Seeking Travel Suggestions for Southern Germany

Our daughter is studying in Germany this semester, and we will be going to visit in early June with our son. We will be flying in and out of Munich (Icelandair had an amazing fare sale), and she is studying in Tubingen (near Stuttgart), so that area must be included for at least a couple of days.

We’ll be there for 10 full days. Besides Munich and Stuttgart/Tubingen, we are thinking about going to Salzburg and maybe even Zurich, since those are both relatively close. Berlin is pretty far north of where we’ll be, so is probably out.

Suggestions for places stay, things to do, etc, would be lovely. I’d ideally like to keep the lodging costs below 150EUR/night on average.

I’d also like to hear about experiences renting a car and driving. Since there will be 3 of us moving from place to place, I’m wondering if it would be cheaper than buying train/bus tickets for everyone. Anything special one needs to do or know?

As always in these threads, it depends on what you’re into.

If you’re a car fan, Mercedes is headquartered in Stuttgart and Porsche is very close. Both have museums. Just about every municipal vehicle I saw in Stuttgart, right down to the garbage trucks, was a Mercedes.

If you like architecture, the cathedral in Ulm is the tallest church in the world, and for a couple euros (and a stout constitution) you can climb the spire almost to the top. And even if you don’t climb it, the stonework and woodcarvings inside are magnificent. Neuschwanstein castle is also in that area, which I believe is the most-visited attraction in Germany. I’ve heard that Hohenschwangau is a more authentic representation of a real castle, although not as fairy-tale famous. They’re waling distance apart, and you buy tour tickets for both at the same office.

I can’t say whether renting a car would save money versus train tickets for three. I will say that taking the train there is very pleasant, but there are a lot of trains and levels of service to figure out when getting tickets. They run quite often so you don’t give up much flexibility by relying on them. If you do decide to drive, get a car with a navigation system, and figure out how to get it operating in English. The roads and signs are just different enough to be a bit disorienting, and the last thing you need is to have your face buried in a map. And learn the rules of road, keep right on the Autobahn unless you’re passing someone, and never pass anyone on the right.

Good suggestions, thanks. We will have our Colorado super-powers for a few days, so climbing a lot of stairs shouldn’t be too bad, at least at first. :slight_smile:

We like all kinds of museums, architecture, and outdoor stuff. I’m not averse to a little hiking, but I am severely visually impaired so prefer trails that don’t have a lot of obstacles.

My Wife and I spent 3 weeks in southern Germany (Bavaria) a few years ago. One thing we did was rent bikes at the main Munich train station and took off on our own for a day. The rental shop at the station gave us a map and some suggestions. Munich is very flat, and pretty bike friendly. Got used to it quickly and I’m not a biker (my wife is though) Had a BLAST. GO COLORADO! :smiley:

I’ll go through some pictures and contribute more later.

Biking around the city is a great idea, but I’m too blind to ride solo. Did you happen to notice if they had tandems? (I ride a semi-recumbent tandem with a buddy in Boulder, so touring around a flat city should be pretty easy.)

Climbing that cathedral spire isn’t just a physical thing. Sure, it looks solid, but as you get farther up it’s just a lattice of gothic stonework (still as big around as tree trunks, though). At the top, you’re on a balcony about 15 feet around, and 450 feet high. I’m usually pretty good with heights, but that place did a number on me.

As I said, it’s still a stunning building even if you don’t climb it. And whatever you wind up doing over there, come tell us about it when you get back.

If you’re into modern history the Eagle’s nest is in that neck of the woods. I did 4 days in Stuttgart Munich a couple of years back and that was very worth a day hiking around.

One of the other cool things we did was visit a salt mine on the Germany Austria border I don’t remember the name though

We did southern Germany but it was a number of years ago.

  • Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau which are close to each other, and Linderhof (I’m trying to remember them all)
  • Oberammergau just to see the paintings on the buildings (we weren’t there for the passion play)
  • Triborg and the Schwarzwaldbahn - the Black Forest railway with its twisty forested run including several tunnels; we even bought a cuckoo clock there like good tourists…
  • We also went to Strassbourg to see the astronomical clock
  • We didn’t do Munich at all, but of course Dachau is close to the north
  • Chiemsee, and Ludwig’s last castle, which I thought was most interesting because it was so huge as well because you could see the parts that were never finished
  • Obersalzburg, the “Eagle’s Nest” which is on the way to Salzburg
  • And in Salzburg, the Sound of Music sites (we did this on our own), their cathedral, Hohensalzburg, Mirabell gardens and the Hellbrunn Palace. There is lots of interesting stuff in Salzburg; we didn’t get to do it all.

My brother-in-law was in the US Army at the time, and he had a “caravan” - a small camper pulled by his car that we used to camp in different areas as we went from town to town. That may not be an option for you, but it was an cheap and interesting way to meet native Germans.

Something to keep in mind, Germany is not all that big. The length of (old) “West” Germany is roughly the same as the length of California. With 10 days, you can cover a LOT. And doing warp 8 on the Autobahn makes the distances all that much shorter !

I’ll second suggestions down south:

  • Neuschwannstein (and Hohenschwangau - which is in the same place)

  • Linderhof is pretty cool, but more of a palace. And gives you a good drive through Bavaria to get to.

  • Herren Chiemsee (sp ?) will finish off the “Ludwig trio”. This is close to Munich.

  • Salzburg is very cool, and the castle, and views from the castle are really nice.

(back in Germany):

  • Rothenburg (ob dem Tauber) is a very cool, walled city. There is a split road, with one road going down a hill that is one of the most photographed spots in the city (you’ve probably seen this in posters of Germany). But it’s other claim to fame is that there are these year-round Christmas stores. And they’re huge.
  • Mainz - Cologne - Rhine tour. You can take ferries that go along the Rhine between these (and many other) cities. Great scenery of the vineyards, and cool little towns and small castles along the way. When you get to Cologne, you can check out the cathedral and do some spiral staircase hiking up the tower. Again, on a map this may look a ways, but it really isn’t that far.
  • Trier is a cool town on the border. There is a very cool roman arch (and you can even walk up and over it).

Sorry I don’t recall. Here’s a link to the train station, with links to biking.

We rode around, visited Nymphenburg Palace and ended up in the English Gardens. There is a real cool out door Beer Garten there.

You can check out both places on Google maps too. The Palace had HUGE grounds.

Highly recommend Augsburg. Tons of history. It was an early Roman city established in 15BC. And was a Free Imperial City until the early 1800’s. Home to Mozart’s father.

ETA: 78km from Munich and accessible by train.

This is bringing back memories…

We spent 3 days in - Rothenburg_ob_der_Tauber(NOTE: There are two Rothenburg’s in Germany. ob der Tauber is the one I’m speaking of. Hate for you to get them mixed up.) Very cool walled Medieval city. LOT’s of history. Pretty tourist heavy though, but we loved it.

We stayed at the Hotel Klosterstuble It’s within the walled part of the city. Now I don’t usually use words like ‘darling’ to describe something. But that’s the perfect word. Seriously, check out the pics.

We’re about to host a high school teacher from Germany for a couple of weeks (she’s visiting my wife’s school on an exchange program), and we’re hoping to get her help developing a tentative itinerary. These are all great suggestions which I will run by the planning committee.

Thanks everyone, and keep 'em coming!

I strongly recommend Strasbourg and Colmar in France. Colmar is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

For all the Eagle’s Nest references, no one mentioned Berchtesgaden? Lovely town, lovely lake, lovely mountains, and some fixation on “The Sound of Music.”

I hope you won’t take it amiss for me to note that stuffing that number of destinations into ‘10 full days’ is so American. The year before last my SO and I spent that length of time in one city (St. Petersburg) and I have compiled my backlist on the things to visit there next time…

Tübingen where your daughter studies is worth at least one full day if not two if you don’t want to hurry. One not yet too published museum is the small one of the lab where DNA (the substance - not yet its structure) was discovered in 1869 in the former castle kitchen. Do try to take a trip (ideally by Stocherkahn, else by rowing boat) around the island in the Neckar.

What are your family into most - cityscapes, culture or natural beauty? I note you are from Boulder CO, so we probably cannot impress you with dramatic scenery. (I love to hike on the Swabian Alp escarpment myself).

Munich to Stuttgart is a very long drive (~ 3 hr) but Munich - Augsburg - Ulm - Stuttgart are on the same main rail line; you could travel by rail visting Augsburg and Ulm and rent a car in Stuttgart.

When renting a car make sure it has a navigation system. German road signage never uses cardinal directions and only to a small extent road numbers; street grids have been tried in some few newfangled 16th- to 18th century town foundations but have not caught on.

Also, the BMW museum is in Munich.

One of the best things I saw in Munich was totally free: people surfing in the canal! I could have watched all day.

We had a nice meal here, although I have to admit that seeing the bathrooms in there was the high point. If I ever open a restaurant, I’m going to have bathrooms like that. :slight_smile:

Given my druthers, I’d make the loop from Munich to Prague to Vienna to Salzburg and back to Munich. Easily done in 10 days. The old part of Prague alone is worth the trip.

Thanks for all the tips and recommendations, everyone. All very helpful!

We’ve settled on a rough itinerary:
[li]Day 1: Arrival Munich (early morning). Walk around the city and try to stay awake until normal local bedtime.[/li][li]Day 2: More Munich. Travel to Ulm in the late afternoon to meet our daughter.[/li][li]Day 3-4: Ulm, Blaubeeren, and environs. Travel to Tubingen Day 4 afternoon.[/li][li]Day 5: Tubingen, where daughter is studying[/li][li]Day 6-7: Strasbourg and surrounding.[/li][li]Day 8: Back to Munich.[/li][li]Days 9-11: Explore the region around Munich.[/li][li]Day 12: Early flight back to the US.[/li][/ul]

Within the constraint of needing to travel west towards Stuttgart/Tubingen, we decided to minimize the number of venue changes, staying at least 2 nights each place.

Any additional suggestions on hotels/restaurants/sightseeing appreciated.