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First time to Germany--Munich-Salzburg-Vienna-Need Advice!

Hello,
We plan on taking a trip to Germany May 30th - June 13th, 2020 from Chicago, IL, USA.

Our plan is to fly into Munich stay for four days, drive to Salzburg, stay for 3-4 days and then drive through Hallstatt to Vienna and stay for 4 days and then return to Munich.

We plan on renting a car for the entire stay as I am a photographer and would like to be able to stop and take photos as we travel from city to city.

The questions I have are the following:

1) Am I allocating the correct number of days per city? Should I stay in one of the cities for a longer period of time. (For instance, while in Munich we plan on driving to different castles after taking the city hop/on off bus tour.)

2) Is it easy to drive around with a rental vehicle?

Thank you in advance for any advice from all of you seasoned travelers!
Kim

Posted by
8889 posts

1) The correct number of days is more personal preference, and as you are a photographer, how photogenic you find each place.
You probably should overnight in Hallstatt, if you juts do it en route from Salzburg to Vienna, you will only have 1-2 hours there.
Plus, you want to be there early and late, when the day trip visitors are not there, in order to get good photos.

2) "Is it easy to drive around with a rental vehicle?" - yes, except in cities, for example Munich, Salzburg and Vienna.
You cannot drive from location to location within these cities by car. Most of the good sites are in pedestrian areas, and even where cars can drive, there is limited parking; you have to park some way from your destination, pay for parking and walk to your destination.
Do not assume hotels have parking. In cities many do not. And where they have, you may have to pay. Always check.
If you rent a car in Germany (Munich), you need to buy an Autobahn Vignette in order to pay your road tolls in Austria.
Depending on where you come from (which country issued your licence), you may need an IDP (International Driving Permit) for Austria.

Posted by
84 posts

Wow! Thanks Chris! Your advice was extremely helpful! I will look into what is needed for tolls and driving purposes. As from what I've seen on RS videos and Youtube it appears that Salzburg area will have the most scenic views but all three cities have beauty of their own! I like the idea of staying in Hallstatt for the night as well! Thank you again.

Posted by
930 posts

Everything about your trips sounds pretty good accept the car rental. If you've driven in Europe before and enjoy searching for parking spots and knowing where the toll roads are & how to deal with them then go for it. I've done this exact same trip using trains and the city metro's and it was easy to get everywhere I wanted. The other option is to take the Rick Steves Munich, Salzburg & Vienna tour which is the exact same itinerary and let them do the driving, book your hotels and provide over 1/2 the total meals.

Posted by
5455 posts

We also did a similar trip by train, but including Innsbruck. The car is a major liability in Munich and Vienna, just a pain in Salzburg. You could sleep out of the center, like a low budget tour maybe. Or just rent a car in Salzburg and Innsbruck.. Munich is the a city you might reduce by one night, unless you have opera or ballet tickets.

Posted by
84 posts

Hi Donald,
Thank you so much for your response!

We've only been to Europe once, London. We rented a car to drive around Cornwall, Wales, etc. but took public transportation when we spent time in the city of London.

If you don't rent a car in Munich, how do you drive to castles, etc. for day trips?
Kim

Posted by
84 posts

Thank you for your response Tim.
So overall, you are saying, just take public transportation everywhere and forego the rental?
I was thinking of reducing Munich by a day as well since I think that I may want to find some of the beautiful waterfalls I've seen on Youtube to visit.

Thank you.
Kim

Posted by
27709 posts

trains go there.

Which castles did you have in mind?

Posted by
84 posts

Hi Nigel,
Neuschwanstein Castle
Linderhof Palace

My daughter has a few more she'd like to see as well.

Thanks.
Kim

Posted by
2705 posts

You can rent a car for a day or two here and there if there’s a reason. I haven’t spent much time in Munich so don’t know how easy it is to combine multiple castles/sights outside the city by public transit.

When I was in Salzburg I picked up a car when I left the city (after a few nights in Salzburg walking and taking busses). The car was useful driving to Hallstatt and around the lake area. I parked the car in Hallstatt, stayed 2 nights (1 day), then drove to Vienna, stopping along the Danube on the way. Dropped off the car in Vienna.

Posted by
84 posts

Hi Mira,
Now that's an idea...rent a car here and there as needed.
Danube---what did you do there and how long did you stay?

Thanks!
Kim

Posted by
27709 posts

Just so you know - the "castle" at Neuschwanstein (loosely translated as new swan stone) is only a late 19th century folly (1886 - so I was 33 when it turned 100). Never lived in and never used except to honour Wagner and open to the public pretty much since then. It gained its real fame when Disney saw it or a representation of it, and decided it was just what the Magic Kingdom needed.

I don't want to dissuade you from going - 1,300,000 people go every year, as many as 6,000 a day so it must have an appeal - but don't expect a medieval castle or anything like it.

Linderhof Palace is also new - nothing was built after 1886 when King Ludwig died never having used the bedroom - but at least it looks like a palace and is somewhat furnished. It is near Oberammergau which will be very crowded in 2020 because of the Passion Play which is performed for the summer every 10 years.

There are lots of genuine castles in Germany, both ruins and whole (Marksburg is a good example) and in surrounding lands. Just so you know what you are getting...

Posted by
5455 posts

Kim, my "llke a budget tour" was not meant as an acerbic slam. We stayed at the last stop of an S-Bahn line from Frankfurt when our objective was more small cities and rural sights than Frankfurt (which we did spend one day in, by S-Bahn). On another trip, we stayed in a modern business hotel just within walking distance of the old town Weimar, because I wanted to drive to Erfurt, Eisenach, and Quedlinburg.

Note that you have named several very large cities, which we previously visited, exclusively by TRAIN. That is a different trip than the paragraph above. We took a touristy bus outing to the mountains from Salzburg, which did the job. And we got to local attractions by public transportation.

You would get slightly better advice if you put your hometown in your public profile. Your OP seems to include a back story of American rural mobility, which is a distraction when visiting large cities in ANY country. Can you drive a standard shift?

Posted by
84 posts

Hi Tim,
This is my first time posting so I am not sure where to put my profile information.
My husband drives a stick shift here in the Chicago area. He drives in the city for work daily. I don't think he'd have difficulties driving as we drove in England (Cornwall---small, narrow roads) on the other side of the street and car.

The only reason why I am thinking of driving at all is because we are the type of people that like to get out and see different sites when we'd like to and me being a photographer oftens asks to "stop the car" so I can jump out and capture an image.
Thanks for all your feedback...greatly appreciated! :)
Kim

Posted by
84 posts

Hi Tim,
Found where to edit my profile and made the changes you mentioned.

Thanks.
Kim

Posted by
27709 posts

To see your settings and set a profile, or edit your profile; and also to see which posts you have replied to or started, and to get your PMs - Private Messages - depending on what you are using to read the Forum either, on a laptop, go to the top of any page when you are logged in and hover over the upper right hand corner and see "Travel Forum" pop up. Click on that and then you can all those categories of posts, and at the bottom of the page is "My Settings" where you can make those changes. You can also switch on and off the email notifications of new replies to you posts.

It is worth having a dig around there, Kim, lots of good stuff that you might not know if you had never clicked.

If you access the Forums through an iPad or phone look at the top for the "hamburger" - three parallel horizontal strips, like sergeants stripes.

Good to have you on board.

Posted by
84 posts

Thanks Nigel.
We are big Rick Steve fans. We've watched his specials on t.v., his videos and have seen and met him at a travel show so I knew this was the place I needed to be to learn about our upcoming trip! I'll be reading like crazy these next few months putting our itinerary together, that's for sure!

Thanks again.
Kim

Posted by
1760 posts

Rent and return the car in the same country to avoid steep dropoff fees.

Posted by
13 posts

Hi Kim,

I can offer some advice having drove from Dubrovnik to Salzburg last October. You have to drive to get through your planned route. Towns and cities are a little frustrating using a GPS (traffic circles). The speed limits seem to change every one hundred yards on the highways.
We had three nights in both Salzburg and Vienna. If you have an extra night my wife and I would choose Vienna. I recommend the Rick Steve's books for accommodation and other from our Europe trips. In Vienna Hotel am Stephansplatz is sixty steps from St. Stephens Cathedral which you will be looking at when having breakfast. Try to book an event at the Vienna Opera House; we seen a ballet. You won’t want to drive when in Vienna. I think it is about 20 euros per night for them to take the car away to a nearby parking garage. In Salzburg you will be very happy with the boutique Hotel am Dom. You can see it if you watch a Salzburg episode of “Escape to the Continent”. It is short beautiful drives to both Hallstatt and Eagles Nest from Salzburg. I recommend Eagles Nest. I live in the mountains, but those limestone cliffs that run from the base of the mountains to the peak are very impressive. In Hallstatt take the funicular to the salt mines tour.

Have fun!
RobBC

Posted by
84 posts

Hi Rob,
Wow...that was some great information! I greatly appreciate it. Those hotels sound lovely, especially the one looking at at St. Stephen's...I'll definitely be looking into that!

We are planning on going the first week in June 2020...I'm already looking forward to it!
Thanks again!
Kim