Germany/Austria itinerary 9/15

Greetings all,
My husband and I (early 50s, strong and healthy) are planning our first European vacation. I'm obviously excited (obsessed) about planning for this trip. I lived in Spangdalem,Germany as a teenager (military brat), but my husband has never been. We will be traveling in September and plan to be in Europe for 5 weeks. Half of that time we will spend in Germany and Austria and the other half in Italy. I have read almost all of the posts on the RS sites and especially like the ones where people ask for itinerary advice. We plan to rent a car for part of the trip, for conveinience and because my husband likes to drive. We would like a mixture of small town/city sites, museums/parks, nightlife/secluded hikes. Based on other forum posts and my trusty guidebooks I have come up with a tentative plan to bring to you, the experts. Please feel free to critique and offer alternatives.

8/30 Arrive in Amsterdam - convenient airport for our first German stop- walking tour, get over jet lag
9/1 earliest possible train to Onasbruck, Germany - Pick up car. My husband's family from Ibbenburen, I thought he should see it.

9/2 Drive to Cologne- Cathedral, Roman-German museum,walking tour,river cruise
9/4 Drive to Bacharach (or St Goar?)- river cruise, Marksburg Castle, Burg Rheinfels, quiet walks
9/6 Drive to Rothenburg- actually staying in Colmburg- nature hikes, Rothenburg, night watchman tour
9/8 Drive to Ruette- castles, perhaps Luge : )
9/10 Drive to Munich- drop off car- Museums, shopping, English gardren, Bier!
9/13 Train to Hallstatt- relaxing hikes, rent kayaks or a boat
9/15 Train to Salzburg- Walking tour,?
9/16 Train to Venice

That's it for the German portion of our trip. I checked Google Maps and drives between destinations look to be about 3hrs at most. Any areas better for highway or scenic roads?
Many thanks to those of you taking the time to read these posts and offer advice.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
2052 posts

Hi Dona,

I'm familiar with some of your trip. I think Salzburg deserves 2 nights. Just my opinion, as we've been many times and never get tired of the old town. Reutte, stopped here twice as we were in the area on 2 different trips. I think you could do better. In this area, we love Fuessen. If you have good weather, maybe add the Zugspitze trip from nearby Ehrwald, Austria.

Posted by John
1 posts

My wife and I spent 16 days in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria last summer. We spent 2 days in Fussen and loved it. I would highly recommend staying there. I would also agree with Paul that Salzburg deserves 2 nights. Have a great trip.

Posted by dona
St. Louis, Mo
9 posts

John and Paul, thank you so much for responding to my post. Your advice was exactly what I was hoping for. I will take your advice and make Salzburg a two night visit. I can take a night from Hallstatt. I only had 2 nights scheduled there for a little R&R in the middle of our 5 week adventure.
As for Fussen, I was hesitant to stay there because I have read so many posts reccomending it and of the close proximity to the castles, making it tourist jam packed. Of course, it must be well recommended for good reason. Are there other activities in the area? I'm ok with just a leisure scenic drive.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
2052 posts


Besides the castles, Neuschawnstein and Hohenschwangau, the Tegelberg luge ride and cable car trip are very close by. The Wieskirche is well worth seeing while in the area. The Zugspitze is also close by in Ehrwald, Austria. Maybe take a short, scenic drive past the Plansee to see Linderhof Palace.

We stayed twice at the Hotel zum Hechten in Fuessen. For a little different dinner experience, try the Gasthof Krone in the pedestrian zone of Fuessen. We loved the Honig / Mead wine served in a horn.


Posted by Chris
Mahone Bay, Canada
310 posts

You say you enjoy scenic drives, small towns and R&R. Based on that, I'd choose to stay in Oberammergau instead of Fussen/Reutte. The castles are a pretty 45 minute drive away with Linderhof Castle in between. If you look at the route on a map you will see there are two pretty obvious routes, a northern route and a southern route. The southern route actually passes through Reutte. Oberammergau is a pretty little town with a river running through the middle and a variety of pretty walking paths. The Wieskirche and Ettal Monastery are near to Oberammergau as well.

That being said, we stayed in a little farmhouse in Reutte for two nights on our honeymoon and loved it. We walked up to the castle ruins on a misty evening ... very atmospheric. But as other posters will tell you Reutte doesn't have much other than the castle ruins to offer.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
11075 posts

I would add that Oberammergau also has Schloss Linderhof located very close.

Count me among those are a baffled why Mr. Steves makes such a big deal over Reutte, but doesn't mention Oberstdorf or Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Posted by Nello
York, PA, USA
2 posts

My wife and I were in this part of Germany last September for two weeks, starting in Cologne. We had a few rules, that we would eat local always, stay in the smaller towns near the cities and if possible, avoid the "tours". We loved it!! Navigation was easy and we drove no problems. The cathedral in Cologne cannot be described unless you visit it. Take care to look up the times you can walk through on their website. There is a wonderful, inexpensive but highly rated LOCAL restaurant in Cologne called Gaststatte Max Stark. It's about six blocks north from the train station in a residential area. Dive into the local cuisine! Tip, put your coaster over your beer mug when you want to stop the refills!! Fussen is a wonderful town and in late September we felt like the only American tourists there. While we stayed in a small Bavarian town called Wertach, about 15 minutes west, we spent a lot of time in Fussen. Also make sure you do a quick visit to the falls just outside Fussen. Tip, read Rick's tips on visiting the castles. They're right on spot and will save you a lot of hassles, especially the parking and getting up to them, but well worth it! While in Salzburg, we stayed in the small town of Grodig, about 5 miles south of the city at the foot of the Untersburg mountain. When we visited the city we rode the bus in, VERY easy. Also the cable car to the top of the Untersburg was wonderful diversion. Another wonderful LOCAL restaurant on Grodig was the Sagenhaft. Great food and all locals. We stayed in a great B&B called the Sallerhoft which came highly recommended and worth it! We were in Ruette but we thought it was overrated. If you go to the Zugspitze, which we recommend, do so from the Austrian side. You will save hours of time getting up and it's a straight cable car up to the top. Have a great time!!! Nello Stover

Posted by Rosie
Rick Steves' Europe
121 posts

I think you have a pretty good itinerary there. Like others, I agree Salzburg deserves two nights. Rather than drop a night from Hallstatt, I might drop a night from Munich instead. It's a great city but two nights would be plenty, especially if you arrive early enough to see and do some things the first day. Hallstatt is a great place to relax and unwind so I'd probably keep the two nights there.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8198 posts

I like your trip plan.


Picking up a rental in Amsterdam and dropping in Germany might be expensive, price training from A-dam to Koln, then picking up a car there, as an option.

We started driving the Romantic Road, within a half-hour the family voted unanimously to get to the autobahn as quickly as possible - the sights were really nothing spectacular.

Sommerrodlebahn (something like that) should be open in early September. I think they close about the first of October.

I love Salzburg, there are so many sights - all in reasonable walking distance - you will want two nights and at least a full day there. Stay downtown. In the evening, walk to the Augustiner brewery for dinner. Along the way stop for a view of the city from the center of one of the walking bridges across the river (northwest of the old center). IMO this view of the old city lit up at night is one of the very best views on the planet - just awe inspiring beauty.