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Critique my Austria / Switzerland / Beligum itinerary please

Critique my Austria / Switzerland / Beligum itinerary please

Old Aug 29th, 2010, 09:12 AM
  #1  
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Critique my Austria / Switzerland / Beligum itinerary please

I'm a Canadian currently studying in Scotland. I'm planning a 2 week trip to Austria, Switzerland and Belgium for the middle of September and would appreciate some feedback from people who have more experience than I. I initially planned on visiting Holland as well, but realized that I haven't enough time to do so (Amsterdam is high up on the list of places all my friends want to visit, so I figure it is the easiest of the four countries to skip out this time as there will be ample opportunity to go later).

Day 1: Fly Edinburgh - Vienna, arrive early evening. Grab some dinner, maybe sightsee a bit, settle into the hostel.
Day 2: Vienna - sightseeing - Ringstrasse, Schonbrunn, Hofburg Palace, possibly watch the Lippizaner show at the Spanish Riding School.
Day 3: Vienna - more sightseeing, museums
Day 4: Vienna - train to Hallstatt in the AM (arrive at lunch) - sightseeing and / or bike tour - possibly move on to Salzburg if I run out of things to do
Day 5: Salzburg - fortress, sightseeing. Train to Innsbruck in the evening.
Day 6: Innsbruck - sightseeing. Train to Interlaken in afternoon or evening.
Day 7: Interlaken - morning train to Lauterbrunnen and then ascend the Schilthorn via cable cars
Day 8: Interlaken - sightseeing, boat tour
Day 9: Interlaken - morning train to Locarno (arrive at lunch), sightseeing - bus to Gordola - bungee jumping at Verzasca Dam. Evening train to Zurich.
Day 10: Zurich - sightseeing, Kunsthaus,Fraumunster, etc.
Day 11: Zurich - morning ICE train to Brussels (arrive late afternoon). Quick walkabout of Brussels then evening train to Bruges.
Day 12: Bruges - World War I day tour to countryside. Back later afternoon, sightseeing in Bruges.
Day 13: Bruges - sightseeing, scenic tour of Ardennes, train to Brussels.
Day 14: Brussels - sightseeing, afternoon flight back to Edinburgh.

A few notes: this is a solo trip, and I tend to be a relatively whirlwind style tourist. I am concerned, however, that I am perhaps not leaving myself enough time to see Salzburg and Innsbruck - should I allow another day? My schedule at the moment is flexible enough for me to add another entire day or two to the trip.

I also have three nights scheduled in Interlaken, but I only plan on spending one whole day there; using it as a jumping off point for my day trips up Schilthorn and to Verzasca Dam.

Also, I plan on buying a 15 day continuous rail pass - is this the best way to go? I'm over 26 so must buy full price interrail ticket which is 352 pounds. My main concern is that it doesn't cover the ICE train from Zurich to Brussels, which would cost me about 200 pounds on its own to buy - as far as I can tell, it IS covered, but I'm not positive.
chagheill is offline  
Old Aug 29th, 2010, 12:27 PM
  #2  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
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Couple of thoughts:

1. I would NOT visit both Hofburg Palace AND Schonbrunn on the same trip, let alone on the same day! With your limited time in Vienna, I'd pick Hofburg Palace on this trip so that you don't need to travel out to Schonbrunn.

2. The railpass sounds expensive. Have you priced out individual tickets? Austrian rail oebb.at usually sells discounted tickets if you purchase in advance for a specific train, though I believe you have to pay a penalty if you want to change the time/date. So flexible = expensive; inflexibile = cheaper.

3. Train tickets within Belgium are very cheap. Plus, how are you getting to the "Belgian countryside"? Are you taking a guided tour or doing it on your own? I just think you're "wasting" your railpass on the Belgium section, as well as the first few days while you're in Vienna. Truthfully, I don't even think an Eurail Global pass makes sense for you for this itinerary.

4. 1/2 day in Innsbruck is enough. You may want a little more time in Salzburg.
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Old Aug 29th, 2010, 04:07 PM
  #3  
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Thanks for the feedback, I'll adjust my plans for Vienna and try to spend a bit more time in Salzburg.

From the rough cost breakdowns I did regarding train travel, it appears buying individual tickets would run me the equivalent of about 450 pounds, whereas I can buy the 15 day continuous Interrail pass for 339 pounds - even if the interrail pass cost a bit more, I think I would probably go for it as it allows flexibility. The only thing I am concerned about is that the Interrail pass does not cover the ICE train from Zurich to Brussels.

As for Belgium, I was planning a bus trip of the countryside.
chagheill is offline  
Old Aug 29th, 2010, 04:37 PM
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Days 4 and 5: Take the train Vienna to Salzburg. Do Hallstatt as a day trip from Salzburg. Gives you more flexibility. Hallstatt makes only sense if the weather is good. In both instances, get one of the Austrian RR (Oebb) discounted day tickets. I agree with yk regarding rail pass vs. point-to-point tickets. I would skip Innsbruck, it is an industrial city with only a small interesting core.

Rather than stay in Interlaken, I would stay in Lauterbrunnen. From there I would do Schilthorn (early in the morning, before the clouds move in). On the second day, I would take the train to Wengen, take the cable car up to the Maennlichen, do the easy hike from the Maennlichen to the Kleine Scheidegg (great views of the valley, the Eiger Nordwand (Northface) and the Jungfrau). From the Kleine Scheidegg I would take the train to the Jungfraujoch, and back to Wengen.

If you are determined to take a boat ride, take the train to Spiez, and the boat back to Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen. This is the prettiest part of the boat tour on the Thuner See.

Belgium: There is no such thing as a "quick walkabout" of Brussels. It's a big city, with many interesting sections, but visiting some of them takes time.

Is it WWI or WWII locations you want to visit? Neither are easily acessible from Brugge, except the shore fortification from WWII. The Ardennes are also in a different direction and actually cover quite some real estate. We lived for 2 1/2 yrs in Brussels, and the most interesting WWI site we visited was Verdun in France, again a long way from Brugge.

Perhaps you should skip Belgium and go back to Plan B and visit Amsterdam and some of the nearby - within easy train reach - places like den Haag, Utrecht, or limit your visit in Belgium to Ghent, Brugge and perhaps Antwerp. The last has become quit a "with it " historical city.
treplow is offline  
Old Aug 30th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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As said by triplow: Ardennes is the whole other direction of Bruges. If you want to see WWI sites from Bruges, apparently there are some good tours organized, otherwise impossible with public transport. www.quasimodo.be is supposed to be good for this. Enjoy your trip !
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 06:12 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful itinerary! I agree with the other poster about staying in Lauterbrunnen, and I really recommend Murren, which is truly lovely. This is worth a stop, (was there last month), and the area is wonderful for hiking. I recommend checking the morning webcams online before paying for the trip to Schilthorn. I liked Luzern more than Zurich but this is a quibble. Have fun!
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 08:01 PM
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My main concern is that it doesn't cover the ICE train from Zurich to Brussels, which would cost me about 200 pounds on its own to buy - as far as I can tell, it IS covered, but I'm not positive.>

I am sure that a Eurailpass valid in Switzerland, France and Belgium does indeed cover in full any ICE Zurich to Brussels train.

I'd say the Eurailpass for your itinerary is a bargain - i know others have said not but if you just want to hop on any train anytime it is - yes if you book weeks in advance for often non-refundable non-changeable tickets you could save a FEW pounds - i dispute the Fodor's mantra that Eurailpasses are always a waste of money - like you say the Zurich to Brussels ICE train alone would cost 200 pounds itself -ask those who diss railpasses how you would get a cheap ticket on that train! And this train - if it is a day train and not an ICN or night train is indeed fully covered by a railpass. Night trains are too for the basic train fee but you pay extra for sleeping accommodations.

Anyway for lots on planning a European rail/railpass trip i always spotlight these wondrous sites - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 11:22 AM
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Truthfully, I don't even think an Eurail Global pass makes sense for you for this itinerary.>

well again it matters if you want flexibility to hop any train anytime in austria, Switzerland, Germany (have to go thru on Zurich to Brussels train you mention) and Belgium - then it is a no-brainer.

But you could consider the cheaper Eurail Select Pass, valid in 4 countries - Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Benelux -Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg all one 'country' for the purposes of this pass. You can buy as little as 5 unlimited train days to be used anytime within a 2-month period - midnight to midnight unlimited hop on hop off and then in Austria and Belgium take advantage of discounted - but often severaly limited tickets. Not sure that would be cheaper but you would use the unlimited travel days for long or expensive trips like that Zurich to Brussels fare.
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