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Itinerary input- Germany/Austria/Switzerland

Itinerary input- Germany/Austria/Switzerland

Old Sep 11th, 2015, 08:14 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary input- Germany/Austria/Switzerland

Hello seasoned travelers-

I'm currently planning our Christmas vacation to Europe and would like some thoughts on my itinerary. We are a family that includes 3 young children (10, 8 and 6) My original plan was to visit Germany, Austria and Switzerland but it seems people think you should cut half of what you plan and then do that! I'm concerned about winter driving- as you cannot predict snowstorms etc. I'm still not set on a rental car vs train/bus. I've heard equal pros and cons for each.

Currently we are scheduled to arrive in Munich around noon on 12/18 I planned to stay there until 12/20 and depart that AM for the next stop
12/20- Rothenburg ob de Tauber/ Nuremburg
12/21-22- Lucerne Switzerland
12/23-26- Seefeld, Austria
12/26-27- Salzburg, Austria
12/27-28- Munich- departs

Some say this is great, others say I should save Switzerland for a separate trip and stay put in Munich and Bavaria as there is plenty to do and see there.

Our main focus for the trip is sightseeing, experiencing Christmas in Europe (markets, tradition, décor etc) We will see a few castles but don't need to do everything!

I'm interested in any advice you all have!
Thanks in advance.
hworth1976 is offline  
Old Sep 11th, 2015, 08:43 AM
  #2  
 
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You will on;y be in Switzerland 1.5 days so I really don't see the point.

Your last few days will really be more like:

12/23-25 Seefeld, Austria
12/26 Salzburg, Austria
12/27 Munich
Depart on the 12/28.

So I'd cut at least Switzerland and maybe one other place. At Christmas many places will have high room rates and multi-night minimum stays.
janisj is online now  
Old Sep 11th, 2015, 08:51 AM
  #3  
 
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You've got effectively less than 10 days. (If I read correctly: the mm-dd system is very confusing for us, simple Europeans.) Every move means at least half a day from hotel door to hotel door (packing, checking out, travel, checking in, unpacking). Trimming your ambitions is a good advise.
Bavaria and Austria are wonderful destinations. You don't need Switzerland to make it a worthwhile trip.
In Germany I would advise you to stay in Nürnberg. Nice city and a good base for daytrips around. Lovely Bamberg is half an hour away; Rothenburg, which would be too half-timbered and possibly too crowded to my taste, somewhat over an hour. Regensburg, which I love, is also nearby.
In Austria there's nothing wrong with Salzburg, but I thought I had seen it all after one day. But tastes and interests differ.
If I were you, I would take the train. Connections are frequent and for a family like yours it's incredibly cheap by using the Bayern-Ticket. München-Nürnberg would be EUR 25. For all the five of you. Buy it the same day - or the evening before - at the ticket window. The only restriction is you can't use the fast IC or ICE trains. The Austrian Railways have a similar system, I think. Planning - including Austria - can be done at the website of the German railways: http://www.bahn.de/p_en/view/index.shtml (English-language version).
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 09:38 AM
  #4  
 
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Sorry - but you are traveling way too much, staying in too many places and wasting a lot of you limited time just getting from one place to another, esp given that you are 1) traveling with 3 little ones who won't have as much patience as you do and 2) you are traveling in winter - with very short daylight hours, often gray,cold and possible bad weather for outdoor activities and sights open shorter hours.

Frankly I don;t get going to Switz in winter unless you are going for winter sports. It's gorgeous in spring/summer/early fall - but in winter not so much, esp in the cities.

If you are used to winter/bad weather driving and end up with an itinerary of a lot of smaller towns then a car makes sense. If not then train is probably more efficient.

If it were me I would do Munich, Salzburg and Vienna - flying open jaws - into the first city and out of the last (called multi-destination on web sites) to avoid wasting a day coming back to Munich.
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 10:15 AM
  #5  
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Thank you everyone! I'll keep researching. I kind of figured people would think my itinerary was ambitious

Please keep the ideas and advice coming!
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 11:58 AM
  #6  
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tonfromleiden- if I buy a eurail pass is it the same lines as the Bayern ticket? I'm finding the bahn site hard to use because my trip is too far out. Looking at the map I don't see a stop in Rothenburg ob de Tauber. Just trying to get a gauge of how frequent the trains/ buses are.

Thanks-
Heather
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 01:03 PM
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www.bahn.de/en is fairly easy to use - put in From and To and change the default date but schedules for late December may not be loaded yet - put in a dummy date as train schedules rarely change much - in any case you do not really need schedules as trains in those countries go hourly or more everywhere - and no do NOT buy a Eurailpass for your relatively limited train travel.

Use the Bavaria Ticket to go to Rothenburg, Nurnberg, Munich and even to Salzburg Austria (no further however) - anyway a railpass would be WAY more expensive than even buying full-fare tickets probably - you would literally be wasting hundreds of bucks.

For lots about trains in those countries check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 01:46 PM
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Oh yes, at the moment they only give the timetables up to mid-December, when the new schedule comes into effect. For an idea for your travelling, just pick a date in October.
As PalenQ says, the schedules don't change dramatically. As a rough rule, trains run on at least an hourly basis.
With me "Rothenburg ob der Tauber" works.
The Bayern-Ticket is something totally different from the Eurailpass. It's a day ticket at a fixed price for a region of the Deutsche Bahn. On bahn.de you'll see it automatically as a "saver fare" (or "Sparangebot" if you use the German version).
The Eurailpass allows you travelling on a number of days in selected European countries. It's of limited use. For really long distances, you'll want to have fast trains. These are not covered by Eurail and, moreover, come very cheap when bought well in advance. (For example, if I would now buy a ticket from Leiden to München for November, it would cost me EUR 49. Bought for tomorrow, it would set me back EUR 139.)
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Old Sep 11th, 2015, 01:58 PM
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For really long distances, you'll want to have fast trains. These are not covered by Eurail>

Incorrect nearly all of them are - in Germany all of them are TMK and in most countries too - in fact I can't think of one fast train in any country that belongs to the state rail system that does not accept Eurailpasses valid in that country. A few charge supplements but most do not.

That said forget in your case about a Eurailpass.
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 12:01 AM
  #10  
 
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We spent four nights in Seefeld just before Christmas last year and loved it - wished it had been longer.
We were with 2 of our adult children but have lots of times traveled with our three kids when they were small and much preferred train travel as they have space to stretch out, a toilet and a cafe!

Agree with suggestions to reduce the number of destinations.

Seefeld is close to Innsbruck, Mittenwald and other good towns.
It has lovely Christmas market - check the dates and a great atmosphere with lots of activities at that time of year.
I am sure someone else can help you re skiing although the snow was late last year - but arrived as we did much to our Aussie delight.
I am guessing that you have already looked at this:

http://www.seefeld.com/en/aktivitaeten/winter/skifahren

Be mindful that hotels often have a minimum number of nights over Christmas - I think the one we were at required 5 nights - but this is so much more relaxing with children.

All the best with your planning - I am envious...
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 04:33 AM
  #11  
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So excited to see comments on Seefeld, love_travel_Aus. Where did you stay? We are at the Parkhotel and have secured a reservation already but you are making me wonder if I should add an extra day! We will be there for Christmas and it seems like it will be magical. What things did you do there? Did you take day trips from there or just stay there?

Thanks for the tips!
hworth1976 is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2015, 05:45 AM
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"Our main focus for the trip is sightseeing, experiencing Christmas in Europe..."

IMO you would find Garmisch (much higher in elevation than Seefeld) a more rewarding travel base than Seefeld. Larger... more than just a ski resort, more infrastructure, more to see and do at your fingertips. It seems to me that a stay in the much smaller Seefeld would bank too heavily on the possibility of snowfall and skiing.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...a_Bavaria.html

Garmisch is a train hub of sorts. Here's a schematic:
http://www.bahn.de/regional/view/mdb...e_dez_2014.pdf

The Bayern Ticket (€28/day for your family) would cover outings from Garmisch within Germany. (Red lines are covered by a cheaper day pass similar to the Bayern Ticket called the Regio-Ticket Werdenfels, €23/day.)

Garmisch offers free local transit to guests:
http://www.gapa.de/page/node/348/story/1401

Of course it's quite feasible to day trip by train from Garmisch to Seefeld and to Innsbruck as well.

Nuremberg/Rothenburg: I would book 3-5 nights in this area. It's quite easy to day trip by train to one from the other, or to stay in between and day trip to both. I would pick Nuremberg as a base - it offers MUCH more to see and do and is an ideal train hub for outings. The Bayern Ticket works here too but again there's a day pass for a smaller area that costs less - the Tagesticket Plus costs only €18/day for your family. Bamberg is a fantastic town to visit.

http://www.vgn.de/en/dayticket?Editi...gesticket-plus

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/624
Fussgaenger is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2015, 05:57 AM
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Hi hworth1976 - yes Seefeld is quite small and we simply enjoyed a day of easy snow walking,a carriage ride and lunch, some of the markets of an evening and a visit to Innsbruck.
We have already been to a lot of the other places mentioned by Fussgaenger so cannot really help with choices (as we did not want to re visit them) but I am sure you can look into thee suggestions.

This was our relaxing holiday section when we stayed before Christmas!
We have used bigger towns as base when our children were younger - although I remember they sometimes didn't enjoy heading off on long excursions every day!

We stayed at the Hotel Heymon which is lovely and whilst only 3 stars has excellent spacious rooms and wonderful food.

It is a good idea to make some cancellable bookings whilst you plan - so many places to see- and maybe you will return again with your family so don't worry too much about making the 'perfect' choice.

Happy planning...
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Old Sep 12th, 2015, 05:59 AM
  #14  
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fussgaenger- thanks SO much for the great info. We only plan to be in Seefeld for 3 days and most is spent enjoying Christmas activities with friends. Tho we do hope to XC ski at least one day! If you stayed in Nuremburg- which I am planning to now, I'd appreciate any hotel recs!
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 05:18 AM
  #15  
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So we've eliminated the Switzerland trip now given everyone's advice that we were doing too much. We'll focus more on Bavaria this trip but will still keep the trip to Rothenburg. Which town would you chose to stay in (Oberammergau, Garmish or Fussen)for 2 days if you planned to see the castles and the partnach gorge?
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 07:35 AM
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"If you stayed in Nuremburg- which I am planning to now, I'd appreciate any hotel recs!"

Ir you are wanting one hotel room for the 5 of you, your choices will be very limited. I just glanced at the Nuremberg accommodations website and turned up just one place (sample stay was 3 nights starting Dec. 20) which was the Noris Hotel Nürnberg.
http://hotel.nuernberg.de/en/
In Nuremberg I'm sure you'll have a better chance with 2 rooms. That said, Nuremberg is very popular at Christmas and rooms there will generally be tight.

You might look into a family room at the Nuremberg Castle-hostel; it's DJH/HI-affiliated:
http://www.jugendherberge.de/en/yout...rg253/portrait

I wouldn't hesitate to stay in one of the smaller towns nearby. Bad Windsheim, Burgbernheim, and Neustadt-an-der-Aisch are all attractive, small towns where vacation rentals for families are routinely available. From any one of these towns, you will be about 30-60 minutes from Rothenburg or Nuremberg. With an apartment you'll have much more room, a kitchen, and you'll probably pay less. Each of these places is in between Rothenburg and Nuremberg and has hourly or better train service. Contact the TI office for assistance with a rental. The local TI knows their town best - just make sure they know your requirements and whether you're using a car or trains so they can locate you properly.

Burgbernheim:
[email protected]

Bad Windsheim:
[email protected]

Neustadt-an-der-Aisch
[email protected]neustadt-aisch.de

I've stayed twice in Neustadt but in smaller apartments than you will need. Here are some photos to give you an idea of these handsome old-world towns:

Neustadt: http://www.stadtbild-deutschland.org...&postID=182279

Bad Windsheim: http://www.stadtbild-deutschland.org...&threadID=2489

Burgbernheim: http://www.burgbernheim.de/Startseit...eiten/K134.htm
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 08:06 AM
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"Which town would you chose to stay in (Oberammergau, Garmish or Fussen)for 2 days if you planned to see the castles and the partnach gorge?"

Id stay in Garmisch. For many reasons, including the Fraundorfer Inn, just a great place to spend an evening ("Bavarian Evening" that is.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD8SvqNDZxE

The "castles" you refer to are likely the palaces in Hohenschwangau. Neuschwanstein was built in the late 19th century to LOOK like a real castle from 600 years earlier, but it's a palatial private residence, not a castle. I'd save the castle visits for Salzburg and thereabouts.

Hohenwerfen south of Salzburg:
http://www.markmarissink.com/wp-cont...n/DSCF0697.jpg

http://www.salzburg-burgen.at/en/werfen/
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 08:46 PM
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Fussgaenger you are very helpful! I'm dying to go to Fraundorfer Inn now! Have you actually stayed there? Thank you for all the links I've enjoyed researcing them tonight. Would you consider staying in Rothenburg at all, if there was room? I have found it hard to find places that can accommodate 5 in 1 room!
Thanks again for the time you've spent helping me.
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Old Sep 13th, 2015, 11:13 PM
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Hi hworth1976,

I personally wouldn't recommend the Fraundorfer as a place to stay overnight. I've heard folks who enjoy the folklore evenings, and others who dislike it because it is pretty cheesy and verrrry touristy.

I'm also not sure that Partenkirchen is a good spot for your visit. It's not convenient to the train station -- 30 or 40 minute walk, or a bus ride. There are fewer shops and restaurants there, but the other side is that there are fewer foreign tourists there. Partenkirchen has more of a village feel to it (I lived in Partenkirchen for about 18 months before I bought my apartment in Garmisch). The outdoor market is in Partenkirchen on Thursdays.

In contrast, Garmisch has a lot more shops, restaurants, and cafes, and on a sunny afternoon, it has a festive atmosphere. Garmisch does have more tourists roaming the street. The outdoor market is in Garmisch on Fridays.

I usually recommend these two hotels for Garmisch for their location and their charm:

Hotel Bavaria, a 3-star, just north of the pedestrian zone in a quiet street and not far from the train station.

Hotel Zugzppitze, a 4-star, just steps from the pedestrian zone between the train station and the pedestrian zone, in a quiet spot.

If you opt to stay in an apartment, you can search using the central tourist site at

www.gapa.de

and search for apartments with the "central" symbol (but it always pays to map it just in case their idea of "central" is a bit off).

It might be difficult to find hotel rooms big enough for all 5 of you -- hotel rooms throughout Europe tend to be very small, and putting lots of folks into one room can be a fire code violation. In addition, many hotels charge per person, so you don't save a significant amount by putting everyone into one room. (When I travelled with my parents, we always took two connecting rooms, with parents in one room and my sister and I in the other.) You can search for hotel rooms on the same tourist site, and you can specify the number of people.

Garmisch is a good central area for your excursions --

Garmisch - Füssen is 1h46 or 2h15 depending on what time you leave. You can get there by direct bus (I love this route via Oberammergau and Steingaden) or train to Reutte and bus from there. The direct bus goes first to Hohenschwangau, so it's very convenient.

Garmisch - Linderhof is 1h06 or 1h14 depending on what time you leave. This is a bus & bus connection, with a change in Oberammergau or in Ettal. It's a good idea to spend time in Oberammergau as well as in Ettal on the same day. Really gorgeous towns.

And of course you can easily get to the Partnach gorge from just about anywhere in town using the town busses (your hosts will give you a visitor's card that makes the busses free). If it's been cold, I strongly recommend the night-time torch-lit hike (safe for children). If it's been cold enough for the water to freeze, you'll have amazing ice sculptures down the sides of the gorge, illuminated by the torches. See the last paragraph of this link:

http://www.gapa.de/page/node/49/story/200

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Sep 14th, 2015, 06:18 AM
  #20  
 
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"Fussgaenger you are very helpful! I'm dying to go to Fraundorfer Inn now! Have you actually stayed there?"

No, and I wasn't recommending the accommodations or the location... only the Bavarian Evening, which really was a lot of fun - and the food was quite good as well (though it's been several years now since my visit.) What I suggested was staying in Garmisch - plus an Evening at the Fraundorfer.

Swandav is the final word in things Garmisch, IMO, a local source you can count on for good info.

"Would you consider staying in Rothenburg at all, if there was room? I have found it hard to find places that can accommodate 5 in 1 room!"

Such rooms are scarce. Apartments for 5 are much less scarce. Rothenburg is much too heavily touristed for my liking, and its location at the end of a trunk rail line makes it a difficult place from which to do multiple day trips by train. I'd stay elsewhere if possible.
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