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Switzerland, Austria, Prague and Munich

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Sep 26th, 2016, 03:11 AM
  #1
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Switzerland, Austria, Prague and Munich

Hi - we are a family of 4 (2 daughters aged 10 and 15) travelling to Europe in December. I need some advice regarding our itinerary PLEASE!
We will be arriving in Zurich on December 8 at 22h00 and departing on January 8 from Prague. The idea is seeing the best of Switzerland starting at Zurich and working anti-clockwise before reaching Austria. Don't know if we should do Zurich, Lucerne, Berne.... or Lucerne at the end before leaving Switzerland.
Also we want to go to Munich, Salzburg and Vienna before ending up in Prague. Maybe a stop or 2 in between.
We have 30/31 days in total.
We want to see as much as possible, but have to take into consideration that the days are short.
I know it will be cold - are there certain places or areas in Switzerland which we should then NOT consider for December due to bad views or weather?
Anyone who has been there recently - suggestions on most economical way to travel by train please?
I know I have a lot of questions, but I have this task on my shoulders to plan a memorable and happy holidays for our daughters.
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Sep 26th, 2016, 05:50 AM
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It seems to be me odd that in switz you are going only to the cities (esp Zurich which is primarily a business city) and ignoring the mountains, which is the real beauty of Switz. Obviously you are there in winter - are you going for winter sports? Or trying to avoid winter weather in countries that specialize in it?

You don;t mention your interests, so it's hard to make recos. What do you expect to spend most of your time doing?

Besides the cold and snow you will have many dreary days and daylight hours that are very short. If you want to do mostly museums and palaces that is certainly possible - but do be aware that hours are much shorter than you will find in summer - esp for sights that are a combo inf indoor and outdoors.
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Sep 26th, 2016, 05:50 AM
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For some general information about rail travel in Switzerland you can use the Swiss Fed Railway site for information

www.sbb.ch/en and look under the section "Travelcards and Tickets"

You can also take a look at the Swiss Travel System site:

http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html
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Sep 26th, 2016, 06:01 AM
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One of the earliest matters to set onto the calendar might be where you will be for Christmas Day and New Years. Lodging fills quickly, as do restaurants. Though I like Vienna's Wurstelstands, I wouldn't think it a memorable holiday to be standing in the cold eating a Käsekrainer from a paper plate on Christmas Day.

Also, be mindful of the many holidays throughout December/early January; the early closings; and in Austria and much of Germany, the fact that most stores and many restaurants are routinely closed on Sundays.

Happy Planning!
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Sep 26th, 2016, 09:45 AM
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Zurich with its many churches, museums, and cultural offerings is NOT "primarily a business city."
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Sep 26th, 2016, 12:42 PM
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Don't know if we should do Zurich, Lucerne, Berne.... or Lucerne at the end before leaving Switzerland.>

Just do two bases - one in Zurich because you land there and one say in Lucerne - Bern is a short train ride from either and IMO it is much nicer to base in Lucerne, on lovely Lake Lucerne than in Bern, a bigger city not on a lake nor with the views of the Alps in the distance.

From Lucerne if you want to visit an Alpine Wonderland take the train to Engelberg- about an hour or so and then the world-famous rotating cable car up Mt Titlis and a world of snow- thrilling ride.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uozkv7hS7xM

Mt Pilatus is Lucerne's mountain but is nothing like the Alpine Wonderland Mt Titlis is.

Lucerne is about 45 minutes from Zurich so all those places are in a short distance of each other. I doubt if any Swiss Pass would be of interest to you but you may want to look into the Eurail Select Saver Pass - valid in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and tjhe Czech Republic.

For lots of great stuff on trains check www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

Your rail travel in Switzerland involves really short regional trains - no need to pre-buy anything - same price usually at station- if with a Eurailpass it would cover all the trains you are taking, including to Engleberg I believe (but not the rotating cable car).
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Oct 4th, 2016, 02:18 AM
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Thank you for the info. Still trying to plan the amount of days and which places. Have read up a lot. There are so many wonderful places to see.

So far: Zurich probably 3 nights. Will be jet lagged from the long flight. That gives us 2 full days as we are only arriving late on the first night. Not sure about itinerary after that. But I want to ask: If we find accommodation in the Interlaken region or in the towns of Wengen, Grindelwald or Murren etc, what would we do there and for how many days should we stay there? In which town should we stay? We haven't skied before so we just want to experience Switzerland without breaking any arms or legs. Just stay in the village and walk around? Or is it not advisable in December?

We want to experience the places, the scenery and relax.

Lucern is also a must on our list. Probably 4 days?

We have to fill in the days between Zurich where we arrive, then probably Interlaken etc as mentioned above and Lucern - Switzerland for a total of about 2 weeks before we leave for Innsbruck. How many nights is suggested there?

From there we will go to Munich (3 days), following Salzburg (3 days), Vienna (4 days) and Prague (4 days). This is just a rough itinerary - we have 4 weeks and there are quite a few days "outstanding" still.

Is it worth going to Hallstadt for a day trip in winter? Is it worth the effort?

Please help me to work out a decent trip - I have my family counting on me and our currency is worth so little - we don't want us to spend all this money and then I made some bad choices. This is a once in a lifetime holiday for my husband and I and our daughters (15 and 10).

I really had to wait a long time to see Switzerland and Austria again (last time was 19 years ago and only saw Lucern and Vienna) and we won't have a holiday like this again before our oldest goes of to study. I want to make it memorable and happy!

Also we want to have a memorable Christmas and so far it will be spent just before we leave for Munich. The question is: where will that be?
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Oct 4th, 2016, 07:49 AM
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If not into snow activities the Interlaken area could just be a short one-day visit to see this majestic area- to me the most beautiful in Switzerland Alp-wise. Stay in Lucerne and day trip via the scenic Brunig Pass railway to Interlaken and go up to Grindelwald for a few hours. In winter hotels in the Interlaken area may be aloof for one-night stays.
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Oct 4th, 2016, 08:25 AM
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<>

I have to ask, then, why did you choose Switzerland, one of the most outrageously expensive places on earth? There are SO many other wonderful places in Europe to visit that are far, far cheaper.
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Oct 4th, 2016, 09:11 AM
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What are the activities drawing you and your family to these destinations? Have you asked your daughters what might make their holiday memorable?

We moved to Austria when the children were 10 and 15, and with the exception of Switzerland we have been to your other destinations, some more than once or twice. At 10 and 15 the children were interested in castles and history and trying new foods; bonus points if there was a funicular to take them to a high point. As they've grown older (our youngest is now 15), their interest is more geared to individual taste: an historic sight combined with a cafe stop; Christmas markets followed by a little shopping (especially in Prague, where DD and I have found some favorite French labels); and when our son is home from university, sometimes the two of them do their own thing when we travel (music stores, wandering, taking photos, cafes) while DH and I take in our own sights of interest.

On an aside and something to consider, we almost always rent apartments when we travel; everyone gets their own space, and we can all be comfortable as when we're at home.

Just my €0,02. I hope this is helpful.
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Oct 4th, 2016, 04:05 PM
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In Switzerland if going to more than two places or even two different places check out the Swiss Pass or Half-Fare Card, etc - www.swisstravelsystem.com. Kids under 16 (I believe it's 16) get a free Family Pass so they never pay a cent for anything the adults pay- need not buy a pass to get this- get it at any station in Switzerland or when ordering your Swiss Passes.
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Oct 5th, 2016, 12:40 PM
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We moved to Austria when the children were 10 and 15, and with the exception of Switzerland we have been to your other destinations>

curious as to why you never went to neighboring Switzerland?
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Oct 5th, 2016, 09:24 PM
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Not entirely an accurate statement, but stating that I spent a day in Zurich and DH spent about the same in Basel (both visits were school-event related for DD and with limited sightseeing); and that we drove across the country en route home from a holiday in Provence didn't seem like useful information for the OP.

Switzerland has't spoken to us because it is expensive, and for what we like to do Austria and neighboring northern Italy offer it: mountains to hike (we don't ski), spectacular scenery, and great food and wine, all where our Euros have better value.

That's not to say we entirely eschew expensive destinations. Our city break to Copenhagen a couple of years ago was wonderful. Expensive, but wonderful.
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Oct 22nd, 2016, 03:04 PM
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OK here are some ideas. I've been to Murren, but it was in May I believe, so you need to inquire as to what it is like in December. It is a really lovely place, you take two tram cars up the mountain and stay in a neat little village, we had a mountain cabin owned by a British lady who made us breakfast, had 12 huge waterfalls around our cabin seen from our porch. It was very inexpensive, got it over the Internet. This would give your children an idea of a small village,you can go up the mountain over Murren (forgot the name/Shilthorn?/amazing views) more cable up.
If you go to Munich, perhaps get the 20 minute train/tram out to Dacchau if you think your children are up to this. So we do not forget. History lesson for real.

Also I like Zurich, very expensive but a lovely town, little lake boats, not sure about December, great food, need to check out less expensive hotels as it is expensive there. Also you should be there for Xmas markets,they are great fun and your children will love them, research where the best ones are in the countries/cities that you are going...Nuremburg for sure. Have fun. Sue
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Oct 22nd, 2016, 03:17 PM
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also love Vienna, the coffee houses are super, the Belvedere Palace is an amazing art museum, think Woman in Gold/movie/Klimpt (now in US I think)...easily reached by tram, Klimpt little museum, wonderful opera house, great Spanish Riding School right at the Hapsburg Palace, actually part of it, the children would love this. Lippizaner gorgeous stallions in a big ring with chandeliers above, horses in all their lovely silver harnesses.saddles. etc....get tickets before hand, even for a training session is good, then go thru the Palace/more history. At the Spanish Riding School be sure to see the video of the US troops riding the horses out of Vienna to protect them from the bombing during WW II. Many US cowboys from the West. Again my two cents. (also the lovely church right near with the tiled roof, St Stephens I think, also the cobble stone street with the poor people from the plague are buried under).more history. Sue
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 09:56 AM
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OK, I am on a roll it seems.....traveling with two children, I'd really try to simplify your trip, not so many places to see or you will see nothing in any depth. I'd allow at the least 3 or 4 days in each place, then of course you will have a day to travel between places or more. Less is often more, at least for me. I'd even say 4 days is almost a minimum. Travel is tiring and you need to allow for some down time, which is what the villages provide I think. Murren and small villages have a much nicer pace, but then the cities have much to offer. Murren and Wengen/Grindelwald all have lifts/cable cars/bus etc to go between the villages, need to check the Winter access (or others can comment) so I'd allow at the very least 4 nights in one of those villages. Sue
Salzburg has a neat little stone dwarf garden that is fun, home of Mozart of course, and Salzburg marionette theater.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 10:05 AM
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OK back again, here is an idea for Austria, there is a little village just above Innsbruck, by tram 15 min or so, had some Olympic sled run there years ago in a little village called IGLS (means Eagle). It may be a ski run area. Anyway it is a charming little village, with a lovely little church (Xmas day?) I was there at Easter, saw the children line up to march to church with their robes,flowers etc. Lots of blooming flowers (not in Dec tho). I'll bet it is less expensive than Innsbruck and you can take the tram down to a big church with lots of statues of people in Armor in the church....Don't really know Innsbruck well, but much history there too. Very nice dining in Igls at the Schloss Hotel if still there, pricey tho. Now I will shut up. Sue
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Oct 25th, 2016, 03:30 PM
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Taking the mountain tram from Innsbruck to Igls is great - goes thru woods much of way.

Schloss Ambras is on the route -just on the edge of Innsbruck and is also an amazing place for a great day out in the hills. Lots of good easy hiking trails- could walk back down to Innsbruck.

Great great comments from Sue81!
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Nov 4th, 2016, 07:37 PM
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OK, back again, Prague, if you get there, check out the lovely painted eggs/goose/chicken eggs, a folk art, all decorated with lovely colors, designs, and used to be reasonable $1. US $ per egg. They pack in little plastic egg holders to take home and protect enroute. Also one of the main bridges, forgot the name of it, that is where the locals sell there wares, got some lovely dresser covers, sort of tatted, Russian fur hat and Nazi medals...some years back. Really nice handwork, for table cloths. Not sure if they will be on the bridge in Winter. Can't recall the name of the bridge, but the big one.....others may recall the name. Also big Natural history museum at beginning of big street with Mammouth head hanging in the entry with old fur hanging down, fun for children to see. Con't recall name of this museum....help others may know name? Sue
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