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My wife and I are looking to take a vacation next year, in September, to the above noted countries. I would like to solicit the 'must see' places in those countries. I focus more on the history (ie. castles, monuments, museums, sights, buildings) while my wife focuses on the exciting edgy stuff (ie. restaurants, sights, shows, exotics).

Here are some places we are definitely going to:

  • Neuschwanstein Castle
  • Baden & the Black Forest
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Salzburg (I know it's not Germany, but it's on the way to Prague from Bavaria)
  • Karlovy Vary
  • Hitler's eagle's nest
  • Rothenburg
  • Wurzburg
  • Berlin

I'd like to get several dozen items on my list before planning our vacation. I would also like to know if taking the train would hamper our vacation? I'm not opposed to renting a car.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by mindcorrosive Jan 30 at 12:01

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

8 Answers 8

I would recommend the following things (sorted by country):

Switzerland

  • Visit Top of Europe. You can take a train to the Jungfraujoch which is 3545 meters above sea level. There you can exit the train and walk around. For example to a restaurant or over a glacier.

  • Visit Luzern and its world famous Chapel Bridge

  • Visit the Italian part of Switzerland, named Ticino and take a look at the various castles there.

  • Visit the capital of Switzerland and stroll through the town.

  • If you're interested in the more traditional part of Switzerland, pay the canton Appenzell a visit, e.g. its main city, Appenzell.

  • Cross the Rhine river in Eastern Switzerland to visit another very tiny country called Liechtenstein.

  • Visit Zürich with its beautiful lake, and the historic old town.

Germany

  • Visit the major cities with a lots of sights like for example Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Leipzig, Hamburg or Cologne
  • Visits Neuschwanstein

Czech Republic

  • Definitely go to Prague
  • Karlovy Vary is always worth a visit

The list is a little bit biased since I know Switzerland best. The other countries I'm also regularly, but I'm not an expert. I personally would not go to Salzburg because its on the way to Prague. I would prefer to go to Dresden/Leipzig. It is also on the way to Prague but immo way more interesting.

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Château de Chillon near Montreux on the shore of lake Geneva is a must see. You will find some graffiti made by Lord Byron in the dungeon. He wrote a poem about a protestant jailed there.

Linderhof Palace in Bavaria is a pretty small castle built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, that tries to mimic Versailles in a pocketsized handkerchief. Its Galerie des glaces is particulary astute: two mirrors face to face in a small room giving an idea of infinity.

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Train travel in these three countries is straightforward and comfortable. All the places you mention are accessible by public transport. Füssen (for Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau) is a bit off the main train routes. It is not really difficult to get there by train, but it might take more time than you think. The same is true for Baden-Baden.

Have a look at the website of the German Railways. There you will find a journey planner not only for Germany, but for all Europe. With this tool you will be able to plan your journey, and you will get an idea of the time it will take to travel from one place to another.

However, the car will give you much more flexibility ...

  • If you travel from Berlin to Prague it would be a pity not to stop in Dresden.

  • In the Czech Republic, I can recommend you a visit to the city of Kutna Hora, some 100 kilometers from Prague.

  • To visit Rothenburg and Würzburg you can set your HQ in Nürnberg. Note that Nürnberg has interesting sights as well. If you choose to visit that region (Franconia) you should not miss the city of Bamberg, with its medieval old town.

  • You can also add Munich to your list.

  • If you go to Baden-Baden, then it is only a stone’s throw to Strasbourg, which is worth a visit too.

  • In Switzerland you can have a ride on the Willhelm Tell Express. It’s a combined boat/train trip from Lucerne in to Locarno or Lugano.

  • Do not spend too much time in the Swiss cities. I don't have anything against them, there are some lovely places, but Siwtzerland's main assets are situated outside the cities.

Note that the distances in Europe are rather small, but Europe is very dense. The hardest part will be to make a good choice. Good Luck!

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I can add a few comments from my trip to the area.

Neuschwanstein: You may already know about it but be sure you also see Hohenschwangau at the same time (you can get a combo ticket). I have some friends who went to Neuschwanstein as part of a bus based tour and they did not go to Hohenschwangau due to time. When I went I had my own car, so we set the schedule. It does not take much longer to see it (it is just not as famous). At Neuschwanstein be sure you walk the path up to Marienbrucke (rainbow bridge) to see the other side (hopefully the scaffolding is gone by the time you go, it was basically covered in October 2009). Before you leave the Fussen, I think taking a trip on the Tegelberg is worth it. You get a great view of the front of Neuschwanstein but you also a wonderful view of the who area from the top of the mountain. When we were there we also saw hang-gliders and para-gliders launching from here, really cool.

Rothenburg: I am sure you know about it already, but be sure you take the night watchman's tour. Rothenburg is a lot like Neuschwanstein in that it is very touristy but if you expect that going in, it is fine.

I also did the Eagle's Nest and Salzburg, both are recommended.

The only other place we went that is near your current plan is Munich. Munich will have more things that may interest your wife (compared to Rothenburg and Fussen) but also many things you may find interesting (palaces, museums, monuments, etc.).

We rented a car when in Germany (though not when we were staying in Munich). I would think having a car would make it a lot easier getting to many of the castles that are not in big cities. Obviously it is easy to get around inside the cities using public transportation and the trains between cities are great. If trains go to the castles you want to see, by all means go for it but driving in Germany is really easy (well we had a GPS). The signs are clear and the roads are great. When going between the cities you will find sections of the autobahn that still no speed limit and I kept the rental car at top speed (though it could really only do much over 150 kph going downhill). If you do drive, keep in mind the left lane is for passing only. You pass the car/cars in front of you and then get back over, otherwise you will quickly have a big, fast BMW/Audi/Mercedes on your bumper flashing their lights before you can blink.

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In Czech, Český Krumlov is worth to visit ! It is the small city with beautiful scenery

You can reach their by driving a car or take a bus from Prague Busterminal via Student Agency Bus

Tips, Student Agency bus was offered free wi-fi on board.

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Cesky Krumlov is a marvelous little walled city with a massive castle complex (80% the size of the Prague Castle). I highly recommend a rafting trip on the river, the Egon Schiele museum, a visit to the crypt-like but friendly Horor Bar, and a visit to the Eggenberg brewery. Make sure to try the unfiltered yeast beer...yum! –  Jonathan Van Matre Dec 20 '11 at 19:37

If you are going to the Baden/Black Forest region I suggest to pay a visit to the town of Badenweiler. The landscape with its old castle Baden and the vineyards all around is quite beautiful. The region is famous for its Gutedel wine. For a walk I suggest you go to see Sophienruhe or even further up.

From Hochblauen (or, Blauen) you will have a wonderful outlook over the Black Forest, the French Voges and the Swiss Alps from one place all around. Go there for sunrise or for sunset, it's magic. They'll probably put up a wind power station up there soon, so it is high time to go there before the stillness will be spoiled forever.

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Here are three very random recommendations for the Czech Republic:

Sedlec Ossuary (Kutná Hora): Also known as "The Church of Bones". I still remember my visit there some 15 years ago. Genuinely chilling and macabre.

The ossuary is estimated to contain the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people, whose bones have in many cases been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel.

Red Hot & Blues (Prague Restaurant): Tex mex: Far from classic Czech cuisine, but that place is really great. Friendly staff, fast service (my beer was never empty), great food and beer, often live music.

I used to go here all the time with my parents back-in-the-day. When I visited Prague again for a long weekend on my first anniversary it was still just as good.

Vyšehrad Castle (Prague): Amazing views down the river, of both Prague Castle and Charles Bridge

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Germany

Heidelberg along the River Neckar with its Oldtown and the castle is well known and worth a visit. Because of its 30,000 students (20% of the population of Heidelberg) there is a lot to do during evening and night time.

Football is very big in Germany and if you're around on the weekend you could try and get into one of the stadiums and see a match. Worth visiting and the availability of tickets can be found in Berlin, Cologne for example (both playing 2nd division). If you want to visit one of the big games like Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich you have to arrange in advance.

Off the beaten track

Point Alpha is in the heart of Germany was a Cold War observation post that overlooked part of the Fulda Gap, which would have been a prime invasion route had the Cold War erupted into actual warfare. There is a museum and you can visit and see the border for yourself. Nearby is a neat small town called Geisa.

I explained how to get around on the cheap by train here.

Trivia on Heidelberg: Sheldon Cooper worked as a visiting professor at Heidelberg University in Germany at age fifteen. ;-)

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