This really was a two part question, but the prior question about the Alps was long enough so I will ask this one separately. Please read it for the background(Question about the Alps)... We want to add the Cinque Terra and Venice to the itinerary mentioned. I had not considered Rome but think maybe that is a mistake. Would it be smarter to loop back to Paris after the Alps (return the car) and then fly or train to Italy and use the train to connect those three destinations and fly home from Rome? My original plan was to save Rome for another trip ( although I don't know when that would be)and after Salzburg go to Venice and the Cinque Terra then the Alps and then end in Paris. (As previously noted in the other question, we do have enough time.) Sorry for the long questions, but I am stalled here and sure could use some seasoned insight!
Sometimes a car can be a slight disadvantage. If you didn't have auto, you might consider flights, which could save a little time. What we try to do is copy Rick Steves trips and follow his sequence, he has done this for a while, and has it down to perfection. Have you considered doing his tour? You can also consider a car for part of the trip; the rail system for the Alps is your best value.
Part of my reasoning for returning the car back to Paris after about a three week loop ( part of a 4-5 week trip) is because the car is not useful in Venice , the Cinque Terra and certainly we don't want it in Rome, if we add that in. Also, one request my son made was that if possible, he would like to ride one high speed train. So I was trying to incorporate that. Thank you.
Cynthia, I'd have to spend some time looking at your entire route, but my initial impression is that it would be better to use the car only in more limited areas and use fast trains for the most part. That will be a more efficient use of your holiday time. IMHO, it WOULD NOT BE "smarter to loop back to Paris after the Alps (return the car) and then fly or train to Italy". That would be a big waste of time. It's late and I'm not focusing well, so I'll try to have a closer look at the questions tomorrow.
Hi there, If you started the car hire in France then leave it in France – you'll pay more for leaving it in another country – they have to return it and you pay for that. From Salzburg you could head thru Austria to Basel via Innsbruck and drop the car off there – Basel is on the French/Swiss border. Plenty of mountains along that stretch of road - about 560Kms. Going to Chamonix is a long way - 820Kms from Salzburg. 1. If you want to see more of the Alps – train from Basel to Lauterbrunnen – about two hours 30 minutes – from there you can visit the Eiger and Jungfrau. RS has plenty of info on that area. Then train it from Lauterbrunnen to Levanto on the Cinque Terre – via Genova – this is a long day, about eight hours in total on the train. Levanto is a town to the west of the five villages that make up the CT – it's far easier to get your bags around this town than any of the five. It's a four minute train trip to the first CT village - Monterosso, or you can catch the boat to or from the villages from Levanto. 2. Or catch the train direct from Basel to Levanto – you can do it in about eight to nine hours
Levanto to Venice is about six hours by train. We always stay in Mestre near the train station – plenty of hotels in this area. No problem getting to Venice as it's the next stop and all trains pass through Mestre on the way to Venice. Staying in Mestre means you don't have to manhandle your bags from the train station and on and off the vaporettos. Mestre may not be as romantic as Venice but it's far cheaper and you can still spend all day wandering around Venice then get the train or bus back.