My wife and I will be travelling with friends for a through Europe for the first half of October. We will start and end the trip together, but in the middle, we will split up. My wife and I are planning to visit the Munich/Salzburg/Innsbruck "triangle" for this section of the trip. We will be arriving in Munich in the morning of the 8th (Sat.) (via night train from Paris) and have to be in Menaggio by the evening of the 14th (Fri.). This gives us 6 nights and approximately 6.5 days to explore the area. Our plans are very fluid right now, but we're trying to nail down destinations so we can start figuring out hotels. Currently, here's what I'm thinking:
- Spend 2 nights in Munich. Visit Dacchau, Hofbrau, Marienplatz, Nymphenberg, Residenz, & English Garden
- Spend 1 night in Fussen. Visit Neushwanstein & Hohenschwangau
- Spend 2 nights in Salzburg. Visit Sound of Music sites, Eagles Nest, Mirabell Palace, Cathedral
- Spend 1 night in Innsbruck. Walk around town, visit Reifenstein
- Travel to Menaggio via train with possible exploration in Milan
I'm open to suggestions on the itinerary. I am having trouble deciding on the order. I.e. - should we hop on a train to Salzburg as soon as we arrive in Munich and start in the east and move west? Or should we just visit Neushwanstein as a side trip from Munich and fold the Fussen night into one of the other stops? One other idea we had was to possibly steal a night from one of the cities and spend a night in Verona on our way to Milan. I do realize this itinerary is more action-packed than some of you like, but we're ok with that because when we get to Menaggio, we will have a few days to relax with the rest of our group in a villa on Lake Como.
Also, I'm trying to decide if it would be better to travel by car, or train, or both. My biggest question is which one is more convenient? I've never driven in Europe, so I'm hoping to hear from someone with experience on the matter. From what I've read it sounds like we should be ok driving in the Alps in early October (although nothing is guaranteed) as the snow chances usually pick up in November. But is it worthwhile? It sounds like most, if not all of our destinations are reachable with trains and buses. Since I would be the one doing all the driving, I like the idea of sitting back and relaxing on a train, but my biggest concern is that we will miss out on opportunities to stop along the way and take in the scenery. On the other hand, I don't even know if that's something we would want to do. Also, I know the fees can get pretty high for picking up and dropping off in different countries so if we do drive, I'll have to get creative on where we pick up and drop off the car.