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Bavaria Trip - Your Experience and Advice Requested

Hello,

I will be traveling to Munich in 2009 for Oktoberfest with a few friends, we'd like to spend a few days seeing other spots around Munich and have decided on 3 days in Munich, then off for 2 days in Fussel / Schwangau, then 2 days in Salzburg, then back to Munich for 1 day and a return trip home.

1) Your thoughts on the number of days we plan to stay in Fussel/Schwangau and also Salzburg, is this enough, too much?

2) When researching places to go besides Munich, these seem to be two of the best spots for a first time Bavaria (and Germany in general) trip as they are fairly close together and seem to offer some great experiences. Any suggestions comments on alternate locations or your comments on the cities I have chosen?

In general, any feedback and discussion would be greatly appreciated.

-Charlie

Posted by
2885 posts

Hi Charlie,

With the time you have your plan sounds like a good one. Two days in Fuessen/Schwangau and two days in Salzburg sounds right to me. If you'll have a car, spend an afternoon in the Salzkammergut lake area near Salzburg.

From Fuessen/Schwangau, maybe a drive into Austria to Ehrwald for the Zugspitze cable car. The Wieskirche is an amazing church by Fuessen. Also, one mile from Ludwig's Neuschwanstein castle is the Tegelberbahn, which along with a good cable car ride is a Sommerrodelbahn... a luge ride. A lot of fun!

www.zugspitze.at

www.tegelbergbahn.de

I'd plan a "loop"... from Munich, I'd see Salzburg first, then drive to Fuessen/Schwangau. On the way back to Munich from Fuessen/Schwangau, make a stop at Andechs Monestary. Beautiful church and wonderful outdoor beer gardens set in the Bavarian countryside.

www.andechs.de

Hope this helps.

Paul

Posted by
12040 posts

If you plan to rent a car, I would recommend basing yourself in some place other than Fussen. Fussen's an OK place to stay, but it's a bit like the German version of Kissimmee, FL, meaning that it rather shamelessly exploits of its promiximty to a well-known landmark. And, it can be packed with tourists during some of the busier times of the year. Consider Mittenwald, Ehrwald, Oberamergau or Garmisch-Partenkirchen as an alternative. But if you won't have a car, Fussen is a good idea.

Posted by
70 posts

Your plan sounds solid. As mentioned, skirt the Alps from Fussen over to Garmish....absolutley lovely and will offer you some relative peace compared to the throngs attending O-fest. We just returned from a very similar trip. Fussen is great as is the old town of Salzburg. Munich is another big city but in the right places is nice. Chek out Englischer Garden and of course Marienplatz...Prost!

Posted by
4 posts

Is it typical to do both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles in one day? We're fairly early risers and all in our mid 30s so we move at a decent pace, is this the kind of activity you complete before lunch or an all day affair? I plan on doing a guided tour of the castles as people seem to recommend. I also really like to soak things up, I've only traveled abroad once (3 week trip across almost all of Scotland and some of England) and found I tend to like to stay at things longer than most of the people I'm with.

Posted by
4 posts

We will be traveling by train. I don't have a lot of experiences so far, just the UK trip mentioned above. As far as a town being touristy, I suspect that won't bother me, as I like meeting other travelers, talking about where they're from, etc when those opportunities arise. A typical evening after a long hard day of site seeing would be to find a local, comfortable place to eat, perhaps have a single beer in two or three local places that you can walk to and from while trying to soak up a little of whatever "night life" there is before going to bed around 11pm so we can start the adventures again early the next day.

P.S. Thanks to everyone for their replies so far, this is a great resource.

Posted by
4 posts

My apologies for so many posts, but another question comes to mind. Renting a car in Munich and doing this loop of Munich / Salzburg / Fussen is totally an option for us also. The train sounded easier, but we're totally open to renting a car as well.

Your thoughts on car vs. train for this "loop"?

Posted by
2885 posts

Hi Charlie,

Yes, you can easily do both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein together in the morning. From Fuessen they are just 5 miles away, so with an early start you should be done touring both before lunch, leaving time for the luge ride/cable car "up the street", for a drive to see the Wieskirche or whatever.

We like the flexibility of a car, especially in this area. Driving is pretty easy and very scenic. My opinion, rent a car the day you'll be leaving Munich and return it to Munich at the end of your trip.

We've used www.gemut.com and www.travelocity.com without any problems recently. We used the website to get the 800# and called for quotes/reservations. Both places were very helpful.

Paul

Posted by
19022 posts

My thoughts on renting a car:

I've spent seven trips (14 weeks) in Germany (almost all in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria), and I have never felt it necessary to rent a car. Public transportation is very good in this area and much less expensive. Before every trip except the first few, I have figured out where I want to go, how to get there by public transportation, and I have gotten quotes on car rentals. I always find I can get where I want to and save many hundreds of dollars by not using a car, not to mention the hassles I save.

As for "flexibility", on a well planned trip, you don't need, or have time for, flexibility.

Posted by
1449 posts

A lot of earlier posters have said your itinerary sounds right. I'm going to disagree. It takes about 1/2 day to change locales even when they're relatively close together. On travel days you'll get up, breakfast, pack, go to the train station with margin to make sure you don't miss the train, arrive, get to the new lodging, check in, grab stuff for the afternoon. While the train schedule may say A to B is just a 2 hour trip, it will likely be 2pm before you're out and about in the new town. So you've really got 1.5 days in Fussel & Salzburg. Not really enough time in either.

My advice is to drop one of them and add a day to Munich and the remaining destination.

Posted by
19022 posts

Mike (and Charles): first, the name of the town is Füssen, Fuessen is acceptable. Get it right, please.

Second, in almost 10 years of traveling in Germany, I have never had trouble getting to the Bahnhof by 9:00 AM. The 8:52 train to Füssen, and the bus, gets you to Hohenschwangau by just after 11:00, plenty of time to see both castles.

Posted by
1449 posts

Harry, in order to be in Salzburg at 8:41am (there is no arrival shown for 8:45am) the DB site shows a 6:39am departure from Munich. Add into that time for getting ready to leave the hotel in the morning, checking out, getting to the station, etc. and it makes for a pretty early wake-up! Maybe you don't mind doing it but I doubt many travelers would find your itinerary realistic. Especially the OP who anticipates going to bed around 11pm each nite.

Given Lee's more plausible arrival time of around 9am, one that is in accord with my experiences taking trains in Europe, the 8:48am train gets you to Salzburg at 10:42. Get to the hotel and leave your bags (because its too early to check in), head out and have lunch, its easily 12:30 - 1pm. Like I said, expect a 1/2 day left in town on the travel day.

Posted by
2885 posts

In response to Lee's "As for "flexibility", on a well planned trip, you don't need, or have time for, flexibility".

Even on a well planned trip, you should be "flexible". Everyone's travel style is different, we simply prefer having a car.

Whether by train or car, if you wind up with a full day and a half in Fuessen and the same in Salzburg, it's plenty of time to see both, in my opinion.

Paul

Posted by
19022 posts

Laura, the Bayern-Ticket is only valid after 9 AM, but you don't have to take a later train. The train gets to Geltendorf after 9. A simple €6.90 3-zone Einzelfahrkarte to Geltendorf will cover your travel until after 9, when you can use the Bayern-Ticket. So, total for two to Hohenschwangau and back, on the 8:52, would be €40,80 (€27+2x6,90), €20,40 per person.

Mike, five years ago, my wife and I left for Salzburg from an eastern suburb of Munich, arrived in Salzburg in time to tour Mirabelle palace before having lunch in the old town, toured Festung Hohensalzburg, came down and walked around to Marie's convent, came back and spent some more time in the old town, went back to the Bahnhof and returned to Munich in time for a late supper. An extra day would be plenty of time.

Posted by
2885 posts

Hi Harry,

His statement in response to the fact we (and others) like flexibilty on our trips... "As for "flexibility", on a well planned trip, you don't need, or have time for, flexibility."

No need OR time for flexibility? Come on now.

This sounds like Lee is again preaching his way of travel as the only way.

Paul

Posted by
19022 posts

What I am "preaching" is that planning your trip well so that you don't have to use a car is less expensive and just as effective. I base this on almost 10 years of study and 14 weeks of practical experience. I know that in Germany a car is not necessary.

What are you preaching? Spend more?

Is flexibility the inability to adapt to a changing situation, or just not any idea what you are going to do? In November I was in the Harz mountains. I had a tentative schedule for each day, which didn't require a car. When I found out that there really was a narrow gage, steam train to the top of the Brocken - that the schedule just hadn't been published until after I made my plans, I "blew off" Quedlinburg and went to the Brocken. That's flexibility. But, I didn't need a car to do that.

Posted by
2885 posts

Lee,
I'm not going to go back and forth with you. Of course a car is not necessary. I've travelled 6 times to Bavaria, Austria and the Dolomites. I've spent as much time in these area's as yourself. So have a lot of others here. Each time we travel we've CHOSEN to rent a car. This is simply the way we like to travel. I'm sure we're not alone. We've also travelled throughout Switzerland, using public transportation.

Your answer to the OP just had to include a condescending remark to my earlier post. This is not the first time either.

You know more about the train system than I know (or may ever know) and that advice is valuable. Some prefer to travel by car. It's that simple. I've travelled extensively by car and respond to posts with my experiences. Notice I've never "knocked" train travel. To each his/her own. Lighten up Lee. The point is to give the OP as much first hand info as possible. This is not done by dismissing others (my) travel preferences and advice.

Have a good evening.

Paul

Posted by
1449 posts

(edited post) This was a post to try to calm the waters, so to speak, with Harry. Given his subsequent 6:29pm posting with the snarky "I am so glad that I do not travel like you do" I redacted it (you can look the word up, Harry). And you know, I'm glad you don't; with the grace of the Heavens our paths will never cross.

To the OP -- talk to different people and see what's going to work for you. If you don't mind getting up at 5:15am to catch a 6:39am train, travel like Harry.

Posted by
116 posts

We did both the Hohenschwangau/Neuschwanstein castles in one morning and with all the kitsch in the area were glad to give Fuessen only half a day. You buy the combo ticket and do Hohenschwangau first, then N. I recommend taking the bus up to N. walking from the bus to the Marion Bridge, take a picture off either side, walk to the castle, see it, then take the horse buggy down. We just did this in October and the fall colors were rivaling the New England falls I enjoyed for the last 10 years.

The Garmisch-Partenkirchen area is a good home base to do a day trip to Fuessen, spend a morning at another Ludwig castle, do a scenic drive, get some killer hikes with fantastic fall colors, ride a few cable cars through the leaves, etc.

I recommend Munich, then GAP and do day trips, then hit Berchtesgaden en route to Salzburg. If all you want to see in Salzburg is the Mozart house and the Fortress, then 1 day will do you fine. The Documentation Center towards the Eagle's Nest is a HUGE time sucker and can take you anywhere from a 1.5hr blitz-5hr read it all/hear it all on the audio guide. It can also just kill any desire to see any more Hitler-era stuff.

Make a list of stuff you want to see and figure out how much time each museum/event will take. Then you'll know how much time you need in each place. Then tack on your travel time.

Posted by
2885 posts

Hi Charlie,

I just wanted to agree with "juliette's" post on how to see Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. We also took the bus up. It leaves you above Neuschwanstein at Marienbrucke (Mary's bridge). Great views of the castle and countryside from here! You then walk down to Neuschwanstein. After the tour, we also took the horse drawn carriage back down. Inexpensive and much easier than walking up to the castle and back down in my opinion. The walk to/from Hohenschwangau is much easier than Neuschwanstein.

Paul

Posted by
62 posts

Hi Charlie,
It doesn't say in your post how many people are traveling with you. When we travel with 4 people we usually rent a car and stay in smaller towns(but this is my perference and then using public transport to get into larger cities).
I personally don't like changing trains. I am okay with one train but many train stops are for less than 1 minute and I have had back surgery so I want more time lifting a suitcase off the train. I have traveled just by train for 6 weeks through Germany and Italy from September-October but that was presurgery.
Here's an idea how long it takes by car Füssen to Wieskirche, to Oberammergau, to Ettal Abbey, to Linderhof castle(I perfer this to Neuschwanstein) back to Füssen via Plansee - nice lake total drive time 1hr 50 min.
I also agree if you decide to drive don't rent car till you are checking out of Munich. Do you have your hotel in Munich yet? We have gone several times and you need to book hotel as early as possible especially popular and less expensive hotel. I have tried during one okterberfest for next and some hotels were already booked.
Is this a beer trip? If so you might also check into Stuttgart Cannstatter Volksfest runs from 9/25 to 10/11/2009.I like this better because it is easier to get in tents and bands were rock bands but also had german beer drinking songs.
Also another great beer town but with lots of history also is Bamberg. It is also in Bavaria so you can get there easy by train or car.

If you just go to Salzburg, Munich and Bamberg or Nuernberg you should be just fine on train.

Posted by
956 posts

Charles, I'm going to give some unsolicited advice... If you're a group of people that are in the mood for a really fun few hours and you want to see the highlights of Munich, you've GOT to take the free bike tour (http://www.discovermunichnow.com/). My husband, our friend and myself agreed that in a 3 week trip, it was the highlight! It's mostly young people (not that older people aren't allowed) as it is a lighthearted history of the city and there is a beer chugging contest (voluntary) at the Englischer Beer Garden. Lenny was our tourguide, but supposedly all of his guides are just as much fun. A tip is encouraged at the end, and we were GLAD to give it.
And as far as the cities that have been mentioned, Garmisch is our favorite city in all of Germany, tourists or not. ;) We used Garmisch as a base to see Neuschwanstein. We were going to go to Berechtesgaden while staying in Salzburg, but it rained that day, so we went to the Hallein salt mines instead. Anyway, you're going to enjoy your trip no matter which of the above posters' tips you take! I'm a bit biased because Munich and Salzburg are favorite cities of mine!

Posted by
16 posts

Charlie, your trip looks fine, if a bit hurried: I'd spend an extra day in Salzburg, or perhaps wander more around southeastern Bavaria and forgo Austria.

I know that there's a mentality to "see as much as you can in the time you have" with many here in the States, for whom vacation time is fleeting. But I find that I get more out of a trip when I just let things roll out at a more deliberate speed. Flexibility is good, as is some wiggle room: if you like a city or area, you can spend an extra day or two there and see more.

Sure, it means being willing to not see certain things on a trip, but sometimes I shake my head at the whirlwind, see-it-all-in-one-go itineraries floated about. Rick talks about getting to know the locals, and being a "temporary local," in his books, TV series and lectures, and it's tough to do that if you're always on the go, moving from town to town and region to region.

But I'm sure you'll love Oktoberfest and Munich - two wonderful things to see and experience!