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Two weeks in Germany (Bavaria + surrounding areas)

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Apr 13th, 2011, 12:01 PM
  #1
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Two weeks in Germany (Bavaria + surrounding areas)

We are getting ready to book a trip to Europe this fall and have now tentatively decided on Germany. We want to be realistic with our itinerary and enjoy our time in both large and small cities. I'm most interested in the Bavaria region and would consider adding in some Switzerland or Austria as time permits. We would certainly like to spend some time in Munich - but are also interested in seeing castles, nature, and small quaint towns.

I'd like to book the flight ASAP - which means I need to decide where to fly in and out of. We're also trying to figure out if we should rent a car or rely on trains. Any tips? It would likely be about 12 days on the ground, not including flights.
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Apr 13th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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We did a similar trip about 5 years ago - flew in and out of Munich and had 12 days on the ground. We based ourselves in Munich , Nuremburg, and Reutte (a town in Austria just across the border from Fuessen). We then took day trips from those towns/cities. It was a good trip - we saw a lot, but had a reasonably relaxed schedule.

For transportation, we used public transport - trains, trams, subway - in Munich and Nuremburg. Then rented a car upon leaving Nuremburg so that we could have it in the Alps. I think this was a good choice because it gave us more freedom in that area to explore smaller places.
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Apr 13th, 2011, 01:19 PM
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Any particular reason you chose to fly both in and out of Munich instead of doing something open jaw and travelling more radially? Instead of looping back/forth etc?
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Apr 13th, 2011, 03:58 PM
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I think november did that because Munich, Nuremburg and Reutte are within easy reach of Munich airport and would not be served by leaving from elsewhere.

If I may suggest - fly into Munich spend a few days there; a few in Salzburg and Salzammergut (lake area in Austria near-ish to Salzburg). If you're interested in a castle such as Neuschwanstein, maybe a day or two in that area. So maybe 6-8 days total in this area.

Then, up to the Rhein or Mosel area for the balance. I love this area best. Beautiful scenery, lots of castles along the Rhein. I stayed in Cochem and Beilstein. I highly recommend Burg Eltz in that area. A wonderful castle. You may or may not include Rothenburg on this segment (depending on if you drive or train, it may be out of the way, but worth a night there.)

Then you'd fly out of Frankfurt.

I'm not giving details as I don't have them handy and there are many more expert Germany travelers on this board than me. But this will give you a good taste of Germany.
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Apr 13th, 2011, 04:52 PM
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I like the sound of that itinerary - thanks for the response. Still not sure of all the pros/cons of car vs. public transport (or the costs involved for that matter).

If anyone has any specific recommendations on the areas soogies mentioned, I'd appreciate it
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Apr 13th, 2011, 05:02 PM
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We stayed at Hotel Haus Lipmann in Beilstein (well recommended here). We went to Burg Eltz from here.

http://www.hotel-haus-lipmann.com/

In Rothenburg, we only spent a night and I would've liked another. We stayed at Burg Hotel

http://www.romanticroad.com/burghotel/deutsch/hotel.htm

In Munich we stayed at Le Meridien right across from the main train station. Nice, but a chain hotel.

We did it entirely on public transportation although I think a car would've been much better in the Rhein/Mosel, as well as the Romantic Road area (Rothenburg is in this area).

I will leave the car/train thing to the experts. In general, I'd recommend no car in large cities. I don't know about driving to Salzburg (we took bus tour from Munich) from Germany - what the rules are for leaving countries with rental cars. A car in that area would probably be nice.
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Apr 13th, 2011, 05:20 PM
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Yes - doing a loop worked well for that trip. We basically did a circle, so no back and forth needed.

The pros and cons of public transport vs. a car:

In Munich, a car will be a liability. Public transportation is great and driving and parking is a pain. You don't want a car in Munich. Parking can also be an issue in mid-sized towns which tend to have pedestrian-only areas in the city center and narrow streets. You may need to leave the car at a central car park and walk to your hotel.

Train travel is generally cheaper than renting a car, esspecially if you buy longer distance tickets ahead of time using dbahn.de and use the Bayern ticket (or similar for different regions) for regional travel. Car rentals are more expensive in Europe than in the US and gas costs a mint - if you rent a car, get the smallest one that will meet your needs. If you need to rent a car with an automatic transmission, the rental costs will be higher.

Train travel is also very easy - you get on, you ride, you get off. Trains are clean and reliable. And they almost always bring you to the center of town or very near the center.

A car is really best for visiting small, out of the way places - places that aren't served well by the train system. That's why we rented a car for the alps portion of our trip. Although we would get to Fuessen, Garmish, etc. with the train, we wanted the ability to poke around. As it turned out, one of the best days of our trip was a drive through Austria where we stopped at the Plansee (lake) for a picnic and a swim.

For an upcoming Germany trip, we are renting a car for a few days again - this time to visit a series of small villages outside of Bamberg. There is a brewery walk that we want to do through these towns, and getting there with public transportation is problematic. If it weren't for this excursion, we wouldn't be renting a car at all. Afterwards, we are headed to Munich, where we will drop the car and use trains from there.
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Apr 13th, 2011, 06:45 PM
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Great to hear all this info. We just booked a 10 day trip in Sept. Arrive Munich, 4 nights; pick up car 2 nights Rothenberg; 3 nights St Goar on the Rhine; depart from Frankfurt. We wanted a car to drive the Romantic Rd and Rhine area in order to visit small towns along the way.

November Moon - we were thinking about a day trip to Bamberg while in Rothenberg and I know the guys would love a brewery walk. Do you have a link for this? thanks
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Apr 13th, 2011, 08:31 PM
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Thanks for all the great info. We are booking a reward flight which we want to lock down asap - so I think we are going to book to Munich and back from Frankfurt. That seems to be a consensus logical decision, right? Does 12 days not including flight days sound like a good amount of time for this trip?
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Apr 13th, 2011, 09:04 PM
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12 days is great! I think you'll have a wonderful trip.
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Apr 13th, 2011, 10:00 PM
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Hi illini1022,

I'd just like to add a word for using the train system, and I don't know why more folks don't mention this. Using the trains is, of coure, more green. These days, as we try to do all that we can to stop global warming, using the train system when it is convenient and efficient seems like a no-brainer. You lose nothing, you gain a longer life-span for the beautiful Alps you are coming to see, and you get a more enjoyable trip!

For one thing, you get to meet more local folks using the trains and busses -- there is more of a chance that you'll get into a conversation with someone who knows the area well or who wants to hear about your own home town. You are forced to travel more slowly; instead of leaving right after lunch, for instance, you are forced to "waste" 15 minutes wandering the back streets of a town before the bus comes in. Oh, and you can still get to those out-of-the-way places like the Plansee, but you get to get there on foot or by bike if you don't want to take a bus!

Anyway, have a great trip!

s
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Apr 14th, 2011, 05:57 AM
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tx homes writes. "We just booked a 10 day trip in Sept. Arrive Munich, 4 nights; pick up car 2 nights Rothenberg; 3 nights St Goar on the Rhine; depart from Frankfurt. We wanted a car to drive the Romantic Rd and Rhine area in order to visit small towns along the way."

The Rhine towns are all actually very close together and all have frequent train service.

Some common misconceptions about travel in Germany:

1.) A car is needed to visit small towns.

There are almost 6,000 German train stations. Most have hourly service in each direction. This map includes hundreds of small towns you can visit by train just in Bavaria:

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

2.) The Romantic Road is unique.

The scenery in the rest of Bavaria is generally more interesting. The interesting historical places in Bavaria were not told to line up along a north-south route. Indeed, a few of the towns are very special, but the handful on this route are greatly outnumbered by the other fascinating destinations in Bavaria that visitors never get to see because the Romantic Road has such name recognition. Because so many have heard of it, it is often overcrowded and looks a bit like the Romantic Parking Lot instead.

Personally, I think the oil conglomerates and the car rental industry collaborated to market the entire deceptive Romantic Road concept. There's no other way for them to compete with the Bavarian train system, which offers daypasses for 2-5 people at 29 Euros/day.
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Apr 14th, 2011, 02:05 PM
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Thanks Russ for the info. I will discuss other methods of travel with the other couple we are traveling with. We've always rented a car in Italy and just had the same thought process for Germany. This is our first trip to Germany. It has been hard to pull us away from Italy.
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Apr 14th, 2011, 02:35 PM
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Thanks for the info as well.

SO sounds like we will be booking a flight into munich and out of frankfurt.

Now to fill in the blanks...Anyone have any more suggestions for specific cities to either visit and/or stay in - as well as the breakdown of days? Sounds like train in between everything might be the way to go.
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Apr 14th, 2011, 03:20 PM
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"Sounds like train in between everything might be the way to go."

Yes, but don't start buying German railpasses or tickets from Rail Europe. Some think 10 days of train travel means 10-day railpasses for around $700. But there are alternatives.

Bavaria: A 29-Euro Bayern ticket daypass will get 2-5 people around Bavaria (see map above) on the regional trains. It's good anytime on Sat or Sun, after 9 am weekdays. Munich makes a good base for daytrips in southern Bavaria (see map I posted above) since it's the train hub for the region. You can be in Salzburg, Füssen, or Garmisch in 2 hours or less , in Nuremberg in one hour, in Regensburg in 1.5 hours, and return in the evening, all for 29 Euros. Find itineraries at this page (which good for all of Germany and Europe, really) and click on "only local transport" for the eligible trains.

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

Rhine/Mosel: A similar pass is good in the Rhine/Mosel region once you are there called the Rheinland-Pfalz Ticket (24 Euros/day for 2.)

http://www.vrminfo.de/fileadmin/data...cket-Karte.pdf

Both kinds of daypasses can be bought for specific dates at DB ticket machines in Germany at nearly any station. There's an English interface.

From Bavaria to the Rhine/Mosel area: Use the itineraries page above to obtain point-to-point tickets. There are heavy discounts (limited quantities) if you buy right when they go on sale - 92 days in advance of your specific travel dates. Two can travel, for example, on the fast IC trains between Würzburg in Bavaria and Bacharach on the Rhine for 49 Euros total, a trip of just under 4 hours.

I'd estimate rail costs for a trip done this way, assuming rail travel every day of your stay, at about 370 Euros. You'll pay less of course if you spend a number of days just in Munich itself.
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Apr 14th, 2011, 03:34 PM
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Those darn socialists take my tax money to provide you with "cheap" Bayern Tickets. While they may be cheap for you, to those people that pay their taxes to finace them, they aren't cheap. Those are tax subsidized offers for the gerneral public.
Needed to be said!

Trains are quite frequently late, unreliable and subject to constant strike action from the unions. (esp the GDL union)

A car can take you and your luggage to where you want, without having to wait for the next train, even if it should be on time.
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Apr 14th, 2011, 03:36 PM
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We visited that part of the world in Summer 2007 - See day 1 and dayss 11 - 23 of our trip report for some ideas.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-and-czech.cfm

Have a great time - a lovely part of the world.
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Apr 14th, 2011, 04:50 PM
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Here is the bewery walk info - the first link is mostly in German, but the second has a section in English:

http://www.brauerei-reichold.de/frei...ereienweg.html

http://www.brauerei-reichold.de/file...Wanderpass.pdf

Basically is is an 14 km round loop which take you through 4 villages. We are going to overnight at Brauerai Reichold, which is also a Gasthof.

On the subect of small, out of the way places - of course it is possible to get to the Plansee and other places on a bus (or biking or walking). However, having a car in small places does help for general wandering and poking around. We didn't know we even wanted to go to the Plansee until we got there.

On the otherhand, getting to Hochstahl on a bus from Bamburg - it is possible, but the service is very limited.
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Apr 14th, 2011, 05:15 PM
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Thanks november_moon this looks really good. They have pitches for campers only 5€ per day, 1€ for electricity and a washroom and toilet. I'll add a waypoint in the GPS and check it out!
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Apr 14th, 2011, 05:28 PM
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logos999: I'd wager that the revenue funding the Bayern Ticket is recaptured through the increase in tourism and other business activity that the BT generates. Just look at all the attention the BT and other Länder tickets get on this and other boards. Posters are no doubt making trips, eating meals, and booking rooms that they wouldn't pay for at all if they had to pay the standard ticket prices.
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