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Two week trip from Stuttgart to Frankfurt

I booked these flights with reward miles and as such, did the best I could. I had to alter the cities/plan a bit from what I ideally would have wanted. Day 1: Flight from US to Stuttgart. Day 2: Arrive in Stuttgart at 8am local time Day 15: Depart from Frankfurt back to US That is now set in stone. All the blanks in between...your guess is as good as mine. Here is a rough itinerary I mocked up - google map image here: http://i.imgur.com/DdjUC.jpg Stuttgart -> Villingen -> Munich -> Rothernburg -> Bamberg -> Bacharach -> Frankfurt. Does that sound like a good plan for this two week trip? any suggestions on how to divide up the days and which cities are best to stay over night in? This does beg the question of which is better, car or train. I'm leaning towards a mix of both at the moment.

Posted by
58 posts

Hi Andy I drove my first trip and have taken trains ever since. The places you have pick are easy to get to via train. I would get a rail pass and not drive. When your driving you miss a lot because your too busy watching were your going. I also learned long time ago to stay no less then 2 night in each place. That way you have one full day to explore. I really enjoyed Rothenburg it's a cool walled town and you can take a hike below the town. Dinner at Hell was really good. And you must take the walking tour in the evening. Bacarach is another great little town. I used it as a base, and visited Burg Elze castle, cool castle and nice hike. Frankfurt never really intrested me. You could stay in Bacharach and take the train to the airport from there. It is about and hour and a half train ride to the airport. Use Raileurope to find out train schedules and times. Will give you an idea of travel time between each place, 3 hours is a good limit each day. You might find one town you want to just visit and then get back on the train. Almost forgot about Munich, this is a town that might be worth 3 nights. Have a good trip. Wendy

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the response and great ideas! Exactly half of the people I ask seem to say car - the other half say train. If we were to just visit a city on the train wouldn't luggage become cumbersome? I realized I also didn't give much information in my first post. My wife and I (in our twenties) are going on this trip. It's our first time to Germany and we are really excited to see castles, history, small quaint towns, nature, etc - you name it. We will want to spend a few nights in Munich but the rest is up for debate. I also enjoy German beer. A lot.

Posted by
12040 posts

"Use Raileurope to find out train schedules and times." Do NOT use Raileurope, use the Deutsche Bahn website. Raileurope only shows the limited number of trains for which they sell marked up tickets.

Posted by
12040 posts

"and we are really excited to see castles, history, small quaint towns, nature, etc - you name it." Let me make some suggestions in my neck of the woods, which lies directly between Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Look on Google Maps, and you will notice the large expanse colored green- this is the Odenwald Naturpark. In here, you will find plenty of castles, some amazing hiking trails through the mountains, and many small scenic villages and towns. Also along the western edge is the Bergstraße, which is one of those designated scenic roadways (like the more well-known and overrated Romantic Road). Most of the towns along this route have an old historic core and several have castles and vineyards overlooking them from the mountains. You would probably need a car to see this stuff, as there isn't much of a rail network in the Odenwald.

Posted by
4535 posts

The rule about choosing between a car or train is this: If you spend your time in cities, take the train. A car is of no value in cities and a waste of money sitting in parking lots. If you want to see rural sites, castles and scenic areas, then a car is a must. Most train stations have luggage storage. Cars are not a good idea to store luggage for the risk of break-ins.

Posted by
19171 posts

Per Tom, learn to use the German Rail webite, particularly in Germany. It has a complete schedule, RailEurope omits a lot of trains from theirs. When going from Bacharach to the airport, only Regional Bahn (milk run) trains stop in Bacharach, but you will want to change as soon as possible (Bingen, Mainz) to the faster Regional Express. Use a regional train to get to the airport, because they come into the Regionalbahnhof and it's only an escalator's ride to the hall of Terminal 1. If you come in on an express train, you'll come into the Fernbahnhof, which is a hike to the terminal.

Posted by
813 posts

I think you should spend your arrival day and the next in Stuttgart city. There's plenty to see, Porsche, Mercedes, Ludwigsburg Palace, other downtown stuff, etc. What's in Villingen (the town in the black forrest)? It's not the first place I'd choose if I only had 2 wks. From Stuttgart, go straight to Munich, then hit your other towns as you'd suggested. Give Munich a few days. Rothenberg only needs a day to me, then the rest as you like. The car or train depends on what sort of time constraints you're on; the convenience factor. Also depends if you're by yourself or with a group/family.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks again for the help. I think I'd like to add Tübingen into the mix - and maybe swap Villingen for somewhere better in black forest? I could really, really use some help in the specifics of this itinerary. Any thoughts on how many nights in each city? Which ones are better bases for seeing sights around the city than others? It sounds like it would be near impossible to see a lot of the great castles in Baden-Wurtemburg without a car. (i.e. Hohenzollern, Lichenstein, Hohennuffen) Am I not understanding that right? Should I think about having a car for the first leg of the trip - then dropping it off before Munich and use trains for the second half of the trip? If so, which cities would I pick up and drop off in? I'd gladly take any help in specifically planning this out - I feel a bit lost.

Posted by
19171 posts

In 2001, I visited Hohenzollern by rail. There is a scheduled bus from the Hechingen station to the castle hill base, where a special shuttle takes you up to the castle itself. I didn't know about the scheduled bus and arrived in Hechingen too late. I shared a taxi to the base with several other travelers. I don't remember it being expensive. There is an IRE from Stuttgart at 10:16 (dest. Aulendorf). It gets to Hechingen at 11:18 and is met by bus 300 at 11:25, getting to the base of the castle at 11:47. The same routing is repeated 2 hrs later, leaving Stuttgart at 12:16. There are return trips leaving the castle base at 16:05 and 18:30. There is another Hohenzollern castle worth seeing, somewhat older and more authentic, in Sigmaringen, near Villingen. It is a very short walk from the Sigmaringen train station.

Posted by
19171 posts

While you are in the state of Baden-Württemberg, you can get unlimited travel on regional trains all day long (after 9 AM workdays) with a Baden-Württemberg-Ticket (€21 single, €29 for 2-5 P). The B-W-Ticket is also valid for most buses in B-W. With it, you can go to Hechingen, Sigmaringen, or Konstanz on the Bodensee. If you stay within the Konuskarte area, which includes Villingen-Schwenningen, you will get a Konuskarte, which gives you free, unlimited use of the trains and buses in the Black Forest. You could travel to Triberg, down the Gutach on the Schwarzwaldbahn to Hausach, to Titisee or Freiburg. There is another all day pass, same prices, called the Bayern-Ticket, for regional trains and buses in Bavaria.

Posted by
7 posts

Really good information to know. So safe to say you would recommend train travel over renting a car then? Also, for further discussion - does this jump out as unreasonable to anyone? Stuttgart - 2 nights Tubingen - 2 nights Triberg - 2 nights Munich - 3 nights Rothenburg - 2 nights
Bamberg - 2 nights Should we try and consolidate locations where we spend nights? For example, more time in Tubingen with side trips to the black forest, etc. Any thoughts?

Posted by
7 posts

Alrigth. I realize this is a bit of a moving target but I keep trying to take advice and improve. Could you critique this revision? Arrive in Stuttgart the morning of Day 1. Pick up rental car and drive to Baden-Baden. Spend 2 nights in Baden-Baden. Depart Baden-Baden on Day 3 for Fruedenstadt via car (Or Horb am Neckar? thoughts?) Spend 1 night in Fruendenstadt. Depart on Day 4 - drive to Tubingen via car. Spend 1 night in Tubingen. Depart Day 5 and drive ultimately to Ulm - by way of the Grosses Lautertal River. Take detours as needed to see Hohenueffen, Hohenzollern, Lichenstein...). Should I spend 1 night somewhere on the way from Tubingen to Ulm? If so - where? Arrive in Ulm on Day 6 (assuming I spent a nice somewhere along Grosses Lautertal). Drop off Rental car in Ulm. Take train to Munich (Complete rest of trip by train). Spend 3 nights in Munich. Depart on Day 9 for Rothenburg by train. Spend 1 night in Rothenburg. Depart on Day 10 for Bamberg by train. Spend 2 nights in Bamberg. Depart on Day 12 for Mainz (long train ride?). Arrive in Mainz on Day 12 and spend last night in Mainz. Wake up on Day 13 and catch train to airport for departure flight at 11am. I'm starting to feel good about this. Thoughts? (I tried to use some of Rick Steves' tips from his 3 week itinerary)

Posted by
3696 posts

When are you going? High tourist season? If you don't need to know exactly where you are going each day and are having a car why not trying to just wing it part of the time? The south of Germany is perfect for that. You can find a town you like and stay or move on if you feel you want to. I know you already have an itinerary started and I am late to this post, but having been to Germany numerous times I think one of the most beautiful places is the Lake of Constance. It is surrounded by mountains and bordered by Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I would spend a half day in Rothenburg to have time at the Lake. I most always have a car and the only time I would not need it on your itinerary is in Munich. But, the rest of the time it is a beautiful country to explore and stop wherever you want.

Posted by
24 posts

Andy, I did a similar trip last October and used a car. It gave us a lot of flexibilty as it didn't tie us down with a train schedule. My only negative about the trip was Rothenburg. It had the feel of a huge tourist trap. Im sure while Rick likes it small town feel, I just felt like I was seeing the same thing in stores. I would recommend going to Wurzburg. This town has great culture, history, eateries. I would look into that instead of Rothenburg.

Posted by
76 posts

I agree with Aaron, a half day or one night, maximum, in Rothenburg. It's cute but crowded with tourists during the daytime and the restaurants know they have a captive audience, the food was expensive and not very good. You can walk through the town and see everything in one morning or afternoon. It felt a lot like being at Disneyworld. The Nightwatchman's Tour was humorous but kind of lame. You will enjoy some of the small towns that are off the beaten path much more.

Posted by
7 posts

My only concern with the car was parking in some of the smaller cities - as well as parking/driving in Munich. I'll be going in early September - in and out before Oktoberfest but I still think I should be making reservations in advance? Fairly popular tourist season, right?

Posted by
9046 posts

If you would like to see the same sort of town that Rothenburg once was before the tourist mania took it over, there are other towns you can visit instead. Towns without the buses, the tourist stores, the crowded sidewalks, and you don't have to wait until nightfall or early morning to see a town without crowds in it. My recommendation is Buedigen, a bit north-west of Frankfurt. All authentic, all original, walled town, but with people living in it that don't make all their money from tourists. There will be some tourists there as it is popular with Germans, but not buses full of them. You could even stay overnight here before your flight, as it is only an hour away from Frankfurt. http://www.buedingen-touristik.de/

Posted by
12040 posts

I can think of about two dozen alternatives to Rothenburg, many of which are also more conveniently located. More to follow...

Posted by
24 posts

Andy, I would recommend getting a GPS. It's very easy, but we only drove to and from our hotel. We walked everywhere when seeing the sights. We stayed, per Rick's advice, at Hotel Uhland. 10 min walk to main train station and about 20 to Marienplatz.

Posted by
3696 posts

In Sept. I would risk no reservations, except maybe in Munich if it were a weekend. But, I am okay with spontaneous travel... I also loved Wurzburg...and if you have a car I would drive part of the Romantic Road...I know lots of people say its just a road, but I found it a beautiful and relaxing drive for the most part...but I also did not expect the ' road' to be 'romantic'! Did however stop for a wonderful picnic of great German bread, ham, cheese, paprika chip and german pickles along side the road....that could be romantic depending on who you are with! I found Dinkelsbuhl to be a fun stop on that road, and had marvelous food there. I think just driving and finding my own way is what I love about going to Europe. I had no problem parking and driving in Munich...just find hotels that have a parking garage.

Posted by
813 posts

It's a shame you're flying into Stuttgart and not seeing any of the city at all. The Stuttgart Weindorf (wine festival) is downtown August 24-Sept 4, 2011. You should spend at least one night in downtown Stuttgart before you head out of the city.

Posted by
9046 posts

If you are going to be anywhere near Frankfurt from 15-25 Sept. you will need reservations. The International Car Show is held then and hotel rooms in Frankfurt and all the near-by towns will be booked, as well as expensive. This includes Mainz, Wiesbaden, Bad Homburg, and Darmstadt. If you like cars though, this trade fair is worth a visit as it is the largest car show in the world.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the input again. I'm thinking maybe I can play the intermediate cities by ear but I'd like to solidify an overall framework so I can book things in the more crowded areas, at least. Any thoughts on this? -2 night stuttgart (Wine Festival, city) -2 nights Tubingen (Use as base to see Hohenzollern, etc) -1 nights Meersburg (Lake constance) -3 nights munich - (stop at neuschwanstein on the way) -1 night Rothenburg -2 nights bamberg
-1 night Mainz Does this sound like a decent plan? Is it worth getting a a rental car before and after Munich and not hanging on to one while there? Or is it not a big price difference to just get two weeks straight through?

Posted by
813 posts

Your most recent plan looks good and completely do-able. Enjoy.