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Forums » General & Multi-Country » Please review my Germany/Austria/Switzerland itinerary


Please review my Germany/Austria/Switzerland itinerary

by /bio/gensuki »


Please review this itinerary for our trip starting mid-September 2013.
  • Fly to Vienna (3 nights)
  • Depart Vienna, pick up rental car, see Melk on the way to Halstatt
  • Halstatt (1 night)
  • Salzburg (2 nights)
  • Reutte or Fussen (2 nights)  - visit Ludwig Castle, drive a little way north along Romantic Road to get a taste 
  • Lucerne (2 nights)
  • Lauterbrunnen (3 nights) - visit Murren, Gimmelwald, etc.
  • Staufen (1 night) - drive through Black Forest
  • Baden Baden (1 night)
  • Bacharach (1 night) - take Rhine cruise
  • Frankfurt for flight home (1 night)
The rental car is pretty expensive, especially with the dropoff in a different country.  I was contemplating dropping the car off in Lucerne and picking up another one at the end of our Lauterbrunnen stay to continue on to Staufen.  Any thoughts on that?     Also, airfares are quite high to Vienna compared to travelling to other parts of Europe.  Is this because Austrian Air has a monopoly?   Regarding Lauterbrunnen, guidebooks recommend staying up in Gimmelwald or Murren instead.  However, I thought maybe it might be better to stay in the valley in case the weather was bad.  Do I assume correctly that there will be more options with bad weather if I stay in the valley?   Thank you so much for considering my itinerary and my questions.

RE: Please review my Germany/Austria/Switzerland itinerary

by /bio/road-crazy »

If you turn your car back in in Switzerland and then pick up another three days later, it seems doubtful you'll end up ahead, as then you will be incurring two drop-off charges.  You can always price it, though, and see what the rental agencies quote.

You're probably right about Austrian Air.  Vienna isn't a major airline destination, so your transatlantic options are few.  However, you could look at flying into one of the major airports - London and Frankfurt often have quite reasonable fares - and then taking a superbudget airline from there to Vienna.  You'd just want to be sure of allowing a big cushion of time between flights, as the superbudget has no responsibility to get you to Vienna if your transatlantic flight is delayed.

There isn't a lot in Lauterbrunnen, but certainly there is more than in Gimmelwald or Murren, where rainy weather will pretty much ground you.  On the valley floor, you can visit Trummelbach Falls, which are impressive even if it's cloudy and rainy, or you could visit Interlaken if the weather is truly dismal.


RE: Please review my Germany/Austria/Switzerland itinerary

by kringenwally »


A few thoughts that might help you shape your plans:


To do this entire itinerary by rental car seems to me to be less than ideal. There are hardly any targets on your list where a train isn't a better solution. Trains are the way of getting around, in the cities where cars are a hindrance, and in the mountains where cars often aren't even allowed. Look at for Austria, for Germany (also for connecting trains to Austria and Switzerland), and for Switzerland.


Rent a car wherever it is a better solution, for a day or three at a time.


In Austria your rental car has to display the Austrian road-tax sticker called Vignette, without which you are not allowed to drive on the main roads.


Once you enter Switzerland, your car has to display the Swiss version of the "Vignette" - you can buy it near the border (but you probably won't get reimbursed).


Germany has no such requirement.


If Vienna is too expensive to fly into, look for an alternative. Possibly Munich. If so, visit what you wish to see in the region as you first get there, possibly by rental car, but I suggest looking into the many other ways of getting to, say, Ludwig's Castle (lots of tour buses take you from Munich daily, hassle-free, with knowledgeable guides that maximize your experience.)


The "Romantic Road" is not really a road to speak of, it is the towns along that "road" that make it worthwhile, so read up on them, decide which you want to see and rent a car for a day or two, just for that.


You can visit Melk as a half-day excursion by train from Vienna, trains take an hour or less and it's a ten-minute walk from the station to the Stift.


You don't need a car in places like Lucerne and Lauterbrunnen, in fact, a car is a bother there.


Europe is full of budget airlines - if your luggage isn't excessive (check each airline's website carefully) you can save a bunch by picking the cheapest transatlantic flight to wherever there is one of those airlines to take you to your final destination.  Which - as mentioned by previous poster - opens up all kinds of options. Avoid the UK, though - their departure tax will work against this strategy.


If Munich (MUC) also isn't the ideal arrival airport, maybe Zürich (ZRH)? Then turn your trip around. Or start out in Frankfurt am Main (FRA)? (Realize that there is another Frankfurt, not as important but nevertheless, it is called Frankfurt an der Oder).


Or Brussels? Or ??? Check those other airlines and their connections on and on, read the rules, and keep in mind that a late arrival from overseas does not oblige that connecting airline to honor your ticket if you miss their onward flight, so schedule accordingly.


If Vienna costs you 1200 bucks and Brussels 800, and a connecting flight 50 Euros, you're laughing. It happens.


Lauterbrunnen is shady, down in the valley, I wouldn't stay there. If you want to keep your options open about the weather etc., (not a bad strategy), stay in nearby Interlaken, it is a town on the flat between two lakes, with lots and lots of great targets within reach, in all directions, including Lauterbrunnen (20 minutes by car, parking severely restricted, a few minutes more by train).


Interlaken caters to visitors in a very efficient way - lots of hotels and restaurants and two train stations. You can hop on public boats on either lake, go up on (look these up!) the Niederhorn, the Niesen, the Brienzer Rothorn, and, if worse comes to worst and the weather totally shuts you down, hop on a train to Bern and enjoy the ancient inner-city center that is still a vital active city with the seat of the government and such - and the arcades that flank the pedestrian-only inner-city streets keep you dry while you gallivant.


After Switzerland I would suggest taking the train to Freiburg im Breisgau where you would have reserved a rental car to take you via the Black Forest to Frankfurt.


Hope this helps.