Train vs car from southern Germany to Austria and Prague

We are planning a 12 night trip to Germany, Austria, Czech Republic in mid-September. Originally I was thinking about traveling by train from Munich to Innsbruck, rent a car to explore lower Austria and drive to Salzburg and Vienna, return the car in Vienna then take a train to Prague and back to Munich. However, I'm now trying to fit in a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle, but it doesn't appear to be an easy train route between the castle and Innsbruck. Thus, to avoid backtracking as well as the surcharge for returning the car across borders, I'm now considering renting a car for the entire trip. It looks like the rental fee would only be ~$70 more for the extra 7 days. I was kind of looking forward to the experience of rail travel across this part of Europe, but I also like the freedom that a car affords. One issue with keeping a car the whole time, though, is dealing w/ parking in the cities. With the original plan, we could just drop it off w/o worrying about parking once in Vienna. Here's our tentative itinerary: Sept 10 - Arrive 10 am in Munich Sept 11 - Munich -> Innsbruck (Optional: Neuschwanstein Castle) Sept 12- Innsbruck --> Penk (staying at a horseback riding farm) Sept 13 - Penk Sept 14 - Penk--> Salzburg Sept 15 - Salzburg --> Vienna Sept 16 - Vienna Sept 17 - Vienna to Czechy Krumlov (or directly to Prague) Sept 18 - Czechy Krumlov --> Prague (or extra day in Prague) Sept 19/20 - Prague Sept 21 - Prague--> Munich
Sept 22 - Return home Welcome any thoughts/suggestions!

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

Seems like an awful lot of travel and very little time to actually enjoy the experience! Travel less and explore more, that would be my advice.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3496 posts

I plunked your itinerary into Michelin maps - about 1000 miles. The average speed is about 50 mph. I believe that's based on best conditions and maximum speed limits.
As Jim said, that's a lot of driving for a 12 day trip. And that doesn't take into account finding your hotel, finding parking, being behind a couple of slow trucks in the mountains . . . Not much time left for "exploring." Less is almost always more.

Posted by Janet
2 posts

Thanks for chiming in. Actually our last Europe vacation in the UK was even more ambitious than this itinerary. I actually consider this to be much more 'leisurely', ha! In any case, I don't see us changing the itinerary too much from this version as we do want to see these areas. We're "on the go" type travelers, so I don't think that part will bother us too much. My husband likes driving and we've usually found that having a car lets us make stops to see random things we might have otherwise missed on a train. However, I'm now considering what if after Salzburg we drive back to Munich to return the car then grab a train directly to Vienna from there? We'd lose about 2.5 hrs, but then we wouldn't have to worry about driving, parking for the second half of the trip when we don't need a car as much... Alternatively, it looks like we can maybe return the car in Rosenheim and take a train to Vienna from there, which would shave off ~40 mins.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3496 posts

That might depend on train schedules. Check on (use the UK English, not US English - works better). I do like the idea of trains in Europe if you're spending your time in cities. I rented a car for the first time this year, in Spain. It was great to get to places I couldn't have otherwise, but it was so nice not to have to drive in the big cities. The nice thing about trains is that you can sit back and relax, catch up on a travel diary, have a picnic meal, lots of things so that you can maximize your sightseeing time on the ground. You will need to buy a pass to drive in Austria - even for the short trip from Germany to Salzburg. And check carefully for drop-off costs, even in the same country.

Posted by Steve
Big Eagle, KY, USA
70 posts

Different stroke for sifferent folks but in my view this is too ambitious and ends up being a paved gauntlet versus a holiday. I have moved at this pace when backpacking however if you want to slow things down a bit and get settled you should consider paring some of these.