Visit Germany in 10-12 days

We are a Canadian couple with one 12 yr old boy, haven't been to Europe twice but not Germany. The kid will have a school break from Dec 21 2012 to Jan 13 2013, I know it is the best time to go but that's life :-) We would like to tour Germany in 12 days including flight time. Because the kid, we would like to have a laid-back vacation/sightseeing and enjoy the culture there. My wife is NOT interested in WII history(so no labour camp visits) and we may not have much time for museums.(maybe one or two at max). We are interested in castle, German architecture. I love to see the canal and boat tour. I've done some research and realize we simple cannot visit the entire Germany, so I would like to get your pro opionion on:
1)Which part of Germany to go. I think the Southern part, skip Berlin/Hamburg 2)Which town/site are considered the most important of the 12 day trip (actually it is 10 day deduct the flight time. I would appreciate if you can break it down by priority. 3)Should we drive the romantic road? I know train is the best, I would like to experience the autobahn but have concerns since it is winter as I don't want to drive on snow/black ice. But being winter, maybe driving is a better option to beat the cold? 4)Any suggested route? We will arrive/depart from Frankfurt as this is the only direct flight from Seattle. I'm thinking start from Frankfurt, visit along romantic road and all the way to Munich, fly/train back to Frankfurt. 5)Is Black Forest worth seeing? We love nature but prefer not see any scnery similar to Canada (We have Banff, the rocky mountian and you are welcome to visit ) thanks for your help. Peter

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

Don't expect too many canal or boat tours to operate in winter. 1) Depends on what cities you decide to concentrate on. 2) Would depend on where you want to spend the majority of your time. There's great towns throughout the country and it would be hard to rank them in terms or priority. Proximity and convenience would be major considerations, particularly at that time of year when daylight hours are so short. 3)No, or at least, don't go out of your way. The intention of the Romantic Road is that it links together noteworthy towns, not that the road itself is anything special. It's really just an ordinary secondary road, nothing more. And in the colder months of the year, German weather tends towards gray and overcast, so you may not even be able to see much from the road. Also, the Romantic Road is only one of about 100 themed roads in Germany, and I would rank it in the middle of the pack. Further, it's not an Autobahn, so there is a speed limit. Except for southern Bavaria, heavy snow accumulation isn't very common in Germany, so you probably don't have to worry too much about road conditions. 4) See above. Visiting the Romantic Road would make sense if you travel between Frankfurt and Munich, but there are other interesting routes you could take as well. 5) Not if you're from western Canada. Only the southern Black Forest has impressive mountains, and even these are nothing compared to the Alps.

Posted by Peter
vancouver
2 posts

Thanks for the your quick reply,
We are from Vancouver so I will skip black forest and driving on romantic road. still struggle with which city to visit, too many beautiful places...

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

There are a lot of interesting little villages/towns along the romantic Road, there is an illustrated map available with highlights of the towns along the way. If you have a car, you can then stop at any that seem interesting. Dinkelsbuhl (fairly close to rothenburg) is also a favroite of ours, a small waled town, very compact. We also throughly enjoy Rothenburg, and have found many items of interest along the road. We prefer taking the secondary 9or even smaller0 roads in places

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

If you're going in winter I'd focus on visiting cities. It will be cold, and the scenery ain't much to look at that time of year. I don't think traveling by train will have you feeling the chill that much more - all but the smallest towns have heated indoor areas in the stations, and the trains themselves are kept at comfortable (even hot) temperatures. I don't like driving on the autobahn when there's a potential for ice, but I'm a California girl, so it's not something I'm as comfortable with as you may be. The autobahn is just the freeway system, there's nothing particularly exciting about it except that in some places there is no speed limit. But unless there's no chance of ice and/or you have a rental car with great horsepower, there's not much reason to be trying to drive that fast anyway! I'd try to focus your first couple days on an area with great Christmas markets, which will be shutting down between the 23rd and 25th (a few cities have markets that start up again after Christmas - http://www.germany-christmas-market.org.uk/. Berlin for example has 50 markets some of which run til New Year's Eve. Berlin is also famous for it's NYE celebrations. I think it would make a lot of sense to spend the holidays in Berlin for this reason (also, more will be open, which will be a problem in rural areas) and then maybe visting some quainter towns AFTER Jan 2nd. Berlin also has a lot to do indoors which is great for beating the cold.

Posted by Martin
Germany
209 posts

"Berlin for example has 50 markets some of which run til New Year's Eve. Berlin is also famous for it's NYE celebrations." Yes, Berlins NYE celebrations are great... it's like the Battle of Berlin revisited. :D
In case the OP worries that the lack of a Romantic Road between Frankfurt and Berlin means that there are no romantic towns to see between the two big cities... it's very easy to build your own Romantic Road: Frankfurt - Marburg - Hann. Münden - Einbeck - Goslar - Wernigerode - Quedlinburg - Berlin for instance. Or Frankfurt - Alsfeld - Eisenach - Schmalkalden - Erfurt - Weimar - Naumburg - (Leipzig) - Wittenberg - Berlin. Erfurt and Leipzig also offer two very popular Christmas markets.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2700 posts

Hi, I agree with Martin's choices...good selections of towns/cities, esp. Naumburg an der Saale and Leipzig.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

I'd consider the Fachwerkstraße . There is a very good webpage at http://www.deutsche-fachwerkstrasse.de/uk/index.php Much of it is very close to Frankfurt am Main. We especially like the castle at Braunfels, the great tower and main square at Idstein and the walled town at Büdingen. Thanks to Jo for her wonderful ideas and others here who suggested the Fachwerkstraße. It is a lovely place.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

I took my grandson to Germany when he was 12 and we did a sort of 'castle tour'. His favorite place was Heidelberg (it was the first town we went to). We also did the Romantic Road(part of it) and I would definitely recommend it. We stayed in Dinkelsbuhl but then visited Rothenberg and he also really enjoyed this part of the trip. I also took another grandson there last year during the Christmas Market time which you might be able to fit in and we loved it. I almost always drive so we had the flexibility of stopping when we wanted to. I would do more towns/cities than the Black Forest due to short days, etc. You could also pop over to Strousburg in France as it is pretty close if you have a car. I am renting from Frankfurt in a few weeks and have a 10 day rental for about $220.