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Two Weeks in Austria! A few questions....

Hi... My mom and I are going on a mom-daughter trip the first half of September. We arrive and depart from Munich, and plan on renting a car to get from place to place. The general plan is to spend about 3-4 days in each of the big cities--Innsbruck, Graz, Vienna, and Salzburg, using them as jumping off points to explore sights within a two hour or so radius of them... Most of the things we want to see and do I've either found tours that depart from the city, or recommended driving tours. I'm wanting to get some ideas from others about my timeline--as in how many days should I dedicate to, say, Vienna, while leaving enough time for the others...

One of my main questions is where/how to work in the grossglockner road... My initial idea was to do this on the way from Innsbruck to Graz...Getting up early to depart Innsbruck, doing alpine road, then driving onto Graz afterwards... We'd like to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way of course, so not sure whether this is even reasonable time wise... thought maybe it would be worthwhile to take an extra day in the area to explore, in lieu of one day in either Graz or somewhere else. Graz wasn't initially on our list to visit, so i'd think this would be where to steal the time from... Heiligenblut comes highly recommended I hear, as does Lienz, and Zell Am See. Were not interested in any winter sports or fancy spa resorts.... would love to do a cable car ride, some easy hikes if there are some (please do recommend)....

Next... If one wants to visit Neuschwanstein Castle and the other one that's nearby (drawing a blank on the name...) would it be better to do this before we go to innsbruck and stay somewhere or take a tour from Innsbruck? That said, are they worth spending the time to take the trip to them or is that better spent doing other things on our trip?

Other things i've read about that look interesting that are off the beaten path were MariaZell Basilica, Magadelensburg ruins.... Hocohosterwitz castle looks interesting, but my mom can't handle too much intense walking, and I've heard that among castles, others may be more interesting and worth our time...

Any advice welcome!


Posted by
1464 posts

One of my main questions is where/how to work in the grossglockner road... My initial idea was to do this on the way from Innsbruck to Graz...Getting up early to depart Innsbruck, doing alpine road, then driving onto Graz afterwards..

That is possible, but means at least 8 hours driving (breaks and stops not counted).

Posted by
20 posts

Hi! Thanks for your response! That's a lot for one day. What is your recommendation on where to stay between heiligenblut/end of high road and Graz? Would be nice I think to have dinner and stay over a night in one of the smaller towns.

Posted by
578 posts

Should you go to the castles? We were there on the RS My Way Alpine Tour last year. Many in our tour went inside the castles and most enjoyed that; we chose to walk to the castles from Fussen and just see them from the outside. We had a great day, but I think our trip would have been just as fun and memorable if we had not visited the castles. Make the most of what you do decide to see, and don't worry about what you did not see.

Posted by
52 posts

Hi Denise,

My wife and I just returned from our trip to Germany and Austria two days ago and can share this experience with you.

Neuschwanstein was major letdown compared to everything else we saw and did during our trip. The tour there is very sterile, and you are rushed through from start to finish in 25 minutes, so you will spend 2x as much time dealing with the massive crowds than you will actually exploring the site itself. It's fitting that Walt Disney used this as his inspiration for his theme park, because that's where we felt like we were. Towards the end our our quick run through the tour, I had the man in front of me lean over to his wife and mention that he thought it was the worst tour they had taken in Germany as well. It turns out they are avid RS readers and followers as well. We were so let down that we skipped the hike up to Mary's Bridge in favor of getting out of there instead.

I do not say this to bring a cloud to your plans, but to point out that if Neuschwanstein isn't something that you are absolutely locked into doing, you may wish to save yourself the trouble of going all the way to Fussen for this one thing, as we found several other castles and historical sites far more interesting in other parts of the country.

Regardless of what you decide to do, I sincerely hope that you have a wonderful trip. My wife and I absolutely loved our Germany adventure and already can't wait to go back.


Posted by
1464 posts

When driving from Innsbruck to Graz via the Großglockner alpine road, it would be a good idea to have an overnight stop halfway, e.g. in Heiligenblut (or any other village in the vicinity) near the summit of the road.
You can check accommodations here:

Posted by
315 posts

Based on several trips there while living in Germany as a child/young teen, I would actually say that Hohenschwangau is more interesting than Neuschwanstein. Neuschwanstein is less interesting than Disney's version of it. (It's also a steep walk up from the visitor's center at the base, as I recall.) The romantic story about the doomed mad king is interesting and all, but there's really not much to see. And there are certainly more interesting places around. Don't feel guilty if you decide to see something else instead! It's your vacation.

Posted by
1830 posts

We enjoyed Neuschwantstein Castle and Mary's bridge is a must see to take photographs of the castle. The walk up and down from the castle has gorgeous views, so take your time. Yes, there are crowds, like everywhere these days. But, I thought it was worth the time. We did both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwantstein on the same day as well as two other of Ludwig's castles on our trip.

The Grobglockner road is amazing!! Loved it! We stopped at the top for lunch. Heiligenblut is beautiful, and very small, in gorgeous valley. We stayed in Zell am See, driving from Slovenia to Zell am See over the Grobglockner. The lake and mountains are beautiful at Zell am See! The weather called for rain, so we almost didn't take the road but the weather turned out perfect. It is an expensive road, but well worth it.

Posted by
4645 posts

When you are in Graz, but sure to visit the Zotter Chocolate Factory and the Riegersburg Castle. Perhaps consider staying in a spa in the Thermal region east of Graz - such as Bad Blumau designed by Hundertwasser -