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17 Days, you decide. Need your help veterans

Thanks so much for the input for my second Europe trip. I did my previous trip accounting, and found I spent a lot of money (several hundred dollars) on travel to and from France and Italy. While I wouldn't trade the experience in the world, I think for this coming trip, I could spend that money on experiences in one country rather than on travel.

SO, here is your challenge. Design me a 17-day itinerary in any one European country. France and Italy included if you want, but I would prefer Spain and Germany. 17 days and nights.

Thanks again. Your advice is invaluable


Posted by
11503 posts

I have no interest in Spain, so can't help there.

Germany and France are both great countries to spend a few weeks in,, large and diverse enough you certainly would have enough to see and do.

What time of year are you thinking of going?? Spring, summer? I tend to think of winter trips needing to center on big cities , so you can do alot of indoor sites like musuems and art galleries, whereas in warmer weather (May -Oct) seems like you could build in some nature sites, beaches , mountain hikes etc.

Posted by
79 posts

I will be going in July (July 2-July 20).

No interest in Spain huh? Well, feel free to outline a Germany trip.

When you guys suggest, please give me a day by day picture. I'm not trying to get you to do the research for me (TRUST me, that is fun anyway. I'll put hours into it before I decide anything). I just know that nothing trumps the experience of someone who has been there.

I like to do active stuff, so hiking, mountain climbing, etc. are welcome.



Posted by
432 posts

Haven't been to Spain yet, but have traveled in parts of Germany. While I don't have specific recommendations for the number of days, I would spend some time in the Bavarian Alps - Mittenwald, Oberammergau, Fussen areas (hiking, scenery, culture, history), and also in some of the wine growing areas (wine, scenery, culture). There's lots of important wine growing regions: Pfalz, Rheingau, Franconia, Mosel, etc., each uniquely different, interesting and beautiful, and the choices are endless. We also enjoyed Rothenburg, Wurzburg, Trier, and Nurenburg for history and interesting sites. You could divide your time in half, allow one day for travel in between Spain and Germany. Other posters may have more specific recommendations on connections or other locations. This is what interested us, however. We just came back from 4 weeks in Germany and Austria, so I'm envious of your upcoming trip. Have fun.

Posted by
18938 posts

I guess you don't already have plane reservations. One word: "Munich". Make that your base for Bavaria, Salzburg, the Salzkammergut. I've spent probably 2 months, total in Bavaria in the last eight years. You'll find that 17 days is not enough to see everything.

As for hiking, it is a short trip by train from Munich to Oberstdorf. A lot of Germans go there to hike in the Alps.

Posted by
79 posts

Gave it some thought, but a region would be welcome too. I was looking at RS' Best of Europe, and thought about doing something similar, albeit omitting France and Italy.

Day 1-3 The Netherlands (Amsterdam) 3 Nights
Day 4-11 Germany 8 Nights
Day 12-14 Austria 3 Nights
Day 15-17 Switzerland 2 Nights

Where possible, I would take night trains.

Any suggestions here?

Posted by
8765 posts

I am going to stick to my original idea of Berlin, then moving on to some of the other northern cities, like Hamburg, go and see the North Sea, visit Potsdam and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, then come down to the Cologne area and Trier and then see the Rhein area (take your pick of towns, they are all nice!) and end up with a couple of days in Frankfurt, preferably staying in our best neighborhood - Bornheim. You can enjoy the wonderful produce markets, and all the great restaurants set on our cobblestoned streets.

Have you checked out bike routes thru Germany yet? This is really popular and they often follow the river routes. Many pensions cater to bicyclists. I think it would be an ideal way to see the countryside, visit lots of beautiful old towns and meet lots of great people.

Posted by
74 posts

RD, I've put together an itinerary for a trip to southern Germany & Austria for Spring 2009 that I've posted to this site. It may give you some ideas for locations you might want to include in your itinerary. Look for the thread titled "Critique of Germany-Austria Itinerary Requested - Sanity Check Please!" If you have any questions related to any of the locations on my itinerary let me know. I've been doing a lot of research on each of them - plus a lot of other folks posting to this site have been very helpful in assisting me.

Posted by
3237 posts

I was going to advocate for an itinerary in Spain and Portugal but Harry makes a good point about the heat. One website suggested...

Madrid "In July and through most of August, the city simply gets very hot, with temperature frequently touching into the 40's (over 100 Fahrenheit). The real problem with this time of the year in Madrid is that it doesn't cool down very much at night, making sleeping uncomfortable for those without air-conditioning." I assume that the info about July temp in Madrid applies to most of the country at that time of year.

Posted by
172 posts

How about Northern Spain and Portugal? If you like spain, you will love Portagal.

Barcelona – San Sebastian - Rioja - Leon – Santiago – Porto – Sintra - Lisbon.

I have posted all the details for this trip in a spreedsheet at my blog:

Posted by
522 posts

Here is a trip I took that i enjoyed immensely....Fly into Frankfurt and rent a car. Drive to Rothenburg - 2 nights. Leave Rothenburg REALLY early and drive to Fussen. Tour King Ludwigs Castle. Drive onto Munich - 3 nights. Beer halls and Marienplatz. Drop the car in Munich. Train to Luzern - 2 nights. Beautiful city on a lake. Mostly good for strolling. Train to Interlaken (and onto Gimmewald) -3 nights. WOW WOW WOW. Train to Baden Baden - 2 nights. If you don't see yourself getting naked in a Roman style bath with men and women, I would not recommend B/B - but I will say, it was fabulous! Back to Frankfurt and fly home. That was a 2 week trip for me. If I had more time like you will have, I would have loved to have added Salzburg and Vienna in between Munich and Luzern. This itinerary did teach me one thing though - I need at LEAST 3 nights in the first city to deal with jetlag. Leaving Rothenburg early on day 3 and touring the castles was very hard on me. I struggled that day. You could add the Rhine River valley at the beginning if you want to avoid my jetlag problem. 3 nights in St. Goar might be a nice start.

Since I wasn't able to see the Rhine or Vienna....I am heading back next year. Can't freakin' wait!!

Posted by
3551 posts

In July -Aug 2008 I traveled Germany and Eastern France for 21 Days with a car rental for $92 p/p at $1.60 xchg. In 2007 I did Western Germany and S. France for less money in summer. you decide if you are really interested and let me know.

Posted by
3 posts

Quote: :"I was looking at RS' Best of Europe, and thought about doing something similar, albeit omitting France and Italy.

Day 1-3 The Netherlands (Amsterdam) 3 Nights Day 4-11 Germany 8 Nights Day 12-14 Austria 3 Nights Day 15-17 Switzerland 2 Nights"

If I were you, I would cut some days from Germany and add in the Switzerland. It's just too damn gorgeous to only stay so short period of time. Optionally, you can fly into Paris rather than to Amsterdam.

I think Spain is possible (especially if you take budget flight to there) but really pushing it.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello RD. If you do not know where to go, I recommend reading parts of the book "Rick Steves' GERMANY & AUSTRIA 2009". In INTRODUCTION in that book, on page 6, is Rick's opinions of places of high priority to visit in Germany and in Austria. And you might like to look at the map of his "Germany and Austria : Best Three - week Trip by Car" on page 5. In a 17 - day trip in Germany and Austria, I would not go to Baden Baden, Black Forest, Nurnberg, Dresden, Berlin. But I think you would have time to go to the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland (3 nights there). Look at the map of GERMANY and AUSTRIA and SWITZERLAND that is at the front of the book "Rick Steves' GERMANY & AUSTRIA". Travel in railroad trains. Perhaps you could fly from the U.S.A. to Frankfurt, and fly from Zurich to the U.S.A.

Posted by
588 posts

Check out the Germany, Austria, Switzerland (GAS) tour Rick offers. The itinerary is listed on this website on the Home Page under 2009 tours. I think it has been changed from 16 days to 14 days. However, I agree with the above suggestion that you need 3 nights at your first destination (example, St Goar or Bacharach) for jet lag. I also would prefer to have an extra day (3 nights)in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. We spent an extra day in Vienna and still didn't see all I wanted to see. The GAS tour is a great tour!

Posted by
8765 posts

If there was one place I WOULD go in Germany, it would be Berlin. What a fantastic city! There is so much to see and do there. Not sure why anyone would want to miss it.

You have said you liked biking. Have you pulled up any bicycle routes for Germany? You could literally bike your way through the country. Scandanavia is also good for this, as is the Netherlands. What a perfect way to get in touch with a land and its people. This would be truly a "Europe thru the Back Door."