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Belgium-Germany-Prague-Austria-Switzerland

Old Feb 18th, 2012, 08:40 PM
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Belgium-Germany-Prague-Austria-Switzerland

Hey everyone, I especially need some itinerary help with the Germany portion of my trip, but I figured I'd include all in this leg of our trip.

I have 12 days and would prefer at LEAST 5 nights in Germany (preferring to spend more time in Bavaria), and if possible to include, Luxembourg "on the way" would do that.

We will want to see historical sites, some museums, castles, etc -- but also feel the culture during our short stay, locals pubs, a small theater, etc. We have a Eurail pass (this is part of a 35-day Europe trip), but I hear rental car is the way to go in Germany?

Would love to hear a suggestion of how we should route this from Belgium to Germany to Prague to Austria to Switzerland. Thank you so much in advance!!

(By the way, I'm traveling with my wife only -- no kids, and we are ages 31 and 23)
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Old Feb 19th, 2012, 12:13 AM
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James, just want to make sure I've got this correct: you have a 35 day trip planned, taking in Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and Switzerland. In that trip, you have 12 days to visit Germany via Luxembourg from Belgium?

If the above is correct, I also have another question - are you flying in to Belgium and out of Switzerland? I ask because of the order of the route you've mentioned.

You don't mention cities you're considering visiting, so to help you with some ideas:

Belgium - Brussels and Brugge/Bruges (there are more, but time is limited)

Luxembourg - just Luxembourg city if you want a castle, history and some scenery. Train from Brussels is 3hrs and there are trains every hour.

Germany and beyond - from Luxembourg, you can train it to Cologne in around 3.5hrs (direct train), spend an afternoon and evening then all next day there (at least, time for a river cruise). Train on to Berlin in a little over 4hrs. Stay in Berlin at least 4 nights (3 full days), then train south to Prague with a stop in Dresden (1-2 nights will let you visit museums and see the city, otherwise a lunch stop for a few hours would be fine if the museums don't interest you). Prague for 5 nights (longer if you're doing day trips anywhere), then train (4hrs30) to Vienna (again 4 nights would be good), then train to Melk (abbey) for a visit and on to Salzburg. NOTE: you could take the boat from Vienna to Krems am Donau (pretty town and hour west of Vienna) then train to Melk and visit the Abbey. You could stay in Melk that night and then train to Salzburg the next day. From Salzburg, depending how you're going for days left, you could either travel on to Innsbruck for a night or 2, or train straight to Munich. This is where you could hire a car in Germany (prior to that I'm not sure I'd bother) and drive the Romantic Road, visit Ludwig's castles (including Herrenchiemsee) and stay in that region. Time in Munich will depend on your interests, but at least 3 nights will let you experience the city and do a half day trip to Dachau. From Munich, train to Switzerland.

Switzerland - not sure where you're considering, but look at Luzern, Berner Oberland (Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Interlaken area).

See if that gives you something to work with for your planning and note the number of nights in each city you'd like to spend, then you'll be able to get a better idea of where 35 days of travel gets you. You don't want to be doing too many 1 night stays as they involve a lot of travel time for not a lot of sightseeing, but 1 or 2 won't be the end of things.
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Old Feb 19th, 2012, 12:24 AM
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Correction - cruise between Krems and Melk, not Vienna and Krems. Apologies for the confusion, getting my trains and boats mixed up! Should read: train Vienna to Krems, cruise Krems to Melk, back on train Melk to Salzburg. Also meant to add that it's a pain to have to go back to St Pölten from Melk to get the train to Salzburg, but it's only 20mins out of your day, then the St.Pölten-Salzburg train is direct and 2hrs.
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Old Feb 19th, 2012, 03:45 AM
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"I have 12 days and would prefer at LEAST 5 nights in Germany (preferring to spend more time in Bavaria)"

"We will want to see historical sites, some museums, castles, etc -- but also feel the culture during our short stay, locals pubs, a small theater, etc."

"We have a Eurail pass (this is part of a 35-day Europe trip), but I hear rental car is the way to go in Germany?"

There's no reason to switch to a car in Germany, where train transport is highly developed, efficient, and dependable. If you'll be in Bavaria, the Bayern ticket is good for getting around on outings - it's 29€/day, so you won't have to use up a railpass day (if indeed you have a selectpass/flexipass of some sort with a stipulated number of days it's good for.) Have a look at the hundreds and hundreds of Bavarian destinations you can reach by train here:

One look should tell you that Munich and Nuremberg are major train hubs. With just 5 days, I would consider staying in one place or the other mostly and doing daytrips to other destinations. Nuremberg has a fine old town with terrific pubs,the Kaiserburg (old fortification) and the Nazi Documentation Center and rally grounds, and some other good museums too. Day trips from Nuremberg to Rothenburg (popular old-world village with intact town wall) and Bamberg ("smoke beer", brew pubs, gorgeous old city - the whole place is protected as a World Culture Heritage Site by UNESCO) are possible for a couple with the VGN "Tagesticket Plus" daypass (buy at machines in Nuremberg) for 16.20. Do outings to Regensburg or Würzburg (another UNESCO site here - the RESIDENZ palace) with the Bayern ticket.

Transport:

Bayern ticket: http://www.munich-touristinfo.de/Bavaria-Ticket.htm
VGN (Nuremberg transit authority) Tagesticket Plus daypass: http://www.vgn.de/tickets/?Edition=en&p=1

Read up on what to see and do:

Bamberg: http://www.bamberg.info/en/
Rothenburg: http://www.rothenburg.de/index.php?get=121
Nuremberg: http://www.nuernberg.de/internet/por...ghtseeing.html
Residenz in Würzburg, Castles and Palaces in this above area, and throughout Bavaria: http://www.schloesser.bayern.de/engl...lace/index.htm

With 3 nights in this area and maybe 2 in Munich, there's no way you'll see it all, but you'll have lots of choices and will see a lot.
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Old Feb 19th, 2012, 03:47 AM
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OOPS. I omitted the link to the Bavarian rail network map:

http://www.bahnland-bayern.de/conten...ennetzplan-pdf
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Old Feb 19th, 2012, 05:37 PM
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There very well could be a reason to tour Germany by car. Obviously, you can visit more places. Not every town has a train station, or a convenient one. Additionally, your time is your own, there are no schedule considerations. Finally, car rental in Germany is the least expensive in in Europe. As anywhere renting a car just to travel between major cities is not usually a good idea, because a car is a liability in virtually every major western European city.

If you know where you want to go, and those places are well served by trains on a schedule that suits you, then the train is a good option. If you have a little wanderlust ( A German word, naturally) and want options and plan to visit some smaller towns, then renting a car may be the best option.

I am really confused about your available time. Is it 5 days you have in Germany? Then what is the reference to 12 days? And where do they fit into the 35 day trip and the Eurail pass dates?
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 07:24 PM
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madamtrashheap - thanks so much for the reply!!

To clarify, the 12 days is for this leg of my trip. The 35 spans a trip that begins in London, spending extensive time in Paris and Rome, before flying home from Barcelona. This is the mid-point of my trip, and my goal was to spend about 5-6 nights in Germany.

So, with limited time in Germany, I was hoping to spend more time in Munich -- but wasn't sure of an itinerary on my way from Belgium, where I'll be in both cities you mentioned (Brussels and Bruges). You gave me some wonderful recommendations -- and much to look over. How would you pare the trip down from with the time limits that I have? I was thinking going to Berlin would be trying to do to much. If I wanted to head toward Munich, what are stops (somewhat) "along the way" to make my trek through Germany memorable? Great stuff about Prague and Switzerland -- looking into that now.

I know my time table is ambitious, and this is why we are spending a week in major cities aside from this leg of the trip (week in Paris, week in Rome, etc). Ideally, I'd like to base from Munich for at least 3 days, splitting the other 3 nights up at sites or a site along the way -- including a possible Rhine River cruise (or by train). I hear there are wonderful little towns along the river!
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 07:32 PM
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I'm very interested in the cruise from Krems... any tips with who to book these sort of adventures through would be appreciated. There seems to be a lot of tourist traps.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 07:37 PM
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Thanks, Russ. We have a Global pass so should be able to use the Eurail unlimited throughout our time. Would we still need to purchase the Bayern and VGN ticket?
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 07:39 PM
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So in fact you only have 12 days for Belgium, Germany, Prague, Austria and Switzerland - right? That is a very (VERY) aggressive pace.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 07:47 PM
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As an example: from Belgium...

1) Stay in Cologne? (or Option 2 - stay in Luxembourg)
2) Rhine River toward the South toward a destination to spend the evening
3) Train to Munich -- and take day trips from there

Any tips to fine tune, specific cities/sites to see, places to go... I want to both feel like a tourist and also experience a couple nights with the locals
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 07:59 PM
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Janis.. sorry, because this is part of a larger trip, I was estimating. But 12 nights is pretty close to what it is.

Was thinking 5 or 6 nights in Germany, 1 night Belgium (night in Brussels, day trip in Brugges before heading out), 2 nights in Prague, 2 nights, in Austria, 2 nights in Switzerland.

I know this is aggressive, before our 7 nights in Paris... is it doable? If I should scratch anything, what should it be? We have already trimmed down from a far more ambitious itinerary as well... trying to be realistic :/
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 08:09 PM
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Just this to think about . . . 2 nights in a city does not equal 2days there. Not when you subtract the 1/2 a day you lose every time you change locations (sometimes almost full day). There is all the packing/unpacking, checking out/in, transferring to/from the train stations.

'2 nights in Switzerland' for example will net you about 1.5 days - or less.

And a 1-nighter gets you maybe a skosh over half a day free.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 08:46 PM
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James, thanks for clarifying the 12 days vs 5 days conundrum, and yes, 12 days to cover all those places is far too little so focussing on one or two destinations in that 5-6 nights (which equals 5 full days).

If you are interested in the Rhein/Rhine then perhaps train from Brussels to Cologne, take a wander around the city that afternoon/evening and the next day do as you're thinking and cruise from Koblenz to say Rüdesheim and stay the night there. This would involve taking an early train from Cologne to Koblenz, and catching a boat from there through to Rüdesheim. Check www.kdrhine.com as they do day trips from a variety of departure points. If you take the 11am boat from Koblenz you could arrive in Rüdesheim by 5pm, but there are other departures, earlier even. From Rüdesheim, you could train to Munich and spend the remaining time (4 nights) there, with day trips, etc. The Rüdesheim-Munich train should be around 4hr45.

You could also take the train which travels along the western side of the Rhein from Cologne to Frankfurt (think it's the ICE-InterCity Express, but it should take around 2hr20 and there's usually one every hour, in addition to the faster trains, you can check the route on the DB website). From Frankfurt, you could then train it to Munich in around 3hrs. That way you get to see the scenery but will reach Munich a little quick and have an extra night there.

If you want to throw Luxembourg into the mix, then that will mean more one night stops and a lot of hopping on and off trains. If you're OK with that, then Brussels to Luxembourg (train 3hrs) and stay overnight, then Luxembourg to Cologne (train 3.5hrs) and stay overnight, then train Cologne to Frankfurt as above and continue.

For Munich, you could look at areas of town like Schwabing or Gärtnerplatzviertel or Glockenbachviertel. They are all fun areas and a mix of people.

In light of the fact you have only another 6 nights on top of Germany, I'd look at day trips from Munich to say Innsbruck or Salzburg (train is fast enough and the Bavaria Card works on these routes too) along with trips to the Ludwig castles and Dachau on other days. Even then you'll still have to work out where else on your list you can visit and where has to be dropped as you won't have time to fit the rest in properly.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 09:44 PM
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Rhine River.... by boat or train? We have a Rail Pass so if it's just as good by train, that'd be more affordable, of course.
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Old Feb 20th, 2012, 10:01 PM
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Then train it is! Plus you'll see the sights you would usually see from a cruise, just a different perspective.

Tip 1: sit on the left hand side of the train.

Tip 2: make sure you get the correct train as mentioned above otherwise the scenery won't be as lovely.
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 08:10 AM
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"We have a Global pass so should be able to use the Eurail unlimited throughout our time. Would we still need to purchase the Bayern and VGN ticket?"

It depends. If it's a consecutive-day pass (wow, pricey) then no. If you have a flexi pass for a limited number of travel days, then you may not want to waste that pass on shorter travel legs or little daytrips, in which case the daypasses I mentioned could be handy.


Madametrashheap advises, "...do as you're thinking and cruise from Koblenz to say Rüdesheim and stay the night there."

A Rhine cruise is never very efficient from north to south. Don't start in Koblenz. Koblenz to Bingen or Rüdesheim (across the river from Bingen) would take you SIX hours (upstream.) Better to stay in Bingen or Rüdesheim or one of the other nearby villages like Bacharach and cruise from Bingen (or R'heim) north to Braubach (a bit south of Koblenz) which takes 3 hours. You CAN continue to Koblenz but it's not all that scenic after Braubach, and Braubach is home to Marksburg Castle, the best Rhine castle to tour:

www.marksburg.de

Your cruise is free IF you have a global consecutive-day pass or IF you use a railpass day on your flexipass.

Return to your base town by train.
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 10:57 AM
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We have a consecutive-day global pass... for the entirety of our 24-day trip. The cruise is free? Is that just on the link above? (marksburg.de?) That's awesome to hear.

Someone else offline recommended that I go on toward the Mosel River (back country), through the Black Forest and then on to Munich.

LonelyPlanet guide says that the most scenic part of Rhine River is from Koblenz to Mainz, and that from Cologne to Mainz, it's not so scenic. True? False?

Thanks again everyone... starting to make sense of my options.
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Old Feb 21st, 2012, 06:52 PM
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The cruise is free - K-D cruises - www.k-d.de

The Mosel is awesome. Cochem is an outstanding little town.

The Black Forest is very nice as well. Both the Mosel and the BF towns have a lot of old world character.

That LP stuff makes no sense. Koblenz-Mainz lies within the Cologne-Mainz stretch of river. Anyway, don't start or end in Mainz - the scenery is dull and flat between Bingen and Mainz. Same thing at the north end - some industrial scenery between Koblenz and Braubach. Getting out in Koblenz also means a long walk to the station - same thing in Mainz. Stick with Bingen to Braubach and it's all good.

Mainz is a nice city for a day or an afternoon. The Dom (cathedral) and the immediate vicinity (walk south along Augustinerstrasse) are the best parts to explore. Cologne is good too, with a massive gothic cathedral and several good museums near the station.
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