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Suggestions needed for itinerary for unusual circumstances

Hello, my two kids and I are going to Europe this summer because my son is in two music competitions. His first competition is in Sion, Switzerland for 10 days, then we have a 10 day break, and then his second competition is in Budapest, Hungary. For the 10 day break, we are hoping to travel east through Switzerland and Austria and into Budapest. For the break, we have a couple of needs and preferences, and I am hoping someone can point us in the right direction.

First, we plan to use the trains, but we will have more luggage than if we were merely vacationing (my son needs dress clothes, music, etc, on top of the normal clothes), and we will have two violins with us. For that reason, I think we might be smarter picking only one or two stops along the route (and not too difficult to get to from the train station) and doing day trips if desired. My son will be practicing a lot during the 10 days, so it will likely be my daughter and I for the longer sightseeing things, and I'll attempt to drag my son out as much as possible for breaks during which he can hopefully absorb some of the new culture surrounding us, even if in smaller doses than I would like. And since he needs to practice, we plan to go the Airbnb route rather than hotels, but we are open to other suggestions.

In terms of preference, I am hoping to find places that are not very touristy. I would love to find smaller cities or villages with lots of cafes, interesting neighborhoods, markets, etc. We have gone to Europe with the kids before a couple of times and gone the more structured tourist route, and I think that can be great too, but I feel like this time, it will be less tiring and more interesting to try to blend in with the locals, practice our German, go for long walks, sit out at cafes, etc. Given this preference, and our restrictions in terms of the luggage, what do you all suggest? My initial inclination was to definitely spend some time in Vienna, but are there neighborhoods or suburbs that would fit our preference more than just staying city center? Or is city center fine and not too touristy? Also, I know Switzerland is expensive, but would it be worth the extra money to spend some time there on our way to Austria or do you think 10 days in Sion is enough? We are very open to suggestions.

There is also a chance that my daughter and I will have some time during the competitions to do some sight seeing. So any recommendations for the Sion or Budapest area are greatly appreciated. And while I said we are trying not to go the normal tourist route, if there is something fabulous we should not miss, but that might be considered touristy, please recommend it anyway. Hope this request is not too confusing! I am excited to hear what you all might recommend.

Melanie

Posted by
3614 posts

There are several towns and villages around the lake, to which I think you can do day trips while in Sion. Some that come to mind are Lausanne, Montreux, and Martigny. Then there's the Castle of Chillon and Gruyere. Don't forget that you can travel on the lake on ferries that run frequently and stop at many of the towns.

Posted by
1117 posts

Make sure that your hosts - Airbnb or otherwise - understand your children's practicing needs. The laws about how many hours of music neighbors can be expected to tolerate may differ from country to country.

Just an idea, not sure if this will work: Isn't there maybe some sort of musical community or forum that you might get in touch with? They might also help you find accomodations where practicing won't be an issue. Or, alternatively, point you to rooms where your children can practice without anyone feeling disturbed, like music schools or universities.

Another idea: Churches or parish buildings often don't have any immediate neighbors, so you might ask at a local church office if it's possible to use a room for practicing.

Posted by
7175 posts

Austria's signature Railjet services operate to Budapest directly from Zurich, travelling via Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna.
As well as a mandatory stop in Vienna because of its musical significance, I would suggest a second stop at St Anton am Arlberg in the Tyrolean Alps.

Posted by
989 posts

Time in Salzburg and Vienna sound perfect.
In Vienna, I have stayed in both the 4th and 5th districts. Both are primarily residential with shops, restaurants and food stores and are within a couple of metro stops or a half dozen tram stops from the Opera House.

Posted by
148 posts

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions! Lots of great ideas and I plan to check out all the specific location suggestions today in greater detail! In terms of the train, we were thinking of getting the Eurail Select Pass for Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary. Does that sound wise? Is Austria's Railjet part of that? Does the pass include ferries? How about local transportation within Vienna? Would it be cheaper to just buy individual tickets? And if we bought individual tickets from Zurich to Budapest, are we allowed to break up the trip and stay a few nights in various locations along the route? If so, maybe that would be cheaper than getting an unlimited pass?

Anna, I will definitely check with all the Airbnb owners about the practicing. We always check, and so far, in all of our years of travel, everyone has been fine with it as long as they don't practice during "quiet" hours. For the actual competitions, we are near the city's music schools, so the kids can hopefully practice there.

Elaine, thanks for the specific district recommendation for Vienna. I found an Airbnb that is exactly in that area, so I will definitely be booking it! Thanks!

In terms of Switzerland, as long as we do a couple day trips from Sion, I am guessing that everyone agrees it is ok to go straight to Austria after the competition? Nothing in Switzerland we should absolutely not miss?

Thanks again, everyone!
Melanie

Posted by
1117 posts

Switzerland is right in the Alps - it's an amazing country, and I am sure you can easily spend 10 days there without being bored for a minute!

Unfortunately, I don't know the country well enough to give specific recommendations. In case no Switzerland expert shows up here, you may want to ask that particular question in the Switzerland section of the forum.

Posted by
5450 posts

With 10 days, I'd suggest one city location and one rural location, splitting your time equally. I'd go with a Vienna/Seefeld in Tirol combination or a Vienna/St. Gilgen combination. For Vienna, it is definitely not at all necessary to stay in the very city center as Vienna is a small capital with an excellent public transportation system. I would suggest districts 3, 4, 6, 7 or 8. Districts 2, 5 and 9 are also ok, but slightly less charming. Districts 10-23 would also be less charming and 5-15 minutes added travel time to the sights.

Seefeld is a lovely village nestled in the Alps above Innsbruck. Lots to do in Seefeld itself and it is very accessible by train. Also, many places in the very near vicinity to visit as day trips - Leutasch Gorge, Mittenwald, Innsbruck zoo, Rosshutte lift (there is a playground on top of the mountain!). In Seefeld itself is a wonderful swimming complex where you can swim outside and be in the midst of the mountains. Alternatively, you have a village like St. Gilgen on Wolfgangsee. Swimming in the lake which is sitting between mountains, Hallstatt and Salzburg nearby, salt mines, ferries across the lake, summer toboggan run.

As for getting around, a Eurail pass would be a huge waste of money. Your longer train journeys - Zurich to Salzburg area; Salzburg area to Vienna, for example - will be in the range of 20-30 Euro per person. A Eurail pass does not cover public transport in Vienna. Read this link on the excellent Man in Seat 61 website for some good info on train travel in Europe - https://www.seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm#railpass-or-point-to-point-tickets. Kids under 6 are free and kids 6-15 are half price on all Austrian (OEBB) rail. Also look at regional day passes such as the Einfachraus ticket sold by OEBB which saves a ton on money on shorter trips.

Posted by
148 posts

Thank you, Emily, for the great suggestions! I think that splitting between Vienna and a rural spot sounds like the perfect idea. For Vienna, the place we are considering is just south of the intersection of Stumpergasse and Liniengasse - it's hard to tell what district exactly. Does that sound like a good area? Also, we will avoid the railpass based on what you said.

Strangely, I posted on the Switzerland and Austria boards as somebody suggested, and both posts appeared for a bit and then disappeared. Are posts not allowed to have the same title? I can't figure out why else the posts would have been deleted. Maybe I'll try again with a new title and see?

Posted by
5450 posts

That area is the 7th District which is perfectly fine. Nearby you will have the Haus des Meeres (aquarium) with a great rooftop and the main pedestrian shopping street in Vienna - Mariahilferstrasse. Cafe Sperl, the iconic cafe, will be nearby as well as funky shopping on Neubaugasse and Lindengasse. MusuemsQuartier in close which could easily fill a day (they have a new cool mini golf there too). You could walk to the Ring in about 25 minutes or get there much faster with the subway line U3.

Posted by
1117 posts

both posts appeared for a bit and then disappeared. Are posts not
allowed to have the same title?

I am too new here to know how this is handled here, but that would seem very strange to me. After all, even if your posts have the same title and you are asking the same thing, you are asking about two different countries.

Posted by
5697 posts

Are you sure the posts "disappeared"? Maybe they just moved down to later pages because of later postings. If you click on your name you can see a listing of all the posts you have initiated or answered.

Posted by
20309 posts

Click on melanie's name and you'll see her posts, 2 of which consist of Rick lying passed out on the floor of the Louvre.

Posted by
1117 posts

Well, that sure is strange. Other forums I am familiar with would normally encourage you to post your question in the most specific forum, like in this case, an Austria question in the Austria section.

I guess just try again and use a different headline. And maybe don't repeat all the "unusual circumstances" but just add a link to this thread.

Posted by
148 posts

Hi Anna, Sam, and Laura, I think it's strange that they don't allow you to post the same thing in multiple locations, but that must be the issue. I still think my reasons for doing so make sense, but I guess it must be an across the board rule. Lesson learned! :)

Emily, thanks so much for the information on the 7th District. It sounds perfect, but now it looks like one of the days I need is suddenly not available. So I am back to looking and may have more questions once I find a new place. We are not going until September so I thought it would be safe to take a day or two before booking, but I guess even September must be a pretty busy time. I am so excited about Vienna - everything I have read makes it sound fabulous!

Thanks!
Melanie

Posted by
3392 posts

Hi Melanie -
I spent 5 weeks a couple summers ago in the area around Sion. It's a beautiful part of Switzerland! There are few tourists in Sion and it's an interesting town. If you want recommendations for the area around Sion PM me and I'll give you a list! With 10 days you'll have time to see a lot. I would recommend renting a car for this part of Switzerland during your stay of 10 days. The trains run in a straight line up and down the valley but to get up into the mountains and small villages around there, the only option is the Post Bus...not the fastest or easiest.