Travel tips re: fares and hotels (Germany)

I’m planning a trip to either Berlin or Munich at some point in the next year (Specific, I know. It’ll line up with a break from school, so that narrows it down some. )

Anyways, I’m looking for general tips on how to go about finding a hotel/flights over there for cheap. I’m willing to splurge a bit on a mid-range hotel (We’ll say 3 stars on a scale of 5 or something like that), and I’d prefer Lufthansa for the trans-atlantic flight.

I’ve traveled before, but never had to arrange it myself. Is something like expedia.com the way to go? Should I consult a travel agent? What do you guys think?

You are the first person, of the non-German variety*, that I’ve ever seen state that they’d prefer Lufthansa for a transatlantic flight. Or a flight of any significant length. I’d suggest you try LTU if you’re in or near a US market that they serve. They’re a lower cost German carrier, almost a semi-charter like Condor is/was.

I’d recommend a fall break trip, if you can arrange that. Or winter if you don’t mind some cold (good for the Christkindlmarkts, especially in Bavaria). Spring and Summer is when there are lots of students travelling and the prices spike, particularly in Summer.

I don’t know Munich (only been through a couple of times) or Berlin, but in Frankfurt it was generally okay for hotel prices as long as there weren’t any major conventions/tradeshows at the time. I’d guess that Berlin is more like New York in that it is much bigger and less likely to tradeshow price fluctuations. Munich is also very large. Most expos in Germany seem to be in Hanover, Stuttgart and Frankfurt anyway.

Sometimes you can find inexpensive lodging by asking at tourist info in the town center. They’ll call around for you and find accomodation of the sort you ask for, although that might be a bit chancy during high season.

As chance would have it, there are a lot of people considering travel to Germany next summer for World Cup 2006, which runs through most of June and some of the beginning of July, IIRC. Here are a few websites that could help with travel and accomodation:

http://www.germany-tourism.co.uk/pages/hotel_accommodation.html


http://www.lutetiatravel.com/cgi/engine.cgi

Also, what do you want to do and see while you’re there? This would help in some specifics.

*Assumed

I prefer travelocity to expedia, and I would check there first for airfares. You can get a ballpark figure and if you don’t find a cheaper price somewhere else, you can come back to it.

Munich seems to have a lot of smaller hotels. I was there for a week in 2000 and stayed at a place called the Hotel Aida (on Verdistrasse, took me a couple days to make that connection). It was about 15-20 rooms, and it seemed to be run by one woman. (Her husband was travelling since it was way off-season, and I’m sure she had some help during the day to clean the rooms) Just a small, family inn; comfortable room, a light breakfast in the morning, and not very expensive at all. It wasn’t in the center of town, but about a 100 yard walk to the S-Bahn station and then 15 minutes to the center of Munich. Look for the smaller places a little off the beaten path.

I can’t say if the situation is the same in Berlin. I’ve only been there for one weekend and splurged on a really nice room.

I flew Lufthansa across the Atlantic once, and it wasn’t bad; not noticeably better or worse than a couple other airlines I’ve tried. I think a bigger issue for the flight is which airport you change planes at, and how long you have to wait or sprint for a connecting flight. A friend of mine was coming home and Air France had him scheduled for less than an hour to make a connection in Paris, and he didn’t make it. Also, newer planes (777, A340) are more likely to have better in-flight entertainment systems (seatback TV’s, choice of movies) if that matters.

Re: airlines
My other trip to Germany was on Lufthansa, and it was quite comfortable, even in the economy section. Is that something that I can just assume will be present on any transoceanic flight, and just go with whoever? Never heard of LTU, but will look into it.

What do I want to see? Well, I know that I’ll be going to Füßen to see Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, probably. I’ve been there already, but I’m going with someone who hasn’t, and really wants to see the castles. Other than that, I’m looking for some stuff that isn’t old. I’ve gotten my fill of old German things. :stuck_out_tongue:

When looking for hotels, how much of a drag is it to have to ride 15 minutes into town on the S-Bahn? My last trip to Munich had us staying at the Pension Locarno, a very small (15-20 rooms?) hotel, but it was reasonably priced and practically on top of the Munich Hauptbahnhof. So the Marienplatz (yeah, yeah, I know. Huge tourism etc…) was like… THERE.

As far as time goes, like I said, it’ll have to be a time when I’m out of school. I’m looking at early January, maybe, because it’ll be cheap then. (I’d like to go after Christmas, if at all possible.)

Thanks for the travelocity tip, but they didn’t have any hotel/flight combinations available, and if I did it separately, it looks like Expedia is about 100 dollars cheaper per person.

I have a travel agent friend of a friend, I just don’t know where she works. Planning on finding out today, and I might go talk to her. I’ll keep you guys posted.

LTU is pretty reasonably priced, worth a look if you’re in one of the markets they serve. They fly into Munich and Dusseldorf. I imagine in January you should get a good price, although you find people flying into Munich to access the Alps. Dress warmly.

IMO a 15 minute U or S Bahn ride is okay, although if it’s really cold out make sure you know the schedule to minimize standing outside and waiting time.

I think my thing with Lufthansa is that they have iffy service and a very mediocre business/first class on long haul flights. Might have changed by now. Don’t know that much of a difference in different airlines on economy for longhaul. Ask your travel agent friend for opinions.

I just booked a trip to Germany (going to visit my brother in Karlsruhe) and Lufthansa was significantly more expensive than US based carrierers. Interestingly, my brother can book on Lufthansa much less expensively, apparently because he’s starting in Germany. although this might not be the case when you book.

for any trip, i will run searches on expedia, travelocity, hotwire, and cheaptickets, as frequently one or another will have a special running. Also, when you find a good fare on one of those, try the airline’s own site (i saved $20 on my tix this way, not a huge amount, but enough for a few wonderful german beers :smiley: )

Also, the days of the week you travel can impact your fare - tues, wed, thurs tend to be the cheapest. look for an option on the search (you may have to go to advanced search) to expand the search +/- 2 or 3 days if you’ve got the flexibility.

good luck, and I hope you have a great trip !