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One week in Germany - organized tours or independent sightseeing?

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Hello,

We are a family of five ages 15-50. This will be our first trip to Germany (first time overseas for our three boys). We arrive in Munich the morning of June 23rd, have three nights in Munich, two nights Cologne, two nights Berlin then back to Munich for one night before flying home on July 1st. We have purchased rail passes and made our reservations for the major travel days. We are trying to fit in as much as possible and have already eliminated quite a bit from our original wish list.

The plan:
Day 1: Arrive Munich 0830, check in/drop bags at hotel, explore sites including Marienplatz, Frauenkirche, English Garten, possibly Allianz arena, Museum Island. Augustiner Keller is a must for DH. Maybe we should consider an organized walking tour? We will be jet lagged but feel we need to keep moving & do as much as possible to help adjust to the time change.

Day 2: Plan is to tour Neuschwanstein ( & possibly Hohenschwangau) castle. We had originally
thought to purchase tour tickets in advance and take the train to Fussen then bus to Neuschwantsein on our own. After reading how crowded this tourist attraction can be I'm worried that we may have issues trying to time things out on our own. I'm concerned that due to crowds we could miss the transfer bus in Fussen & not make it up the hill in time for our timeslot. Also my impression is that there is a large amount of time spent 'waiting' for the Neuschwanstein tour. Originally I had hoped to spend our wait time exploring the gorge and Mary's bridge but since the bridge is under renovation and a rockslide has closed the gorge I'm wondering what other options would be available. Would it make things less stressful to book this through a tour company and if so is there one that you would recommend? I would also love to go to Schwangau and take the cable car to the summit at Mount Tegelberg before leaving Fussen for Munich.

Day 3: Day trip to Salzburg by train. Need suggestions for must see in Salzburg. We would like to take the funicular to tour the Festung Hohensalzburg and possibly explore Mirabelle gardens if the weather cooperates. Ideally I would like to take the bus to Koenigsee and the boat to Obersee then walk the trail around the lake to the beer garden but with only one day I'm not sure this is reasonable with only one day and no car. Perhaps a pre-packaged tour? Thoughts?

Day 4: Morning train to Cologne, afternoon explore city, tour Dom including a South tower climb & visit to the treasure chamber. Possibly ride Kolner Seilbahn if things time out properly. Find a place to relax and enjoy a Kolsch or two.

Day 5: Thinking of taking a Middle Rhine cruise - (train to Koblenz then KD tour to Rudesheim, boat or train back to Cologne), also considering Aachen & we have a couple Dortmund fans who would like to see their stadium.

Day 6: train to Berlin & begin exploring some of the numerous sites on our list.

Day 7: Berlin - no organized plan for Berlin just a list of sights to see: Reichstag & dome tour, Brandenberg gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Topography of Terror, Berlin Wall, Pergamon Museum, Tiergarten, KaDeWe store (maybe if weather is bad). Thoughts on a hop-on hop- off bus tour? Was thinking it may be the best way to get an idea of layout and an easy way to get around the city that would hit all the major points of interest. My boys are completely opposed - they don't want to be so obvious Lol!

Day 8: Train to Munich, overnight Hilton Munich airport
Day 9: flight home

Any feed back would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

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