Please sign in to post.

Exploring Bavaria

Hello, fellow travelers-
I am flying over at the end of this month (around Sept. 29th), to meet my husband, who is on a three month work assignment near Zurich. We plan on taking a week's vacation to explore Germany and Salzburg (with rail passes), but am having difficulty working out the logistics. With only seven days, I want to maximize our time, but not have a rushed trip (I prefer to spend 2 nights at most destinations). I could fly in to either Zurich or Salzburg as a starting point, where my husband would join me. In both scenarios, day 1 is the day after I arrive (hopefully, after recovering from jet lag somewhat!).

Scenario 1 (Zurich starting point):
Day 1-Take train from Z. to Fussen (stay 2 nights). Explore Bavaria, see castles.
Day 3-Take train to Munich to experience Oktoberfest and explore. However, is it possible to find lodging in M., or do I have to
figure out nearest town with lodging (due to Oktoberfest)? Stay 1 night.
Day 4-Enjoy day in Munich, but leave late afternoon to Salzburg (stay 2 nights)
Day 6-Train back to Zurich (6+ hours on train)

Scenario 2 (Salzburg as starting point after having spent the night)
Day 1-Explore Salzburg (stay one more night)
Day 2-Take train to Rothenberg (1 night)
Day 3-Take train to Munich (or closest town with lodging), to experience Oktoberfest and Munich sights (2 nights)
Day 5-Take train to Fussen to explore Bavaria and see castles (stay 2 nights)
Day 7-Train back to Zurich (6+ hours on train)

Your input or suggestions regarding these scenarios would be appreciated. In addition, RS states that accommodations in Munich during Oktoberfest can be difficult and expensive to attain. Anybody who's had experiences, nightmarish or otherwise, care to share? Suggestions on closest towns to Munich which might have moderately priced lodging?

I will look forward to hearing back from you!

Posted by
4002 posts

Did a similar trip two summers ago, but a better itinerary would be
Salzburg, Munich, Rothenburg, Fussen, Zurich
Look into renting a car in Germany, driving times are shorter
Salzburg to Munich 1 1/2 hours
To Rothenburg 2 1/2
To Fussen 2
Then return your car and take train to Zurich
the only place you might have trouble parking is in Munich (we ended our trip there and returned the car after checking into our hotel). If you stay in Fussen to see the castles a car makes it so much easier. also a car gives you so much freedom to stop along the way, or add a small town ( like Garmish) for lunch if you feel like it or stay a little longer in a place you enjoy (like Rothenburg) and not be tied down to train schedules.

If I only had a week, I would exclude Munich and just do the small towns on the "Romantic Road" you would not be disappointed. I'm sure they all have their own version of Oktoberfest.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks for your input.
Yes, I would agree with you, regarding Munich. My preference would be to skip it, but my husband really wants to see where the original Oktoberfest began!

Posted by
19170 posts

A car can take less time than the train, but could also take more time considering traffic delays, wrong turns, fuel stops, and potty stops.

Salzburg to Munich by RailJet, the fastest train, takes 1½ hours and, with advance purchase, could cost 29€ for two people. Using slower regional trains and a Bayern-Ticket (27€ for two, no advance purchase necessary) will take just under 2 hours. Per ViaMichelin, normal driving time is also just under 2 hours and fuel will cost 21€ - 29€ depending on if the car already has a vignette, and, of course, there will be a day's rental cost.

From Munich to Rothenburg, there are ICE connections through Nürnberg in 2½ hours. With advance purchase, Saving Fare tickets are now 69€ for two. Or, you can use Regional trains and a Bayern-Ticket for 27€. These take 3¼ hours. If you drive, ViaMichelin says it will take 2¾ hours (slower than the ICE connection). Fuel alone is 33€, plus a day's rental.

Füssen is only accessible by regional train. 27€ with a Bayern-Ticket, 2 hrs 1 min. Driving takes about 6 min less each way. Round trip fuel is 37€. There is plenty to see in Füssen (Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles, Kings Museum, village of Hohenschwangau, and the town of Füssen, all accessible by buses covered by the Bayern-Ticket. Most importantly, for the castles at Oktoberfest, you really need tour reservations, and it is much easier to predict times with a train than driving.

With a train, both people can relax and enjoy the scenery or do whatever else they want to do. With a car, one person can only watch the road. Also, as to time, at two times during the trip, you'll have to spend time at a rental agency, picking up or dropping off the car.

German Rail has the most extensive rail network in Europe. I've spent 91 days traveling in Bavaria in the last 15 years and never once needed a car to get where I wanted to go.

Posted by
328 posts

I'm usually a huge proponent of using a rental car when exploring Bavaria but for this trip, I'd choose the train as Lee suggests. I love the advantage of being able to ramble through the countryside and stop at will that a car can give you. Your itinerary is pretty much exclusively about towns and cities and for that a train makes a lot more sense, in my opinion.

If your only real reason for visiting Munich on this trip is to visit Oktoberfest, why not consider doing it as a day-trip from Salzburg? We've visited Munich quite a bit but have never been there for Oktoberfest. While we are in the Salzburg area at the end of the month we are tentatively planning to fit in a day-trip to Munich for just this purpose. But then, we are traveling with kids and aren't concerned about spending long evenings in beer tents. Alternatively, you could make another town in Bavaria your base, such as Garmisch or Mittenwald, for your visit to both the castles and Munich.