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Itinerary feedback for Germany and Austria, 8 days

I'd love feedback for a trip we're planning for next July. We only have 7 nights. We are two parents and a 16 year-old boy, who is excited about his first trip to Europe. (He saw Hallstatt on a Rick Steves episode and really wants to go there).

I'd love for him to get to see a walled city and a castle. We will be traveling by train, which should be more fun for all of us than driving. I'm concerned about whether the schedule is too tight and also about the fact that the current arrangement puts us in Salzburg on the first two days of the Salzburg festival, which probably means even bigger crowds.

Current plan:

Day 1: Arrive from RDU into Frankfurt in AM. Train to Rothenburg and spend one night. Explore and go on Night Watchman's Tour.

Day 2: Train to Dachau. Hopefully store our backpack luggage in lockers at station. See Dachau then train to central Munich. Rick Steves old town walking tour, Viktualienmarkt, Hofbräuhaus for dinner?

Day 3: Munich - day trip to Neuschwanstein and alpine slide

Day 4 (July 20): Train to Salzburg. Walking tour.

Day 5 (July 21): Salzburg - climb to castle, possibly do apple strudel baking class.

Day 6: Bus, train and ferry to Hallstatt and spend night. Salt mine tour and maybe skywalk while there.

Day 7: Train back to Munich and stay at hotel near airport.

Day 8: Fly home in AM.

I've seen advice that both Rothenburg and Hallstatt are nicer if you can stay overnight, hence the single nights there. We'd love to make the trip longer, but obligations at home prevent that.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Posted by
2920 posts

Hi Anne,

I think it's too much being on the go. Why fly into Frankfurt? Skip flying to Frankfurt and seeing Rothenburg.

Day 1 and 2 - Arrive Munich, you can do a walking tour and Dahau in your first 2 days.
Skip Neuschwanstein day.
Day 3 - Visit Ludwig's Herrenchiemsee Palace on the trip to Salzburg. Evening and night in Salzburg.
Day 4 - Salzburg.
Day 5 - Trip to Hallstatt.
Day 6 - Hallstatt back to Salzburg or even St. Gilgen for a night.
Day 7 - Train to Munich or even Freising or Erding for last night before flight home.
Day 8 - Flight home.

Just my opinion.


Posted by
14156 posts

Do you have a non-stop flight from RDU to Frankfurt? If you can work it out, I'd also go with flying in to Munich. I do think you are trying to put too much in to your short time. I DO understand you have to use whatever time you have available.

Day 1 I can't imagine you'll be in any shape to do the Night Watchman's tour on your arrival day with jet lag and travel tiredness on board.

Day 2 seems like a lot. I've done everything you have listed but was on a RS tours so had someone else doing the logistics for me. Dachau takes several hours to do so with train travel to and onward from the Dachau station plus transport to/from the Memorial site that's going to eat up a chunk of your day. I, too would skip Neuschwanstein in favor of a day in Munich to see things.

I'd fly in to Munich, drop Rothenburg ob der Tauber for this trip. Do Dachau as a day trip on your day 3 after you've recovered some. For myself, I would need to do any concentration camp memorial when I am not feeling tired as I can see it easily being overwhelming if you're not at the top of your game. I'd drop Neuschwanstein and see the castle in Salzburg.

No advice about the timing and the Salzburg Festival.

Posted by
1585 posts

Day 1: Arrive from RDU into Frankfurt in AM. Train to Rothenburg and spend 2 nights. (Explore and go on Night Watchman's Tour)

Day 2: Rothenburg – Morning trip to charming village of Bamberg Germany.

Day 3: Train to Dachau. Hopefully store our backpack luggage in lockers at station. See Dachau then train to Saltzburg.

Day 4: Saltzburg - Day trip to Hallstatt by either bus, train or ferry. Salt mine tour and maybe skywalk while there.

Day 5: Salzburg - Climb to castle, possibly do apple strudel baking class and Walking tour.

Day 6: Train to Central Munich (Rick Steves old town walking tour, Viktualienmarkt, Hofbräuhaus for dinner).

Day 7: Munich - Day trip to Neuschwanstein and alpine slide

Day 8: Munich - Fly home Am

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you both! My idea about flying into Frankfurt was purely based on Rothenburg (seemed like a shorter train ride than from Munich). I think you're both right that we'll have to skip Rothenburg, and I'll give some serious thought to skipping the Neuschwanstein castle as well.

Paul, I will look into those other places you mentioned (St. Gilgen, Freising and Erding) as well as the other King Ludwig castle you mentioned.

Pam, good point about not rushing Dachau and being mentally prepared for it.

I don't have our plane tickets yet, so I can look into Munich round-trips and might see if we can possible go a week earlier to avoid the Salzburg festival.

Thank you again!

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you RJean! Lots of food for thought. I can see the advantage of leaving Munich to the end in terms of the return flight.

Posted by
6735 posts

"See Dachau then train to central Munich. Rick Steves old town walking tour, Viktualienmarkt, Hofbräuhaus for dinner?"

I doubt that it's possible to squeeze all this in. Munich is being short-changed. And More doubtful, after 2-3 hours of horrific imagery and chilling personal stories, is that you'll be in a mood for pleasantries in Munich or some Hofbräuhaus fun. Dachau isn't just another tourist stop.

You are right about crowds in Salzburg and I think you'll be equally put off by the crowds in much smaller Rothenburg during high tourist season. It's a bit arduous to get there after a long flight, and there are other less touristy walled towns.

The whole bit attempts to squeeze in too much over too much territory, IMHO.

You have 3 nights in 2 different places in Austria, and 5 different overnight stops over 7 nights. I'd suggest just three. Try this to see almost everything (castle, walled town, but no Hallstatt) - it is still aggressive but it should make things easier.

Day 1: FRA to Munich (3.5 hours, about the same as for Rothenburg, for 2 nights.) Getting to R'burg would mean at least 3 different trains - instead, look for the ONE-TRAIN journeys to Munich.) Afternoon/evening in Munich.

Day 2: In Munich

Day 3: Leave bags at Munich station locker. Day trip to Dachau and back. Then, evening train to... WERFEN, Austria for 3 nights.

Days 4, 5: Visit Hohenwerfen Castle and falconry show. Walk the "Sound of Music Trail" in Werfen, and/or visit the Eisriesenwelt ice caves.


Day 6: morning train into Salzburg. Store bags in locker and sightsee on foot.
Day 6, evening: Train back to Munich proper for 2 nights.

Day 7: Day trip to Nördlingen (walled town) on the Romantic Road - and back to Munich. It's a pleasant place during the daytime, not inundated with tourists like Rothenburg. You can walk the old-town fortifications here too.

Day 8: Morning train to airport.

Posted by
6 posts

Wow, this forum is such a great resource! Thanks all! I do think I was short-changing Munich. We also have an acquaintance there we may try to share a meal with, so my plan was too rushed. I just wasn't sure what the "feel" of Munich is in terms of how big it is and how enjoyable it is to spend time there.

I'm intrigued by the idea of staying outside of Salzburg and will look at Werfen. Thank you for the suggestion of another walled city. Will check out Nördlingen.

I haven't purchased flights yet, so RDU to Munich round trip would be nice and simple. There are no nonstop flights, and prices seem to be high for one-stop flights ($1,700 ish per person), but I can work on booking that and fine tune the itinerary after that. My husband and I haven't been to Europe since 1997, so I don't know what a good price is for a flight. Flying our of a smaller market like Raleigh doesn't help.

Posted by
6735 posts

"I'm intrigued by the idea of staying outside of Salzburg and will look at Werfen."

I don't have any personal rec's there - we stayed a couple of nights at the apartment linked to below in Golling (a few miles / train stops further downstream on the Salzach River) this past June - loved the place, the balcony and the view, and the breakfast that came with it in the cafe downstairs. But Werfen itself could be more convenient for those activities and sights I referred to. (also on

Posted by
3879 posts

Hi, Anne. Welcome to the forum. There are a lot of ideas in your initial post. I'm wondering what your family's top priorities are. I was particularly struck by

He saw Hallstatt on a Rick Steves episode and really wants to go there

How important is that to your son and to you?

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks, Dave. As my son is still sleeping (finished finals yesterday and has the day off), I'll attempt to answer without consulting him. I think he was drawn to Hallstatt due to its breathtaking beauty. I think the same program might have shown Neuschwanstein, and he also wants to see that for similar reasons. I have explained that both places will have crowds, and he wasn't too put off by that. It's nice that Hallstatt also has a salt mine, which is something we haven't seen before and is a part of the history and economy of the general area.

In working on our itinerary, I consulted the Rick Steves 8-day tour from Munich to Vienna. We decided we would skip Vienna, but I added Rothenburg (which I spent a night in as a teenager and still remember the charm of the old wall), Dachau and the alpine slide near Neuschwanstein. Of course the Rick Steves tour travels by chartered bus, so that is a big factor in fitting things in.

Posted by
6735 posts

"Of course the Rick Steves tour travels by chartered bus, so that is a big factor in fitting things in."

Yes. And I would not use a RS bus tour as a template for independent travel - for the above reason in part, but also because any bus tour is more about group logistics and vibe than it is about individual preferences, self-pacing, and exploration. If you are enjoying something, getting pulled away by a travel plan that dictates every move may be frustrating.

If you decide to keep Hallstatt, Neuschwanstein, Rothenburg - or any of the places that impose stress on your transport logistics and your geographic footprint over 6+ days (Day 8 is nothing and Day 1 will be somewhat compromised anyway)... then I would just advise you to get very, very detailed about every train, bus, and inner-city transport trip you must make; calculate also your walking time between station and hotels - and between the sights. Figure where you might hit ATMS; calculate the time it takes to check in and out at hotels, your packing-up and unpacking time, your breakfast time (don't assume you can get it before 7:30 or 8:00 - ask in advance) - and how long this or that tour takes. In other words, to pack it all in, you will have to do what the RS tours have to do.

Once every minute is down on paper, you need to allot extra time here and there. What if a train is late and you miss your connection, or your rental car gets stuck in traffic? What if you're half way to Hallstatt and you realize you left your meds or your favorite shoes back in the hotel bathroom? On one recent trip, my B&B host had a sudden death in the family and turned us away at the doorstep. STUFF HAPPENS - and more often than it does when you're at home.

Then take a look at your itinerary and see how much time you have left to see/do/experience stuff.

It's great that you are incorporating your teen's interests in your trip. That said, it's also a good lesson for him to understand what responsible trip-planning entails - it's not only about chasing dreams spawned by glossy travel pics and impressive video, but also about making well-reasoned choices. There is also merit in leaving one or two of those dreams unfulfilled. If you have a nice trip this time, he'll want to go back and see those places on his own sometime. And IME, college kids - and he'll be one soon - tend to end up with vacation time and ample opportunity to travel and/or study abroad.

Posted by
6 posts

Good points. I'm going to play around with ideas and may give up Rothenburg and Neuschwanstein and see if we can keep Hallstatt. Wish I had a good old paper map to look at of the whole area. One idea I might look into is flying out of Salzburg instead of Munich if it's not any more expensive.

I appreciate all the feedback!

Posted by
1852 posts

Anne hi.

Flying into or out of Salzburg is certainly a possibility. does a great job of covering European budget airlines/routes that American search engines routinely miss.

There are many alpine slides and coasters in the Alps. In the Salzkammergut (near Hallstatt) there's one at Strobl and one near Fuschl. There's one between Salzburg and Berchtesgaden called Keltenblitz.

If your teen like to slide then note that Galaxy Erding, near the Munich Airport, is the largest indoor waterslide park in Europe. It's a fun way to interact with Germans at play.

Hallstatt is kind of a Cul de Sac. We're walking there on a seven day hiking tour of the Salzkammergut in July. The day we need to leave will require 3 hours of public transit to get to the Salzburg Airport, and that's leaving on the quickest possible trip of the day. You're gonna burn a lot of time in transit to see Hallstatt on a day trip from Salzburg.

Maybe base yourself in St. Gilgen, or thereabouts, and then you're a 30 minutes from Salzburg and closer to mountain coasters, alpine cog railways, swimming, Hallstatt. You could spend three nights there and the rest in Munich and go home relaxed.