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Tips for a route in Germany/Switzerland

I am planning a trip next September to Munich for Oktoberfest. We will spend about 3 nights. I want to see Dachau, Garmish-Partenkerchen....???? After that, I want to go as much by train to Gimmelwald, Switzerland. We will be traveling without a car. Any suggestions? Is it best to go through Zurich or Basel or ???
As you can see, I'm tossing around an itinerary. I have 14 days. I'd like to visit the wine region in France - Alsace. Am I grabbing at too much here? Thanks all! Keep on Traveling!

Posted by
6850 posts

So you are spending 3 nights in Munich - do those 3 nights include Dachau and Garmisch? Or are those additional days? Regardless, both are easy to get to from Munich by train.

Gimmelwald (or do you mean Grindelwald?) is quite a distance (by train) from Munich - your best bet would be to stop off in Alsace first. Strasbourg is a 4 1/2 to 5 hour train ride from Munich. You can have your fill of the wine region (also the Black Forest if you're inclined) then head down to Switzerland.

That said, it would help to know where you are flying into and out of? Is it Munich both ways?

Posted by
2360 posts

If you google: Mittenwald to Gimmelwald then click on the train symbol, this will show you the routes and stops for public transportation (train/bus/cable car etc). (This is just an example. Use any cities you want to travel between). You’ll see this takes over 8 hours and some routes have many connections. Gimmelwald is a tiny village accessible only by cable car (which will be included in these connections). Lauterbrunnen is the transportation hub in the Berner Oberland area.

Seeing all of these places in 14 days may be ambitious. It depends on whether those 14 days include your travel days to/from Europe. If so, you only have 12 days. When you say “3 nights” in Munich, that is two full days for sightseeing. Then you would need at least a night (preferably 2) in GP. Then 4-5 nights in Switzerland. So we’re up to 10 nights. Your last night needs to be in whatever city you will fly home from (Zurich?), so that leaves no time for Alsace.

Posted by
6758 posts

Am I grabbing at too much here?

Probably. Some thoughts...

  • 3 nights in Munich probably won't allow you to cover Munich, O'fest, Garmisch, AND Dachau (if that's what your plan is, not sure.)

  • If you are heading to the Swiss Alps anyway, I think Garmisch is probably an unnecessary detour.

  • The Alsace is near the Black Forest (as travel4fun points out) and combines well with a train trip into Bern and the Bernese Oberland (and perhaps onward to Gimmelwald, or Lauterbrunnen, or Mürren) via Basel.

  • There is another very big German "Oktoberfest" known as the Cannstatter Volksfest (Sept. 22 - Oct. 8) which takes place in Stuttgart and has been an annual event for the last 175 years or so. Stuttgart and the Alsatian city of Strasbourg are only 80-90 minutes apart by train.

So I'm thinking Munich etc., besides being crazy expensive during Oktoberfest, is looking like a destination too far and that your Germany-time would be better spent closer to your France and Switzerland destinations. Basel would be a sort of central point for your 3-country visit. There's actually a monument there that marks the spot where the 3 countries meet called the Dreiländereck.

So maybe your revised, more compact itinerary would break down roughly as follows...

Fly into Stuttgart (or maybe Frankfurt, then take the direct train - just 70 minutes - from FRA airport to Stuttgart.)

1.) 5 days for Germany: Stuttgart for the Volksfest + nearby places + the Black Forest towns

Good options accessible by train include... Esslingen - Tübingen - Gengenbach - Gutach Schwarzwaldbahn - Freiburg

2.) 4 days for France: Strasbourg? Colmar? Just 30 minutes on the train between these two.

3.) 5 days for Switzerland (Bernese Oberland... Lauterbrunnen can be reached by train and is a lovely base town for Mürren, the Schilthorn, Gimmelwald, Grindelwald, the Jungfrau...) Look into Basel as well - it might be a place that interests you. You'll probably need to overnight in Zurich prior to your flight out; it's a nice city to visit on foot and shouldn't require more than half a day or so.

Fly out of Zurich (about 2.5 hours by train from Zurich)

There is a concentration camp memorial site in the Alsace roughly in between Strasbourg and Colmar if you really feel visiting one of these is appropriate/imperative:

https://www.struthof.fr/en/preparez-votre-visite/visiteurs-individuels#c1255

Posted by
374 posts

I recommend rome2rio website for possible routs, also man in seat 61 website for practical train info you can input your destination.

Posted by
19156 posts

Look up schedules from Munich to the Berner Oberland on the Bahn schedule website. There are basically two routes, via Bregenz Austria and Zürich or across southern Germany to the Rhein and up the Rhein to Basel, then across Switzerland to Interlaken Ost. From Intelaken, your route would be the same no matter how you got there. Depending on when you leave, the times for either route are pretty much the same.

In my opinion, I would take the route through Bregenz as I think it is more scenic. It goes around the east end of Bodensee, through the island town of Lindau, Germany. I would probably get off at Lindau-Insel and enjoy Lindau for a few hours. It's on an island in the Lake, with a cute little harbor with a great view across the lake of the Swiss Alps. We spent four nights there in 2017.