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Planning for trip to Switzerland, Germany, and Austria

Hello! Me and my girlfriend went to Europe a few years ago, and Started in England, travelled through France, and ended up in Switzerland. While England and France were life long dreams to visit, it was Switzerland, obviously, that was the star of the show. We started in Zermatt, and then travelled to Interlaken, where we stayed up in Wengen, and then finished in Zurich. This was all during the Christmas holidays and we can't wait to return for a spring/summer trip. This time we want to enjoy even more of what the Swiss have to offer, but also see some of Austria and southern Germany. We were thinking of visiting Lucerne, Pontresina, and Appenzell, in Switzerland, and then possibly Insbruck, in Austria, and Munich, in Germany. Hopefully stopping at Neuschwanstein, along the way.

So, I was hoping, based on that loose itinerary, I could receive some feedback based on other travelers/residence experiences, what I might be missing or possibly better places to see along the way.

Posted by
413 posts

Do you plan on renting a car or take public transportation? You cannot rent a vehicle in one country and drop it off in a different country without paying an exhorbitant price.

Posted by
3 posts

The last time we were there, we use rail service for pretty much everything, I found Switzerlands rail service to be perfect, so I don't think we will be renting a vehicle. But I have always wanted to, so maybe I should consider that.

Posted by
3972 posts

Sounds like you’re drawn by alpine locations, and that’s totally understandable! But while in Austria, stay on the train until you get to Vienna, at least for a couple of days. It’s an Old World capital, and retains its magnificence. Unless this really isn’t your cup of tea, the Schonbrun and Hofburg palaces make for fascinating visits, and a glimpse of the grandeur of the Hapsburg Austrian Empire. Stop in a museum or two, too.

Rather than a car, consider renting a bicycle, and go for an easy ride on the pathway along the Danube. Stop off for a snack or glass of wine or radler along the way.

Posted by
413 posts

Consider flying into Zurich or Munich which is a.k.a. an open jaw or multi-city. There’s a direct train between Zurich’s airport and Lucerne (1h 15m). You can rent a car in Lucerne and drive to Appenzell and then to Pontresina and return your car in Zurich.
There are direct trains between Zurich and Innsbruck (3h 45m) and Innsbruck and Munich (2h). To get to Neuschwanstein, you can rent a car or take a train to Füssen (2h 15m) and spend a couple nights there. The castle is a 15m direct train ride from Füssen.

Posted by
24559 posts

There is a bus from Füssen to Neuschwanstein. The station in Füssen is the end of the line, and does go as far as the "castle".

Posted by
5065 posts

"possibly Insbruck, in Austria, and Munich, in Germany. Hopefully stopping at Neuschwanstein, along the way... some feedback based on other travelers/residence experiences, what I might be missing or possibly better places to see along the way."

I'd suggest further research using some additional travel guidebooks.

If you'll be in Luzern, have a look around handsome Zug (pronounced "tsook," roughly) too. 20-30 minutes away by direct train.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Bahnstrecke_Z%C3%BCrich-Luzern.jpg

If you'll be in Innsbruck, flying home out of Munich could make good sense. After some more research on specific things that might interest you in Munich, allot some amount of time there. But also have a much closer look at what lies between Innsbruck and Munich (besides Neuschwanstein, that is.)

https://www.fernwege.de/fileadmin/_migrated/pics/l_31.jpg

Rail map for Innsbruck / Mittenwald / Garmisch-Partenkirchen / Zugspitze / Oberammergau

Places/sights to check out:

Karwendelbahn lift and Leutaschklamm (Mittenwald)

Zugspitze, Partnachklamm, Gasthof Fraundorfer's Bavarian Evening (Garmisch-P.)

Ettal Monastery

Wieskirche

Linderhof Palace

Neuschwanstein: IME an overrated 30-minute tour of a late 19th-century private residence (not a real castle... designed by a theatrical set designer with fake exterior features that evoke castles of centuries past.)

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for all your responses, I know I still need to do more research on exactly where we want to go. This was just a rough outline. As for Neuschwanstein castle, what historic castles has anyone visited that would be a better choice?

As for the flight, that is something we weren't really sure about. We don't mind flying in or our of just about any city, and definitely prefer the most economical route over the easiest.

Posted by
5065 posts

We don't mind flying in or our of just about any city, and definitely
prefer the most economical route over the easiest

Flight routes: While it's true that fees at some airports are more expensive than others, it's the end prices that you end up comparing, and end prices can fluctuate wildly based on many other factors.

Ground travel routes: For any "extra" travel to/from airports, distance is a reasonably good rule of thumb. That said, almost any extra travel you pay for in Switzerland will be more expensive than an equivalent journey in Germany, a country where cheap alternatives are commonplace (regional and local day passes, for example.) In some towns and regions in Germany you will find that free local train and bus travel is offered just for staying there - or sometimes for staying in certain participating hotels/apartments/B&B's.

what historic castles has anyone visited that would be a better
choice?

The more modern palaces that we often call "castles" are "historic" as well, and there are dozens of them all around. If you are in Munich, Nymphenburg Palace is great option. East of Munich, on an island in Lake Chiemsee, is Herrenchiemsee Palace. In southwest Germany - to the north of Luzern and Appenzell, roughly - you will find lots of them as well:

https://www.schloesser-und-gaerten.de/en/home/

Castles dating from the Middle Ages: Most have been destroyed or partially destroyed over the centuries. Some remain intact, like Marksburg Castle in the Rhine Valley town of Braubach, and nearby Burg Eltz (Rick Steves' favorite in all of Europe, a short train ride and a healthy walk from Marksburg.) You might have seen Rick Steves' video on the Rhine Valley, which is probably the single best place in Europe to check out this historic period:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8tsU7H1O2w

Dozens of castles line both sides of the Rhine just south of Koblenz. Many are ruins, some have been converted into hotels/hostels, several have small museums or offer tours.

http://www.loreley-info.com/eng/rhein-rhine/castles.php

Both sides of the Rhine have attractive old-world towns with places to stay, wineries, ferry crossings, and railways that connect them. There's also a system of walking trails that connect the towns if are so inclined.

http://www.loreley-info.com/eng/rhein-rhine/walking-hiking.php

Fly into or out of Frankfurt for easiest access to the Rhine Valley (about 1 hour by train from FRA airport.) Mainz is a nice Rhine River city to stay in before/after your flight - direct trains to FRA take 20-25 minutes.