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Driving in Germany

Hello travelers,
Anyone know the web link to get the toll tickets for driving a car in Germany on the HWY (autobahn). We are not sure if one is needed. Since we will be driving also from Germany to Austria, we did find the link to purchase the ticket online. FYI: in Austria, if you don't have one, you could be fined as much as 120 euro.
We are driving from Berlin to Nuremberg, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Krimmel and back to Munich for the flight back. All this in three weeks.
Thank you for any reply/advice.
Sara Y.

Posted by
27710 posts

Vignette (not a ticket - it needs to be affixed to the windscreen in a prescribed place) is required in Austria as you have discovered. Not all Austrian roads and tunnels are covered by the Vignette, they have to be paid separately at toll booths.

There is not one required in Germany - only big trucks need to pay tolls (Maut) in Germany at the moment.

However, all the places you list are difficult by car and well served by fast, frequent, and reasonably inexpensive trains. Have you looked into places to park your car in all of those cities?

Posted by
36 posts

Hi Nigel,
Thanks for your quick reply.
We were going to use the trains, but it got to be difficult with the luggage up and down the trains and then we have to take all the taxis to and from hotels or Airbnb we are staying, including taxis to airport. Another reason was that we are going to Krimmel (mountain) in Austria and thought it will be easier. I received a lot of advice going to Krimmel from someone in Salzburg (at hotel) I know. Although Krimmel is reachable with train, bus & taxi, it still was a headache.
I know parking is expensive in Germany and Austria, but we have free parking at the Air B&B in Munich. Yes, it will be more money than the trains (I used them the past few years), but the convenience will probably be worthed (hope so!). The only caveat is, that we are an older couple, never drove in Europe and not as expert with GPS.But planning to purchase one here (USA) and practice beforehand. A challenge......yes....but why not.

Will appreciate your further opinion.
p.s. have you ever been to Krimmel-Austria?
Have a nice day,
Sara Y.

Posted by
290 posts

I just purchased an Austrian 10-day vignette for a July trip here. I was surprised by how fast it arrived. You can set the vignette to start on any day you choose. I don't think one is required in Germany, and if it is, I suspect (hope?) it would be provided on a car rented in Germany.

Posted by
268 posts

I consider myself to be an experienced driver, but I find driving in Munich stressful; and I wonder how anyone could consider a car to be more comfortable than a train between cities that have direct train connections. I cannot even read a book as a passenger in a car or bus, and it's even worse when I have to drive myself :-)

Posted by
1355 posts

Trains and cars are not mutually exclusive. Between cities trains are easier and you can arranged to rent a car to a side trip to some place like Krimmel. We lived in Germany for 6 years and had our own car. I learned to avoid driving in places like Munich.

Going back to Germany for annual trips and preferring to visit towns, we have become sold on trains. Still, I might rent a car for side trip if I it meant enough to me.

Posted by
36 posts

Hello Brad,
Enjoyed reading your stories. Agree you made a good choice with a car. Although we already paid and reserved a car, we are still debating. We are w/o children and an older couple and never drove in Europe. Just calculated the cost of renting vs. trains, it will be twice as much, and contemplating if the convenience of a car is worth the double expanse. We will need to make a final decision this week.
The rental co. offers to get a GPS here in the states for 40 euro, or when picking up the car in Germany (Berlin) for 60 euros. Can't understand how a mercedes doesn't have a GPS already in the car. What did you do re the GPS.
Thanks for replying.
Sara Y.

Posted by
36 posts

Hello again Brad,
BTW, we traveled to Croatia last year, was awesome. For me the history going into Bosnia Herzegovina was incredible. If you need any information, don't hesitate to write. I also went to Poland in 2016. Regarding the GPS, you were right. I called the co direct in Germany this morning to ask and they said (same as you did), that all the cars come with a GPS. We now only have to decide if to still buy as a backup a Garmin or some other co GPS. Thanks for all the info and enjoy your trip in May.
Sar Y.

Posted by
7 posts

This thread is really helping us too. We have a rental car starting in Stuttgart, driving to Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna, (quick Budapest if we have time), then Praque and back to Stuttgart. My understanding is we will need a different vignette for Austria, and CZ Rep, and maybe also Hungary. I'm worried about parking also. We will be staying in Airbnb at edge of city so we had planned to leave the car there and take some mass transit into the city centers. What we don't know about is if we want to do impromptu stops along the way.

Posted by
36 posts

Hello Stevanos, when will you be driving Vienna to Salzburg? I'd love to hear from you about the drive, road and time it took you. If it is before JUne, thank you for writing a feedback Have a great trip and Bon Voyage!

Posted by
47 posts

We've always used our phones with Google Maps and had no problem. We found it easier than difficult in car GPS systems.

Posted by
2263 posts

The car will not be of much use to you in cities. In 2011, we traveled to Europe with our 3 kids. The 5 of us made the car a no-brainer. My 3 kids, sitting in the back seat (at 23, 23, 26) were pretty crammed. We drove Vienna-Budapest-Zagreb-Split-Salzburg-Linz-Vienna. The roads were fine, and that was easy. In Budapest, Vienna, and Split, the car sat in a garage and we paid a daily rate.

For you, I'd really consider trains. We have been to Europe in 2014, 2015, 2017. In each case, we took trains, buses, planes in most travels. The trains allow you to detox for a couple hours and either journal or veg out. In 2017, we did use the car for a rural trip to Bretagne. In Europe, more rural areas do not have public transit service. But if you are strictly in cities, go with trains-buses. For the one rural part you talked about, hire a driver for that one day.

Posted by
36 posts

Hello Paul,
I understand your reasoning. However, it is very expensive to hire privately for our mountain-Krimmel in Austria and will not be cost effective. We calculated, that we will spend almost as much for the entire trip on car rental and the convenience of not dragging luggage will be worthed. We are not planning to drive within the cities and calculated the cost of parking too.
Thanks for the feedback.
Sara Y.

Posted by
8766 posts

While trains are preferable when going from city to city, sometimes a car is the best way for an entire trip when there are other considerations. On our first trip to Europe there were always going to be 4 people traveling together. At the beginning of the trip we were 5+. We ended up doing a lease and got a minivan. We were mostly in smaller places, but when we went to Munich we parked the van at a garage a block away from the hotel. It stayed there until we left. In Amsterdam we stayed at a hotel with free parking a couple of train stops from Centraal Station and took to train into the city center. Factor in parking costs. After driving that minivan we learned that smaller is better. We sometimes had difficulties parking.. The good news is that Germany and Austria are easy countries to drive in.

Posted by
1217 posts

When you get on the autobahn from Munich heading toward Austria, there are roughly 300 gas stations visible from the road with notices on their roofs that they sell Austrian vignette stickers. Ordering ahead is kind on an unnecessary postage expense and slight worry about the envelope getting lost in the mail. You really can but them at any service plaza gas station in the region.

We bought a late model Garmin GPS with North American and European map sets and use it on longer road trips. Do note you may have to buy an extra memory card for it before you do any free updates because the two continent option takes up a lot of memory in the system. Part of our road trip prep is entering all the hotel addresses and other points of interest shortly before we leave home.

I love the freedom the GPS gives in terms of exploring any country road that looks interesting because with just a push of a few buttons, it can guide you back to that night's hotel. And while there are many places where the bus or train works well, a bus driver isn't going to stop at the roadside strawberry stand in Bavaria so you can grab yourself some fresh fruit for breakfast the next day.

Posted by
19 posts

I've enjoyed reading all of your advice regarding public transportation vs renting a car. We are considering renting a car for our trip to Germany/Salzburg this summer. If we do decide to rent a car, can we purchase a vignette prior to getting there or do we have to get it there somewhere. Also, I was wondering about buying gas. Do you have to have a chip and PIN card? I have chip and signature credit cards. Or will an ATM card work since it has a PIN?

Posted by
2982 posts

dwalton - You can get the Austrian vignette at gas stations near the border. For gas, you generally have to pay inside and I think most of the stations only take chip + pin. If all else fails, you can just carry cash with you (extremely necessary in Germany most of the time anyway) and pay in cash if the gas station doesn't recognize your card.

Posted by
36 posts

Hello all travelers,
To all the ones who replied to my initial question, THANK YOU! it was very helpful, especially you Nigel & Brad. We already rented the car and took in consideration the parking and tolls too. Although used trains and planes in past years, driving will be an experience and hope a good one. Planning already next year in Spain and this will determine if we will rent a car again. Happy traveling to all.

Posted by
36 posts

Hello all travelers,
To all the ones who replied to my initial question, THANK YOU! it was very helpful, especially you Nigel & Brad. We already rented the car and took in consideration the parking and tolls too. Although used trains and planes in past years, driving will be an experience and hope a good one. Planning already next year in Spain and this will determine if we will rent a car again. Happy traveling to all.