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Itinerary help: Salzburg, Hallstatt, Munich

We have 8-9 nights in mid-April and are considering:
3 nights Munich, 3 Salzburg, 2 Hallstatt (not necessarily in that order).
We prefer more time in places so that we can really get a sense of a place. In Venice we spent 4 nights and loved it, though I think Rick Steve's guidebook suggested 1-2, so I think we prefer to travel more slowly than he does.

1) What should we do with our extra night? Innsbruck? It is not a must see for me but seems pretty cool.

2) Should we rent a car for a day trip from Munich, either to do part of the Romantic Road, or to do the castles, etc., Bavaria & Innsbruck? Interested in Schloss Linderhof (that it looks like you can't get to with the train) as well as Innsbruck and maybe Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
3) Will we be happier renting a car to get from Salzburg to Hallstatt, or does the scenic boat ride at the end of the train make that worthwhile?
4) Is this too long in Munich?
I love taking the train in Europe but will rent a car for part of the trip if it helps us see the sights.

What am I missing in this area that I should be sure to see?
Thank you so much!

Posted by
6585 posts

It's not clear - is this "8-9 nights in mid-April" your whole trip? Or part of a longer trip where you will already be in Europe?

Where are you coming from/returning to?

FWIW I enjoyed getting to Hallstatt via the train and cross-lake ferry. It was certainly a unique combinations and felt like a cool way to get there.

Posted by
2 posts

Coming from Los Angeles.
9 nights is our total trip length (10 if you count a night on the plane).
Thanks for the feedback about getting to Hallstatt!

Posted by
6585 posts

OK, got it. A short, focused trip.

Given your preference for slowing down a bit from the aggressive pace others often take (I'm guilty of that), then maybe you don't need to add another location, just give that day to one of your 3 places.

Consider: most people are pretty wiped out on their arrival day, and that day is often spent just struggling to stay awake until local dinner time. I don't count the arrival day as usable, no matter what time the flight arrives. So don't expect too much from yourself that day. Also, even if you are efficient and not going very far, each time you pick up and move to a new location, most of that day will be spent in transit and consumed with just mundane tasks (check out, get to train, ride train, arrive, get lost, get oriented, find your next accommodation, check in, meals, etc.). As a rule of thumb, "X nights" anywhere gets you "X-1 days" there. Finally, if you will be flying out of Munich (or wherever you are flying home from), you should plan to get there the night before you depart (to reduce the risk of missing your flight).

For these three locations (and given your limited time), I would not rent a car at all - the train will work well for these places.

Look at how many days you have in each place. Pick the one that needs another day, and give it that "extra" day.

One advantage: traveling in April, you won't encounter the peak summer season crowds (which will help, especially in Hallstatt).

Posted by
2261 posts

Add an extra night to Salzburg. Rent a car for the Salzburg/Hallstatt days. The Romantic Road will be a disappointment after Austria’s spectacular scenery. While in the Salzburg area, go to Werfen for gorgeous alps, a beautiful fortress, and an ice cave. Berchtesgaden is also worth some time. See Konigsee. There’s a salt mine there, too.

What do you want to see in Munich? We spent 3 nights/2 full days there. One day we explored the old town, went to the Hofbrauhaus, saw the glockenspiel, went to the market. Second day we went to Dachau by train for a half day. I think 3 nights is about right for Munich, but wouldn’t add any other stops. Each time you move you lose half a day that can be spent exploring.

Does your 8-9 nights include a night in Munich before your flight home?

Posted by
3834 posts

I just started looking a potential short 8 night trip for the summer. Interestingly, airfare at the moment is cheaper for me to fly all the way in and out of Salzburg, as opposed to flying in to Munich (and then take the train). So I would be looking at 3 nights Salzburg, get a car, 1 night Berchtesgaden, drive to Hallstatt for 3 nights, then back to Salzburg for 1 night before flying home. As David said, short and focused, but more relaxed - and there is so much to see and do in the area that it took about 5 minutes to plan (although finding lodging will take a while longer).

I looked at including Munich, but that wasn’t a highlight for us, so when the flights on to Salzburg were cheaper, I popped a night in Berchtesgaden in instead (you could daytrip from Salzburg easily).

Posted by
2265 posts

Note that if you take the train to Hallstatt, a small ferry will meet the train and take you across the lake to town. A wonderful, scenic way to get there.

Posted by
2315 posts

@travel4fun - i love the ice cave but it isn’t open until May 1

Posted by
2 posts

In my humble opinion, Halstatt isn't worth 3 days at all - its not even worth 3 hours. I might have an unpopular opinion, but I think it was maybe the most overrated place I've ever been in Europe. Like everyone else, I wanted to see it because its so popular with its "most beautiful" rankings, but I honestly wish I had skipped it, and let the imagined magic of Halstatt live on in my head.

The village is absolutely jam packed with tour groups, and instagrammers - I don't normally mind this, but the locals were some of the rudest I've met in Europe (they seemed annoyed at having to deal with tourists, who are the only source of income for them). But most importantly, you've probably seen so many pictures of it, that when you arrive, you really feel like youve already been there. I've never had this feeling anywhere else. Once you see the view from the lake, the small town square, and the waterfall, youve see seen it all. There's really not much else to see - its a small village that takes about 1 hour to walk around. The churches arent particularly interesting at all compared to what else is available in the region. I trule dont think the village on the whole is worth more than about 2 hours max. Additionally, I dont think its particularly conveniently located as a base to go anywhere else, so I wouldnt even dedicate a night there. That being said, I drove there - you can rent an electric boat and go out on the lake yourself to get the nice views of the village.

Rather than Halstatt - I think you'd be better off in my opinion going to see Neuschwanstein and the absolutely incredible Linderhof castle. In my opinion, this region is a much better way to enjoy precious vacation time. Bavaria's scenery is far better than that of the Austrian Salzkammergut region too (I know a post above disagrees with me on that). Rent a car from Munich, and add the Pilgrimage Church of Wies (en route to Neuschwanstein) and Ettal Abbey (which you can see after Linderhof. You might be able to have a quick look at the small towns like Fussen or Oberammergau, the latter of which can be seen by a quick stroll. You can do this as a day trip from Munich - distances aren't very far in Europe - or pace yourself and stay near Oberammergau for your extra night. The amount of "must see" sights you can see in this small corner of Bavaria blows Halstatt out of the water.

3 nights in Munich is good, so that you'd have at least 2 full days there- more if you like museums. Salzburg city can be seen in about 1 full day (It's a beautiful city, but quite small; do not miss the Golden Room of Hohensalzburg Castle) - and then I'd add about 1 day for nearby Berchtesgarden (that 1 day is assuming you have a car, and don't want to do any hiking), where you can see: Parish Church of St. Sebastian, WW2 sites like the old Berghof ruins, The Eagles Nest (you really dont need to spend much time at the time at the top), and +/- Wimbachklamm. With more time, you could see Koenigsee.

As for the Romantic Road - the part near Neuschwansteinand the part near Berchtesgarden are the most interesting.

Regarding car rental vs train - I generally prefer cars because you have so much freedom to do what you want on your own schedule, and you can easily visit places that would otherwise require lots of coordination on public transportation. For example, going to Wies to Neuschwanstein to Linderhof in a day would be time-consuming on public transit (I dont even know if Wies is served by transit). With a car you can easily do it yourself because you dont need to coordinate schedules or wait at stop/stations, and you eliminate the anxiety of having to always keep on eye on the time to catch the next bus or train. The only time I use trains in Europe is for high-speed intra-city services, and public transport within a metropolitan area. If you're going to rural areas, my general rule is to always get a car (OK Mobility is a Spanish chain that has good rates in Munich).