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Itinerary between Switzerland/Germany and Austria or France with 2 kids

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Feb 27th, 2013, 02:40 PM
  #1
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Itinerary between Switzerland/Germany and Austria or France with 2 kids

Hello, looking for some advice for our family. My husband and I are traveling with our two sons, ages 11 & 8.

In terms of what we like to do, we are a pretty active family. We have no agenda that we MUST see/do outside of our into/out of cities and spend a bit of time in the mountains. Kids will tolerate a bit of museums, but generally prefer to be outside. They are very sports oriented. They are mostly just excited to see new things, eat different food, and we largely like to see where the day takes us. I love art & architecture, but will get my fill of that here and there as we go. Beautiful scenery is more important.

We are flying into Zurich in mid-April and back home from Paris at the end of the month. We have 15 nights. We will be with friends who live in Zurich for our first four nights (3 full days). From there I'm trying to rough out an itinerary. The boys (and my husband) would like to go to Germany, but also want to see the mountains (I was thinking Berner Oberland area perhaps). But I'm also leery of staying in Switzerland too long, due to the cost. My younger son would love to go to Salzburg, but is that too far out? My husband loved Munich last time we were there, so we'd be happy to return. Both my younger son & I really wanted to go to Paris, so that's why it's tacked on the end.

I see that we have two potential scenarios. The first is the one we are leaning towards.

OPTION 1
Once leaving Zurich do a week trip to visit 2-3 places in Swizerland, Germany or Austria, then take the train to Paris for the last 4 nights. We do not need to circle back to Zurich necessarily (may want to if we rent a car), and could take the train from wherever we end our week's travel.

OPTION 2
This is the less desirable option to my kids & husband. Leave Zurich and spend a week between a stop in S. Germany, couple nights in rural France then head to Paris and dump rental car. Disadvantages, may not be able to spend as much time in the mountains as we'd like, and additional cost returning rental car to another country. Unless you think the train is still the better travel mode here.

We know the weather will not be ideal. We are from a cold climate (Vermont) so I expect the spring there will be much like it is at home (can run the range of snow to cold & rainy to an oddball 70 degree day).

Once we can decide between the two options, I think given the weather, some flexibility would be nice. If it's going to pour for 3 days, why go to the mountains? Maybe go to Munich instead. But if the weather looks great, possibly head to Grindelwald for a few days. I want to have some ideas roughed out to avoid the dreaded "What do you want to do....I dunno, what do you want to do" scenario.

A rental car is better for flexibility but I'm concerned with tolls and gas prices this is going to be an expensive option, especially in Switzerland (my memory is the tolls there were quite steep). Would we be better off just picking a stop or two, then taking the train between? How does that work traveling with two kids if we pick a mountain town?

Any advice you can offer is appreciated. Thanks!
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Feb 27th, 2013, 06:49 PM
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The Alps in April aren't a very good bet. Consider a daytrip during your stay w/friends from to Lucerne if weather permits.

Germany: Advance-sale fares are cheap, but as tickets sell, prices rise. You can travel by train from Zürich to Freiburg or the nearby Black Forest towns (Triberg? Gengenbach?) for as little as 38€ (that's for the whole family.) Check prices for your travel date at the DB itinerary page: http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

Gengenbach is an adorable old world town and a fine place to spend a few days; it's within daytrip distance of Freiburg, Strasbourg, and Black Forest villages like Schiltach and Hausach on/near the scenic Black Forest Railway line:

http://www.black-forest-travel.com/gengenbach/

http://www.black-forest-travel.com/p...t-railway.html

http://www.black-forest-travel.com/schiltach/

The BF is big on hiking, nordic walking, mountain biking. The Vogtsbauernhof open air museum (near Hausach on the BF railway) will be open then.

http://www.black-forest-travel.com/p...bauernhof.html

You might then route yourselves to the Middle Rhine (Bacharach?) for a couple of days - tour a medieval castle, take a cruise, take a hike along the cliffs, see the falconry show at Cochem's castle on the nearby Mosel. Advance fares for your family can be had for 29€ for this trip:

http://www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.d...php?id=288&L=3
http://www.welterbe-mittelrheintal.d...php?id=274&L=3
http://www.k-d.de/english/home/

Falconry photos: http://www.falknerei-reichsburg-cochem.de/fotobuch.htm

Head to Paris from Bacharach for as little as 49€ by train.

I think those 3 major train legs total less than 120€ for your family (if you snag them before they're gone, that is.)
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Feb 27th, 2013, 07:12 PM
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ALSO: Train outings from Gengenbach to the BF towns and Freiburg are FREE. Your innkeeper will issue you a "KONUS" card good for the duration of your stay.

http://www.blackforest-tourism.com/konus
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Feb 27th, 2013, 08:46 PM
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Have you purchased your airline tickets? I ask because you could get a third flight included Zurich to Paris or Munich to Paris or Geneva to Paris at a reasonable fare.

You could go to the mountains(Alps) in Switzerland or France or Germany . You could rent a car in Switzerland, Germany, or France.Just return it to the country where you rented it.

Car rentals are cheaper if rented from US.Train tickets are cheaper if purchased ahead. Looking for inexpensive lodging, especially for 4 persons, is easier from home. The flexibility you want is at a price.
The higher cost of Switzerland could be negated by lower transportation costs. You are already there.

A rental car does give you the most flexibility. There are no tolls in Switzerland,Germany, or Austria.European vacations are more expensive than US, why single out the cost of gas?
Their cars get better mileage.

Do not assume. You need to check out train and car rental prices. With 4 people car is low $ per person.Trains, each person needs a ticket. Trains do have family plans, but usually only in one country.I think the train travel you will be doing requires a lot of transfers.

http://www.bahn.com/i/view/GBR/en/index.shtml

I see some options:

1A 3 nights mountains in Swiss, 4 days Germany Baden-Wurttemberg(rent/return car-4 day rental in Zurich).Bad weather option 7 nights in B-W

1B 1 night Fussen castles, 3 nights Berchtesgaden or Salzburg, 2-3 nights Garmish or Mittenwald (rent/return car in Zurich).

1C same as 1B except (rent car in Germany, return in Munich)
could add Rothenburg 1 night.

2A Train to Geneva. Rent car on French side. 3 nights French Alps-Chamonix,Annecy,Grenoble-4 nights Provence, TGV Avignon to Paris. Return car Avignon.

2B Same as 2A except no Provence, instead meander driving to Paris 4 nights thru Burgundy, Alsace, etc. Return car Paris
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Feb 28th, 2013, 05:13 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions. Let me research some of these options and I'm sure I'll be back with questions!
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Feb 28th, 2013, 08:18 AM
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dugi_otok yes we've already purchased our airline tix. I have taken flights within Europe before, but figured when I looked at the train schedule it appears to be a 4-6 hour trip to Paris from most of the places I looked at. I figured train would be easier and less time consuming since it always seems a bit easier to me to get to a train station than an airport, and you don't have to wait as much. I thought when you add in the to/from airport travel time even a 40 minute flight can turn into half a day's travel anyway. But once we get an idea where will finish up the CH/DE part of the trip, I will look at both to see which works better timing & cost-wise. Thanks for the advice!
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Apr 8th, 2013, 07:47 PM
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So, we leave this week and are somewhat winging it and are open to further suggestions.

My husband seems to have his heart set on going to Salzburg, then into Germany. If the weather is good, I'd like to have a few days in the Berner Oberland. I don't see how we can do both! We have about 5-6 nights open. We do want to spend some time in Germany and we already have tickets to a football match in Stuttgart on Sunday 4/21 (kids are both soccer players and really wanted to go).

I think we've ruled out Black Forest or Rhine. dugi_otok, I believe we are waffling between something like either 1A or 1B. Really hoping to see what the weather will be once we get there.

Fri - Sun: Zurich (visiting friends)
Mon - Sat: ?
Sunday: Stuttgart (to watch soccer match)
Monday: Back to Zurich to return rental car & train to Paris
Mon - Fri: Paris
Sat: Fly home from Paris

Would it be too much to try and squeeze in both the B.O. and Salzburg? I can see great reasons for going to both.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 12:59 AM
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I would substitute Bavarian Alps for Swiss Alps. Stuttgart football is a good idea but complicates BO and Salzburg.

Monday- Drive Zurich to Salzburg ,285 miles, 5h11min, route A3/A12, via Liechtenstein/Innsbruck. You will need a Vignette to drive in Austria. About $10 at border . Ask car rental agency.

Tues- Salzburg

Wed- More Salzburg(Could Day trip 12 miles to Berchtesgaden) or sleep in Berchtesgaden(Alps) for 1 or 2 nights.

Thurs-- More Salzburg ( Could Day trip to Lake district, Hallstat) or sleep in Berchtesgaden(Could visit a salt mine on this day).

Fri- More Berchtesgaden or drive toward Stuttgart stopping along the way.

Sat-Drive to Stuttgart , 4hrs,235 miles ,route A8, via Munich or whatever remaining from yesterdays miles driven. Sleep in or near Stuttgart

Sunday-Lets have some football. Sleep in Stuttgart or drive towards Zurich or Basel after game. If you have not purchased your train tickets to Paris I would advise you to train on the TVG from Basel to Paris. You can drop off your car in Basel. Either way the drive will be 3 hours Stuttgart to Zurich/Basel.

Mon-Drive to Basel/Zurich. Train to Paris.

It would be nice to sleep in Basel/Zurich on Sunday night. Catch an early train to Paris so you will have a day in Paris. From Basel it is a 3 hr TGV train ride. Plus the boys will like the high speed train. There are some from Zurich also.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 01:12 AM
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On second thought, the game probably ends too late to drive to Switzerland on Sunday.Give yourself time to drive, turn in car, get to train station on Monday.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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Thanks dugi_otok

We'll look into Basel. While I would love to take the boys up the Jungfraujoch, I am choking at the price. I did find a hotel package with one night accommodation for CHF 391 that includes 2 tickets for the adults, then we'd have to buy the kids tickets. In a quad room. Are there any less expensive ways to do this if we decided we did want to head to that area?

Their ski coach is from Grindelwald, so that was part of the appeal in going there, but maybe Bavaian Alps would be better or a day in Munich.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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I also choked at the price. It took me three trips to Switzerland with the intension to go to Jungfraujoch before we made it. After getting home with my wife from the 1st trip, I said to myself we went 8000 miles(we live in Los Angeles) and did not spend the money to go up the Jungfraujoch, vowing to go the next trip. The next trip we did the same thing, no Jungfraujoch . The price had doubled. Then finally in the third trip 19 years later, again a large price increase and with the addition of our 2 teen age kids, we took a deep breath and $$$, went up the mountain.

Some other thoughts:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...e-worth-it.cfm

nytraveler on May 31, 10 at 12:35pm
You must either contact the train station in the am or check on the internet to see if the top of the mountain is covered with clouds. If it is there's no point spending the time/money to ascend. We were in Interlaken 3 days before there was a day that was clear at the top.

Save $$$ ?
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...egion-pass.cfm
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Apr 9th, 2013, 01:02 PM
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Thanks dugi_otok, appreciate your help! Going to take a look. Maybe we'll do Schilthorn instead. Still pricey, but less than the other.
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Apr 9th, 2013, 01:23 PM
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Many scenes were filmed at Piz Gloria for the 1969 James Bond 007 film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Piz Gloria is located on top of Schilthorn, a 2,970 metre high summit in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, above Mürren.

http://www.jamesbondlifestyle.com/pr...rn-switzerland
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