My wife and I have just signed up the RS Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland tours for June 2014. If we have extra 4 days before, and 6 days after this tour, what will be your recommendations? For pre-tour, I can think of flying into Berlin for 2 nights, and may be stay extra days at Mosel Valley or Rhine Valley prior to joining the tour. For post-tour, we are interested to stay extra 2-3 days in Austria (Vienna and other cities), and maybe taking trains to Prague (2 nights), and Budapest (2 nights). Again, it depends on the destinations, we can fly into Berlin, Munich, or Frankfurt; and return from Vienna, Prague, or Budapest.
I love Berlin, but you might consider using, say, Lufthansa, which charged us virtually nothing for a connecting flight (arrival from U.S. morning) to Cologne - a lot closer to Trier than Berlin. And that was already an open-jaw transatlantic flight. Cologne for a few days, then the Rhine or Mosel.
I love Prague and Budapest. Also consider Krakow, and taking a tour to Auschwitz - if it wasn't the most pleasant day in my travels, it may have been the most important. If you're near the Mosel Valley, consider Baden-Baden for the baths.
Thanks for you suggestions! Cologne is certainly on our radar now. We will look into our flight and see we can spend a day or two before venture south to Mosel Valley. And Baden Baden for a bath sounds a great idea as I love hot spring bath. How much time at Cologne, Prague and Budapest is needed? Will 1/2/2 nights sounds reasonable to plan on?
Where does the tour end? I ask because if you're looking for a spa treatment at the end, you don't need to travel all the way to Baden-Baden, unless you want to socialize with Russian oligarchs or buy some ridiculously overpriced bling. Germany has over 100 officially designated thermal resorts, so there's likely one much more geographically convenient for your purposes.
Check the itinerary of the tour again. On the third day of the tour you will spend one day in Baden-baden.
My sister just did this trip and it appeared to me that at least another day/night might want to be spent in Vienna though I have never been there to know if the time the tour dedicates to the city is enough. We did the RS Eastern European tour this past June/July and found it amazing. If you haven't been to Central Europe I would suggest Prague, Krakow, Budapest. Looking at the map though Prague and Budapest appear to be aways apart though may not be by train or plane. If you would be loosing to much time because of travel I would suggest taking in Prague and Krakow in whichever order it might be easier to fly out of. I would think which ever of the three you decided to pair up would take up at least two days and nights each. Of the three I enjoyed Budapest the best, it had a great vibe, but my wife liked Prague the best and it was certainly beautiful. We both enjoyed Krakow and there is plenty to see and do around the square and as mentioned, Auschwitz would be a worthwhile stop. If you are considering Budapest try to get James in on this conversation or check other Budapest questions as his posts on Budapest are a wealth of knowledge. If you might be planning on a local guide in Budapest we had Peter Polczman who also guides the whole Eastern European Tour for RS. He was incredible.
Mike: It appears that your tour will start west of Frankfurt before going south into Switzerland. I like to fly into Amsterdam and go south up the Rhine River into Germany. The Cologne Duomo is an incredible sight, and I usually stay in Bacharach for the night. See Bavaria Ben's website @ http://www.bensbauernhof.com/accommodationsrhinemosel.html You could easily get to your departure city on the tour from there. When you end your tour in Vienna, you will probably like to spend more time there. Take a train 49 miles down to Bratislava, Slovakia for a day trip.
Prague and Budapest are in two separate directions. You should pick one to visit by train. I'm flying into Budapest and out of Prague on a Spring, 2014 trip. Either city will be absolutely fantastic.
Thanks go to everyone who replied my post. After considering Budapest versus Prague, we decided on Prague for the post trip first leg, as we will travel by train north and have our last stop at Berlin. This seems logic, but not based on which city is better. We just to have save Budapest for next time! We will start at Cologne for two nights (arrive at Frankfurt) then on to Bacharach, Rhine Valley for 2 nights before we join the RS tour group at Trier.