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Germany/Austria/Switzerland itinerary...HELP!

We have 2 teenaged boys and are going to Germany in June. Can't decide on our itinerary.
Option 1: Fly into Dusseldorf and drive to Cologne for an overnight. (see the cathedral) Drive on the autobahn to Rothenburg and stay overnight. Drive to Munich on the Romantic road. Stay 2 nights (see the city and take a tour of Dachau.) Drive to Fussen. See the castles and ride the Luge. Stay over...2 nights? Drive into Switzerland to the Berner Oberland area for 2 nights. Drive to Bern or Zurich for overnight and flight home.

OR..Fly to Munich for 3 nights. Drive to Salzburg for 2 nights. Next to Fussen for 2 nights and on to Switzerland as described above.

Which do you all think the 14 and 21 year old would enjoy best? Cologne, Rothenburg...driving on the Romantic road
or cutting Cologne and Rothenburg and going to Salzburg?

Posted by
2920 posts

Hi Lucy,

For your 10 night trip is it possible to fly into/out of Munich? Seems like a long way to go to spend what will be 1 full day in the BO and fly home from Zurich. Plus, if you have a car, you'll be paying a big drop off fee to rent in Germany and return in Switzerland, not to mention buying the road sticker for driving in Switzerland.
Since I like #2... instead of Switzerland, for an "Alpine setting", I'd include the area around either Innsbruck (we love Hall in Tirol, Austria and Mittenwald, Germany) or head down to Zell am See and drive the Grossglockner Hochaplenstrasse in Austria. You could also make Munich your last destination as it will be easier getting to the airport.

While I know this is not an answer to your question, it's simply a suggestion.

Paul

Posted by
16 posts

Yikes! Obviously I am in the beginning stages of planning this trip. Thanks for the tip about driving into Switzerland. I really do have my heart set on Switzerland though, so any suggestions on the best way to get there?

Posted by
16 posts

Not sure, thought it would be an easy place to pick up the rental car?

Posted by
12040 posts

"Drive to Munich on the Romantic road". It doesn't pass through Munich. And as we've said before, the scenery along the Romantic Road isn't that much better than you would see on any other road heading south to the Alps. The name itself is just a clever marketing tool (there's also an Alpine Road, and a Storybook Road).

Seeing the Alps in Switzerland after coming from Germany, in my opinion, only makes sense if you're continuing on to France. It's just kind of redundant and adds a huge expense to most trips.

Posted by
10344 posts

Agree with Tom's post re the "Romantic Road", some of us think the Road has been over-promoted; or at least the word Romantic has been over-used, IMO it's not any more "romantic" than many other roads in that part of Europe. But many travelers have enjoyed Rothenburg, which is included by Rick in his description of the Road, although you don't have to do the entire Romantic Road to get to Rothenburg (and in June the town is likely to be especially crowded with tourists).

Posted by
41 posts

Well, I would go to Munich....love that city! Can take a day trip to visit Neuishveinstein (spelling is not correct) Then certainly Salzburg....get the card and do it all...visit both of Mozart's homes....plus it is a beautiful city...can visit a nearby village, very picturesque (forgot the name of it)....do alot of walking. Then, for the finale, the Jungfrau (a most magnificent glacier) just out of Interlaken, Switzerland. If you need more, a day trip to Grindenwald. What 14 and 21 year old would not just love this itinerary?
Best advice, stay out of the car and off the road as much as possible. Spend more time walking around, sightseeing, hiking, eating. Good luck!

Posted by
16 posts

OK friends, I truely appreciate everyone's imput. Are most of you saying that a trip deep into the Alps after seeing the Munich area is not worth the time and money? Do you think adding Salzburg and taking out Switzerland is a better option?

I thought the Swiss Alps were supposed to be spectacular!?

ADVISE NEEDED!

Posted by
12040 posts

"I thought the Swiss Alps were supposed to be spectacular!?"

They are. So are the French, Italian, Tyrolian, Carinthian, Bavarian and Slovenian Alps. I give the Swiss Alps a narrow victory in the category of "Most Scenic", but they come in dead last in the "Best Value" category. The main reason we're recommending skipping the Berner Oberland (which, by the way, is far from the only Alpine region of Switzlerand) is that for your trip, their not worth the sacrifices in time and extra costs, especially when you'll see plenty of amazing mountain vistas in Bavaria and the Tyrol. It's like stuffing yourself on a great meal, then rushing immediately to another distant restaurant to buy a similar, but more expensive dinner.

Posted by
16 posts

OK Tom, I'm beginning to understand. So, tell me what you would suggest? Again, I am in the beginning stages of planning this trip. Here is what I want to experience:
Munich---the city, trip to Dachau
The castles ---would you suggest driving to Fussen and staying there? (Or somewhere else?) I read about a cool luge ride near Fussen that sounds fun for the kids.
Bavarian Alps---hiking where? Where would you stay?
Salzburg? Can we fit this in on a 10 day trip?

I thought it would be fun to drive on some of the scenic quaint roads. (OK maybe not the "Romantic Road", but you get the idea)

I look forward to your thoughts. Have you visited this area lots?

Posted by
12040 posts

"The castles ---would you suggest driving to Fussen and staying there? (Or somewhere else?)"

I would recommend staying there if you won't have a car. Otherwise, the place is a little over-touristy.

For Alpine hiking, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the ideal base. The town sits in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides, including the magnificent Zugpspitze. There are many trails in the area, and one that even ascends all the way to the summit of the Zugspitze. Organized group hikes are available in the high season. I know there's also a winter luge/bobsled run, but I don't know if it's open in the summer. Some on this website will say that GaP is too big and not very quaint. If you stay in the center, near the train station and Olympic venues, I would agree... that's why I stay in the backstreets in the rustic Partenkirchen section of town.

"thought it would be fun to drive on some of the scenic quaint roads." Anywhere you drive in this region will fit that description. Two particularly nice drives from GaP- through Austria to Fuessen and to Innsbruck, via Mittenwald.

Posted by
2920 posts

Hi Lucy,

I agree with Tom's last two posts except that we like staying in Fuessen and that we prefer Mittenwald to Garmisch. All a matter of preference. There are luge rides, called "Sommerrodelbahn", at Tegelberg and just outside of Garmisch. Tegelberg is 1 mile from Neuschwansyein Castle and the one in Garmisch is along the road from Mittenwald just as you enter Garmisch.

www.tegelbergbahn.de/227.0.html

www.tegelbergbahn.de/208.0.html

I think Munich, Fuessen (or area) and Salzburg is a pretty good plan. You could also base somewhere besides Fuessen, such as Mittenwald, Garmisch to see the castles.

We like staying in Ramsau, Germany (by Berchtesgaden) as a base to visit Salzburg. It's less than 30 minutes from Salzburg.

www.ramsau.de

www.berchtesgaden.com

Hope this helps.

Paul

Posted by
1292 posts

Based on your original question: I would do Salzburg over Cologne-just a personal preference having done both. I have spent time in the alps in Austria, Switzerland and Italy- they are all unique and worth a visit. However, I have to agree with others: It is a long drive to the Berner Oberland if you can only stay 2 nights. You will spend almost a full day day getting there (I drove there from Fussen in 2001 and Salzburg in 2003 and 2008. It is a little closer from Fussen-but still takes a good part of the day.) The main reason I posted though was to advise you to look into all the luge rides in the areas you are in. They do have some in the Fussen area, but they also have them near Salzburg (Hallien has a good one and there is one just east of St. Gilgen in the lakes district near Salzburg that is wonderful) There may be more as well. The reason I say know where they all are is because they are very weather dependent. If one is closed, you'll want to have other options later in the trip. I'd hate to disappoint your 14 and 21 year old.

Posted by
934 posts

Lucy if you go to Rothenburg be sure to take the night watchmans tour.It is great,funny,informative.best regards jack in wisc.

Posted by
7209 posts

I know I jumped in late to this thread, but I could never EVER recommend skipping Switzerland. Yes, things might seem a bit pricey, but you also get high standards and the most amazing scenery of any place I've ever seen. Specifically the Lauterbrunnen Valley and surrounding mountain villages of Wengen, Muerren and Gimmelwald will absolutely knock your socks off. It's just a fabulous place to see and experience.

Posted by
19146 posts

I think as nice an area to visit, and just a short train ride from Munich, is the valley of the Iller river (Illertal) in what is called the Oberallgäu (Upper Allgaeu), in the SW corner of Bavaria. The major town there is the ski resort of Oberstdorf, but there are nice little towns all up and down the valley (I personally prefer Fischen im Allgäu).

In addition to Oberstdorf, which looks like the prototype for Vail, there is the Kleinwalsertal, a beautiful alpine valley, which is actually a part of the Austrian Tirol, but isolated from it by the mountains. I know of many Germans who go there every year just to hike in the Alps.

Posted by
416 posts

Regarding Garmisch and hiking, if you stay there do not miss the Partnachklamm. As you face the olympic ski jumps, a road goes off to the right (mind you, this is from memory from 21 years ago so if I am not exactly correct I apologize). Walk down the road to the right to reach the trailhead that leads to the Partnachklamm which is a slot canyon and absolutely magnificent.

Posted by
19146 posts

2 teenaged boys.
Which do you all think the 14 and 21 year old would enjoy best?

Do you consider 21 yo a teenage?

Anyway, you should know that on German Rail, a 14 year old travels for free with a full-fare-paying parent.

In my opinion, a teenager would most enjoy traveling on a train (since it is an experience unlike anything in the U.S.)

Posted by
16 posts

Hi Friends!

Thank you all so much for the imput. I have decided to stick to the Munich area and see Switzerland on another trip based on everyone's advice. Now, how about some suggestions for time? We will rent a car out of Munich.

Munich...2 or 3 days? (From here I would see Dachau and also want to do a city bike tour)
Salzburg...2 days or 3?(How long of a drive from Munich?)
Fussen ,Mittenwald or Garmisch? And..how many days ? (From here is where we would go to see the castles, hike, see the Zugspitze.. did I miss anything?) So where does everyone stand on the most convienient but also the best "Bavarian" place to stay?

Lucy

Posted by
12040 posts

My vote is for one of the old guest houses along Ludwigstrasse in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. You can walk from here to the Zugspitzebahn station, or walk to one of the hiking trails on the Wank (small mountain on the backside of Partenkirchen). Ludwig's castles are about a 30 minute drive through some magnificent scenery in the Tyrol region.

Posted by
2920 posts

Hi Lucy,

Munich...2 or 3 days? Depends on your interests and what else you want to see here.

Salzburg...2 days or 3? Since you'll have a car, I'd say 3. This will give you at least 1 day to visit the Salzkammergut (lake area) which includes Hallstatt.

The drive from Munich to Salzburg is about 2 hours. Just a suggestion... on the way to salzburg either visit Ludwig's Neues Schloss (Herrenchiemsee) which is not only amazing but just about the midpoint of the drive, or for a drive through some beautiful mountains, get off the highway at the exit for B306 (towards Inzell and Berchtesgaden) and continue to Salzburg.

www.herrenchiemsee.de/englisch/n_palace/index.htm

www.berchtesgaden.com

We love Mittenwald. Our opinion is it's the quintessential Bavarian village. The drive from Salzburg to Mittenwald via Innsbruck is very nice and about 3 hour drive. From here you can see the castles Linderhof, Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau (and the luge ride at Tegelberg 1 mile away), Ettal Monestary, Oberammergau, the Zugspitze, luge ride (Sommerrodelbahn) in Garmisch plus Mittenwald also has a cable car... the Karwendelbahn.

If it's of any interest, here's a link to some of our photo's:

www.worldisround.com/home/pja1/travel1.html

Hope this helps.

Paul

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Posted by
7209 posts

A car is pretty useless to visit Dachau from Munich since it's easily accessible on the metro system. A whole group of people can travel cheaply (~20 Euro) on 1 Bayern Ticket all the way from Munich to Salzburg. Don't be too quick to think that a rental car is the best option...Train travel is actually fun and exciting.

Posted by
24 posts

I'm sorry to reply after you've abandoned the original plan. I won't try to micro manage, but would weigh in that Berner Oberland should remain on itenerary. Have you considered doing Munich and surrounding areas, catching night train to Switzerland and flying out of Zurich?
Berner Oberland has become a youth destination. The problem is - as others have stated - a long way to go for 2 days. In addition, weather is iffy and you might never see the Monch. So rather than abandon, I'd add days there.
Been to most of the places mentioned and it is all opinion, but I'd go with your initial take just try to find night train and do an open jaw.

Posted by
19146 posts

The Bayern-Ticket is €28 for 2-5 people, €20 for a single person. Those prices are for online or automat purchase; DB charges €2 more for counter purchases.

For 4 of you, that would be €7 per person for all day (after 9 AM weekdays, until 3 AM the following morning, everyday) unlimited travel in 2nd class on regional trains in Bavaria and to Border stations like Salzburg, Kufstein, and Ulm.

Posted by
19146 posts

What Harry is adding (I think) is that the Bayern-Ticket is also valid for travel on all means of transport (S-/U-Bahn, streetcars, and buses) in the various Verkehrsverbünden (transit districts, like Munich MVV) in Bavaria, as well as on regional buses like RVO (Regionalverkehr Oberbayern).

Posted by
16 posts

Hello again,
I just love sitting down and reading all of the great info that gets posted. It really helps so much! As far as train verses car... I agree that train travel is exciting especially for the first few times you've ever done it.(We used the trains as we traveled through Italy last year) I was thinking now it might me fun to try a different twist and drive to have the experience of being a little more free to stop along the way to the destination. Do you think it will be more of a pain than a pleasure? Should we get the rental at the Munich Airport or when we are ready to leave Munich to head for Salzburg? I don't want to waste alot of time setting up the car rental!

Lucy

Posted by
7209 posts

And yes, I definitely agree that car rental can be a huge headache if you're planning on traveling to/through any big cities. Gas is expensive, toll roads are expensive, parking in cities is a nightmare (and expensive) and heaven forbid you have a wreck or put a scratch on that rental car. You'll pay dearly for it.

Training is so much simpler and care free. Everybody gets to enjoy the trip and see the sights from the train.

Posted by
3696 posts

Cant remember my exact route while in Germany, but I drove to the Lake of Konstanz... absolutely beautiful surrounded by the mountains of Germany Austria and Switzerland...that way you can see Switz. without all the additional expense... I agree, although wonderful it is not a great value.
I traveled here with my daughter (21) a few years ago and some of the best places for her were the college towns (Wurzburg) Not so touristy and lots of young people. We both thought the Romantic Strausse was beautiful, however we did not have huge expectations, so we were not disappointed. It is all great, and as for castles, they seem to be around every corner while you are driving that part of Germany. I love the freedom of the car and the train can end up being expensive when you have a few people. You can't just stop for a picnic alongside the road or to see the fields of flowers in bloom...I will be going again in a few months with my grandson and will definitely have a car in the south of Germany. Driving in Cologne was a headache, but the cathedral was amazing. The small villages were definitely a highlight for us.. and the Lake was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. I think we hung out in Freidrickshafen and then stayed in a small town just beyond there.
Good luck and have a great experience whatever you decide.

Posted by
3696 posts

One additional note about traveling with a 21 year old... it was helpful for me to stay in a hotel that had a bar...my daughter wanted to meet locals and I did not feel comfortable with her wandering the streets, so this worked out well. In Salzburg she met a soccer coach from Africa, a doctor who had a logo with kidneys on his business card, and a bartender who gave her a tape with his favorite music which we played the rest of out trip ( some of which we had never heard before and became our European favorites)
We call it our Europe 98 music. For me to be in the room knowing she was in the hotel yet had the freedom to meet locals was priceless. As for car vs train everyone has their own preference... I love both and have done both.. I am usually a free-spirited traveler (photographer) and nothing can compare to driving and suddenly coming upon a giant field of poppies, or finding a field of lavendar or sunflowers or a little charming village that no one has heard of... but a three hour journey from Germany to Prague on a train with time to reflect and write in your journal is also unforgetable.

Posted by
16 posts

Hello everyone again! I thank you all for your suggestions. A new twist is now in my plans. It looks like my older son who is in college, may be doing an internship near Cologne!! How does the following itinerary sound:

Fly to Duseldorph (I know this is mispelled!) and get car. Drive to Cologne to meet the boy...see the Dom and stay overnight.

Drive to Rothenburg..stay over 1 night

Drive to Munich..stay over 2 nights (see Dachau, the city, and possibly Nymphenburgh Palace? opinions please...)

Drive to Salzburg...stay over 2 nights (see the city, Fortress, Berchtesgaden salt mine?)

Drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen...stay 4 nights (see the castles, Zugspitze, hike the Partnachklamm Gorge, maybe the Tegelberg Luge, Drive to Mittenwald for a short visit....opinions again are welcome)

Fly home from Munich

I really am looking for opinions on my plan. Anything you might add or take away?

Lucy

Posted by
12040 posts

Sounds like a good plan. I might be mistaken, but I think there's a summer luge in GaP (I know there's a winter luge). Send me a PM if you want a recommendation on a GREAT place to stay in GaP.

Posted by
2920 posts

Hi Lucy,

Tegelberg cable car and the Tegelberg Sommerrodelbahn (luge) is about a mile from Neuschwanstein by Fuessen. There is another Sommerrodelbahn (luge) in Garmisch. It's just as you enter Garmisch (if you were coming from Mittenwald), otherwise you would head towards Mittenwald and just as you're about to leave Garmisch, it's on the right hand side. There's a sign that reads "Sommerrodelbahn".

Paul