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Input and Advice

Now as I begin to plan my 22 day driving trip, I have create a rough draft of my driving adventure. There are a few longer drives in this itinerary, but I'm from the Los Angeles area and driving is no problem.

(1 day) Arrive Copenhagen (CPH), rent, drive to the ferry at Nykobing, cross, and spend the night in Rostock,
Germany.

(2 days) Drive from Rostock to Berlin, spend the rest of that day and one more.

(2 days) Drive from Berlin to Dresden, spend the rest of that day and one more.

(1 day) Drive to Rothenburg ob der Talber, spend the rest of that day.

(2 days) Drive to Munich,spend the rest of that day and one more.

(2 days) Drive to Salzburg,spend the rest of that day and one more.

(2 days) Drive to Insbruck,spend the rest of that day and one more.

(2 days) Drive to Garmisch and Parenkirchen,spend the rest of that day and one more in that area and towns.

(1 day) Drive to Fussen, spend the rest of that day.

(1 day) Drive to Freiburg, spend the rest of that day.

(2 days) Drive to Heidelburg, spend the rest of that day and one more.

(2days) Drive to Koblenz, spend the rest of that day and one more.

(1 day) Long drive to Lubeck, spend the rest of that day.

(1 day) Drive to ferry, cross, and spend the rest of that day in Copenhagen.

Next day, return car and fly in the afternoon.

Any suggestions would help. I've been, for example, considering, skipping Fussen and Freiburg and going to Lucern, Switzerland for 2 days.

Posted by
27402 posts

The only thing that catches my eye is that you appear to have your heart set on a road trip yet all the destinations you list are so easily and inexpensively done by train - and instead of dealing with staus and traffic on the autobahns you could be looking out the window or dozing...

Looks like a lot of looking out the windscreen to me.

Posted by
2081 posts

Jon,

To me it looks like some type of Road Rally. If this is the case hope you have fun.

Happy trails and zooom zooom.

Posted by
8064 posts

Why Copenhagen if you aren't planning on seeing much there? Why not fly into Berlin and fly out of Frankfurt perhaps, or Munich? Save a lot of money on cars, ferry crossings and going back to a city you haven't shown much interest in seeing.

Posted by
31433 posts

Jon,

Your proposed Itinerary is FAR too busy (IMO), and it was exhausting just reading it. That seems like a masochistic marathon but if you want to try it, go for it.

Although you're from Los Angeles and used to driving, you'll probably find driving in Europe to be somewhat different. You'll have to contend with signs in different languages, a variety of parking regulations, Highway Tax Vignettes in some areas and you may need an I.D.P. in some countries (I haven't checked). You may also find that getting between locations takes longer than even the best MapQuest planning. Packing along a GPS along with good Maps would probably be a good idea.

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
6820 posts

I used to fly to Europe and drive as far and fast as possible--thinking I was seeing so much. In reality, I was just seeing roads and missing so much.

$9 per U.S. gallon gasoline has opened my eyes to staying in a few centrally located places, and doing day trips by rental car. If there are any long distances moving to another centrally located city, it's by train. We've actually been able to rest on some our trips since our change of ways.

Because there's simply no way your brain can take in so much culture, food, art, music and architecture and process it. Remember that the first and last days of your trip are a written off, and every day you move over 100 miles is another wasted day.

You would do best to fly open jaw into one city and out of another at the other end of your trip. I prefer to stay in one area a week, and move to another. That would put you in for 3 cities/regions to visit the right way--the slow way.

And remember that you'll return shortly.

Posted by
1244 posts

At the completion of your proposed itinerary you will be able to say "been there" and memories of sitting in a car for a very long time.
Is this what you want to accomplish?

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you all for the input. We are actually a family of 5. The savings flying into Copenhagen were substantial, about $400 U.S. per person as compared to Berlin, Munich, or Frankfurt. In addition, it's non-stop. Non stop to some of the cities mentioned above can be as much as $700 higher per person. Copenhagen was the cheapest non stop I could find to this region. We have looked into the train, and we have used trains in previous trips to Europe. The train for 5 people and this many travel days is substantially more expansive than driving. We think that driving my give us a bit more freedom, and it is more affordable for the 5 of us. I agree that it is a bit ambitious of an adgenda, and it is a rough draft. I also think it might be a great adventure. I appreciate your thoughts,

Jon

Posted by
8645 posts

How old are your children? How do they like spending most of 3 weeks in a car? My children would have hated it. My advice is to cut some of your destinations. You don't have more than 2 nights in any location, which only gives you one day there. Less than a day, and maybe only a few hours, in the other places. What was it that made you decide on these places? What are you looking to get out of this trip?

Posted by
1244 posts

Is your last name "grumwald"?
Please, trust us, this itinerary needs to be cut in half with more time allocated to having fun by being out of the car.

Posted by
12040 posts

A couple of observations. You're flying into Copenhagen but your trip is mostly concentrated in southern Germany. It looks like you're picking your destinations mostly out of Rick Steves' books. I suggest you supplement your research with other guidebooks that pay more attention to north and central Germany. And no Hamburg on this trip? The kids might get a kick out of Miniatur Wunderland. Plus, it's a gorgeous city.

"There are a few longer drives in this itinerary, but I'm from the Los Angeles area and driving is no problem." They have these things on German roads called a Stau, in which traffic suddenly comes to a roaring halt for no particular reason then completely stops for long periods of time. You may be accustomed to such occurrences from driving around LA, but is that really how you want to spend your vacation? They're unavoidable in Germany, especially if you can't understand the traffic reports on the radio or if you don't know the usual choke points. I would say that the scenery from the Autobahn network is generally moderately scenic, but after awhile, it becomes just another road. Especially when your're not moving.

You haven't accounted for jet lag. That's going to get your trip off to a real rough start.

Your route has you passing right by the magnificent Hartz mountains with it's amazingly scenic towns (Goslar, Wernigerode and Quedlinburg) but continuing to trudge on for several more hours onto the single most over-touristed town in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is why I highly recommend supplementing your research, so that you're not by-passing some gems that could offer a perfectly good substitute to more well-known, but less convenient destinations. Speaking of which...

You can easily cut Freiburg. It's a far outlier in the overall flow of your trip. After driving through the Mittelgebirge (the mountainous, hilly territory that covers much of central and large parts of southern Germany) and the Alps, you'll probably find the Black Forest more of the same. Plus, with only one night planned, you have no time to anything but arrive and leave the next morning. And if it's cloudy or overcast, you won't see much of the Black Forest anyway.

Adding Luzern, even if you cut out other destinations, would do nothing but make an already difficult trip even more of a death march.

I would suggest consolidating your Alpine wish list into one destination, like Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Alpine weather is very fickle and few places on your itinerary are more weather-dependent. If you only allot two nights in one location, that whole time will be wasted if your one full day is rained out. Trust me, this happens.

So, overall, I would recommend two things: Cutting the number of destinations and shifting the focus more to the north.

Posted by
20 posts

Many thanks to everyone for your valued input. Perhaps my wish list is too long. It's only a rough draft, so I'll be back soon with a modified agenda with less destinations and longer stays.

Regards and thanks again,

Jon

Posted by
868 posts

You start and end your trip in Northern Germany, but most of the sights you want to see are at the other end of the country. Can't blame you for that, most English travel guides focus on Southern Germany. Let's see some sights you miss along the way:

Stralsund (World Heritage Site)
picture of Stralsunds towns square

Schwerin (the Neuschwanstein of the north)
pic of Schwerin castle

Sanssouci (World Heritage Site)
pic of the New Palace

Quedlinburg (a World Heritage Site with more than 1.000 half-timbered houses)
random street

Wittenberg (a World Heritage Site with Luthers house)
pic of room where Luther lived

Erfurt (one of the biggest preserved German old towns)
pic of the merchants bridge

Wartburg castle (World Heritage Site)
pic of the castle

Spreewald (romantic area near Berlin)
random pic

Saxon Switzerland (picturesque mountains near Dresden)
pic of Bastei bridge

(sorry, couldn't resist) ;)

Posted by
45 posts

Jon:

I tend to agree with Martin and Tom. You will be spending all your time in the car. This itinerary is much too aggressive. It sounds like you already made your plane reservations and are stuck flying in and out of Copenhagen. Do you think that after flying from LAX to Copenhagen you will be ready to rent a car, drive to Nykobing and take the ferry to Rostock? I do not think after 11 hours or so in the air I would be ready to do this with a family of five. I would spend a couple of days in Copenhagen and see the city. It would be well worth it and give you time to get over your jet lag. Then rent your car in downtown Copenhagen (I think you may find a much cheaper rate than the airport) and then start your driving tour. Know the city subway lines serve the Copenhagen airport quite well. You can return the car at the airport on the day you leave. If you want the ferry ride from Rostock, put it at the end of the trip. You can also catch a ferry from other cities on the Baltic coast.

It seems that you are planning to visit many large cities. My wife and I have taken two car trips through Germany. However, we use the car to get to the smaller towns that are not conveniently served by rail. While overnight parking the car is a problem anywhere you go, it is especially an issue in large cities. You may be finding that you will need to find accommodations outside the city and take public transportation to the sights you want to visit. You are spending only one day in Berlin. Why go to Berlin for only one day? Save this for another time. I agree with Tom. I think this trip, since your have your plane reservations, will need to concentrate in Northern Germany. I also think you will also find fewer tourists in the north.

My wife and I did a two-week driving tour of Northern Germany two years ago after spending a week in Berlin. We visited many of the suggested sites. However, we flew into Berlin and out of Copenhagen. Both Tom and Martin have given you many good ideas for places to visit in Northern Germany. There are truly many things to do. The only thing I would add is a visit to Brocken in the Harz Mountains. You can catch the steam train from Wernigerode, as well as other places. I think your family would find this excursion interesting. Note that Quinlinburg, not far from Wenigerode, was untouched by both World War I and World War II and worth the visit. Most tour guides, including my copy of Rick’s guide to Germany; do not discuss anything about the north. In fact, the planning map he provides cuts it off.

Good luck with your plans. Know that if this is your first trip, plan as if you will return.

Posted by
8645 posts

A comment regarding your rental car - for a family of 5 you will need to pack very lightly. You will need a van, or at the very least a minivan. There is no way you can get 5 people and their luggage into a 5 passenger vehicle. Even with a minivan you don't want anyone to have to hold their luggage on their lap as you do your marathon tour of Germany. My first trip to Germany we had to rent a minivan and I can tell you that it can be difficult to drive on some of the narrow streets in small towns, not to mention parking almost anywhere. A minivan doesn't seem large by our standards, but it's huge by European standards.

Posted by
12040 posts

Speaking of Brocken in the Hartz... from the small town of Schierke, there's a very popular hiking route to the summit. I mention this because it's a pretty easy hike, perfect for families, if you want to stretch your driving legs a little. On a clear day, you can expect to see hundreds of people making the walk. And like practically every prominent mountain in Germany, there's a restaurant and Biergarten on the top.

Posted by
1244 posts

Jon,
I do admire your investment in taking your family on this trip, the return on the expenditure will be a lifetime of memories.
Suggest you research train travel via use of some travel pros who know how to do so.
The man in seat 61 is a great resource to commence your rail research (seat61.com).
Use of trains is ez and a wonderful experience. Consider what you and family will gain by using a travel mode which enhances everyones experience.
Best of all, you arrive refreshed and ready to enjoy your destinations without needing to pay to park a car. Yep, you should consider parking as being a hassle and expensive. Plus, ask folks how expensive a simple parking ticket costs, not to mention a speeding ticket (there are speed limits in germany)
Enjoy a great trip!

Posted by
2397 posts

Jon -
I just noticed and read this thread and I am going to throw something else in.
You say you are flying round-trip Copenhagen because of the large savings on airfare and are a family of 5, and it seems you are flying from LA.

Would this be because you are looking at the Norwegian Air flight?

Wife and I are in process of putting together a Copenhagen/Berlin trip, and have been searching for a decent airfare. And we too noticed the much cheaper option via NAS, requiring us to go to JFK (we are near Philadelphia). As much as we want to lower our airfare and turn that money into vacation, we were completely put off by what we read about NAS. I would recommend you read the reviews about them, particularly of their long haul flights (see Skytrax for a starter) and ask yourself if the initial money savings will really be worth it for what you will be getting in to with this airline and all the additional costs you will wind up with for your family, just to get to and from a city that you will be leaving immediately on a long car trip with large rental and gas costs.

I can also mention that there are tremendous train fares available if you book in advance. For example, our planned transfer between Copenhagen and Hamburg will be 29 Euro each 3 months in advance, knowing we can plan on a fixed ticket. Similar with bus, Berlin Hamburg is 9 Euro 3 months in advance.The various train and bus prices have to be less than having the car full time, even with a family of 5.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Plus, ask folks how expensive a simple parking ticket costs, not to mention a speeding ticket (there are speed limits in germany)" Actually... not that much in Germany. I've never accrued a parking ticket, but they fines are usually something like €20. The most expensive speeding fine I've received was €30, but most are only about €15. It's more of an inconvenience to pay rather than a significant monetary dent.

Posted by
5369 posts

Another note about the car is the likely need to park it with all the luggage in it. In a van, the luggage would be visible. There is nowhere in tourist land where it is recommended to leave visible items in a transient parking lot!

Also, the bigger the car, the harder it is to drive in a medieval town or to park in an underground garage with much smaller aisles and turn radiuses than, say, the Mall of America lot.

You are not crazy to want a car for certain parts of Germany, but the one-day-in-Berlin is a symptom of what's wrong about your itinerary. It's not a fair comparison with your trip, but when we did "Eastern Germany", we flew to Leipzig (Continental just about threw in the Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt-Leipzig for nothing, using Continental's website EWR-FRA-LEJ). We could live with the 4-hour layover in FRA because of immigration and travel variability.

After a few days of public transit in Leipzig, (AFAIR ...) we picked up the car and drove to Weimar (and Eisenach, Erfurt, Egapark, and Buchenwald by car), then Dresden (and Dessau-Wörlitz and Quedlinburg by car). Dresden was great by tram and boat, and Weimar on foot. Then we returned the car and took the train to Berlin for the last four nights, and flew home from there (public bus at single transit fare to the old airport!)

I remember that I selected the "worthwhile splurge business hotel" [Rick didn't actually say that, it's just an abbreviation] Weimar hotel (Dorint Am Goethepark Weimar) mainly for its attached underground parking on the perimeter of the city.

I accept that your home state has implications for flying to Europe. But you need to embrace them rather than trying to surmount them.

Posted by
8185 posts

"Use of trains is ez and a wonderful experience."

I agree with Steven. And everyone else. To add to that, the advantages of taking a train are: you can walk around, interact with your family more easily, play games/cards, read, take a nap, watch the scenery go by, have a picnic, and most importantly, you all can use the bathroom without having to stop.

Train travel in Europe is very fun for us. We love it. We've also rented cars many, many times but I'd much rather take a train. The bonus is that it's usually faster, so you have more time at your destination and you're not tired and stressed when you get there.

Posted by
868 posts

Traveling by car is great if you avoid the big cities and take your time. Most of the people who travel by train will never see certain castles, monasteries, towns, mountains or parks, simply because it's very difficult to get there by public transport. That's the reason why some sights will never appear in travel guides like Rick Steves. Places like this or this for example (both on his route). But that's also the reason why people don't take advantage of a car. If certain sights don't appear in guide books they aren't well known and can't be that good, right? That's why the OP starts in Denmark and drives all the way through Germany to the other end of the country, simply because Neuschwanstein is more famous than Schwerin castle, although both are fairytale castles of the 19th century. If the OP would concentrate on Northern/Central Germany, i.e. regions closer to where he starts, a car would make sense, since a) the towns are smaller, b) the area is less densely populated and c) as a consequence public transport isn't that good. And the A20 is the Autobahn to drive flat out, lol.
The current itinerary however should be done by train.

Posted by
12040 posts

My curiosity is piqued, so OK, I'll bite. Martin, can you please identify those two locations you linked? I'm guessing, somewhere in Sachsen or Thüringen? Maybe southern Sachsen-Anhalt?

Posted by
868 posts

The first one is Stolberg in the Harz mountains, a cute town deep in the mountains and overlooked by a mighty castle. The second one is Kriebstein castle in Saxony, with cool Gothic murals, and often billed as Saxonys most beautiful castle.

Posted by
20 posts

Again to all who have posted, many, many thanks, in particular Tom, Martin, Larry, to name a few. I am reading all of this and soaking it up. The old itinerary is definitely out the door. I have a lonely planet Germany book that I have been reading, and many of the places Martin suggest in the north are in the book, but in the back half of the book (i.e. south gets listed in the front). I'm very torn now about what to do. My initial idea now is 5 to 6 days in Berlin and surroundings, Munich and surroundings, and Frankfurt and surroundings, with day trips from each on some days while making time for each of these centers of culture. The car would work, but the train would make more sense with just 3 big stops. I have also considered using the train and just renting a car in Munich to perhaps visit some of the destinations listed in my first itinerary. But I'm very interested in what Martin was suggesting, the north. I need to research, but my inclination is to go first to Berlin and surroundings for 5 to 6 days, then to Frankfurt and surroundings for 5 to 6 days, then to move north for 6 to 7 day and visit some of the locations Martin is suggesting. All of this I feel would still be best served by car, but I need to research it.

Regards,

Jon

Posted by
20 posts

For day travel in Germany/Denmark, is there a substantial difference in quality of 1st class to 2nd class on trains to major cities such as Copenhagen to Berlin, Berlin to Munich, Munich to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Copenhagen? Looking at a Denmark/Germany rail pass, is the price difference worth it, or can we be ok in 2nd class?

Still in rough draft stage,

Jon

Posted by
6 posts

Rothenburg is an amazing city that you will need way more than a half a day to appreciate. Nothing short of two nights will let you appreciate its beauty.
Also, driving in Germany is a huge pain. A ton of traffic on the highways, at least when I was there in August. Driving from Salzberg to Heidelberg was supposed to be a several hour trip; it took 8 hours due to traffic on the highway. So don't forget to factor that into your plans.

Best of luck.

Posted by
8645 posts

Before considering a rail pass, you should compare the price to the price of point to point tickets. I have minimal experience with German trains, but others can give you good information.

Posted by
12040 posts

"is there a substantial difference in quality of 1st class to 2nd class on trains to major cities such as Copenhagen to Berlin, Berlin to Munich, Munich to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Copenhagen?" Not nearly as much of a difference between 1st and 2nd class on airplanes. 1st class on rail is intended more for business travelers who need to work en-route (and usually travel on expense accounts). The extra money buys you a little more leg room, much more work space, valet service, and it's generally a little quieter. Note, though, that 2nd class also has designated "quiet" compartments. For the average traveler, 2nd class is more than comfortable enough.

"Looking at a Denmark/Germany rail pass" This will almost certainly add unnecessarily to your overall cost. Looking at your proposed changes, your best option would probably be advanced purchase discounts for the long distance hauls (see Deutsche Bahn), and some kind of regional pass for the shorter trips. For the long distance tickets (Intercity Express or ICE), you can buy them up to 90 days in advanced directly from the website. The prices steadily increase thereafter. The only disadvantage is that these tickets are non-refundable and they lock you into riding a specific train at a specific time. I know far less about the various regional passes, but you generally purchase them at the station. There's no advanced discount. Some other posters know more about these than I do, so I'll let them explain further.

Not a bad idea to use a car for trips outside of Munich. Surprisingly, I generally find traffic much more manageable in southern Bavaria than around, for instance, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Köln or Berlin. You could also use rail, but the car adds quite a bit more flexibility.

There's a lot of cool stuff around Frankfurt. I'll give you some more recommendations once you flush out your plans a little more.

Finally, Martin, by coincidence, this Helene Fischer video was on TV yesterday. Beautiful town and Helene Fischer? What more could one want?

Posted by
868 posts

Your itinerary sounds much better now. Especially staying longer in Berlin is highly recommended. Berlin wasn't built to impress at first sight like Paris, it grows on you as you use (the mostly great) public transport, explore the different parts of the city (Berlin offers everything from nude beaches, villages and deep forests to almost independent towns and buzzling city life), see how Germans deal with the complicated 20th century, try fast food from all over the world (Döner Kebab is a must!) or visit some of the 150+ museums. Do a day trip to Potsdam (Sanssouci alone requires a full day if you want to see it all, and the city offers 4 or 5 more royal parks and a nice old town) or take the train to Lübbenau, rent a canoe and explore the Spreewald (if you travel in the summer months).

Another thought: you travel for three weeks from one end to the other and back. This gives you the chance to see more of the country than many other fellow travellers. The country is more diverse than you think. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is representative for Franconia, but a town in Upper Bavaria (around Munich) already looks different. And contrary to popular belief preserved towns like Rothenburg exist all over the country, although many lost at least parts of the town walls. How about this: travel from Copenhagen to Berlin and Munich by train. In the big cities you don't need a car anyway, the sights around these cities can be explored by train, and a train is also more relaxing after the long flight. For the route back to Copenhagen rent a car, avoid the big cities and see smaller towns instead. From Munich you can take the Romantic Road (which itself isn't romantic) and see Rothenburg and maybe Nördlingen or Dinkelsbühl. Next spend some days somewhere in the Harz mountains, which offer towns with thousands of half-timbered houses, which are representative for Central Germany. See Quedlinburg, Goslar, Wernigerode or Stolberg, and maybe take the steam train up to the Brocken, the highest peak. After that drive to Northern Germany and see some towns of the Hanseatic League (built entirely of bricks), like Lübeck, Wismar or Stralsund, and Schwerin, which looks different because it was the residence of the dukes of Mecklenburg. Return the car in Rostock and take the train to Copenhagen. Between the RR and the Harz mountains you could stop in Erfurt, and between the Harz mountains and the coast in... ahhm... uhhm... either Salzwedel, a historic town where the Baumkuchen was invented, or Ludwigslust, the summer residence of the Mecklenburg dukes with a wonderful park.

Posted by
2297 posts

I grew up in Northern Germany and when we go to Germany to visit family we always find great destinations in the area. And do visit them by car (on loan from the family). One trip we decided to do everything by train because we had only major cities with difficult parking situations on the itinerary (Berlin, Leipzig) and because it was winter which can create havoc on the streets. We found out that it is very difficult to go the sales ticket for a family of 4 or 5, you don't always get the tickets you need as they sell out fast. Much easier if you're travelling solo or as a couple. So we didn't save any money by taking the train but as it turned out, winter conditions did indeed create horrible driving conditions and it was much nicer sitting in a moving train than freezing in a car stuck in traffic jams (Stau).

A family road trip can be a great option if you consider the following tips:
- Rent a station wagon. They give you luggage and seating room, are readily available and ok to park. Mini vans are often more difficult and expensive to rent and harder to park.
- Focus your attention on Northern and Central Germany. Don't try to criss-cross the whole country. You got already lots of great suggestions for this area. You may be lucky but one Stau can seriously ruin a tight itinerary.
- Berlin is definitely worth at least 4 days and would be great with kids of all ages. Make sure you get accommodation that includes parking (free or at a reasonable price) as you don't want to use a car in the city.
- Do one base location per week and take day trips from there. Ok, maybe even 4 for the 3 week trip if you consider Copenhagen as one of them.

Posted by
20 posts

Again to everyone, many thanks, in particular many thanks to Tom and Martin for your expertise.

I canceled the rental car (free of charge). Using the www.bahn.de website, which I did not know about before this thread (I always used raileurope), I have created the following rough draft.

Arrive in Copenhagen and take the night train to Berlin. 6 nights in Berlin and around on train day trips.

Take the train from Berlin to Munich. 6 nights in Munich and around on train day trips.

Train to Frankfurt or Wiesbaden (because Wiesbaden looks cheaper hotelwise than Frankfurt) 7 nights in Frankfurt or Wiesbaden with train day trips south to Mainz and Heidelberg and north along the Rhine maybe as far as Koblenz.

Night train from Frankfurt to Copenhagen. 2 nights in Copenhagen before flying home.

My question is should I give the 7 days to all of the sites in the Munich area or keep it as it is with the 7 days in the Frankfurt are (hiking along the Rhine does sound inviting).

Regards and thanks to all,

Jon

Posted by
1244 posts

By staying in three locations you now can check out renting apartments in each locale. benefits include larger space, a kitchen, more family privacy, sometimes a washer and often a better financial package.

Posted by
12739 posts

Hi,

"...driving is no problem."

Coming from LA you know how to deal with traffic jams, but there is a difference between those in Germany (Staus) and ones you experience in Southern Calif. I think the traffic jams in So. Calif are worse than Staus since you have two lanes in one direction going nowhere, just stuck, whereas in So. Calif all 5 or 6 lanes are stuck in one huge jam going nowhere, ie, the world's biggest parking lot, bumper to bumper. Still, with amount of driving you'll be doing, you may not avoid a Stau, most likely you'll run into one; it'll be different from going bumper to bumper on the 405 or 605.

I suggest dropping the smaller places, such as Füssen, Garmisch, Rothenburg odT,..add this time to Berlin or Dresden. Or, keep your itinerary focused on staying north of Frankfurt, ie. save places to the south, Switzerland, and Austria for another trip.

Posted by
12040 posts

OK, it looks like the greater Frankfurt region is getting more attention, so I'll offer more suggestions.

Mainz is right across the river from Wiesbaden. Hell, you could almost walk there... almost...

If the kids like zoos, check out Opel Zoo, between the towns of Königstein im Taunus and Kronberg im Taunus. Heidelberg also has a pretty good zoo, although Opel Zoo is very close to Weisbaden.

If you and the wife want a spa treatment, well, you couldn't have picked a better home base than Wiesbaden! Nearby Bad Homburg is also a nice one.

In Heidelberg, if you have any interest in Third Reich history, take the hike up to the Thingstätte, a sort of open-air ampitheater built by the Nazis to hold rallies. It survives completely undamaged. There's a ruined monastery a little further up the mountain. You'll find these on the Heiligenberg, the mountain across the river from the Schloß. If the kids are really young, there's a small fairytale-themed amusement park on top of the Königstuhl (the mountain behind the Schloß), accessible by funicular or a really long hike.

On your way to explore the Mittelrhein, don't miss Kloster Eberbach. Consider also having dinner in Rüdesheim. Most of the restaurants here feature life music.

I'm not sure the Mittlerhein is the best place for a hike. Better for a bike ride, perhaps. It's kind of hard to make much progress by foot along the river (or through the hiking trails that wind through the hills). If you're looking for a hike, consider an ascent to the summit of Großer Feldburg. You can't miss it, it's the prominent nearby mountain with the TV and radio towers on top. The hike is fairly easy, and as usual, there's a restaurant and Biergarten at the top. On a clear day, the view is amazing. The Odenwald near Heidelberg is also a hiker's paradise, but not nearly as accessible if you're staying in Wiesbaden without a car.

If you want to see a well-preserved historical town that retains it's city wall, but without the tourist saturation of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, look into Büdingen, Frizlar, Laudenburg (near Heidelberg), Arhweiler, or Michelstadt (only partially walled). For the trouble it would take to reach Michelstadt, you could combine it with a visit to the Carolingian-era basillica outside of town, and the equally attractive town of Erbach just down the road.

Although it's not the best of these sorts of attractions I've seen, Hessenpark is a nearby open-air folk museum that you may enjoy. In about 10 years, I can imagine this will be one of the best examples you'll find anywhere, but for now, it's only about half complete. Maybe worthwhile if you're running out of things to do.

Jo from Frankfurt will probably also give you plenty of great ideas, particularly within the city itself.

The particulars of the Mittelrhein are well covered elsewhere, including most guidebooks.

Posted by
1829 posts

We have rented cars and driven around in Germany on four different trips. We love the freedom to go where we want when we want. Driving has not been a problem for us, we haven't run into traffic problems, but according to others sounds like we have just been lucky. We do tend to go to small villages, and yes, cities are a pain to park. We are a family of three, but I really think it is cheaper for us to drive than train. Fuel is expensive but we are always amazed how far we get on one tank. Like you, we don't mind a long drive, especially when it is all new to us. It is also easier than lugging around your luggage and walking or taxis to get to apartments or hotels. We have taken plenty of trains, but prefer our independence, especially in Germany!

Sounds like you have reworked your plans. Good idea to avoid 2 night stays unless you are in a very small town, otherwise we always like a minimum of three nights. There are so many great castles in Germany, and Bavaria is beautiful. We also love the Mosel River. So many great places in Germany! Have a great trip!

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you Susan and thank you to everyone else who has contributed.

Yes, I do think I will eventually do a driving trip in Germany, just not with 3 kids in the backseat, ha ha.
This time around I taking everyone's advice and using the train and limiting our adgenda.

As it stands now, we will fly into Copenhagen and take the night train to Berlin. We rented an apartment in Berlin and we will have 6 nights. This should give us time enough to see and experience the city and get out to Potsdam and a few other local to Berlin sights.

Then we will take a day train to Munch for 7 nights. We rented an apartment. Either by train or car, I haven't yet decided, we will visit Salzburg, perhaps Insbruck, the castle and other yet decided localized towns (things within an hour by train from Munich)

Next we will go to the Frankfurt area. Here I am still deciding. At first I thought it would be good to be near Frankfurt hbf (over in Offenbach there are a few good apartments in that area). I thought this because it would have train access both north and south and trains run everywhere from there. But with some investigation on BD Bahn.com I have come to realize that I can get just about anywhere from anywhere in that region by train quite easily at all hours of the day and night. So now I am considering Koblenz as a base or Boppard. I have even looked at hotels and apartments in Limberg. Either way we will spend 6 nights in this region.

Then we will take the night train from Frankfurt to Copenhagen and spend 2 days before going home. Copenhagen, by the way is really expensive for hotels or apartments.

Regards,

Jon