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driving in germany

leaving for Germany in a few days... driving from Frankfurt airport to Bacharach to rothenburg to fussen to garmisch to kitzbuhel to Salzburg to munich. any info or advice on roads in these areas? also... gas stations.. are they self service, full service or mixed... thanks for your help Kathy

Posted by
18226 posts

Why rent a car. All those towns are accessible by rail, probably for less than the cost of a rental car. You can find schedules on the German Rail (Bahn) website.

Posted by
84 posts

yes, we went with the car so we can have freedom to stop where ever we want on the way. husband is doing driving and he has the intl dl. I read about the vignette... not sure if we can get at the rental place also... also read about a parkshield to get at gas stations. thanks for your thoughts, this is our first trip there and we are sooooo excited....
kathy

Posted by
12 posts

I did a similar route route in June. Definitely have a GPS. I actually used an app on my phone (CoPilot Live EU) that worked pretty well, and made it easy to save / pre-program routes. Overall driving in Germany / Austria was very enjoyable and was perfectly suited for these smaller towns. I'm sure you already know this, but when you're on the autobahn stay out of the left lane unless you are passing. Gas stations are all self service, and you have to pay to use the toilets at all of the gas stations on the autobahn. However, you get these vouchers you can use to pay for stuff at the gas stations so you can get your money back if you're planning on getting a drink or snack anyway. The only real snag we came across was in Bacharach, due to the flooding from the river that was taking place at the time. I'm sure it's fine now though. Have fun!

Posted by
2712 posts

Hi kathy, We did a similar route in 10/2007. Picked up at Frankfurt airport, drove to Bacharach and then to Cochem on the Mosel for 4 nights. Then drove to Rothenburg for 2 nights and then to Berchtesgaden/Salzburg and finally returned the car to Munich airport. Get the Vignette (for Austrian highways) in Garmisch. No need to have it in Germany. Do be careful of speed limits. Our expriences during our many trips to Germany and Austria is that most gas stations are self serve, but some are attended. Check to see (or ask) if your car is a diesel. Getting out of Frankfurt airport is easy, as is returning the car at Munich airport. Have a great trip, it sounds wonderful! Paul

Posted by
137 posts

Kathy; We also love the freedom of a rental car. It allows us to stop when ever we see something interesting. With regard to the rental car, ask for a diesel. The fuel is cheaper and you get better mileage.
Have a great trip! We are looking forward to our trip this December to seen the Christmas Markets.

Posted by
2712 posts

Hey Vanessa, We're also going, for a second time, to visit the Christmas markets! Enjoy! Paul

Posted by
638 posts

And be sure to always drive in the right hand lane except to pass, when preparing to pass to sure to double check before making your move. Contrary to popular belief there are speed limits on the autobahn which is normally displayed on an overhead sign. This is often times enforced by cameras.

Posted by
139 posts

Driving in Germany is a pleasure. The roads are well-maintained, well-marked, and the rest stops are clean and neat. I will echo the advice already given you about asking for a diesel car for better gas mileage, and staying to the right on the autobahns. If you are comfortable using a GPS, then do so, but a good paper map will do fine, too. When driving, focus on the NAMES of where you are going, more than the route numbers, as the signs are more oriented to place names. I would also tell you to make sure you learn the common international driving signs ... you will want to know the symbols for do not enter / one-way street / speed limits, etc. And to truly have the "back-door" experience, get off the autobahns for some of the trip! Smaller roads will get you to the same places, and will take you thru charming, picturesque small villages, and help give you a picture of how people live their daily lives there.

Posted by
84 posts

hi all... thank you so much for your replies... dustin...gps definitely, also have paper map. thanks for tips on autobahn and gas stations. paul... will try to keep hubby in check on speed limits.. cochem and berchestgarten on wish list.. will see how time plays out. glad to hear airport rentals easy to navigate... Vanessa & paul ... would absolutely love to see at Christmas..maybe next time lol... enjoy! barry. cameras... wow, never thought of that... laura... I have the rs phrasook and have studies some of the terms & signs... hopefully I will remember a few or find them quickly! I agree hubby drive the autobahn a bit and then we do some back roads.. thanks again!! can't wait 3 more days and the adventure begins!!!!!
kathy

Posted by
12040 posts

"that most gas stations are self serve, but some are attended." All petrol stations are attended, or else you can't pump the fuel- they turn the fuel pumps off if the shop closes. It's all self-service, and I've only seen pay-at-the-pump at a single location in Germany. Here's one rule of the road that isn't widely known amongst travelers and could result in a speeding ticket it you don't know any better. When you see one of these yellow town signs, it tells you two things. Obviously, the name of the town you just entered. But it also means that urban speed limits now apply (50 km/hr), and there may not be a speed limit sign to inform you otherwise. But there may be a speed camera to trap you. When you see this sign, it also carries the dual meaning that you have left the town limits and rural speed limits (100 k/hr) now apply again. You don't see these signs on the Autobahn network, only on secondary roads. Speed limits are clearly marked on the Autobahn, where applicable. Your heaviest traffic areas will be Frankfurt to Bacharach (or more accurately, to Weisbaden or Bingen, depending on what route you take), and returning back the same direction to Rothenburg odT. The faster and more scenic route between Füssen and GaP passes through Austria, so you may as well buy your Austrian vignette here at the border.

Posted by
436 posts

I just got back from a trip that included driving across Germany. The freedom of a car is worth it if you like road trips in the US. The only confusing part is the road signs will have "direction of" town names which can be quite far from your location. The paper map helped with sorting that out where our TomTom GPS tended to show too small of a region. On Sundays gas stations off the autobahn were closed. On the autobahn the rest stops are easy to use but not as nice as France. If you take the A8, Swabish Hall makes a great lunch stop. We stopped by and it was market day and the church was decorated for a wedding, great break. Enjoy the trip!

Posted by
12040 posts

(cont) Finally, just note the difference between the traffic police in Germany and Austria. In the former, they will only pull you over if they suspect intoxication or you're driving in a particularly reckless manner. In Austria, however, they will hold you to the letter of the law. Example, if you approach a 50 km/hr zone, you had better start decelerating well before the car passes that sign. Even though I had my foot on the break pedal, they still flagged me for going 55 just after I entered the zone! PS- Responding to the last comment. Some off-Autobahn service stations close on Sundays, but not all.

Posted by
419 posts

Kathy, the term is Parkscheibe, not Parkschriebe and it means parking disk.
Try Googling "Parking in Germany" for some helpful information.

Posted by
84 posts

thanks joan.... it's what I meant.. just in a hurry and fat fingered... will do.....

Posted by
84 posts

beth... thanks for your tips and will see if we can fit in swabish hall. tom... very interesting facts on speed limits and police and your other info. most appreciated. good to know most scenic going thru Austria to get to GaP. hubby did plan that way.
thanks to all again for your tips... all appreciated and most welcome. first time driving in a foreign country so don't know what to expect :)

Posted by
12040 posts

"so don't know what to expect :)" Expect traffic jams ("Stau") much like you experience in Chicago, but probably with more freight trucks involved, and no apparent reason why traffic has suddenly stopped. Oh, and I second the recommendation for Schwäbisch Hall. Unless you want to visit lots of trinket shops, you may find Rothenburg odT a bit redundant after seeing SH.

Posted by
11798 posts

Yes, people do use the left lane for passing only - so keep it clear except to pass quickly and get back over. That rule goes away in traffic jams. There are rush hour traffic jams in bigger cities, like Munich, just like we have in U.S. cities (going toward the city in the morning, going away in the afternoon) avoid these the same way you would avoid them in the U.S. adjust your travel plans to avoid normal rush hour times. Other than that, the roads are good, signs are logical and easy to follow, and other drivers are generally predictable. Just remember Fahrt means drive, even if it sounds funny; Ausfahrt means drive out or "exit".

Posted by
868 posts

>"Rent a car. Your doing a perfect loop. Get a GPS and go. It looks like you might need the Austrian vignette for the kitzbuhel to Salzburg." With a GPS you don't need to buy a vignette. You just have to set the GPS to avoid tolls. Salzburg is just 3 miles behind the German border anyway, and to Kitzbühel you drive on the Austrian highway for maybe 10 minutes.
I actually often avoid highways altogether and set the GPS to "beautiful route".

Posted by
84 posts

guten tag... thanks for all your thoughts... we will plan on getting the vignette sticker. it's not that expensive and would rather error on the cautious side. we are from Chicago... traffic and jams are not uncommon here so nothing new..
vielen danke

Posted by
84 posts

I was trying to explain the parkshriebe to my husband... I understand it has something to do with showing the time you parked in a spot.. can anyone expand on this? are you restricted to parking for only so many hours and are there signs posted telling you? thanks
Kathy

Posted by
27402 posts

The sign adjacent to the space will have a symbol which looks sort of like a blue and white bow tie, and the hours of enforcement and how long is permitted. If you need the clock at that time, then set the clock to the time you arrived, rounding up, and put it on the driver side dashboard clearly visible from the outside. Make sure that the car is COMPLETELY within the box and unless it is an area clearly marked for parking on the kerb no part of the tyre may be on the kerb. Lock up the car, making sure that nothing is visible in the car (no GPS suction cup rings visible on the window either), and just get back to remove the car before the amount of time permitted has expired. Its easy.

Posted by
27402 posts

The sign adjacent to the space will have a symbol which looks sort of like a blue and white bow tie, and the hours of enforcement and how long is permitted. If you need the clock at that time, then set the clock to the time you arrived, rounding up, and put it on the driver side dashboard clearly visible from the outside. Make sure that the car is COMPLETELY within the box and unless it is an area clearly marked for parking on the kerb no part of the tyre may be on the kerb. Lock up the car, making sure that nothing is visible in the car (no GPS suction cup rings visible on the window either), and just get back to remove the car before the amount of time permitted has expired. Its easy.

Posted by
12040 posts

Or to make things easier, just park in a garage or a metered lot. When you enter any city, you'll see signs directing you to the various garages, and an electronically controlled board that shows you how many parking spaces are still available. Follow these signs and you won't get lost. Look for the big letter "P". Let me also comment on two misperceptions I've read here. Yes, driving outside of peak hours may reduce your chances of getting stuck in a Stau, but with all the road construction and freight traffic on German roads, hitting a Stau at some point is almost inevitable. Also, the left lane rule. Yes, technically you should only use the left hand lane for passing. But on four lane stretches of Autobahn, the right lane is often occupied by a seemingly endless parade of freight traffic barely moving at about 90 km/hr or less. In these instances, unless you want to drive really slow, it's all but inevitable that you'll have to cruise in the left lane for a considerable distance. Just be prepared to move back into the right lane if someone behind you starts flashing his lights.

Posted by
868 posts

> "Martin it's very easy for you but this person may never have driven in Germany or in Europe. I think when giving advice it must be done with that in mind. One offense intended." In case of Salzburg you simply leave the highway ~2 miles earlier and avoid the interchange near Salzburg, and depending on where you start you don't drive on the Autobahn to Kitzbühel anyway (from Berchtesgaden for instance). In my opinion it's much more complicated to get a vignette and drive on the busy Autobahn than to simply say "No" when the GPS asks you (in English) about toll roads and drive on slower, less busy and more beautiful roads.
But to each his own, I suppose.

Posted by
12040 posts

The drive via the Berchtesgaden detour is more scenic anyway.