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2 week Driving Itinerary...Help

Here is our proposed itinerary. (Note, I have been to Europe a few times, one of which was a 2.5 month backpacking trip in 1993). This is by car.

Days 1 and 2

Day 3
Paris to Frankfurt via train, arrive mid day, pick up car, drive to Rhine

Rhine River and Castles

Day 5
Romantic Road, Rothenburg, Dinkelsbuhl, stay in Munich that night...Oktoberfest (just a taste of it!)

Day 6
Dachau (short time there), south to Oberammergau, Fussen, Neuschwanstein, stay in ????? that night

this is where I am having difficulty (perhaps over ambitious). Could go one of two ways----straight to Venice, skipping the Alps----or trying to get to Gimmelwald and the Jungfrau Region (one day of sightseeing there), and then going to Venice.

Overly Ambitious Route:
Day 7
Innsbruck (probably) to Interlaken.

Day 8
Jungfrau 'circle' (up to the Schilthorn, back down to Interlaken)

Day 9
Long drive to Venice (can't seem to find a better way to do this. Mapquest says that drive time is 6 hours. REALLY did not want to spend a day in the car, but don't know what to do.

Day 10

Day 11 and 12
Cinque Terra

Day 13 and 14
Florence and Hill Towns

Day 15 and 16

I am taking my wife who has never been to Europe. So I want her to see a lot, and a good variety of scenery. We are going in the middle of September.

**I see that this is an ambitious trip, and would be better to take something out. I was thinking that perhaps that should be the Alps, since it has potential to be a wasted 2 days if the weather in the mountains is not clear for seeing much of anything. In that case, we would then just head from Munich to Venice.
I would love some thoughts and insights on how this might be planned better or re-routed.
Thank you for your help!

Posted by
6 posts

My first thoughts were probably leave the Swiss Alps out of it.
I really wanted to have a car for Germany and then for Tuscany especially. So perhaps I could leave the car in Germany and re-rent in Italy? Anyone have an idea on how that works...because I have heard that renting in Italy is a lot more expensive.
Thanks again!

Posted by
12040 posts

In my opinion, your itinerary is a over-ambitious, but I'll let others comment specifically.

"I was thinking that perhaps that should be the Alps, since it has potential to be a wasted 2 days if the weather in the mountains is not clear for seeing much of anything. In that case, we would then just head from Munich to Venice." You will hit the Alps anyway on your way to Venice. You can't avoid them if you enter Italy from the north. Why not break up the long trip in two and spend the night somewhere along the way (Innsbruck, Cortina, Trento, Mittenwald, GaP, etc.)?... There seems to be some weird confusion on this site that you can only see the Alps in Switzerland...

Skip Switzerland for this trip. It's too far out of your way for only a single day's visit, and you'll see much the same scenery on your way south from Munich to Venice. "Mapquest says that drive time is 6 hours." That is a horrible underestimate, 8 to 10 or even more is a more realistic driving time between Interlaken and Venice.

Posted by
12040 posts

Also, having a car in Munich during Oktoberfest? Not a good idea.

Posted by
113 posts

IMO, yes this a very ambitious itinerary for my style of travel. My first suggestion is to find Kent's posting for getting more realistic travel times. Next, I think you are correct to take the Alps out of this trip. Then I'd probably skip CT (day 11&12). My reasoning is that it is near the end of your trip and the CT is a place you want to relax. Like RS says "A vacation from your vacation". Theses extra days could be added to Venice (it really deserves more than one day) and Florence/hilltowns.

Have you considered dropping the car in Munich and then train the rest of the trip? I realize that this limits some of the flexibility that driving gives you.

I'm sure other posters will be in agreement that your plan is too ambitious. Ya gotta save some things for the next trip.

Posted by
10344 posts

This topic thread was referred to above, here it is Itineraries & Travel Times, I hope it helps you refine your itinerary to get the kind of trip you want.

Posted by
10344 posts

Jim: Re your last post, I think you're onto a good strategy. Many travelers reporting here have done what you suggest: renting a car in Germany, turning it in there; going by train from Munich to Venice (or whatever your itinerary is), after Venice (you don't need a car there!), going by train somewhere closer to the Tuscany hill towns that you want to explore by car, picking up the rental car at a convenient place (not in the historic core of Florence, that's another subject), and using the rental car to flexibly explore the Tuscany and Umbria hill towns with maximum efficiency. And yes, as a general statement only, renting cars in Italy is more expensive than countries like Germany.

Posted by
6 posts

That is perhaps the most helpful post! I like to hear that I am not the only one that has thought to do that. Others have done the train from Munich to Venice and then re-rent elsewhere...the less days of rental may save us the difference in the cost to rent in Italy.
How about adding some time in Salzburg? I have been there a couple of times (my wife has not), but heading into the area around Halstatt may give us the Alpine feel that we will miss by going to Gimmelwald? Any thoughts on that? Again, I am trying to give her a good variety of European sights.
Thank you Kent.

Posted by
10344 posts

Jim: from your last post: "but heading into the area around Halstatt may give us the Alpine feel that we will miss by going to Gimmelwald?"Gimmelwald has some of the more amazing "Alpine feel" that you'll ever feel. Think Yosemite on Steroids. When you're in Gimmelwald you're perched on a ledge at 4500 ft looking down two thousand feet into the Lauterbrunnen Valley and looking up at the Jungfrau massif topping out at 13,500 ft!! Can't describe it in words, Google some pics of Gimmelwald to see what I'm trying to say.

Posted by
12040 posts

"I have been there a couple of times (my wife has not), but heading into the area around Halstatt may give us the Alpine feel that we will miss by going to Gimmelwald? Any thoughts on that?" Your route of travel south of Munich to Venice takes you directly through some amazing Alpine scenery. Halstatt is still a significant detour on a very tight trip. Why not just enjoy an Alpine region that lies along your itinerary?

I'm somewhat of a heretic regarding Gimmelwald and the Berner Oberland on this website. Although I agree that the Lauterbrunnen Valley below is one of the most magnificent settings in the Alps, the scenery at higher elevations isn't any better than hundreds of other Alpine meadows and peaks... which is to say, it still is wonderful, just not that unique. Gimmelwald itself is unique only to the immediate vicinity around the Lauterbrunnen Valley, there are similar villages scattered across the entire range of the Alps from France to Slovenia. For certain tight intineraries I read, it just doesn't make sense to travel all the way to this rather isolated region when they could enjoy similar (and much cheaper!) Alpine experiences more logically placed along their route of travel.

Posted by
4 posts

Jim, You are right, this is am ambitious itinerary. You must be a lot younger than I! The key to a great trip is not unpacking those bags everyday. With a two week trip you might be happier with no more than 5 unpackings. Not only are there too many physical places you are going to, it is also mentally exhausting.

An good excercise in planning is to take a notepad/ legal pad and start with Day 1...flying from the US. Day 2 is arrival Europe...and on through the trip. Seeing it written down on paper versus saying it will show how much you are trying to do.

Are you city/museum/gallery/shopping people? Or would you rather hike the hills and eat in little neighborhood cafes? Or maybe a bit of both.

The first part of your trip can easily be done by train from Paris to Frankfurt/Mainz along the Rhine, Boppard is charming, the train line runs all along here. The wonderful Schloss auf Schonburg is wonderful for a castle hotel. No car really needed. Then train into Munich...or dump Munich completely to avoid the horrendous crowds of Octoberfest. There is a super little hotel at Grainau, Hotel Post, find it in Just south of Munich.

Have you ever stopped in the Dolomites of northern Italy...Brennero and Bolzano on the train line. Fabulous. Great little hotel is Kohlern Colle, but there are bunches more. You might consider Vicenza for overnighting rather than Venice. Only 45 minutes by train from Santa Lucia Station. Great Palladin villas. Train to Florence and forget about the CT. Florence alone will take as much time as you can afford to give it. And then there is Rome!

Look into Context Rome for a very good sightseeing/ guide option. An excellent compromise between mass sightseeing and very expensive private guides.

Whatever you do, have a grand time and save something for the next trip. We always have to have something on the horizon to look forward too!.

Oops, grab a local rental car where needed.

Posted by
6 posts

Just wondering...
I have had several people say that we should "skip Cinque Terra". Why is that? Is it for the sake if time? Because I was there many years ago and thought it was amazing. And, this is my wife's first time to Europe and thought that it would be a very romantic place for a couple of days.
Pros and Cons?
Sally, thank you for the great information...I now have map and guide book in hand.