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Bavaria and Austria 10 days

Hello everyone,

We are planning our first trip to Bavaria/Austria in mid-October for 10 nights. We're struggling with the numerous amounts of options and logistics. Let me start by saying we are not into museums or city life. We tend to enjoy strolling around small villages seeing how folks live and shopping in their grocery stores. We love bakery's and will sit down from time to time for a bite but not really into 3 hour eating experiences. We enjoy nature and hiking as well. We are ok with trains but can drive if its more convenient. Ideally, we would like time with a car during parts of the trip and training on other parts to break it up. We are comfortable moving hotel to hotel but do want to slow down in pretty small-town areas.

10/13 - Land in Munich (7pm) staying in old town area
10/14 - Munich full day walk around and check out sites in old town, churches etc. and probably rick Steves walks.
10/15 - Catch train to airport to rent car in morning and drive to ROBT (spend the night)
10/16 - Wake up morning drive south on the romantic road stay somewhere in small/cute town (open to ideas)
10/17 - Arrive in Fussen and walk around/hike around Neuschwanstein castle (stay night Fussen)
10/18 - Morning in Fussen. Day trip to Garmisch-Partenkirchen & Mittenwald (stay night in Fussen or Mittenwald?)
10/19 - Drive to Berchtesgaden (spend night)
10/20 - Day trip to Salzburg (spend night in Berchtesgaden)
10/21 - Day trip to Konigsee (spend night in Berchtesgaden)
10/22 - Drive to Munich drop off car and spend night
10/23 - Fly out 11am

What areas do we need cars in and are there any concerns with driving the alps areas in mid-October considering weather?
Is this too much travel time and if so, what would your recommendations be on removing ROBT?
What recommendations do you have for us?

Posted by
3951 posts

You say you prefer small villages but some of your itinerary doesn't reflect this. Munich is a big city. Have you checked the dates of Octoberfest?
What is ROBT?
N'stein Castle in Fussen is very crowded and touristy. Long lines for an uninspired 30 minute tour of a palace that really wasn't lived in. Doesn't sound like your intended small town experience. There's much more inspired hiking in other areas.
Perhaps Rothenburg would better meet your needs?
What about flying into Munich and out of Frankfurt?
Berchtesgaden is very scenic and worth spending time in. It may be the only area that is easier to reach by car. Most of your other destinations are quite accessible via train.
Salzburg is charming.
Europe is very busy this season as the first year of post- COVID travel for many folks. Have you researched available lodging in your price range? That may influence your itinerary. Shoulder season has proven to be quite popular.
Have you considered the charming Middle Rhine area?
Good luck planning and have a wonderful trip. Safe travels!

Posted by
22 posts

We just returned from a trip that included much of the area you want to visit. It was lovely!
1) We traveled by train & local bus or subway throughout Munich, Salzburg, & Vienna. It was very easy to navigate and trains are mostly on time. For us, it was great not to have a car. But renting a car can make it easier to see some of the smaller towns.

2) Consider an extra day in Munich. The Englischer Garten is definitely worth several hours. It's a huge park with lots of walking & biking trails, as well as a small river. We spent about 4 hours in the park and rented e-bikes for a lovely 2 hour bike ride through the park. There are a few beer gardens in the park, too. I highly recommend a visit!
3) We did not stay in Fussen, but I kind of wish we had. We booked an all-day bus tour from Munich that included Neuschwanstein Castle & Linderhof Palace, for about $200/person. Yes, it was crowded with tourists, but the area is beautiful and we had stunning views of the castle. The actual tour inside the castle wasn't much, but the area surrounding the castle was gorgeous. The tour of Linderhof Palace was very quick, but again, the grounds were beautiful. Our group of 6 (3 couples) really enjoyed seeing the castle & surrounding area, despite all of the tourists.
4) Salzburg is worth a visit and you're correct that you probably only need 1 day there.


Posted by
18936 posts

Pat, RodT, Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Posted by
3951 posts

Thanks, Lee, I've been to Rothenburg three times and I've never seen ROBT used.

Posted by
1200 posts

Thinking of a car this part:

An easy hike with distant views of both castles and few tourists near Füssen is around the Schwansee. If your ready for a climb, then up to the Kalvarienberg overlooking Füssen and again both castles in the distance.

I think you would prefer an overnight in Mittenwald.

With a car you might consider staying in Schönau am Königssee or Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden. Check places like the Fischunkelalm on the Obersee to make sure they are open.

I like to use Park and Ride South in Salzburg. The parking ticket gives you a bus pass for 5 that day too.

I would not be too concerned about driving in October, but the weather could determine what you do, so be a little flexible. Oktoberfest ends 3 October.

Posted by
1894 posts

I think you are making a mistake not spending a day or two in Salzburg and Munich. Honestly, the most pleasant times I had in Munich and Salzburg was the early morning and late nights strolling around the Aldtstadt. A very different vibe-especially in Salzburg where they daytrippers can be overwhelming. I think you should take one night off of Fussen and add it to Salzburg.

Basing yourself in Munich and getting the Bayern card also means you can travel to villages outside of Munich.

Posted by
6307 posts

"What recommendations do you have for us?"

10/19 - Drive to Berchtesgaden (spend night)
10/20 - Day trip to Salzburg (spend night in Berchtesgaden)
10/21 - Day trip to Konigsee (spend night in Berchtesgaden)
10/22 - Drive to Munich drop off car and spend night
10/23 - Fly out 11am

Your day-by-day routine here for these days looks fine, but it would probably be my choice on 10/22 to stay in FREISING, not in Munich. You will already have visited Munich, right? And I assume your overall focus is smaller towns anyway. Freising is quite a nice little place, and only a few minutes from the airport compared with central Munich (which actually is a long distance from MUC airport, like 40-45 minutes... and you probably need to be at the airport at 8 am for your international flight.)

On that last day of sightseeing, I don't see any specific plans other than driving. A logical stop for you could be Herrenchiemsee Palace, near the town of Prien on an island in Lake Chiemsee (also known as the "Bavarian ocean.")

"Is this too much travel time and if so, what would your recommendations be on removing ROBT?"

Removing touristy Rothenburg makes very good sense - a lot of car gymnastics for this one town. Rick Steves makes WAY too much of the place, much of which is not really "preserved", as he claims, but restored...

Rothenburg, 1945
Also, driving the Romantic Road sounds a lot more romantic than it is. The Alps are romantic, this part of Germany is pretty unremarkable.

A good alternative to Rothenburg lies near MUC airport and Freising: REGENSBURG, which has UNESCO World Heritage status for its medieval authenticity!

And in between MUC and Regensburg is the very attractive town of LANDSHUT, home to Trausnitz Castle (open daily.)

SOOO... I would rearrange things a little...

10/13 & 14: As planned

10/15-17: Pick up car on the 15th. Visit this area of the Alps more thoroughly over 3 days instead of just 2. Mittenwald is tops in my view. Garmisch has much to offer. Consider stops at Andechs Monastery, the Wieskirche, Linderhof, Oberammergau, Ettal Monastery as well. Also consider using just ONE town as your travel base for 4 nights - possibly Oberammergau - to reduce the packing/unpacking/ checking in and out routine.

10/18-20: 3 nights in Berchtesgaden, sightseeing as planned

10/21: Herrenchiemsee Palace, Freising for 2 nights. DROP CAR in Freising or at MUC.

10/22: Outing to Regensburg and/or Landshut. This day trip is cheap, fast and exceptionally easy by train. All towns are on the same train line!

Munich > Freising > Landsut > Regensburg Railway

10/23: Direct train ride of 13 minutes from to MUC airport. 7:28 - 7:41 or 8:28 - 8:41? Or by direct bus at 7:42 or 8:02? Your choice.

Posted by
18936 posts

Come on, Russ, those of us familiar with Rothenburg are aware that the bomb damaged picture is of the far eastern edge of the city. All of the area shown is outside the old city wall that existed before the 13th century. The view does not include the really old part of town with the Marktplatz, city hall, and the Plönlein.

Despite damage to the roof over the Wehrgang, it looks like the newer, outer wall, the one you can walk around on, is largely intact.

I personally would prefer Nördlingen, which also has a walkable Wehrgang on it's intact wall, mostly because it is less touristy (lacks a Christmas Shoppe and a Crime and Punishment Museum) than Rothenburg.

Posted by
6307 posts

@Lee: My statement is factual - a significant part of Rothenburg was destroyed and rebuilt. It is not the city it was prior to WW II. (And of course, that means that parts of it were NOT destroyed then or since, and that those remaining parts can be referred to today, as you have done in your post.)

And my point of bringing this up is that Rothenburg typically gets overhyped and misrepresented, as Rick Steves' overly-enthusiastic love for it demonstrates. His page on Rothenburg and his planning page for Germany advocate going there to anyone with 5 days in Germany, yet there is no mention at all of the nasty shelling in WW II which changed it forever. Why not? "Today, it's the country's best-preserved medieval walled town...," he says. Well, it maybe WAS before the war. Lest anyone think I've been inaccurate about this... Here's just one of those sources which estimates the destruction at 40-45%:

That's not to say that Rothenburg is worthless... only that it's healthy to be a little skeptical about travel authorities who ignore towns like Regensburg and Bamberg (both are UNESCO WH for their medieval centers but absent from the index in my edition of Steves' "G-A-S") and at the same time do some heavy "embroidering" when it comes to Rothenburg.

Just like you, I prefer Noerdlingen on several grounds.

Posted by
1452 posts

Russ. Since the middle ages they have added indoor plumbing, electricity and new building codes. All of Germany is rebuilt; thank heavens for that..

Many wars and new styles (Baroque and Rococo for example) have changed the look of places.

You are very fond of the historical theme park in Bad Windsheim. When the buildings were brought there from all over Franken, I am sure they were built structurally sound with some new materials.

I really like Rothenburg but I do not pretend to myself that it is unchanged, any more than Bamberg or Regensburg (my favorite city).

For my purposes I might choose a nearer sight to Füssen for my first stop just to cut travel time. Nördlingen is another nice walled city with less travel time.

Posted by
6307 posts

@Gary: A small number of Paradise homes survived the Camp Fire of 2018, but even those needed work; most owners had to carry out the kinds of work procedures you bring up... My brother, for example, had to have his interior walls cleaned, treated with Kilz, and repainted/resurfaced because of the smoke damage; roof shingles and siding were replaced as needed. Others had to have decks rebuilt, plumbing replaced, etc. For homes like ours which had turned to rubble and ash, much, much more was required, of course. New windows or solar panels just weren't going to cut it. Rebuilding isn't remodeling or updating. Our town lost some really nice mid-century homes, a little bit of history that won't ever come back. But Rothenburg, whose buildings had been there for centuries, lost much more in that war, I think. There's an essential distinction between Rothenburg - and the Franconian Freilandmuseum, or Regensburg - that your comments overlook, I think.

Posted by
18 posts

All great advice! I love the idea of not staying in Munich the last night I think we've been so trained to just go back to the city and go to the airport that we kind of forgot we have the option to go to a small town near the airport instead. We'll definitely be changing up that portion.

Some more research to consider! Will also check out Nördlingen.

Posted by
18 posts

I think we are going to ax ROBT and focus more on small towns south west of Munich and make our way east to Fussen, Berchtesgaden, and Salzburg and wrap back north to the airport town.

I'm thinking maybe Lindau but will do some more review.

Posted by
18936 posts

So, much as I do like Rothenburg, it's kind of out of the way for the OP's agenda, and there is a suitable substitute. I would recommend that the OP use Nördlingen as the first night stopover. (Some of you might recognize this picture of Nördlingen from a late scene in Willy Wonka).

Nördlingen has a lot to offer. Like Rothenburg, it is a largely intact city from the same period. It has a lot of Fachwerk buildings from the earlier era. It has a city wall with a Wehrgang you can walk on.

But unlike Rothenburg, it lacks a Christmas Shoppe and a Crime and Punishment Museum, which are two of the things I feel make Rothenburg too touristy.

Nördlingen was built inside an ancient meteor impact crater, the Ries; our astronauts trained for the moon mission on the crater's walls. There is a museum dedicated to the Ries in Nördlingen.

Nördlingen has a 300' high church tower you can climb with a panoramic view of the surrounding land, including some parts of the crater wall.

If you use Nördlingen as a base, it's about half and hour's drive to Dinkelsbühl, another Romanic Road town with an entirely different town wall (no Wehrgang. They planned to defend the walls from towers in the wall).

A fifteen minute drive south of Nördlingen, on the way to Füssen is the town of Harburg. On the hill overlooking the town is Harburg castle, one of the oldest (almost 1000 years old) intact castle in Bavaria that you can tour.

Posted by
4079 posts

I loved Fussen but thought Neuschweinstein Castle was a waste of time, unless you're a fan of Wagner. We stayed in Rothenburg, which makes it easy to do the Night Watchman's tour. We did all of this by train.

Posted by
2854 posts

For 10 days, focus on Fuessen and or Mittenwald. Then Berchtesgaden as a base and visit Salzburg. Then to the airport area. We liked Erding, n ice old town close to the airport.