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Help a Family of 6 Heading to Munich & then Salzburg for 1st time!!

Hi - we are flying into Munich in late November. Will be renting a car and driving to Salzburg. Staying in the old town for a few days then driving back to Munich. Staying there 3 days then coming home. Must visits for us include Neuschwanstein/Hohenschwangau/Linderhof for a day trip. Will also try to visit Dachau. Christmas Market in Munich as well. In Salzburg we will do the Sound of Music tour. I was bummed that the Eagles Nest in Berchesgaden is closed due to the time of year. Would really appreciate any ideas for the following:
- We land at 7 AM so have to get a car but the drive from Munich to Salzburg...any stops we should definitely make?
- Any excursions from Salzburg that we should do (we will do everything within Salzburg incl Sound of Music, their castle, Mozart)?
- Neuschwanstein and the other castles are a definite day trip from Munich as is Dachau but anything else a must?
- Right now it is 3 days Salzburg and 3 days Munich. With the Eagles Nest closed for visitors should I make it 2 Salzburg and 4 Munich?

Btw, our kids are 17, 15, 12 and 6. Thank you!!

Posted by
5951 posts

Sounds like fun. Did you know about the Bayern train tickets? They are quite a bargain, especially for families. I used them once to go from Munich to Neuschwanstein for the day. On another trip, we used them for a day trip from Salzburg to Munich. (Even though its a German/Bavarian train, it does venture to Salzburg) You don't need a car for Salzburg or Munich, especially if you'd like to be in city center. Just a thought.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks Jules - I am torn on the car rental. Is approximately $1400 since we need a van. Given the amount of luggage at least initially and when leaving I didnt know if the train would be a pain. But, to your point, if we are only going Munich-Salzburg-Munich- Neuschwanstein-Dachau-Munich-airport the train would probably be fine. I am also kind of excited, but also a little fearful, of driving on the Autobahn!

Posted by
181 posts

The autobahn was one of the most pleasant driving experiences I've ever had! Not scary at all. Everyone was driving at about the same speed as we do in the US, but the big difference is how orderly it all was. You MUST stay in the right lane unless you are actively passing. But - cruise along in the right lane at whatever speed you'd like, and you'll be just fine.

Posted by
6751 posts

"Help a Family of 6 Heading to Munich & then Salzburg for 1st time!!"

OK, I do see you need some planning help. It might not be the help you expect, but having been there and done that many times, I'll give you my best advice.

"We land at 7 AM so have to get a car..."

A general rule of thumb is that getting behind the wheel in an unfamiliar driving environment, with signage in a different language, different rules of the road, and a different driving culture, especially after an overnight transatlantic overnight flight (possibly resulting in a lack of sleep, drowsiness, jet lag, etc.) and for a 2+-hr. drive, is an invitation to impaired driving. Also, there is no sound reason for having a car while in Munich or visiting Dachau. A more prudent planning strategy for Day 1 would put the 6 of you on a simple and direct 30-minute train ride into central Munich; after that, you check in for 3 nights (or so) and do your Munich/Dachau sightseeing over those first days, using public transportation.

If you want or feel you need a car for your tour of N'stein, H'schwangau, and Linderhof trip (all are palaces - not a castle in the bunch, btw!) you could pick up the car on Day 4 (or perhaps the evening prior.) Rather than travel BACK to Munich, you could just drive straight on to Salzburg for your first night there.

On your last full sightseeing day in the area, you'd leave Salzburg (or wherever you end up that day) in the pm and head straight to MUC airport for a final hotel night there.

"...anything else a must?"

I don't consider anything on your list a must for everyone. Go ahead and see what interests you most, but DO follow up with some more research. You know yourselves best. Right now, I don't see much "personalization" of your itinerary. It's basically just what Rick Steves thinks is cool. What interests do YOU have? Munich does have some good museums of all kinds, including the automobile kind. The Alpine destinations - Füssen, Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and Mittenwald, for example - are much more than just afterthoughts near palaces built by an eccentric Bavarian Monarch. Munich itself has an excellent palace experience - Nymphenburg - with more to see than any one of the alpine palaces. With some more looking, you might find that some of your first choices are replaceable. Here are a few links I have handy to get you started.

https://hastingshouse.typepad.com/hastings_house_us/2007/04/mittenwald_germ.html

https://hastingshouse.typepad.com/hastings_house_us/2006/05/hallstatt.html

https://hastingshouse.typepad.com/hastings_house_us/2006/07/berchtesgaden.html

Posted by
6567 posts

Thanks Jules - I am torn on the car rental. Is approximately $1400
since we need a van. Given the amount of luggage at least initially
and when leaving I didnt know if the train would be a pain. But, to
your point, if we are only going Munich-Salzburg-Munich-
Neuschwanstein-Dachau-Munich-airport the train would probably be fine.

A car seems like a waste of money to be honest. Munich to Salzburg is much easier by train. Getting to Dachau is also very easy. If you feel that you need a car to visit Neuschwanstein/Hohenschwangau/Linderhof, you can rent a car for day.

Posted by
506 posts

Check the website Seat 61 for helpful train information. Having a car in Munich or Salzburg is a headache and a big parking expense, especially when public transit is so good. But it might be convenient to rent a car for the day of your Neuschwanstein trip.

Posted by
3879 posts

I agree with the poster above who mentioned the Bayern ticket. Up to 5 people can travel on the ticket for 26 € for the first passenger and then 8 € for each additional passenger BUT your 12 yo and 6 yo could travel for free on the ticket. You would just need to buy a single ticket for the person #6. One catch: good for travel from 9 am to 3 am on weekdays, good for travel all morning on weekends and holidays. https://www.bahn.com/en/offers/regional/regional-day-ticket-for-bavaria

A family of 4 took a trip to Salzburg and Munich over spring break in 2018. I thought their trip sounded pretty great; it included things not on your itinerary. If you are interested in what they did, here's the trip report: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/family-trip-to-salzburg-munich-3-29-4-7-18

From Dachau's "Guidelines for Visitors" webpage:

We advise that children under the age of 12 do not visit the museum
exhibitions, memorial site grounds or the former crematorium as some
of the display material could disturb them.

Posted by
9780 posts

Driving a car upon arrival from an overnight flight from the states is dangerous for both you and all the rest of the people on the road.

For your planned sites, the train connects them well and frankly would be a lot less of a hassle. I recommend as others above did spending some time on those Man from Seat 61 webpages about Germany and Austria and particularly the ease of getting from Munich to Salzburg.

Hope you have a great trip !

Posted by
33131 posts

I agree that the train will very likely work out much better for you. Parking in Salzburg is very very expensive - does your hotel provide parking? Never fit a van in most spaces - do they have extra large spaces? Parking in Munich can be fun too. That's why when I drive to Munich I always stay several stops out on the S-Bahn.

The Bayern Ticket could have been made just for you. It will be a nearly perfect fit, and way cheap. Covers all local and regional trains and buses and trams anywhere in the whole state of Bavaria for the whole day, as many trips as you want, and even includes Salzburg (because it is in Austria, only the train in and out - you need Salzburg buses (neat electric ones using two trolley wires) separately.

I'd think twice about including the two youngest to Dachau. It is not an easy place for anybody, certainly not for little ones.

Posted by
517 posts

The Christmas Markets at St. Wolfgang / Strobl / St. Gilgen are WELL worth the visit. One of our all-time favourite market experiences.

Be sure to get off the main square for the markets in Munich.

Be cautious of taking a six year old to Dachau--maybe plan an alternative for the youngest and one parent.

Agree about driving after landing. Either take a train or do Munich first.

Posted by
12 posts

Our family of 3 rented a car a few years ago because my husband didn't want to mess with luggage on trains. We were there 16 days and stayed in 8 different cities. Having the car was nice to travel between cities but it does help to have a navigator to interpret the road signs. Driving the autoban was fine, just know the laws. Stay right except to pass. The car rental price was good, but gas and parking were high. Most cities we parked the car at the hotel and left it. I chose to book a tour bus to Neuschwanstein Castle. It stopped in Oberamergau (lots of cute shops) and Linderhof Palace on the way. I did this because I had heard tickets and parking at Neuschwanstein Castle were tough. The tour provided all the tickets. The only downside was you are on their schedule. One day trip we took from Munich was to Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. That trip is weather dependent. We stopped in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for dinner on our way back. Make time for walking around the Marienplatz area in Munich. Hope you have fun.

Posted by
4438 posts

I loved Fussen and I think it was a bus that was so easy to take to get from Fussen to Neuschwanstein Castle. I didn't go to the other two palaces, but only went to Neuschwanstein because my teenaged daughter wanted to go there. If I'd never been to that palace, I wouldn't feel like I had missed anything, but it did get me to Fussen where I would otherwise never have gone. I hope you have Rick's Germany book-it was very helpful for making transportation connections.

Posted by
980 posts

First, bravo on doing your homework with your trip planning and being open to suggestions!

I'll echo the others and say you will save yourself a lot of stress, frustration and money by taking the train to Salzburg instead of renting a car. There is always traffic on either the ring road in Munich and/or the A8 to Salzburg and you will be too beat to really enjoy anything that first day. For reference, we lived in Munich and owned a car there and I STILL took the train when we traveled to Salzburg instead of driving.

Now for Neuschwanstein, I'm 6 on one hand and half a dozen on the other on driving vs public transport. It's easy enough to do by public transport but I personally prefer the drive as I like to stop along the way at the Wieskirche or one of the lakes on the way or even take the long way through the foothill and Reutte.

Is your itinerary 6 days or 6 nights? Either way it is pretty short but if it is 6 days/5nights I would say cut one night from Salzburg.

DJ

Posted by
458 posts

- We land at 7 AM so have to get a car but the drive from Munich to Salzburg...any stops we should definitely make?
The drive is very easy. A lot of 4-lane fast roads. Once in Salzburg, there are big park and ride lots on the edge of town. I might recommend these since driving in Salzburg and parking is a bit stressful with a 6-person vehicle. Maybe stop at Chiemsee?
- Any excursions from Salzburg that we should do (we will do everything within Salzburg incl Sound of Music, their castle, Mozart)?
I think the JennerBahn, some hikes and lunch at the gondola station restaurant is a must. The Boat trip on Konigsee is nice, but the kids might not be as impressed. The Salt Mine would be a good day trip and you could do some of the Berchtesgaden Nazi sights that are open.
- Neuschwanstein and the other castles are a definite day trip from Munich as is Dachau but anything else a must?
For me, if you go to Neuschwanstein, Hoenschwangau is pretty cool and intimate add-on. Its a Loooong day trip from Munich to Fussen, though. Andechs Monastery is a good hike if the weather is nice and there's beer at the end. Is Nymphemburg of interest?
- Right now it is 3 days Salzburg and 3 days Munich. With the Eagles Nest closed for visitors should I make it 2 Salzburg and 4 Munich?
No, I think the area around Salzburg is more interesting than adding another Munich day. I honestly think 3 days in Munich is about all I'd ever spend.
Btw, our kids are 17, 15, 12 and 6. Thank you!!
I'd try to do a lot of "wide open spaces" and hiking stuff with that crew.

Posted by
5951 posts

I agree that Hohenschwangau is pretty special. I think I would say I liked it better than Neuschwanstein. Hohen is completely furnished and the guide provides so much information about the family. There were a lot of empty rooms in Neu, and the tour guide moved pretty fast and tour groups were large. We were allowed to linger and Hohen.

Posted by
21 posts

This is a great trip with kids, we did it several times with our kids were young.

Hellbrun is a fun place and definitely Hallein, who doesn't like to go down a slide. Also the cable car up the mountain is great to do with kids. Depending what activities make your final cut you might want to get a Salzburg card, it includes entry to a number of the sites, Hellbrun, the Fortress, including the funicular to the fortress and Salzburg public transportation and more. We have always gotten our monies' worth when buying it.

If you do the train and even if not, you really want to be judicious with the luggage. Keep it as absolutely light as possible, otherwise it is miserable. We have learned hard way and now do 5 weeks in Europe with carry on only, takes some planning but totally worth the effort.