We will be part of the Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland tour beginning 5/23. We would like to arrive 4 or 5 days early before the tour begins in Cologne. Can you offer suggestions on great places to visit and things to do?
If you are flying into Franfurt, the middle Rhine and / or the Mosel are the obvious candidates. Just search this forum for many good hints.
Where are you flying in?
We have not finalized air travel yet
Where you’re starting matters. If you’re starting in Frankfurt for example it’s an easy train up the Rhine to spend time in a town like Boppard and relax, burn off jet lag, and soak in atmosphere before your trip.
Landing in Amsterdam I’d stay put, then make my way to cologne. Paris same thing… but where you begin definitely would guide where I’d start.
Thank you very much. We are probably going to land in Frankfort. I appreciate everyone's suggestions.
Middle Rhine between Koblenz and Mainz. You might also take a day to go up the Lahn River to Limburg/Lahn. Lots of good places to visit, depending on your interests. Russ always suggests stayng in Boppard to save a little on local transportation, but I would concentrate more on whichever town and accomodation appeals to you. Since the tour goes up the Mosel, Boppard’s nearness to it is not as important.
Some of my favorite places to visit -
Boppard - chairlift. View coming down is my favorite.
Mainz - Chagall windows in St. Stephen’s church, Gutenberg museum
St. Goar - Burg Rheinfels ruins.
Koblenz - cable car across the Rhine to the fortress.
Thank you for your excellent ideas!!
I will second the idea of visiting both the Rhine AND the Mosel Valleys with the nice amount of time you have. If you fly into Frankfurt or Cologne airports , a Rhine base town makes very good sense. If you fly into LUXEMBOURG, a Mosel base town MIGHT be in order, if you are interested in Trier (think ancient Roman history.) I would look into arrivals at all three airports, and into Düsseldorf airport as well.
"Russ always suggests stayng in Boppard to save a little on local transportation..."
Boppard in fact is a good default base town for outings - especially if you plan to visit the Mosel River towns on one or more days. Boppard is closer to those Mosel towns than the other usual options (St. Goar, Oberwesel, Bacharach.) It also is close to the "big city" (Koblenz, just 15 minutes away) and has a ferry crossing as well (ferries are important for crossing the river for outings by train - to places like Marksburg castle in Braubach, the best of the Rhine castles - as there are no bridges between Koblenz and Mainz.) Other Boppard advantages include a developed waterfront (lots of hotels and restaurants there and elsewhere in town) as well as the excellent chairlift ride previously mentioned. River cruising tends to be simpler from Boppard or from St. Goar than from the other towns as well.
Saving on transportation is also a plus with Boppard. No matter where you stay there, you'll receive a VRM Guest Card which permits free use of trains (and buses) around the VRM zone during your stay. This would include an outing to Cochem or Burg Eltz on the Mosel River in addition to most Rhine River destinations.
A great MOSEL River option is the town of Cochem. It's a hopelessly romantic little place about half way between Trier and Koblenz, and very near Burg Etlz Castle. Outings from there to Trier and to the Rhine towns are possible by train, though you'll need to pay for your transportation (VRM day passes allow flexibility and are quite cheap.)
Sincere thanks for your thoughtful and detailed response. We will incorporate your suggestions into our plan.
We added on a couple of days in Germany before going to Prague for BOEE.
We started in Munich for Oktoberfest and rented a car to head North to Seiffen. Christmas town. I’m unboxing and preparing to wrap the gifts we purchased and the quality, charm and uniqueness is wonderful. The Ore Mountain region was super cool. I had assistance from another poster here that helped us immensely.
From there we went to Dresden. Very cool. How this city was destroyed and rebuilt is amazing. We went to the Green Vault, too. Incredible in many ways, it was a very different world way back when.
All of this is in the former East Germany. This was an experience in itself. The people there, I found, were very different from Munich or other German places we have experienced. Definitely use Google translate. Again, that added to the adventure.
I would go back to Seiffen but would bring a large empty suitcase to bring the loot back or have the stores there ship. We used a local DHL store, and shipping was expensive. Also we were lucky because this little DHL store was rumored to be closing. The stores are set up to ship and we received our merchandise timely.
Renting a car wasn’t cheap, but this was a really fun and off the beaten path adventure.