Stuttgart, Prague and ?

Old May 28th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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Stuttgart, Prague and ?

My daughter is studying in Stuttgart and my wife and I are going to visit her in late August this year. We are planning a two week trip and will probably spend two or three days in Stuttgart. We know we also want to visit Prague as it has been on our wish list for quite some time, but are undecided as to other cities to include. Options currently under consideration include Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest, but we are open to other suggestions as well.

Fodors has an interesting 9 day itinerary on this site that includes Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, so one option is to just tack Stuttgart on to the beginning or end of that itinerary, but we would like to hear from those who have traveled the area and can make recommendations based on personal experiences. For what it’s worth, our previous European travel has included London, Paris, Rome, Venice and Istanbul (three separate trips). We are in our mid 50s and in good physical shape, so an aggressive itinerary is fine. However, we don’t want to spend all of our time rushing from city to city. We want to spend enough time in each city to appreciate it’s unique character and all it has to offer.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old May 28th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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I don't think you can go wrong with any of the cities under your consideration. However, I love Berlin (lived there for a few years) and I'd add that one to your list of possibilities. It's a very vibrant city with lots of great history, architecture, food, etc.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 01:22 PM
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I would consider Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Munich and Salzburg if going by train. The walled in city of Rothenburg is so interesting for at least one full day with an overnight. Include the English tour at 2 pm leaving from the TI as well as the nightwatchman's tour at 7:30.

Munich's main pedestrian-only area with the Marktplatz is just 1 block from the station with nice hotels and gardens nearby. Can't comment on Salzburg. If driving and doing Munich and Salzburg, I would not miss Berchtesgaden as the area is stunningly beautiful and 2 hours by Munich. Include the tour of Lake Konigsee as well as Hitler's Eagle's Nest.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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Well, the cities you suggest (Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest) are all lovely and have lots to offer. As longhorn55 says, you can't really go wrong. I think the only way you could go wrong is to try to squeeze too much in. I'd focus on making your top choice work (Prague) and then working around that.

With 11 or 12 days aside from Stuttgart, at roughly 4 nights each you could see 3 major cities. The obvious thing to do here to make these destinations work would be to arrange an open jaw flight. I would lean towards something like fly into Stuttgart > Prague > Vienna > depart from Budapest OR fly into Munich > Salzburg > Vienna > Prague > Stuttgart (meaning either Munich/Salzburg OR Budapest). Honestly, you can't really go wrong. Obviously, your travels are centered on major world cities, so you could make some effort to incorporate smaller scenic areas along the way, such as Cesky Krumlov from Prague or some of the Danube towns outside of Vienna (Melk, Krems, Dürnstein), or indeed some of Bavarian/Austrian alps.

Certainly Berlin also makes a great trip and would fit conveniently on a Berlin - Dresden - Prague - Vienna - Budapest axis.

It's probably worth discussing a little more about what your interests are (art? music? food? wine? hiking/biking?) or a little about your favorite things from your other travels so perhaps we can see if one or two of your options rises to the top.

I'm also curious if you will be travelling with your daughter at all and if she might have some ideas or preferences. If she is a student in Stuttgart, it might be worthwhile to let her guide you in the German-speaking areas and share what she's learning.
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Old May 28th, 2013, 05:08 PM
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I used to live outside of Stuttgart. Here's another option. Spend longer in Stuttgart and do day trips to Strasbourg, Baden-Baden, Lucerne, Ulm and Heidelberg... you daughter may have some ideas too.... and then take a train/plane to Prague
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Old May 29th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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For some variety, you might consider staying in a small town
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Old Jun 3rd, 2013, 04:16 AM
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Thanks so much for all of your helpful replies. We booked our flights this weekend and will be flying into Prague and out of Stuttgart. Several of you suggested mixing up the big cities with some smaller towns, and based on your recommendations we are thinking we will incorporate Cesky Krumlov, Berchtesgarden, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber into our plans. I’ll post our tentative itinerary and invite comments in a new thread, but in general we are planning to fill the first week with three days in Prague, one day in Cesky Krumlov, and three days in Vienna. Then pick up a car to drive from Vienna to Stuttgart the second week, hitting points of interest along the way. Options include Danube towns of Krems, Dürnstein, and/or Melk; Salzburg (Sound of Music Tour?), Bavarian Alps (Berchtesgarden/Eagles nest, Konigssee, Zugspitze, and/or Schloss Neuschwanstein), and Ulm. Our daughter will be working and not able to travel with us but we look forward to seeing her when we are in Stuttgart and she may make a day trip with us to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I know we will be tempted to try to squeeze too much in and this list will probably have to be trimmed, but thanks again for all of your help in getting us to this point in our planning.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2013, 07:18 AM
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Sounds great, newesttraveler. I've mentioned before CK Shuttle and other shuttle services that work very well for transportation between Prague, Cesky Krumlov, and points in Austria, including Vienna. That might be a good option for you for this leg. There is good rail service (EuroCity) between Prague and Vienna, but Cesky Krumlov is a bit off the beaten path.

You'll probably find an exorbitant drop fee for picking a car up in Vienna and dropping it in Stuttgart. Renting a car in Germany is also generally cheaper than Austria, possibly significantly cheaper. One suggestion would be to use the very fast rail connections from Vienna to Salzburg, and rent your car over the border in Germany (I believe the train between Vienna and Salzburg is even faster than the Autobahn). If you pick up the car over the border in Bavaria, you will still find many of the sights on your list (Berchtesgaden, Zugspitze, Neuschwanstein, Ulm) all easily reachable with your car. The car will come in handy later on, particularly for getting over to Rothenburg ob der Tauber or other trips from Stuttgart.

Since you'll have a car, you could also consider a day trip to Burg Hohenzollern, which I think is one of the most stunning castles in the region. It's also a little off the tourist path compared to an often rather mobbed place like Neuschwanstein, which can be nice.

I would also suggest reading some of the past threads on Eagles Nest, where there is some very strong differences of opinions as to whether or not this is a worthwhile place to visit.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2013, 07:28 AM
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Here's one very lively thread on Eagle's Nest, which will give you some sharply-pointed perspectives on both sides:

http://fodors.com/community/europe/e...urist-trap.cfm
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Old Jun 3rd, 2013, 04:57 PM
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Woyzeck, thanks for the CK Shuttle tip. I had assumed there would be some way to travel from Prague to Vienna with a stop in Cesky Krumlov, either by bus or train, but had not had the chance to do any research yet. Sounds like the shuttle may be just what we need.

Thanks also for the rental car advice. I knew there would be a drop charge if we didn’t return the car to its point of origin, but it’s good to know the cost is less if we pick it up in Germany.

Most appreciated of all is your advice on options to avoid the crowds (Burg Hohenzollern rather than Neuschwanstein). Our previous European adventures have been a bit more off-season (Rome and Venice in March, Paris and Istanbul in November), so we may not be prepared for the inevitable crowds that descend upon Europe’s tourist destinations in late summer.

The Eagle’s Nest tread gave me food for thought as well. Now that we have our flights booked, we will focus on fine-tuning the day by day itinerary to determine how long we’ll stay in each location and what we’ll see while we are there. I’ll post that soon. Thanks again for all your help!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2013, 05:28 PM
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The train station in Cesky Krumlov lies a bit outside of the center of the town (almost 2 KM), which complicates train travel a little. There is closer bus station where much of the traffic from Prague comes in. Otherwise, I think you'll find train and bus transport from Prague to Cesky Krumlov is actually not too bad. Cesky Krumlov to Vienna is more difficult, most likely involving a transfer in Cesky Budejovice. The shuttle is faster and comes with door-to-door service and the option of a stop along the way (we chose Dürnstein). Cesky Krumlov and Rothenburg ob der Tauber really have a whole lot in common, both as very well preserved medieval towns, and as very popular destinations for tourists.

Check out gemut.com for some good European car rental advice (and booking too). I used them last summer and they really came through for me when I ran into some trouble.

Neuschwanstein is a "must" for many, but is not necessarily for everyone. In addition to the crowds (6,000 people a day), it was built more recently and never really used as a royal residence. Of course, there are great stories about King Ludwig, as well as the lovely and less-acclaimed Hohenschwangau palace down the hill. But there are lots of alternative ways to pass your days in the region, and Hohenzollern certainly has a lot to offer as well. Not to mention the fact that it's only 50 KM from Stuttgart, so you might be able to enjoy it with your daughter.
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