Switzerland, Austria and Germany in 2 weeks

Hi! We plan on spending 10-14 days visiting the cities listed below in summer next year. We also prefer to drive as it gives us freedom in terms of when to leave and where to stop. Please advise us how many days we need for each city. Fly into Zurich Lucerne Interlaken Lake Lugano Lake Como Innsbruck, Austria Bavaria, Germany
Fly out from Zurich Thank you.

Posted by Joan
Gettysburg, PA, USA
161 posts

As I am sure others will point out, Bavaria is not a city, but a state in Germany, quite large and with varied delights, cities, villages, and beautiful mountain scenery. When you look at your proposed schedule, you have eight destinations within 10-14 days and you are not allowing at least one-half day of travel getting from place to place.
Simply said--impossible. Have you looked at a map of Europe? Why not just concentrate on Switzerland? It's very expensive, but it has everything that you could possbly want to see.

Posted by Iris
Los Angeles
4 posts

Thanks for the reply. When I typed Bavaria, I left out the cities of Nuremberg and Wurzburg---those are the 2 cities on my mind. I guess I might focus on Switzerland for 2 weeks. Thanks.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

If I was going to Germany, Nurnberg and Wurzburg would not be at the top of my list. With limited days, you'd do better flying into Munich, as it's the dominant city in the region. I'd say start at Munich for 3-4 days. Run 2 hrs. east to Salzburg for 2 days. Go down to Innsbruck for a day or two. I love rambling through the region driving from mountain village to village. Go west through the West Tirol to get to Switzerland. Forget Lake Como and Lake Lugano, as they're essentially the same place and they're out of the way. You might want to read more on the internet about a 1 week itinerary for Switzerland. You can turn in your rental car close to the border at Lindau, Germany and catch a train into Zurich. Any rental car needs to be returned in the same country to avoid big drop off fees.
You might want to study the area a little more before setting your itinerary. You have plenty of time.

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
800 posts

It's just physically impossible to visit the above locations (including two more stops in Germany), especially driving. When we travel for long weekends we of course drive and often keep a grueling pace, but it's just not possible to connect your cities given mountain roads and traffic. Think in terms of number of nights in a town. A lot will depend on when you travel as well. Europeans like to travel for their vacation time, so be aware of the high travel dates for schools when you'll be stuck with family packed cars for hours going no where. One example is last winter driving (totally clear roads) Innsbruck to Stuttgart section should only take 3.5 hrs, took just over 7hrs. In June, Venice to Stuttgart took 10hrs, instead of the usual 6-7 (with only 2 brief--15 min--bathroom/food stops).

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2820 posts

When planning your time, remember these principles: The day of departure from the US and the day of departure from Europe do not count as sightseeing days, since you are in transit. The day of arrival in Europe is often a jet-lagged haze, and while you can do light sightseeing (walking around a town), you should not plan any "heavy" sights (museums, or indeed anything that takes you indoors too long). Furthermore, jet lag is different for each person, and I find it's different on every trip. On my last trip, it hit me like a hammer, and if I had planned anything, it would have been a disaster. Every time you change places, even "close" ones like Lucerne and Interlaken, you lose at least a half day (check out, drive or train a few hours, get to new hotel, unpack/freshen up...). To connect more distant places, you lose most of the day. And that's if everything works according to plan; as in the post above, you can't count on that. Think nights, not days. Two nights in a place equals one full day there. Only one night in a place is less than a full day (which may be all you need for some places). So, using these principles, you need to cut out about half your places. You should also read some more about your destinations; for instance, Interlaken is usually not considered nearly as worthwhile as the Berner Oberland (Muerren, Gimmelwald, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen). Furthermore, a car is not an asset for many of your destinations; you may only want to rent for part of your trip.

Posted by Iris
Los Angeles
4 posts

David, Kathy & Harold, Thank you so much for your feedback. I am rethinking my itinerary, maybe I should just focus on Switzerland for 2 weeks and visit other countries next time. What do you think if I just do these cities: Zurich-Lucerne-Thun-Grindelwald-Lake Lugano-Zurich. Will 2 weeks be sufficient? I am not the type of person who will be visiting museums or any architectural buildings, so I will not be spending time indoors. I can't imagine towing my luggage from one city to another on trains, so I still prefer driving (I am traveling with my family). Will driving be a problem in those cities/Bernese Oberland-Jungfrau regions? Thank you for your help!!

Posted by Keith
Carpenter, WA, USA
7 posts

Iris, Just a few comments. Autobahns are just as boring in Europe as freeways are here. Take time to use the back roads and see the countryside and towns. Many places do not take guests for less than two nights. It's better for them and you will learn it's better for you too. I viseted the Interlaken area and found the Lauterbrunen valley and Gimmelwald to be highlights of a 3 week trip to the alpine countries. Leave some open, unplanned days. They will fill up fast. Leave room for flexibility.
Keith, WA

Posted by Iris
Los Angeles
4 posts

Keith, Thank you for the feedback. I will check out Lauterbrunen and Gimmelwald. A friend of mine also suggested to visit Matterhorn and Zermatt.