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Germany itinerary help

This June, I plan to be in Germany for about 11 nights. This part of my trip is in between Murren (5 nights) and Paris (7 nights). I was considering renting a car during these 11 nights and just playing it by ear in Germany, with no firm plans. Kind of see where the wind takes the wife and I. I am thinking about seeing Neuschwanstein Castle, Rothenburg, Worms, Heidelburg and the Mosel valley. I am just wondering if 11 days will go pretty fast, or will I find myself with extra time, wondering what's next? Head to Paris sooner? Head to Belgium? Go to Berlin? I am wondering about making my way up to Bruges, Belgium, if I have time, as it seems fairly close to the Mosel valley area. But with a rental car, I would need to drive back to Germany (Hanover) to turn in the rental car and catch a night train to Paris. Any opinions are appreciated!

Posted by
144 posts

There is plenty to see and do in those areas of Germany for 11 nights - you should have no problem whatsoever filling the time. It may be a bit less expensive to take trains, but f you decide to drive, you will have the flexibility to go when and where you want, and visit whatever hits your fancy. You could fill a month traveling in that part of Germany, and barely scratch the surface. I say skip Berlin this time .... its a long drive (or a long train trip) from where you are going to be - you would be going way out of your way to get there, and you would be losing precious vacation time to get there. Bruges, as you said, is not THAT far from the Mosel, but why do it? There's plenty to fill your time right in Germany, without incurring the extra time and cost to go out of your way.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you Laura. This part of our trip is the only time where we will rent a car and tour that way. The rest of our trip is all train travel, so we wanted one part of the trip to be more free-wheeling. No plans, just kind of go with the flow.

Posted by
19171 posts

Germany has the most extensive rail network in Europe (and the second most dense after Switzerland - by 1%). And Germany has some of the lowest fares in Europe, particularly for regional travel or purchase ahead fares. Get a map and a guide book and figure out in advance where you want to go. Play it "by ear" before you get there. Hannover to the Mosel (Cochem) can be done with advance purchase for as little as €29/P. I did that the other direction in 2008. The Mosel to Worms with regional trains and a Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket for €25. Worms to Heidelberg is only about €10/P, full fare. Heidelberg to Rothenburg would be €48 on a work day with a Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket or €40 on a weekend day with a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket. Rothenburg to Füssen with a Bayern-Ticket for €29. For another €29 Bayern-Ticket, you can go from Füssen to Augsburg to catch the night train to Paris at 23:20 or to Munich (22:47) That's as little as about €200 for the trains. You can hardly pay for gas, let alone car rental, for that.

Posted by
976 posts

dave, it's your vacation, get a car if you want! I have used trains and night sleepers, but I like road trips in a car. (Younger son and I just drove 740 miles Wednesday from NM to Texas).
You still have time to decide. You might use viamichelin.com to map out some distances just for comparisons for time, and try some online sites for estimated car rental. Also I'd suggest looking at multiple guidebooks for the cities you listed.

Posted by
12040 posts

(I didn't even have to scroll down to know that either Lee or Russ would tell you not to drive...) But a few comments. I would only allot time to Worms if you want to see the cathedral. Even though it's one of the oldest cities in Germany, it was virtually flattened in WWII. Very little remains from before the war. However, it isn't too far from Heidelberg, so if you have time, you may as well check it out. Personally, I find the the nearby towns of Heppenheim, Weinheim, Bensheim and Lorsch much more interesting than Worms. I would estimate Brugge is at least a 4 hour drive from most of the Mosel valley. It isn't close at all. Speaking of the Mosel, if time is tight, the Neckar valley upstream from Heidelberg is a good alternative to the Mosel. And for an untouristy alternative to über-touristy Rothenburg, consider a short stop in Schwäbisch Hall. It sits just off your general route of travel.

Posted by
6811 posts

"...with a rental car, I would need to drive back to Germany (Hanover) to turn in the rental car and catch a night train to Paris." I'm confused. Why drive all the way from Bruges to Hanover to drop the car? Can't you drop it anywhere in Germany near the Belgian border? If you don't go to Bruges, won't you just drop it in Trier or Saarbrücken, and take the train from there to Paris? "11 nights... just playing it by ear in Germany, with no firm plans. Kind of see where the wind takes the wife and I." I don't think 11 days is too much. But between starting point Mürren and the Mosel, there are all sorts of interesting places. I think you have a "failure to plan" problem here - you won't necessarily bump into the interesting places in a country where you are somewhat underinformed. If you leave it to the "wind", you may indeed find yourselves a bit bored and will be hopping in the car, driving to your next place, and accelerating the pace of your trip unnecessarily. Do some diligent research and assemble a list of stuff that interests you. As Tom points out, Rothenburg is stuffed with tourists. You might still go there, but why not see some other similar but unspoiled places? Your route takes you near many of them. Schwäbisch Hall is a great tip. Bad Wimpfen (on the Neckar between Heidelberg and Stuttgart,) Michelstadt and Miltenberg (NE of H'berg) are great too. Bernkastel and Cochem on the Mosel are great, but head over to the Rhine and check out Linz (north of Koblenz,) Bacharach and Oberwesel. And don't bypass the Black Forest. Gengenbach (near Offenburg) is fantastic. Are you renting in Freiburg, or Basel? Both are good starting points for the BF.

Posted by
6811 posts

Neuschwanstein: a non-castle, too distant just for a 30-min. tour. You'd need to have a whole lot more planned for the area, or see something else. I'd explore Franconia - Würzburg, Nuremberg, and Bamberg, which are all within striking distance of Rothenburg. And you'll find dozens of genuine 800+-year-old castles in the Rhine/Mosel area. Tour Eltz (Mosel) or a real castle on the Rhine instead: http://www.marksburg.de And I would indeed do this trip by train, so as not to disappoint Tom ;). You will have to do some more planning if you go by train - make sure hotels are near the station - but besides the savings, the daypasses Lee has outlined still allow for all kinds of flexible decisions from your travel base.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks everyone for the help. I understand your recommendations for taking a train, instead of driving a car. This is my one country where I was thinking about renting a car and just seeing where we end up. This is a 3 month trip with the whole enchilada being exclusively trains, all hotel reservations made, etc, etc so give me some credit about trains and planning. :) I just have these memories of driving along the Rhine river, coming across quaint little towns, wishing I could stop and just stay right there, not having to move on because I was supposed to be somewhere else. So that is sort of what I want to do. Not be in a rush, just move at my own pace. If I find a nice place and I want to stay for 3 or 4 days, so be it. Maybe this is wishful thinking, I don't know. But on the other hand, the planning part of me wants to have at least a general direction. And the planning part of me wants to see some of the nicer places. I've been to Heidelburg a couple times, but my wife never has, so I might go there for one day to let her see it. I have been to Rothenburg, but on a very quick trip and only for an hour, so I want to spend more time there. I have never seen Nuschwanstein Castle either. I have driven along the Rhine, outside of Mainz. But I have never been to the Mosel valley. I plan to print out this thread and take everyone's recommendations with me. So thanks again.

Posted by
6811 posts

"I just have these memories of driving along the Rhine river, coming across quaint little towns, wishing I could stop and just stay right there, not having to move on because I was supposed to be somewhere else. So that is sort of what I want to do. Not be in a rush, just move at my own pace." You can surely do this by car. But I do the same thing by train all the time. A year ago I spent 6 days in the Rhine/Mosel area with no schedule. I booked 2 places - only because I don't like to waste time looking for new digs, not because I had to. I could just as easily have shown up roomless. I used daypasses and 3-day passes and decided where I was going to day by day. On several days, I didn't the plan I made that morning. I remember having nothing better to do one afternoon and hopping on a southbound train from Koblenz to Rüdesheim, just to watch the sun set from the "other" side of the river. On another day it started to rain, and I had planned a 3-mile hike, so I got off and hopped on another train for Mayen, a town I hadn't visited before, where I knew I could find a cafe if it started to rain too heavily. Spontaneity is one of the the beauties of these daypasses. You pay nothing extra to change your mind mid-stream.

Posted by
813 posts

I like your plan. Two points of caution though. Depending on when in June you go, there are some school holidays in there for parts of the country, traffic could be difficult if you hit a Friday afternoon of a holiday trying to go through a major city. Secondly, just a caution on traffic. Make sure you have a GPS with a traffic feature (which I find less accurate) or an iphone with google maps with a traffic feature (which I find highly accurate). It could save you literally hours of sitting in a stau.

Posted by
22 posts

Rent the car! You won't be disappointed. We have made 2 trips to Germany during Octoberfest and rented a car both times. Both trips were 3 weeks long and really loved being able to go anywhere on a whim. Our last trip we spent 5 days in Lindau and drove to Lichtenstein not only to see Vaduz but I wanted to get my passport stamped! We also drove to Zurich because my husband wanted to go to the Harley Davidson store to buy T-shirts and then we had dinner in Zurich. Try that with a train! Our original trip I had thought about winging it with hotels but ended up making reservations. I am kinda fussy with hotels. We are going back this September for 3 weeks again. Lydia

Posted by
11 posts

If you don't mind driving on the Autobahn and have a good map with alternate routes in case of traffic jams – renting the car and serrendipity would be great fun. We had a great time at Europa Park near Rust near Freiburg on a Saturday first at the musical TV show Immer Wieder Sonntags from 9am to 11 (call ahead for reservations) and the rest of the day at the park. It's a blast! Then, why not take a few R&R days and drive up to Baden-Baden and soak in the baths of Caracalla. Next, work your way to the Mosel but go there via the Rhine valley route and hop over the mountain at Boppard and see the majestic Mosel valley open up beneath you! The Mosel valley has lots of castles like Burg Eltz and Cochem and a great glass of wine called "Riesling Mild". While at the Mosel try to catch a morning ship tour with music singing, dancing, schunkel along (we caught ours in Loef at 9:30 – noon). From Mosel, drive back to Paris and turn in your car at the airport – costs a bit more but worth the extra time you get to tour. While in France, be sure to eat some genuine Alsace Tarte Flamme or Flammkuchen.

Posted by
11 posts

Oops, correction. The very popular TV show Immer Wieder Sonntags is, of course, on Sunday morning 9-11 live and open seating at Europa Park mid May to Oct. Write your ticket number on a piece of large white paper, get in the mob line at the wagon outside the gate (before the park entrance to the right), wiggle your way to the front of the mob - no line - (everyone does it this way) wave your paper and the attendants will take your credit card or cash for payment. A combo ticket for show and park is available. The phone # is on their web site so you can call ahead and "reserve" tickets. Sit anywhere but bewere its out in the sun so bring sunscreen. Leaving, insert your park ticket in the parking machine to open the gate arm to leave (a bit unclear but like many parking lots, need a ticket to get out).

Posted by
3050 posts

I'm usually a pretty big train proponet but I see nothing wrong with renting a car and driving around this part of Germany, provided you don't mind paying the extra for rental and gas compared to train tickets. Tom gives good advice. I took the B3 from Darmstadt to Heppenheim on his recommendation, really enjoyed the scenery and castles from the road. I then took a bit of a detour into the forest on some pretty narrow roads, then met up with the 37 following the Neckar down towards Stuttgart. This drive took me just a few hours and was literally riddled with charming ancient walled towns and castles. And you are going to have a flexibility to stop and enjoy those as you see them that you won't on a train, where you may see little of the town itself from the train station. I'd do the Black forest (RS recommends a drive in his Germany book - haven't taken it yet) and then go up the Neckar River valley stopping in Bad Wimpfen and anywhere else that looks interesting, then take your wife to Heidelberg. From there, the Mosel valley is a natural choice. Coming from Murren you could also spend a few days around Lake Constance/Bodensee. Lindau is supposed to be lovely, and Konstanz is very old and has a really cool cathedreal, and the flower island Mainau is supposed to be lovely in summer.

Posted by
33339 posts

According to SWR, for <<Immer Wieder Sonntags>> the live broadcast is "10:00 bis 11:30 Uhr im Ersten." and "Wiederholung immer Sonntags, ab 14:00 Uhr im SWR Fernsehen." and the dates for 2012 are 13th May 2012 - Episode 1 20th May 2012 - Episode 2 Third June 2012 - Episode 3 10th June 2012 - Episode 4 17th June 2012 - Episode 5 24th June 2012 - Episode 6 First July 2012 - Episode 7 8th July 2012 - Episode 8 15th July 2012 - Episode 9 22nd July 2012 - Episode 10 5th August 2012 - Episode 11 19th August 2012 - Episode 12
26th August 2012 - Episode 13 9th September 2012 - Episode 14

Posted by
15686 posts

Since you are planning to visit multiple locations in a short time, I think driving makes sense. You won't lose time getting to/from train stations and you won't have to schlep your luggage around. I recommend the DK Eyewitness Travel guide "Back Roads Germany" which has several scenic routes planned out for the areas you are interested in.

Posted by
3696 posts

I think it sounds like heaven.... I am one of those who loves freedom and spontaneity and have done this many times in the south of Germany. Typically if I am wanting to go to a more touristy area where I think the room might be a problem I might make a reservation, but otherwise, with a car... if ALL hotels are full you can just drive on to the next town. I alway have picnics from the trunk of my car, am able to stop whenever I want to take photos and veer off the main road to any little town that looks interesting. If you should get bored, (highly unlikely) you can always take a day or two and go to Salzburg, or drive yourself to Lake Constance. I would probably stay in the south and save Berlin for another trip.

Posted by
76 posts

Rent a car so you have the freedom you desire. Driving in Germany is wonderful. Slow traffic keeps to the right and no left lane bandits. Have maps and study them as a backup to GPS or vice versa. There will be plenty to do in Germany during your allotted time. Hit Bruges and Berlin on another trip. I wouldn't avoid any of the places you mentioned because they are described as too touristy. They are touristy for a reason. But definitely check out the alternatives suggested, time permitting.