Germany in 21 days

Oct 8th, 2011, 11:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 47
Germany in 21 days

My wife and I are planning a mid-summer trip to Germany and, like most, want to see the most we can with the least stress. We have considered both rail and a car rental and have begun to lean toward the car to give us access to more remote locations. Essentially, we would like to see it all and recognize that to be an impossibility. If folks can suggest soome "must see" sites and general itineraries we would be most appreciative. I spent a year in "West Germany" many years ago and assume we will have an entirely different adventure.

Thank you, in advance, for your thoughful suggestions.
Renaud is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 12:02 PM
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hi, renaud,

we just got back from a trip to the east of Germany and i am in the midst of posting a trip report.

click on my screen name to see how we got on!
annhig is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 02:56 PM
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I did a tour of Germany with Cosmos in 2010 and some of the sites we visited are in the Blog below. Berlin is of course a must and it is amazing how they have managed to combine the once divided Berlin. Leipzig, Dresden and Nuremberg in former East Germany should not be missed. We found Rothenburg very charming and other sites will depend on your interests. We enjoyed Germany, so will you.

ronaldkwok is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 03:00 PM
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You can get general itineraries and must-sees from a guidebook. Here, you may get lots of individual favorites, but they'll be all over the place without parameters from you - are you into art, beer, biking, cathedrals, festivals, historical sites, spa towns, museums, or what? Let us know, and you'll get more focused help.

There are almost no places in Germany so remote that you can't reach them by train or bus - there are something like 5,500 train stations, plenty for a 3-week trip - and the regional transit passes, in combination with a German railpass for long trips, make for wildly inexpensive travel compared to auto travel. If you intend to see major cities like Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, etc., then a car is an absolute liability. That said, a car IS an asset if you have very specific accommodations in mind - like some castle/villa/farmhouse on a hilltop or remote valley that would necessitate a taxi ride every time you came and went. I've done several car trips and probably 3 times as many train trips in Germany and now use trains (and occasionally a bus) for my trips, which are almost exclusively in remote areas. Anyway, don't make the mistake so many make - renting a car before choosing your destinations and your accommodations. A car is occasionally the way to go, but it's surely too early to know in your case.
Russ is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 03:56 PM
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Well you certainly can;t see Germany in 21 days - but there is a lot to see outside of the major cities (in addition to them - not instead) and IMHO a car is really the best way to travel. You can go where you want when and stop at any cute spot for a meal, to sightsee or just to explore. We have driven through Germany several times and each one come upon places that we loved visiting that we not featured in our guide books.

That said I would make a specific itinerary - since if you start in, for instance Berlin and return from perhaps Munich you won;t need a car in either city - but can cut down the number of days you rent by 6 or so.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 04:14 PM
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We did a 13 day trip to Bavaria last May and still did not see all of the interesting areas-there simply wasn't time.
I advise that you limit your trip geographically and not try
to see nothern Germany and Bavaria and the Rhine/Mosel shorelines all on the same trip.

By the way, we did it all by train. Russ helped me get started
on my train plans. It was a wonderful trip. We always had the option of renting a car for a few days once we got here but we
were so pleased with the cities and towns we were in that we did not bother-loved Nurnberg, Bamberg, and Rothenburg.

wanttogo is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 04:40 PM
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Certainly, you an reach a great number of places in Germany by train, but that alone is no reason to select it a a means of transportation. There is, obviously, much more that you can see with a car and you can see it more on your schedule, not Deutsche Bahns. Germany also has the cheapest car rental rates in Europe, as well as extremely well maintained, signed, and efficient highways and roads. It really is a breeze to drive around the country and you will be able to see more of the country based on freedom of schedule and additional access as well as actually seeing more of it literally.

It is true that a car is a liability in most major European cities, but starting and ending your trip in a major city allows you to avoid the associated hassles and cut down on the rental expense. I have even taken a trip where I started in Prague, took a train to Regensburg, rented a car, drove around Bavaria; Passau, Salzburg, etc., returned the rental in Munich and then 4 days later picked up another rental to continue my trip through Franconia before dropping the car at Frankfurt airport when flying out.

I don't think it can be characterized as a mistake to rent a car before choosing your destinations and accommodation anymore that it can be considered a mistake to decide on taking the train after you have chosen all your destinations and accommodations. The planning for each of those important features of any vacation is complimentary.

So, now to some planning advice.

Which cities are you most likely to fly into? This is often based on the airline you might "have" to take from your home airport, or what you can afford. Frankfurt is usually the most common arrival point from N. America ( a presumption on my part from your comment about being in W. Germany many years ago). Would you choose another city to arrive in, via a connecting flight? Do you want to return from the same airport or are you willing to return from another airport? What are those possibilities - again, probably limited by your airline.

Arriving in Berlin, for example, and working your way south to depart from Munich, or vice versa, will allow you to see much more than flying in and out of either one.

There are no "musts", except what you decide you want to see. This is your vacation not anyone elses. I could list what I think are 15-20 must sees (they are really just my favourite places), and others would add dozens more of their own so that you had more places than you could possibly visit in several months.

I really suggest that you grab a few guidebooks, even those a few years old borrowed from a library are fine for high level destination "idea" planning, and start reading. Things you read and see will excite and intrigue you, and you will begin to decide what you want to, and must, see. Then come back and ask us how to do it in a sensible efficient way and if there are any specific things in those areas/cities/towns we would recommend.
Aramis is offline  
Oct 8th, 2011, 05:07 PM
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I think you could see quite a lot on a pathway from north to south and get a good overview of what Germany has to offer that way. There are very big contrasts from region to region in the architecture. Perhaps have a look at this link - you might consider the Fachwerkstrasse as a guiding principle.


lavandula is offline  
Oct 10th, 2011, 03:36 PM
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Frankly, autobahn travel in Germany, more and more, sucks. You see nothing, and 'staus' can develop anywhere and everywhere - -it can be truly miserable, with no benefits. The best option is to have a "train" itinerary between major and conveniently connected cities, and possible local car rental(s) in limited areas that can be explore more deeply and casually on local roads. The local cruising is best done in the south of Germany (e.g., black Forest, altmuehltal, franconia and bayern) whereas trains tend to be perfectly good enough in the north.
dfourh is offline  
Oct 11th, 2011, 04:59 AM
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Consider a "low stress" stay in a 14 day vacation rental along the Rhine river with
I have travelled with them 4 times in the past and never regetted the trips!
Check out their website for more info.
If you decide to use one of their apts as a 'base', you can then explore larger areas by daytripping.You could even choose two one-week sites at more distant locations to better explore Germany!
Happy travels!
mokka4 is online now  
Oct 11th, 2011, 05:43 AM
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Just got back from a road trip in Western Germany. We decided to rent a car because we wanted to go to some rural villages and didn't want to have to lug baggage on and off the train. So we flew into Frankfurt and rented a car at the airport. Getting the car was easy. We found autobahns very easy to drive, perhaps because we stayed away from the big cities. We stayed in two little hotels in Gengenbach and Simonswald, in the Black Forest. If you stay in one of the rural towns in the Black Forest, you get a Konus Card, which allows you to travel free on any mode of public transportation. So we took the train to various destinations in the BF. I would agree with posters who say to use the trains if you're going to be in big cities, but rent a car if you're going to rural areas. However, make sure you have a GPS system, because rural roads (at least in western Germany) are NOT well marked.
tom18 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2011, 03:09 PM
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We just returned from a three week trip in Germany/Netherlands and I could add detailed itinerary advice--but have to agree that you need to decide what you like to do first--so I will only tell you take a look at including Bamberg and don't underestimate Munich--there is much more to it than Octoberfest, which all the guidebooks overemphasize.

My reaction to a post that says I want to do it all and I think I'll rent a car to get to remote places--is that you are risking spending far to much time in the car with that objective--seeing it all does not mean seeing every burg you can get to. In Germany see a couple of castles, some great art museums , some medieval architecture, a big city or two, maybe a spa town, maybe a forest village, but do not think you will see all of anything or you will have no trip at all--just travel.

As to the train vs car thing--I love the train, in part because it keeps me in my vacation and in the foreign country I am travelling in. If I get in a car with my spouse he and I are driving down the road together speaking English and trying to navigate--we can do that at home. If I use public transportation I meet other travellers and foreigners, I try out the food stands in the stations, I transport myself in distincly Unamerican style and that is part of why I like to travel.

Good luck. Germany is great and much underrated by most Americans in my opinion.
vancojo is offline  
Oct 12th, 2011, 03:30 PM
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We've been to Germany, mostly the Bavaria area, three times and I still can't get enough. While I agree that trains are plentiful we personally prefer to rent a car. The scenery is just stunning and I like the freedom and flexibility that a car offers. But either way would work; just depends on your personality and preferences and where you want to go.

We've visited the Berchtesgaden area on two separate trips and fell in love each time. We were within a 20 minute drive of Salzburg but still had a small-town feel in our ferienwohnung in Hinterschonau. On our last trip, this past April, we spent 5 nights in Mittenwald and it was lovely. From here we visited the Ludwig castles, Oberammergau, etc.

We've also visited the Rhine/Mosel region, basing ourselves in Cochem, a few years ago and it too was beyond beautiful.

Happy Planning!
tcreath is offline  
Dec 11th, 2011, 08:21 AM
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The planning is going swimmingly. At the moment we plan a night in Frankfurt upon arrival, 5 days in the Koblenz/Heidelberg region, 4 for the Romantic Road, including 3 nights in Rotenburg, 5 days in Munich/southern Bayern, 2 nights in Nűrnberg before heading for Dresden (1 night) and 4 days in Berlin.

Does that sound reasonable by car? We will pick up the car the morning we leave Frankfurt and drop it off the day we arrive in Berlin (flying out of Berlin).

I am currently trying to decide how to do the Rhine, perhaps from Bingen to Koblenz. What do y'all suggest? Bingen to Koblenz, or Rűdesheim to Boppard/or Marksburg? The idea is to take a boat down river, stopping for visits, and then returning via train, similarly stopping where the sights beckon.

We are open to all sorts of suggestions. Thanks
Renaud is offline  
Dec 11th, 2011, 09:20 AM
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Renaud - i think that I might borrow a day [or 3!] perhaps from the romantic road for Dresden. you can easily spend 2 whole days there - one seeing Dresden, and another doing a boat trip along the Elbe. you might well feel short-changed when you get there and realise that you've missed out. ingo and others will doubtless say that's still not enough, but it's better than nothing!
annhig is offline  
Dec 11th, 2011, 09:38 AM
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"5 days in the Koblenz/Heidelberg region... I am currently trying to decide how to do the Rhine, perhaps from Bingen to Koblenz. What do y'all suggest? Bingen to Koblenz, or Rűdesheim to Boppard/or Marksburg? The idea is to take a boat down river, stopping for visits, and then returning via train..."

Whether you start in Bingen or Rüdesheim is immaterial - they're essentially across the river from each other. There isn't much point in cruising beyond Braubach, after which the scenery starts to become more industrial.

Don't plan to hop off the boat for a visit and then hop back on. Even during high season, there are very few boats per day; it will very likely be more convenient if you hop off to catch a train (hourly or better service) for the rest of your journey north rather than chain yourselves to the next boat. The trains follow the river precisely, so you can still enjoy the scenery from the train window.

A train/bus daypass is very convenient and cheap - 24 € for two:

Marksburg isn't a cruise stop or a town. It's a castle in Braubach, perhaps the best preserved specimen on the Rhine, and there are tours throughout the day.
Russ is offline  
Dec 11th, 2011, 09:51 AM
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"4 for the Romantic Road, including 3 nights in Rotenburg"

I'd stay 1 day/night in Rothenburg and 2 elsewhere, or maybe just outside Rothenburg in Detwang or maybe in some other town like Bad Windsheim for all 3 nights, to avoid the incessant tourism. Don't know what RR towns you plan to visit, but besides towns near R'burg like Weikersheim (palace) Würzburg (larger city, Residenz) and Nördlingen (another handsome walled town), there are other very worthwhile destinations in the area that are NOT on the RR, including Schwäbisch Hall, Nuremberg, Bamberg, and Bad Windsheim (nice open air museum:
Russ is offline  
Dec 12th, 2011, 07:19 AM
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Yeah I tend to agree with Russ about cutting Rothenburg down to 1 night. Bamberg is a fantastic alternative and another town on the RR that I loved is Dinkelsbuhl (another beautiful little walled city like Rothenburg but a bit smaller and not as overrun with tourists).
markan is offline  
Dec 12th, 2011, 11:13 AM
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Rail travelers can get to practically any 'remote' places in Germany you'd want to see - all of Bavaria's great sites like castles and Alps - the Rhine Gorge - the Mosel Valley - Saxon Switzerland - and if going to large cities cars are not the best way to get around there either as many cities have pedestrianized their town centers, etc. Anyway I'd consider a rail trip - check out these fab IMO sites for help understanding and planning a German rail trip -;; Check - official site of German Railways for schedules and fares - if traveling as much as you preview also check out the German Railpass - a Twin pass if traveling with someone else - the more days on the pass the cheaper it become per day.
PalenQ is online now  
Dec 12th, 2011, 04:19 PM
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I like it Renaud

Stay the 3 nights in Rothenburg. Sure there are other nice places nearby you could tay at but you will have a car and you are going to have to drive to them from somewhere. Rothenburg is pretty much central to the surrounding sights of Schwaebisch Hall, Nordlingen, Dinkelsbuehl, Wurzburg, Bad Windsheim, and Feuchtwangen, etc.. I excluded mentioning Nurnberg because your itinerary has you there on the way back up to Dresden and you can hit Bamberg from there as well.

It makes a terrific base and although heavily touristed, it excels in the evening and in the early morning - walk on the wall, walk around the outside of the wall, and down into the valley) in the early morning, and you only get to experience that if you stay in it.
Aramis is offline  

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