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Germany Itinerary - option one or two?

Seven Nights - March 31 - April 7 traveling with a 12 year old - we'll use car and train - knowing nothing else - which direction would you go? Heidelberg Rothenberg Nurnberg Bamberg Munich or Heidelberg Tubingen Salzberg
Munich

Posted by
809 posts

Feasibly, I don't think I can do Rothenberg and Salzberg - any itinerary you can think of which includes salzberg - it does look like a quick train ride from Munich. I have six days to "play with" - figuring night 1 is spent in Heidelberg. Regensberg does intrigue me. What makes Rothenberg so great? maybe we skip Rothenberg and instead see if we can go to Nurnberg, Regensberg, and maybe Bamberg (maybe just as a day trip from Nurnberg? I am going to look at my map tonight!

Posted by
12040 posts

I'm going against the usual Ricknik opinion to state that skipping Rothenburg is not incompatible with an enjoyable trip to Germany. It is pretty, but it looks like dozens of other towns in the region, only with more souvenir shops. I can think of several towns within an hours drive of Heidelberg that are very similar - minus the souvenir stores, Japanese tourists and the completely intact wall.

Posted by
809 posts

OK - I am seriously trying to get my boss' taxes done here - he thinks I am busy doing that but ... no such luck! 1. Arrive Dusseldorf ICE to Heidelberg for night (2 hr train) 2. Rental car east stop at Rothenberg for night 3. to Nurnberg 4. Nurnberg - take drive or train to Bamberg 5. Regensburg - by train leave car in Nurnberg 6. Munich
7. Munich

Posted by
809 posts

Hi Tom - didn't see your post - I may skip Rothenberg - maybe we just explore some other towns and find another place to spend a night - I am not a souvenir shop person and while I have nothing against Japanese tourists - I am not a fan of tourists in general.

Posted by
809 posts

Nothing is set in stone! I spend way too much time sitting at my desk trying to look busy ... and got it in my head that I must go to Tubingen. I want to see somewhere which was not destroyed by the war - and heard it was beautiful - same goes for Bamberg. I want fun, I want beer, I don't want a big city. Husband doesn't want boring villages. Middle ground - place we all loved was Krakow. Our son loved Evora (Portugal walled city) husband thought it was depressing. Son and husband hated Bayeaux (I'll give then that, it was February). My FAVORITE city is Ghent, Belgium - perfect size, nice castle, museums, good food and bars. I didn't like Bruges at all - touristy and not for me (this is sort of my fear about Rothenberg). We love to travel but get bored easily - my worry is that we end up in a big generic city and I don't want that. We do like to move around but I don't want to spread ourselves too thin and be spending all day getting from here to there. I am sitting here going from bahn.com to viamichelin.com and plugging in cities and routes. I am near to having the entire German rail system memorized.

Posted by
18237 posts

One of the cold hard facts of life - you can't see everything in one trip, particularly in a 6 day (effectively) trip. That's why I've spent something like 9 weeks in Bavaria in the last decade. I keep coming back to see something I missed before. I like Heidelberg better than Rick does, but still don't think it is a "must see". Same for Tuebingen. I'd go right to the Rothenburg, Bamberg, Nuernberg area (maybe include Wuerzburg). Then go to Munich. Now that you're bit by the bug, you'll want to come back. Come back and do Heidelberg, the Schwaebisch Neckar, Tuebingen, and the whole northern Schwarzwald - Freudenstadt and the little villages on the Nagold, like Calw.

Posted by
2193 posts

Rothenburg odT should make the cut for sure, but I would also highly recommend both Salzburg and Munich. Munich just feels much smaller to me than it really is. Maybe it's because of the traffic free streets in the center or the fact that many of the sites are so close in...it's really a pleasure for tourists in such a big city. One town nobody seems to discuss much is Regensburg...I haven't been there but would like to visit...just doesn't seem to get much discussion here. I understand it suffered very little damage during WWII, and it's medieval center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Posted by
18237 posts

When I was in Rothenburg, no one put a gun to my head and forced me to go into the Chirstmas shop, or made me see the Crime and Punishment museum. I did walk almost the entire wall. I found it fascinating that people built that wall, not for tourism, but because they wanted to stay alive. I didn't see a lot of tourist on the wall. We also saw the Riemenschneider alter in St. Jacobs church. Maybe it was the time of year (August) but I didn't find it excessively touristy. If you want a similar walled city experience with less tourism, go to Noerdlingen, a few hours south. It has fachwerk buildings, an almost intact, similar style (Wehrgang) wall, a church tower you can climb, but without a Christmas shop or a C&P museum.

Posted by
31435 posts

bronwen, Hopefully your Boss doesn't have a "snoop program" in your computer. He may be reading all your HelpLine posts in "real time". When I was working, the IT dept. had our computers "locked down" so tightly that it was difficult to view anything except work-related sites. Even though it can be somewhat "touristy", I'd still recommend at least one night in Rothenburg. Be sure to take the Night Watchman's tour. He's quite entertaining! Try to squeeze in as many days as possible for Munich, as there's SO MUCH to see. What are the specifics of your travel group? Cheers!

Posted by
809 posts

Ha - I am a personal assistant ... my boss doesn't even know how to check his own email! We are two adults and a 12 year old. Likes: historic sites, wandering, we like to stay in centrally located hotels with nice opportunities for after dinner wanderings and drinks, we like zoos, not big on shopping, interesting museums - not too keen on art museums but science and history are up our alley. Watchman's tour sounds good - son can;t get enough of walking tours (odd kid). I don;t want too much driving - a few days is fine with a car. I would love to get to see the mountains. Both Bamberg and Tubingen intrigued me because they weren't bombed. A little more info - we arrive into Dusseldorf early (6:00 am) but our plan is to hop an ICE train from Cologne to Heidelberg. Probably will take a stroll and see cathedral and get some breakfast first.

Posted by
12040 posts

Based on your interests, Heidelberg has a zoo that's better than it's small size would imply. One of the largest intact structures built by the Nazis sits near the top of the Heiligenberg, the mountain that overlooks the old town. It's sort of an outdoor amphitheater. Despite what one poster might say about not needing a car in Germany, this is one of those sites where a car will save you from needing to walk 90 minutes up a steep mountain trail. If you're interested in castles, beside the well known Schloß of Heidelberg, there's several castles upstream along the Neckar River valley. Not as many as in the more famous Rhine gorge, but more than the Mosel. The small castle town of Dilberg is one of the few walled towns in Germany where the wall is completely intact.

Posted by
2193 posts

I've been to Rothenburg twice during peak summer season and found the crowds to be mostly manageable. It's touristy like Neuschwanstein but completely unlike Venice IMO, which has horrendous crowds that make it almost hard to enjoy in summer. Early in the morning and again in the evening, you could fire a cannon through town (true of Venice, too). Yes, there are probably 50 tour bus groups on any given day, but you can still navigate away from the main square area around the Rathaus, which can be very crowded. But in the March-April timeframe, I cannot imagine it being crowded at all. I would never go back to Venice in July, but I will always visit Rothenburg any time of year should I be lucky enough to be in the area. I guess I like it because of its quaint authenticity. The wall is impressive, and that crime and punishment museum isn't some cheesy tourist trap...it's a really great museum. And the night watchman's tour is a lot of fun.

Posted by
809 posts

Thanks all - I think we'll likely spend the night there. Driving between Heidelberg and Rothenberg - and suggestions for stops along the way. How about hotels / inns in Rothenberg - any recommendations?

Posted by
18237 posts

If you can find reasonably priced accommodations in Nuernberg, I would suggest basing there instead of Rothenburg. Rothenburg is at the end of a little spur line from Steinach, on the main line from Wuerzburg to Augsburg, and only regional trains stop in Steinach. This makes it a little difficult getting in and out of Rothenburg. And, Nuernberg has so many transport options, you should lose the car when you get to Nuernberg. The transit authority in Nuernberg, VGN=Verkehrsverbund Grossraum (greater) Nuernberg has many options. For travel in and around Nuernberg, itself (zones 100 & 200) a day ticket (Tagesticket Plus) for both of you would cost €7, and allow unlimited use of all conveyances in town. Nuernberg Hbf to Rothenburg Bhf take 1h15m to 1h30m by regional trains with changes in Ansbach and Steinach. A network wide Tagesticket Plus, for €15,60, will cover both of you to and from Rothenburg, plus any other travel in the VGN that day. The same network wide Tagesticket Plus will also cover you from Nuernberg to Bamberg (which is also in the VGN). If you buy a Tagesticket Plus on a Saturday, it's valid for Sunday, also. Nuernberg to Regensburg and back would require a Bayern-Ticket for €29, which would also include travel in Nuernberg that day.

Posted by
809 posts

thanks all .... I am going to re-read all of this and do some thinking. My concerns are always where my family will like since I am the planner and therefore the burden falls on my shoulders. Important issues are - a cool town, a hotel central enough that after dinner our kid can go rest and watch German tv and we can go have a few drinks. Some historic sights and museums. Places for nice walks. Anyway - while we're at it - how about Heidelberg, Augsburg, Ulm, Munich This could go on for days! Good thing I got my airfare 9 months out. Of all the towns / cities we've thrown out there which can I see big mountains? Which has the most vibrant scene? Lee - my son is flying to Colorado for camp tomorrow - does it really get below freezing at night? he'll be in Florissant (35 miles west of Colorado Springs)

Posted by
121 posts

I have to admit Rothenburg is one of my favorite places to see and visit. However, I've done all my visiting in the winter time when crowds were minimal and some snow was falling (well lots of snow last year) which made it very nice for the Christmas season. Getting there is time consuming on a train so I can understand skipping it. Nurnberg didn't do much for me, maybe due to its large size or its excessively large Christmas market which was way too crowded for me (I preferred some place like Heidelburg or even Munich). Getting to/from Salzburg is about a 1.5-2 hr train ride if you are staying in Munich. One thing I would STRONGLY suggest is to use the Swiss or German rail sites (if you are using the train) and write down all of the travel times from place A to B. Then look at ways to optimize your travel and see what is realistic. I've done that for several trips and it helps to give you a perspective on what is reasonable. Part of the problem for you is that Heidelburg doesn't quite fit in with some of the other cities. It is a good city to visit if you are coming from or returning to Frankfurt. If you are going to be around Nurnberg you might want to visit Wurzburg for a day since they are only about 1 hr apart via a train.

Posted by
18237 posts

Just so you don't get on the wrong train, or spend all day waiting for what you think is the right train, the last ICE to Heidelberg, at least until late in the day, appears to be at 5:52 AM. There are some ICEs to Mannheim, which don't go to Heidelberg. From Mannheim it's a short S-Bahn ride to Heidelberg. There are also some direct ICs from Duesseldorf to Heidelberg. Don't hesitate to take one of them. They are nice trains and sometimes make a trip in less time.

Posted by
27438 posts

As you will be visiting the Koelner Dom are you aware of the Roman museum right next door, and (pretty tasty) the Chocolate Museum with its chocolate fountain...

Posted by
2966 posts

Voice of dissent: Rothenberg was somewhat disappointing to me. Sure it's beautiful and quaint and everything, but unlike Tubingen - a real thriving University town - it seems to exist solely for the tourists and felt kinda "dead" as an actual destination outside the touristy stuff. I've been everywhere on your itinerary but Bamburg, but I think your latter itinerary sounds better because Salzberg is just fantastic and I super-enjoy every city on that list. Nuremberg is cool too, and is a reasonable day trip from Munich if you want to amend your second itinerary. I just don't get all the fuss over Rothenberg. Germany is filled with towns like it, except they're all less irritatingly touristy and most of them aren't in the middle of nowhere (like Rothenburg is).

Posted by
2966 posts

Amending my voice of dissent though:
Still anti-Rothenburg. I don't know RS loves it and hates Heidelberg - but I'm glad that Heidelberg is on your itinerary. I was just there yesterday. The schloss is fantastic, the pubs are great (don't forget to go to Vetter's to try their famous high-alcohol beer), the food has more variety than most German towns (had excellent Korean food there last night) and so on and so forth. But thinking realistically, Tubengen, while charming, is in many ways a smaller, more compact version of Heidelberg. So it's probably skippable since you're doing the former, but so is Rothenberg (IMO) because for it's charm I just don't think it's worth the effort/time of getting there. You could try to add Esslingen on as a half-day stopover from Heidelberg to Salzberg, connecting in Stuttgart. It's got that small medieval town appeal and is only 20 minutes from the Stuttgart train station by S-bahn. Get back by late afternoon, catch the train to Salzberg and you're there in 4 hours. But I really would try not to miss Salzberg, it's awesome. Just more possibilities for you to mull over!

Posted by
809 posts

Sarah - thanks! I have been thinking much the same. A guy on Tripadvisor gave me some great itinerary stops towards Tubingen .... Esslingen.included. I want to run some buy you. Will get back.