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Graduation trip 1 month Germany and surrounding countries

Graduation trip 1 month Germany and surrounding countries

Old Dec 31st, 2022, 09:07 AM
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Graduation trip 1 month Germany and surrounding countries

I need advice!! I have never traveled outside the United States. We plan on going to Europe for 1 month for my sons 18th birthday/graduation gift. My thought are to get an air bnb in Germany somewhere close to Nurmburg and have that the entire month as a home base. But we want to travel around Germany and take trips into several of the surrounding countries. I am thinking by train but we could also rent a car. I do not even know how to start making these plans and what is reasonable. We would go for the month of October. It would be myself, my husband, my son and my father. Besides Germany we would want. See parts of Denmark, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and Northern Italy. Please any insight, tips, things to consider, and parts of this that won’t work. I need all the help I can get! Thank you!
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 09:33 AM
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welcome to Fodors.

Europe is a big place with lots to see. One month for Germany is tough and adding in other places is tougher. seat61.com gives you a good view of trains

starting at the top Copenhagen is a good visit and links nicely with Berlin, I might add Dresden and Leipzig before Prague or Munich. Perhaps a hint of Zurich, Basel, Strasbourg, Cologne or Trier and on to Brugge, Amsterdam and Frankfurt for a flight back.

That would fill a month and flying open jaw uses the best of time

Austria and Italy, next year

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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 10:17 AM
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Yes, welcome to Fodors.

Do I understand that you hope to visit all those places from a single base in Nuremberg? Sorry, but just not possible. You want to base in Germany then visit parts of seven other countries -- that would take more than a month and definitely more than one home base.

Either think about maybe a week each in four different rentals in four different countries (but you probably still wouldn't be able to hit all the destinations in your list) . . OR if a month in one place is what you really want -- concentrate on that specific area plus maybe towns and cities within 1.5 to 2 hours by train for day trips.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 10:17 AM
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While a single home base for a month sounds like a good idea, with your travel plans it doesn't make the most sense to me as you'll be on away as much as you will be there. A better idea may be to pick 2 or 3 better suited regional bases and use those to explore more locally

Somewhere like Strabourg France, or Mannheim, or Colmar, or Basel to explore the upper Rhine area, or Munich if you want to explore Bavaria, or Leipzig/Dresden to explore Saxony, with a day trip to Prague...

Having done many short, and several long trips to that part of Europe I would recommend you not try to plan every day - leave at least 50% of your days totally unbooked with activity so that when you are there you can slow down and actually enjoy being there rather than checking off a been-there-done-that list.

My best experiences have been when I've slowed down enough to find that Beer Garden with food to die for, or a lovely hiking trail near a waterfall that I came across, or the smell wafting from the pastry shop next door at the crack of dawn, and getting a fresh chocolate croissant several days in a row.

Those are better memories for me than finding another gothic or baroque or romanesque church, or impenetrable fort, or some other landmark that looks just like the rest of them....
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 10:35 AM
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rkbekkelund -- you have to do preparation first; otherwise, 90% of our words will be unfamiliar to you, they'll fall on deaf ears, you won't be able to fully grasp what someone's getting at due to lack of background.
first thing to do, is go to your town's library, travel section, get a Fodors or Frommers book on each country you'd like to visit. Read each, front to back.
Next, identify your interests, and your disinterests. Do you like/dislike: art museum? natural history museums? scenery? mountains? oceans? castles? churches? large cities? small villages? regional cuisine, or Applebees' ? What's your background.....do you hope everyone will speak English, or could you picture getting a phrase book for each language to help communicate? What do you think is a reasonable cost of lodging for a day/week? cost of dinner?
Then we can talk.

Last edited by tomboy; Dec 31st, 2022 at 10:41 AM.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 11:21 AM
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How wonderful you have a month for your trip!

I know moving around and changing locations isn't always appealing but you have the wonderful opportunity to sample different areas.
I think at least 4 different bases would be great, it would save you a lot of backtracking. With your plan, I think you would get sick of the Nuremberg train station.

Something has to go from your trip.Maybe, Denmark & Italy? I think you need to start looking at travel times from place to place. The area you are trying to cover is quite extensive.

From your list, my kids, really loved Amsterdam, Berlin, Salzburg, Munich, Lucerne and Paris.Where is your 18 year old the most interested in, and more importantly, where are you? City, nature, culture, or foodie priority? We always enjoyed a blend. Getting a car for part of the trip is wonderful for getting off the beaten path, meandering and a nice scenic breather.

Also, where is the easiest cities for you to fly into? I highly recommend to fly in to one city and out of a different one.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 03:29 PM
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While you could spend the entire month in the one place, I recommend more, shorter stays. 4 week long stays would be good and is similar to what I do. Pick spots with good transportation links. No need to do AirBnB, but the idea is good. After you decide which towns to stay in, look at the town websites for the vacation apartments ( ferienwohnung ). Town websites usually have the formst www.town name.de. They are also usually found on the Wikipedia entry for the town

Nuremberg area is good. Also consider one of the towns along the middle Rhine. Boppard is a good choice since you would get a free transportation pass. The Black Forest gives you access to both France and Switzerland and comes with a free transportation pass ( KONUS card ) if you stay in almost every town. I stay in the FERIENWOHNUNG WINK.

Salzburg is just across the border in Austria and is one of my favorite places to stay. Two things I like to do there are the ice cave in Werfen and the salt mine in Hallein.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 03:35 PM
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I too would also pick a couple of bases. Maybe one could be Cologne (Köln). From there you could easily see the Netherlands, Belgium, Paris (the private train the Thalys will take you to all of those), the middle Rhine gorge up to Frankfurt, and the whole Ruhr area, which is the huge conurbation at the top of the Rhine (Düsseldorf), out to places like Münster, Trier, Luxembourg. Trains serve this area really well.

I would also follow the advice about getting guide books from the library. If you have never travelled like this before this website and also the Rick Steves website are good places for beginners to start, and also www.seat61.com gives good advice before travelling by train. You also need a really good map. Get a real one so you can stick pins in it, it's not like using Google Maps (which you can 'stick pins' into, but doesn't give you the same visual as a real map).

Accommodation: try looking up Ferienwohnung Köln (holiday apartment Cologne) on the internet and see what sort of costs are involved and what kind of vacancies there are. You can use Google Chrome to translate pages for you if there is no English.

Come back here often. You have a whole team of people who are excited to help you out. Some of us speak languages and can help you out, many of us have good experience to support and guide you. And most importantly, have fun!

Lavandula
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 04:39 PM
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Oops, I forgot to say that I stay in Gengenbach in the Black Forest
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 05:10 PM
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How exciting you're planning a trip! I recommend picking up Rick Steves books which are wonderful resources for first trips to Europe. Unfortunately, I do think your plans are too ambitious. Which places are your "must do" priorities?
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 05:22 PM
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Germany, Austria, and France (the others may, also) have federally-funded municipal tourist information offices (if you say to someone, "where is the T I" they will know what you want.
They are very helpful. They can tell you places to stay., or eat, or go.

B&Bs are called B&B in France, or chambres (pronounced, shahm-bers); in Germany & Austria they're called pensions (pronounced pen-see-owns)

Most German & French towns/villages' websites have a link that shows accommodations. Pretty easy to navigate.
We rarely stay in a hotel.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 11:18 PM
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shahm-bres might be closer to it but all good advice above

gite in France is also a useful word, a whole flat or house you can rent for a few days

you may find this site useful https://www.gites-de-france.com

Last edited by bilboburgler; Dec 31st, 2022 at 11:25 PM.
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Old Dec 31st, 2022, 11:29 PM
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Hi my name is Jutta and I do live in Düsseldorf that's the capital of Nordrhine- Westfalia. It is located in the mid- west of germany. I don't know how long it will take if you try to discover germany (or the countrys around) by train but I can give you some hints how much time you need by car.
From Düsseldorf to Hamburg in the North it is a 4 hours ride, another 4 -5 hours lo
more to Kopenhagen in Denmark.
But you are really quick in Amsterdam (Netherlands) - only 2 hours.
Bruxelles (Belgium) is also in a short distance a little more than 2 hours.
If you want to go to Berlin (our capital) you need approxmately 6 hours and from Berlin via Dresden (which is a very beautiful city) to Prague (Czechia) another 3- 4 hours.
From Düsseldorf to Nürnberg it is a 4 hour drive, if you move on to Munich from there another 2 hours and from Munich to Salzburg (Austria) around 2 hours.

You see - Germany isn't that big as the states but still a lot of time spendig on the road.


If you need some help in translations let me know. I'd be sure glad to give you a hand.

A happy new year
Jutta
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Old Jan 1st, 2023, 08:36 AM
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Ask your son what he would like to see and do. Let him do some research to help you choose your destinations.
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Old Jan 1st, 2023, 12:04 PM
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First advice. Do not book any flights until your itinerary is really pinned down. People find a cheap flight, then end up spending a ton more and wasting a lot of time to get to the places they really want to see.
There are tickets called multi-citi. They are not two one-way, but they are into one city and out of another. Even if they cost more than a round trip, they save backtracking and wasting time.

Logistics. Europe is so much bigger than it might seem. Travel takes time. There is more to see than anyone from the US can begin to imagine until you have been there. Trains are great in much of Europe, going from city center to city center, saving driving and parking in unfamiliar and congested cities. Cars are best saved for touring outside cities.

One base works if you want to settle in one area and sort of “live local.” It does not work for sightseeing and touring, Think about this. You would not rent a BnB in Williamsburg, Virginia and think you could use that as a base for sightseeing in NY, Boston, Washington DC, Florida and Kentucky. You would not rent a place in New Orleans and plan to tour Florida, Virginia, Texas and New York. You get the idea. You will need to have several bases or stops.

I suggest you sit down with the family and pick two or three areas or cities in which you have an intense interest. Where have you dreamed of going or what have you dreamed of seeing or doing? A particular museum or hike or city or castle, etc? Narrow this down to no more than four areas. You can add places that work geographically once you have established major points. If you could see only one city or area, what would that be? If you could see two? etc. So, pick a few places in Europe you most want to see. Include more specifics than just by country. Name cities, places, areas, etc. People here can help you organize a trip around those places, offering add ones, travel advice, etc.

This may seem daunting, but planning is fun, once you get started and narrow things down a bit. One bite at a time.

Agree with getting a big paper map to spread out. That is fun and very helpful. Look at some Rick Steves Videos. Get a guide book for each country you decide to visit. Your Library should have some to borrow, but think in terms of the cost of the trip, a good guide book for $15 or $20 is a great buy.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2023, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by rkbekkelund View Post
See parts of Denmark, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and Northern Italy.
If it were me, and I dearly wish it were, I would book the outbound of the open-jaw ("multi-city") ticket into Amsterdam, and stay there for 5 nights (daytrips: Utrecht; Delft/Leiden; et. al.). Then train to Ghent and stay there 4 nights (daytrips to Brussels, Brugges, maybe Antwerp and smaller towns like Mechelen and Leuven, or a day on the coast); then train to Nurnberg for 5 nights (daytrips to Munich, Regensburg/Passau, Rothenburg et. al.); maybe do a couple nights in Salzburg before training to Bologna for 6 nights (daytrips can include Venice, Padua, Rimini, Florence, Mantova); then train to France - - maybe Nice, or up to Switzerland instead, I'm not sure. Sounds great. Wish it were me.
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