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Advice on this itinerary

My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy, Germany, and Switzerland for this July, and would love to hear some feedback from more experienced travelers about our proposed itinerary. In particular, I'm wondering if this is the best route through Italy or if it would make more sense to see the cities in a different order. Also, is it worth it to go all the way over to Switzerland and back? I recently realized that adds a lot of travel time. Would it be better to explore more of Austria (Hallstatt, Vienna) during that time?

Here's what I have so far:

7/02 – flight arrives in Frankfurt, AM train to bacharach (1.5hrs)

7/03 – in bacharach, rhine river cruise

7/04 – AM train to rothenburg (4hrs)

7/05 – AM in rothenburg, afternoon train to munich (3.5hrs)

7/06 – in munich

7/07 – in munich, day trip to salzburg

7/08 – in munich, day trip to neuschwanstein or dachau

7/09 – AM train from munich to berner oberland (8-9hrs)

7/10 – in switzerland

7/11 – in switzerland

7/12 – in switzerland, then night train to venice (10hrs)

7/13 – in venice

7/14 – AM train to cinque terre (6hrs)

7/15 – in cinque terre

7/16 – in cinque terre

7/17 – train to Florence (2.5hrs)

7/18 – in Florence

7/19 – train to Siena (1hr)

7/20 – siena/hill towns

7/21 – siena/hill towns

7/22 – train to Rome (3.5hrs)

7/23 – in Rome

7/24 – in Rome

7/25 – flight to Seattle in AM

Posted by
8776 posts

Just sad you are going to miss seeing Frankfurt.

Posted by
12040 posts

Looks reasonable to me until you get to Italy... I'll let the Italy experts judge from there on.

Posted by
1353 posts


It looks to me like you've already spent quite a bit of time and thought on this itinerary. You will get a lot of different opinions, as everyone has different interests. Like for me, Berner Oberland is one of my favorite spots in Europe so I would fit it in, but that's not to say it would be yours. And I would spend time in Salzburg/Hallstatt instead of Munich because I find it more interesting.

Your itinerary actually looks pretty good to me - you just have do decide what YOU are most interested in and if it is worth it to YOU to spend the extra time on the train for Switzerland. The only thing I would question is the night train from Switzerland to Venice....I looked it up and the best option I saw... the longest overnight stretch was only 6 hours long (from Spiez to Bologna) which won't give you much chance for good sleep.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks so much for the responses! I posted this on the Italy board as well, and it seems everyone agrees that the night train to Venice is not a great idea. I changed things around so that we'll go from Interlaken to Cinque Terre, then on to Venice before Florence. That breaks up our travel into shorter trips, removes the need for a night train, and gives us a bit more time in Venice.

I also wish there was more time for Frankfurt, Hallstatt, and Vienna. But in the end we decided to focus more on Italy this time around, and promised ourselves we'd go back and see more of Germany and Eastern Europe on another trip. (Funny how planning this one trip has made the list of places I want to go even longer!)

Posted by
473 posts

There's a bit much packed into this itinerary. I don't think that you're allowing enough time for travel, finding your hotel, packing and unpacking, etc. Each change of city chews up at least a 1/2 day. A general rule that I have is that any hotel stay should be 3 or more nights, to make a change
of cities worthwhile.

For starters, you have only one and two nights for Bacharach and Rothenburg. Those could be bases for exploring the area a little deeper. While in Bacharach, you could also visit St. Goar, as well as Burg Eltz on the Mosel, and Trier. While in Rothenburg, you could visit other towns on the
Romantic Road. Venice and Rome definitely qualify for more than the nights that you've given them.

IMO, since you'll be in Munich, it would make more sense to visit more of Austria. But if you have your heart set on Italy, I would suggest dropping Switzerland.

Posted by
12154 posts

Not much time in Munich, it's all daytrips to other places.

As far as going to Neuschwanstein or Dachau, it depends on your preference. I don't visit downer sights so Dachau is off my list. I've been to Neuschwanstein once. It's really just a fanciful 1800's idea of what a perfect castle might have been. It was okay but not one of the places I would return to.

Venice is worth more time than CT. I would take one day from CT and add it to Venice.

You will be okay in Florence but your time will be packed. Be sure to have reservations for the Uffizi and Academia before you arrive.

I assume you will rent a car for the hill towns. You won't see as much by train as you can by car.

Rome is tight also but you can always come back for a second visit.

Posted by
521 posts

Hi Jenny,

I was in Italy this summer and I travelled from the Cinque Terre, to Pisa, to Florence, to Venice. I think the travel route seems fine, I will just simply make one advisory regarding the trains in Italy. Of all the trains that I took, I found nearly every one of them to be very much overcrowded and very hot and stuffy, especially during the weekends. Remember that July and August is vacation and travel time for the Europeans themselves. The only exception to this was the Trenitalia Eurostar, their high-speed train, which was very comfortable but also of course it is the most expensive. I travelled first class the whole time, but quite often the smaller train routes do not have any first class cabins... and there was not much of a difference in the classes anyways (again, with the exception of the Eurostar).

I only say this to point out for you that the six-hour train journey from Venice to the Cinque Terre might seem to be very long and frustrating. That was just my experience though, and as you are travelling earlier in the busy season than I was, you may end up with a completely different result.

As I said, the schedule seems great! The only thing you might want to add in is that Pisa is directly on the line from the Cinque Terre to Florence. You could always stop off in Pisa for a couple of hours to see the leaning tower, and enjoy the picturesque city before moving on.

Posted by
6 posts

Wow, this is really helpful! Thanks so much for all this great advice. Since I first posted this I have changed the itinerary a fair amount. I added more time to Rome, Venice, and Florence and cut out the hill towns (will day trip to Siena). May skip Neuschwanstein and Dachau to allow more time in Munich (my husband isn't much for "downer" sites either). People keep saying we should spend the night in Salzburg rather than day trip so I added that.

I discovered I could save $1000+ by flying RT into Rome rather than open jaw, so that changed things a bit. For one thing, it makes skipping Switzerland difficult because otherwise we have some 12+hr train rides. (Please correct me if I'm wrong...) But I think we are OK with that. Our friends who know us and our traveling style recommended we do Switzerland even if it means less time in some other places.

We now need to get from Venice to Salzburg. There are few trains in the day, so even though the scenery is beautiful I'm tempted to do the night train from Venice to Salzburg. It still gives us 2 full days in Venice and it looks fairly direct. Has anyone done that?

So right now this is how things stand: Arrive in Rome (7AM) -> Florence/Siena (4) -> Venice (2) -> Salzburg (1) -> Munich (3) -> Rothenburg (1) -> Bacharach (2) -> Switzerland (3) -> CT (3) -> Rome (4) -> Fly home

I may still take a day off of CT and add it to Bacharach. If we don't have a car there will we still be able to explore some of the area?

Again, thanks to everyone for taking the time to help me out!

Posted by
521 posts


The plans sound great. I have not taken that exact night train, but I have taken a few in the area. The great benefit of the night train is that you get that long distance over with while you sleep, which on travel is pretty much wasted time anyways. The only downside is that you miss some of the great scenery, especially in the alps regions. Despite that, I personally think it is worth it to take the night trains, and you might want to consider another night train to get you from Switzerland to the CT. I took an overnight from Switzerland to Parma and then a couple of trains to the CT from there.

Posted by
62 posts

I noticed you mentioned taking a night train from Venice to Salzburg. I am all for night trains but that one arrives in Salzburg at 4am! I am planning almost an identical trip to yours for June and we looked into that night train but opted for the Venice to Munich instead because it arrives at 6:30am. We plan on just taking a daytrip to Salzburg because of the night train arriving time and the fact it's in the opposite direction of our next stop.

I also found roundtrip tickets into Frankfurt to be the cheapest. I got rt tickets for $550 a piece from Kansas City to Frankfurt, while to Rome never went under $1000.

Posted by
62 posts

I also forgot to mention you can take a night train from Frankfurt to Milan if you want or decide to skip Switzerland. Frankfurt is 1.5 hours from Bacharach and the Cinque Terre is about 4 hours from Milan.

I like night trains, but I'm 23 so I'm a bit younger that most on here and sleep like a rock on them. I just lock the door and bring a lock for my luggage.

Posted by
1717 posts

Travelling in a train from the Central station in Milan to Monterosso in the Cinque Terre can be done in much less time than 4 hours. I thought the Express train to Monterosso does that trip in about one hour and thirty minutes.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks again for all the input. To respond to some comments - Ron and Lindy, I checked into both Frankfurt and Milan (and other cities) and the RT Rome ticket from Seattle is still much more affordable. So that part is set. I did see the direct night train getting into Salzburg at 4AM, but I was actually thinking of doing the one that changes in Innsbruck around 5AM and then arrives in Salzburg around 6:30AM. It's still not ideal, so I agree it may be better to just go directly to Munich or Vienna. We considered the idea of a night train from Bacharach to Cinque Terre, but I think scheduling 2 long night trains is a little much, so we are going to avoid that.

So with all that and lots of playing with schedules, I think we have it down to two options. Either we'll do Switzerland - pretty much as I last posted with 2.5 days in Venice, 4 days in Rome, etc. Alternatively, we could skip Switzerland, add a couple of extra days to Germany/Austria and take a cheap flight from Dusseldorf to Rome (2hr train Bacharach to Dusseldorf, then 2h flight to Rome). I'm leaning towards the latter but open to suggestions as always!