Visit to Germany, Switzerland and Austria

In June we took our two teenage boys on a trip to Germany with a short amount of time in Switzerland as well as Austria. We had talked about this trip for quite some time and finally booked it the first week of May. We are DIY-ers when it comes to travel planning, so The Hubby checked out a couple of Rick Steves’ books from the library and I began scouring the internet.

We knew this would be a better experience to rent a car and drive as we expected to stay in most places only one night. Allowing for time in both small towns as well as larger cities gave us the opportunity to experience both. We focused on seeing the landscape as well as learning more about the history of Germany. Once we determined where we wanted to go, we mapped out the plan and between American Express and Booking.com, made all of our accommodation reservations.

Our family is really good about staying in the same space, but given the boys are both bigger than me, we did our best to find family suites to accommodate all of us and provide a little bit more room.

This post is intended to share with you our itinerary, hotels, tours, and of course food. I hope you find this helpful if you are planning a similar adventure. Apologize for the length, tried to bullet point the highlights.

Note that if you are renting a car and driving (and it isn’t winter) I would highly recommend packing a tote cooler bag in your suitcase and purchasing a reusable ice bag to keep your drinks and snacks cold while in the car (or if you don’t have a small fridge in your hotel room). There aren’t ice machines on each hotel floor like in the US, but every single hotel (with the exception of 1) was willing to fill our bag with ice when we left in the morning.

Itinerary

Day 1:

  • Arrived in Frankfurt – checked into 1 bedroom premier apartment at Adina Apartment Hotel Frankfurt Neue Oper. This was a nice place, we had a bedroom, living room (into which the hotel brought two rollaway beds) a bathroom (with a washer and dryer) and a small kitchen. While we really didn’t need to do laundry yet, we did take advantage of the facilities and washed our travel clothes.
  • We walked down to MainNizza and enjoyed lunch on the terrace.
  • We then followed one of the walking tours from the Rick Steves’ book and walked all over Frankfurt. In hindsight, I probably could have skipped Frankfurt. Our arrival time was 11:00 a.m. and considered driving to the Rhine Valley but then worried about flight delays and sleep deprivation, so decided to spend the night there.
  • We enjoyed dinner at Bacco and then promptly went to bed!

View from room in Frankfurt

Day 2:

  • Drove to Wierschem and toured Eltz Castle, enjoyed lunch a their outdoor café.
  • Drove to Braubach and toured Marksburg Castle.
  • Took one of the ferry’s across the Rhine to get over to Bacharach where we were staying for the night. We stayed in the Rhein Hotel and had a family suite, this rate also included breakfast. This was a small, but nice room on the top floor (we are a COO family because we know not every European hotel has lifts!) with a view of the Rhine River.
  • Because it was Sunday afternoon when we arrived, most of the shops in town were closed. But we did walk around the town as well as along the town wall which was originally constructed in the 1300 or 1400s.
  • After our walk, we decided to sit on the terrace of the hotel and enjoy some drinks while enjoying the view of the Rhine River.
  • We stumbled across Café Bistro NOY while walking around and enjoyed dinner there. We learned that generally speaking, the Riesling produced in that area is not sweet, it is dry, and it is delicious! We shared a bottle of Toni Jost Riesling that is produced in the region.
Our walk to Eltz Castle
Eltz Castle
Eltz Castle
Marksburg Castle
Rhine River
Vineyards at the top of the town wall walk in Bacharach
View of Bacharach from town walls
Rhein Hotel
Bacharach
Watchtower in Bacharach

Day 3:

  • The next morning we were pleasantly surprised to find our table reserved at the hotel and a buffet breakfast available to us. We had a busy day ahead, so fueled up!
  • We drove just over 2 hours to Baden Baden, we read that this town in the Black Forest was popular for their shopping and spas, it was also the inspiration for Hansel and Gretel. We weren’t exactly sure where we were headed, so parked the car and started walking. We popped into a few shops, enjoyed the quaint and charming architecture, and decided to eat lunch in the outdoor area at Le-Bistro.
  • After lunch we drove another hour to Singersbach to check out Sommerrodelbahn Gutach. I was initially concerned this looked like a “kiddie ride”, but then when we arrived I was a little worried that my toboggan would go off of the track! We all successfully rode the toboggan a couple of times and then jumped back in the car to head further south.
  • We headed into Switzerland and checked out Rhine Falls. This was a lot larger than I was expecting and it was quite stunning. We all loved it.
  • Our final stop for the day was to Zurich, Switzerland. There were a lot of electric busses, a lot of cars, and a lot of bicyclists….along with a lot of intersections with only yield signs! We were able to successfully navigate to Raclette-Stube, a fondue restaurant. I am a big fan of Swiss fondue and there were many choices. Raclette-Stube seemed small, intimate, and unique. It was, but also pricey, but we already knew that “everything” in Zurich was pricey!
  • We actually stayed in a hotel about 15 minutes outside of downtown at Mövenpick Zurich Regensdorf. This was a typical “bed, bed, TV” {as my older son would say when he was younger) situation.
Rhine Falls
Rhine Falls
Raclette – Stube
Bahnhofstrasse (Zurich)

You can view the video I posted through Zurich on TikTok here.

Day 4:

  • For breakfast we headed back into downtown Zurich and found Babu’s which was a delicious (and yes, expensive IMO, bakery. In hindsight, I probably could have skipped Zurich…
  • We drove for 3 hours to one of the towns we enjoyed most, Füssen, Germany. There are two castles outside of Füssen, one is Hohenschwangau and one is Neuschwanstein. I’ll let you read about them, but due to our short time in Füssen, we had already purchased tickets to tour Hohenschwangau on the day we arrived and Neuschwanstein the next.
  • When staying in Füssen, most hotels will give you a complimentary bus pass. We used this to go to the castles on our day of arrival. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then hopped on the bus which was right next to our hotel. Once you are in the area of the castles, there are a few options to get you there. Hohenschwangau is closer, you can take a horse and carriage, walk up a steep climb, or take a longer, more leisurely route. We accidently chose the latter, but it worked out fine!
  • You do need tickets for both of these as they require a guided tour and I would recommend purchasing them in advance. There are shops, restaurants, and places for quick bites to eat in the area as well.
  • After visiting the castle, we walked around Füssen and checked out Lechfall as well as grabbing some gelato in town.
  • We stayed at a very charming hotel called Central City Hotel in Füssen. The room we booked was a family room with a connecting door, so two separate rooms and one bathroom. It was perfect. To add on the breakfast buffet was less than €15 per person, so we went with that! There is also a gift shop connected where we received a discount as well.
  • For dinner we chose Ristorante Michelangelo (yes, we like our Italian food) and enjoyed dining on the patio, would highly recommend!
Breakfast in Zurich
Hohenschwangau Castle
Hohenschwangau Castle
Lechfall

Day 5:

  • After enjoying our breakfast buffet at Central City Hotel we decided to drive to the castles vs. taking the bus so that we could continue our drive after our tour. When you visit Neuschwanstein Castle, you are going to (likely) want to buy the bus tickets to drive you there. The bus will drop you off near the Queens Bridge where you can get the epic photo (on the very scary bridge) of the castle. Then you will need to walk to the castle. This is also a tour and your tickets will have a time when you can enter. No, you cannot enter early if you arrive early. Trust me.
  • After our tour, we grabbed a bite to eat at a walk up food stand next to the castle, then headed back to the bus to get back to our car….onto Salzburg! I was very excited about this next stop!
  • This was about a 3 hour drive, but as with the other drives, enjoyed the beautiful scenery.
  • Once in Salzburg, we were staying at an apartment that we reserved through Booking.com, which was fine, but let me tell you it was NOT easy to find! We were literally in a situation of “look kids, Big Ben!” at one point. The Hubby dropped me off, I took the older one with me and we found the door. We knew there wasn’t parking onsite, so we collected our bags, sent The Hubby to park the car and dropped a pin to our location.
  • We stayed at numa | Sonate Apartments in the Family Living option. We had a bedroom, there was a kitchen and a living room, and the boys had a huge bedroom with two twin beds, a dining room table and the bathroom was connected to their room. We specifically chose this place because there was a washer here and we knew we we need to do laundry at this point. No dryer, so we used the clothes drying rack, opened the windows and put one of the fans next to the clothes overnight – success!
  • While in Salzburg we walked through Mirabell Gardens (highly recommend!!) and walked through old town. We weren’t far from either at the apartment. For dinner we chose Sternbräu which has a huge beer garden, it was nice to enjoy dinner outside!
Neuschwanstein Castle from Queen’s Bridge
View of Queen’s Bridge from Neuschwanstein Castle
View from Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle
Sunset in Salzburg

You can view the video I posted on TikTok through Salzburg here.

Day 6:

  • If we didn’t have a breakfast included at the hotel, we would always find a bakery. This day was no different and found BackWerk.
  • In advance of our trip, I gained family consensus to attend a cooking class and today was the day! We booked the Austrian Apple Strudel Cooking Class including Lunch via Viator. This was a 90 minute class held in the Edelweiss Cooking School where we made apple strudel along with a traditional Austrian dessert called Salzburger Nockerl. While our desserts were baking, we were served goulash and had the opportunity to purchase drinks with our lunch.
  • We had just under a 2 hour drive to Munich where we checked into Hotel Wallis for our two night stay where we booked a suite/family room.
  • From there we headed to Viktualienmarkt to check it out and grab a bite to eat. We found giant beers and giant pretzels in a beer garden, a perfect way to be welcomed to Munich!
  • Marienplatz was right around the corner and we knew in the summer the Rathaus-Glockenspiel chimes would also happen at 5:00 p.m. This was a very cool site to see!
  • We continued our walk and checked out the famous Hofbräuhaus along with popping our heads into shops along the way.
  • For dinner we chose Bricelta, it was off the beaten path and had a nice outdoor area for dining.
Mozart is everywhere in Salzburg!
Mozart’s Birthplace
Making Apple Strudel
Viktualienmarkt – Munich
Rathaus-Glockenspiel
Hofbrauhaus

Day 7:

  • We pre-booked Munich: Third Reich & WWII Tour Walking Tour through Get Your Guide and grabbed breakfast at French Touch Patisserie on our way to Marienplatz where the tour started.
  • The tour was fantastic, our guide (Josh) was very knowledge along with being a very humble and proud German. It was scheduled to be a 2.5 hour tour and was over 3 hours.
  • For lunch we headed back towards Viktualienmarkt and found Rischart at the Market which had a rooftop patio for dining and people watching below.
  • After lunch we went through the Munich Residenz, you generally need a lot of time to spend here to go through everything, but we “spun” through the Treasury and the Residence Museum – everything was stunning!
  • I really wanted to check out Dallmayr Delikatessenhaus that I learned about in advance of our trip, that was our next stop. This place was amazing! So much food – it was beautiful! The Hubby and our younger son spotted one of the chocolate shops and loaded up there.
  • At this point it was early evening so we popped into Platzl Karree Boden & Bar to quench our thirsts. It was nice to sit outside, rest our feet, and people watch.
  • Earlier in the day we spotted a Hard Rock Café and the boys suggested that’s where we eat dinner. So we did, it was good – always consistent food and service at a Hard Rock!
  • As we headed back to our hotel and walked through Marienplatz, we stumbled across the very talented pianist. I would highly recommend following @lukavcn on Instagram!

Day 8:

  • The next morning we headed to Nuremburg, there is a lot to see there, but we weren’t spending the night, so focused on visiting Zeppelin Field (where that crazy guy from WWII held his rallies) and we had a scheduled tour of the Historischer Kunstbunker WWII Art Bunker that we booked via Get Your Guide. This was very interesting! I would recommend if you have time in Nuremburg! In between the two we ate lunch at Burgwächter.
  • Our next stop was Rothenburg ob der Tauber and our place to stay for the night. This little town is beautiful! I wish we had spent just a little bit more time there! Lots of shopping, lots of restaurants, and lots of charm! We reserved a family room for one night at Hotel-Gasthof Goldener Greifen through Booking.com and couldn’t have been happier! During our time shopping, The Hubby and I decided to purchase a cuckoo clock (we had been looking throughout the journey) and found one in this quaint town. Because the next day was Sunday, we weren’t sure what would be open so made sure we did all of our shopping! We also stopped into Schneeballenträume – Café which is of the many stores that sold Schneeballs, which are basically fried dough covered in a variety of different sweet options!
  • Our boys chose the place for dinner, Vito Restaurant, it was one of the best Italian meals I had!
Zeppelin Field – podium is where crazy guy stood
Pretzel & beer lunch…
Hotel in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Day 9:

  • Included in the price of our room, we were served breakfast at Hotel-Gasthof Goldener Greifen. Once seated we ordered our coffees and juices and a large basket of bread was brought to the table along with a tray of sliced cheese and meat. The was a table in the middle of the dining area with cereal, fruit, and yogurt. We were also served scrambled eggs, it was quite a treat!
  • We had our longest drive of the trip ahead of us, our 328 mile drive to Berlin. Most of it was on the autobahn and The Hubby was able to shave about an hour off of our expected travel time. I was never sure how the maps app knew how long it would take when the autobahn was part of the equation!
  • Our hotel was fairly centrally located, we booked a family suite with 2 bedrooms and a sofa bed at Mercure Hotel & Residenz Berlin Checkpoint Charlie. This was very spacious and we were happy to spread out for our three night stay!
  • The day we arrived coincided with not only Father’s Day but also our youngest son’s birthday. We let him pick the place for dinner, The Hubby strongly encouraged Sphere which is a revolving restaurant at the top of the TV Tower. You’ll need to make a reservation to go there. While the menu isn’t vast, the experience and the view made it worth it!
  • We also booked a 48 hour Hop On Hop Off bus ticket through Big Bus Tours Berlin and “rode the route” on day 1 to familiarize ourselves with the city.
Checkpoint Charlie…and KFC…
Dinner at Sphere
TV Tower

Day 10:

  • Through Get Your Guide, we pre-booked Berlin: Small-Group Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour that started at 10:00 a.m. near the Brandenburg Gate. This was about a 20 minute walk from our hotel, so I found Bäckerei & Eiscafe, Breakfast Coffee – Bich Ha where we could grab a bite to eat that was on the way.
  • After breakfast, we passed by the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and walked through, this was also part of our tour where we learned more about it, you can read about it here.
  • The tour was quite interesting and was given by a woman who was born in the early 1970s in East Berlin. When she was a teenager, she was there to watch The Berlin Wall come down.
  • There is an option to climb the dome of the Reichstag Building and you do need to plan to do that. There is also a restaurant there but the day we went, it was closed! Better planning next time!
  • Our older son had been asking for sushi and we also wanted to go over to the East Side Gallery to look at the artwork on about a mile long stretch of the wall that was still standing. We hopped on the Big Bus and he found Mikoto.
  • We also walked through the Topography of Terror, this is a free exhibit that focuses on the SS and the police in the Third Reich and the crimes they committed throughout Europe. Some of The Berlin Wall is still standing in this area as well (image below).
  • We pre-booked a 1 hour cruise on the River Spree for 7:30 p.m. that evening to avoid being on the boat in the sun! There were very few people on the boat, it was a very relaxing way to end our day.
  • The boys chose our dinner location with “I know we have eaten a lot of Italian, but let’s go here for dinner….” and we dined at Essenza (Leipziger Strausse) in their beautiful patio area.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Brandenburg Gate
Michael-Jackson-dangling-baby-over-balcony-hotel…..
Pavers show where wall once stood
Reichstag Building
Part of the wall standing at Topography of Terror
Sushi lunch!
East Side Gallery
Remember your grocery bag…or use your Travelon!

Day 11:

  • Our final day before departure, we planned to drive to Oranienburg which is about 25 miles north of Berlin. Here we visited what remained of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. There are several tour options of this memorial, but since we had a car, we decided to drive and walk around ourselves. Visiting this site help complete the picture of what we learned during our time in Germany and what happened in the 1940s.
  • We found a quick spot for lunch, Kebap Haus, not too far from Sachsenhausen and I tried a döner kebap – we had seen these all over, but never stopped to try one, mistake! This was delicious!
  • Once back in Berlin, the boys wanted to climb Victory Column. We decided to park back at the hotel and walk over there. It was a bit of a haul and it was very hot and humid…we took an Uber back to the hotel…
  • One final dinner, close to our hotel, Cafe Journale, and yes, Italian!
Döner meat
Döner Kebap
Final dinner…

You can view the video I posted on TikTok through Berlin here.

Day 12:

  • We left our hotel at 6:00 a.m. to head to the airport!

If you are a DIY travel planner like I am, I hope this post is helpful and encourages you to plan your own adventure in Germany!

Auf wiedersehen!

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