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Travel to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy in Jan 2014

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Nov 21st, 2013, 05:39 PM
  #1
A2B
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Travel to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy in Jan 2014

I'm planning a trip to Europe with my husband. We want to use public transportation to travel.

My travel plans are as follows;

Munich (2 nights)
Salzburg (2 nights) (will go to Vienna on train to just see the city while in Salzburg)
Zurich (2 nights)
Zermatt (2 nights)
Milan (2 nights)
Florence (2 nights)
Rome (2 nights)

Do you think 2 nights is enough in each of the cities? I just want to hit the major things in each of the cities. And they seem to be close distance. . like an hour on train or so.

I need to find hotels next and train schedule. I want to have my time line planned before arriving. I would like moderate priced hotels (nice and clean with Wi-Fi - willing to stay in B&B's) and located near the train station. How do I find a map with train station and hotels?

Thanks! Any help appreciated!
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Nov 21st, 2013, 05:54 PM
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You are vastly underestimating the time it will take you to go from one to the other. Learn your way around www.bahn.de and www.sbb.ch and www.trenitalia.com and you'll find that your schedule is not possible. Well, I'll qualify that: If you boss sent you on a whirlwind trip with this schedule, to shake hands and have a meal with clients and sign a contract and move on, you could hit all these places. But you'd need danger money and time off afterwards...

And when you look up the train times, also take into account the time it takes to get to the station, the time it takes to check into and out of hotels.

Then take into account that your days will be very short, it gets dark well before 5PM so your sightseeing in any one place will be seriously restricted.

Weather could impact your plans - it takes more than three hours from Zürich to Zermatt and if you get there and it's lousy and you're scheduled to leave so soon again, you only really have one day to hope for better weather than what you had when you arrived.

I suggest you look up distances (www.viamichelin.com) and travel times on the above websites, make a list, and regroup. Something will have to give. Whatever you eliminate will still be there for another trip, hopefully at a better time of the year.
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Nov 21st, 2013, 07:11 PM
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I'm with michelhuebeli - your destinations all look close on a map, but the journey times take longer than you think.

Some places you'll find 2 nights (ie one FULL day) are enough, but others you might like to consider 3 nights. And if you want to hit the "major sights" in places like Milan and Florence, then you'll also need to consider the day(s) of the week you'll be there - many museums close on Mondays so if your only full day is on a Monday, you may miss out on the sights you planned to visit.

As mentioned, Zermatt can be the tricky part in that the weather will play a factor in your enjoyment/sightseeing. January can alternatively be bright blue skies and crisp air (read: freezing!) or foggy and snow-bound. I was last there in late September and finally (after 3 visits this year) saw the top of the Matterhorn - worth waiting for, btw. But the day I left the temperature dropped dramatically, the clouds had rolled in and they hung around for another 2 weeks or so. So it's worth allowing for that in your travels.

Taking the train from Salzburg to Vienna so you can say you've been there isn't recommended - it will take at least 2.5hrs one way and thus will take a day out of your schedule, meaning you don't really see Salzburg or Vienna. Best to leave Vienna for when you have a few more days to devote to it.

If you only have 2 weeks in which to travel, you will be better off choosing the top 4 (5 maximum!) places you want to visit and planning around them. As michelhuebeli mentioned, the weather will play a factor in transport and even though the train systems in Europe are well equipped to cope, sometimes the weather closes in more than expected - snow happens!

For hotels and train stations, if you simply use Googlemaps you'll find main stations and a selection of hotels marked on there already. Then it will be a matter of a little research on the hotels you're looking at for each city.

Train websites for your research:
Germany www.deutschebahn.com
Switzerland www.sbb.ch
Austria www.oebb.at
Italy www.trenitalia.com
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Nov 21st, 2013, 07:35 PM
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You have severly underestimated

1) how long it takes to get from one place to another (check out bahn.de - a round trip Salzburg to Vienna will be at least 6 hours in transit - so you will have little time in Vienna and none in salzburg)

2) how long it will take to see even the top 2 or 3 sights in each place

In 2 weeks you should stay in only 4 cities - no more - if you want to see anything.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 04:01 AM
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With the Bayern ticket we could only take slower trains and we had to travel after 9 am. It really slows you down. Try to make it three nights in each place and eliminate a couple of stops.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 08:11 AM
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Yes you will have about one day in each place at that pace - cut some - you could drop Milan and spread the days over to Rome and Florence. In Switzerland for 4 days the 4-day consecutive Swiss Pass could be a great deal - take you from Austrian border to Italian border at Domodossola. www.swisstravelsystem.com for lots of info on Swiss trains. You could also consider a Eurailpass if you keep to your original itinerary - a 15-consectuive day pass may be good since you are on trains so much (not criticizing that as I do that too - but most will say spend more time in those major cities and I agree.

great train info: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com = these sites will help you plan the train part.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 08:47 AM
  #7
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Thanks for all the info. I'm looking into it and trying to make my detail plans based on your responses. I think we don't mind if we don't see a specific sight. . just that we have been in that city and just saw the buildings and walked around the city. I'll update what my plans are...

Milan is a must for me. . I want to shop there. I keep adding cities because people tell me you need to stop there. So hard. I know that we will travel back to Europe again in the summer in the future.


We want to do the Glacier express which is a day trip from St Moritz to Zermatt.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 09:18 AM
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> We want to do the Glacier express which is a day trip from St Moritz to Zermatt.

True. A ONE WAY day trip. You cannot go back the same day and I see no overnight in St. Moritz in your itinerary. Besides, it's a looooong ride on the train, pretty boring since it will all be white outside - you'll see snow, snow and snow again. No green pastures, grazing cows, hardly the cute chalets ...
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 09:33 AM
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"... just that we have been in that city and just saw the buildings and walked around the city...."

You'll be disappointed by how much European cities can look similar in the vicinity of the central railway stations! To see the parts that make them distinct you mostly need to move about, and in winter with the potentially inclement weather, cold temps, the need for heavy wardrobe and with the short daylight hours, you can't just breeze in and breeze out and expect to see much of anything that makes the time and expense worth it.

A planning suggestion: Be methodical, make a list of the specific targets you want to see in each city - as a minimum - and map out how long that will take. Be realistic about the seasonal handicaps mentioned before.

Then research the travel times as suggested earlier - we can tell that you haven't done so yet, since you mention the Glacier Express in a way that doesn't sound realistic. Leaving St. Moritz at 9AM and arriving in Zermatt after dark at 5PM, and - as Ingo sez - seeing pretty much nothing but wintery landscapes - much of a muchness if you're lucky, or seeing nothing if it snows and is fogged in, for eight hours straight?

On the other hand, if you stay in cities and if you are opera or symphony or chamber-music buffs, you'll be in heaven, because the concert season is in full swing all over Europe.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 09:44 AM
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Looking at the outside of a lot of buildings (which after all are fairly similar with limited exceptions) in dreary, gray chilly or cold, rainy or snowy weather - is really not going to be much of a vacation.

You really need to figure out what your must sees are - or you may just be bored stiff by day 3.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 12:16 PM
  #11
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This is on our list to see:
Munich (2 nights)
Day 1 Munich Airport to Hotel
Hofbrauhaus (brewry)
Marienplatz (city hall)

Day 2 Neuschwanstein Castle
Hotel in Salzburg (Die Stadtalm)
Salzburg (2 nights)

Day 3 Private Sound of Music Tour (Viator)

Day 4 Day in Vienna
Night Train to Zurich

Zurich (2 nights)
Day 5 Shopping
Day 6 Day in Bern
Day 7 Travel to St Moritz to catch Glacier Ex


Zermatt (2 nights)

Day 8 Cable car
Day 9 Matterhorn


This is the itinerary I'm building . . I don't have much sights that I specifically want to see yet. I've never traveled to Europe and I've lived in Hawaii and Florida. Do I just expand my trip to make it longer? My husband really wants to go back to Munich to see the castle and do the sound of music tour. I can cut out Vienna for now . . I only added it because someone said I should add it. Then I saw a night train that would take me to Zurich from there so we could travel at night. And living in Florida. . .we are just awed by seeing mountain. So seeing white mountains everywhere.. I think we will be in heaven.

My travels usually revolves around eating.

I really want to see Switzerland and Italy. . then need to add in Munich and Salzburg for my husbands request. We can travel up to 17 days I think.

Humm.. .so i'm not getting interested in doing the Glacier express? I thought it would be nice scenery in the winter with the snow which I never see unless I travel. And the day would be some what of a rest day for the crazy travel. From Zermatt (stay couple nights or several) I would go down to Milan and then travel through Italy and depart out of Rome.

Am I going the right direction on planning?
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 12:21 PM
  #12
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Instead of taking the Glacier express. . I should just take a train from Zurich to Zermatt which is 3 hrs and change. If the Glacier Express isn't worth it during the winter?
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 12:25 PM
  #13
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Now that I see train schedules ..I see why your saying its a day of travel when you move to the next city. Several hour train ride gets you half day then gotta find your hotel and check in. And if the day is short. . only have several hours before night fall so you can only really walk around to find dinner.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 12:38 PM
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You'd be better off with one night in Salzburg - on Day 3, after the Viator tour drops you back at around 1:30 PM you have time for a late lunch, a stroll through the inner parts of Salzburg, maybe even up to the Festung, then take a late-ish train to Vienna. That will at least give you a day in Vienna that starts in Vienna. Otherwise it's not worth going to Vienna, it's in the wrong direction from Zürich anyway, and if you start out in the morning from Salzburg to go to Vienna and you take the night train (22:40) the same evening, you don't even have half a day in Vienna...

I'd skip the St. Moritz trip, let alone the trip from St. Moritz to Zermatt. Go from Zürich to Zermatt, and do it via Bern - spend a few hours walking the historic inner center of Bern (it's right adjacent to the train station where you can stash your luggage at the Gepäckaufbewahrung) before taking a train that gets you to Zermatt before nightfall. Saves you the trip Zürich-Bern-Zürich.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 03:19 PM
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Yes to Bern, one of the loveliest most unique cities in Europe - I love the rushing river it overlooks on the east end and the Bear Pits - Bern's symbol of course being the bear - watch the playful critters in the zoo-like enclosure - the arcades along the main shopping streets are great - Bern for a few hours is a great great idea.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 04:07 PM
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You are getting great advice about getting a grip on your schedule. Too much moving around and you end up spending most of your total trip money to visit train stations. When your friends tell you to go to Vienna or go here or there, they may be limited in what they have seen and not know what most interests you. Get some good guide books, some with pictures and decide what is good for you. Many people on this forum live in Europe or travel months at a time every year. Many have extensive knowledge, and I've found their advice to be more useful than most of my friends advice.

It does seem a shame to go all that way and spend so much money and not see the insides of cathedrals, museums, palaces, etc. It is a bit like seeing great tables of wonderful food that you only look at, but never taste. Once you are actually there, you will see that perhaps you will want to stop and really look at some things, rather than just walk by. The outside can be beautiful, but there are treasures inside.

Coming from Hawaii and Florida, do not underestimate how miserable you can be if it is cold and damp. Do you have good warm clothes, layers of sweaters, boots, etc?

Staying near train stations does not often put you in the best parts of cities for walking around, looking at buildings. Find the area you wish to explore and look for hotels there unless you plan on springing for a taxi to take you back to your hotel after dinner. You don't want to waste a lot of time (especially at night) going back and forth to your hotel that is not near sights and restaurants. You are allowing so little time already, get a hotel where you can walk out the door and right away start seeing great things and have decent restaurants nearby.

You also said moderate cost for hotels (along with near train station and B&B). Moderate is different things for different people. Check some places right now so you a familiar with costs, especially in Switzerland.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 04:10 PM
  #17
A2B
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Munich (2 nights)
Day 1 Munich Airport to Hotel
Hofbrauhaus (brewry)
Marienplatz (city hall)

Day 2 Neuschwanstein Castle
Hotel in Salzburg (Die Stadtalm)
Salzburg (1 night)

Day 3 Private Sound of Music Tour (Viator)
Travel to Vienna
Hotel:
Vienna (1 night)
Day 4 Day in Vienna
Night Train to Zurich

Zurich (2 nights)
Day 5 Shopping
Day 6 Sightseeing
Day 7 To Zermatt via Bern


Zermatt (2 nights)
Hotel: Coeur des Alpes or Hotel Dufour Zermatt
Day 8 Cable car
Day 9 Matterhorn

So far I have this with the suggestions above. I will move into Italy after Zermatt. I'm thinking of using the EuroRail suggestion on travel in Italy: Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. These cities seem to be close.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 04:28 PM
  #18
A2B
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I have read some forum for warm clothes and shoes. I did invest in some warm comfortable shoes. Still working on the clothes and layers. We want to travel light which is going to be tough.

I maybe touching in and out of places in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland but I think when we get into Italy we will really tour the sites. Lots of art and even look into an opera as the EuroRail suggest.

I really can't believe how great the response is on this site. Glad to have found it!

I'm starting to see it better on the map.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 04:32 PM
  #19
A2B
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Any suggestions on clothes? For both me and my husband? I was waiting to get my trip set and booking my flight once my dates and times were set for the travel.

I purchased boots that I should wear throughout the trip. la canadienne womens boots. Had really good reviews and I hope to use it for other cold weather travels.

I also need a recommendation on luggage bag. I'm assuming a backpack that can convert to a roller is the best.

Will I be able to find a place to wash my clothes mid trip? Only plan on taking coupe pairs of clothes.
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Nov 22nd, 2013, 05:07 PM
  #20
A2B
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Here is what I have for Italy:

Milan (3 nights)
"il Salvagente" and is located at via Fratelli Bronzetti, 16. It's opening hours are from 10-12.30 & 10am -7pm Wednesday & Saturday.
Foxtown Outlet shopping in Switzerland
Quadrilatero d’Oro (Shopping)
La Scala (Teatro alla Scala) (Opera)
church of Santa Maria della Grazie (Last Supper)
Milan Cathedral

Venice (2 nights)
Gondola
Piazza San Marco


Florence (2 nights)
Michaelangelo's Statue of David
il Duomo (Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore)

Rome (2 nights)
Rome’s Colosseum
Vatican Museums
Sistine Chapel


I may need to cut out a city in Italy.
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