Please review my Germany/Austria/Switzerland itinerary

I have an itinerary for trip starting mid-September and would appreciate your expert scrutiny. I also have a number of questions. Thanking you in advance. Fly to Frankfurt, pick up rental car Drive to Bacharach – Rhine cruise, Burg Eltz (3 nights) Drive along Black Forest (just big bang section from Titisee to Freiburg)– stay in Staufen (1 night) Drive to Lauterbrunnen – see Wengen, etc. (4 nights) Drive to Fussen – castles, Zugspitze (3 nights) Drive to Hallstatt – check out scenery (1 night) Drive to Munich – stay near airport (1 night) Fly home Now my questions. 1. Would you recommend staying at Wolfgansee vs. Hallstatt? Interested in great scenery and charm. Only staying for 1 night. Should I make it 2? 2. Should I stay in Lauterbrunnen vs. Wengen? 3. Shoud I stay in Staufen or Freiburg? We like being able to walk around after dinner and check out the town. Which has more to do? Which is less touristy? 4. We will do the short Black Forest trip from Freiburg to Titisee. Is this a mistake? Should we do the whole road? 5. Please confirm that sticker (vignette) costs ~8 euros for Austria and 60CHF (gulp) for Switzerland. Where do we get these stickers? At rental agency when we pick car up at airport? 6. From our itinerary, is there any scary mountain driving? My husband is pretty fearless, but good to have a heads up. 7. We are skipping Salzburg. Is this sacrilege? We will not be attending concerts and are mostly interested in scenic beauty.
8. How about Bacharach vs. St. Goar? Which is better?

Posted by Susan
Arlington, VA, USA
2 posts

I was thinking of Bacharach as a home base for that area. First day, crash and recover from jet lag. Day 2: Rhine cruise and visit St. Goar and some other towns. Day 3: visit Burg Eltz and perhaps mosey down the Mosel. Is this a good plan? I had 1 night down for Hallstatt which looks incredibly scenic,maybe up it to 2 and take a day trip to Salzburg? I'm reading that the architecture is nice so maybe it would be good to stroll around the town but not do anything in particular. What do you think? Maybe I'm giving the Black Forest short shrift. RS says you can take in the highlights from Freiburg to Titisee. Where are the hikes and the lakes located? Any of them in the southern part of the BF? Augusta Raurica sounds like something my husband would want to do and it is not too far out of the way for when we go from Staufen to Lauterbrunnen. Thank you.

Posted by Susan
Columbus, USA
67 posts

Hello! I am not sure about the answers to some of your questions, but for question number 5. vignette, yes it is around 8 Euros. (we bough soda too there so I can't tell you the exact price) Depending on where you enter Austria depends on where you buy the vignette. We bought ours in what looked like a former toll booth or boarder controll. But the gas stations were also advertising that they sold them. There are signs on the roads. They are red and white and have the Austrian eagle and a road on them. Hard to miss. They are good for 10 days and you put them in your windows. I think the swiss were 30 Euros, again I could be wrong. We ended up not going into Switzerland and not needing one. 6. Granted we were not up high in the mountains when we were driving, but when we went up or came down, it was a lot like driving in Western Virginia/West Virgina. Switch backs. 7. You can always go back:) That had to be my mantra to the trip. Or else I would have packed even more then I already had.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
668 posts

Despite the large amount of driving, and the even more intense reading of Rick's book than I do (!), you shouldn't think of this itinerary as exhaustive. (Doesn't Rick say Swiss scenic trains are a must?) Except for Burg Eltz (1 hr drive) you don't mention the rest of the Mosel. Besides Salzburg, you're also skipping Innsbruck, which has good scenery around it. Perhaps Cologne is a different trip for you , but I hope you get there some day. I'm not recommending the "Sound of Music" bus tour from Salzburg, but it's pretty darn scenic. I'm personally interested in Mozart. If you're not, feel free to skip Salzburg. Don't go there for the marionettes with recorded music, to be sure! Bacharach is nice, but neither it, nor the Rhine scenery are worth three nights in one place. By that, I mean that one night walking after dinner and you've soaked up all the atmosphere Bacharach has to offer. If you had listed some Rhine castles, you might not need Burg Eltz. Our big-name (Hertz or Avis?) car came with a vignette. But if you're gasping now about the possible vignette price, wait until you buy dinner in Switzerland! The Black Forest is very attractive. It sounds like you are going to rush it, and have little time for hiking and lake (and waterfall) views. If you're skipping Salzburg, I guess I know why you're skipping Basel and Zurich. Don't detour for it, but if you drive by, stop at Augusta Raurica, a nice Roman ruin. I went to Weil am Rhein specifically to see the Vitra Design Museum, and Zaha Hadid's first completed building. It's a matter of personal preference.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
668 posts

In summer, hiking is all over the BF. It's the most important tourist activity. One reason for the free trains is so you can walk back to your hotel from a "trailhead". But trailhead is a misleading term. It's the very essence of the contemporary BF. I'm not specifically recommending it to you, but I stayed at a luxury hotel, Parkhotel Adler in Hinterzarten. (There are a vast number of cheaper accommodations with more charm.) After visiting Freiburg, I got off the train at Tittisee. Although amusingly busy, the lakefront wasn't that much "better" than Provincetown or Lake George (well, the food is better) ... but I had the choice of four different degrees of difficulty walk back to Hinterzarten. They ranged from paved sidewalk to steep scrambles ( .... I guess ... I only took one!) I should have bought a map, because the blazes were hard to find where the various trails overlapped. The line at the TI in Tittisee was just too long. But there's no danger of getting lost. The lake views along the way, and the descent into Hinterzarten were just great. Again, this is not some secret, perfect spot. I'm sure the BF has dozens of walks just as nice.