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Forums » Germany » Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

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aj3583

Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by aj3583 »

 

My husband and I are going to Europe in September, and we have 17 full days / 17 nights.  Here is our tentative itinerary: Arrive in Frankfurt, then train to Berlin (arrive late afternoon) Berlin (2 full days / 3 nights), then morning train to Prague Prague (2 nights), then morning train to Vienna Vienna (3 nights), then morning train to Salzburg Salzburg (1 night), then train to Munich Munich / Oktoberfest (3 nights) From Munich we will be driving up through to get back to Frankfurt hitting Fussen, Lindau, Freiburg, Baden (4 nights).    Here are my questions: Is this itinerary feasible, and is it too rushed? Is 2-3 nights in these places adequate?   Is it worth it to go to Salzburg for 1 night (likely arriving in the morning and departing around lunch)? Should we devote 2 days there if we are making the stop in Salzburg on our way from Vienna to Munich?   If we had to give up anything on this itinerary, would Prague be the best one to eliminate (as much as I would hate to!)? I am stuck between wanting to see as much as possible but realizing that we could just end up rushing around for 2.5 weeks due to too much travel.   Next the trains. Do we need to reserve our seat on the train from the Frankfurt airport into Berlin, or can we get a ticket upon arrival in Frankfurt? I'm concerned about a flight delay and missing a train, but also am not sure if they sell out in advance.   Next, I'm not sure if the Eurail is the best option or the bahn.de website. It seems like the bahn.de website shows trains from Berlin to Prague, Prague to Vienna, Vienna to Salzburg, and Salzburg to Munich. I'm having trouble figuring out the Eurail site and if it makes sense for us to get a 3 country pass etc. or just buy each way separate on bahn.de.   Any tips and suggestions about the itinerary is much appreciated - hotel / restaurant recommendations welcome also!  Thank you in advance! Amanda
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kringenwally

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by kringenwally »

Question: Are you committed to the arrival in FRA or can you switch to a flight that goes to Berlin, then fly home from FRA? It takes a good five hours by train from the airport in Frankfurt to the central station in Berlin (called Hbf = Hauptbahnhof).

Suggestion: Consider changing your plan from all those morning trains to evening trains. After a long day's sightseeing it is nice to relax on a train and arrive shortly before bedtime in a new place - knowing that you made the most of the active daytime hours. 

You're already on a tight schedule - with all those morning trains, you're wasting the best time of many a day, essentially shrinking your schedule even more.

Case in point: It takes roughly five hours from Berlin to Prague. If you leave after breakfast, you've wasted most of the day by the time you've found your hotel, checked in, freshened up, and had something to eat.

Instead, take the 6:10PM train from Berlin that goes all the way (no need to change trains en route) and arrives at 11:26PM. You'll rest on the train. On arrival, call your hotel to arrange for a trusted car (smart practice in Prague), and soon after midnight you'll be asleep.

The same with that morning train to Salzburg - might as well not bother. Go the evening before, sleep in Salzburg, any halfway decent hotel near the train station will do, then get up with the birds and enjoy a full day, then take a late train to Munich.

You either leave your bags with the hotel concierge after you pay and check out, or you stash them at the train station - most of them have luggage storage ("Gepäckaufbewahrung").

Not sure what you mean by "Eurail" website - use www.bahn.de for Germany and adjacent countries, also www.oebb.at for Austria.

You can buy a ticket in Frankfurt airport, the trains leave from underneath the arrival building (yours is the "Fern" = long-distance portion) but if you book in advance online you can sometimes get a discounted fare called (in German) "Sparangebot". However, if you're not sure to arrive right on time and make it past the Grenzpolizei (border police, passport check) in good time, booking might be taking a chance.

About the question of a pass vs. individual tickets: Look up these websites and you'll probably be able to calculate and decide:

railsaver (click) and Rick Steves (click).

Hope this helps.

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aj3583

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by aj3583 »

Hi there,

Thanks so much for your reply. We actually are committed to flying in and out of Frankfurt; I used miles for the flights.

I like the suggestion of the evening trains instead of morning, that may be a great idea for some of the transfers. The only thing is it likely will not work for the Vienna to Salzburg transfer. We have purchased tickets for the opera for our last evening in Vienna. 

I'm wondering if it would make the most sense to eliminate Prague, addding the time to Vienna. Then pushing Munich back a day and adding an extra night to Salzburg. So the itinerary would look more like this:

 

Arrive in Frankfurt, then train to Berlin (arrive late afternoon) Berlin (3 full days / 3 nights), then evening train to Vienna Vienna (4 days / 5 nights), then morning train to Salzburg Salzburg (2 nights), then train to Munich Munich / Oktoberfest (3 nights) From Munich we will be driving up through to get back to Frankfurt hitting Fussen, Lindau, Freiburg, Baden (4 nights).

Does this look more feasible? Is it worth missing Prague to ease up our schedule a bit and see more of Vienna and Salzburg?

Thanks again!
 

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kringenwally

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by kringenwally »

That ride from Berlin to Vienna would then be a night train - it takes 12:22 hours on the EuroNight that leaves at 6:10PM and arrives in Vienna at 06:32AM - no need to change en route.

If you book a sleeper, you have private accommodations, you save a night in a hotel - a great way to do this. Look at www.seat61.com - in particular this section (click) where the different sleeping options and ways to book ahead are explained

Or look for a cheap flight (as long as you don't have much luggage) at www.skyscanner.net and at www.whichbudget.com.

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RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by /bio/pheymont »

See if you can rebook the flight--some carriers are more lenient than others in making changes for award flights. If it is feasible, keep in mind that the major carriers allow a stopover en route on award flights. That can clean up your itinerary a lot.

For instance, I pre-checked an itinerary (using next June flights to see possibilities) that I will use in summer 2015. The flights are NY-Frankfurt-Berlin-Vienna and then return Frankfurt-NYC. On the way in, Frankfurt is just a plane change, not a stopover. Berlin is the stopover on what is technically a trip to Vienna.

If you can change your award flights without too much penalty, this could save you both the time and the trainfare for Frankfurt-Berlin and for Berlin-Vienna.

 

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aj3583

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by aj3583 »

Hey Kringen, thanks for the tips, that was helpful. Likewise Pheymont, although unfortunately our Frankfurt flights are locked in.

We are now thinking also that the Salzburg OR Prague would make the most sense before Vienna.

 

It seems we are still looking at cutting out either Salzburg or Prague. We are committed to Vienna and Munich for sure, and we must fly in and out of Frankfurt. We do already have our hotel booked for Munich for Oktoberfest. Also, my husband is really looking forward to the last couple of days driving through from Munich back to Frankfurt. We will use this time to see Neuschwanstein Castle, wineries, etc.   It terms of what we want, we are really up for anything. Neither of us has traveled Europe before, so we are looking for the best experiences. We are relatively young and active and will want to experience a wide range of things.    On the one hand, I want to go to Salzburg for the beauty, the Alps, the Sound of Music, and because I feel it fits the "original idea" of the trip, which was Germany/Oktoberfest/Bavaria etc. On the other hand, Prague would be another big city experience, a chance to see another country and experience another culture.   Here is the new possible itinerary: Arrive in Frankfurt, then train to Berlin (arrive late afternoon)   Berlin (3 days / 3 nights), then evening train to Prague OR Salzburg   Prague OR Salzburg (3 nights / 2 full days), then morning train to Vienna   Vienna (3 nights / 3 days), then morning train to Munich   Munich / Oktoberfest (3 nights)   From Munich we will be driving up through to get back to Frankfurt hitting Fussen, Lindau, Freiburg, Baden (4 nights).   Again I appreciate any input! Thanks! Amanda
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kringenwally

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by kringenwally »

The only route that makes sense geographically, avoiding costly backtracking, is Berlin - (Prague) - Vienna - Salzburg - Munich.

Whether you spend any time in Prague or not - it is on the line from Berlin to Vienna.

Going to Salzburg before Vienna, whether from Berlin or from Prague, means that you'll have to be going a long way EAST from Salzburg to Vienna and again a long way WEST to Munich - passing through Salzburg again.

There are ways to get from Vienna to Munich without passing through Salzburg again, but on your tight schedule that wouldn't work. If done right, it involves visits to places like Melk and Wels and Linz and Passau and other gems, boat rides, slow regional trains or buses - it's just not for you this time around.

So this time it really comes down to Prague or no Prague, and I suggest leaving it out. For a first time in Europe, without Prague you'll stay within one language and (sort of) culture - although the way German sounds in Berlin is much different from the way it sounds in Vienna and Salzburg, but at least a word you looked up in Frankfurt will still be the same word throughout the entire trip (unless you get to local varieties like coffee or whipped cream or sausages where the vocabulary changes constantly...).

Prague will wait for another trip - it's been a cultural capital of central Europe since before the days of Mozart, so there is no rush.

(Thoughts for another time: A car trip starting in Munich, zig-zagging your way leisurely to Prague, involving all of the above targets and others, plus Cesky Krumlov and other such gems - taking a week or ten days  to do it right!)

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aj3583

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by aj3583 »

Thanks Kringen -

I do realize that it makes more sense to go to Salzburg after Vienna logistically, but if we did that we would only be left with 1 day / 1 night for Salzburg because of a committment in Vienna that keeps us there til a certain day.

On the other hand, is it possible to go from Berlin to Prague, then Prague to Vienna, then Vienna to Munich (skipping Salzburg)? Does this make logistical sense? 

From what I gathered on the bahn website, it seems Berlin to Prague is about 4.5 hours, Prague to Vienna is about 5 hours. Likewise, Berline to Salzburg is 8.5 or 12 hours for sleeper, then Salzburg to Vienna is 2.5 hours.

So if you add the two, between Salzburg OR Prague it looks like we would spend a similar amount of time "in transit". Am I reading this incorrectly?

Have you been to both Salzburg and Prague? Any highlights or downsides to either that may sway our decision?

Thanks again!

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kringenwally

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by kringenwally »

Sure I've been to both, repeatedly. That's why I suggest leaving out Prague, it's the "odd one out" here, although I'm not advising against visiting Prague ever, as noted in my previous post.

You ask if it is possible to go  "Vienna to Munich (skipping Salzburg)" You can ignore Salzburg when the train from Vienna to Munich stops there, but Salzburg is on the line from Vienna to Munich, unless you go by some other way I described in my previous post, but that's not for you this time around.

Since you're so under the gun to make this happen, and you want to go to Salzburg before Vienna, skip Prague. You can take a night train from Berlin to Munich (lvg. 20:59 arr. 07:05) and switch to the next train from Munich to Salzburg, lvg 07:27 arr. 08:57 - that saves you some precious time.

Or skip the long train journeys, fly from Berlin to Salzburg, with airberlin's (click) 21:30 flight that goes nonstop and gets you to Salzburg by 22:45 - just in time for check-in and a good night's sleep. Saves you the time you don't seem to have otherwise.

 

 

 

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kennyl

RE: Itinerary Help: Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich

by kennyl »

Aj-  four nites to drive from Munich to Frankfurt could be easily compressed to 1 or 2 nites in Fussen then directly to Frankfurt. . The extra nites could be devided between  Berlin, Prague, and Salzburg.  i would certainly make the trade of  these three cities for Lindau, Freiburg, and  Baden. Just a thought...  Have a good trip

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