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Itinerary Help

Newfoundland and...
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Itinerary Help

Could someone help us with our plans? We are a family with children between 12 and 16 years.

For the holidays our family of four has booked to fly in and out of Munich arriving the 21 Dec. and leaving again early in the day on the 3 Jan. We will be travelling a long ways and will be tired on arrival - we need to be back staying in Munich briefly before we fly home as we leave in the am.

Things we wanted to experience include:

- Bavarian towns/villages/castles (Neuschwanstein for sure) and scenery

- Christmas markets and Christmas atmosphere - trees, mangers, etc.

- a nice place to spend Christmas Eve and Day - church, music, time outdoors

- a great New Year's Eve and New Year's day with fireworks etc.

- winter activities like sledding, skiing downhilll, skating, sledding, luge/bobsled, sleigh

Places we wanted to see originally (before we tried to book hotels beginning a few months ago):

- Munich

- Black Forest (Gengenbach advent calendar)

- Germany's Alps for winter activities

- Ludwig's famous castles

- Romantic towns and villages **

Based on availability, our options are:

- arrive from overseas in Munich - stay 1 or 2 nights

- move onto Berchestgaden area - can stay for 5 or 6 nights

- from there we have 2 or 3 nights - somewhere!!

- return to Munich at least 1 or 2 nights before going home - more if recommended

For the 2 or 3 nights after Berchestgaden area, we have found accommodation in:

- Rothenburg

- Baden-Baden

- Obermmergau

- Fussen

- Hohenschwangau


At the start we can do 1 night Munich/6 Berchestgaden area, OR 2 nights Munich/5 Berchestgaden area - which do you recommend and why?

Where do you recommend we stay the 2 or 3 nights between Berchestgaden and our return to Munich out of the places listed (e.g. Rothenburg, Fussen, etc.)?

For Ludwig's castles, do you recommend staying close by for our 2 nights after Berchestgaden, or should we use those nights elsewhere and take a day trip to Neuschwanstein from Munich? If we do a day trip to Neuschwanstein, is it ok to go on our own, or better in a tour, private/group:?

What do you recommend for this itinerary and what are your suggestions overall?

What is the best place to be for New Years and our special Birthday (Munich or Baden-Baden)?

Since this is a first trip to Germany and the first time ever away during the holidays (plus we are celebrating a very special birthday on New Years Day) we hope to arrange a great holiday.

We hope you can help. Thanks!

Chula Vista...
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1. Re: Itinerary Help


One quick question... How do you plan on getting around? Will you go by train or will you rent a car?

I'm guessing that your flight arriving in Munich on the 21st arrives in the morning. To get over jetlag as quickly as possible, do everything in your power to stay up as long as you can on that first day. It will help your body clock adjust more quickly.

Most Christmas markets close on 23 or 24 December, so if you're going to see them, see them within your first days in country.

I might suggest a loop that goes something like this (cities listed are where you would spend the night):

21 Dec. - Munich

22 - Munich

23 - Munich

24 - Salzburg *

25 - Salzburg *

26 - Berchtesgaden

27 - Berchtesgaden

28 - Berchtesgaden

29 - Mittenwald OR Garmisch-Partenkirchen

30 - Mittenwald OR Garmisch-Partenkirchen

31 - Füssen **

1 Jan - Füssen **

2 Jan - Munich

* - Most everything is shut down on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and I believe even 26 Dec., so it may be better to be in a larger city like Salzburg to give you a better chance of more options.

** - Check with Neuschwanstein / Hohenschwangau to see if they're open on New Year's Eve / New Year's Day.

Of course, you can play with the durations at each location or even reverse the route if that makes more sense and gives you more accessibility around the holidays.


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2. Re: Itinerary Help

time and away - you would have been far better to keep posting on your original question/thread - starting a new thread essentially asking the same thing is going to get you all sorts of strange answers and in the end possibly not the advice you want as people will tire of trying to look at two threads to see what has already been offered . You might like to think about closing this one and keeping your original one going.

Newfoundland and...
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3. Re: Itinerary Help

Thank you Zed for the note - you are right about the jetlag - we've managed this poorly before so yes, I will follow your advice and push the family to do the same.

About travel means, I have not decided - I tried to find a car rental company as close to Berchestgaden thinking it would be nice to get out of Munich by train and pick up the car closer to our next accommodation but none of the car rental companies were returning my emails.

We like to use a train, but we also do not want to be rushed or get mixed up and miss our train. What do you recommend when travelling through this area with kids and suitcases? Car/train?

We are also concerned about the roads - in CAnada they are very icy right now - the Alpine Road and it stops may be scenic but if driving is treacherous we will not enjoy it.

We have the Berchestgaden option in Ramsau booked over Christmas as ironically we learned after research that there would be more to do there for the holiday.

Everything in Munich is closed for 24 and 25 (except for hotel dinners) whereas in Ramsau we can go sledding, winter walking, sleigh ride, day trip to Salzburg etc.

Plus we have passed our cancellation so we must be in Berchestgaden area beginning the 22 or 23, and leaving on the 28. It is on the 28 that we are not sure where to go next.

I tried to find something in GP or Mittenwald as that was are first choice but there is nothing on our dates for a family of four. You are right though - everyone likes Mittenwald and says GP is also a good base for Fussen, Alps and area. The best I can do for the nights of the 28, 29 (and possibly 30) is Fussen, Hohenschangau, or Obermmagau (or Rothenburg on the Romantic Road, or Baden Baden).

Any comments on these accommodation options? It is all that is open.

Our first choice was to try and spend New Year's quietly in GP (we even have tickets for a New Year's event paid for unfortunately) but everywhere is booked solid there over NY.

Your itinerary would be great if we could find the accommodations we need to fill in the dates. I will try again for GP and Mittenwald, even for New Years, to see what I can find.

What does everyone think about spending New Year's in Munich for the activities and fireworks?

What about the 2-3 nights after Berchestgaden? Based on the hotel availability now provided, which towns would you stay in?

Also - is it better to take a day trip on our own to the castles and use up a day in Munich? Or should we settle near the castles (e.g. in Fussen, Hohenswangau, or Obermmagau) and see them from there before going back to the city? I suppose we could check out Mittenwald, GP and ride up the Zugspitze, and even evening skiing, or riding on the sledge run if we do this.

Thank you for your reply as well Thmoore.

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4. Re: Itinerary Help

Hi Time-and-Away,

I strongly recommend you use the train system while you are here. Germany has a wonderfully robust public transportation system, and you'd probably enjoy experiencing it. You can take a road trip practically anywhere in the world, but the places with robust, convenient train system are remarkably few. So, it would add a layer of European-ness to your European adventure.

Also, it would probably be safer and could even be faster. Yes, the roads may be in poor condition because of the weather -- and even if they are in good order, you could be delayed by one of the many traffic jams (Stau) that occur on the Autobahn. You could also be bogged down by getting lost in winding medieval streets.

Finally, using the trains is also more green (yyyaaaay). Scientists are saying that all Bavarian glaciers will disappear in 30 years, and in fact we had no snow on the Zugspitze this summer. So, you may be happy if you helped to preserve the beauty that you came all this way t see!


Paradise, California
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5. Re: Itinerary Help

I second Swandav's suggestion. Consider also the joy teens routinely express about riding everywhere in the back seat. Also, Garmisch offers free local public transport and other goodies with its visitors card:


The Bayern (Bavaria) Ticket gets your whole family to all your destinations:


Note that the phrase "Ludwig's castles" and "Neuschwanstein Castle" do not mean that you will be seeing castles. These are all late-19th century palaces, even if US guidebooks call them castles (what do Americans know about castles, anyway?) Castles were built hundreds and hundreds of years prior to the moment Ludwig's little backside entered the world of the living. Germany has dozens of real castles with 800-1,000 years of history behind them, but you would need to look elsewhere for them. Nymphenburg Palace and the Residenz in Munich would be easy to visit in lieu of the Füssen palaces. You can also indulge your palace and castle fantasies in Salzburg:


You have so much time in the mountains already that it might be wise to swap your days in Füssen for some other destination to see some different terrain. The Romantic Road towns of Augsburg, Donauwörth, Harburg and Nördlingen spring immediately to mind as good options (all are easy to access by train as well.) Augsburg is a good deal larger - the others are the sort of small, medieval towns for which Germany is famous, the type of place that is missing from your present itinerary. You might enjoy a look at this family photo-blog page of their trip to Harburg and Nördlingen:


Newfoundland and...
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6. Re: Itinerary Help

Thank you for the excellent advice on the train system - very well!! We will include trains wherever possible, though I have a question about the famed Alpine Route - can this be enjoyed from a train as well? Or would we better off to train as much as we can, and then drive, e.g. from Berchestgaden to the Fussen or GP area to experience this Alpine Route we hear so much about. If we can experience the beauty just as well on a train please let us know - perhaps we will skip the car altogether.

Also the note about the castles is much appreciated - we definitely wish to see Neuschwanstein palace, and any others are really just a bonus - I'm Canadian and you're right, we know so little about castles and palaces, unless we read up and talk to TA members and travel over to Europe to learn a little.

I viewed a lot of castle/palace sightseeing opportunities on the very good link to Austria but if you have time to see only one while there on a day trip, which would be the most fantastic/first choice?

We were able to secure accommodation for that "middle" part of the trip you mention in Rothenburg but it looks to be so far to go from Berchestgaden, all the way up there, and then back down to Munich - maybe I am misinterpreting the drive/train times but could someone let me know how well this would work?

It seemed logical to take the 2 extra nights and spend them in either Fussen or Oberammagau where we were able to also find accommodations just so we could see the palaces without leaving Munich again, just because the distance from Berchestgaden did not seem so long - but perhaps this is not needed?

Our only choices for those few days in the middle (between Berchestgaden and Munich) are Fussen, Oberaggamau, Rothenburg, and Baden-Baden (a way to see the Europark I guess but it seems furthest away at all and coming from the Alps, I'm not sure how the Black Forest in winter might favour).

I'll double check on the accommodation areas you mention as you make a great point about some different scenery. However, if someone could in the meantime comment on choosing between the options we have so far that would be great.

Very helpful replies and I'll start looking at the train schedules right away. Many thanks!

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7. Re: Itinerary Help

Hi again,

Well, yes, I do think that the Alpine Route can be enjoyed from a train -- why not? The "Route" merely links towns. And I guess, if you drive, at least one of you won't be able to enjoy the spectacular views!

In my view, though, the best scenery isn't from a highway or a train. Get out onto your feet, find a mountain trail or a forest trail, and feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair while you enjoy 360 views. I think scenery is best *in person*!!


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8. Re: Itinerary Help

Actually, even most Germans call Neuschwanstein a castle. It just isn't an old castle.

But the castle (or palace if you must) and its location are beautiful and quite interesting both due to its own history connected to "Mad" King Ludwig and his life/death story and also its historical setting in the mid to late 19th Century with all the political and social upheaval of the time. Not to mention the mythical-Wagnerian underpinnings and symbolism.

The only thing I don't like about visiting Neuschwanstein is that you have to take the tour and you can't really explore and poke around.

Paradise, California
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9. Re: Itinerary Help

"Actually, even most Germans call Neuschwanstein a castle. It just isn't an old castle."

Language is a wonderful vehicle of freedom- you can call an orange a meteor if you wish. But N'stein is most commonly referred to as a palace (Schloss) in German, not a castle (Burg) - you can pretty much verify the 100-to-1 ratio of this truth by Googling "Schloss Neuschwanstein" and then "Burg Neuschwanstein." While there is the occasional common use of "Burg", most Germans have a common understanding of what constitutes a "Burg", including the notion that a Burg was built for defensive purposes many centuries ago, and N'stein isn't one, as most of them see it anyway.

It is indeed unique, whatever you choose to call it. The $16-tour did little to impress me. One of my 2 tours of the place was conducted in unintelligible Germ-lisch (Hogans Heroes characters had better English accents.) And it seems a long trek from elsewhere for a 30-minute tour, if that's the sole point of your visit.

Edited: 03 December 2013, 20:35
Inchicore, Dublin...
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10. Re: Itinerary Help


as your holiday time is limited I would advise the following:

when you land in Munich just zipp through to Berchtesgaden, this saves you another overnight stay and all the check - in, check out procedures.

You could stay in Berchtesgaden then for 5 to 6 days (21st to 27th) and enjoy the wintersports or do trips e.g. to Salzburg.

For this part you don't need a car.

If you want to experience another part in the Bavaria Alps as well, anything in and around Murnau would be a good option, including Oberammergau, given that Garmisch and Mittenwald are sold out. Especially from Oberammergau you can easily do day trips to Ludwig's castles or to the Wieskirche.

BTW if you want an alpine train route, there is the train from Murnau to Innsbruck, where you have got some really beautiful views over the Inn valley.

You will not necessarily need a car, however it can be more convenient to have one.

If you want to discover another region in Bavaria, as you have already experienced the Alps in Berchtesgaden, I agree with Russ that Augsburg would be a good start point.

For NYE I recommend Munich, just because Baden - Baden is quite far off, and there is lots to do and see in Munich as well. BTW Neuschwanstein can be visited from Munich on a day tour as well.