Germany/Austria Itinerary Help Please

We are planning a trip to Germany and Austria for the end of August. We are flying in and out of Munich and will be there for 10 days. The airline tickets are set but we are up in the air on the rest of the transportation car vs. trains. Places of interest are Salzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Romantic Rhine and Stuttgart. I've spent time in Munich so were planning on allocating less time than others probably would. My husband is interested in the Mercedes Benz museum which is why we are including Stuttgart/ Sindelfingen. Also, we tend to like smaller towns, history, castles, nature, food/drink and riding bikes (not so much a ton of tourists). Below is a draft itinerary that I'd like help with. What's the best way to connect these locations? Would you spend more/less time? What would you cut? Are there other places closer that would be good to see? Would you add time in Salzburg and go to Hallstatt? Thoughts on King Ludwig's Castles- Neuschwanstein? 1 – Land and sleep in Munich 2 – Munich to Salzburg (1.5 hr train) 3 – Salzburg 4 – Salzburg to Stuttgart (train 4 hrs, get a car) 5 – Stuttgart to Rothenburg (2 hr drive + stops maybe Dinkelsbühl ) 6 – Rothenburg 7 – Rothenburg to Rhine/ Bacharach (3 hr drive) 8 – Bacharach 9 – Bacharach to Munich (drive 4.5 hrs) 10 – Munich
11 – Fly out Thanks in advance for your help

Posted by Russ
2373 posts

1 – Land and sleep in Munich
2 – Munich to Salzburg (1.5 hr train) Why not just take the train all the way to Salzburg on Day 1? You probably won't have the time or the energy after such a long flight to do much there anyway. Less hassle checking in, unpacking, packing up, etc. 4 – Salzburg to Stuttgart (train 4 hrs, get a car) Sounds like you don't have enough time in Stuttgart to do much but pick up a car. I wouldn't waste the trip. If you must go there for the one museum, do it later; pick up your car in Germany (Freilassing) after your stay in Salzburg and drive to Rothenburg, then Stuttgart, then the Rhine.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1852 posts

Hi Jessica, I agree, after landing, head straight to Salzburg. Also agree with getting the car upon leaving Salzburg. then maybe do this order: Rothenburg, Bacharach, Stuttgart, Munich. Just my opinion on the Rhine... I wouldn't call it the "Romantic Rhine". There are plenty of picturesque castles along it, but the river itself was busy with barges and the road that follows it with traffic. Worth seeing though. In response to "are there other places closer that would be good to see?" Absolutely. We're partial to the Fuessen area, the Mittenwald/Garmisch area and the Salzburg/Berchtesgaden area. Thoughts on Neuschwanstein... see it if you're in the area. If not, the interiors of Ludwig's Herrenchiemsee and Linderhof palaces are more impressive. Herrenchiemsee is situated on the Chiemsee between Munich and Salzburg. One more opinion, if you don't care for "not so much a ton of tourists", then all the places on your list would need to be cut :) Paul

Posted by Jessica
Kansas City
10 posts

Russ and Paul, thank you! Great idea heading straight to Salzburg. Also looks like we could drive through Stuttgart either on the way to either to/from Rothenburg or Bacharach and not stay the night. Would you cut either Bacharach and or Rothenburg to spend more time in Bravaria and have a slower pace? One dea I had was rent a place in the area and use it as a home base instead of moving so much. Any recomendations on places to stay, places to go or things to do/see/eat. I'll have to research Garmisch and Fussen more.

Posted by Kurt
52 posts

A rental car will give you more flexibility, especially in smaller places. I think I've read on this site Dinkelsbuhl/Rothenburg are not especially easy to get to/from with a train?
It would only seem natural to rent a Mercedes to arrive in style at the museum. Depending on your interest, you could easily spend 3 + hours there. And once you've absorbed all the auto info - including about MB racing history, you'll just want to get on autobahn and see what she'll do.

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
487 posts

The suggestion to alter the tour itinerary and keep the car rental and return in one county will save you money. It's a very easy drive from Munich to Salzburg and if you go by car, it would be easy to stop at Herrenchiemsee which is really worth seeing. Linderhof would fit in on the way from Salzburg to Stuttgart and it is truly unique. Neuschwanstein is just theater and I will have to wait for all my German relatives to die before I take a tour there ... drive by wave at it and keep going. While Rothenburg is full of tourists in the day time, about 5:00 they all get back on their tour buses and it becomes very nice and quiet. Definitely stay in the old town section and take the Night Watchman's tour, it is the most enjoyable history lesson you will ever have. I know I've pretty well messed up your plan but these are the places I would go. If you do rive in Austria, remember that you need an IDP and an autobahn vignette on the windshield. A rental car might have a vignette on it already otherwise get one immediately after crossing the border if not before.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
1852 posts

Hi agauin, Since you posed the question, I'd cut Bacharach and the Rhine and allow more time in either the Salzburg area or around Fuessen or Mittenwald. Paul.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
3033 posts

Jessica: I think you should get a map and see where all your planned destinations are. You're literally running in circles; 90 miles east of Munich, 145 miles northwest of Munich, 130 miles north of Munich, 55 miles west of Frankfort. Bacharach is just a tiny quiet city on the Rhine River that's a good one night stop if you're going from Amsterdam down to southern Germany. I would suggest you start at Munich, and let your husband substitute the BMW Experience. Pickup a car upon leaving Munich. Then go east to Salzburg. Then go over to Hallstadt. From there, go south into the Austrian Alps (Innsbruck area) and west into the Fuessen area of Germany. Then back into Munich for the balance of time. With only 10 days, you're really limited to less stops than originally planned.
This route should show you some unsurpassed beauty of the countries.

Posted by Kathy
Germany, Germany
813 posts

As for Stuttgart, you should spend the night to get a feel for such an awesome city. The Mercedes factory is in Sindelfingen (south of STR), while the Mercedes museum is in the north of Stuttgart. For a factory tour, you need to call ahead, although you can visit the museum any time, just check their opening times on their website. Traffic around Stuttgart can be especially horrific, so I recommend planning carefully if driving in or taking the train in town. I recommend going straight to Salzburg also--then Munich, Stuttgart, Bacharach, back to Munich. That's all you'll have time for.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

I would NOT substitute the BMW experience in Munich for either of Stuttgart's excellent car museums. My husband is a car nut and was hugely disappointed with the BMW Welt. What about the idea of keeping your driving trip entirely in Southern Germany? Rothenburg is nice but there are many, many villiages in Bavaria and Baden-Wurttemberg that are equally charming and beautiful, many of them quite close to Stuttgart (Esslingen Am Neckar, Tubingen). The Bodensee to the south, and in particular the town of Lindau are not to be missed in my opinion if you're driving in the area.

Posted by stephen
Greeley, co, usa
452 posts

Take a look at some of the trip reports (including one by me!!) on Bavaria Ben's excellent website - Lots of good ideas and reviews of some nice (and generally inexpensive) places to stay. I did those 4 places (plus Fussen) on my last trip (Dec. 2011). I think it is a little too hectic a schedule, but doable.

Posted by Devra
Lake Forest, CA
202 posts

Just a note. I've been to the Audi Museum and it's nice. Great museum, cafe and tour of plant. Also, the going straight to Salburg by train is an excellent one, instead of staying in Munich, unless you're going to Octoberfest. Also, if you stay in Salzburg picking up a car in Freilassing is a good idea--MUCH cheaper (that's what we did),also because you would have to purchase a pass to drive on Austria's roads and that would be a waste of money if you are only visiting one city. Happy travels. Devra

Posted by Maureen
14 posts

I can't advise on transportation, but I do know that Neuschwanstein is a pretty special sight. I also loved Salzburg, and Hallstatt. They were both so charming. We were there winter before last, so it will be a different experience for you, but maybe nice to mix in the small towns with the big cities? Sounds Great!

Posted by Jessica
Kansas City
10 posts

Thanks for all the great advice! I'm really looking forward to the trip