Arriving in Stuttgart to visit daughter Christmas Eve and Christmas day what is open? We are heading by train to see Rothenburg ob der Tauber are the castles open during winter? My family would like to see Vienna, Bratislava, maybe Prague then to Berlin and back to Suttgart to leave Jan. 5th. All of this by train and staying in these places. Any suggestions?
Surely, if your daughter lives there, she can answer this.
I think your daughter is in a better position to advise you, since she is there. But your plan seems a little ambitious, since you are talking about seeing five or six cities in 11 days, in the winter. Have you looked at train schedules to see how long it will take to travel to each of these places and be back in Stuttgart by Jan 4?
"are the castles open during winter?" Which castles? There's hundreds of them in Germany. If you specifcally mean Ludwig II's castles near Füssen, yes, they remain open all year. There's also plenty of castles closer to Stuttgart, if you're interested, including Burg Hohenzollern, Burg Teck, Burg Lichtenstein, Schloss Sigmaringen, and about a dozen casltes along the Neckar River valley.
Agree with the others, your plan is a little too ambitious for the amount of time you have allotted.
My daughter is in Stuttgart for a 6 month work assignment and has not been there long. Berlin is a for sure with my family and Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a for sure too. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
If Berlin is "for sure", then cut out Vienna and Bratislava. Otherwise, you don't have the time.
Rothenburg gets more attention than it deserves. Not that it isn't attractive, but it isn't nearly as unique as touted. You're not too far away in Stuttgart, so you may as well check it out as a daytrip. For a similar type of town, closer to Stuttgart, there's also Schwäbische Hall, Tübingen and Esslingen.
Thanks for your great advise. If I have more questions I will let you know. Traveling by train I am hoping will not be difficult. We have used trains in Italy, Spain & Portugal with great experiences.
I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day in Stuttgart one time when I lived in Nuernberg in the mid-80's. I don't know what it's like now, but NOTHING was open on Christmas day. We worked for the US Army and ended up having hot dogs at the bowling alley on post for our Christmas day dinner. Some of the hotels may be open for meals that day, so your daughter needs to check that out if you are planning to eat out.
Once you figure out what you would like to see, you need to Google those places to see what their hours are. I agree with the others that the itinerary is too ambitious -- especially for the winter when the weather can be very bad and it gets dark early.
First of all, you will be heavily jet-lagged when you arrive, so plan for Christmas Eve to be a bit of a blur.
Check the train schedules on the DB Bahn website (http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en) for times, distances and length of trip before you commit to anything. For example, it takes almost 7 1/2 hours and one train change to get to Vienna from Stuttgart by train on December 26th. That's a whole day lost right there. The last thing you want to do on such a short visit to Europe is to spend all your time staring out a train window.
I'd drop out Vienna, Bratislava and Prague and make it an all Germany trip. You will spend less time on the train and more time soaking up the culture of the country your daughter is now living in.
By the way, New Year's Eve was a big event with lots of fireworks in the city when I lived there. It may not be that way anymore, but the corner next to my apartment was ankle deep in firework debris the next morning and I'm not exaggerating. New Year's Day was similar to Christmas Day with nothing open, except maybe some hotel restaurants, so you will need to plan for that as well.
Thanks for the great information! I think we will only visit Germany for our trip. At first we thought we would drive but I think we will use the train for getting around.
Check out the hours of any special attraction you want to see. For example, the Night Watchman tour in Rothenburg does not take place after Christmas.
Neuschwanstein castle - open daily except 1 January and 24 / 25 / 31 December.
You'll find most restaurants closed Christmas Eve (some Thai and Indian places are open), but Christmas day you can get in somewhere with a reservation. Try Busnauerhof Im Wildpfadstuble, great local food made fresh, lovely family atmosphere. Call ahead for a table, it's small and popular. I also suggest skipping Vienna and Bratislava. You can do Rothenburg ob der Tauber in a day from Stuttgart. Berlin is easy to get to on the train, but because of the distance, you might try looking into cheap flights on Air Berlin or German Wings. About the same time and price to fly or train. Lastly, if you're interested, some of the French Christmas Markets don't close until the New Year. Strasbourg goes until 31 Dec.
Tom's advice is solid. Almost nothing is open in Stuttgart past 3pm on the 24th, and pretty much nothing on the 25th except gas stations and some fast food joints. I'm not kidding. Advise your daughter to do all her shopping before the 24th and be prepared to entertain you guys for those two days. Holidays are taken seriously in Southern Germany, and the entire week til after New Years is pretty dead in general. I'd consider driving or taking the train to Alsace, France, where at least their Christmas markets are open til the 31st in most cases, and then getting to Berlin ASAP where, by virtue of being a real city, there will actually be things open with stuff to do and see.
I had my family with me in Stuttgart last year for the holidays, and it was a struggle to keep them entertained on the 24th and 25th. Most locals just take two weeks off, and many restaurants and businesses don't reopen until after Epiphany (Jan 6th).
Thanks for all of your replies! Is driving in Germany that time of year ok? We are from Chicago so we know bad roads drink winter. Trains seem really expensive compared to Italy rail system.
The trains in Germany are a lot less expensive than renting a car and paying for fuel. For short distance travel, you can get Länder tickets that give you unlimited travel for one day on regional trains in one state usually for less than 30€ for two people (e.g., Bayern-Ticket for Bavaria is 26€ for 2). For longer distance, advance purchase Savings Fare tickets for express trains (ICE/IC/EC) from the Bahn website start at 49€ for 2.
Driving around Stuttgart sucks at any time of year, due to the heavy traffic and seemingly endless roadwork. But except for the Alps and their hinterland and some of the other mountain areas, Germany doesn't see anything like the lake-effect snow storms that hits you in Chicagoland. It's usually a light coating and the main roads are cleared very quickly.