We will be returning from a mission trip in Hungary arriving in Frankfurt on July24 we are staying over until August 7. We would like to have a plan of where to visit while in Germany. Have not decided rather to rent a car or rely on trains. We want to get out and see the country. Open to ideas of where to visit and stay while there.
My style is more on the slow-paced side. I spent 5 days in Frankfurt (one was a day trip to Budingen), 5 days in Berlin and 2.5 in Dresden and a 7-day group tour mostly through the Rhine and Mosel valleys . Frankfurt was a lovely mix of traditional German town and modern international city. If I had been a bit more energetic, I think I would have covered enough to feel I hadn't missed anything I really wanted to see. Berlin is like Paris or Rome or London - no matter how much time you have there, you need more. So many good museums. Dresden is charming, much more like Prague than Germany. Sadly in my brief stay, I never got to see the insides of the several tempting museums there. Though I was on a tour, it seemed that most of the towns visited (Cologne, Aachen, Trier, Mainz, Worms. . . ) were easily accessible by train or ferry boat or both. If you want to see that region, it might be more convenient to rent a car, though, just so you don't have to haul your luggage around from train to hotel to train to hotel every day.
Do you have a copy of RS Germany Guide Book yet? If so, great. If not, you should get one as it is full of helpful information that you can use in planning your stay. We used it extensively last year when visiting Germany and again this year when we return there.
I love doing road trips through Germany and it is an easy place to do that...beautiful roads and great signage, so if you like the freedom and spontaneity or road trips a car can be the perfect answer. I would definitely suggest some of the small villages and castles in the south and for a truly beautiful place to stay a few days check out the Lake of Konstanz (Bodensee) it is remarkably lovely. How many are traveling together?
That can help with the cost of the car, but I do it all the time and for the way I like to travel, it works great. Lots of roadside picnics and stops that we decide on a whim. Have a wonderful trip.
"We want to get out and see the country." You should try to be a little more clear about your travel goals. I don't know if this means you want to see the whole country (impossible in 14 days,) or a representative sampling of places that would give you an impression of the country, or the countryside. The places Chani mentions - Cologne, Aachen, Trier, Mainz, Worms - lie west of Frankfurt and are certainly interesting places, mostly cities of some size. I would surely disagree with the idea of a car if you plan to visit cities like these. Smaller places and rural routes can be done by car if you want to drive, but in the example of the Rhine and Mosel area cities above, the small towns in between these cities are well connected by trains too, and train travel there is cheap; the car doesn't really have an advantage. Here's a map to show you all the places that trains will get you in the area above (Cologne and Aachen aren't there but just to the north): http://www.vrminfo.de/fileadmin/data/pdf/2012/RLP-Ticket_streckennetz.pdf While it's true that you must haul your luggage around from train to hotel to train to hotel, you can choose a hotel that is near the station or a bus connection, and you don't have to do it every day unless you plan to overnight in a different town every day. I generally like to pick a centrally located town, stay for 3 or more nights, and do daytrips from there to other places. And luggage doesn't have to be heavy. Rick Steves' largest contribution to the travel community, IMO, is his bag packing strategy - study what he says, and moving will be easy.
For me, some of the most beautiful parts of Germany is driving into Bavaria and even into Austria. From Frankfurt, you could go to Wurzburg, Rothenburg, Salzburg and Lermoos (in Austria), the Oberammergau area, then north to Munich and back to the Rhine/Mosel area. Lots of hiking/walking trails in Lermoos, known as the Zugspitze arena, and the Oberammergau area. Have a great trip!
Must see some of Austria. And of course Munich beer halls.
Thanks for the information. We really want to stay in smaller towns and not the big cities. After working for two weeks we are looking to relax and enjoy the country. I know that we will only get to see a small portion of the country. I am open to any ideas of smaller towns do you have any suggestion.
Well, one of my favorite small towns is Buedingen. Only an hour East of Frankfurt, it has the beautiful Vogelsburg mountains around it, Castle Ronneburg is within view, if you like Celtic stuff, the Glauberg is also near by. The town itself is a beautiful, medieval walled town and it is one of the premier members of the Fachwerk Route, due to its many half-timbered houses. Book a private tour and the tour guide will take you inside the city walls, up on the guard towers and tell you about the fascinating history of this town. It also has a 13 sided palace, and a church dating from the 1200's. We have booked 90 min. private tours for about 41 euro for 4 people, which I think is quite reasonable. Buedingen also is known for its' witch trials, executing about 400 over a 100 year time period. Gruesome!
. Other towns near by that would be interesting to visit would be Gelnhausen, Bad Homburg, Seligenstadt, Fulda, and of couse Frankfurt.
If you like small villages and hiking, My two favorites are Hinterzarten in the Black Forrest and Mittenwald in the Alps. Hinterzarten is easily accessed by train from the college town of Freiburg; a local hiking club takes you on daily hikes. Staying in any of the villages, gets you a free rail and bus pass. Mittenwald is a minature Garmish without the tourist crowds; beautiful main street and great food. Short train ride south of Munich. Both towns have very nice English speaking Tourist Information offices.