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8 days in Rhine Valley and Bavaria

Hello, I am planning a trip for my family for next month - yes, we should have done this earlier! We are 2 adults and 2 children, aged 6 and 11. We hope to do this all via train/tram/bus, as we will not have a rental car. We will be in London for a short-term work transfer, and this trip is before the job starts. We have the tickets to London, but not the transport to Germany. Here is my current plan:
Day 1. Arrive at London Heathrow early in the morning. Stow luggage, then catch a flight to Frankfurt that arrives around 5 pm. Train to Bacharach, overnight there. Day 2. Rhine valley area, sleep in Bacharach. Day 3. Train to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Sleep in Rothenburg. Day 4. Rothenburg to Guenzburg (Legoland). Sleep in Guenzburg. Day 5. Legoland. 2nd night in Günzburg Day 6. Günzburg to Füssen, Sleep in Füssen Day 7. Hochenschwangau, Neuschwanstein, perhaps Linderhof/Oberammergau? 2nd night in Füssen. Day 8: Füssen to Münich. Day 9: 2nd night in Münich. Day 10: Fly from Münich to London Heathrow. Does the itinerary look reasonable? Should we spend more/less time at any of these places? I think Legoland is the non-negotiable destination, but otherwise, we are open to suggestions, and hotel recommendations for families. Thanks!

Posted by
6731 posts

Too much moving around. I'd just cut the Rhine altogether - your time there isn't enough to see or do much of anything - and spend more time in Bavaria. If you need flights... Try Ryanair from London to "Munich West", which is Memmingen, not far from Günzburg. Once in Bavaria, your family can travel by train on a Bayern Ticket: http://www.munich-touristinfo.de/Bavaria-Ticket.htm Here's a map of the train lines in Bavaria; the Bayern ticket covers buses too. http://www.bahnland-bayern.de/content-startseite/streckennetzplan-pdf

Posted by
19136 posts

I agree with Russ, you're just trying to do too much in too little time. You can't see everything. Your current schedule barely leave enough time to see Bacharach, let alone anything else on the Rhein. I would say skip the Rhein, but if you go directly to Rothenburg (four hours from Frankfurt by the fastest trains), you can't get there before 9 or 10 o'clock. You should try to get an earlier flight to FRA. If you take an expensive ICE from FRA to Stuttgart (just over an hour) you could spend the night there and then Rothenburg is only about 3 hrs away in the morning. If you leave Guenzburg in the morning, you could get to Fuessen in time to see the castles that day. Then the next morning, take the bus to Oberammergau. From there it is only about 20 min by bus to Linderhof.

Posted by
258 posts

I agree- it DOES seem a bit aggressive of a plan. I'm a big believer is getting a lot in on any trip...but not at the expsense of running msyelf ragged either. I think it's about achieving a balance. That's why one of Rick's mantras is "Assume you WILL return!" It's his way of emphasizing that you can get in places you miss the next time around! He always advises making a list and eliminating any possible redundencies/places that are too similar, etc. I, personally, would cut Legoland, but it does sound like your kids may have their hearts set on it. You can save time by only spending 1 nt in Fussen, and maybe scrapping Linderhof and Oberammegau (and just focus on Neuschwanatein and Hohenschwangau in that region). With such limited time, you also may want to consider choosing EITHER the Rhine/Bacarach OR Rothenburg. This would give you a bit more time in Munich, a GREAT city (although I admit I'm biased, it's one of my personal favorites!). I loved both, but if FORCED to choose.....I'd PROB skip Rothenburg in favor of the Rhine/Bacarach. I LOVED Rothenburg....but there's just something special about the Rhine (IMHO; Travel preferences ARE, of course, totally subjective). Whatever you choose, enjoy!

Posted by
1633 posts

IMO, I think your itinerary is fine. You are spending two nights in each town, except for Rothenburg. Your train trips between each area is manageable. Of course, it would be nice to have more time in each area. However, you are probably limited to the time there and this itinerary will work. Have a great trip!

Posted by
33107 posts

(donning tin hat) There is a Legoland UK near Windsor, near London. As the German bit is relatively (not oppressively - but relatively) tight on time, any reason you couldn't do the Lego bit at the English one on a weekend when you are in London? It appears that their hotel won't be built until next year but as you will be in London anyway that shouldn't be a problem. Windsor is very easy to get to from London, easy by train and shuttle to the park. Happy planning...

Posted by
15634 posts

Okay, you are flying all night to London, then traveling all day to get to Bacharach. Everyone is probably going to be exhausted and jetlagged and, my guess, 50% of you are going to be cranky. Did I mention jetlag? Then you have 5 hotel changes in 10 days. That's a lot of packing and unpacking, especially with kids. It also means you go back to your hotel to get your stored luggage, then go to the train station, and from the train station you take your luggage to the hotel, then start your sightseeing. There's a big difference between a doable itinerary and an enjoyable itinerary. How are your kids going to handle the jetlag? Here's a clue: when you go on daylight time in the spring, do your kids need a day or two to adjust? The rule of thumb is 1 day per time zone . . . Oh wait - you're in Indiana - do you have daylight time?

Posted by
13 posts

Ah. I did not know about Legoland Windsor. Going there later instead sounds like a very good option. Or we might skip the Rhine Valley part for some other time (would have to be a 3-day weekend trip, but possible since we won't be jet-lagged). I keep alternating between thinking the itinerary is fine, and thinking it's too rushed. The children are quite resilient. Switching to daylight savings doesn't really bother them much. About 2 years ago we flew to Asia, and the 12 hour time difference was much harder on their old parents than on them. Leaving Heathrow much earlier than noon would be cutting it very close - we arrive just before 8 am. I have been considering round-trip tickets to/from Münich, skipping the Rhine, and going to Salzburg instead, but perhaps that's just trading our problems. It's really difficult to decide what to do...

Posted by
33107 posts

Well, sticking in oar, you can't go far wrong with Salzburg and Munich, IMHO. I'd be there in a New York minute. I'd have thought that the Sound of Music, the Demel pastry, the funicular up to the fortress, the walking along the river, Hallstatt, the Deutsche Museum would all appeal to the kiddos. The Augustinerbrau, Andechs, Victulenmarkt (sp) and all of the above would appeal to the parents. Yes....

Posted by
2193 posts

If it were me, I wouldn't go all the way to Füssen after Rothenburg...something like 5 hours with multiple changes. Go to Munich instead...approx. 3 hours and 2 changes. People do daytrips to the castles, but that's a really, really long day...I would stay the night in Füssen. IMO, doing Salzburg as a daytrip just doesn't give it the time it deserves. It's technically possible, but perhaps you should save it for another trip that includes Vienna (with Hallstatt and Melk along the way). That's my two cents anyway.

Posted by
837 posts

Great suggestions from Nigel. A couple of years ago, we got a great fare on Lufthansa Munich to Heathrow. With 10 days, by flying to Munich you should have ample time for a train day trip to Fussen to see the castles. I am not sure that Oberammergau and Linderhof add much. I believe that someone said it is a 3+ hour train from Munich to Rothenburg. It is really wonderful and the kids would really love the "Night Watchman's tour". And, Salzburg is very close.

Posted by
2193 posts

Your original itinerary generally looks doable to me if you're okay with blitzing from one place to another, but you're probably shortchanging either the Rhein area or Rothenburg odT a bit...a couple full days in each area is preferable IMO. It is possible, however, to see Rheinfels castle while touring the towns of St. Goar and Bacharach in a hurried full day. You can boat one way and train back to save time (or train both ways to really save time but miss the boat experience). The essentials of Rothenburg can be done in one full day, too, but you would miss the night watchman's tour, which is a lot of fun. The only part that you won't have enough time for is trying to fit Linderhof and Oberammergau into your castle day...no way. As for switching something up for Salzburg, Salzburg is an incredible city, but you'll just have to make a call on this one. If I were forced to choose b/n the Rhein and Salzburg, I would go with Salzburg, but I would keep the castles in my itinerary either way. I would probably even visit Salzburg over Rothenburg if I had to. And if I were going with Salzburg and cutting the Rhein (and maybe even Rothenburg), I would fly into MUC instead of FRA. Decisions, decisions.

Posted by
13 posts

New plan: Day 1: Arrive in Frankfurt, go to Bacharach. Day 2 and 3: In Bacharach and surrounding area. Day 4: Train to Rothenburg, sleep there. Day 5: Day in Rothenburg, then go to Füssen or Münich (partly dependent on hotel availability) Day 6: Hochenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, either as day trip from Münich, or from Füssen. Day 7-9: Sleep in Münich. Is Salzburg a reasonable day trip? I like the idea of fewer hotel changes. Day 10: Münich to Heathrow. This way we have 2 full days in the Rhine Valley, and 2 half days and one night in Rothenburg. We could possibly sleep 4 nights in Münich. Do you think that will make things more sane?

Posted by
258 posts

IMO, Salzburg as a day trip from Munich is very"doable." I've been to Salzburg twice. On my 1st time there (xmas time), I spent a few nights, mainly b/c I had a pretty long trip, so there was ample time to spend a few days in each city. But then on my 2nd time there, I did it as day, side-trip from Munich. I hadn't planned to see it again, but ended up with an extra day at the end of my trip before I flew home to NY. I had already spent considerable time in Munich, and did all I wanted to....and recalled how much I LOVED Salzburg....so went for the day. VERY easy; you leave Munich early AM, you are in Salzburg mid AM (only around 1.5 hrs by train, which takes you past beautiful scenery), and then you have all day. As nice as Salzburg is, it's NOT a big city; and thus the kind where you can spend the day and get in MOST of the highlight sites. Salzburg is an exceptionally pretty city; I have yet to meet someone who went there and didn' love it. And, BTW, I think your current itin looks great.

Posted by
44 posts

I agree with majority of others: you're cramming too many stops in. You will run yourself ragged trying to make all your connections, with no time to "stop and smell the bratwurst." We went in May to Germany, Belgium and France, but purposely stayed at least 3 to 4 nights in each stop (we ended up with 5 nights in Paris, but that's another world!) We didn't see half of the stops you have planned, but we saw MORE of the places we did stay than you will. Like someone else already said, Rick STeves' advice is to assume you will come back again someday, and take it a little more slowly. Have fun!

Posted by
813 posts

My kids are similar ages and I think your d itinerary is just fine. I suggest staying in Munich your last days 5ish-9? Day trips from Munich are Salzburg, Fuessen (castles), and Legoland. Legoland is only a 1 hr train ride, no changes, from Munich Hbf, I say go for it. You can spend the day having fun, your kids are at the perfect age for this park. You can still do the Windsor one as well. Yes, you'll be exhausted, but what the heck, go for it.

Posted by
1358 posts

I'm going to go against the flow and suggest that you cut Rothenburg and keep Legoland. We just took the kids there, and they had a blast. It's geared towards kids younger than teens. If you decide to go, get the family ticket online before you go. It's cheaper and you won't have to stand in line to buy tickets that day. For the castles, I wouldn't add Linderhof. For Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, you have to take guided tours, which can be a bit much for kids. If the weather's good, I'd definitely get down to do the luge at Tegelberg. I'm not sure how to get there with public transport, I'm sure others might know. It's a blast and was a highlight for my guys. For the castles, DEFINITELY reserve tickets ahead of time. We had a reservation, walked right to the front of the line to get our tickets in front of about 50 people waiting without reservations. It might be too late to get a room there, but we stayed at Burg Stahleck in Bacharach. It's a family-friendly youth hostel in a 900 year old castle. They book up quickly, though. It's a walk up the hill, so call the taxi (the number's in Rick's book). My kids LOVED it. And they have a huge breakfast buffet and a reasonable dinner buffet with food the kids will eat.

Posted by
31 posts

I have done some of this route about 4 times in the last 10 years and am planning the 5th for May ~ I agree with some of the ideas of cutting the "extras" to ensure relaxed fun in Fuessen and Salzburg (check out St. Sebastian Institut in Salzbug for sleeping) ~ your kids will enjoy these places lots more than Munich (maybe slide into Munich just for the flight out). Biking with your kids in Fuessen and along the Salzach River in Salzburg, going up to the fortress in Salzburg (as someone else suggested), which we do in the early evening for their dinner/strings, the Sound of Music Tour, Old Center ~ your kids will love Salzburg ~ it definitely deserves a two night sleep! Good for you for expanding their horizon and taking them to see such beautiful spots ~ lucky kids!!

Posted by
13 posts

Yay - I have hotel reservations for the whole trip! I convinced my husband that it would be better to make reservations rather than roll into town and try to find something. What can I say? I need to plan. We're going with 5 nights in Münich. I think this will give us a little flexibility - if the kids decide they are all culture and castle'd out, we'll just go to Legoland. Salzburg is a definite goal. We'll definitely make reservations for Neuschwanstein. Is the day before sufficient? I'll report back when we're all done. Thanks so much for all the help. Leaving in 12 days - whee!

Posted by
1358 posts

You might want to do reservations a couple of days before you want to go to Neuschwanstein. You send in an email request on the website, then wait to get an email confirmation that you print out and bring with you. It took about 24 hours for me to get our reservation, so you wouldn't want to do it the night before.

Posted by
57 posts

Joyce, My teens really enjoyed the Tegelburg Luge very close to the castles. That was one of the highlights of our trip. Good luck