Hi, We're taking our first cruise next September starting out in Nuremberg. We'd like to extend our trip by arriving a week to 10 days before getting on the ship for a journey down the Danube. We would like to make a loop from our arrival at the airport in Nuremberg and travel around the area, arriving back in time to join the cruise. We've always traveled using RS suggestions and wonder if anyone can help us out with some cities and sites to see.
You don't mention if you would consider renting a car?
Instead of flying directly into Nurnberg, you could fly into Frankfurt and then drive, or train, down thru Darmstadt, drive some of the Rhine region, Heidelberg, over to Rothenberg ob der Tauber, and then into Nurnberg. One of Rick's recommended hotels in Nurnberg is the Hotel Elch, about 600 years old with an excellent restaurant, specializing in schnitzels and a very good breakfast buffet. I was very pleased with our accomodations there. A delightful quaint walled-city with enough to keep you occupied for at least two days.
We are flying into Nuremberg as part of the cruise package. We can rent a car there and then travel for some time before the cruise leaves on the 21st of September.
Having this question under "To the East" I assume you want to see also little bit of eastern Europe. There is a nonstop direct bus from Nurnberg to Prague. It takes three hours one way. It's run by Deutsche Bahn and you can find its schedule on DB website. Very comfortable double decker with refreshments and bathroom on board.
Franconia offers a large number of sights... not just Rothenburg or Nuremberg. This website is a good start: http://www.frankentourismus.com/?setLanguage=true To the north of Franconia lies Thuringia, which offers some great sights too (RS calls Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia, the "untouristy Rothenburg"):
http://www.thuringia-tourism.com/travel-hotel-holiday-tour/index.html The the east of Franconia is the Czech Spa trangle, a very pleasant region with great spa towns and medieval towns (Cheb, Loket). If you can enter Czechia with a rented car a possible itinerary could look like this: Nuremberg - Bamberg (+ Vierzehnheiligen and Weissenstein castle) - Coburg - Schmalkalden - Thuringian Forest - Wartburg castle (+ Eisenach) - Erfurt - Weimar - Cheb/Loket - Karlovy Vary/Marianske Lazne - Amberg - Lauf an der Pegnitz (Wenzel castle) - Nuremberg The problem for you is that 90% of the mentioned places can't be found in RS books, or most other English guide books. Vierzehnheiligen for example is one of the most stunning rococo churches, but almost unknown outside of Germany. Ditto for towns like Amberg or Schmalkalden. Perfect medieval towns, unspoilt by mass tourism, and almost unknown.
If you're interested in thermal spa resorts, in my opinion, the nicest one sits in northern Franconia, Bad Kissingen. If your loop will extend northward through Thüringen and Sachsen-Anhalt, in addition to the recommendations listed by Martin, look into Quedlinburg, Wernigerode and the surrounding Harz region. PS- Mr. Steves' Germany guide is kind of weak, although it has improved in recent years. However, he still skips too much of the country and touts certain locations as being far more unique than they actually are (ie, Rothenburg odT, Baden-Baden, Romantic Road, etc).
Hi, Nürnberg itself has a good deal to see as does the surrounding area of Franken (Franconia). But if you want to set aside a day for going into CZ, I would suggest Cheb (Eger) located just across the border in the former Sudetenland and Plzen (Pilsen), the latter being my first choice.
And while you are in Pilsen go for excursion (and tasting) to Pilsner Urquell Brewery where it all started.
And if you want to know how beer tasted before "it all started" you can try a Schwarzbier (black beer) in Thuringia, one of the oldest beer styles (first mentioned in 1390). Great with Rouladen and Thuringian dumplings. Or a Rauchbier (smoked beer) in Franconia. ;)