Europe road trip

Hello there, I'm planning to do my 2nd Europe tour in 2 weeks time. Last year we did Munich, Salzburg,Zurich and Milan. It was a wonderful trip . This time we plan to go to Munich , Paris , Brussels and Amsterdam . We r right now weighing our options . 1- driving or taking a train ? 2- how is the driving like from Munich to Paris then Paris to Brusels them to Amsterdam then back to Munich! Is it safe? Has anyone done it? I keep getting mixed reviews specially the highway that connects Brussels&Amsterdam (increased attacks on tourist, robbery etc) 3- best places to visit in these cities 4- any important note that we should be aware of I will be traveling with my wife . Thanks
Will appreciate your feedbacks

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2248 posts

1. I'm a train guy. It's relaxing and fast and inexpensive. I only get a car to visit out of the way places that are not accessible by public transportation. Since your stops are all major cities well served by frequent high speed trains, I'd go that route. Also in Paris and Brussels, a car would be a hindrance with expensive parking and useless to get to any sights. In Amsterdam it would be an absolute nightmare. 2. The logical route from Munich to Paris is the A-8 and is notorious for massive backups as hoards or underpowered European lorries negotiate the hilly, winding roads. And that's on an Autobahn. Never heard anything about any danger between Brussels and Amsterdam, but I'll let others comment on that. 3. Paris needs no introduction. Its Paris. Everybody has a bucket list of items there. Get some guide books for these. Brussels I am not too familiar with. Amsterdam is a lot of fun, if somewhat edgy. I would say if you have a warm pleasant day, visit the Vondelpark.
4. If you have time, break up the trip from Munich to Paris with a stop in Strasbourg. Its half way and a really nice town which marries the best of German and French culture. If you do go rail, you can get all the schedules at www.bahn.de. You can buy your tickets on line and get advanced purchase discounts for nonrefundable tickets for the Munich-Strasbourg/Paris train. Paris-Brussels at www.Thalys.com. Brussels-Amsterdam at http://www.ns.nl/en/travellers/home. Strasbourg-Paris at http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/?DISTRIBUTED_COUNTRY=GB

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2171 posts

If you are driving, M√ľnchen - somewhere else in Germany - Amsterdam - Bruxelles - Paris a better route in that it allows you to include some scenic destination or driving along the way, be it in the Harz or on the banks of the Rhein - among other options.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1687 posts

If you can, try to get a flight from Amsterdam back home instead of going to Munich first - it'll save quite a lot of time and hassle. Amsterdam is a major intercontinental air hub. It's worth considering flying rather than taking the train, depending on times/fares, between Munich and Paris if you're only interested in visiting the cities. I haven't heard of particular problems with robbery on motorways in the Low Countries, but motorway crime in Europe tends to involve theft from cars parked at service areas rather than violent robberies. I have heard reports from southern Spain of criminals tricking people driving hire cars into stopping at the roadside and then robbing them, but not in Belgium/Netherlands. If you're at all worried be very wary of anybody who appears to be trying to indicate to you that there's something wrong with your car.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Driving between these cities is not a big deal, safe and easy. However, once you are there, getting around and finding parking and paying for it are major hassles. You are better off without a car once inside these major cities.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
909 posts

With so little time left, you will find the prices on budget airlines are no longer so cheap and ditto for some inter-city trains. You may have to take what you can get.
As to bandits between Brussels and Amsterdam, I would be interested in seeing links to these reports you keep getting. The cities are just over 200 km apart, about 50 per cent further than from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, with a good deal denser population and certainly wetter. I didn't see clusters of desperadoes on either route.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2811 posts

There's lots to do in the cities you're visiting, so you need to look at some guidebooks or websites for guidance. If you indicate specific interests, then we can give suggestions; otherwise, we just guessing at what you might like to see. I'm not a fan of Brussels, but one thing I did love was my tour of Art Nouveau with ARAU. Not only does this tour connect far-flung sites, but they have access to buildings not open to the public. Check their website to see what tours are offered when you'll be there: http://www.arau.org/en/tours

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

Tahnoon: You would do better on your planned route taking a train between all the major cities on your itinerary. Fast trains go between all cities. There are no European budget air carriers going from Munich to any of the Paris airports at this time. Flights would be expensive. I drove over to Paris once, and it is a heavy toll, 10 hour, 500 mile drive. Most of your risk of being a victim would be in any Paris subway; from pickpockets. You have no need of worrying about highway robbers.
You might want to set your itinerary, and then research the sites of interest on the internet. Wikipedia has great tourist coverage on virtually every major city.

Posted by Bill
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
21 posts

When driving, don't just concentrate on the major cities, see the others. I find them much more interesting. On your trip, consider Rotenburg and Baden-Baden in Germany, Reims in France, Bruges in Belgium. If it's within 100 miles of where you're going, it could be a very interesting side trip. I've been using Rick Steves' guidebooks since 1996. I always buy the books for the countries I'm visiting, then after I digest that information, I head for the library and peruse the others - Fodors, Lonely Planet, etc. (I cheat, sometimes. Using my cell phone, I'll take pictures of info in those books. Is that bad?) Traveling through Europe is very safe, I've done it a dozen times, both driving and training. All throughout Western Europe, there are great Autoroutes, better than most US freeways. Read Rick's travel tips, ALWAYS use a money belt!

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
666 posts

Your OP was helpful, but it's not clear whether you want to stay at small cities in between the big ones. It does sound like you can expect to make future trips to Europe. I wonder if you are favoring particular airlines, like Emirates? Why aren't you on the new flights through Milan? So I'd suggest that you important destinations that are closer to each other, and better connected by train. It almost sounds "American" to fly into Munich and then go to Paris. Why not fly into Amsterdam or Paris? If you really want to drive, you could drive from Paris to Brussels and turn in the card, or (better) train to Brussels and rent a car to see some medieval towns and sights (like the tidal barriers in SW Netherlands) from the car, and ditch the car on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Also, you might prefer Antwerp or Bruges to Brussels - it depends on your interests. If you must hit another country, how about Western-most Germany, like Trier or Cologne? Although Luxembourg isn't an essential destination, I think it still has lots of lower-cost airline coverage, and it's right where you want to go? Your next trip through Munich (if you're there to hit Octoberfest ???) should include Austria or Czech Republic or Northern Italy.