Suggestions for an itinerary for family with varied prior European travel

Let me first say thank you to anyone you is kind enough to share their thoughts and experience with us. We are a family of four making out final family trip together as our "children" are now 24 and 26. We have talked about a trip to Europe for years and finally able to coordinate it but are challenged in that our oldest had been to Paris,London, Spain and Italy multiple times and our youngest never. In searching for a travel experience we are thinking of Amsterdam, Germany, Austria , and perhaps Switzerland or Prague. I'm not saying we are trying to see all, but these are the countries we are ing from. We love to experience things on our travel such a a little biking, hiking , cooking, beer tasting, etc. beginning in September, We have 14 days including travel to and from the west coast. Happy to use trains and cars where appropriate. Any must sees, travel loops you suggest and other thoughts would be very much appreciated. My head is starting to spin after looking at various travel guidebooks and blogs! I don't know where to start - literally and figuratively. Thank you!

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I understand the "headspinning" "where do I even start?" conundrum. September is in my opinion the best time of year to visit this part of Europe though. You say you're interested in beer tasting - how about a beer festival? or a wine festival? This time of year is harvest fest season in Germany and Austria so if that's something that interests you, you'd need to plan to be in the right place(s) on the right day(s). I certainly think it's a great cultural experience and a lot of fun, and it doesn't have to be Oktoberfest. Vienna and the surrounding wine regions will certainly have things going on in September around the harvest. Stuttgart's Volksfest (world's second largest beer festival - think a non-touristy version of Oktoberfest) starts on the 27th of September. Stuttgart's Weindorf (wine villiage) ends on the 9th of September (it bills itself as the largest wine festival in Germany but I've heard other fests claim that title). This link gives a more comprehensive view: http://www.travelsignposts.com/Germany/food/german-wine-and-beer-festivals A pretty basic route would be an "open jaw" flight in one city and out the other to avoid backtracking. If you're all pretty active and don't mind a fast pace, you could do Vienna-Salzburg-Munich-Alps, Castles, and/or Bodensee and finish up with a beer or wine fest somewhere between Stuttgart, the Rhine, or the Mosel, and fly out of Frankfurt. That would be very fast-paced indeed, though. Another option would be Vienna-Salzburg-Munich-Prague or Berlin. (Still fast-paced). Or skip Vienna, start in Munich, see Salzburg, and work your way up to fly out of Frankfurt. Or start in Amsterdam and end in Munich or Frankfurt. I'm having trouble narrowing this down as well!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

I would stick to the south of Germany and Austria. Lots of opportunity for outdoor stuff, beautiful scenery, mix of cities and countryside. There are tons of things to do as Sarah said. I would second the Bodensee (Lake of Constance. Your kids will love Munich. Salzburg is a great place and you could even do a hokey Sound of Music Tour:)) (actually can be fun) A trip to Dachau would also be possible. Driving in this part of Europe is not a problem... and, it's Germany so you should have plenty of beer!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

We have faced this issue a couple time with two sons. Now we just turn the planning over to them and let them made all the decisions. And they are terrific at it. We sign the checks. Then we sneak off on our own from time to time and see what we want to see.

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1759 posts

"...we are thinking of Amsterdam, Germany, Austria , and perhaps Switzerland or Prague... a little biking, hiking , cooking, beer tasting, etc. beginning in September, We have 14 days including travel to and from the west coast. September is a great month. I like Austria a lot but given your time constraints I'd opt for Switzerland instead. Try this North-South itinerary on for size - it avoids ultra-long train rides. Fly open jaws. I'd do trains. A-dam (3) Cologne (1) - Visit the amazing Cologne Cathedral and Braustelle brewery-restaurant; many well-reviewed beer varieties here (Take the subway (U-bahn) to the Leyendeckerstra├če stop.) Mosel River (3) - Great place to walk and bike. Castles. Get an apartment if you want to cook? COCHEM is a great town. Do outings by train. Spend a little time on the Rhine too, perhaps on the way to... Gengenbach (2) - (Stop just off the main train route to Switzerland.) Small old walled town similar to Rothenburg. Scenic train ride on the BLACK FOREST RAILWAY, hiking, Vogtsbauernhof museum near Hausach. Switzerland (4) - Bernese Oberland: Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Schilthorn, Jungfrau area, final night in Z├╝rich.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Wondering does your oldest child have any places they feel they would like to return to, perhaps to share with you and sibling.. I mean repeating a visit to a place may means they would be happy to return and see more of a place. And I agree with the poster who suggested you make the kids help with the planning, its a lot to do and the older one has some experience and the younger one will have some opinions.. don't take it all on your shoulders, paying the bills is more then enough! lol As you only have 12 real days I would keep it simple. Remember the arrival day is a bit of a write off, ( jet lag, getting to hotel, then just some wandering about) and of course departure day doesn't count. So with 12 days if you move too much you are also using time, it takes at least 1/2 day usually to get anywhere from anywhere, so I also suggest you fly open jaw, into one city and out of another, when searching airfares you are pricing "multi destination" flights not two one ways ( which would be expensive) , no backtracking saves time.
Finally remember 2 nights in one place translate into one full day there, so depending on what you think you want to see/visit/ do in each place, take that into account( that and travel time) and maybe narrow choices down to 3-4 places at most. ( I would do 3). Flying makes sense between some places ( if you travel light Easyjet, Vueling, Airberliner , Tuifly are all decent lo cost carriers) and of course the train system is great and can be cheap if you book tickets well in advance . Have a great trip.

Posted by Jon
Cincinnati, OH, USA
241 posts

Sue: You will receive many fine suggestions on this tread; you'll have to ponder all of them (as a family) then decide. You didn't mention budget; assuming you don't want to break the bank here's my suggestion for 3 cities: {*]Day 1-Day 4: Arrive Amsterdam, Visit Amsterdam (perhaps a day trip to Haarlem)Day 5-Day 9: Train (5hrs) to Hamburg, visit Hamburg (maybe a day trip to Lubeck)Night of Day 9: Night Train Hamburg to Munich (9:42 hrs no transfers)Day 10-13: Arrive Munich, visit Munich (day trip to Salzburg, maybe a partial day to Dachau)Day 14: Depart Munich for home You won't be too rushed and will get a mix of visiting places that attract many tourists and a few places that don't. Switzerland would be great, but pricey for a family of four. Prague and Budapest would be superb, but with only 14 days, that would mean a totally different itinerary; perhaps others can suggest that one.

Posted by Jon
Cincinnati, OH, USA
241 posts

Sorry for the goofy formatting (above) but you get the idea.

Posted by Lin
Victoria B.C., Canada
46 posts

Two years ago my sister and I went to Italy with a stop over in London. In planning my trip I looked up unusual places to stay or visit. We ate in a crypt in London, stayed in a residencial area of Venice (within easy walking to town), a convent in Rome, a Trulli in Alberobello and a cave hotel in Matera. It made the trip unique and not just focused on sightseeing but on experiencing some very different things. This year we are focusing on France. Staying in a residencial apartment in Paris, taking a Sagway night tour in Paris, going canoing in the Dordognes, riding horses in the Camargue.