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glenvino Apr 30th, 2009 03:50 PM

1 day from Stuttgart -- Visit Heidelburg, Rhine?
We'll be based in Stuttgart for several days and have one weekday free for exploring afar (we can start very early but might have to return to Stuttgart by 6pm). We don't like taking it easy on vacation, we're in good shape and enjoy packing in as much as we can.

We won't rent a car, which will limit us some, but we have a German Rail Pass so we're covered for the train and KD boats.

For those of you who have explored the following areas, which would you suggest we focus on?

- Heidelberg
- Boat on the Neckar near Heidelberg
- KD boat on part of the Rhine -- perhaps just the ~40-minute stretch (downstream) from Bacharach to St. Goar
- Rheinfels Castle (in St. Goar)
- Marksburg Castle (in Braubach)
- Burg Eltz (on the Mosel)
- Any other villages or castles worth a stop?

Someone on another forum suggested just visiting Heidelberg and a boat on the Neckar. If we do have to be back to Stuttgart by 6, that sounds like it may be good.

Or, we could take an early train to Bacharach, ride the KD boat to St. Goar, visit Rheinfels Castle, and train back to Stuttgart.

Or anything else that seems worthwhile. Really, we enjoy doing what others consider too much. We'll relax later. No idea when or if we'll be back again. We're mainly interested in architecture, history and enjoying lovely scenery (and we don't shop).


bigtyke Apr 30th, 2009 04:19 PM

I took the train from Stuttgart to Sigmaringen on the Danube. NIce, scenic trip. Good castle there. THere might be river trips from there, i'm not sure. I am sure that there are canoes that you can rent in the area.

hausfrau Apr 30th, 2009 07:47 PM

Hi glenvino,
I lived in Stuttgart for 2+ years (so if you have any other questions about it, fire away) and also like to "pack it in" when I travel. Of all the places you listed, Burg Eltz is my favorite, but it would take some doing to get there without a car. I've heard that people have done it by train/bus and then hiked to the castle. I've heard the approach to the castle via the walking trail is pretty incredible.

Second choice would definitely be the Rhine, and a boat ride combined with one town/castle visit might be just the thing for you. I have toured Marksburg - it was interesting, but not out-of-the-ordinary amazing. I drove by Rheinfels and it looked incredible - huge, sprawling ruins - and wished I had gone there instead.

Heidelberg, while beautiful, is not one of my favorites because there are simply too many tourists.

basingstoke2 Apr 30th, 2009 08:02 PM

Rheinfels Castle is mostly ruins and there is not much to see other than the view of the Rhine. Marksburg and Burg Eltz on the other hand are wonderful. I have some pics of the three on:
They are in the Germany with Seth collection.

glenvino May 1st, 2009 02:28 AM

Thank you, everyone! This makes me wish we were there for a year.

Great photos, Basingstoke2. We're visiting some of those other spots too.

Burg Eltz does sound the most intriguing of the possibilities... though it does also sound like a long trek there and back just for that, by train + the walk (which I too have heard is incredible).

Tough call, but it doesn't seem like we can go too wrong. Any more thoughts are welcome!

iris1745 May 1st, 2009 05:00 AM

Hi; Heidelberg is wonderful. But with your limited time, you could visit two places that are much closer. One is Tubingen, perhaps a half hour from Stuttgart and one of the few old towns not bombed in WW2. The other, a little further away is Baden-Baden. These places would save you travel time on the train and are lovely to visit. The Mosel is wonderful, but you will be spending too much time on the train. iris1745/dick

hausfrau May 1st, 2009 08:38 AM

Tuebingen is a good suggestion. It's a lot closer, easy to get to by train, and would be a lovely place to spend a day. It's a university town with a wonderful historic district, beautifully situated on the Neckar River, with a small castle (not sure if the castle is open for tours though).

basingstoke2 makes a good point about castles - Rheinfels is a ruin, whereas Marksburg is fully intact. So whether you prefer one over the other is a personal choice. I love all castles in general, but especially enjoy exploring ruins.

glenvino May 1st, 2009 07:53 PM

Thanks to all of you for the helpful info! I'll report back on what we did in a couple weeks.

basingstoke2 May 1st, 2009 08:26 PM

hausfrau = have you visited the ruins at Ehrenburg just over the Austrian border? The lower ruin is interesting and the upper ruin is spectacular in its setting, but it is a tough climb up there. The castle ruin in Landstuhl is also worth a visit if you are in the area.

Larryincolorado May 1st, 2009 10:00 PM

Don't try to go so far. There are a lot of interesting things to see closer to Stuttgart.

Take the S-Bahn south to Herrenberg and see the Fachwerk buildings and the town wall ruins.

Go a little farther to Tübingen, a delightful university town (Kepler taught here) on the Neckar.

Or go south out of Stuttgart towards Horb and change at Ettingen im Gäu for Freudenstadt (, called the capital of the northern Schwarzwald.

If you go west to Pforzheim, you can take the train south to Calw, a pretty Fachwerk town, home of Herman Hesse. Or you can take the S-Bahn up the Enz to Bad Wildbad and the Palais Thermal (spa).

Go east on the main line to Ulm. You can climb to the top of the world's highest Gothic church tower.

If you time it right, you can take the train south-east to Hechingen and catch the bus to Burg Hohenzollern ( It's a beautiful castle, in the mold of Neuschwanstein, not that old (1850s), but there have been castles on that commanding hill for a thousand years. There is only one bus per day, mid-morning, from the Hechingen station to the castle. Check the schedule on the German Rail website.

Larryincolorado May 1st, 2009 10:07 PM

OK. The link I cut and pasted from the URL line on the browser somehow doesn't work. Try this,

glenvino May 2nd, 2009 05:32 AM

Thanks, more great ideas!

Barbara5353 May 2nd, 2009 06:37 AM

When is your trip? If it's before summer and the heart of tourist season then Heidelberg would be my choice. I was there a few months ago. It's a lovely town and flat for walking. You can also tour the castle, which is part ruin and part intact. I also love the Rhine area, where we stayed for a week a few years ago. Your time is too short to do it justice; you would be spending too much time on and/or changing trains. And if you miss one, you could be late for your 6pm arrival back in Stuttgart. Pick a place where there are more transportation options.

glenvino May 2nd, 2009 11:06 AM

Good advice. The trip begins tomorrow!

glenvino May 11th, 2009 10:37 AM

We just returned from our amazing trip, and cannot wait to return! Thanks again for all the good suggestions.

Unfortunately our plans for the day in question were stymied by a badly upset stomach, which took half the day to recover from... so instead of our lofty goals of a fully-packed day, we just wandered Heidelberg for the afternoon and had a blast. Barbara, you were right, it's not too touristy right now (neither was Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which we pretty much had to ourselves along with the locals, especially in the evening). Also, we enjoyed the University crowd atmosphere in Heidelberg (even though we're well beyond our University years). Vibrant and alive.

We found a delightful little cafe (among the million delightful little cafes), enjoyed the stunning castle ruins, did some photography and sketching, and mostly walked walked walked. Enjoyed it so much we returned later that night on the train (after giving a talk back in Stuttgart), to wander some more and return to our cafe. The train rides themselves are part of the fun, as the scenery is so lovely and the patches of bright yellow mustard fields are in full bloom.

We'll definitely return in the next year or two to tour the Rhine, Neckar, and various towns folks here suggested. What a beautiful part of the globe, and what delightfully friendly people.

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