll pay a lot for parking and gas; and it will spend a lot of time parked. During your time in the cities of Munich, Prague, Berlin, Salzburg, and Dresden, you won't be using the car at all.

Use the Bahn (German Rail) website to research train and Bahn bus connections, following Rick's tutorial: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/db_tips.htm. If you can commit to non-refundable advance purchase tickets, you can save a bundle. And from Munich to Salzburg, you can use a Bayern Ticket which is cheap.

Posted by bgl
Salt Lake City, Utah
19 posts

Harold, I keep going back and forth on renting a car. I generally do not like to rent cars when traveling in Europe, but some friends have me convinced that Germany is an easy driving country, and that it would be handy to have a car to see the Bavarian countryside, as well as short excursions from Prague. I am not wedded to the idea of a car. I remember hearing about a bus from Munich to Prague, and the train travel seems pretty easy to figure out. I am open to all suggestions.....

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8025 posts

Nothing is easier than sitting on a direct train or bus that takes you right between the city centers. The direct train from Munich to Prague leaves at 5:00 a.m., but direct buses run several time per day, operated by the German railway. At most, you might pay $200 per person for the train/bus routes on the list above, but half that price by booking 2 or 3 months ahead. I would not rent a car unless you really make a plan to visit other towns not served by train.

Posted by Chris
Mahone Bay, Canada
226 posts

I would highly recommend having a car to see the Bavarian countryside. You can do it by train but the flexibility of a car to stop when and where you want makes a bit difference in my opinion. Why not travel by train and do day rentals of the car on those days you want to do trips into the countryside. With such a tight itinerary, you are probably looking at only 1 to 2 day rentals (3 at the maximum). That way you won't have to worry about parking and drop off fees, etc. The pickup and drop off at Munich's main train station (Hauptbahnhof) is fairly straight forward, especially if you have a GPS.

Posted by Jeremy
Dallas, TX
61 posts

Sounds like a great trip I wouldn't change a thing. I've done both train and car with those cities and I would suggest the car. You get to see more and have more flexibility especially with that day trip in mind to Salzburg which I would highly suggest.

I would suggest staying in East Berlin. Last time in Berlin we stayed close to the Prater Beer Garden (oldest in Germany) and it was great. Also a famous currywurst place close by. It was an apartment though, sorry don't have a hotel suggestion there.

You will have fun either way, those cities are my favorite in Europe.

Posted by Martin
Germany
396 posts

I would highly recommend having a car to see the Bavarian countryside.

Just one thing: the Bavarian countryside isn't more interesting than the Czech or non-Bavarian countryside. If you drive fom Munich via Prague to Berlin you pass Kladruby, Svata Hora, Plzen, Karlstejn, Melnik, Litomerice, the Bohemian Central Uplands, the Ore mountains (Germanys Christmas country), Pirna, Meissen, Saxon Switzerland, Dresden and the Spreewald. These places aren't less interesting than the "Bavarian countryside", they are just less known.
If you decide to drive I would highly recommend to visit some of them.

Posted by Johannes
1 posts

I can only speak about Berlin since I’ve lived here the past 6 years of my life. But there are endless things to do in this city. To be fairly close to the center and pay a reasonable price per night I would recommend staying somewhere close to Tiergarten or Prenzlauer Berg. It is a 5-10 minute ride by S-Bahn and a day pass is about 5€. The question is, do you want to stay in a hotel or rather have your own rental apartment. Budget wise the apartments are a wonderful alternative to a pricey hotel room close to the center. When I have relatives visiting Berlin I usually get them an apartment on here since my flat is a 1br, and that way they have their own place and privacy, just a few blocks down my street. Rooms usually tend to be priced around 40€- 80€ a night depending on how close you are/ want to be to Stadtmitte. Hope this helped and answered your question on where to stay in Berlin! Have fun:-)

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10500 posts

OK, this is sort of an old thread, but since it got bumped up, I'll give my two cents.

I don't see much advantage for a car for what you have proposed. Unless you gave yourself an extra 4-5 days, you really don't have a lot of time to explore outside the cities. Although I agree that driving in Germany is relatively easy, Munich is a huge exception. If your hotel doesn't offer parking (and in the historic core of the city, only a few of the expensive ones do), good luck finding it. The whole ring of Munich right now is undergoing a massive re-organization, and this is causing severe traffic problems in what was never a fun place to drive anyway. Finally, A8 Autobahn that connects Munich with Salzburg is one of the worst for Staus (the uniquely German version of a traffic jam). What looks like it should be a quick trip can take several hours longer than expected. At least the scenery is nice, though. Traffic goes slow enough that you can get a good look at it.

I mostly agree that the scenery in Bavaria is no more special than many other parts of Germany (as noted by Chris). The exception, though, is south of Munich where you can easily see the Alps. No other region of Germany can compare to this, in my opinion.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA
103 posts

From my experiences there I have to agree with these points already made above. Your itinerary is tight when considering travel time into each city. Your plan to include side trips for each base extremely limits the time you'll have in each city. You can do this travel using train and buses without use of a car.

Observations:
1. If you keep Munich 4, Berlin 3, then you can do Salzburg as side trip by using the train or bus from Munich. If you change Munich to 3 nights and Berlin to 4 nights, you could visit Dresden as a side trip from Berlin using the train.

  1. If you keep Munich 4, Berlin 3, Prague 3, I wouldn't suggest doing both side trips. You'll have only 1 full day for Berlin....

  2. Your Prague time is really only 2 days. I wouldn't suggest any side trips.

  3. If you want quality time in the countryside then consider dropping Prague. Choose a place between Munich and Berlin for a base(s). Then rent a car for this portion as you'll have 3 nights to get to Berlin.

Suggestions Berlin lodgings located between Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg
Ibis Berlin Mitte, Hotel Pension Kastanienhof.