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Salzburg to Switzerland

My wife and I are planning a trip to Salzburg (old town, Mozart, and SOM), and then on to explore Switzerland. Our idea is to fly into Salzburg, site see for a couple of days, then jump on a train to Switzerland with a one day stop in either Fussen or Ruette to take a look at Ludwig's Castles. We'll rent a car for a day as Rick suggested in the book.
Then...it's off to Switzerland. First off...please realize that due to my wife's heart/lung condition....we can't do any hiking or mtn. climbing. Anything strenuous is a no-go. Our plan is to do a loop of the country on their scenic rail system...... Salzburg to Chur...do the Glacier Express to Montreux....then Golden Pass to Interlaken (explore Berner Overland for a few days)....then continue on the Golden Pass to Zurich for the flight home.

What I'm not sure of is how long it will take to make the transit from Fussen/Ruette to Chur to begin all of this? Is it better to take the high speed rail through Austria as opposed to continuing across the southern edge of Germany? We'd love to stop in Appenzell for a lunch break, then continue on to Chur. Not sure how that would work.
In effect, we'll be circling Switzerland.....passing below the Berner Oberland on the Glacier Express, then circling around to head back east north of the BO. Since we can't do the strenuous stuff....we'd at least like to visually experience it.
Thanks for any suggestions....especially with what sorts of rail passes would be best.
Dan

Posted by
16864 posts

First, I would not to fly to Salzburg. That would involve a puddle jumper flight from some other airport, with a possibly long wait. and added cost. I'd fly to Munich and then go to Salzburg on the train. Takes about 2 1/2 hours or so with one train change at Munich Ostbahnhof, and will only cost 28 or 30 euro with a Bayern Ticket. The train from Ostbahnhof is every hour,
When you leave Salzburg, you can rent a car in Freilassling, Germany. Its across the river from Salzburg. Then you can drive through Berchdesgaden and Fuessen, ending in Lindau Germany where you can turn the car in. Take a ferry across the Bodensee (Lake Constanz), and you are ready to do Switzerland on the train, just a stone's throw from Appenzell. With all the train travel, check out a Swiss Pass or a Swiss Flexi Pass.

Posted by
8889 posts

First, you need to get a map showing rail routes. There are some on the internet. Both Switzerland an Austria are full of mountains (obvious), the rail routes follow the valleys, which means you have dead end routes, and in some cases to go 40 miles you need a helicopter or 100+ miles by train or road. Füssen is one example, it is a dead end line coming from the north (Munich). If you go from Salzburg to Switzerland you go through the Inn valley (east to west) and Innsbruck, you DO NOT pass through Füssen.

You can look up times on www.bahn.de This will always show you the quickest route, but it is a dumb computer, it will never tell you that what you asked for is not the best route.

Salzburg is a small airport, it only has intra-European flights. Munich may be a better option.

Salzburg to Chur is a straight line route, Füssen is a detour. Perhaps do Munich > Füssen > Salzburg > Switzerland. Once you are in Chur the Glacier Express route to Brig is sensible.
Then you can stay in Zermatt, or direct to the Lauterbrunen area.

The standard advice on this site is that rail passes are often not the cheapest option, except perhaps in Switzerland.
You can price up individual legs on the nation railway company sites:

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you both for your suggestions....
So Chris....you recommend flying to Munich, then taking a train to Fussen.....then a rental car to Salzburg?
Is the train station convenient to access from the Munich airport?
Everyone seems to agree that from Salzburg to Switzerland.....going by train makes the most sense.

Is that a long journey? Salzburg to Chur or instance? All day? Half a day?

Thanks....

Posted by
16864 posts

I think its a horse a piece whether you go to Salzburg or Fuessen first from Munich airport. Salzburg is 2 hours south east of Munich. Fuessen is 3 hours south west. I'd probably do Salzburg first if you want to rent a car for a few days. Travel through Germany.
There is a train station at Munich airport with 2 train routes to Munich Hauptbahnhof (main station), one to the east of the city and one to the rest of the city.
You can also travel between Salzburg and Fuessen and Fuessen and Lindau using a daily Bayern ticket. May not be all that direct, but it works.