Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

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

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

Old Oct 25th, 2009, 10:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,703
The car vs. train discussion is fruitless. Everyone will advertise their own style of travelling and you won't get an unbiased opinion here.

Btw, I am in the train camp but drive occasionally. LOL

To give you *my* biased opinion ;-) - I'd say train for a first time always. Hit the major spots and those are VERY easily to access by public transportation.
Ingo is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 10:45 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 824
This really is a personal preference subject.

Like Swandav, I was stationed in Germany for 6 years and owned a car. It was the less expense option for many of our trips. I loved traveling by car in Germany/Austria.

I do not love car rental agencies.

Now, that we are returning (5 recent trips), we have preferred traveling by train. It is immersion travel, not traveling in your own company. It is most handy for visiting towns, large and small, as you do not have to deal parking or traffic. We walked more when traveling by train, benefit in our eyes. You do NOT see less. You sometimes see different things traveling by train.

During our train travel, we have share our cars with a group of nuns on an outing, self-conscious children coming home from school, soccer fans getting early start on a big game, etc. Traveling by train is experiencing Germany with a bit more intimacy than we experienced traveling by car.

As Cowboy mentioned, you can do both in the same trip.

Regards, Gary
Gary_Mc is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 11:12 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
I've been driving in the mountains over the whole weekend. Still now snow on the roads at 2000m altitude. A long and winding road with a myriad of turns, gear down into first gear and enjoy a break at the peak. Driving can't get any better. (No, I'm not a biker)

I did try driving at night in the rockies a few years ago, but the roads aren't nearly as nice and driving with an automatic transmisson sucks big time!
logos999 is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Another thing , I filled up in a tax free valley 0.75€/liter, $4.27 per gallon. I had 20 liters more than allowed.

At customs, who was checked? Right, the guy with the Munich license plate. We have money, we don't care to be ripped off ...
logos999 is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 12:49 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 167
Thanks everyone! We really appreciate all the different perspectives. Our train travel experiences in Europe are limited to a couple of day trips out of Paris, which we enjoyed. We also like the independence of having a car, which we had in Ireland a couple of years ago. Like a few of you noted, it can come down to personal preference, but we've not had all the experiences that many of you have. That's the beauty of this forum!
jbjayhawk is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 12:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9,017
Really, DON'T opt for the train, You'll miss out on everything!
logos999 is offline  
Old Oct 25th, 2009, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,226
Love the trains, have not needed to drive a car in 23 years and haven't felt like I have missed anything at all. I enjoy the view, the scenery is great, it is fun to meet new people on the train, and everyone in the group gets to look out the window. No traffic jams either. Have yet needed to take a taxi nor drag my suitcase in the rain. Though if I parked in a parking lot, I would have to drag my suitcase in the rain too. For many Americans, it is pleasant to have a completely different experience then driving a car. If you have little kids, it is nice to have a bathroom on a train, get your coffee and a snack without losing time to stop.

I defy anyone to get from, lets say Frankfurt to Berlin or to Paris in a car in only 4 hours. But, you can in a train, and it drops you right off in the middle of the city.

Honestly, there is no "best" way, but it is nice to consider options without being so radical towards people who think differently.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 07:25 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 555
Agree that there's no best way. We prefer to drive in Bavaria and Austria--driving is easy, roads and signage are excellent, and we do like to stop whenever we see something interesting. We really enjoy getting off the beaten path on back roads and rural byways. I don't quite see how having a car keeps you from "slow travel." You can set your own pace and stay just as long as you want anywhere you want.

If you are interested in visiting smaller towns, train and bus travel can take much, much longer than a car, and involve potentially irritating changes and waits.

However, if we're on a trip that involves primarily visiting larger cities, then we definitely use trains and buses.

And sometimes we use a car for part of the trip and trains/buses for part of the trip. It just depends on where and when we are travelling.
Paul1950 is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 08:30 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,226
I am surprised no one has brought up drinking and driving yet, so I will. One of the joys of travleing here is sampling the many wines or beers, visiting vineyards or beerhalls. Does one person abstain, missing out on all of this? Or do people get in their cars and drive down to the next vineyard or their hotel or wherever? Does the driver abstain at lunchtime too.

Guess that would be one of the plus points for many people to take a train as opposed to driving. One should not drink and drive, ever.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 516
A car does give you more freedom and flexibility in this beautiful area. And it's more efficient. You could pick up the car in Munich and drive to Neuschwanstein, stopping at Wieskirche along the way. Then east to Linderhof, Ettal, Oberammergau, and the Zugspitze, on your way to Salzburg. (I am not suggesting that you do all this in one day.) I imagine an itinerary like this would be cumbersome using trains and buses. And you can stop where you please and not worry about carrying your luggage, because the car is doing that for you.

It's also much easier to get around the Salzkammergut with a car.
robertino is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 11:36 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 555
Drunk driving is not a good idea anytime.

But there are many people who do not drink alcoholic beverages at all. And many others who drink, but not during the day. Not everyone is looking to cruise around all day through the countryside in a car going from pub to pub or winery to winery.

For example: Any drinking I do is after I get to a place and am settled in for the day or evening. This will normally be in a town and I walk to wherever it is I'm going to try the local brews.

Mainhattengirl: So do you take a bus from beer hall to beer hall or winery to winery? Is this something you do every day while on vacation?
Paul1950 is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,226
No, I don't drive at all. I use the trains, trams and buses everywhere I go and honestly never find it to be a problem. I used to work in a town up in the Taunus mountains outside of Frankfurt and people would often offer me rides home, thinking they were doing me a favor. My train ride would last about 20 min., the ride home in a car around 45. I always got home faster then driving. I enjoy reading on the train and arriving at my destination all relaxed. I don't have to worry about driving in the snow, scraping my windows off in the winter, wondering if my car will start, driving in the fog that descends rather frequently, or getting stuck in the massive traffic jams.

I thought about writing this post because I often read trip reports on here where people talk about all the beer or wine they drink at lunch and then how they traveled on, or people asking about visiting wineries along the Rhine, stopping to sightsee, having a drinks with lunch, etc.

Never go to beerhalls or wineries, just FYI
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 12:37 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,754
After much research for the trip I am planning to Salzburg next summer we have decided to go with public transportation. It was purely a cost issue. I would love to be able to tool around at our leisure, move on if weather is not great, etc but the cost of renting in Europe is too high. A midsize care for 2 adults/3 kids is running in the $600/wk range. Add in a couple hundred in gas and that is almost $1000 more onto our trip budget. For around $200 we are able to use the train to/from Munich, to Werfen, to Berchtesgaden and back to the airport. Our transportation in Salzburg will be covered by the Salzburg Cards we will purchase.

Everyone has their own idea about what will make their travels better and to us saving that $600 is a good decision and kind of a budget buster. Now most would say it's just a lousy $600 but we travel very frugally otherwise we would never be able to afford to go to Europe at all. I don't think our trip(s) are any less interesting than anyone who goes by car or stays in a fancy hotel or flies business class (Ok I do dream about that one). I can be happy whether I am on the beaten path or off. I am just happy to be able to go see the places I have read about.
trvlgirlmq is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2009, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,009
trvlgirlmq, it's not that expensive for 2 of us to rent a car (around $250/week on this last trip), but I can certainly see where a car large enough for 5 could be prohibitively expensive.

There's no right or wrong way to travel. Being able to see new places, whether from a car or a train, is an adventure!!
bettyk is offline  
Old Oct 28th, 2009, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,754
bettyk - I noticed that when researching. The tiny compact cars are very affordable and I wouldn't hesitate to do it if it was just 2 of us. Unfortunately we need room for a teenager and 2 kids in booster seats.

It's actually kind of fun to use the train and bus. We don't have any public transportation in my small city. My nephew loved the bus so much in London that he can't wait to go on one again. He even said he would rather use a bus than a train!
trvlgirlmq is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
May 29th, 2017 09:21 AM
Nov 28th, 2012 12:19 PM
Jul 1st, 2012 11:34 AM
Apr 13th, 2010 03:52 PM
Jun 27th, 2005 09:02 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information