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Help requested with itinerary in Germany

I am traveling June 2-16th 2009 with my husband and two kids (7 & 9 yrs old) and want to see castles, history (interesting/exciting enough for my two young boys), cathedral, rolling hills, biking, hiking and relax! The first 5 days of my itinerary are already set since we will be traveling with other family members to visit relatives. I need help with the remaining 8-9 days. We plan to rent a van or station wagon for the length of our trip.

We are flying in and out of Frankfurt. The first 5 days will be to: Osnabruck, Hannover, Wolfsburg, and Briselang.

Over the next 8 days I wanted to try to have a base camp in a town for 2-3 nights and have day trips. I was planning to see the following towns in this order:
1. Salzburg
2. Augsburg
3. Lichtenstein
4. Nurnberg
5. Rothenberg
6. Stuafen
7. Freiburg
8. Haslach
9. Strasburg
10. Baden Baden
11. Heidelberg
12. Bingen/Bacharach to Koblenz to take a Rhine River boat tour.
13. Fly out of Frankfurt.

Any feedback is appreciated. I especially would like feedback on:
1. For 8 days of travel are all of these towns worth seeing? Did I leave a must see town out?
2. Which ones should we sleep in or use as our base camp?
3. Is there a better, more efficient order to see them in?

Your feedback is appreciated!

Posted by
8114 posts

Not quite sure, but it looks like you have 12 places listed to see in 8 days. I don't think you have included travel time in your plans. The best thing is to get out a map and look where all these places are and see if it makes sense to go to all of them. There must be reasons as to why you want to go to all of them. Traveling with the 2 boys should be considered. How fast do they get ready, how fast do they get tired? Some kids travel well, others not. Basing yourself in the Munich area to visit Salzburg and Nuremberg, etc. might be good. Frankfurt might be another good base for visiting Heidelberg, and the Rhine River, plus the city itself is worth seeing and the kids might have fun there too. Hessen Park - an open air museum is near, the Saalburg - a reconstructed Roman fort is nearby, Kinder museum - all about underground Frankfurt & is fun for your sons age group, the Zoo in Frankfurt is quite good too. Mainz is also worth visiting and the cathedral there is gorgeous.

Posted by
38 posts

Frances, We did a similar trip last summer with a 7 and 9 year old. The thing that works best for our family is to not overplan. I was an intense traveler in my younger days, but now with kids I've learned to dial it back and enjoy "relaxed" traveling. We were more in Austria/lower Germany and I always try and mix culture with things I know the kids will like. For example we went to Halstatt and toured salt mines and paddled on the lake then went to Salzburg to see Mozart's house, etc. Hiked and toured in Rothenburg (kids LOVED the nightwatchman tour and the creepy museum of crime and punishment.) After many castles, etc., we treated them to Legoland - and my husband and I LOVED it. We found it quite different from theme parks in the USA. And definately go on a sommerbahn. We only had a few wrecks but no broken bones. My biggest advice is to not overschedule.

Posted by
1356 posts

"Are we there yet?"

What kind of a trip would this be for two kids? The places you mention are too wide spread for a 3-4 base camps. For the last eight days I would focus on one or two areas.

As you are flying out of Frankfurt, I think the Rhine/Mosel valleys would be one good choice. You have a full range of castles from carefully preserved to ruins. You have Roman ruins including catacombs in Trier and other places. You have steep sided valleys with vineyards by the mile. There are places to walk, old wine villages for strolling, boats to float and climbing trams to ride.

I suspect that your kids already know what the back seat of a car looks like.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you for all of your replies! I appreciate all of the feedback. I know I have too many towns listed and realize I need to pick 4-6 towns or even fewer. We did do a trip here in the U.S. and do not like all the driving. We would rather just drive a little and be based in a town where there is plenty to see and do. I will visit the suggested Web site and narrow down my towns further. Looking at my destinations I will likely focus on/around Salzburg for 3 days and 3 days around Stuafen/Baden Baden and 2 days on the Rheine between Bingen and Koblenz. Does this sound more reasonable? Maybe I need to scale it back even more. More feedback is welcomed.

Posted by
10344 posts

What?! someone actually taking our advice to downsize their itinerary! (just kidding, Frances)Your new, refined itinerary has got you headed in the right direction, of helping you create the kind of trip you'll enjoy the most. Glad we could help. The Viamichelin.com website will be a big help in refining your planning. At first, it's not quite as user-friendly a website as you'd like--but once you spend some time there, you'll understand why Michelin has been helping people have good road trips in Europe for over a century now. Happy travels!

Posted by
31471 posts

Frances,

As the others have mentioned and as you've realized, your initial Itinerary was WAY too busy and IMHO not even possible. If I read your post correctly, you were planning to visit 12 cities in an 8-day period, as well as taking a River Cruise. I think it's safe to say that you wouldn't be doing any "relaxing" with a schedule like that!

It's difficult for any of us here to know which destinations to drop, as we don't know which ones are most important for you and your family. If you could provide a revised Itinerary, the group here should be able to help you work out the "bugs".

One thing to mention is that you'll probably find that your trips between towns will not be as quick as they are at home. You'll be dealing with an unfamiliar area along with unfamiliar road signs and parking regulations. You might want to obtain an International Driver's Permit as they include charts with all the road signs. A GPS unit would be a good idea!

We'll look forward to seeing your revised Itinerary.

Cheers!

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Frances. Yes, your travel plan that you mentioned 2/18/09 at 11:03 p.m. is reasonable. All of those three destinations are good places to be at. Plan on a day for travelling between destinations.

Posted by
5560 posts

"castles, history (interesting/exciting enough for my two young boys), cathedral, rolling hills, biking, hiking and relax!"

Glad to see you pared down your itin. Nothing worse than being a kid stuck in the back seat for days on end.

Still, with 8 days and your specific travel goals, I would make some changes.

Sounds like Salzburg is important to you. It's relatively compact; I'd recommend no more than 2 nights.

When the Rhine comes up, a lot of people only think "Rhine Cruise". But the Rhine/Mosel is a sure bet for your other stated travel interests too. History: Old Rome in Trier, WW II museum in Remagen, 2 excellent medieval castle tours at Burg Eltz and Marksburg. Biking is very popular and pleasant along the Mosel. Hiking is great along the Rhine cliffs and around the Mosel. Hike to Burg Eltz:

www.bensbauernhof.com/burgeltzfrommoselkern.html

I think the boys would also enjoy the falconry shows at Reichsburg Castle in Cochem, which is maybe the best town for a base in the region. Cochem also has a waterpark - Moselbad.

I'd spend 3-4 nights there.

In between, the Rothenburg area would have to win out over Staufen and Baden-Baden, which though pleasant have much less history and atmosphere to offer, IMO. Nearby Bamberg is beautifully preserved too, and Würzburg's Residenz (palace) is amazing. I'd spend 2-3 nights here.

Consider dumping the car. Your whole family can travel on the regional trains from Salzburg to Rothenburg for 28 Euros with a "Bayern Ticket" daypass. For Rothenburg to the Cochem area, travel on Sat or Sun with a "Happy Weekend" ticket on regional trains for 37 Euros total, or purchase discounted advance-sale tickets online at www.bahn.de . Outings can be done with a Bayern ticket (for Rothenburg area) or a 27-Euro Rheinland-Pfalz ticket (Rhine/Mosel area.) Trains serve these destinations very completely. The savings over a car rental will be huge, and the boys will have a new, European experience.

Posted by
1356 posts

"In between, the Rothenburg area would have to win out over Staufen and Baden-Baden... Nearby Bamberg is beautifully preserved too, and Würzburg's Residenz (palace) is amazing. I'd spend 2-3 nights here."

Frances, you did not mention this area but I agree with Russ that it has lot to offer. I really liked Würzburg's fortress. Rothenburg is touristy but an almost uniquely walled city perched on cliff overlooking the Tauber River. Plus it has lots of tourist services.

Rothenburg:

http://mcchelsea.smugmug.com/gallery/6787052_w2d22/1/433647595_SGBvs

Würzburg:

http://mcchelsea.smugmug.com/gallery/1401769_eh83i/1/66325720_JKyBE

Regards, Gary

Posted by
5560 posts

"Frances, you did not mention this area but I agree with Russ that it has lot to offer."

Gary, those are some awesome photos; I love the one of Würzburg's spires.

Frances mentioned so many places in her first post that you probably didn't notice that Nuremberg and Rothenburg were on her first itin!

Frances, I have been there several times but could gleefully spend another week in Franconia (Rothenburg, W'burg, etc.) for each of the next 10 years. Nice place.

Posted by
15 posts

You can skip the second city you mentioned, Augsburg. I stayed there one time when there were no hotels available in Munich. It's about a half hour away by a fast train. But I can't think of any special attractions there.

Posted by
5560 posts

Anyone else who is interested in learning about WW II incidents at Remagen might also enjoy the slightly hokey but entertaining and informative movie, THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN, starring George Segal, Ben Gazzara, and Robert Vaughn. It was filmed on location, I believe; the present-day museum is housed in the supports of the bridge that was destroyed there in the final days of WW II.

Posted by
5560 posts

Here's a photo of the original bridge:

http://www.bruecke-remagen.de/images/bruecke_erpel.jpg

If you happen to be on the east side of the Rhine - to see pretty Linz, for example - there's a little ferry that crosses the river from Erpel to Remagen on the west bank. It lets you off fairly close to the museum - just a nice walk south along the river.

http://www.rheinfaehre-linz-remagen.de/re_index_f.html

There's one from Linz itself as well:

http://flickr.com/photos/beuel_sued/2078288218/

Posted by
755 posts

Hello everyone,
This is a reminder to everyone to please stay on topic and to not respond to individual's comments unless you are contributing to the question at hand. Many posts in this thread have been deleted to make sure that Frances receives the best information and suggestions for her trip. Please do not write a response to this post either.

Happy travels,
Rick Steves' Webmaster

Posted by
156 posts

I agree that Rothenburg ob der Tauber should be a must see and the kids will love the torture museum and night watchman lamplighting. Salzburg is fabulous but so compact that the old town can be done in a day.Other than the castle, I find Heidelberg very disappointing as the old town is so "americanised" and not what I would have expected. I would spend a couple of days in Munich which has lots to see and you can take a long day bus trip of about 12 hours which will take you to Oberammergau, Schloss Linderhof and the magical castle of Neuschwanstein...these are the highlights of Bavaria and wonderful scenery on the drive is a bonus....

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you everyone for your feedback! I have significantly reduced the towns I plan to visit and need to revisit my itinerary over the next several days to simplify it even more. I plan to post my revised itinerary next week.

Thank you again. The feedback is reassuring and I feel more confident about the decisions I have made.

Posted by
1357 posts

And if you do decide to rent a car, I'd get something smaller than a station wagon or minivan. Those'll cost more, plus, as has been mentioned before, gas is dang expensive over there. Pack light and you'll be able to fit everything into a smaller vehicle.