I also posted this on the Fodor's forums, so I apologize in advance to anyone who reads both. :) We're making plans for 10 days in Europe in late May/early June 2014, traveling with our 8-yr-old. We know that we want to spend 5 to 6 days in Munich, which we have been to and loved. Now it's down to which place to pair with it: either the Rhineland or Prague. For us, the primary draws for the Rhineland would be Aachen Cathedral and Burg Eltz as well as some of the other Rhine castles. (I am a medieval history nut.) We will be staying on Marriott points for the entire trip, so could base in Cologne, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf or Wiesbaden. We could fly direct from the U.S. into either Frankfurt or Dusseldorf. Most likely, we'd rent a car in our base city and then return it once we arrive in Munich. On the other hand, Prague is tempting because it seems so beautiful and evocative, and I would love to experience the Czech Republic, which none of us have visited. If we chose that option, we'd use public transport exclusively within and between Munich and Prague. Given the time of year, the age of our son and any factors I might not have considered, any recommendations on which place would have the edge?
Either of them seems to be a good choice. Google, read guide books, see pictures and then decide what you would rather see. If you cannot, toss the coin. I saw both and I would decide on my momentary mood.
I appreciated seeing Prague, but it's not a city to which I shall return. Quite simply, it's too over-run with souvenir shops. For the Rhine, if you're using Marriott points, I would choose either Köln or Wiesbaden. Köln is convenient to Aachen (not in the Rhine region, but enough semantic diversions...). The interesting section of the Rhine starts just south of Bonn, which is quite close to Köln. North of Bonn, though, particularly around Düsseldorf, it could be any river in the industrialized world. Likewise, headed north to south, the scenic part begins just downstream of Wiesbaden. Plus, Wiesbaden is a gorgeous city. Think of it as the Beverly Hills of Germany, without most of the phoniness. Between the choice of the two, I would go for Wiesbaden. You don't strictly need a car to explore the Rhine, although if you wanted to add Burg Eltz, it would make the logistics considerably easier. PS- The time of year you mentioned wouldn't influence which option to take at all.
I wish We had first visited Prague years sooner. It's wonderful. Cologne has much more to see and do than Aachen. But Aachen may be more ... er ... medieval. Don't make the mistake of thinking Burg Eltz is the only castle in Germany. Eltz is pretty, and on a pretty site. But it's not as medieval as, for example, the Wartburg (not near your trip... ) Save your travel time and concentrate on the Rhine. Not to overstate the case, Cologne has medieval if you look for it. You can visit a medieval mikveh in the old Jewish area. And the Dom Treasury, Kolumba and Schnutgen Museums are pretty darn good.
Thank you for all the advice. I think I'm leaning toward staying in Wiesbaden, partially because it puts us that much closer to Munich and partially because it is closer to some other sites that look interesting, such as Rheinfels and Marksburg Castles. Are there any stops you might suggest on the drive down to Munich? People seem either to love or hate Rothenburg ob der Tauber, so I'm on the fence about that. Perhaps Wurzburg or Nuremberg?
"Are there any stops you might suggest on the drive down to Munich? People seem either to love or hate Rothenburg ob der Tauber, so I'm on the fence about that. Perhaps Wurzburg or Nuremberg?" I've been called a "Rothenburg hater", and even by extension, a "Rick Steves hater" (as if disagreeing with the man equates with personal hatred for him...), but that misses the larger point. I don't think Rothenburg is unique enough to justify going far out of your way to visit. But... it lies more or less on one of your possible direct lines of travel (by car, but not rail) between the Rhine and Munich, so stopping there would be a reasonable option. It definately is a very attractive town, but a little too over-run with tour buses and trinket shops for my taste. Without a car, though, it's much less convenient. By car, I also like Dinkelsbühl and Bad Mergentheim. Nürnberg is a good option by rail, but out of your way by car. Würzburg works well by both methods of transportation.
I'm interested in that "Rhineland vs Prague" discussion as well. Any other thoughts ?