Austria-Germany-Switzerland itinerary

Jan 7th, 2019, 10:03 AM
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Austria-Germany-Switzerland itinerary

We are planning a trip in August for our family of 6, from NYC area. We have 4 kids ages 7, 10, 13, 14. We enjoy a small dose of the cities to see major sites, but otherwise prefer nature, walks, scenery. I prefer to end the trip on the water somewhere, as we like to just relax after hopping around to different areas before heading back home. The itinerary I was planning is as follows. We welcome any feedback/thoughts. None of us have ever been to these countries. We also plan to travel by train. We do not like to drive in foreign countries. We may consider hiring driver of van/minibus if that is a preferable option for any portion of the trip (Salzburg to Fussen or Munich to Rothenburg?)
Arrive Vienna - 2 nights
Salzburg - 3 nights
Fussen - 3 nights
Munich - 2 nights
Rothenburg Ob Tauber - 1 night
From Rothenburg take car service to Stuttgart, from there train to Luzern, Switerland for 4 nights
Fly out of Zurich
gms is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 10:50 AM
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The major issue with your itinerary is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It takes hours into and out from anywhere else you are visiting. Do a sanity check by measuring actual travel time using Doing Rothenburg - Luzern via Stuttgart does shave perhaps 90 min from a full day trip starting from Rothernburg after accounting for Rothenburg-Stuttgart trip. But you are still looking at long full day trip.
Munich offers the best connection to Luzern.
greg is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 12:16 PM
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Yes, Rothenburg was not originally part of my itinerary, but I have heard such good things about it that I was trying to squeeze it in. Is it doable as a day trip from Munich? It looked like it would be too far to do in a day. Or any other suggestions on how to work it in, or is it just not worth it due to the distance? We are still flexible with the itinerary at this point.
gms is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 04:38 PM
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I understand that you aren't particularly interested in cities, but 2 nights in Vienna basically means just enough time to get over jet lag. You might consider adding a night there so you can at least see a few of its highlights.
kja is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 05:51 PM
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Yes, Rothenburg was not originally part of my itinerary, but I have heard such good things about it that I was trying to squeeze it in. Is it doable as a day trip from Munich?

No. Unless you consider a 3:15 - 3:45 train journey (with a few changes), each way, with four kids, doable.

I'd add that night to Munich or Vienna and give Rothenburg a pass. I'd probably also cut Fussen from three to two nights, unless you have specific plans to fill two full days (?)

What are your plans for Switzerland? Just Luzern?

Last edited by Melnq8; Jan 7th, 2019 at 05:57 PM.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 7th, 2019, 08:13 PM
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If you have to do Rothenburg, understand your problem in terms of geometry. Vienna-Luzern-Rothenburg forms a triagle meaning you cannot enter from one out of another without back tracking. You noticed that all your other destinations are scattered along the segment connecting Vienna to Luzern. Rothenburg requires unique detour into and out - time consuming steps. An example of a radical ideal to reduce detour to just one way overhead is to do:
Fly into Munich/Frankfurt. Zip straight to Rothenburg upon landing.
Fly VIE-ZRH on a non-stop flight. Train to Luzern upon landing.

If you are not wedded to Rothenburg, one way to satisfy
>>> prefer nature, walks, scenery
which you current itinerary seems to lack unless you do out of town day trips, is to substitute Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
And the sequence would be:
Luzern via Innsbruck.
Garmisch to Innsbruck can be connected by a 90 min train without change. Innsbruck to Zurich to Luzern is connected by frequent trains. Still several hours but a fraction of your original plan. You can stop by at Innsbruck, store your luggage at the station then explore Innsbruck before continuing onto Luzern.
Füssen to Garmisch is not that far linearly, but because of the mountains in between, the shortest trip on a public transit involves bus. All train trip means back tracking to a suburban Munich station. If Rothenburg to Stuttgart on a hired car is acceptable, Füssen to Garmisch is well less than half of that distance if you can find someone. There are some interesting options in between the two. The northern route via Oberammergau and Ettal, the middle route via Linderhof Palace, or a southern route through tip of Austria passing by Zugspitze.

Still another option is to drop Rothenburg, add to Vienna, do Wachau valley train-boat-train loop. Vienna-train to Melk-Boat to Krems or Dürnstein then bus to Krems-train back to Vienna for more
>>> prefer nature, walks, scenery
greg is offline  
Jan 7th, 2019, 09:46 PM
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Hi gms,

I live in Garmisch, and I think Füssen is one of the prettiest towns in this area, along with Mittenwald. If you and your family enjoy walking, hiking, and/or biking, do NOT reduce your nights in Füssen! There are two gorgeous lakes you can circle on foot, by bike, or by boat, and there are many, many trails in the valley and among the mountains. There is really plenty to do there to keep you happy for 3 nights (if not 4!!).

Yes, the shortest transport between Füssen and Garmisch is the bus via Oberammergau (it is direct 1x a day in each direction), but the rail link does NOT go up to Munich. The alternative is to take a bus from Füssen to Reutte (in Tyrol) and then a train from Reutte into Garmisch. Some folks like the views on this route, but I personally do not like the narrow valley; I far prefer the wide vistas and rolling hills of the route via Oberammergau.

I was also led to see Rothenburg (o. Tauber) because of all the hype, but I stayed for 4 nights, and I spent time in the countryside outside of the town. I was pretty underwhelmed. The town really consists of a few blocks of half-timbered houses, and those are, yes, pretty. But they are not really worth such an uncomfortable and inconvenient detour! You may want to substitute the beautiful city of Regensburg, with its preserved medieval core, which is only 1h30 from Munich. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and sits right on the Danube.

I hope you will consider saving Rothenburg for another trip -- but in any case, have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 8th, 2019, 12:46 AM
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If you are committed to flights into Vienna/out of Zurich, I would skip Vienna altogether and head west toward Salzburg and the Salzkammergut to begin your holiday. Arriving jet-lagged will leave you with a day and change of possibly hot temperatures, plus having to swarm along with other tourists trying to see a palace or two in Vienna--not really worth it. I would also drop Rothenburg ob der Tauber from a logistics point of view.

We have lived in Vienna for more than six years, and eagerly await July and August so we can head as often as possible to Tirol/Salzkammergut/Bavaria for the fresh, cool, alpine air and the numerous hiking opportunities (plus the great cuisine). With your interest in nature, in particular, you'll have no trouble filling all of your time in this region.
fourfortravel is offline  
Jan 8th, 2019, 08:31 AM
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Your itinerary is uncommon, but perfectly feasible by public transport:
Vienna - Salzburg: 3 1/2 hrs journey trains about every 30 min
Salzburg - Munich: 1 3/4 hrs journey trains about every 30 min
Munich - Füssen: 2 hrs journey trains about every hr
Füssen - Rothenburg: either bus Füssen dp 8.03 or taxi to Ulrichsbrücke railway station (a few miles) dp by train 9.17 - Kempten 10.28/10.45 - Steinach ar 14.02 - taxi to Rothenburg (a few miles) or connecting train Steinach dp 14.36 - Rothenburg ar 14.50
Taxi from Rothenburg to Crailsheim (15 miles), Crailsheim dp 16.35 - Karlsruhe 18.53, direct train, sleep at Kalrsruhe
Karlsruhe dp 9.10 - Lucerne ar 12.05, direct train
neckervd is online now  
Jan 8th, 2019, 11:46 AM
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I'd suggest jettisoning Rothenburg too as is so much a detour for a city yes that is famous but also super mobbed by bus tours - a neat day out for nature and small towns is to add the day to Vienna and do a day trip down the awesome Wachau Valley on the Danube just upstream from Vienna - easy to do by public transports - from Vienna take train to Melk, nice small wine town about an hour from Vienna and tour Uber famous Melk Abbey and then hop a boat on the Danube down the vineyard-clad and cute wine village studded Wachau Valley - getting off at Durnstein - one of the nicest ne villages with a famous ruined castle where Richard-the-Lion-Hearted was once held for ransom when nabbed returning or going to some Crusade - then take bus to Krems and train back to Vienna - very leisurely day out that IMO along one of most gorgeous parts of the whole Danube. And kids that age will love the boat ride.

The Wachau Valley: &source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwij99-rht_fAhVixoMKHau8CmgQsAR6BAgEEAE&biw=1600&bih=753

can buy an all-inclusive ticket for train, boat, bus and train and I think abbey too in Vienna at station and then just board any of the many trains, buses or boats. For more on the Wachau Valley and trains check; and No need to pre-book anything.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2019, 12:19 PM
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In September, we were able to cover a lot of the same territory in 8 days, but we traveled with a 30 year-old daughter; we travel light and we had perfect weather. Here is our trip report: 3 Countries, 8 Places, 8 Nights, Awesome!

Having said that, kids and adults alike will enjoy Fussen, the castles, and our bike ride. All perfect. Our special day in the Jungfrau region of Switzerland that included three trains, seven cable cars, two funiculars and a bus was busy but also could not have been better. The Sound of Music stuff and the castle overlooking Salzburg are fun. And, the salt mine in magnificent Lake Hallstatt was really special. All easy on beautiful but expensive Swiss rail.

Last edited by whitehall; Jan 8th, 2019 at 12:23 PM.
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Jan 9th, 2019, 06:49 AM
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Thank you everyone for the feedback. I think we are going to skip Rothenburg, as it sounds like there is not an easy way to add it in. My children are ok travelers, but I do know their limits! I like the idea of adding a day to Vienna and doing Wachau Valley on the Danube. That sounds like something our family will really enjoy. Also, I was re-considering Luzern, as we have always planned to go to Switzerland as a separate trip anyway. I was thinking of adding a few days in Lindau on Lake Constance, to just relax and unwind at the end of our trip. Any thoughts? Thanks so much for everyone's help.
gms is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 08:05 AM
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"I like the idea of adding a day to Vienna and doing Wachau Valley on the Danube. That sounds like something our family will really enjoy."

You may want to think about this idea carefully. Arriving in Vienna on Day 1, presumably you'll be jet-lagged and will stumble about the Inner Stadt like all first-timers. The following day you will slog along toward this palace and that history. On the third day, ask yourself whether you want to subject your children (and yourself) to a boat ride that will putter along the (largely uninteresting) Danube toward the Wachau Valley. (A "leisurely" boat ride translates into "wicked boring" for children.) Further, "wine towns" do not appeal to children (and a number of the taverns are not operational in August, as heuriger owners take their holiday before the harvest season in September); and slogging up and down the natural path to the Durnstein ruins behind slow-moving tourists in perhaps the high heat of August may not be something your family will really enjoy. We have tortured done this itinerary with our own children to appease visiting friends and family and it has never ended well.

Given that your family is interest in nature, walks, and scenery, I still maintain that you should skip Vienna altogether and head west. Just my €0,02.
fourfortravel is offline  
Jan 9th, 2019, 09:51 AM
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If you fly out from Zurich anyway, Lucerne wouldn't be a big detour (1 hr by train OW).
Lucerne has much more to offer than Lindau.
neckervd is online now  
Jan 9th, 2019, 12:16 PM
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My thoughts;
Drop Vienna for reasons given by fourfortravel
Drop Rothenburg ob der Tauber as an overnight
Substitute Garmisch-Partenkirchen for Alpine Switzerland
With the 3 days made available I would add 2 to Munich (possible day trip to Rothenburg from Munich).
With the other day available I would add it to Salzburg for excursions to Salzkammergut

Fly into Munich. Take train to Salzburg
Salzburg (4 nights)
Garmisch- Partenkirchen (4 nights)
Fussen (3 nights)
Munich (4 nights)
Fly home from Munich

Last edited by dugi_otok; Jan 9th, 2019 at 12:20 PM.
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Jan 11th, 2019, 11:40 AM
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Yes for Lucerne over Lindau - one of most gorgeously set cities in Europe and awesome boat trips to several neat places easily done.
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 6th, 2019, 12:01 PM
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The Danube up to Wilhering and including the Wachau valley is definitely worthwhile:
Michael is online now  
Feb 6th, 2019, 01:18 PM
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About trains - the only train you need book in advance IMO is Vienna to Salzburg ( has loads on doing that yourselves, at a discount is far enough in advance. All the other train trips can be covered by the Bavaria Pass - which will let all of yous to ride regional trains all day as well as urban transports and buses too:

Just buy it day of travel a stations for about 35-40 DM for the whole group or so (see link above). No discounts or benefits by buying ahead of time and by buying at ticket windows you can ask anything about it - you can buy at machines in stations too. Covers travel from Salzburg into Bavaria. For lots on German train travel check BETS-European Rail Experts and Schedules -
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 8th, 2019, 01:21 AM
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"Just buy it day of travel a stations for about 35-40 DM for the whole group or so (see link above)."

Deutsche Marks haven't been in circulation since 2002.
fourfortravel is offline  
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