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Europe Trip in May

Hello: My husband and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in May. We "think" we want to fly into Milan, get a car, drive to Lake Cuomo, stay for 2 nights, then drive from Lake Cuomo to Munich.

Has anyone done that trip? If so, any suggestions for a route. We bought a map, and there are so many options, we are looking for a very picturesque (yet not scary or difficult) route.

Also - are there any driving restrictions we should be aware of for driving between Italy, Austria, and Germany?

Posted by
32107 posts


The locations you're visiting are all easily accessible by train, so I'd probably use that method as it will be faster and less stressful than going by car.

As someone else mentioned, the roads along Lago di Como are a bit twisty and sometimes congested, so driving there can be a bit nerve wracking. The trip from Milano Centrale to Varenna is only an hour, so it's very easy. The trip through the Brenner Pass from Italy to Germany is beautiful and a very pleasant trip by train.

In addition to the mandatory I.D.P. that you'll require for driving in Italy, there may be a high "drop-off charge" for renting the car in Italy and leaving in Germany. And of course you may encounter the dreaded "Z.T.L.'s" even in smaller centres that you drive through. I believe special "permits" are required for driving in Switzerland, but I'm not sure about Austria and Germany?

Happy travels!

Posted by
881 posts

Hi Deborah,

If you drive from Milan to Munich via Switzerland - that area is beautiful. It seems there is a castle, or other abandoned fortification on every hill top in the southern part - and then you hit the Alps.

The train from Milan - Lakes is very nice though. (one of the nicer ones I've ridden on), as well as the train through Bavaria, and we've found one-way drop off fees are pretty horrid for the cars. (Vienna to Venice, similar trip was $400 fee).

One warning on driving: We were consulting on our drive with one of Rick's guides who did a May drive from Salzburg down to Italy(very similar), and they had to turn around due to snow - in late May!

Posted by
3239 posts

Hi Deborah,
It's an easy train trip from Milan to Lake Como. Rather than renting a car, I'd consider flying into Milan and taking the train to Varenna. Then, train back to Milan and fly one of the discount airlines to Munich. You could rent a car in Munich and drive in Germany. It might be less expensive than renting a car in one country and dropping it off in another. Here's a link to some great planning tools:

Itinerary Planning Tools

Posted by
239 posts

As for restrictions, various cities in Germany, including Munich, now require an environmental sticker to enter the city with a car. So, if you are coming in from another country make sure you get one at the rental car office ahead of time. Driving in Germany is very easy, everyone follows the rules of the road better than in big cities here at home!

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for your help. We have driven in Germany and France, but this will be our first time driving from Italy to Germany. We were more concerned about the roads/passes from Lake Cuomo to Munich. Anything we should know about? I think it will be just an absolutely beautiful drive, but I'm also a little weenie about heights. Any passes where I should close my eyes, or take a valium? My husband can handle anything, it is more me.

Posted by
14140 posts

This site, Via Michelin will help you plan your road trip. It's excellent--even has fun things like "it's time to take a break driving.'s Lake Como, not Cuomo.

Posted by
3313 posts

Driving along Lake Como can be a little nerve-wracking because of narrow, twisty roads. You need to drive slowly and honk at blind corners. (I'm remembering the road from Como to Bellagio).

Otherwise, roads in Italy are well marked and not tood difficult.

You should get an International Driving Permit from AAA before you go. It costs $15 and is a translation of your state drivers license. They're required to accompany you state's drivers license in Italy and, I believe, in Austria and just a good idea to have in non English-speaking countries.

Posted by
113 posts

Just an aside - May is wonderful in Italy, and can be quite cool as you move north.