Travel Itinerary September 19 - 28

Hello Everyone,

I was planning a trip around Germany before, but was going alone and since then changed jobs. However, I found another person who wants to travel to Germany during Oktoberfest. We are both not long out of college young men looking to see a lot of history and of course have a fun time enjoying the nightlife.

I am not sure if this plan is too ambitious. We have just bought our flights leaving and returning to Dulles airport outside of D.C. Our plan is to fly into Munich arriving at 11 AM on Saturday the 19th (we are leaving Friday evening). Next in Munich we are planning to get rent an apartment we've found on airbnb. Since we've just got the tickets at a pretty good price we are looking to settle accommodations in Munich as fast as possible given the timing we are going. Then we were planning on taking a train to Berlin where I have friends from a semester abroad. I've found cheap hostel prices, but I think I may be able to find us free accommodations once I get in contact with some friends. I think this will be the longest train ride during our trip. Then we were hoping to take a train the 24th to Cologne. Then stay there until the 26th and going into Amsterdam where our plane home leaves the evening of the 28th.

Does this sound possible? We are both young and hoping to see as much as possible. We are both early in our careers and do not have a ton of time we can take off.

In Amsterdam and Cologne we are planning on booking hostels we have found on hostelword.com. We have also seen there are affordable German rail passes that include the Netherlands.

Any advice anyone has to offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

--Kurt

Posted by Russ
Paradise
2187 posts

I think you're cutting your time a bit short in each place.

If you do this tightly-scheduled trip, I suggest you skip the railpass idea and use advance-sale saver fare tickets; these pin down your train travel times but the savings are tremendous.

9/21 Munich - Berlin: €49/2 adults for the 13:19 deoarture.
9/24 Berlin - Cologne: €49/2 adults for the 9:46 am departure.
9/25 or 9/26 Cologne - A'dam: €48 - €58 depending on departure time, more at certain times.

I suggested leaving Cologne 9/25 because A'dam just requires more time than Cologne, IME.

So for about €150 there is no way you will find any railpass that will get you two around. Note that you will have minimal incidental costs for transportation to/from the airports.

Buy these train tickets at the DB itinerary page ASAP. Ticket prices rise as tickets sell.

Then you can spend a little of the saved transport Euros on some real rooms in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
7449 posts

Since you have several days in each city, I don't see any problem with the plan. For your travel Munich-Berlin-Koeln-Amsterdam, the Benelux-Germany youth pass that covers 5 travel days for about $300 is a good value and gives you 2 extra train travel days for side trips. A 3-day Germany-only pass is cheaper, but doesn't cover the last leg from the border to Amsterdam (buy that separate ticket in any German train station). The pass would allow you to keep your departure times and destinations open, versus advance-discount tickets that lock you into a particular departure. How to Look Up Train Schedules Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it, or see their DB Navigator mobile app.

Posted by Russ
Paradise
2187 posts

"...the Benelux-Germany youth pass that covers 5 travel days for about $300 is a good value..."

That's $300 each for the itinerary vs. $101 each for the saver fares at current prices noted above (plus 2 airport trips.) A railpass at $300 each is somewhat better than walk-up prices, but the real value prices IMO are with the saver fares at DB - especially for a budget that relies on couch surfing and big-city hostels.

Of course, you could easily spend LESS time on the train and more time experiencing Germany in each of THREE destinations instead of four. And that would probably reduce your transportation costs even more.

Posted by kgeisl1
10 posts

Hi Russ and Laura,

Thank you both very much for your reply. I wish I had more time to travel. Unfortunately, maybe fortunately, I am young and early in my career. I've just changed jobs and can only afford to take this time. I understand I am cutting it close with time.

The idea for the early DB tickets sounds great I'm going to book those ASAP. I also think the idea of extending the Amsterdam stay is great. I mainly want to see the Dom and the Rhine when stopping in Cologne. Do you have any other suggestions for Cologne?

In Munich we are planning on using the day we arrive to see most of our sites. We know Oktoberfest will be too packed by the time we've reached our accomadations. Then the next day we hope to head to Oktoberfest early and are not sure how many sights we will be able to see after. Do you have any advice in regards to Oktoberfest? What are the best sites to see in Munich? I was there once much younger and the Marienplatz, the Deustche museum and different German automobile museums / attractions come to mind.

In regards to Berlin I've been there very young and studied there in college for a summer semester. I've seen many of the main sights. However, I'm bringing a friend who has never been to Germany and felt Berlin was essential. I also have friends living there so I am hoping to show him a more local experience. I'd like to brush by some main areas with him in the heart of town. Museum Island, the Reichstag, Brandenburg gate, Tiergarten things around there, but I'd really like to show him the interesting culture in east Berlin. Of course stopping by the wall. I stayed in Friedrichshain near Kreuzberg in college.

What would you recommend in Amsterdam during the day? I know there is the Van Gogh museum and another great art museum. I'm very much hoping to take a canal tour. My friend I'm traveling with had mentioned the Anne Frank house as well. Any suggestions on Amsterdam?

Also, any suggestions on local beers or delicacies to try in these cities would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Kurt

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3846 posts

"...felt Berlin was essential." Good attitude for visiting the city. Lots of cheap Pensionen, small hotels in Berlin, the newer hostels are in the eastern part. If you stay with friends there, even better. Going from Munich to Berlin can also be done on the CNL night train, ca. 10hrs. arriving a bit after 0700; that'll give you an extra day in Berlin. Be organised in knowing what you want to see in Berlin and Munich, ie, prioritize.

"...looking to see a lot of history." Exactly! I suggest taking the train to Seelow if you want to see the start of the battle in 1945. You read German, that'll serve you well in the Museum after seeing the outdoor displays and explanations. See the obvious...the German History Museum on Unter den Linden. The special exhibit on WW 1 is already underway. I suggest too Berlin-Karlshorst to see where the surrneder to the Soviets took place, the build houses a museum on German-Russian relations/history. This last trip (end of April) I passed through on the train the station Berlin Gesundbrunnen on the way to Greifswald but didn't have a chance to explore Gesundbrunnen. The Flaktürme are still there, same as in Vienna, where the ack ack guns were. Do the day trip to Potsdam, esp Neues Palais. It can all be done by S-Bahn from Berlin Hbf, then take one of the buses indicated outside of Potsdam Hbf. The Potsdam bus tours outside of Potsdam Hbf also offer to take you to Neues Palais.

Posted by Kenneth
San Diego, CA, USA
102 posts

Hi Kurt- Sat is 20 Sep this year. For all things Oktoberfest, try

http://www.oktoberfest-insider.com/oktoberfest-faq.htm

Even if the weather is good on Sat, you should still be able to find a seat in the beer gardens that surround each tent. Then Sunday get there by 12-1 PM to get a seat inside of a tent for a few hours. If the weather is nice and you are into it, there is a nice parade Sunday morning that will still give you time to get to the 'Fest by 12-1.

You might like to get some of the RS travel books (from library?) that cover the cities you are interested in to find attractions. Books several years old will still be valid for most ideas...

As previously suggested, taking a night train between Munich and Berlin would save you a travel day

Have a great trip!!!

Posted by Christi
Whitsett, TX, United States
808 posts

There are some great bike tours in Berlin that will give your friend a nice overview of the city and touch all of the places you mentioned - plus I know with Fat Tire you can keep the bike for the rest of the day as well. I am sure you know that biking is a great way to get around Berlin.

For a truly unique & memorable experience try a Beer Bike tour! This one is in Munich but there are others in Berlin as well.

In Munich if you are in the Englischer Garten check out the river surfers.

Have a great trip!