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Swiss Alps + Rhine

Hi Helpliners-

My girlfriend and I have an opportunity to spend an extended time in Europe this year. We'll probably do this in two legs, hitting both shoulder seasons.

Two things we're looking forward to are hiking in the Swiss Alps (Jungfrau region), and touring the Rhine & Moselle on bike and boats. Hoping folks here have thoughts on these...

  • Is three weeks (total) a good time to allocate to these activities? If so, would you split the time evenly?
  • Which of these windows gives us best odds of good weather--- mid-May to mid-June, or mid-Sept to mid-Oct?
  • We'll spend a few days in Cologne after ride. Are Amsterdam or Munich good options after that, depending on season?

Thanks!!

Posted by
12040 posts

The best time of the year to hike in the Alps is usually September. May isn't a great time, June is better. The weather starts changing again by mid-October, but early in the month is usually OK. But September still trumps them all. I would start your trip in Switzerland, then go to Germany. Exploring the Rhine is far less weather-dependent than the Alps.

3 weeks is a long time. You can fit in a lot more than just the Alps and the Rhine. Amsterdam is an easy fit after Köln because there's regular direct rail connections that link the two cities. Munich is somewhat out of your way from what you have listed so far, but with three weeks, you have plenty of time for a detour.

Maybe the ideal mix would be 5 days in the Alps, then 2-3 days on the Rhine. Add a little more time to both if you wanted to check out Bern, Basel, Heidelberg, Wiesbaden, Koblenz or Mainz. I would rather spend a little more time in Bonn and less in Köln.

Posted by
16731 posts

Yes, mid Sept to mid Oct works. Start by flying to Zurich and starting in the Alps for the best shot at good weather. You can work your way down the Rhine via rail and boat.

Here is a resource for biking in the Mosel area. http://www.regioradler.de/index.php?pre=en_&haktiv=10&code=
They have special public bike buses that run on a regular schedule. You can also take your bikes on the local trains in the region. There is a very easy trail along the Mosel in an old railroad bed ("the little boozers' line") and lots of more difficult trails up into the surrounding highlands. There are lots of "Strassenweinfests" in the villages along the river in late Sept and early Oct. It is harvest time in the vineyards.

You could stop over in Colmar in France on the way down the Rhine, then on to Mainz and take the K-D boat down river to Boppard and continue on rail to Koblenz and up the Mosel. After Cologne (stop in to Papa Joe's Bier Salon) and then down to Amsterdam and fly home from there.

Posted by
27709 posts

spend an extended time in Europe this year. We'll probably do this in two legs

Total time on the ground within the 180 days from the first arrival less than 90 days?

Posted by
106 posts

Guys, thanks for the advice. Good ideas here.

Nigel, yes. Since we're seeing Italy, Spain and "TBD" from mid-March to mid-June, we won't head back to the Schengen Zone till mid September. I understand the UK is not part of this, so we hope to travel there in July or August.

Do you know if good weather usually holds through October in Amsterdam, Munich, Vienna, Prague and/or Budapest? We'd like to explore some of these on the same trip. I figure the later we can do that, the longer we have for the Alps and rivers,

Thanks again!

Posted by
12040 posts

"Do you know if good weather usually holds through October in Amsterdam, Munich, Vienna, Prague and/or Budapest?" Define "good weather". None of these locations are usually particularly cold for most of October, but neither are they warm either. Much of northern, central and western Europe starts to become rather damp by the middle of the month. The sun can disappear for weeks at a time.

My advice would be to cover all of your rural and outdoor destinations by the begining of October, and stack cities a little later. The damp, foggy weather of mid to late autumn can turn the countryside into a dull brown and gray haze, but it will affect city exploration far less.

Posted by
106 posts

Tom- That's a great idea. Alps + Rhine/Moselle + Amsterdam + Munich first-- then exploring cities of the Danube.

Sam- I appreciate the Moselle suggestion. I'm reading Michael Lyon's book Cycling Along Europe's Rivers, but think I missed the bike-bus info.

Nigel- I saw a Schengen answer you posted in another thread. Could you tell me if I'm applying it correctly here?

My girlfriend and I spend mid-March through end of May in the zone. We've used 75 days of our Schengen "budget," and can only spend 15 more days there until our 180 day "clock" resets mid-September.

Instead of waiting till then, we head back at the beginning of September. We gain 2 extra weeks of Fall weather-- and because the clock resets, there's no issue with our staying continuously through mid-late October.

??

Thanks again!

Posted by
27709 posts

No clock resets. Is is very simple. Every day you are in the Schengen area two things happen. First, each day you are there starts a new count, so for n days you have n simultaneous counts. Second, to determine if you are legal each day or portion of a day you are in the Schengen area you must be able to answer that counting back 180 days from that day have you been, for even one minute on any day been in Schengen territory fewer than 90 days.

Only if the question can be answered yes, for each day of visit, are you in compliance. There is no overlapping.

Posted by
106 posts

Thanks Nigel-- I took some liberties using that term, but I think what we want to do still works.

The first day we're back will be Day 76 for us. Each of the next 14 days counts up toward 90.

Spring + Fall = Total

75 + 1 = 76
75 + 2 = 77
75 + 3 = 78
and on to...
75 + 15 = 90

But if we time this right, i think we can hold at 90. Once we get to Sept 15, the days from our Spring trip will start to fall outside the "180 back" period.

74 + 16 = 90
73 + 17 = 90
72 + 18 = 90
and on to...
30 + 60 = 90. (Around 30 October)

Am I missing something, or does this seem workable?

Thanks again!