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Help needed with Germany-Prague-Austria trip - we love our Fodors friends!

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Mar 17th, 2012, 07:44 AM
  #1
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Help needed with Germany-Prague-Austria trip - we love our Fodors friends!

Fodor's Forums are the best - this is what tell friends and family who ask me for my trip-planning secrets. You all have helped us create amazing memories throughout Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and various US cities and I feel like some of you are old friends now!

This time, we'll be travelling for 16 days mid-to-late August, flying in and out of Berlin. I'm struggling at the moment with how much time to give to each of these locations: Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Salzburg, Munich, Bavaria. Our plan is, as Ingo suggested to another poster earlier this morning, to use the train to travel within and between Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Salzburg, and Munich, then rent a car to drive to Mittenwald/Garmisch (Bavarian Alps) area and up the Romantic Road through Bavaria. We'll then need to get back to Berlin and are unsure of whether we should keep the car or leave it (Wurzburg? Bamburg? Nurnburg?) and train back to Berlin for our stay there, which we plan to enjoy at the end of our trip rather than the beginning.

Tentative thoughts are to break trip up this way: Arrive in Berlin after overnight flight and take train directly to Dresden (is train station attached to airport as in some cities, is there a shuttle, or is it a hassle to get from plane to train?). Then:

Dresden - 1 night (sad, but better than skipping it altogether?)

Prague - 4 nights

Salzburg - 2 nights

Munich - 2 nights

Bavarian Alps/Romantic Road 3 nights (really confused about this part - with car I'm thinking) - hate those one-night stays but thinking we'll need to keep moving, maybe Mittenwald then Rothenburg, and somewhere in between - really need help here!)

Berlin 4 nights (with day trip to Potsdam)

All these numbers are really based on nothing more than broad advice given by friends who've been to Prague and Berlin and the few things I've managed to pick up reading the forums so far. We would really like to see all these areas but is this doable? I feel good about the time in those two cities but don't want to be on the Benny Hill tour either.

Thoughts? Advice? If you suggest more time anywhere, tell me what you'd cut!

Thanks to all.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 08:50 AM
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Since you plan to travel to Dresden immediately after landing in Berlin, I would suggest spending 2 nights there, taking one from Prague. Otherwise, you will arrive late in Dresden, jet lagged, with little time to see anything before you leave the next day. Dresden is actually a little closer to Prague than it is to Berlin, except on the fastest train, so you can leave Dresden early on your second morning, if you wish, and be in Prague well before noon. If Dresden is fascinating you, then you can leave mid afternoon and still arrive by dinner.

You will be arriving at the new Brandenburg airport which has rail connections to Berlin. German Rail - bahn.com - confirms that you can travel from the airport to Dresden with one change in Berlin.

Taking the train all the way to Munich makes sense, you want to tour the Alps by car and if did that after Salzburg, you would be stuck with a car in Munich when you don't need one. Alternately, if you want to pay the 2 extra days rental and maybe parking costs, you could just leave the car sitting in Munich. That would allow you to travel straight from Salzburg to the Bavarian Alps - no backtracking from Munich.

There is one thing to consider, so far. It is a 7 -7.5 hour trip to Salzburg from Prague making one connection, and the fastest way to get there involves two connections and still takes 6.5 hours. I don't see too many ways around that - it takes about 4 hours to reach anywhere notable in Germany (Regensburg, Nuremberg) from Prague by train and they aren't on your list.

For a two day stay in the Alps, I would recommend Garmisch-Partenkirchen if you want some "size" and, especially because you will have a car, Mittenwald if you want something quite small.

For the Romantic Road, Rothenburg is the best central base, Dinkelsbuehl, Wurzburg, Nuremberg, etc, are all easy trips.

There are plenty of places to see between Franconia and Berlin but you are, unfortunately, out of time this trip. You could drive back but it would take 5 hours without stops and then you have to drop the car in Berlin. It would probably be better to take the train from somewhere in Franconia. To Berlin by train, from;

Nuremberg 4:50 hours direct
Wurzburg 3:50 hours 1 change
Bamberg 4:15 hours direct
Rothenburg 5:15 hours 3 changes

You can see that taking the train from Rothenburg may not be the best choice. You could drive you last day to one of the other places mentioned - visit them, drop the car at the train station and then continue to Berlin. It takes a little planning. Another option would be to stay 2 days in Rothenburg, then 1 night in Bamberg (personal favourite of those listed) and you have a direct connection to wake up to. I hate the one nighters too, but something has to give. Rothenburg to Berlin is about 5:15 driving, so it is still an option and requires the least planning to execute. If you pick an accessible return location for your car, you might only have a short cab ride to your Berlin hotel.

So, here is how my suggestion breaks out on a nightly basis, with details above

Arrive Berlin
Dresden 2
Prague 3
Salzburg 2
Munich or Alps 2
Alps or Munich 2
Romantic Road 3
Berlin 4


Someone, or three, are going to ask, so I might just as well. Are you unable to get an open jaw flight? Either in or out of Munich and Berlin?
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Mar 17th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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4 nights is perhaps 1 or 2 too many for Prague.

Romantic Road: Your time here depends on your choices. If you want to drive this area, fine, but all of Bavaria - which is everything very roughly from Würzburg south - is covered by the Bayern Ticket Daypass - 29€ for 2-5 people per day, making this a great area to use trains. The BT also covers buses and inner-city transport.

http://www.munich-touristinfo.de/Bavaria-Ticket.htm

Rail line map of Bavaria:

http://www.bahnland-bayern.de/conten...ennetzplan-pdf

Now of course trains aren't going to precisely follow this asphalted route. Just keep in mind that the route itself was not sent to us carved on tablets via Moses. It is a tourism marketing gimmick. You don't have to follow it or see every last town on it. In fact, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg and several others, all excluded from the RR route, are some of the most interesting and romantic towns in Bavaria. You'll miss them if you stick to the RR.

You don't want to change hotels every day? Nuremberg is actually a very fine place to stay put and a good base for travel, especially by rail, to other towns, including Bamberg, Rothenburg (RR town), Würzburg (RR town), Donauwörth (RR town) and Regensburg. You can get to all these places in around one hour or less. Check the rail line map and the DB itinerary page, and you'll see this is true:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

The Bayern ticket daypass will work for W'burg, Donauwörth, and Regensburg; a cheaper VGN daypass called "Tagesticket Plus" (16.20€) will get you to Bamberg and Rothenburg from Nuremberg.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 09:26 AM
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BTW, the VGN daypass is good for 2 adults at 16.20€:

http://www.vgn.de/tickets/?Edition=en&p=1
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Mar 17th, 2012, 03:33 PM
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Thanks so much for your help! I think the Dresden 2 nights idea makes sense, and I'm wondering if we should do 4 nights in Prague and 3 nights in Berlin? Opinions? Would you spend more time in Prague than Berlin or vice versa? Is it wise to spend 2 nights in Salzburg and 2 in Munich (seems to shortchange them both) or would you add a night in Salzburg (DH really wants to go to Salzburg) and skip Munich?

I feel a push to figure out the "how many days in each place" thing so that we can start finding hotels/apartments....then we can pound out the details of what to do where after that. I'm liking the idea of an all train trip, though having a car in the Bavaria portion of the trip is still a good possibilityl

Does anyone know if there's a good place to drop a car outside of the city of Berlin (like airport?) to avoid driving in the city proper? That may affect our decision to take the train from Bamburg or Nuremburg or drive back to Berlin.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 03:37 PM
  #6
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Oh, and Aramis (wonderful advice, thanks)...we've already booked tickets in and out of Berlin. We always hear about the wonders of booking open jaw but never have found a situation where it wasn't significantly cheaper to fly in and out of a single location, so we always seem to plan these circular trips to accomodate our round-trip tickets.
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Mar 17th, 2012, 07:15 PM
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The Berlin - Prague question is going to be a personal choice. They are very different cities. Prague is a fascinating medieval city, which escaped significant damage during WW II. Berlin, on the other hand... we all know that story. While Berlin has had many great buildings reconstructed it is more a living history of 20th century Europe, with some of the most fascinating modern architecture, and some of the best museums in all Europe. Old vs Modern, East vs. West, tradition vs. counterculture, it's all there, all over Berlin. It is like no other city in Europe. I think if a list of "must-sees" ( I hate the term because it is all so personal) was put together by fans of each city Berlin's would undoubtedly have more items on it. If you don't have as much interest in the forces that shaped Europe during the 20th century, as you do in Czech culture or medieval architecture, then it probably won't interest you as much as Prague.

I look at it this way. You will see outstanding medieval and Renaissance places all through the rest of your trip. You won't see what Berlin brings together anywhere else. My wife was certain she would not like it because it was "too modern", but she is now urging me to get a return trip planned.

Obviously, then my vote is for 4 days in Berlin and 3 in Prague. Poke your nose around the Interwebs and see if all those different Berlin sights are something you would like to see.

Now with respect to the car drop off. It really isn't that difficult to drop a car in Berlin. If you have any concerns about driving in Germany, you probably won't by the end of your trip when you have to perform the drop. Once you decide which agency you will be renting from, check out the locations of their Berlin offices. Using Google maps or equivalent you can pick one that is near the highway coming in to town from the south. If it were me I would take a major road in as far as I could before hitting a prospective drop off location. In fact, I once booked hotel that was close to the rental car drop off I wanted to use and drove to the hotel first, let out my wife with the luggage and while she checked in, I drove 3 minutes away (all preplanned in my head and on the GPS, of course) dropped off the car and walked back to the hotel. Not many travel plans feel sweeter than that.







I presume you will have a GPS
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Mar 18th, 2012, 04:47 AM
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Consider Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic as another trip, you know you will be traveling again, maybe couple it with Poland.
This frees up days for the other cities:
Dresden 2
Salzburg 3
Munich or Alps 3
Alps or Munich 3
Romantic Road 2
Berlin 3
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Mar 18th, 2012, 06:03 AM
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@Cufflnx: Your suggestion makes perfect sense, but DH has his heart set on Prague. He's more inclined to skip Munich. Horrible idea? If so, can you give me a broad idea of how to talk him out of this?
What sets Munich apart from the other cities we'll be visiting? Of course I know every city is different, but with Berlin, Prague, and Salzberg, would it be a better idea to spend more time in Alps/Romantic Road area (of course I'm including Bamberg/Nuremberg in that area though they aren't technically ON the
Romantic Road)?

@Aramis: Yes, if we do pick up a car we will bring our Garmin with Europe maps. Wouldn't be without them.

Your Berlin-Prague advice is much appreciated and we'll take that into consideration as we plan. We need to look into train vs car rental costs, but if we decide to stick with the train all the way, I like your
Bamburg suggestion.

I still feel like we're cutting Salzburg way short - 2 nights really means only 1 full day especially with the long travel time from Prague. So...if we were to skip one place, should it be Dresden or Munich? I think those are the two places DH sees as dispensable...not really based on anything specific, except on his strong desire to see all the other locations.

Any sage advice then, on Dresden vs. Munich? I know, I know, they're incredibly different, but based on the other places we're visiting, which would you choose? Or keep both and shortchange Bavaria? Yikes!'

And I need to get a better picture of what the Alps/Bavaria leg will look like. I have a feeling we may want more time there too. Maybe we should just stay a month...

Off to do a little more research...maybe that will help!
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Mar 18th, 2012, 03:55 PM
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caseyhen,
Again, emphasize the Czech / other eastern European connections....Poland, Hungary for another future wonderful trip. Seeing more of less is better.
As for Munich, it is a world class city, new and old, art, culture, food, architecture, it has it all. Prague unfortunately is still looking like a communist discard comparatively. Except for the castle and old town square, you may be disappointed.
You can spend two weeks between Salzburg and Munich, seeing much of Bavaria and not be disappointed.
.
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Mar 18th, 2012, 05:38 PM
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To each his/her own. We loved Prague and on our first trip there thought our four days was at least one day too short.

I think you have too many destinations for 16 days in August. It could be pretty warm and humid in Munich and Prague, and I would definitely pick hotels with A/C in both places. Most of the other places you mention will be more comfortable weather-wise.
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Mar 18th, 2012, 06:04 PM
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You are getting into that old dilemma of what do I want to see more and that can only be solved through the pain of investigation and research - poor you guys.

Salzburg is compact and more of a "feel" place than one where there is sight after sight to visit. Two days is good if you arrive early on the first day or leave late on the second. You have the option to leave late on the second since you are not going far to either Munich, or G-P Mittenwald.

When you first posted your itinerary, one of my thoughts was that maybe you should take your 6 days for Salzburg/Alps/Munich and compress it into nights in each of Salzburg and Munich. That makes a more sense if you rent a car in Salzburg since you can take your travel day from Salzburg to Munich and drive through a lot of the Bavarian Alps places you want to see on the way.

If you are taking the train all the way, then you would have to settle for a day trip from Munich.

Your staying for a whole month option is really starting to look good, isn't it?
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Mar 20th, 2012, 05:10 AM
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I've tried three times to create a new post with a more specific heading rather than tagging this on here but I can't seem to get the "submit" button to work...so I'm going to tack this on to this thread...

Here was the title:
Help needed with Munich/Bavarian Alps/Romantic Road leg of our trip:

Hi everyone,

I recently posted asking for help with our overall itinerary and received very helpful responses that gave us great guidance and also helped us to hone in on some of our more specific questions. So here goes:

For the middle leg of our trip in August - DH and I (late 50' - early 60's, relatively fit and love to travel) will be leaving Salzburg (where we will have arrived by train, so no car yet) and will have possibly 5 nights to spend in Munich, Alps (Mittenwald?) and somewhere further north -Rothenburg? Nurnburg? Bamburg? before traveling on to Berlin - still not sure whether by train or car. With everywhere else to plan for all at once (Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Salzburg) I'll be the first to admit we have a lot of homework to do about this area, but so far we do know that we'd like to see a castle or two - likely Neuschwanstein, visit Rothenburg and maybe another walled town, and spend a little time in the Alps.

So how to do this? Train from Salzburg directly to Munich, a couple of nights in Munich, then rent a car to drive to Alps, then on up toward Wurzburg/Bamburg/Nurnburg? We dislike those one night stays but should we spend one night in Alps (again, is Mittenwald our best choice?) then a couple of nights further north?

Or do any of you have another idea entirely? I'm wondering if the Munich to Alps to Romantic Road route ending up in Rothenburg, Bamburg, or Nurnburg, which seems the most intuitive to me since we're heading to Berlin at the end, is the best idea, or if there's something I haven't thought of.

And is five nights a ridiculously short time to be able to fit this all in? What else besides the few things I've mentioned do you suggest we include in our itinerary for this region? We love photography - come back with well over 1000 shots each trip - and will enjoy a castle or two but not too many guided tours/museums. We really like exploring new bdtowns and cities as well as doing some light hiking/biking where possible.

I know that more time is always better, but within these confines, would you skip Bavarian Alps...or maybe get a car in Germany outside of Salzburg and see that area on the way to Munich rather than staying there?

Some of you who have replied here earlier have given me some good advice about the Romantic Road towns...I'm just wondering if there's anyone else who might want to weight in with how they've managed this route.

Thanks for your input...I can't imagine planning a trip without input from the forums.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 06:43 AM
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I saw your biking comment and you could fit a Berlin/Dresden/Prague bike trip into this time scale and still have time to do other stuff. Have a look at http://www.mybikeguide.co.uk/German_Bike_Tours.php and then also look at the Elbe Guide pages which you can ride to from Berlin. Bike hire in Berlin very possible. It would be nice and warm and you would see the real Germany out of a car
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Mar 20th, 2012, 06:00 PM
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I am sure you have looked at the map and know that going to Garmish, Fussen then up to Rothenberg you are going south then going north. IMHO the Romantic road is a title thought up by some ad guy. It is a two lane road full of trucks. The villages like Dinklesbuhl and Rothenberg are romantic but they are also accessible from the autobahn.

Speaking of efficiency, why in the heck are you going back to Berlin. You know you can fly open jaw from Frankfurt or any number of other places to get home. Since that is where you have chosen to fly into, see it first the move on to Dresden and you don't need to complete the circle to come back.
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Mar 20th, 2012, 07:55 PM
  #16
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Already have tix in and out of Berlin...we often consider open jaw but have never found it to be an affordable option for us. Otherwise, makes perfect sense.

Yes, when I say Romantic Road what I really mean is those towns as well as Bamburg. Nurnburg, regardless of how we reach them. I should've been clearer.
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