10 days in Bavaria/ Austria

We are flying into Frankfurt in May. We have 10-11 days to tour southern Germany and Salzburg. We would like to spend a day or two in the Rhine Valley area, then head to Munich & Bavaria to see Alps towns & castles. Also a day or two in Salzburg. Can anyone recommend an efficient way to stay in one place for a few days at a time, then move on to another "home base" & travel from one spot? Best to travel by car or train? Any "don't miss" towns? We will be flying back out of Frankfurt. Thanks.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

I would travel by train, with this itinerary. Also, my preference would be to go straight to the Rhine (St Goar, Bacharach, wherever) on arrival day, then spend a few days in Frankfurt at the end...that makes for a very short train/subway/taxi ride to the airport on departure day. So, I'd go the the Rhine Valley for a few days, then on to Munich/'Bavaria' (wherever you choose!), on to Salzburg, then back to Frankfurt. If you purchase these tickets 3 months in advance you can make that last leg for only €29 (under 6 hours, no train changes). Most advance purchase tickets are non-refundable/exchangeable, so be comfortable with your sked before you buy them. Most can be printed at home. Go to http://www.bahn.com/i/view/GBR/en/index.shtml for your train tickets/skeds.

Posted by Anneta
Hamburg, SH, Deutschland
21 posts

From Munich there are loads of great day trip options that can be done without a car. You can head up to see the Castles that you could describe as 'don't miss' in Schwangau near Fuessen: Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. There is a train station is in Schwangau I recall. Or indeed take an organized tour out of Munich. At this time of year you will not have to content with too many other tourists. If castles are your thing, Harburg Castle in the town of the same name is really cool. It has a Hotel so you could stay a night here. It is big and spectacular on a hill with high walls, towers and that sought of thing. It is not so easy to get to by train but possible the station is called Harburg Schwarb. Wurzburg, on the way to Frankfurt from Munich could be an ideal home base as you describe. It is a mid sized town with lots to do. Hope this helps and have a great trip

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

If you have not booked your flight, you should consider changing your destination to Munich. If you are indeed flying into Frankfurt, take a train to Munich to start your visit. The destinations you want to see are easily accessible by autobahn, and a rental car would do you well AS YOU LEAVE MUNICH. See AutoEurope.com and Hertz.com for rates. You might want to spend 4 days in Munich, 2 days in Salzburg, a couple of days in Innsbruck and a couple of days driving around. Tirol is absolutely fantastic to just ramble from town to town, in the valleys and up on the mountains. Garmisch, Fussen, the Ludwig's castles west of Innsbruck (in Southern Bavaria) are other beautiful places to visit.

Posted by Cheryl
saint john, in
12 posts

re thought this if we go to Bacharach or StGoar from Frankfort then would like to get to Heidelburg and Rothenburg and then go south to Munich and the Castles,Salzburg Do we drive or take a train and do trains go directly
or make many stops is driving faster? Do you buy train tickets daily or get a pass? any ideas would be welcome

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

Rothenburg is on a spur line, so the train will take longer getting in and out than driving. I'd consider driving to Munich seeing your sights along the way, then ditching the car in Munich where it becomes a big expensive hassle.

Posted by Rob
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
370 posts

I have only and will only tour Germany via rental car so I consider the best way to travel is by car. You have only mentioned 2 towns, Munich and Salzburg on your trip that a car is really not required. However, I feel that everywhere else is better served by a car. If it were my trip I would land, get in the car, and drive straight to St Goar. A couple nights in that area is plenty and would even give you time to explore a little of the Mosel Valley is you chose to. From St. Goar I would drive to Rothenburg (a town that I don't prefer, but I know most do) and spend the night there. From Rothenburg I would drive staight to Salzburg, with a stop at Herrenchiemsee for a tour. Spend a couple days in Salzburg with a day trip to Hallstatt. From Salzburg, I would be on to Munich for a couple of days. Munich is my favorite town in all of Germany, by the way. A couple of days in Munich and you are off to Frankfurt for the last day or two before flying home. The only problem with your trip, that I can see, is that you are flying in AND out of Frankfurt. I would prefer to fly in Frankfurt and out Munich. But oh well, you will have a great trip either way! Hope any of this helps!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

If one has only (and will only!) travel in Germany by car, how can you say car is the best way to travel? As with most places in Europe, it's really difficult to say that one way is easiest or best for the entire country. I prefer traveling by train in Germany because it's inexpensive and relaxing, but I realize some parts (romantic road for example) are better served by car.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

I tend to agree with a lot of what Rob said. I have traveled to Germany many times... most frequently by car, because I like to go places ona whim and be on my own schedule. However, when in the city of Frankfurt, Munich and Salzburg you do not need a car...so, if you can follow most of Rob's itinerary I would do it by car, start in Frankfurt and visit there for a few days without a car, then pick it up and go from there. Finding a hotel in Salzburg that has parking is easy enough. Then, I would go to Munich and get rid of the car for a few days in Munich...or, if you must go back out of Frankfurt, just take the train there. I really prefer spontaneous travel and love to stop whenever I please, so the train is very constrictive for me, but I do love train travel for certain legs of my trip. Would also recommend staying in Dinkelsbuhl and visiting Rothenberg if you want a bit less of the 'touristy' feeling with your hotel.

Posted by Rob
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
370 posts

My response did sound a lot more absolute than I intended. When I lived in Germany, I travelled completely by public transportation. I have vacationed in other parts of Europe that included Germany completely by train and didn't care for it at all. On vacation, if I'm staying in Germany, I will aways opt for the rental car. I'm a "turn off the GPS and let's get lost" kind of traveller. I do agree, that the train from Munich to Frankfurt is probably a great option.

Posted by Cheryl
saint john, in
12 posts

Thanks for all your replies I have done a little more planning and added another couple to the trip Plan on arriving in Franfurt and from there going to St Goar for short boat trip then on to Heidelberg and Rothenburg after that head down to Munich to see the castles and Garmisch-Partenkirchen also Salzburg and Hallstatt in Austria I don't know if we should drive or take the train gas looks like $8.00 a gallon or more and don't know the distance traveling The train goes to all the places but what do you buy 4 or 5 day passes or buy from point to point some say buy in advance and how much time do you waste
waiting for the next train Help and any suggestions or other places to see or don't see please let me know also took your suggestion and we are flying home from Munich

Posted by Terry
Bellevue, Wa
57 posts

Robs plan is great but I would tweak it a bit.I have driven trained and used buses almost all the places you are going and some are fastest and easy by car and some by train or short bus.Two rules...get a GPS with the car and second be an early get on the road person and you can do this. First I would get in the car and get to Bacharach after landing and check in to hotel. I would then hike above the town and vineyards(absolutely beautiful) and check out downtown in the afternoon. Early start next day to St. Goar and up to Reinfels castle. Afternoon to Burg Eltz(this is of course if you really like castles... if not the small towns and scenery are beautiful to check out). Next day drive to Rothenburg(3-4 hours) and spend the afternoon there. Then early drive to Fuessen and do castles or other sights.Then I would go to Salzburg and stay 3 nights with day trips to Hallstatt and or Berchtesgaden.I would then go to Munich and leave the car upon arrival. The city is a pain to drive and park...local walking and transportation are great to sightsee.Like Rob said Munich is really cool. I would then train back to Frankfurt for a day or two to finish the trip. This can be done in the 10-11 day frame you are talking about or you can add another 1-2 days. You can add or delete days and areas as you want to after doing lots of homework as to what you really want to see and do in the different areas. All of them can easily add time so your priorities as to what you want to do are important. The one thing to remember is if you love mountains, scenery and Bavarian culture you will come back so dont travel too much... spend quality time in each area actually seeing stuff and save something for next time. Half the fun is now planning what you want to see.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4757 posts

Once you land, take one of the Regional trains to a town on the Rhine, your choice. I like Ober-Wesel, others like St. Goar or Baccarach. You could also go on the other side of the Rhein too, like to Elteville, or Lorch. Spend a day or two exploring and then head down towards Bavaria. I am not a car person, so can't offer advice along those lines. Heading East of Frankfurt, you could consider a stop in Büdingen, rather than visiting Rothenburg, and then head South and down to Würzburg. After a long, trans-Atlantic flight, getting in a car right away should be avoided. It is actually quite dangerous. Wait until the next day. Sitting in a train for more than an hour after a long flight also doesn't sound like much fun. There is no reason to travel so far on your first day. Land, go to a near-by town, walk around outside to help with the jet lag, and go to bed early.