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Bavaria & Upper Austria - Driving vs. Trains - Pros & Cons?

Bavaria & Upper Austria - Driving vs. Trains - Pros & Cons?

Old Oct 24th, 2009, 07:04 PM
  #1  
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Bavaria & Upper Austria - Driving vs. Trains - Pros & Cons?

All, my husband and I are weighing the pros and cons for traveling by train or car on a 10-day trip in September 2010. We plan to fly into Munich, spend a couple of days there, then visit Dachau, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Mittenwald and Nueschwantstein. We realize we likely wouldn't need a car while touring Munich, but we'd like to drive to the other areas and think having access to a car which would give us more flexibility. For example, if we drove from Salzburg to Hallstatt, we could stop on the way in St. Wolfgang or St. Gligen.

Has anyone done a similar trip? And if so, what was your experience? We're not quite sure how to gauge the time from one place to another. I googled Salzburg to Hallstatt, and the route that passes through St. W/ St. G takes less than 1.5 hours. Is this accurate or are there traffic concerns to be aware of? Also what is the parking situation in the cities I've mentioned?

Would appreciate any guidance. Thanks in advance!
jbjayhawk is offline  
Old Oct 24th, 2009, 07:22 PM
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jbjayhawk, we have done 6 driving trips in Germany and Austria over the past 9 yrs, our last one being a 3 week trip in September 2009. We covered about 2300 kilometers on this last trip.

I have found that the driving times given on Google are fairly accurate altho it's not uncommon to have traffic jams on the Autobahns but not so much on the lesser roads.

We have a Garmin Nuvi GPS that has preloaded European maps and find it invaluable for our trips.

Some people aren't comfortable driving in a foreign country but as long as you do a little pretrip preparation learning about the traffic signs, rules of the road, etc., I don't think you'll have any problem.

It cost us about $750 for our 3 week car rental plus gas. We rented through AutoEurope which we've used in the past with no problems at all.

Hope this helps.
bettyk is offline  
Old Oct 24th, 2009, 07:53 PM
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Hi jb
We also were in that area in Sept. We rode trains and it was easy and inexpensive. We spent time in Munich then trained to Prien on the Chiemsee, then Mittenwald . From there we went to St. Gilgen and Saltzburg. Then back to Munich for our flight home. We have driven numerous times but decided this was a train trip and it worked out well.
There is a train pass in the area that costs 28 euro for up to 5 people for a day and we used it for most trips. It is called the Bayern pass and is good from Munich to Saltzburg and all of Bavaria. Trains are easy and stressfree. Granted you don't have the flexibility of jumping in your car to run to the next town but there s a bus or train to get you there. Whichever way you plan to go, you wil have a great time. It is a beautiful area. Come back with any specific questions and we can help. CJ
CarolJean is offline  
Old Oct 24th, 2009, 10:39 PM
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Hi jbjayhawk,

I also favor trains and busses. I love the slow method of travelling, where you get to linger and soak up the atmosphere and views, and I think using trains and busses is particularly suited for that.

I live in Garmisch, and recently spent five days in St. Gilgen, getting there by train to Salzburg and then bus. It was an awesome trip, and I ran around the lake by rented bike, ferry, and on foot on the walkng paths. From my home, I get around to the local sights (Mittenwald, Oberammergau, Linderhof, etc) by bus. It's an easy way to travel and fun to interact with Germans travelling or local residents.

In my opinion, using trains and busses adds to the romance and adventure of a trip -- I mean, one can take a road trip almost anywhere!! And of course, it's more GREEN, yahoo!

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 03:04 AM
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Dachau (which is a Munich suburb and connected via suburban trains every 20min), Mittenwald (1 train per hour), and Neuschwanstein (train, and bus for the last 5kms) are easy day trips from Munich. I guess you want to stay in Munich for that time and not move around from one hotel to another.

How you handle Salzburg/Halstatt is more a matter of personal preferences. There are neither major traffic obstacles (if you avoid the Munich-Salzburg motorway on weekends), nor is it a major act to do it by train. Millions of people do it either this or that way each year.
If you plan to use a rental car, get it while still in Germany (cheaper than renting in Austria) from a location on the Eastern outskirts of Munich, drive via Herrenchiemsee to Salzburg. Try to find a hotel with parking garage. And return later at Munich airport (no surcharge for dropping off).
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 07:11 AM
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Hi jbjayhawk,

We've done 6 trips since 2001 in these areas by car. Our most recent was this Sept. for 10 days from Munich, to Austria (Tirol), into the Italian Dolomites and then back. We had a car the entire time. Cost was $358 for the car and 140 Euro for gas (and we drove alot). Munich to Salzburg is about 2 hours and Salburg to Hallstatt is about 1:30 hours. As bettyk mentioned, with a little "homework" the driving is relatively easy. We've never had any trouble even without a GPS. Parts of our "old" trip reports may be of help:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...nd-austria.cfm


http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ith-photos.cfm

Paul
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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ira
 
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Hi jb,

>Has anyone done a similar trip? <

I have, see Ira Visits Europe – May, 2007 (Salzburg, Fuessen, Bodensee, Burgundy, Alsace)
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...2&tid=35014078

Get a car.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is online now  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 07:30 AM
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Going by train only, you won't see a thing, won't be able to pick a nice place to sleep, neither find a decent restaurant nor see the high mountain area. Only a car gives you the freedom to explore an area.

Parking in Munich is expensive, finding a space isn't difficult if you pay for it. Not a problem elsewhere, sometime some walking is needed (i.e. Hallstatt)
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 08:16 AM
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"Going by train only, you won't see a thing . . ."
Only Salzburg, Hallstatt, St. Wolfgangsee, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Ettal, Linderhof, Oberammergau, Mittenwald, Füssen, all the cable car destinations from Garmisch or Mittenwald . . . and that's off the top of my head.

" . . . won't be able to pick a nice place to sleep . . . " only in München, Garmisch, Salzburg, Mittenwald, St. Gilgen, St. Wolfgang, Füssen . .

" . . . neither find a decent restaurant . . . "
again, only in every town, village, or mountain hut in Bavaria.

" . . . nor see the high mountain area . . . " again, take the Zugspitzbahn or a cable car to the top of the Zugspits or the peaks around Mittenwald or around Salzburg or around the St. Wolfgangsee.

"Only a car gives you the freedom to explore an area." Nah. Only a car gives the the ability to explore an area **quickly**. That's about the only difference. Yes, you can see 12 villages before lunchtime with a car. But -- yuk.

I don't have a car, and I get around to the mountaintops, mountain huts, restaurants, just fine.

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 08:28 AM
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I doubt it, you only think, you're fine, just because you don't know how much better it could be. Pick a valley and explore. The postbus only takes you there once a day.

Ever been to Ehrwald, only a few k's from Garmisch or Maurach... And those are the very famous places.
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 08:34 AM
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No, haven't been there yet. Have pretty much a lifetime to get places, lol! I'm still doing other things: Wolfgangsee, Tegernsee, Ulm, Neu Ulm, etc. I am in no hurry to get it done.

And. I really really am. Fine. You only think I'm not because you don't know how much better this is. If it were any better, I'd be . . dead.

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 08:36 AM
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You know, I *have* driven in Germany. I was stationed here in the 1980s, so I do know that mode. So I guess I do know "how much better it could be." It ain't!

s
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 08:40 AM
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See, were the tourist masses roam around! Except, why would anybody on earth want to visit Neu Ulm???
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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Yeh, well, I want to see the big spots I guess before I head off to the off-the-beaten-track places. But I do get to lots of hiking trails that are empty of visitors, you know. Eh, on foot!! To me, that's the very, very best way to get way, way off the tourist track. But it's not quick.

I just checked schedule to Ehrwald, pretty easy, 24 minutes, direct train, about six of them during the day.

And, also -- not sure if the original poster wants to get far off the beaten track or to hit the places mentioned in the original message -- Salzburg, St. Gilgen, etc. All easy and sweet on transport.

s
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Yeah, walk ans schlepp everything around, rain or shine. Take a taxi from the station to your hotel somewhere out of town. And wait for the first Postbus at 11am on Sunday to get you back in time to the station for the 12 o'clock train.
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 09:20 AM
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jbjayhawk,

I think the train vs. car debate is one of my favorite threads here. Nothing like the "residents" going at one another.

Oh yeah, your question. After 20+ years of travel to Europe - mostly business at the beginning (taking trains) but for the last 15 years both business and vacation (cars for the vacations, trains for business); I'm firmly in the car camp.

Logos999 hit the nail on the head, "Only a car gives you the freedom to explore an area." That doesn't mean that the train is bad but, IMHO, to each their own. For the fair Pamela and I, it's a car - and preferably an Audi I can't get here in the USA, shameless plug

Whatever you do, enjoy your trip!
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 09:47 AM
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Drive! More freedom!

I just got back from that region.

Trip report at:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm
Masterphil is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Before I leap into the argument, want to note that you need to buy a vignette to drive on Austrian highways. You can buy these at the border or at gas stations near the border.

Driving vs. training depends on the area. And on city vs. countryside travel. Obviously trains are better from city center to city center.

For the southern Germany/western Austria area I think it's about a toss-up. I favor trains because everybody can see the scenery and because I find trains more relaxing. Nothing like being carried along to your destination with the beautiful scenery flowing by your large window.
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 10:16 AM
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>vignette to drive on Austrian highways
On the autobahn and very few other highways.
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Old Oct 25th, 2009, 10:25 AM
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I'll opt for driving every time. I like the freedom of stopping when and where I want along the way. I take lots of pics and having a car allows me to stop, get out and snap away at that castle, swan in the lake or train whizzing by. If I had a few too many the night before, I can sleep in a little then leave at my discretion. If a local tells me there's a great Gasthaus with the best Bauernschmaus in Bavaria 6 km away in the next village, I like to be able to set my GPS and head up that way in my rental. And if I go to a historic site or museum that doesn't live up to my expectations or exceeds my anticipations, I would like to be able to chose when I leave.

Driving in Europe is easy. Roads are well-maintained and the other drivers are highly skilled (but can be obnoxious if they can't get around you). Personally, I find driving very relaxing and it gives me peace and quiet as the rest of the family dozes. I can't think of anywhere I've driven in Germany or Austria where I couldn't find something of interest to stop and check out as I drove between two overnight pitstops.
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