Please sign in to post.

Austria, Switzerland Beginning Itinerary Missing Any MUST SEES?

Husband and wife, mid/late 40's, love fast pace, possibly travel in October or December: Thank you in advance for any thoughts. We are a bit flexible on days, maybe 10 or so.
Arrive Vienna from Ljubljana
St. Stephan’s Cathedral, Schonbrunn Gardens, Vienna Boys’ Choir, and maybe Naschmarkt or the Spanish Riding School
Train to Melk- Abbey
Train to Mauthausen- Memorial
Train to LInz to Salzburg
Sound of Music sites, maybe a concert
Train to Hallein- Salt Mine (Here or Hallstatt), maybe toboggan run (If not here, where?)
Train to Werfen- Ice Cave
Train to Hallstatt- this or Hallein Salt mine?, viewing platform
Train to Schwangau- Neuschwanstein Castle (read only nice from outside) Worthy?
Train to Interlaken- look around
Train to Gimmelwald, Murren as well?
Train to whichever city gives best flight price back to Ljubljana

Posted by
398 posts

I can't speak to the rest of your itinerary, but was recently in Vienna. I would strongly suggest dining at a heuriger one night, as this was one of the highlights of our trip. Just follow Rick's suggestions, or do your own research online for which one you'd like to go to. I would also see the Hofburg Imperial Apartments, and take time to enjoy coffee and/or cake/pastry at one of Vienna's renowned coffee houses. Try to check out the Opera too, even if you just take the tour. We also enjoyed the Kunsthistoriches Museum a great deal, if you have time.

Posted by
5450 posts

How many nights in each place? If you come in December, you would have the Christmas Markets; in October, the weather would be much better and outside activities would be much more pleasant (especially the Wachau). Speaking of the Wachau, I would see more than just Melk. Visit some of the villages in between Melk and Krems, specifically Spitz, Weissenkirchen and Duernstein. I would also think about renting a car when you leave Vienna and returning it in Salzburg after you have seen the Wachau, Mauthausen, Hallein/Salzkammergut and the castles. Will be more efficient and probably won't cost much more.

Posted by
16894 posts

We would not go to Interlaken without adding the higher-mountain destinations around Muerren. The mountains are the reason for going. Interlaken itself is skippable.

Posted by
8202 posts

Most experienced travelers are now flying open jaw into one city and out of another. Unless you have a really good reason to go back to Ljubljana, you might do better flying out of another city--Munich or Zurich.
You're going to Vienna, and it's truly a world class city--and one worthy of much more time than you've allotted on your itinerary. It's tops in music and the museums and royal apartments/palaces are absolutely top notch.
Salzburg is another wonderful city worthy of at least 2 days.
With the Austrian Alps' incredibly scenery just a short distance south of Salzburg, you should consider skipping Switzerland and just traveling through Tirol and the area south of Munich. The region is much cheaper than Switzerland, and it's just so easy to get to. And the mountains in Austria are as beautiful as they get.
I'm not much on going out of my way again to see Neuschwanstein.
Munich has a great airport, and it's a big, lively city. With great tourist sights, it's a city that's simply not to be missed.

Posted by
84 posts

Thank you for the thoughts and recommendations. We will have maybe 10-12 days to spread out; I know it will be crowded. My husband has an activity in Ljubljana that will require us to return there and will determine which month we will be there. His activity has priority, so I am thankful for anything I am able to add from above. We will weigh and consider your suggestions. Thank you very much. Anyone have a strong preference on the Hallein or Hallstatt salt mine?

Posted by
2462 posts

Can't do the ice cave in Dec.

I have done both salt mines. Both are ok

Posted by
32244 posts


That Itinerary is too ambitious (IMO), even if you're comfortable with "fast paced" travel. A few thoughts.....

  • October would be a better month than December, if you can arrange that.
  • I'm not sure how much you'll be able to see in Gimmelwald and Mürren in December. Everything will be geared for skiers at that time of year, so other activities will be limited.
  • Are you aware of the travel route to Gimmelwald and Mürren? You'll only be able to partially travel by train.
  • I agree that Interlaken is "skippable".
  • The best city for flights back to Ljubljana will probably be Zürich.

I'd suggest slowing it down a bit, as you'll need to allow for adequate travel times between locations.

Posted by
500 posts

Do not plan too many outdoor activities in December; weather could be freezing.

Posted by
8202 posts

We've traveled this region extensively, and were last in Vienna 4/2014.

When you arrive and depart Europe, the first and last days are essentially wasted. Every time you go from city to city on the train, it's essentially another wasted day. When travelers have limited time, like 10 days, they don't have time to make so many stops. It'd be nice if you could go for two weeks plus weekends, as you'd have time to see more.

You may be underestimating the quality of Vienna, which is a great European city in the continental style. It alone is worthy of 4 days of your trip.
Salzburg is another very popular city that's worthy of at least 2 days.
You're going to be so close to Munich that it'd be a shame to miss visiting that large, interesting city.

A more reasonable trip would be to rent a car as you leave Vienna. You could spend 2 days visting Melk, Linz/Mauthausen and Hallstadt before getting to Salzburg. From Salzburg, you could go to Berchesgarten before dropping south into Tirol--staying in the incredibly beautiful Innsbruck area. You could do a day trip to Fuessen/Neuschwanstein from there. You could turn in your rental car there and take a train up to Munich. Munich Airport is a great departure airport home.

The Austrian Alps are much cheaper and easier to travel through than Switzerland--and the scenery is the same absolutely stunning chain of mountains as Switzerland.

Posted by
501 posts

What does "love fast pace" mean? You like to see things quickly and not linger?

Personally I'd skip Linz (couldn't tell if you were staying there) and the Salzburg Sound of Music sites.

Above comment about Vienna is dead on. Vienna is a vibrant, exciting, beautiful historic city - not a quaint little music box town - and will reward a long stay. You could easily do 10 days there alone and never quite crack it.

Posted by
50 posts

Ljubljana is wonderful and worth a day or two; Vienna is really nice, although I prefer time in Salzburg and Munich. That's strictly my personal preference; you can make a good case for any of these places. Given the current exchange rates, if they hold, I'd take the advice above about Austrian Alps. The Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Berner Oberland is one of my favorite places on earth (do skip Interlaken for time in the mountains if you go to Switz.) but you may be spreading time too thin to add it on this trip. I'd also suggest a couple of days at each stop, or using a couple of home bases to explore an area. Changing places/hotels every day or even couple of days is rough. Oh, and skip Linz.

Posted by
10344 posts

Interlaken - don't just look around. Here's the MUST SEE there:
The Lauterbrunnen Valley, not too far south of Interlaken.
Think of Yosemite Valley, except if it's possible to imagine someplace more sublime than Yosemite Valley, this would be it.

Posted by
5837 posts

Do not plan too many outdoor activities in December; weather could be freezing.

No such thing as bad weather, only poor choice of clothing. Bigger concern for outdoor activities is the shorter daylight hours during the late fall. Only 9 hours sun rise to set November 22-23rd in Salzburg:

Attractions will also have shorter hours than peak tourist season. The plus is the absence of crowds and off season lodging prices.

Posted by
14580 posts


I would suggest going in October. On wasted days that depends. There are ways of getting around that. If you prefer the fast pace travel, which does work for certain ways of traveling, arriving in a city by noon or so won't be a wasted day. I try to arrive by noon, check in near the train station, instead of wasting more time getting to the hotel and esp upon departure. I have not found it to be the case in Vienna where you cannot check in until 1500. Once you get settled, have lunch, you can hit the museums or the old town. On your arrival day in Vienna, you can easily get to the St Stephen's cathedral and that vicinity.