My husband and I want to take a 10 day trip (plus two travel days) to Germany/Austria/Switzerland. We prefer a combination of train and rental car. We want to avoid large cities. Any suggestions for an itinerary would be very helpful. We would rather not be rushed and would prefer to spend two nights at each stop.
Several airlines fly from Phoenix (with 1 stop each way) to both Zurich and Munich, so I'd suggest those cities as your arrival and departure points. Munich's airport is way out in the country and a good place to start with a car rental. Drive from there over to Salzburg & surrounding area, then take the autobahn to Innsbruck & then north back into Bavaria to see Mittenwald, Garmisch, Royal Castles (Fussen), etc. From there head to Switzerland via Lake Constance (visit Lindau) and on to Lucerne. Salzburg & Lucerne are good choices for 2 nights each and then choose places inbetween that interest you to spend the night. You might prefer to do the route in reverse where you could start by taking the train right from the Zurich airport to Lucerne to spend a couple days before getting a car.
What time of year makes a big difference.
We found the train between Zurich and Lucerne to be very easy and efficient. relatively short journey, reasonable scenery and seemed to run on time. We flew out of Zurich, absolutely no problem
The responses I have received have been very helpful. I have a couple of more questions. Is it difficult to drive on the autobahn? Are there any areas where travelers should be wary?
Small towns in Germany --- make sure you hit Bacharach (very very small) and Rothenburg (small and quaint). Spent three days there in September and loved it.
We did it all by train, so really can't weigh in on the Autobahn questions, but was a passenger in the Autobahn and seemed simple enough.
Driving on the autobahn is pretty much like driving on the interstates here, except without speed limits in certain places. Just make sure you stay to the right unless you're passing. But, if you're going in August, traffic can be HORRENDOUS.