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Building my itinerary in real time - July in Germany 18 full days

Building my itinerary in real time - July in Germany 18 full days

Dec 7th, 2012, 06:35 PM
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Building my itinerary in real time - July in Germany 18 full days

Hi everyone. I've had a great deal of fun over the last couple of months reading though this board and building various itineraries for our family trip to Europe in July 2013. Wonderful posters here.

(Skip to the bottom to bypass all the filler) :0

We're a family of 4 with 2 boys 15 and 13. This will be our 6th extended summer trip, although the first outside North America, so I have a pretty good idea of what will work for us. We like active vacations and enjoy "touring" over "sightseeing," meaning we'd rather bike, paddle, or hike our way to the sights rather than drive to them. Of course we'd love to explore a castle or small town (or big city) in any case, but we'd rather do it by making an activity out of it - like hiking up a hillside to get to a town or castle, or biking through a city - Salzburg looks like a great place to spend the day on bikes, for example. A day at Mont Saint Michel looks like heaven. Some days could be exclusively devoted to outdoor pursuits that are unique enough, like the Sellaronda mountain bike circuit in the Dolomites, but I think for our first European trip we want to enjoy cultural variety first and foremost.

I have fun learning about new places when planning trips and so in reading about our choices in Europe came up with these possibilities as ideal itineraries for us:

1 Arrive Paris, a few days there then TGV to Avignon and explore Provence and Dordogne by car with the canoeing and bike riding in the appropriate areas.

2. Same as above to Avignon but head east to the French Alps with some full day hikes up high before heading north through Annecy and Dijon back to Paris, again with appropriate all day bike rides.

3. Arrive Munich and circle through Salzburgland (farm stay while touring), Dolomites (via Ferrrata and Sellaronda mountain bikes), Venice and Lake Garda hiking.

Really we would be able to find happiness anywhere in beautiful Europe, so I've been learning about the various areas from a tourist's point of view with the idea of traveling to wherever I happened to find inexpensive airfare. Well, seeing as how we're traveling in July, I expected the best deals to come along sometime in the spring, but low and behold today I managed to grab a great low price for four tickets to . . . . dum dum dum . . . Dusseldorf! (Evidently Lufthansa is "having a special on Dusseldorf.")

Not where I expected to wind up at, but as I said, anywhere is good for us. Coming from South Florida anywhere else IS good.

Usually I would already have a solid itinerary planned before I post, but seeing as I have such wide open possibilities before me, I though some preliminary feedback might help. Before we leave, I will have a pretty much hour by hour itinerary planned out, as well as alternatives. A "plan" is a list of things that won't happen, but the process of preparing a detailed one prepares for many eventualities. In the US, I would normally stay in one or two areas and explore them more thoroughly, but the temptation of variety is calling to me. . . Food is very important, but I assume we'll have no trouble no matter the area we are in.

For now I am trying to narrow areas we'll visit. Here is what I'm thinking right now: Arrive Dusseldorf in the am, immediately connect train to Munich, recover from jet lag. The next day 18 full days before flight home from Dusseldorf.

2 days Munich, then pick up car,

1 day Salzburg(?) I think so somehow it will be squeezed in.

4 days Bavaria: Herrenchiemsee candlelight concert, take the lift up Zugspitze and hike down (or whatever the good one next to it is), etc.

2 days though Baden Wurttemberg or Switzerland - really give me a break with all the great things to do around here - I have no idea!

4 days Alsace - a day at a food market and cooking a nice dinner will be in there somewhere.

2 days between Nancy and Metz - sightseeing!

3 Days Mosel Valley - relaxing or trekking, as our bodies dictate.

This is a very rough plan that will become more real as time goes by. For example those 3 days in the Mosel Valley may turn into time in Switzerland. The choices are all bittersweet.

Any feedback is much appreciated, especially ideas for active days. Tourist areas are fine, but no standing around - we need to earn our Sauerbraten! Like wise our "days off" need to be spectacular - maybe a nice spa.

Walker42 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2012, 05:04 AM
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...like hiking up a hillside to get to a town or castle...
Keep the days in the Mosel Valley, and while there, take the hike through the woods to visit Burg Eltz, which is one of the best medieval castles in Europe. It's an easy 30 minute hike on a well marked and maintained trail which follows the Eltz Creek through the forest, until the most magnificent castle emerges from the thicket of the woods. It is such a cool experience to visit Burg Eltz this way (or you could drive and park in the nearby lot). My husband and I did the hike in the early morning, when the fog was hanging in the valley, which gave an extra eerie effect to walking this 800 year old trail.


Directions for walking to the castle.


For hiking, you might consider the Black Forest and their network of trails and services - they even have "hiking without luggage", where you hike between two hotels and they take care of transporting your luggage for you.


Also, Germany has a great rail system which offers the Länder Pass - a daily rail pass for up to 5 people for about €21,00. It might be cheaper than a car for some of your destinations (like your day in Salzburg). There are some restrictions on the pass, such as which trains it covers, and the starting time (after 9:00am).


There is also a weekend pass that they offer.


Have fun planning your adventure.

artstuff is offline  
Dec 8th, 2012, 06:14 AM
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Perhaps a future trip. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donauradweg
iris1745 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2012, 06:22 AM
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>>>"1 Arrive Paris, a few days there then TGV to Avignon and explore Provence and Dordogne by car with the >>>canoeing and bike riding in the appropriate areas."

It's around 5+ hours to the Dordogne from Avignon so that isn't going to be a good day trip and it is not going to make sense to travel that far west after reaching Avignon if you intend to go est of Avignon later. If you really want to see the Dordogne, you need to train to Bordeaux, Limoges or Brive before moving on to Avignon.

So number 2 works much better for France.

Flying into Dusseldorf makes the German option more viable and you have a pretty good plan here
Aramis is offline  
Dec 8th, 2012, 06:47 AM
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Thanks Robyn for your very thoughtful reply! I wasn't sure folks would read my long-winded post. That trail to Burg Eltz is perfect! That is now on my top ten list for sure. That is a good deal for the train - I was just considering "car only" but I suppose that's just my American bias.

Perhaps a future trip. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donauradweg

Maybe this trip too! I still am looking for ideas and that is just what we're interested in. Thanks.

It's around 5+ hours to the Dordogne from Avignon so that isn't going to be a good day trip and it is not going to make sense to travel that far west after reaching Avignon if you intend to go est of Avignon later.

Sorry if I wasn't clear - we would explore Dordogne and Provence over two weeks. But that trip is out for this year as I have the tickets to Dusseldorf already. I was just giving examples of trips that we would enjoy. Now my problem is figuring a route from Munich to Dusseldorf over 18 days on our open jaw plan.
Walker42 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2012, 09:04 AM
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Near Munich is Neuschwanstein Castle (which inspired Disneyland's castle.) You can walk/hike up to the castle, get a great view, and take the tour.

I might dump the time in the Alsace and add time in Austria (in the Salzkammergut) and Switzerland. Seems like that would be more your style.

Working your way back north to Dusseldorf, you could stop at Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It's admittedly a very touristy little town but the kids might enjoy walking the walls around the town.

Oh, and another vote for the Mosel and Burg Eltz. Don't miss.
Mimar is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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I’ve had some time to hash this thing out and have come up with the following itinerary. Two places I would dearly love to visit – Salzburgland and the Mosel valley (other than a drive through), have gotten the axe to facilitate proper pacing. I’ve tried to mix the one-night “sprints” with 4 night stays, but even so I have a suspicion that by the last day’s visit to Burg Eltz we will be looking forward to the airport hotel in Dusseldorf!

Any feedback at all will be carefully listened to! The route was chosen in large part to give us a wide variety of experiences. The days with *’s are the ones I’m most happy about, but could change them if there was a better recommendation.

I'm also thinking about combining the nights in Tubingen and Freiburg into one or the other.

Starting on Thursday July 18th and renting a car our last day in Munich, city followed by what we might do each day.

4 nights Munich: recover, see city, Chiemsee?, Dachau

4 Nights Mittenwald: Linderhof etc on the way, *Hike down the Klettersteig to Mittenwald, tour Austrian Alps, Walk to Garmisch

1 night Fussen: *walk from Neuschwanstein to Hohenschwangau to Fussen

1 night Tubingen: see Schloss Lichtenstein etc on the way

1 night Freiburg: see Burg Hohenzollern etc on the way

4 nights Alsace visiting with friends

1 night Nancy: see city

1 night Metz: *Hackenburg Fort (saturday)

1 night Tier: see city

1 night Dusseldorf: *Burg Eltz on the way
Walker42 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 04:16 PM
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That is a whack of 1 nighters. I notice a couple of things;

You could visit Fussen from Munich as a day trip on the train - about 2 hours each way and still accomplish the hike you mention . That would allow you to put one more night in Munich and take out the Fussen night. You would then drive from Mittenwald directly to Tubingen.

Staying 2 nights in Tubingen and visiting Lichtenstein and Hohenzollern from there makes sense. You could then skip the night in Freiburg and go straight from Tubingen, through the Black Forest to your friends in Alsace - stopping in Freiburg for a visit on the way, or not, depending on where they are in Alsace (?)

As for Nancy and Metz, there are only 50 kms apart. Is that enough of a move to make you want to spend 1 night in each rather then 2 in one of them and visit the other? It's up to you whether you want to pack, unpack and move rather than make a 1:40 round trip drive.
Aramis is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 05:41 PM
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Thanks for the well thought out reply.

Re: One-nighters. When "sightseeing" rather than hiking (or other full day activity), I look back on my wife's and my favorite vacation - driving from Edinburgh to the south coast of England over two weeks with no hotel reservations and staying for a night wherever we finished the day, and that was back in the days of phone books and pay phones. Packing and unpacking on "road sprints" is not an issue for us at all. My sons are now young men and will deal with the early wake-up calls.

The reason for the one-nighters is to spend the evening on after dinner strolls/concerts and such in each town, although we can still do that and hop in the car afterwards, that's true. I'm thinking about staying in Metz for 2 nights - it seems like it would be more "romantic" or what have you at night. The problem with all this internet/book research is I'll really have no idea until we get there. For example on paper it would seem a no-brainer that the Sierra Nevada mountains would be better that the Appalachians, but some of us know better.

Skipping the night in Freiburg sounds wise. That then leads to maybe 2 nights in Rothenburg instead of Tubingen . . . the things we're willing to do for our children!

Re: daytrip from Munich to Fussen. 2 hours is beyond my limit for daytrips except for very remote areas. I was thinking to max out our walking time around the castles/Fussen area and then dinner and sleeping in Fussen. Walking all day and finishing by walking into a restaurant and then to our hotel room is something that is hard to get in the US (at least with good food and a comfortable bed!) I'm seeing if I can do the same in Mittenwald a couple of days as well.

My ideal itinerary would be one week in every place I've mentioned. Retirement will work out well for me, I think!
Walker42 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 07:10 PM
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It's all good. It's about the traveling style that suits you.

I hope that some others who don't think that it is even possible to enjoy traveling with this much "movement" read about your experience and the pleasure you have derived from similar travels and come to understand that travel is an entirely subjective experience.

My plan is a retirement that supports a couple of 4 week trips each year, staying in a single location in an apartment that it so ridiculously cheap that we still take manage to take a couple of 3 day overnight trips.

Aw heck, who am I kidding - if they'd (Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy) take me I's probably move.
Aramis is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 08:31 PM
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Thanks Aramis. I've been reading many people's opinions about one night stays. These people must be heavy packers and unpackers! We tend not to unpack unless we're somewhere for a few days.

If we need to relax during the day it is much better done on a nice hillside or in a town square + bead/cheese than in a hotel room.
Walker42 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2012, 09:53 PM
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I'm with you. I would not do Fussen as a day trip. I also would not do 2 nts. in Rothenburg - one night for the Night Watchman's tour is enough. The hiking from Mittenwald is great. You will have a great time.
CarolJean is offline  
Dec 15th, 2012, 07:07 AM
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On one night stays, it's not so much the unpacking (I don't). It's the time to find your way there, find your way around, then find your way to your next destination.

Actually there's a subtext to travel styles. Slower travelers like to relax into the culture, get a feel for the people as well as see the sights. Whereas your itinerary is maximized for seeing the most sights in your time available.

It's your money and your trip. Do what you want.

But, with such an itinerary, I would book accommodations ahead of time. Are you looking for 2 double hotel rooms? Rooms that sleep 4 (quad rooms) are rare.
Mimar is offline  
Dec 15th, 2012, 12:52 PM
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This trip was born, while it's twin - spending the 18 days in Bavaria and Salzburgland - was abandoned. I think this will be more fun for the kids and am now convinced that it can flow well. I think it would be more natural to do in reverse, but the train to Munich works well on arrival day, I think.

Mimar, funny you think that of me as a frantic sightseer, as I think of myself as a smell the roses kind of traveler. I just don't see a conflict between relaxation and one-night stays, even assuming relaxation is something I seek. I usually relax at home (like now for instance).

For example if I stay in Mittenwald and day trip to Fussen, it will be because I want to spend the evening hours in Mittenwald, not because it is "easier" than spending the evening in Fussen. Believe me if I stay in Fussen I could be relaxing in my room before I could return to Mittenwald and my hotel, plus I will be an hour closer to Tubingen the next day if I was headed that way.

Is 3 days walking the trails around Mittenwald to little? Am I missing out by not spending two nights in Nancy? Possibly, but I'm giving up one "sight" for another, I am not be adding any more to the list by moving on too early.

"your itinerary is maximized for seeing the most sights in your time available."

I chuckled at this as I am driving between Munich and Dusseldorf over three weeks - hardly a European record for insane sightseeing.

Besides I'm not following you here. Say I stay 2 weeks in Munich, I would still be seeing different things each day yes? Or have I just seen "Munich." I think I'll be seeing different things each day no matter how many hotels I stay in. Are you relating staying in the same hotel for a long period somehow with one's ability to absorb culture? My car travel time will not be very high, and I hope to learn the premier roads to dive on with our BMW rental.

I have a little experience with creating rewarding travel days that work for us, an active family. This is not well represented in the above travel itinerary that says for example "see Burg Hohenzollern etc on the way." In reality this would turn out to be something like: "Early rise and walk the streets of Tubingen as the market sellers set up. Buy fresh cheese/bread and goodies for breakfast and later lunch. Take a little morning boat ride - if that is done in Tubingen - drive to the castle and take a short (4-5km say) walk around the area and visit the castle, picnic lunch wherever we can. Visit the closest nice town we've read about or heard about from locals for some pastries and such and some time in the square, now it's about 3 pm. Spend 3 hrs or so leisurely exploring the scenic drive to Freiburg. Maybe dinner on the way, or in Freiburg. I'll have several options along our route so we can decide as we go. (Food is kind of a big deal for me). Evening stroll in Freiburg, kids can rest while the wife and I enjoy some live music. Next day rinse and repeat.

Now tell me how this would be made better in any way by spending a second night in Tubingen instead of Freiburg. Because I might have trouble finding our hotel? Not an issue for me in the slightest. If we get lost I'm assuming it will be somewhere nice.

I understand that this board gives advice to novice travelers who quite frequently try and do to much. But I am not one (neither a novice or one who does too much) and am hoping for some advice suited to my travel style, as this board above all others I find is filled with helpful and knowledgeable folks.

Hey, maybe I can convince a few people on this board to string together 2 or even (the horror) 3 one-nighters in a row!

I do appreciate your advice about rooms for 4. My first choice is always an apartment/B&B, hotels only when necessary. I am working out my itinerary here 7 months in advance in part so that all my room reservations will be done before too long. But in a hotel I would prefer two double rooms.
Walker42 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 04:03 AM
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I'm glad to see that Burg Eltz has made it on your itinerary. Since you're driving, and I'm assuming you still want to hike the trail to the castle, if my memory recalls, there is a parking area at the trailhead, just past the Hotel Ringelsteiner Mühle. Which, BTW, was a nice place to stop for a beer and snack at the end of our walk back from Burg Eltz.

We're planning a trip to Germany in April 2013, including stops in Tübingen, Burg Hohenzollern, Schloss Lichtenstein and Freiburg. I'll be posting a trip report on my return, so keep posted.

Have fun storming the castle...

artstuff is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 05:03 AM
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"Have fun storming the castle..."

I say this to my kids about once a week as they go off to school.

Burg Eltz was on my radar early on - "Rick Steve's favorite castle interior!" LOL but your description of the walk to it sealed the deal. I read briefly (I'm still in the skimming stage of reading) that there is a nice trail to Burg Hohenzollern too. I can't find it now but I think they hiked something like 15km, which would be amazing as I would think the trail could be joined in other spots as well to make it much shorter(?).

I realize you may not be interested in longer hikes, but I am also considering the 17km path from the top of the Tegelberg down to Fussen, as seen here:


Very much looking forward to your next report, and have belatedly just read your previous report to the area. What an outstanding and helpful report. Thanks!
Walker42 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2012, 11:21 AM
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The map for Hohenzollern shows a trail leaving from the parking lot and hiking to the castle, although it does not say how long the trail is.


If you go to Google Earth you can see parts of the trail as it leaves the parking lot and starts snaking up the hill.

We're planning on walking the trail if the weather permits, and if we have enough time.

artstuff is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 06:33 PM
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I've worked a bit more on the itinerary and would like some feedback. I've decided it may not be possible to see nearly all the things I would like and still visit our friends in Alsace, so since they are not paying for the trip . . . they may have to come visit us in Florida instead. We will (possibly) save Alsace for a few years when the kids are older or away at school (our two boys are 13 and 15).

Our priorities:

Me: Walking or bike riding both urban and rural.

Wife: She would like to see Venice and "France." Venice for the obvious and France for the difference in culture. It looks like she won't get either if we stick to this easterly route, but any sort of substitute for the atmosphere of either would go a long way. For example I hope Hallstadt will satisfy her "Italian Lakes" urges.

Kids: Both got extremely enthusiastic when I mentioned the torture museum in Rothenburg, so the usual rules for teenage boys would apply - castles, dungeons, dark lanes etc. My oldest can't wait to order a beer, and my youngest is hoping all of our hikes will be 100% downhill and near restaurants.

Newest itineray:

3 night Munich


1 night Berchtengaden

Konigssee (up high, not on the boat) in the AM, Hohenwerfen Fortress in the afternoon

3 nights Halstadtt (Hallstadtt and Gosause one day, Southern face of Dechstein the next)

St Wolfgang area

3 nights Salzburg

1 night Burghausen

Regensburg day trip (worth while, or see Burghausen instead?)

5 nights in Wurzburg/Nuremburg area, split between two towns (Probably Rothenburg two nights).

2 nights on the way to Dusseldorf airport (Cochem maybe, Marburg maybe, somewhere that contrasts with what we'll have experienced so far)

Burg Eltz

Last night Dusseldorf Airport

I'm relatively happy with what we have up through Salzburg.

I'm concerned about chopping out Garmisch area, hopefully the Salzkammergut will suffice. I'll have to save my Zugspitze trail guide for next time! Am I making a mistake?

One point I'll be looking at is which of the "big four" of Rothenburg/Wurzburg/Nuremberg/Bamberg we might visit before we move on.

Also, our last stop should really be a knock-out (I've seen some castle hotels on the Rhine that look like they would fit the bill, but anywhere that leaves us on a high note will be great).
Walker42 is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2012, 07:00 PM
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You can easily visit Herrenchiemsee on the drive from Munich to Berchtesgaden. It's just about midway between the 2... an hour from Munich and an hour from Berchtesgaden. The interior is superior to Neuschwansteins in my opinion.

I'd combine the Salzburg and Berchtesgaden nights. By car, they're less than 30 min. apart. We've stayed 13 nights (so far) in the Berchtesgaden area since 2006. We love to base at the Pension Mayringerlehen in Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden. Hallstatt is about an hour or so from Salzburg and 1:30 from Berchtesgaden. We visited Hallstatt from Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden.

Maybe try the Jennerbahn cable car trip right next to Konigsee.

We found 2 nights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber to be ideal. The Nightwatchman Tour being the highlight of our stay. The 500 yr. old wood carved alter masterpieces by Tilman Riemanschneider in St. Jacobs (Rothenburg) and Herrgottkirche (in nearby Creglingen) were also highlights.

Burg Eltz... don't miss it! It's especially a time warp experience on a foggy/overcast morning.

We visited Burghausen on a misty/rainy day. Maybe it's just us, be we were not impressed.

If interested, we have photo's (3 pages of them) at:


pja1 is online now  
Dec 24th, 2012, 06:28 AM
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Google 'germany fun forests' for activities that the boys would like.

Sommerrodelbahn should be fun.

Canoe in the Danube near Sigmaringen or Althmuhl near Eichstatt.

Also near Eichstatt - bike ride along the Altmuhl radweg, fossil hunting
bigtyke is offline  

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