To kick off the beginning of 2019, Will and I took off for a ten-day road trip, through Germany, Austria and Switzerland. We had been talking about doing European road trip for a long time and thankfully we received plane tickets as a wedding gift. Originally, we planned to do this trip earlier in 2018, when it was warmer, but we both ended up starting new jobs over the summer, so we rebooked the trip for winter. This European road trip ended up being quite an adventure, and it was a trip we will never forget! So today, I am sharing an overview of our trip, including a detailed itinerary, transportation information and a look at our road map.
The Itinerary for our European Road Trip
Day One – Flying to Munich.
We purposely picked a flight that left in the evening, so that we could maximize the time off work that we took.
Day Two – Arrive in Munich in the morning. Head to Salzburg, Austria.
Once we got our car, we took off for a scenic route to Salzburg. This gave us the pleasure of driving through “freezing fog” (note: we didn’t even know that was a thing until our plane landed and it looked like we were in a cloud). It was much more spectacular than it sounds. Just imagine a thin layer of ice on everything and sunlight breaking a dense fog over the German hillside. It reminded me of something out of the Chronicles of Narnia! Once we got to Salzburg, we did a little driving tour of the city, stopped for lunch and headed to our hotel in the charming town of Anif, a few kilometers from Salzburg. We took a little afternoon nap to fight off jet lag, then got up for dinner and drinks at a nearby pub.
Day Three – Travel to Hallstatt, Austria for lunch, then continue to Innsbruck.
After eating a hefty breakfast, we left Anif for Hallstatt, Austria. Driving through this part of Austria was amazing! Hallstatt is a charming little town on a lake surrounded by steep mountains. After get wienerschnitzel for lunch we had a blast exploring the narrow allies and secret walkways all over this town. There were a good bit of tourists in Hallstatt which was surprising for this time of year, but it was obvious why when we saw this place in person. We headed on to our hotel in Innsbruck that evening.
Day Four – Explore Innsbruck for the day.
We took full advantage of being Innsbruck for a full day, and kicked off the day with a tram ride up the side of one of the mountains that surrounds Innsbruck. The dramatic peaks of the mountains and the valley surrounding Innsbruck were absolutely breathtaking from 8,000 feet in the air! We could even see Germany. It was amazing to watch people skiing and snowboarding up there too, like it was no big deal. For the rest of the day, we explored Innsbruck’s Christmas market and shopped for some ornaments.
Day Five – Travel to Switzerland.
This day was when the wrench got thrown into our plans! We had planned on leaving Innsbruck and stopping at a couple places on our way to Switzerland. BUT instead, we woke up early this morning both feeling sick. We had what we now assume was food poisoning. I won’t get into the details, but it was not fun, especially since we needed to check out of our hotel room and get to where we were staying in Mollis, Switzerland. Both a little delusional and unsure of our plans, we ended going a round-about way and hitting heavy snowfall in the mountains. Thankfully, we remember the scenery much more vividly than the way we felt! Of course as soon as we got to Mollis that afternoon, we got in bed.
Day Six – Explore Switzerland and sledge.
We woke up feeling much better after a full night’s rest. Our full day in Switzerland also happened to be New Year’s Eve. We headed straight to a nearby place to go sledging. The roads to the snow park were quite narrow and located right on the edge of steep mountains. It was a little nerve-wrecking but also beautiful! Then it was time for sledging, which is a lot like sledding, but these sleds are higher off the ground than what I’m used to, here in the U.S. We took gondolas with our sledges up the mountain and then went down a trail especially for sledges. There were moguls, twists and turns. It was a total blast and
Day Seven – Head to Fussen, Germany. Make a pit-stop in Lichtenstein.
After a hearty breakfast, we headed to Fussen, Germany. On our way we stopped at Vaduz Castle in Vaduz, Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein is a tiny country, but it’s quite charming and definitely worth visiting. The castle had wonderful views of the Swiss Alps as well. Once we got to Fussen we had an authentic German lunch. Then, we walked all over the charming town and checked out Schwangau to make a plan for visiting Neuschwanstein Castle the next day. Our hotel in Fussen was in the heart of the town and we had a great view of their New Year’s Day fireworks as the night ended.
Day Eight – Explore Neuschwanstein Castle and Fussen.
On this day, we ate breakfast and headed straight for Neuschwanstein Castle to get tickets for a tour and the Bavarian Kings museum. We explored the museum and then trekked up the mountain for the castle tour. The views were phenomenal and learning about the history of the castle and Bavarian kings in general, was fascinating. That night we laid low in our cozy hotel.
Day Nine – Head to Munich. Visit Dachau concentration camp. Return rental car.
We made our way to Dachau concentration camp in the morning. The town of Dachau is located just outside of Munich. Visiting this concentration camp was a sobering and educational experience. The museum here was very extensive and offered a lot of information about Dachau specifically and concentration camps in general. After the concentration camp, we went through Munich’s Olympic Park. We returned the rental car that night and walked through the city back to our hotel.
Day Ten – Fly home.
Our flight home left in the early afternoon. By this point of the trip we were definitely ready to get home and be in one place for more than a couple days. We went to a little coffee shop in Munich for cappuccinos and breakfast and just walked around before heading to the airport.
As you you can easily guess by now, we rented a car to get around. Specifically, we booked our rental car through Hertz. We made our pick-up/drop-off the same location, right near the Munich airport. We normally would have been able to rent a car through the airport but for the timeframe we needed, we ended up having to go with a Hertz location just outside of the airport. Renting a car would have been much more expensive had we dropped off the car in another country. The whole ten days we had the car totaled about 250 euros, but dropping off in another country would have cost an extra 500 euros.
Even with the cost of gas included, renting a car was cheaper than taking trains to the various places and countries we visited. From my experience, trains are the best option when you are staying within one country, and you can use the local, country-based trains. Of course, if you are going to do a road trip, it is important to have someone comfortable driving in Europe and willing to be focused on the road for large parts of the trip. Thankfully, Will was up for it and he had driven in England and Germany previously.
Below is a look at the road map we used for our European road trip. It does not include some of the small trips we took while exploring. So, we (or should I say Will!?) averaged more than 110 kilometers of driving each day.
Now, I would love to hear if you have ever done a European road trip! Where did your trip begin and end? Where did you go? What did you enjoy seeing or doing most of all? Let’s chat in the comments!
If you have any questions about our trip, feel free to ask. I am happy to help! I will also share more information for the exact activities we did and where we stayed in part two of this post. Stay tuned!
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