Can you help with Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France visit?

We are traveling into Frankfurt in Sept and would love some help with our itinerary. We are looking to drive/train and will be traveling with 1 child and a baby. We have 25 days to tour around Bavaria, visit Vienna, back through Switzerland and into France to fly out from Paris. We would prefer not to be stuck in big cities fighting crowds and traffic but would prefer a more 'real' experience in small towns with locals away from busy tourist centres, except Vienna and Paris. I was thinking this would look something like: Day 1 Arrive in Frankfurt early morning 2-4 Romantic Road area 5-6 Bavarian Alps 7-8 through Austria towards Vienna 9-10 Vienna 11-12 back through Austria to Switzerland 13-15 through Switzerland back towards Black Forest area 16-17 through Colmar, Strasbourg and Baden-Baden 18-22 Into France, visit some local areas (could we get down to south france at all?)and Champagne region 23-24 Paris 25 Depart from Paris lunchtime However the other option would be to spend: Day 1 - 7 in Bavaria, Romantic Rd, Black Forest Day 8 - 10 Train to Vienna, stay 2 days Day 11 - 13 Train back through Austria to Zurich, stay couple of days Day 14 - 15 Train to Lyon, stay couple of days Day 16 - 18 Train down to somewhere in Pyrennes, maybe visit San Sebastian
Day 19 - 24 Pick up car and drive back through France visiting Bordeaux and Champagne regions, Versailles and into Paris for a few days before flying home. Can anyone suggest which option is better?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

Rosie, G'day. Welcome. Rosie, get a map. Put drawing pins on it where you are talking about. Connect them with coloured yarn in the order you have proposed. Take a photo. Undo the yarn. Connect the pins in a logical economic way. Note how much yarn you have left. Why not visit Champagne when you are practically there, in Alsace? Are you considering training or driving the full length of Austria for 2 days in Vienna and then back the full length again? If driving that route be prepared for lots of long and expensive tunnels. Why Zurich? Do the mountains not call to you? Are you proposing to go from the eastern edge of France in Lyon all the way across to San Sebastian then all the way back again to Champagne? With the greatest of respect, please do the above suggested exercise. You have a massive area to cover, can I suggest that if you intend to do so much traveling (don't forget that the kiddiwinks will slow you down some) please do it in the most economical of travel time way. Otherwise you will have great memories of the inside of transport but will need to take complete notes about your photos to remember where you have been.

Posted by Russ
Paradise
1750 posts

Nigel's right about both your plans. I would add that the perpetual movement from place to place means not only lots of time in the car but lots of packing, unpacking, and checking in and out time to your 24 days. Instead of moving every 2-3 days, it might be wiser to book a 4-6 day stay in a strategically-located town, then do daytrips from that location to nearby places of interest. For example: for days 1-6, book an apartment in Landsberg, a town on the southern Romantic Road. From there, make daytrips on separate days - one to the RR town of Augsburg, another to Harburg and Nördlingen, another to Garmisch and Mittenwald, another to Füssen and Schwangau. You'll have more flexibility to adjust your schedule this way - which you'll want to do if the weather doesn't cooperate or if a kid gets sick. An apartment also means "home" for a while, more room, and a kitchen where you can have breakfast, kid food and light meals. Here's an example (in German but has photos) of a typical homespun apartment rental in Landsberg - a living room w/2 sleeper sofas, one bedroom, kitchen, bathroom w/shower. Price is 50-60€/night. Landsberg apartment

Posted by Aly
Edmonds
80 posts

I agree with others, look at your itinerary again, its a lot of back and forth. I send the Zurich as well. Stay somewhere other then the big city. At least Luzern or Berner Oberland. Zurich is just a big city, not much charming about it.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
961 posts

Have you already purchased your airfare? If not, why not fly into Vienna (rather than Frankfurt) and out of Paris. Then work your way west through Austria, Germany and Switzerland to France. Even if that particular open-jawed flight is more expensive than it would be to Frankfurt you'll save a lot in time and $$ driving acroos Austria once instead of twice so it might make it more economically feasible. Just a suggestion.

Posted by Prof B
Fort Worth, Tx, USA
8 posts

Agreed on flying open jaw (into Vienna, out of Paris), staying longer in fewer central places (Munich is two hrs by train/bus or less from Salzburg, Nurnburg, Bamburg, Rothenburg, Regensburg, and the castles in Bavaria, for example), and on favoring Luzern, Bern, or Berner Oberland over Zurich. Try Wimdu or VRBO to find apartments.

Posted by Marcus
Kansas City, United States
206 posts

Hi Rosie,
I agree with all of the other replies in that this is way too much. I've seen may of these sites and you'll be spending a good chunk of your time just moving from place to place. I'll only comment on Switzerland since I know it very well. Swiss cities (with the exception of Luzern and Bern) are not really that great. Switzerland's beauty lies in its countryside. Personally I'd ride the train from Austria (Salzburg) or Linz after taking in the Donau to Zurich and then onto Luzern. Ride the train over the Brunig from Luzern to Brienz (stay there rather than in Interlaken or the Lauterbrunen valley). Enjoy a boat ride on Lake Brienz or ride the Brienzer Rothorn bahn. Go up to Kleine Schiedegg and walk down to Wengen. Getting from Brienz to the Interlaken area is only about a 20 min train ride and Brienz, though now touristy makes a great base. Riding the Postauto (bus) over the passes out of Meiringen is absolutely spectacular. Google Drei Passe Fahrt or Vier Passe fahrt and you'll see what I mean. Just some suggestions on getting a bit out of the mainstream tourist spots and seeing some spectacular spots that might give you a more authentic feel of Switzerland. More thoughts: Personally I'd skip Lyon and instead hit the Loire Valley or the area around Avignon. Also, drop your car in Austria and train to Switzerland. Get a Swiss pass for a few days and use the train extensively in Switzerland. A car in Switzerland isn't necessary and in fact a good number of Swiss don't even own a car and manage just fine. PM me if you need lodging recs or more info on what I've just described. I could also give you additional recs on what to see in Germany and Austria - I've traveled there pretty extensively and might be able to help you with specifics.

Posted by Rachael
Melbourne, Australia
24 posts

Thanks so much everyone for your replies. We have been busy with a new baby but now trying to get back to planning our trip. We agree that the original itinerary was too much. Thinking now . arrive into Frankfurt and drive or train to set up in one spot for 6 nights and do day to spend 3 or 4 nights after Vienna? I saw photos of a place called Hallstatt which looked gorgeous. . Then we thought train to Switzerland and spend 6 nights maybe again broken into 2 places or one central location and do day trips. Any suggestions? Also suggestions on train travel and which is most scenic and convenient? . Then we will travel to south western France to Dordogne area to stay close to Sarlat somewhere to set up for 5 nights and do day trips. . Then fast train up to Paris and stay for 2 or 3 nights before flying out.
All suggestions welcome. Thank you.

Posted by Rachael
Melbourne, Australia
24 posts

Last post should read.... Thanks so much everyone for your replies. We have been busy with a new baby but now trying to get back to planning our trip. We agree that the original itinerary was too much. Thinking now . arrive into Frankfurt and drive or train to set up in one spot for 6 nights and do day trips around the area. We would like to see romantic rd and area between Colmar and Strasbourg. Not sure if best to stay romantic road or somewhere near Colmar - or 3 nights each - or somewhere in between. Suggestions?? . Then we will head to Vienna but will stay 5 or 6 nights in Austria. Wondering if anywhere to suggest to spend 3 or 4 nights after Vienna? I saw photos of a place called Hallstatt which looked gorgeous. Also, do you suggest drive or train from Germany to Vienna? . Then we thought train to Switzerland and spend 6 nights maybe again broken into 2 places or one central location and do day trips. Any suggestions? Also suggestions on train travel and which is most scenic and convenient? . Then we will travel to south western France to Dordogne area to stay close to Sarlat somewhere to set up for 5 nights and do day trips. . Then fast train up to Paris and stay for 2 or 3 nights before flying out.
All suggestions welcome. Thank you

Posted by JuneLee
Corona del Mar, CA, USA
6 posts

Stay in one of the towns along the Dordogne river - Beynac, Vezac, Roque Gageac. We stayed at a gite for a week and drove into Sarlat for the market (on Saturday, don't miss it) and visited chateaux all over the place, notably two that are right there overlooking the river on opposing sides: Castelnaud and Beynac. You're also in the cave country and great area for cuisine. In a gite you can have a small kitchen but you can also go out to eat.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2629 posts

Switzerland to the Dordogne will be very challenging even with a baby. Your best option may be to fly to either Toulouse or Bordeaux and rent a car. There are no "fast trains" from the region (barely any real service at all), but you can drive to the TGV line in Angouleme when you want to go to Paris. I also wonder if you would not be better off starting Germany > Switzerland > Austria, flying to the Dordogne from Vienna, or A > S > G flying from Frankfurt.

Posted by Rachael
Melbourne, Australia
24 posts

How about if we - . fly into Frankfurt (have no choice now flights booked) then either overnight train or fly straight to Vienna for 2 or 3 nights then pick up car. . Drive to Hallstatt stay few nights . Drive Bavaria and stay near romantic rd 3 nights . Across to Black Forest / border France area 3 nights . Down into Switzerland 3 nights . Into France and stay somewhere between Switzerland and Dordogne overnight . Stay 4 nights Dordogne area . Drop car in Angouleme and fast train to Paris
. 2 or 3 nights Paris before fly out Possible? Too much driving? Not enough time Switzerland? We figure it is easier with two small children to have car rather than cart children and luggage on and off trains and from stations to accommodation etc. Suggestions welcome.