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Munich to Switzerland...help!

A few questions. First, what is the best route from Munich to Switzerland? We leaving June 29th and will have a car. I realize its a shorter distance to go through Germany instead of Austria but I am not sure which was is more scenic. Also, any tolls I should avoid? If you suggest going through Austria, do you recommend a place to stay along the way? I believe the drive is about 6 hours (to Lucerne perhaps?) so maybe staying somewhere to break up the day would be nice.

Second question. We are staying on Pilatus Mountain near Lucerne on June 30th for a night so we will need to be near there by the 30th. We want to hike on Mt. Pilatus on our way up to our hotel (Hotel Bellevue) so any suggestions on if we should take the train up or is hiking possible?

Third question. Where to afterwards? We are flying out of Stuttgart, Germany on July 4th so we will need to be in Germany by then but we are happy to stay in Switzerland as long as possible and just prepare for a long drive the day of. We are looking to stay away from the big cities and would love to check out smaller towns.
Although we are travelling in peak season, we are not booking in advance so that we have flexibility to go where the wind takes us. I realize there are a lot of risks associated with that plan but for once I don't want to plan every last detail of our trip:)

Posted by
2701 posts

Ambitious! If you want to check auto routes go to ViaMichelin.com and you can customize routes using waypoints, avoiding tolls, Michelin recommended, etc. The drive, depending on the route should take between 4 - 6 hours, longer if you make an intermediate tour stop. Realize your car needs a Swiss vignette to legally use the roads in Switzerland. You might want to drive directly to Luzern which is a great city in which to sight see.

My personal route would take me from Munich through Oberammergau to Garmisch-Partenkirschen and then on to spend the night in Luzern. The hike from Alpnachstad to Pilates Kulm takes about 5 hours and there are two trails from which to choose. (What to do with your luggage?)

I don't know about small, quaint villages but you might want to consider driving into France and visiting Colmar and Strasbourg on your way to a Stuttgart or staying in Germany stopping in Freiburg and Baden-Baden. Visiting the Rhine Falls on your way north is another possibility.

Posted by
8889 posts

Angie, I take it this is a car you pick up in Munich and return in Stuttgart. Good, returning a hire car in a different country is expensive.
You will need an Autobahn Vignette (toll sticker) for both Austria and Switzerland. The Swiss one costs CHF 40, don't know what an Austrian one costs. In both cases you can buy at the border.

Even if you take the direct route from Munich to Switzerland, that still involves going through Austria for a short distance, as you go round the east side of Bodensee (a lake), past Bregenz.
But, you could head south past Garmisch-Partenkirchen, into Austria near Innsbruck, then west over the Arlbergpass.

For a small town stop off on the way to Stuttgart, I suggest somewhere on the Route des Vins d'Alsace: https://www.alsace-wine-route.com/
Ribeauville, Riquewehr, Kayserberg are all very pretty.

Posted by
31440 posts

angie,

A few thoughts on the second part of your question.....

You won't need a car to visit Mt. Pilatus, so best to leave that parked in Lucerne for that part of your trip. You might consider taking the boat from Lucerne to Alpnachstad (about an hour as I recall) and then transfer to the Pilatusbahn Funicular (it's an incredible engineering achievement).

I vaguely remember that there's an intermediate stop on the line, close to the summit. You may be able to hike up to the hotel from there (but of course you'd be hauling your luggage for the one night stay at Hotel Aberdeen as well). The easier solution would be to go all the way to the top, check in to the hotel and then look at light hiking after that. The Funicular terminates at Hotel Aberdeen, which appears to manage check in for both hotels.

THIS will give you some idea of the terrain below the hotel (with the Funicular line on the left). There are a lot of trails winding through the surrounding hills. THIS will give you an idea of the summer activities in that area (you may wish you were staying longer there).

For the trip back to Lucerne the next day, take the spectacular Cable Car ride down to Kriens, and then Bus back to Lucerne (only takes about 15 minutes). From the bottom cable car station, walk downhill to the main street to connect with the bus.

Regarding your third question, you might consider spending a few days in the Berner Oberland (a big favourite with many here), especially the Lauterbrunnen Valley outside of Interlaken. Having a car there will be about as useful as a boat anchor, as many of the towns are accessible only by mountain lifts (ie: Muerren).

While in that area you could visit the famous Jungfraujoch (highest rail station in Europe) or the Schilthorn revolving restaurant which was made famous by the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service (trust me, the building didn't explode).

For visiting anywhere in Switzerland, you might consider getting one of the Swiss Passes such as the Half Fare Card, as the mountain lifts especially are expensive. You might find this helpful - https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/switzerland-rail-passes

Not having booked accommodations at that time of year is going to be risky, and it could take awhile to find accommodations in some places.

Finally as a general rule for travel in Switzerland, be sure to budget accordingly as it's expensive! The exchange rate today from C$ to CHF is 1.36886.

Good luck!

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for your quick reply's. Lots of great advice! I am getting a little nervous about the last minute accommodation piece. I always book ahead and plan all the details of the trip which has caused some disappointment in the past due to lack of flexibility. I am afraid that if I book ahead, I will either regret not staying somewhere else or will be underwhelmed by my choice. I like the idea of being spontaneous (especially since its so unlike me) but I don't want to waste my time searching for hotels... When you say that it will be difficult, are we talking about there is only a couple of choices, or go to the next town and hope for the best difficult? Also, are most towns car friendly or will I find it difficult to drive in Switzerland?

Posted by
8889 posts

are most towns car friendly or will I find it difficult to drive in Switzerland?

No towns in Switzerland are car friendly, it is matter of how hostile. You will not be able to drive in the centre, all the roads will be pedestrian only, or pedestrian plus public transport. Usually there is parking on the edge of the centre, in a multi-level building or underground car park, for which you pay. Never ground level parking as that is a waste of land. On street parking outside the centre will be meters or time limit.
You will then need to walk (if it is a small town) or get public transport into the centre.
Do not assume a hotel has parking, always ask. In town centres few do.

For example Luzern. This website gives details of parking: http://www.parking-luzern.ch/en/
This page gives the prices: http://www.parking-luzern.ch/en/Parkvarianten/Kurzzeitparking 12 hours costs between CHF 21.50 and 28.50.

German towns also always have a pedestrianised centre, even if it is only one or two streets.

Driving outside towns is easy, it is just finding somewhere to stop in towns that is difficult.