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Best things to do and see in Bavaria

Hello! I'm planning on taking the train from Interlaken to somewhere in Bavaria. I only have a short 4 days to spend there, so I'm wondering where I should stay to make the most of my time, and which are the most authentic and unique castles? I've been reading posts that say the famous castles (neuschwanstein, and hohenschwangau) are not really that great.

What towns should I definitely visit and spend a night in?

I ultimately fly back to the states out of Frankfurt, so I will have to eventually make my way there. Any input is greatly appreciated!

Posted by
17 posts

I might suggest visiting Salzburg which is only 150 miles from Interlaken and right ON the border of Austria and Bavaria. It has a delightful old town. The train station is conveniently right in the center of the city within walking distance of any place you want to visit. The castle is easy to get up to and the view from there is superb.

Nurnburg has an interesting medieval old town which is easily walkable. An interesting and historic castle is only blocks from the center. A short bus ride takes you to the WW II museum and Hitler's famous parade grounds.

Rothenberg is only an hour away by train, is an easy day trip from Nurnburg, and a most-visit medieval city with a medieval wall around it. Easily walkable.

From Nurnburg, it is a 260 mile train ride into Frankfort. This suggested routing requires no wasted backtracting.

Don't bother to stop at Wurzburg; not enough worth visiting. With lots of time maybe ok; there is a big medieval bishop's mansion in Wurzburg but that's all.

I was disappointed with Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. They are located in a fairly pretty location, are only a short bus ride from the train station in Fussen, but aren't really extraordinary as far as European castles go. You are required to make advance reservations for a tour time or miss out if the crowds are too large. The castles are privately owned and so you are herded between ropes, visit only a few rooms in each castle, there are no signs explaining what you are viewing although the tour guides will answer questions. No photos are allowed.

Posted by
837 posts

Cindy, I would agree that Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau are covered by tours and that it is disappointing that photos are not permitted. However, We found Neuschwanstein to be fabulous. I had read negative comments here before going and was expecting to see very few rooms. This could not be further from the truth. In grandeur, it reminded me a bit of Hearst Castle. Rothenburg is wonderful. It may be available for a day trip, but I would recommend staying overnight and going on the night watchman's tour.

Posted by
1369 posts

"Don't bother to stop at Wurzburg; not enough worth visiting. With lots of time maybe ok; there is a big medieval bishop's mansion in Wurzburg but that's all."

The Residenz is listed as the principal sight in Würzburg but it is not my favorite attraction. I like the Marienberg Festung (fortress) across the river. It is an "authentic" fortress built in the 13th century. It did suffer damage in WWII and has been partially rebuilt. It is a fact of life in Germany that many places have been destroyed in various wars and rebuilt. The Festung has two good museums in my opinion, one devoted to the area and the other to the city.

The Hohensalzburg is likewise a legitimate fortress, acting as a defensive high point from the 11th century to modern times.

Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau were built after cannon eliminated the protection of fortresses; they are authentic palaces. The setting is drop dead gorgeous with the Alps and beautiful lakes. Füssen is an attractive small town.

Rothenburg is best in the evening. That can be said for many places.

What you should see needs to be based on what fires your imagination. I would check a couple tour books in the library. You can not lose in any case.

Coming from Switzerland, I would also look at the Baden-Württemberg which lies more along your path to Frankfurt.

Regards, Gary

Posted by
2193 posts

If you can find it at your library, check out the Visions of Germany - Bavaria DVD. Otherwise, buy it on amazon. In addition to borrowing a few guidebooks as already mentioned to help fine-tune your itinerary, viewing the video will provide you with some ideas and stunning aerial footage of all the great cities & sites in Bavaria (with commentary and classical music scores). The boxed set has a second DVD that focuses on the Rhein region.

Mike's post reminded me that Rudy Maxa also offers some very good DVD episodes on Germany, including Bavaria.

Posted by
1449 posts

I would suggest getting a guidebook or two on Germany, or even one focusing on Bavaria. That's the whole point of a guidebook, to explain your options on what to see and where to stay. Knowing what your options are, you can make a choice that's right for YOU as opposed to simply accepting what others find enjoyable in their vacations. Also on television there are a number of shows (Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, etc) that have great footage that lets you see in advance what some areas look like; something may catch your fancy on a show.

Posted by
18385 posts

I have to wonder if David has every been to those there parts.

Interlaken to Salzburg is 340 miles per via Michelin. It's Frankfurt, not Frankfort, and Nuernberg, not Nurnburg. The distance from Nürnberg to Frankfurt, again per Michelin, is 140 miles.

I've seen Salzburg and Nürnberg, and they don't compare with Neuschwanstein, Munich, and Rothenburg.

Of the three, Marienberg, the Residenz, and Schloß Nürnberg, I much preferred Marienberg. The Residenz wouldn't even get an honorable mention.

You can get to Füssen without going through Munich (many connections go through Pfronten, a delightful town).

Since you only have four days, I would take the first day getting to Füssen and see Neuschwanstein, then go on to Munich for a couple of nights. Finally, go to Rothenburg for the last night and from there on to Frankfurt.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you so much for the advice everyone! The only guidebook i've looked at on Germany so far is what is in Rick steve's best of europe. I will definitely check out some others :]

Posted by
31524 posts

Cindy,

To begin with, you might want to have a look at a copy of Rick's Germany 2009 as there is lots of good information on the the sights of Bavaria and other places in Germany.

My suggestions are much the same as Lee provided. As you've only got four days, you might consider something along these lines:

  • Stay in Munich for a few days, and use it as a "base" to visit sights in the area. I would definitely recommend visiting Neuschwanstein as it's a magnificent building with an interesting history. I took a day trip to the Castles with Radius Tours and would certainly recommend them. They provide some background on the history, but the tour inside the Castle is conducted by the "offical" tour. No photos are allowed of the inside of the Castle, however photos taken from the Castle are allowed.

  • When you return from a day trip of the Castles, explore Munich a bit. Marienplatz is always interesting, the Hofbrauhaus, Deutsches Museum, Viktualien Market, Englisher Gardens, etc. Radius also offers walking and bike tours and tours of Dachau, if you're interested.

  • Spend at least one night in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is on the way back to Frankfurt, so this will reduce your travelling time to some extent. If you're in Rothenburg for the evening, BE SURE to take the Night Watchman's tour, it's very entertaining! You'll have to adjust your timing for the night in Rothenburg based on your flight departure time from Frankfurt.

  • Take the train from Rothenburg to Frankfurt Airport (there's a station right at the airport). There will probably be at least two transfers, perhaps in Steinach and Wurzburg.

If you plan well, you should be able to have an efficient and interesting few days in Bavaria.

Happy travels!

Posted by
17 posts

To Lee: Yes, I have been to ALL the places we have been discussing. And, if you'd been there, you'd know "Nurnburg" is the German spelling; Nuremberg is the English. Also, if it is so necessary that you correct my spelling, check you’re posting ; you spelled Nurnburg three different ways.
I based my suggestions on the fact I've traveled to Europe twice a year for three weeks each trip since 2005 and that Cindy says she has only four days. All the places we've discussed are fun, worthwhile places to visit if your schedule gives you enough time. The problem with our recommendations is that we are all recommending based on what we like to do or see. Cindy didn't give us a hint of what she wants to do or see. Does she care to see medieval towns like Salzburg or Nurnburg, does she want to do any shopping, is she interested in going to a Munich beer hall, does she care to tour gorgeously decorated churches, is she traveling in summer competing with huge crowds or in off season? One can't do Munich well in a short time; it too big and the sights are too spread out. Touring the two castles in Bavaria will take most of one day. Comparing them with castles in the Loire Valley or Fontainebleau in France, Hofburg in Vienna, or Versailles by Paris where you need no reservations, can wander freely, stay as long as you like, and take as many pictures as you want, the Bavaria ARE a disappointment and, in my opinion, not worth a whole day’s time when you only have four.
Also, travel time must be considered. An hour train ride between Nurnburg and Rothenberg takes longer. Checking in and out of hotels, travel to and from train stations, and possible confusion in a new, unfamiliar town must be added.
Cindy, Ken’s suggestion to get Rick’s guide “Germany 2009” is a good one; that guide details well all the places we’re discussing. Also, click on website “www.terragalleria.com/europe/germany. “It has beautiful pictures of these places.

Posted by
17 posts

To Lee: Yes, I have been to ALL the places we have been discussing. And, if you'd been there, you'd know "Nurnburg" is the German spelling; Nuremberg is the English. Also, if it is so necessary that you correct my spelling, check you’re posting ; you spelled Nurnburg three different ways.
I based my suggestions on the fact I've traveled to Europe twice a year for three weeks each trip since 2005 and that Cindy says she has only four days. All the places we've discussed are fun, worthwhile places to visit if your schedule gives you enough time. The problem with our recommendations is that we are all recommending based on what we like to do or see. Cindy didn't give us a hint of what she wants to do or see. Does she care to see medieval towns like Salzburg or Nurnburg, does she want to do any shopping, is she interested in going to a Munich beer hall, does she care to tour gorgeously decorated churches, is she traveling in summer competing with huge crowds or in off season? One can't do Munich well in a short time; it too big and the sights are too spread out. Touring the two castles in Bavaria will take most of one day. Comparing them with castles in the Loire Valley or Fontainebleau in France, Hofburg in Vienna, or Versailles by Paris where you need no reservations, can wander freely, stay as long as you like, and take as many pictures as you want, the Bavaria ARE a disappointment and, in my opinion, not worth a whole day’s time when you only have four.
Also, travel time must be considered. An hour train ride between Nurnburg and Rothenberg takes longer. Checking in and out of hotels, travel to and from train stations, and possible confusion in a new, unfamiliar town must be added.
Cindy, Ken’s suggestion to get Rick’s guide “Germany 2009” is a good one; that guide details well all the places we’re discussing. Also, click on website “www.terragalleria.com/europe/germany. “It has beautiful pictures of these places.

Posted by
12 posts

David,
I appreciate your input! The truth is, I would love to see and do everything you mentioned (and someday I will!), but I obviously don't have enough time during this trip. And unfortunately, I am traveling with two people who cannot travel during off season so I'll be in Germany during the last week of this month. So I'm sure I will only be getting a very quick and probably very touristy view of Germany this time around, but I'm still really excited about it! If Bavaria is as enchanting as it seems I'm sure I will be back.
Thanks again for all the help :]

Posted by
33 posts

Hello guys, a little more civility, please. The correct spelling is Nuernberg (in German) sorry I could not find the u-umlaut. Happy travels anyway. Karin

Posted by
18385 posts

The name of the town is (a hill is "Berg", auf Deutsch). Substitiution of ue for ü has historical significance so Nuernberg is also acceptable. I think the British spelling is Nuremburg, but it's irrelevant. I know I spelled it Nürnberg and Nuernberg, both correct, but if I spelled it another way, it was a typo. I know the correct spellings.

Just for drill, try to access www.nurnburg.de. I don't think you'll get anything. WWW.nurnburg.com will get you a "purchase this domain name..." site with links to www.nuernberg.de. WWW.nuernberg.de will get you to the official website of Nürnberg.

Posted by
18385 posts

"One can't do Munich well in a short time; it too big and the sights are too spread out."

That also makes me wonder if you have ever been to Munich. So much to see there is clustered in a small area around Marienplatz. Except for Dachau, Schloß Nymphenburg, and the Olympic grounds, everything else - the Fußgangerzone, Neues Rathaus, Frauenkirche, Residenz, Hofbräuhaus, Isartor, Deutsches Museum, Viktualienmarkt, münchner Stadtmuseum, englischer Garten - are all pretty close.

Posted by
2193 posts

Echoing an earlier recommendation & in the spirit of getting things right, let's try this auf Deutsch (or at least as well as I can manage on two semesters of German and several trips): Ich würde empfehlen, Füssen, München, und Rothenburg odT in dieser Reihenfolge vor dem Flug zu Hause aus Frankfurt am Main. Okay, I probably just offended native speakers, but I think I got it about right.

Normally, I would also recommend Würzburg, but you won't have the time. The last time I flew out of FRA on an early afternoon flight, I stayed the final night in Rothenburg...it worked very well. Happy travels, and that Visions of Germany video I recommended earlier is great for getting you pumped for your trip...fabulous footage.

Posted by
18385 posts

Not bad. I think it's "nach Hause" and I'm sure empfehlen goes at the end of the sentence (only the conjugated verb goes in 2nd position).

Posted by
33 posts

I am impressed Michael and Lee, nach Hause is "korrekt". Empfehlen I can take with a grain of salt, although Lee is "korrekt". I thought this was a travel forum and not a language course. Are we starting now with correcting English too???? Just kidding. Love this forum it is the most entaining. Karin

Posted by
18385 posts

No, this is a language course; how did you get the impression is was a travel forum?

Seriously though, Michael's use of article declination, one of the more difficult parts of German grammar, was very good.

I think that being able to use the local language greatly enhances our travel experiences.