My sister and I are toying with the idea of of a 10 day trip to Austria and northern Italy. Mainly interested in Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzkommergut and then go to Lake Como/Venice/Milan. We are thinking late May 2023. We will be flying from DTW (Delta) and will have a connection at either AMS, Heathrow, Frankfurt. What city would you recommend flying into that is easy to transit through to get a connecting flight to Salzburg. Any and all ideas welcome. Thanks!
Oooo, you’re going to some of my favorite places!
My least favorite airport would be Heathrow. Allow for a 3 hour connection if you choose that one. I know people will say “if the airline sells you a flight with a short connection and you miss your flight, they are responsible for getting you on the next flight.” True, but I’ve been part of that process and it’s very, very stressful.
If possible, transfer at Zurich.
If not, then AMS is the best choice.
Am I the only person that hates to arrive in Europe on an overnight flight and then have to change planes and fly again? Honestly, I vomit 50% of the time when I book my flights like this. When coming back to Austria, I always get my butt to ORD, EWR, JFK or IAD so I can take a direct Austrian flight to VIE.
I suggest flying from DTW to an airport in the US that has direct flights to either Vienna or Munich. There are more direct options for Munich than for Vienna, but I have a special place in my heart for Austrian Airlines. To get Salzburg from Vienna or Munich is about the same amount of time on the train, but if you fly into Austria you don't have to hassle with crossing a land border and in these times, it is good to avoid that.
If you really insist on actually flying into Salzburg, then I think that a flight from Frankfurt on Lufthansa is really your only decent option. The majority of the flights to Salzburg are seasonal or with budget airlines (meaning you'll have to check back in when you arrive at your initial destination in Europe.
What city would you recommend flying into that is easy to transit
through to get a connecting flight to Salzburg.
Salzburg is a small airport. Flying to Munich or Vienna and taking the train to Salzburg might be an easier option. And I agree that Austrian Airlines is an underrated airline.
Regarding connecting airports, avoid Heathrow.
I fly through Heathrow/LHR and Frankfurt probably 12 - 15 times a year on business. (No experience with AMS).
1) I typically make sure I have 2.5 to 3 hours to make a connection though Heathrow. It depends on the airlines and terminals and if you have to change terminals. Heathrow is just a huge bloated and slow airport.. Going through security when you come in and are transiting can be painfully slow at times and the security efficiency there can be mind numbing at times. If you are in business class you can use the fast pass which usually helps a little. If you really want to be safe come in a day early and stay at the Sofitel or Hilton on the aircraft premise, take the tube into town for dinner and get your connection the next day. Otherwise allocate 3 hours.
Frankfurt/FRA isn't quite as bad. I'd probably accept a 90 minute connection there. They tend to be more efficient there. Although with any of these airports it depends on the airlines and local airline. If you are planning to use a low cost carrier, well then good luck anywhere in Europe with some of those which don't have luggage transfer you can be forced to retrieve your luggage and go through another checkin. I typically stay away from the low cost carries as I find them to be a pain.
The main risk you have with international/long range flights is that often these flights are late getting out of the US for whatever reason (maintenance, missing crews etc.). When that happens you can be squeezed on your connection. Thus my advice to allow 3 hours.
Best of luck
I'm with Emily, if you have to transfer, do it in the Etats Unis. Even so far off as 2023. Any major city on the East Coast should be able to get you to Vienna or anywhere around there.
I assume you'll be renting a car to cover The Alps, which means you'll need to fly into and out of the same country. The return charges on a vehicle returned out of a country gets expensive.
You're taking on a lot of territory for a 10 day trip, especially since the first and last day of any trip is taken getting from/to the airports.
I would suggest you take in the Austrian Alps, Salzburg and Munich on your trip as there's plenty to see there. Save Lake Como when you have time to visit Northern Italy slowly.
I'd fly into Munich and visit there. Then take a car 100 miles south to Innsbruck, east to Salzburg/Hallstatt. The drive back into the Munich Airport is autobahn from Salzburg--easy. It's a perfect route for a 10 day visit.
One of my favorite day trips is over the Grossglockner High Alpine Highway--just south of Zell-am-See (east of Innsbruck). It's one of the highest points in Europe, and is as beautiful of a drive as I've ever seen. You end up close to Cortina, Italy where you can get back to the Brenner Pass and into Innsbruck easily.