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France/Germany Itinerary Help

Hi all!
I am considering a trip to France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany in Spring/Summer of 2014 for myself and my significant other. We have recent experience traveling in Europe (were in Italy for almost one month last fall and it was a seamless trip thanks to all of the wonderful advice from this forum).
We plan to travel entirely by train (obviously an odd ferry boat i.e. Hallstatt). I'm thinking of cutting one day from Paris and adding one day to Munich for daytrips to Dachau and Neuschwanstein.

Paris (4)
Strasbourg (2)
Zurich (transfer to Lucerne)
Lucerne (2)
Salzburg (3)
Hallstatt (2)
Munich (2)

Thanks,
Elle

Posted by
5618 posts

Sounds like a great trip in the works, and last fall, too. It's really nice to be able to spend 3 weeks or more in Europe - our 15 day trip to Spain last month went by TOO quickly. For what it's worth, Mathausen, east of Salzburg & Halstatt (and even east of Linz) is the site of an Austrian concentration camp, and the nearby town is easily accessible by rail. Don't know if that might be something instead of, or in addition to, seeing Dachau, if that helps. The museum on-site shows some things from an Austrian perspective, and if you're coming all the way one day from Lucerne, maybe it wouldn't be too far out of your way.

Posted by
691 posts

Just a couple of comments. I've recently been to Paris, Munich and Salzburg. I would never lop off any days from Paris. Dachau and Neuschwanstein/Schwangau both take nearly a full day each. The castles (you'll see both) are a full day trip to which many tours go to. They are very busy in late spring, early summer and you must get times tickets far in advance (or book a bus tour). We were there in late September and the area and castles are stunning. Did not go to Dachau. We were staying an hour's driving time from Salzburg in Bavaria and went there on a day trip. For us, it was enough Mozart and kitsch for a lifetime. You might consider moving one of those Salzberg days to Munich.

Posted by
2987 posts

Don't take a day from Paris. If anything, consider adding a day.

I agree that Salzburg does not need 3 nights. I've done it as a daytrip from Munich with visitors and they were satisfied. 2 nights is PLENTY. I'd add the extra to Munich. And Dachau is a solid half day trip if you get a reasonably early start, you can be back in Munich by 1pm or so.

Posted by
5465 posts

I personally would not change hotels so often. But that is a matter of personal taste. We'd rather enjoy feeling familiar in a neighborhood than cover more countries on one trip. If you are going to cover so many cities, I would consider choices that don't cover as much ground, so you spend last time on trams to the station and on the train. For example:

Each of the countries you are visiting are rich destinations that could take more than three weeks to see all of their regions. Taking nothing away from Munich, you might consider including Alsace and/or the Black Forest, and stopping at Lucerne, and flying home from Zurich. (I'm looking forward to seeing Louvre/Lens, but that's a minor destination.) I'm suggesting that there are many visual substitutes for Strasbourg, especially in Germany. But even Colmar is an adequate substitute.

You have to make choices, but it's too bad to miss the scenery in either Konstanz (or Bregenz) or Insbruck. You might check their weather records (i.e. foggy days per month) against Lucerne's once you know your exact travel dates. I'm pretty sure Rick recommends a cable car in Garmisch, but any such vista is subject to fog.

If you anticipate returning to Paris in the future, you can get away with 4 days, but that's very short. Although Paris-Strasbourg is a very easy train trip, you might check air prices to Frankfurt or Stuttgart from your home area as well.

When we were young and taking one trip a year, for example, we did Innsbruck-Salzburg-Munich-Vienna in two weeks. Alas, we still haven't been to Neuschwanstein, although we've been to Germany at least four times, and have seen many castles. Our first visit to Paris was a week there and a week in London. We didn't get close to bored, despite rain.