Please sign in to post.

Questions about Munich-Vienna-Italy trip in June

Hi all,
I have never signed up for a travel forum before, so thank you for your patience--and please let me know if I have broken any forum etiquette with this litany of questions embedded in one post.

My family and I (two teens, two adults) are hoping to get our plane tickets this week for a trip primarily to Italy but also Vienna. We plan to go after the first week in June for 2 weeks--so maybe leave June 12, come back June 26th, but have flexibility in arrival and departure date as long as it is 2 weeks and is an affordable option. We are seeing that it is much less expensive to fly into Munich and leave out of Milan--than it would be to fly into and out of Rome or Vienna, for example). In terms of itinerary, we were thinking
Munich to Vienna (daughter loves classical music and plays piano and cello so to her this is a must), Vienna to Venice, Venice to Rome, Rome to Tuscany, Tuscany to Milan. The first few days would be in Munich and Vienna and the rest would be in Italy. I wasn't thinking more than a full day in Venice, either, so we could spend more time in Rome.

My husband wanted to do southern Switzerland, too (originally we were going to fly in and out of Zurich because it is cheap), but he has since realized that this is likely not possible due to time constraints. Flying out of Munich instead of Zurich seems to be about the same price and also puts us a little closer to Vienna--so saves precious time--and it's way cheaper than flying in and out of Rome or Vienna.)

My questions--in no particular order except for #1, and no need to answer all if multiple queries are just plain obnoxious:
(1) Does it make sense to fly into Munich and out of Milan? This is my #1 priority question because we want to get the plane tickets asap. They seem to be getting more expensive by the minute!
(2) Is this itinerary (including my time allotments) completely nuts? I am betting a lot of you will say cut out a couple destinations, but given that we have four different brains weighing in with their preferences, my aim is just to try to please everyone! (I guess it's three brains weighing in on preferences, because I have already been to most of these destinations. :) ) I feel a little bad that my husband is giving up the desire to see Switzerland, but I am not sure there is much we can do.
(3) Eurail pass: Worth it for all countries? Or should I just by a pass for Italy? If no Eurail, do you have recommendations for alternate ways to secure train tickets?
(4) Is there still a direct overnight train from Vienna to Venice? I am seeing mixed information on that. We want to do an overnight train (OBB Nightjet) but I am seeing there are 2 changes in between, which I would like to avoid because we will probably be sleeping.
(5) We would like to go to a beach while we are in Italy. (This was a request of my teenagers because they have heard about the beautiful beaches in Italy and also would like a day to "chill.") I have researched beaches but don't know which ones are the best for a family with teens.
(6) Any favorite to-dos in Tuscany--within the context of our time constraints?
(7) Car or no car in Tuscany? Again, we are hearing it's great to rent a car there, but to me that could be a logistical nightmare. And I am reading that there are no cars allowed in some areas (e.g., beach areas).
(8) Any other gold nuggets of wisdom to offer?

Thank you so much for reading this long post--and for any and all recommendations/advice!

Posted by
1581 posts

One little step I can help with is to advise writing it all down day-by-day, like such:

  • Arrive Munich, transfer to Vienna, X days

Include travel details to account for time in transit.
That is the only way I can visualize my trip and determine whether I have allotted time sufficiently.
My initial reaction is that it would be too much moving for me, but we all travel at different paces and with different preferences.
You have a series of cities, but you have expressed interest in "Tuscany" (which to me reads as rural, small village) and a beach day. Those things are not mutually exclusive, but travel takes time, especially with a family in tow.
enjoy!

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you! We do have a spreadsheet with proposed itinerary but not sure it is realIstic.

Posted by
23983 posts

Not too many questions - that's what we love.

So -spill the beans - don't try to copy a spreadsheet here but see if you can do what was suggested above so we can all get our heads around what is on the table.

We'll soon say if there's a problem, and by the way, congrats on such a clear question and good organization for a first question on any forum.

And welcome.

My question back - have you read any of the other threads in the Italy, Switzerland and Austria Forums?

How old are the kids?

Anybody's first trip to Europe, or have some of you been here before?

Posted by
6524 posts

Leaving on the 12th means you arrive on the 13th. That will be a day mostly spent on jet lag recovery. Leaving on the 26th means your last real useful day is the 25th. That gives you 11 days for 'touring'.

My impression is you are too spread out for the number of days you have

I think once you start plotting your travel from place to place that will become evident.

Posted by
6544 posts

Your two week trip is just a little aggressive in places to see. It's just not long enough to properly see all the places on your wish list. Any great European city is worthy of a 4 day minimum visit.
I would suggest either spending the time flying into Italy and taking in Rome, Florence/Tuscany and Venice with a side trip into either the Dolomites or up to Innsbruck and the Austrian Alps.
Or, fly into Munich and take a circle down into Western Tirol, up to Salzburg and over to Vienna.
We usually fly open jaw--into one city and out of another. The lowest price airfare is not always the best value as backtracking may be required to fly home.

Posted by
1137 posts

I would skip Venice as it complicates your trip and one day is not enough time to justify.

You can take a train from Munich to Vienna but at least when I did it, it was about six hours-most of a day. You can fly from Vienna to Rome. My son did the reverse on Ryan air last summer.

The beaches I have been to in Italy are rocky. I would not call them great beaches, although they will allow you still to veg out.

We went to Greece as a family last year and stayed in four places. We did a few day trips also. For us that meant 3-4 nights in a place which worked well.

Beth

Posted by
4343 posts

You stated:
Munich to Vienna (daughter loves classical music and plays piano and cello so to her this is a must), Vienna to Venice, Venice to Rome, Rome to Tuscany, Tuscany to Milan. The first few days would be in Munich and Vienna and the rest would be in Italy. I wasn't thinking more than a full day in Venice, either, so we could spend more time in Rome.

Also, you wanted to fly into Munich and out of Milan.

  1. You want to visit Munich, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Tuscany and Milan in 14 days. You have too many places listed for a two week trip.

Just for Rome, Florence and Venice, you need 10-12 day minimum. Plan on a minimum of 2 days in Venice, 4 for Florence and Tuscany and 5 for Rome. Munich you can do in 3 days, but you don't plan to visit Salzburg, Fussen or Garmisch? That is not smart. Vienna you can do in 3 days.

Forget the beach, the beaches in the Mediterranean are not attractive at all. Even the French Riveria beaches are a disappointment. There is a lot to see in the South of France, but not for the beaches. If you want beaches in Europe, go to the Greek Islands.

We have done the overnight train from Munich to Rome and Munich to Venice, but that was decades ago, so check the internet.

Renting a car for a day trip to Sienna is not a bad idea, but driving on the Italian autostradas is expensive because of the tolls. Gas is three times the cost of what you pay for it in the USA.

Eurail passes are expensive, you can double check, but I doubt if you will find them economical.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks, all. Here is what we were originally thinking for itinerary:
Arrive in Munich on June 13. Stay there the night of June 13 (f that--basically just going there for the cheap flight and quick access to Vienna)
June 14: Early train to Vienna, stay in Vienna for 1 night; see some of the sites (palace, St. Stephen's, etc.) that late afternoon and all the next day.
Evening of June 15: Overnight train to Venice, if it is available. Arrive in morning; Stay overnight (June 16) in Venice.
June 17: Venice to Rome; in Rome for 3-4 nights
June 20 or June 21: Rome to Florence; in Florence 3-4 nights as home base for Tuscany. We would also like to go to Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo on June 22. My son would love that.
June 25-26: Reserved as travel days. Go from Florence to Milan; maybe stop there for a bit before taking the train from Milan to Zurich, spending night in Zurich on 25th before catching flight home.

In addition to itinerary, I know I can get this answered via the other forum topics, and I will check: But does anyone have any words of wisdom on purchasing multi city flights? I am not sure if I am allowed to name specific web sites in particular, but the one where I planned on getting tickets is getting horrible reviews. It begins with a k and ends with an I, and is four letters. :) It has the cheapest flights by far, but I am reading that it is best to reserve directly with the airlines. The latter is sometimes twice the price and does not take allow for multiple airline opportunities, like going overseas on Icelandair and then flying from KEF on Wizz Air or WOW. How can I reserve those smaller, multiple airline flight itineraries if I do not purchase through those non-airline web sites?

Posted by
1581 posts

Now that I see it all written out, I feel more strongly that it is too much. I'm a fancy free forty-something, and I would not do it, and I cannot imagine doing so with two teenagers to drag along.
If you have traveled like this before, of course ignore me--we're all just sharing opinions here, but one night stays are rough.

RE flights. I have bought from websites before and lived to tell the tale, but I generally err on the side of caution and try to buy from the airlines directly. I only get 10 days for vacation, so I am willing to pay more to fly to exactly where I want to be--saving time is as important as money. I know you can search intra-European low cost carriers on the site skyscanner.

Posted by
17165 posts

Too many places, too far apart, for the time you have.

Definitely no rail pass. It will be much, much cheaper to buy individual tickets.

European beaches will be crowded and are often rocky. Getting yourself into position to go to a reasonably decent (though mobbed) one might cost you a precious day. You just can't afford that.

I love Venice, but not for one night. That short a visit will just about guarantee that you disklike the city, because you'll be shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of other tourists all day long. You need time in Venice so you can see your top sights but also can wander around the back canals. Skip Venice until you have more time for it.

There is a night train from Vienna to Venice. These are the stops it makes:
Wien Hbf dep 21:27
Wien Meidling dep 21:35
St.Pölten Hbf dep 22:02
Amstetten NÖ dep 22:29
Linz Hbf dep 22:58
Wels Hbf dep 23:16
Attnang-Puchheim dep 23:34
Salzburg Hbf dep 01:40
Villach Hbf dep 04:45
Tarvisio Boscoverde dep 05:30
Udine dep 06:25
Pordenone dep 07:00
Conegliano dep 07:24
Treviso Centrale dep 07:44
Venezia Mestre dep 08:14
Venezia Santa Lucia arr 08:24

Every stop means braking, station noise, and acceleration. Will all of you sleep through that? The day after the night train is likely to be kind of like a second jetlag day for at least some of you. The last time I tried a night train (not this one), I got not one minute of sleep and fell right into bed as soon as I got to my hotel. I did no sightseeing at all that day. I was on a 4-month trip, so it didn't really matter. A day like that would destroy your itinerary.

Compromises are great for most aspects of life, but they don't necessarily produce viable travel itineraries--certainly not when you have only 12 days to work with.

What is your home airport? Maybe we can come up with a workable multi-city flight.

I don't know what flight website you're looking at, but it should be OK to mention the name here. We talk about Expedia, Kayak, and others often.

Posted by
20 posts

I should have stated above that flying out of Milan is now looking pricey so we decided to look at Zurich again.

At the risk of sounding dense: How is Skyscanner different from sites like Kiwi? Do I still have to go to the airlines directly? Or can I buy straight from Skyscanner because it has that direct connection with the airlines?

Thanks again.

Posted by
17165 posts

Edited.

Some websites send you right to the airline website for purchasing. I use Google Flights, and that's the way it works. But after I decide what flights I want, I just go to the airline website myself, using the one Google has shown with the lowest fare.

Other flight websites may have some of their own deals they sell directly. Expedia does that, I think.

I know nothing about Kiwi, but if you see a flood of negative reviews, I would proceed with great caution. You could end up out a lot of money.

Consider the cost of getting back to your departure airport. Zurich involves crossing a lot of Swiss territory; Swiss trains are expensive. If you're going to have to travel way back north just to fly home, it might be cheaper to use Munich rather than Zurich. It's a longer train trip, but it's basically just a travel day in any case.

Edited (again) to add:

Can you fly June 11 and June 25 (one day earlier)? It looks as if that knocks roughly $100 off the ticket price for either Munich/Zurich or Munich/Munich.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks. We are flying out of MSP (Minneapolis).

So you are saying perhaps better not to fly north to Zurich and instead make my way to Munich from Florence or Milan? Or should we go reverse direction than what I had originally proposed—and head to Munich from Vienna or Venice (If we skip Vienna).

I know I sound like a total entitled American by saying this, but all this European vacation planning is stressful. In the same breath, I am also feeling grateful for the opportunity and also your support as I try to navigate all this.

The web site was kiwi.com. Many of the reviews are scathing—with lots of money lost.

We are considering purchasing tickets directly from Icelandair. It goes to both Munich and Zurich and the flights appear reasonable. There’s an uncomfortably brief layover in KEF (45-50 minutes), but I have read that this is not an issue because the airport is small.

I was assuming we should get these tickets ASAP because we are approaching 7 months out. Am I right to be in a hurry, or should I chill out? I’m trying to buy on a Tuesday, which my weeks of data-gathering has demonstrated is a good day to buy. Not sure if I am imagining it but the prices sure seem to be different midweek.

Posted by
1581 posts

I rarely buy more than four months out. I think the one true rule is to buy when you see something you like (in terms of price and schedule), but I would not feel pressure yet. I just purchased for next May--the earliest ever--just because a good fare for somewhere I've long wanted to go popped up with a great schedule.
I might spend a little more time deciding on if transiting through Munich or Vienna is right for this trip.
I never find planning a trip within a country onerous--but trying to hopscotch among even neighboring countries can be stressful--there is just never enough time! Be sure you have a good picture of the transit time involved and how your group will react to it. good luck!

Posted by
17165 posts

I've now done some quick checking, and I think I was wrong about the cost of getting to Zurich vs. Munich from Italy. I was thinking "train" (Skyscanner is a good place to look for flights), and I'm not seeing much difference. I am definitely not knowledgeable about international rail fares between Italy and points north.

I don't see any issue with reversing your itinerary if the flight costs are OK, assuming you don't bump into some huge local holiday/festival in one of the cities. Those things can really cause hotel costs to skyrocket.

Believe me, I know what you mean about the planning. When you're buying four plane tickets, there's a lot of money on the line, and a short trip means time is also really at a premium.

I have not flown Icelandair for a long time, but from what I've read on this forum, the airport works fine for those short turn-arounds. I wouldn't hesitate to go that way if the savings were really significant.

I'm always reluctant to wade into the "when should I buy" discussion. My advice this far out is usually to monitor fares daily until you have a good grasp of the normal price range, then try to buy on a dip. However, Icelandair is a different animal, and I have zero experience watching its fare movements. I'm also very aware of how much cheaper flights for your dates are to Zurich and Munich compared to all the other continental options. I would hate to tell you to keep watching until the end of November, only to see Munich and Zurich rise to the level of Milan and Vienna.

From your origin, those fares to Munich and Zurich look very good to me; the problem (not a minor one) is that you don't really plan to visit Munich and Zurich. You don't even want to go (on this trip) to Germany or Switzerland, right? I wish we could figure out a way for at least one of your gateway airports to be in a city you want to visit.

I don't know that there's necessarily anything magic about buying on a Tuesday. (It is usually one of the cheapest days to fly.) Fares are adjusted all the time. It's not uncommon to see $500 bounces up and down. But those changes are computer-generated, and they're very specific to origin, destination and travel date. Any specific published guidance is likely to be the result of averaging a lot of erratic movements, so I don't have much confidence in the utility of that guidance.

Kiwi.com sounds like a definite "No". Scam artists offer lots of great deals, but in the end you're likely to pay through the nose.

Posted by
8889 posts

JM, as regards rail tickets, a pass will be the expensive option. As far as I can see (and I know your plans are still fluid) you only have 2 trips outside Italy: Munich airport to Vienna and Vienna to Venice/Florence. These are best bought in advance for discounts.
Italian rail tickets are some of the cheapest in (western) Europe, again especially if bought in advance. No way a pass pays off in Italy.

I suggest you do some reading (or the rest of your family, give them something to do). First the excellent "Man in Seat 61" website, start here: https://www.seat61.com/Europe-train-travel.htm

You can look up times and advance-prices for trains in Italy on the Trenitalia (Italian Railways) website: http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en
Two tips for the Trenitalia website:
(1) You have to know the "real" names of the stations, not English translations, for example "Venezia S. Lucia" to "Firenze S. M. Novella".
(2) You can only buy 6 months in advance, so pick a date in March 2019 to do your research. "Venezia S. Lucia" to "Firenze S. M. Novella" for next March starts at €19.90!

Posted by
1137 posts

One night stays are usually less than satisfactory. I would not spend a lot of money with a family of 4 to travel to a destination (Vienna or Venice) stay one night. One way to more economically travel with a family group is to stay put longer.

Be careful with choosing flights for price only. Sometimes it turns out to be less convenient and overall more expensive. Case in point: my son bought a cheap flight on Norwegian air to fly home from Europe. Great deal it seemed. But then he had to get to Oslo and he spent as much to fly there from Vienna and then had to stay in and feed himself in Oslo-a very expensive city!! He thought of sleeping in airport but had expensive camera equipment so stayed in a hostel. Then there was some holiday so metro didn’t work well enough. So ended up with an expensive taxi.

So consider both money for flight, cost of traveling to where you want to be as well as travel time.

Beth

Posted by
20 posts

One additional train trip outside Italy (in addition to the two mentioned in thread directly above) would be Milan or Florence to Zurich—if we go the multicity route of flying into Munich and out of Zurich.

Thank you all for all of this info. I am absorbing every single nugget of wisdom embedded in this thread and am even including notes on my spreadsheet. I wish I were savvy enough to coordinate the flight itinerary myself—e.g., book on Icelandair to Munich but then find cheap flight on WOW or Whizzair from there to Vienna or Venice—but I think I’d be worried I’d lose out if any leg of the flight were delayed or (gulp!) cancelled.

It’s good to hear I might have a little bit of time yet before we need to solidly a decision.

Posted by
792 posts

Hi. I have scanned most of the replies. If you are absorbing it, great! Too much for me. Here are a few extra thoughts to muddy the water.

Vienna to Rome seems so spread out. You'll be racing and not enjoying. How about bringing it in a little? Salzburg (easy to get to from Munich, even from the airport) has classical music. So does Venice. Myself, I would not go as far as Vienna. I would perhaps consider Munich (one of my favorites, but sounds like you have other priorities), Salzburg and then via train from either M or S to Innsbruck, Bolzano, Verona - making one or more overnight stops. Would the Dolomites meet your husband's needs for alpine exposure? I like this train ride, but I have not done it with a family of 4, so cannot offer thoughts on cost - but it is fun, good scenery going through Alps and giving access to interesting towns/cities.

Once in Verona, go east to Venice or west to Milan. I have not been to Milan. It does not call to me. Instead of going all the way down to Rome and hitting the big sites like Florence (couldn't tell if that was a must), go down the Ligurian coast to Cinque Terre. There are beaches there. Circle in to Lucca - a gem. If you must, go over to Florence. Then head north again.

Get an old fashioned map or atlas. I keep one in my office for times like this. Draw a circle of your original plan and then maybe some of the ideas I shared. It is a smaller area covered but still fantastic places. Change the circle a bit to accommodate some fantasies - beaches, why not Lucerne? Not the same as your kids' fantasies perhaps but close to Zurich (and Berner Oberland); sounds like Zurich might be one of your considerations and mountains. I really think visualizing - on a large enough map - is helpful in figuring out how to do the things you really crave. I was getting: classical music, beach, mountains. What else?

Enjoy.

PS. I should add a question: have you looked at any of the RS tours?

Posted by
8889 posts

book on Icelandair to Munich but then find cheap flight on WOW or Whizzair from there to Vienna or Venice—but I think I’d be worried I’d lose out if any leg of the flight were delayed

A common question on this forum, and the usual response is don't do it unless you allow a lot of time and are prepared to gamble.
It is not just the risk of your first flight being late. You have to go through immigration (could be 10 minutes could be 60+), pick up your luggage, possibly change terminals then check-in at the desk of your second airline early enough not to breach their minimum check-in times.
And either flight could be re-timed.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you. I will pick up an atlas.

I like all of these ideas, except we really do want Rome to be part of the trip.

I will try to get my daughter used to the idea of skipping Vienna and Milan. I am hearing and. feeling that would help a lot.

Posted by
17165 posts

I think Debbie is a genius. I especially like the idea of trying to sell Salzburg in lieu of Vienna. It is so, so much closer to Munich, and also much closer to Italy. Plus it's a much smaller city, so you can have a nice visit there in less time than Vienna calls for. And I remember the historic area of Salzburg as being lovely.

I'm retired now so I can take long trips. Back when I was working I had less time and--especially at the beginning--less money. So I was sort of forced to limit my geographical coverage. There are so many great places in Europe, frequently only 10 or 20 miles apart. It will be very helpful if you can get hold of country-specific guidebooks for Germany, Austria and Italy. They can be old editions from your library or an online source; I'm just suggesting that you skim through the sightseeing info on southeastern Germany, western Austria and northern Italy.

To this day I circle interesting-sounding places on a map as I review books and other information sources (like this forum). I look for clusters of places that can be visited from a single base so I don't waste a lot of time changing hotels. The geographic reach of my trips always shrinks during the planning process. This year I lost an entire country after I was already on the road, and last year I spent 89 days in eastern France and didn't have time for Paris. I just keep telling myself, "It's not the last trip."

Posted by
333 posts

Hello Jim travels- I think you need to decide on where you want to go first of all....the flights overseas might look less expensive (flying into Milan) but if you don’t really want to go there, you will be sacrificing time and money for transportation that you don’t need. I agree with the earlier posts, I think you are trying to go too far in just 12 days on the ground. We are planning a flight to Munich for 2 evenings (we arrive very early in the morning, direct n/s from PHL) so we will get 2 full days there, then going to Salzburg for a few days. From there, we will be going via Innsbruck to Verona to switch trains to Firenze. That day, we will be on the train for ~9 hours including transfers. Some will say to fly to Firenze, but we want to go through the Brenner pass and see the area in northern Italy. We then head to Lucca for a few days before returning to Verona and flying out of Venice. We are also circling back, but we have been to these places a few times and know the Italian train system very well. If you go to Munich and Salzburg, look into staying somewhere close (Verona makes a great home base and so does Florence). Good luck with your decisions!

Posted by
792 posts

Back atcha acraven! I agree it is important to keep in mind that there (almost always) will be other trips. The reason I mentioned the RS tours is the sheer work of finding places to stay and the transportation to each for a packed itinerary like this. Deciding on the plane trip is probably easy in comparison. And costs? Just wondering if there may be an RS itinerary (My Way is less expensive) that can tick a lot of boxes and maybe relieve you of potential connections stress. You could always add a few extra days on your own pre or post if you really felt the need.

I took a really quick dip into Icelandic Air RT Munich - sure looks less per person than some alternatives.

Good Luck.

Posted by
20 posts

We are definitely switching to Salzburg now. It sounds so much easier! What would Florence or Vernon be home base for? Just confused...as we will have already left Salzburg and Munich. We will still be keeping Rome in our itinerary.

Has anyone ever booked through Vayama? Just curious. They are showing really good deals for Icelandair.

Posted by
17165 posts

I remember a few negative comments about Vayama going back a few years but have never used them.

Is Vayama really much less expensive than buying directly from Icelandair?

I think Florence is most often visited by people who want to enjoy the city itself (much Renaissance art, plus lovely architecture) and take side-trips via public transportation (or one-day tours) to one or more of: Tuscan hill towns, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, etc. Florence is very touristy and I'm sure its hotels are a bit pricey. If I wasn't interested in the city itself, I'd try to find a workable alternative. If you want to see some of the small towns, that is most easily done with a rental car. If you have a car, you don't need to stay in Florence.

Verona I haven't been to, but it's one of a whole string of interesting destinations, stretched out across northern Italy: various lakes, the Dolomites (north of Verona), Vicenza, Padua and then Venice.

I'd suggest pinning down the main stops and deciding how much time you will need there. (Rome can keep you busy for quite awhile.) Look at transportation time between your stops, then see how many days, if any, you have left to consider another stop or a day-trip. Focus on making every day as great as it can be rather than on going to as many cities as possible (which leads to too much time in trains/buses/cars). Italy is wonderful, and it's hard to make wrong choices when you're picking places to go--as long as you have enough time to see them once you get there. Sometimes it makes sense to choose the place you rank 5th rather than the one you rank 2nd, just because of the logistics.

Posted by
20 posts

My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest. We scheduled 6 days in Vienna when planning; as we were leaving, I thought perhaps I had planned too long in that city...but NO! We needed all 6 days and enjoyed every minute. We spent 6 days in our first trip to Paris 30 years ago and have no regrets. Same for Vienna. Vienna has so much to offer and less than 5 days (not incl. travel time) would not do it justice.