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10 days in germany, austria, switzerland

Greetings. We have 10 days to make a loop trip from Munich back to Munich. Were planning 2 days in Munich, 2 Days in Salzburg, 2 days in Zurich, 2 days in Interlaken, 1 day in Lausanne, then back to Munich by plane or train. Actually planning to use trains for the whole trip (so some of the "2days" include travel time. I would appreciate some advice on this: too much? Should we 'bypass' some spots and spend more time in others? Also, is there a fast train from Lausanne to Munich or better to fly? Thanks!!

Posted by
1352 posts

If you haven't already bought your airfare you should consider doing open jaw - flying into Munich and flying home from Zurich. I think Zurich only deserves 1 night at the most. Really, I would skip Zurich and Lausanne. Instead of Interlaken I would spend 3 nights farther into the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Murren, Lauterbrunnen or Wengen, then spend a night or 2 in Luzerne.

Posted by
11266 posts

If someone said they had 10 days in the US, were starting in Boston, and also wanted to see Nantucket, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and then had to return to Boston to fly out - what would you say? So, yes, you have a lovely 3 week trip (and that's a bit rushed) but a lousy 10 day one. First of all, if you haven't bought plane tickets, don't fly round trip. Fly "open jaws" (multi-city), starting in one city (e.g. Munich), going in a line, and flying out of your last city (e.g Geneva Airport, very close to Lausanne). Even if it "costs more" than a round trip, you save the time and money of backtracking (and on a short trip, you don't have time). If you are stuck with round trip tickets, you'd probably want to go right away to another point, so you can work your way back to Munich for the flight out. Next, look into how much time even the fastest trains take. Use the Bahn site to get times, and for Zurich, spell it the official way, Zuerich: http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en A quick look shows that it's over five hours from Salzburg to Zurich, and that Lausanne to Munich airport is over 8 hours with multiple changes. Allow a half day to change cities for even a short ride, like Munich to Salzburg (checking out, getting to station, riding, getting to hotel, checking in). Allow more for longer rides. continued..

Posted by
11266 posts

continued.. Now, I haven't been to Switzerland. But I keep reading that unless you're loaded, Zurich is not nearly as worthwhile as other places, and that for the Berner Oberland, you don't want to be in Interlaken, but closer to the Alps. With a short trip, you can't waste time on B-list places. So, I'd start by thinking of this: Fly into Munich. Salzburg - 2 days (can go immediately upon arrival in Munich) Munich - 2 days Berner Oberland - 3 days (must include the better part of a day to get there, and some time to enjoy it) Lausanne - 1 day
Fly home from Geneva This allows travel time as well sightseeing time. Again, of your destinations I've only been to Munich, so I can't say if these are the places you should focus on. But if you want to see them, that's how I'd do it. EDIT: I see I cross-posted with Jill, who has similar advice - great minds <g>.

Posted by
12363 posts

For someone who has not been to Switzerland, Harold understands the issues and makes good points. Don't stay in Interlaken; stay higher in the mountains. Or at least in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, which is very scenic. And why go to Lausanne? If there is something special you wish to see there, Ok, but otherwise it is way out of your way. The train system in Switzerland is wonderful, but there is much to be said for a nice compact trip, not spending too much time on trains.

Posted by
12040 posts

If going to the Alps, budget at least three nights in one location. If you only give yourself one day, you risk that entire day being washed out with rain or fog. Interlaken isn't a bad choice. At a minimum, you'll find a much better selection of restaurants here. The time of year makes a difference too. Much of the tourist infrastructure at the higher elevations shuts down during the shoulder seasons. It's not as scenic as the Lauterbrunnen valley, but it's not western Kansas either. And echoing the others, if possible, fly open jaw.

Posted by
9 posts

thanks for the advice on our 10day trip to germany, austria, switzerland. Consistent advice on not being too ambitious with many stops, as this spends too much time traveling between. Although I think the train trips will be very senic and relaxing as well. People have questioned our return to Munich, where we start. We have a committment in munich, so have to return. I appreciate advice on flying from the Lausanne-Geneva area to Munich!

Posted by
837 posts

Does your Munich commitment require time on both ends? You could always start in Geneva and end in Munich.

Posted by
11266 posts

Lola, thanks for your compliment! I "understand the issues" because I've been reading Rick Steves Switzerland, and looking at some other travel sites like http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/. I don't think I'll be going anytime soon for several reasons (costs in Switzerland being a big one), but it's good to know you think I'm on the right track. Dan: websites to check for budget flights within Europe: http://www.skyscanner.com/ http://www.whichbudget.com/ Another search engine for flights within Europe: http://www.opodo.co.uk/ If you can't suitable flights between Geneva and Munich, Bern and Salzburg also have airports. And if you haven't yet booked your transatlantic flights, do book open jaw (multi-city), into Geneva and out of Munich. And if you think my comments on Zurich were negative, just wait till you see what posters on Fodors have to say! EDIT: I see I'm repeating my comments about open jaw flights over and over. It really wasn't conscious - I just feel so strongly about it for such a short trip.

Posted by
31303 posts

Dan, I have to agree with the others that your proposed trip is a bit "ambitious" for the time frame you have. It would really help to have some idea on the "commitments" that you have in Munich - are they at the beginning of the trip, at the end or both? A few other questions.... > Would it be possible to fly inbound to Zürich and outbound from Munich? > How important is the trip to Lausanne? My suggestion would be to skip it this time, as one night is not worth the time, effort and cost. > Is there something in particular you want to see in Zürich? The time would be better spent in the Berner Oberland, but if you did want another "city" stop, Lucerne is also a good choice. Good luck with your planning and happy travels!

Posted by
24 posts

Hi Dan: I second most of what has been posted. I love the Berner Oberland and have visited it many times. The last time (we had a car) we stayed in Boningen, with a balcony view of the lake, just east of Interlaken, for several days. One day was spend in Murren, another in Geneva. Then we visited an old friend near Zurich. I love saying in one place and then visiting the areas around it. Lausanne's cathedral is interesting along with it's Olympic museum and also Chateau Chinon, but we loved the alps more. I'd skip Zurich for more interesting sites. Cary T, Brea, CA

Posted by
8954 posts

Sadly the Olympic Museum is Lusanne is closed for the next two years. There is a small temporary museum inside a boat anchored in Lake Geneva across the street, but it's not worth the effort.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks again for all the great advice! VERY helpful. Based on suggestions we have modified our trip plans. We arrive in Munich june 21 (9 am); we'll tour Munich the 21 and 22. Train to Salzburg june 23; tour Salzburg 23 & 24. Train to Zurich june 25; tour Zurich 25th only. Golden pass to Luzern june 26; tour Luzern 26 & 27. Golden pass to Lauterbrunnen june 28; tour Oberland-Berner 28 & 29. June 30 rent auto in Interlaken and drive to Munich. We are committed to getting my daughter on a plane to Paris July 1, from Munich; therefore the return to Munich.
I would appreciate advice on whether to rent a car for touring Oberland-Berner, or enjoying local transport. Also, car rental for the Interlaken to Munich trip seems cheapest for 3; I assume I can return the car in Munich. THANKS!

Posted by
8292 posts

You want to rent the car in Switzerland and return it in Germany? Be prepared for a large fee to return it to another country.

Posted by
1352 posts

Skip Zurich and add that day to the Berner Oberland! And why not take the train to Munich?

Posted by
296 posts

Totally drop the car part. Trains in Europe are the best. And don't forget to drink some of Germany's best beer. In Munich of course.

Posted by
26040 posts

Many villages in the Berner Oberland can only be reached on foot or by train/cable car/gondola. The best villages are car free. You will need to park that car at Lauterbrunnen or Stechelberg. You are able to drive to Grindelwald, but again will need feet or cable car to get up to the hikes. Wengen, Gimmelwald, Muerren may not be driven to. It would be a shame to rent a car and drive 5 miles and park for the day. It is true that you will pay for returning the car in a different country. The drive would take about 5 hours not counting toilet/food/drink/leg stretch stops. The train, about 6:30 or 7:00.

Posted by
9 posts

Again many thanks for the great advice!! I was thinking about car rental for the 'return' trip from the Interlaken area to munich as it might be cheaper than 3 train or plane tickets (plane from Bern to Munich is over $1000 for 3). Plus we could stop and see sights along the way.
Another question I appreciate advice: I am considering buying a hand-held GPS, just to make travel more efficient. I have no experience with GPS so dont know how helpful this would be in Germany, Austria, Switzerland;;;help finding train stations, car rental, hotels etc... THANKS!!

Posted by
1614 posts

Since drop off charges for car rentals in different countries can be high, the last idea might not be cheaper.