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Germany , Austria, Switzerland Rick Steves 22 days by car

Thank you everyone for posting tips, ideas and suggestions to the travel forum. It has been quite helpful.
I am traveling to Germany, Austria, Switzerland following Rick Steves 22 day itinerary by car. June 5 -June 28th
Is this a doable trip?
Day 1 Arrive Frankfurt from California at 1100. Drive to Rothenburg , sleep 2 nights Rothenburg
Day 2 Rothenburg

Day 3 Drive to Fussen , sleep 2 nights
Day 4 Fussen
Day 5 Drive to Munich, sleep Munich
Day 6 Munich, Sleep Munich
Day 7 Drive to Salzburg, sleep 1 night
Day 8 Drive to Hallstatt , sleep 1 night
Day 9, Drive to Vienna, sleep 3 nights
Day 10 Vienna
Day 11 Vienna
Day 12 Drive to Switzerland or should I get rid of car and take train to Appenzell?? 1 night
Day 13 Drive west to Berner Oberland stay in Grimmelwald 2 nights
Day 14 Grimmelwald
Day 15 Time in Bern drive to Murten 2 nights
Day 16 Murten
Day 17 Drive to Black Forest , sleep in Staufen 1 night
Day 18 Black Forest , Drive to Baden-Baden 2 nights
Day 19 Baden- Baden
Day 20 Drive the the Rhine, river cruise , Sleep in Bacharach sleep 1-2 nights
Day 21 Mosel Valley
Day 22 Drive to Frankfurt, Fly home to California
For Hotels in Rothenburg, has anybody stayed at any of these hotels? Hotel Kloster-Stuble, Hotel Spitzweg, Hotel Hornburg, Hotel Gerberhaus, Hotel Cafe Uhl???
For Hotels in Fussen- anyone stay at any of these???Hotel Das Beck, Hotel Goldener Hirsch, Alpenhotel Ernberg, Moserhof Hotel, Gutshof zum Schluxen Hotel

I welcome any input. Thank you for contributing.

Posted by
12040 posts

OK, first let's talk about Mr. Steves' "suggested driving itineraries". Probably OK if you're part of a bus tour where all the logistics are arranged for you. But on your own, many of us find them entirely too rushed. And if you include the Alps on a trip, you really need to provide a solid buffer against bad weather. Plan at least three nights, meaning two whole days, at each Alpine location, or don't plan to visit at all. It's not worth it to visit a location for only one day and have the weather wipe out your entire time there.

Second, Mr. Steves tends to... umm, how to put this lightly without invoking the ire of the Blue Book Church again... he tends to highlight certain locations as "one of a kind, must see", when they're not nearly unique as advertised. Examples, Rothenburg, Baden-Baden, Bacharach, Reutte, the Berner Oberland as the be-all, do-all of the Alps, etc. I'm not saying don't visit any one of these places, but on a trip that has you darting all over the map with very little time to breathe, you can hit other destinations that are very similar without going far out of your way.

I also don't like the idea of immediately driving over two hours to Rothenburg through some of the most fearsome traffic in Germany after arriving jet-lagged from the west coast. This is about as dangerous as driving drunk. It would probably be much safer to hit the Rhine first after arriving, because it's relatively close. Or, if you want a well preserved walled town, look into Büdingen, which is about 30 minutes away from the airport.

Only you know your own priorities, but my advice would be to cut your two biggest outliers- Switzerland and the Black Forrest. You're already getting a good taste of the Alps in southern Bavaria and Austria, and the Black Forest pales in comparison. Baden-Baden is just one of over a hundred officially designated spa towns in Germany. They're everywhere in the country and if you want the spa treatment, you can easily find something that fits your trip better.

Posted by
994 posts

Your plan will work, but I would also cut some of your stops from this itinerary, and stay longer in a few places. I would also not want to have the long drive right after arriving. I am always exhausted after the overnight flight. Any driving would be difficult, much more so driving in an unfamiliar place. As for the hotels you mentioned, I have only stayed in Hotel Cafe Uhl in Rothenburg. I really liked it. It is inside the wall, but in a fairly quiet area. If you get a room in the back, you have a great view out over the city wall and into the countryside. The breakfast is really good, and the staff was friendly and helpful.

Posted by
8239 posts

I would suggest you getting on Mapquest or and see how far it is between the cities on your itinerary. Your planned itinerary has you going in circles. Today, unleaded gasoline in Southern Germany is $8.06 per U.S. gallon. You want to travel in as efficient manner as possible at those prices. Flying open jaw also helps into one city and out of another.
I love to travel from Munich through Southern Bavaria, down into Western Tyrol, Austria, around to Salzburg and east to Hallstadt and ending in Vienna. This itinerary is easy to navigate and it's the same incredible mountain scenery as Switzerland. But it's much less expensive than Switzerland, and a more time efficient itinerary.
I have been to Bacharach three times and the Black Forest twice. I consider them places to travel through rather than travel destinations when you've got limited travel time. I do like traveling the Rhine River Valley, and love the sight of the Cologne cathedral, but only if I'm going to be in the vicinity.

There are other great travel sights close to Vienna that I would prefer to see--Prague or Budapest.
Have you considered flying into Munich and out of Vienna, or the eastern end of your trip?

Posted by
2935 posts


It's a doable trip, but why? Not a trip I'd want to make unless I had vacation time after coming home from this marathon. Right now you go to the furthest point east, Vienna, just to backtrack to the furthest point west Switzerland.

Do you realize Hallstatt is an easy day trip of maybe 1:30 from Salzburg (or vice versa)?

Your 2 nights in Gimmelwald gives you 1 full day. What if it's raining, overcast? Point is, you're not allowing any leeway, so everything has to go perfect, including the weather, traffic, not getting lost, etc.

IF you haven't bought air tickets yet, consider flying into Frankfurt and out somewhere else much further along your route. Fly into Frankfurt and start with the Rhine or Mosel.

My advice is to do some research and plan a trip YOU'D really like to make, not one out of a book.


Posted by
813 posts

My input is driving from Vienna to Gimmelwald. You spelled Grimmelwald, but I'll assume it's a typo. Google maps says 8hr 45 min. I've driven almost the whole road, just on different trips. My guess is closer to 12-14 hours with no stops. The western Austria side of E60 is in and out of partly covered tunnel and can be brutal if you're tired. Also, since it's the only major way through east-west it can get backed up with trucks and general traffic. Also, the section between Salzburg and Innsbruck can get super backed up with traffic coming from Munich through to Italy. So, inevitably you'll have to stop and use the restroom, eat, etc. Flying would be faster and probably cheaper given price of gas and car rental. Taking the train would be even longer I'm guessing with all the changes.