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Germany/Austria Trip Planning - May 2023


I am in the process of (trying) to plan a two week vacation visiting Germany and Austria in late-May, 2023. We are a mid-50's couple (no kids) who enjoy the outdoors, scenery, architecture, and small towns. We spent two weeks in Switzerland a few years ago and fell in love with the mountains. So, far we've booked flights in and out of Munich. We've begun to put together a list of places we'd like to see and have read most of Rick's books on these areas. I'm hoping you might be able to provide some insight and critique on our plans.

Since we have an overnight flight into Munich, we're planning to spend the first three nights in Munich. Although, we're typically not 'city' people, it seems like there's lots to see in Munich and we shouldn't miss it. For the next nine nights, we'd like to wander through southern Germany and Austria to see a number of sights. Here is a rough idea of where we're at in terms of planning our itinerary:

  • Munich - Three nights - Tour Munich, pickup rental car on last day in Munich
  • Garmisch/Mittenwald areas - three nights - visit Neuschwanstein, Fussen, Oberammergau, Mittenwald, and Innsbruck (maybe)
  • Kitzbuhel - three nights - visit Schloss Herrenchiemsee, Grossglocker High Alpine Road, Gerlos Road, Zell am See
  • Just our Salzburg area (Wals??, Anif??) - three nights - visit Salzburg, Hallstatt, Wolfgansee, Bad Ischl, Salzkammergut lakes, etc
    • Munich Airport Hotel - last night - have an early flight so will stay at airport night before.

We're going to rent a car as we feel it gives us lots of options and we are able to use 'travel' days between areas to actually visit places on the way rather than get bogged down in worrying about where to store luggage, etc if we took the train.

I'm (really) trying to minimize the number of times that we have to change hotels, but in looking at places/sights that we wanted to visit, it seemed that these areas were centrally located (typically no more than an hour from the overnight location). We're also considering staying just outside Salzburg to give us more flexibility with visiting places in the area and not having to park in garages, etc. in downtown Salzburg.

Also: We'll be visiting during Pentecost/Whitmonday and Corpus Christi. I understand that these are national holidays, but curious to know how much they will affect our travels.

Is this itinerary too optimistic? Would be eternally grateful for insights, comments, suggestions, on how to improve our vacation plans. Any specific hotel recommendations would be welcome as well. We tend to like more quiet, outside the city locations.

Thanks, in advance, for your input!

Posted by
2224 posts

The holidays used to be a problem in the olden days when you had to get money at a bank. Since the holidays are not celebrated with in the U. S. they always ‘snuck up on me’ and I would find myself short of cash. Grocery stores might be closed.

Since you will be staying a few days in each location, you might consider ferienwohnung ( vacation apartments ). Here is one just outside Salzburg that we loved.

Posted by
3713 posts

So, it looks like city x 3 nights, mountains x 6 nights, lakes x 3 nights. Looks like a pretty good plan to me.

1. You used the Neuschwanstein word -- that will elicit opinions!

2. Innsbruck would be the least interesting town/city to me on your list for the Garmisch area.
3. You will drive right past Schloss Herrenchiemsee as you drive back to Munich from Salzburg -- perhaps do that on your way back to Munich and find another another activity while at Kitzbuhel? Maybe explore some of the Wilder Kaiser villages?
4. A lake in the opposite direction of Halstatt relative to Salzburg is Königssee just outside Berchtesgaden, if you would like another option. If you take the boat all the way across the lake, there is a nice walk to a smaller lake (Obersee); from there, you can hike around the right side of Obersee, then ascend into an alpine meadow surrounded by mountains (and containing cows!), and then on to the highest waterfall in Germany (Röthbach Falls).

Posted by
8780 posts

Pentacost and Pentacost Monday are official holidays in all of Germany, which means that all stores will be closed, except at train stations and airports.
Corpus Christi is an official holiday in these states: Bavaria, Hessen, Rheinland Pfalz, Saarland, Baden Württemburg, Nordrhein Westfalen.

Tourist attractions, restaurants, cafes will be open on those days though. Usually museums are closed on Mondays, but when it is a holiday, they are often open. Check the websites of any museums you want to visit. If there were churches you wanted to see, there may be services, but again, their websites will tell you the hours. For Pentacost especially, they may be doing something special during mass, that might be interesting for you to see.

Posted by
140 posts

Looks like a pretty good plan to me.
With the Pentacost weekend a 2 weeks school holiday period will start in Bavaria (and Baden Württemberg). Impact for your travel might be that Friday 26th afternoon and Saturday 27th of May will be very heavy travel days with expected crowds on Munich airport and traffic jam on the main routes to the South, specifically:
Füssen – Reutte – Lermoos – Nassereith
A8 Munich – Salzburg
A93 Rosenheim - Kufstein
A13 Innsbruck – Brenner (border to Italy)
A10 Salzburg – Villach

Concerning King Ludwig II castles my recommendation is to visit Linderhof Castle from the inside while Neuschwanstein is fine to see from the outside while Heerenchiemsee is an optional stop on Salzburg to Munich route.

Looking at your plan for the Kitzbühl stay it might be better to think about Mittersill, Kaprun or Zell am See.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks to all for the insight and suggestions so far.

Looking at the map, we will see Schloss Herrenchiemsee on our way back to Munich. Konigssee was on our list of places to see and I neglected to add it to the list when I typed my message. Thanks

We are arriving into Munich on the morning of 26 May and plan to take the train to our hotel (Hilton City Center). Should I expect any issues with the trains on Friday, 26 May as it's a heavy travel day? We plan to leave the Munich area on Monday, 29 May. Should we expect to encounter traffic, etc on our drive to the Garmisch/Mittenwald areas? What about traffic on Friday afternoons heading from Salzburg to Munich? (I think we'd plan to arrive back in Munich around 3pm on Friday 9 Jun.

Thanks for the suggestions about Mittersill, Kaprun, or Zell am See. I will look into those locations as alternatives to Kitzbuhl.

Thanks, again, for all of the suggestions. They are much appreciated!

Posted by
255 posts

Also mid-50s, tend towards small villages…We loved basing in a little hotel above Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden (there are two Ramsaus in Germany). We were there first half of June

We could dash over to day trip in Salzburg, Königsee, Berchtesgaden, or do some just amazing day hikes right in our area. At night, our hotel had a fantastic Mountain View patio and a great restaurant. The smell of fresh cut hay and the sound of cowbells was magical as we fell asleep

I’m glad we bagged going to Garmisch and added days to this area. DM me if you want more details

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks to all for your informative responses. They have been very helpful! In looking at the calendar, I found that we will actually have 2 extra days to spend in the area and now on to the tough task of finding great places to stay in each location.

Posted by
1207 posts

I think you need to look at how your itinerary drives and places to stay along the route. The Old Gerlos Strasse from Zillertal towards Mittersill and Zell am See for a day (maybe Krimml Falls), then on to the Grossglocker High Alpine Road on to Heiligenblut, Lienz? Are you up to these roads? I've stayed here for the view: Some of these roads can be an "Adventure Tour."

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for all of the great suggestions and input. Based on the recommendations, we're going to skip Kitzbuhel as a base and look for accommodations around Mittersill, Kaprun, etc. I think we want to stay outside of Zell Am See as I've seen lots of comments that it's become very 'touristy' and we'd rather stay outside of the area. We will still visit Zell, but probably not stay there. If anyone has any suggestions for decent places to stay, I'd love to hear about them.

We are looking forward to driving the Gerlos and Grossglockner High Alpine Roads. We've driven many mountain roads in the US and in Norway and love the scenery that these offer. I've also heard that many of the accommodations in the area around the Grossglockner Road offer a summercard that includes the fee for the road.

Thanks again, for all of your insight!