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13 nights start in Austria Salzburg and include Switzerland w a rental car off the beaten path

I am looking for an iteniary flying into Munich getting my car and taking off to Austria ... I will have 13 nights to discover Austria and Switzerland off the beaten path places more into the scenery castles etc than museums ... Wanted to stay in a town a night or 2 and do day trips and will end up back in Munich to meet a friend from Norway for Oktoberfest !! Any previous travelers with ideas would be greatly appreciated !!

Posted by
6854 posts

When we've traveled that region many times, starting by going east to Salzburg. Then we'll drop south into Tirol into the Innsbruck area. That's a great place to do day trips out of. You can go over the Grossglockner High Alpine Highway--second highest point in Europe. You can also hit Neuschwanstein and the Fuessen area. We love to drive up on the mountainsides and just ramble from village to village in Western Tirol.
If you travel on the 4 lane highways/controlled access Austrian highways, you'll have to obtain a Vignette sticker for Austria. X
The scenery in Austria (and Northern Italy) is incredibly beautiful. It's essentially the same Alps as in Switzerland, but much less expensive and much easier to travel in. And you're just a 2 hour easy drive back into Munich.

Posted by
2715 posts

First, I'll once again mention the Grossglockner is NOT the 2nd highest point in Europe. Not even close.

Ok. Is Switzerland a must? I ask as its true, you can easily spend 13 nights in Bavaria, Austria and the Italian Dolomites and see similar spectacular scenery, for half the cost as Switzerland, and drive some of the most incredible Alpine Passes.

I'd suggest something like this:

Drive to the Berchtesgaden/Salzburg area for the first two nights. Stay by Berchtesgaden and drive the Rossfeld Panorama Road above Berchtesgaden. Salzburg is a 30 minute drive away. Easy to stop in and visit for an afternoon and/or evening.

Drive to Zell am See and then if it's a clear day, over the Grossglockner and stay in Heiligenblut for a night. If it's a rainy day, stay in Zell am See a night. Going over the Grossglockner would probably be a wasted trip in bad weather.

Drive to the Dolomites via Lienz, Cortina d'Ampezzo and stay in the Alta Badia (we love La Villa). Here you're basically at the crossroads of 6 outstanding Dolomite Passes... The Gardena Pass, Sella Pass, Campolongo Pass and Pordoi Pass. Nearby are the Falzarego and Giau Passes. Incredible drives, spectacular scenery.

The Gardena, Sella, Pordoi and Campolongo can be done in a "loop" drive easily done in a day.

I'd then head to the Vinschgau/Val Venosta area via Bolzano and Merano. Here you'll find spectacular scenery, cute villages, more castles than you can get to visit (do visit Castle Churburg, Juval Castle, Castle Tirolo and Kastelbell while there), plus the small, walled, medieval old town of Glurns/Glorenza.

Then drive the spectacular Timmelsjoch Pass into the gorgeous Oetztal of Austria and then back to Munich.

Do buy the Austrian Vignette, car windshield toll sticker.


Posted by
27480 posts

Paul, this is top notch stuff. I'm going to piggyback on this most excellent stuff when I head to that area in a couple of weeks - thanks.

Posted by
2715 posts

Hi Nigel,

Thank you. The Vinschgau/Val Venosta in particular seems to be overlooked completely. Beautiful valley, more castles than we've seen anywhere besides the Rhine and the cute walled town of Glirns/Glorenza. Another worthwhile sight nearby is the just over the border from Malls/Malles (Vinschgau) in Mustair, Switzerland. Convent of St. John. No highways, so no need for the Swiss Vignette.


Posted by
631 posts

I'm with Paul on this, with some tweeks.

Berchtesgaden - I'd say the slightly lower town of Bad Reichenhall. My 2 hotel sugestions are and

but before booking try to see if they have any deals, especially at the Vital.

Grossglockner - I don't care what record it holds, it's fantastic (but there is an entrance fee to the road)
Take your time crossing (from Bad Reichenhall/ Berchtesgaden use the Lofer Pass to reach it via Zell am See) and perhaps spend a night in Lienz before entering Italy.

Almost everywhere in the far north of Italy has 2 names, it used to be Austrian (South Tirol) until after WW1 and the main language is German, although everyone in tourism speaks Italian and usually English.

Plot a route Lienz - Bruneck (Brunico) , Kurfar (Corvara), Canazei, Vigo de Fassa, Bozen (Bolzano), and out west into the Vinschgau (Val Venosta). The Autostrada to Meran (Merano) is a pay as you go toll road but can easily be avoided.

Vinschgau. It's one of the main apple growing areas of Europe and in September the trees are loaded (and being picked, expect traffic queues in the afternoons as the farmers head for the wholesale warehouses!!). Happily, for some of us, most of the world has never heard of it - this is just between us!
Google Maps have it all covered and most roads can be seen on Streetview but their index may not have all the german names or list the Italian first.

I've used with choice of pools in the village of Marling (Marlengo) with views down over Meran. September is a great time for this area.

after this there is a choice. Timmelsjoch is a stunning drive (or frightening for some......) from the northern edge of Meran over to the Austrian village of Obergurgl. and gets you back into Austria and maybe Innsbruck (or Seefeld which may have some good deals in September).

I'd tend to agree that missing Switzerland would be a better idea. But to get a quick taste you could head over the Ofenpass (begins at Mals) and Fluelapass and down towards Lake Constance (Bodensee). Here you have a variety of choice, you could stay in Lichtenstein (just to say you have, not really worth it), the tip of Austria (Feldkirch or Bregenz districts), Switzerland (Arbon or Rorschach on the lake or St Gallen city but Swiss prices are high) or Germany around Lindau. From this area it's easy to get back to Munich.

Both Austria and Switzerland have a special toll for using Autobahns and for cars both require the purchase of a flat rate sticker (Vignette) for the windscreen. German hire cars are unlikely to have these. However, for this itinery there is very little point in using the small sections of autobahn, they can be avoided with little difference in journey time. The Austrians have the good manners to have cheaper short term stickers for visitors but the Swiss require you to pay for a year!! For info they have sites in English but with planning it would be easy to avoid these roads.

My suggestion
Bad Reichenhall 3/4 nights
Lienz 1 night (note spelling, do not book in Linz!!!!)
Marling 4 nights
Bodensee area 3 nights