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4 replies
Bavaria/Rhine valley itinerary help
calinite17
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hi! My husband and I are traveling in Germany for two weeks in July, starting from Munich. We hope to travel in Bavaria and Rhine valley, perhaps ending up in Dusseldorf to fly back to London! We need some help with the itinerary! We’re interested in seeing Rothenburg, Fussen, etc but need help connecting them together. We also love biking and finding “out there” places in the country. But we’re going by train, which presents a bit of a challenge!

Thanks!

I am leaving from Taipei with $10000 for 82 days
London, Granada, Seville, Barcelona, Avignon, Paris, Colmar, Interlaken, Venice, Florence, Siena, Viareggio, Naples, Rome, Athens, Santorini, Náxos, Rome, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Vienna, Budapest, Kraków, Prague, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, London
Feicht
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Well to start with, Munich is a great city, really worth three days, and more if you would like to do some side trips. Füssen is a good choice and is pretty easily reachable from Munich. It does take about 2 hours to get there, and 2 hours back, so it really is kind of an “all day activity”. Keep in mind though that every other hour it is a direct train; the even ones, IIRC. On the other hour, you will have to switch trains at some point. Be aware of this because it can be quite jarring if you’re not expecting to have to be kicked off a train at a certain point. This kind of happened to me when I went, and it was before I spoke German very well so I really had to play the eenie-meenie-meinee-moe game But yeah it’s a really cool destination. Make sure you go to both castles (Hohenschwangau first!) to get the full story…and like I said, just plan on spending the whole day there and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on something back at Munich. I think you could even go swimming in the lake there if it is hot and you have a change of clothes Smile

You mention Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is a really great place (if supremely touristy), but it is kind of far from Munich; I think the train ride would be about 3 hours. Consider staying in Nuremberg (about an hour from Munich) for a day or two; it’s a pretty awesome place, actually feels tiny for a big city, and is absolutely loaded down with history. There’s a great German museum there, and you can’t neglect the Nazi Documentation Center either, which is just outside of town. It’s a really strollable city too… But anyway, it’s only about an hour from here to Rothenburg (even though you have to change trains twice), so it really helps break up what would otherwise have been a really long day of trains from Munich to Rothenburg.

Rothenburg is nice and it is just one of many towns dotting the “Romantic Road” which runs roughly from Füssen to Frankfurt, but it branches off all over the place and, truth be told, there are a ton of these different “Roads” all over the country linking together nice little towns. The one in Bavaria though is probably the most accomodating to English-speaking tourists, so I guess it’s the way to go. Consider spending time at another city along the road (Würzburg, maybe?) and since you mentioned you like biking, perhaps just pick a town at random on the map and use it as a “home base” to explore a little bit along a section of the Romantic Road.

And since I mentioned Würzburg, it is worth noting that it is only about an hour away from Frankfurt am Main via rail. I can’t really say I’d recommend staying in Frankfurt itself (though it might offer a sort of “reality check” dichotomy with the picturesque cities and towns you just saw). However, that said, the city is full of amazing museums and things to do, AND it’s really not necessary to stay there anyway, since there are countless small towns worth staying in within an hour radius of there. I stayed for a week in a town called Büdingen this past summer; I can’t say I saw as much of the little town as I’d have liked to, since 1) I was actually doing research in other places in Hessen and more or less just sleeping there, and 2) I was staying in the youth hostel which is actually on top of a damn mountain 30 mins walk up from the town itself… haha. But still, there are literally dozens of places just like this. Like I said, it can be fun just to pick a place on the map and just go there!

And yeah obviously, if you’re along the Rhine, it would be silly not to take a Rhine cruise My favorite starting point for these is Mainz, which is about half an hour or 45 mins from Frankfurt depending on which train you take. Mainz actually gets a bad rap from some people, but I quite like the city. The youth hostel is way out far away from everything, but if you could find a place in town, it would be fine. If nothing else, I’d recommend spending a day here if you can; there are a lot of cool museums, not to mention awesome Roman ruins if you know where to look. Depending on where you stayed, you could even do it as a “day trip” from there. Like I said, it’s really not far from Frankfurt at all.

But anyway, your main point will probably be taking the Rhine cruise, I’d imagine Smile Some people like doing this in one straight shot, but personally I like breaking it up! Depending one what rail pass you have, it will end up being free anyway, and doesn’t cost any more or less to get on and off, so it’s a no-brainer for me Smile I mean, you COULD ride the whole way from Mainz to Düsseldorf if you want, but I personally like getting off the boat and experiencing a few of the towns! I mean they all look great FROM the boat, but they are all fun to be in as well. My two favorites are probably Bacharach and Sankt Goar, but really I doubt you could go wrong with any of them. Maybe read up on a few of the towns, see if there is anything that totally sparks your interest. Lots of them have ancient castles high above in various states of repair, some housing some cool museums and night-time walks and stuff, so it’s worth looking into.

Koblenz is the next town worth stopping at. The first time I was there it was rainy and crappy and left me with a bad impression, but the second time, I found it to be a really cool place! It’s strollable in a couple of hours and (when it’s not raining Wink) is a really beautiful town. The fortress on the other side of the Rhine doubles as a youth hostel and museum… worth checking out if you have the time! If you can spare a day to stay in Koblenz, I’d also recommend going half an hour down the Mosel river and check out the castle “Burg Eltz”. It’s a beautiful hike through the woods to get to it and you’ll be happy you went Smile The castle tour can be a little iffy (it’s not super popular with English speakers, so you might have to settle for the English booklet while listening to a tour in Dutch or something haha) but still, it’s worth it to see the interior of this amazing building.

Lets see… after Koblenz, you could get back on the boat and make your way to Düsseldorf, but honestly I’m not sure how scenic it really is after this point. It is still fairly nice up to about Bonn, but after that it gets really industrial looking. I guess that’s sort of interesting in its own way, but obviously isn’t the same. Additionally, having already been on the best stretch of the Rhein from Mainz to Koblenz, the rest might be a let down anyway. I’d kind of recommend just hopping on a train in Koblenz the next day and heading up to Köln. It’s a pretty huge town, but all the “must see” stuff is really concentrated. For instance, the best Roman museum in Germany is right next to the train station, along with the famous cathedral (which always reminds me of Orthanc from Lord of the Rings ).

Honestly I’ve never been to Düsseldorf aside from the train station so I can’t say much about that town other than that it is really close to Köln . Though I have gone to the Neanderthal Museum in nearby…you guessed it…Neanderthal, and I have to say it is probably one of my favorite museums in all of Germany! Also helps that it is really easily accessible from Köln, too. But it makes for a nice half-day trip, especially if it’s a nice day because there is a nature trail nearby where you can walk through the woods and intermittently come across farms where farmers/scientists are “breeding back” animals, trying to approximate the livestock of our ancestors; I was able to see the cattle (which were pretty impressive, I have to say) but all the horses were staying out of the sun in a barn which wasn’t accessible to the public. Maybe next time!

Anywho… I haven’t added it up, but I probably just enumerated about a month’s worth of stuff to do, and you said you have about 2 weeks … At any rate, I hope that helped somewhat; maybe it’ll give you a few extra ideas for what you guys plan on seeing and doing while in Germany.

Cheers

I am traveling for 51 days
Bath, Haltwhistle, London, Füssen, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Speyer, Nördlingen, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Rome, Ostia Antica, Athens, Delphi, Athens
calinite17
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Wow ~ thanks Feicht for all the help! I’ve been wondering if Wurzburg is worth a stay, so you’ve definitely answered my questions. And thanks for confirming the fact that all the country roads in Bavaria are fun to explore, not just the romantic road, which is what I suspected! I think you have a really good idea of just finding a small town and setting up camp there for awhile to bike around. I’m also glad to hear I can do this trip on train! I’ve been worrying about that since everybody seems to do it via car, so that’s reassuring!

I am leaving from Taipei with $10000 for 82 days
London, Granada, Seville, Barcelona, Avignon, Paris, Colmar, Interlaken, Venice, Florence, Siena, Viareggio, Naples, Rome, Athens, Santorini, Náxos, Rome, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Vienna, Budapest, Kraków, Prague, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, London
Feicht
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No worries! If you can’t tell, I love Germany so I try to help as much as I can

But seriously, as much as you might think of Germany as this border-to-border sleek, modern country…really anywhere in the whole damn place (which is about the size of TEXAS, btw) half an hour from a city, you’re out in the country! This can either be refreshing or terrifying, depending on your point of view… haha

But even after having spent a considerable amount of time there, this past summer I was still impressed at just how many “villages that time forgot” that there really are, even in Hessen where I spent most of my time. When you say Hessen, most people (including me, before) just think of Frankfurt, maybe Mainz. But let me tell you, there are so many small little half-timbered towns there, they all start looking the same after a while (….in a good way )

Still, like I said before, I’ve found that the southern towns are slightly more tourist-accommodating than other places. Actually the further north and east you go, the less likely you are to find people who can even decipher English! The town I mentioned, Büdingen where I spent a week this summer, the hostel owners (both of them) had completely no knowledge of English whatsoever… and that’s only an hour northeast from Frankfurt

If you like I could give you a whole long list of smaller towns to put “on the list” as it were, but a few that stick out in my mind: Rothenburg (obviously), Weißenburg in Bayern, Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl…. etc! (I can also do this with Hessen, if you’re interested in spending some time up there Smile)

But yeah, seriously, you really can just pick a town at random in Bavaria or B-W and use it as a base with little fear of going astray. A tip I suggest sometimes is finding the state’s tourist website, and follow the links for lodging. Usually you’ll get a list of towns (and not cities) and you can just pick and choose from B&B’s from all over the place (and typically these places don’t cost very much, and are bend-over-backwards accommodating for tourists). One of the best places I’ve stayed in all of Germany was this place in Rothenburg called like “Gasthof zur Godene Rose” which is just a small little hotel with like 10 rooms or something, but ultra cozy, and at the time was actually cheaper than the youth hostel in town! So it pays to check on this kind of stuff

I am traveling for 51 days
Bath, Haltwhistle, London, Füssen, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Speyer, Nördlingen, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Rome, Ostia Antica, Athens, Delphi, Athens
Feicht
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Oh another tip (especially for finding random places on the map): USE GOOGLE EARTH! I love this program. I can’t even tell you how many places I’ve found to stay in or just visit from just clicking on the map on Google Earth and then finding out about that place. The only thing I don’t like about it is recently they’ve updated it where for whatever reason it can make it slightly harder to find actual individual sights. You used to be able to, if the map was centered over a general area, type in just the name of a building or monument or archaeological site, and it would take you to it; now this is a lot more hit or miss. I’m sure they’ll work out the bugs though, overall it’s still a great program.

Also, I don’t remember if I mentioned it above or not, but another super useful tool for the traveller is the Deutsche Bahn website: http://www.db.de/en …Even when you’re not actually in Germany, you can find routes and times for basically any train to anywhere. And if it is an all-German route, you can even see how much the tickets are (for instance if you are on a select pass and might not want to blow a day of your pass for a single trip or something).

I am traveling for 51 days
Bath, Haltwhistle, London, Füssen, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Speyer, Nördlingen, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Rome, Ostia Antica, Athens, Delphi, Athens