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Old 15th August 2023, 08:25   #1
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11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria

After my road trip on the east and west coast in the US for 16 days in 2018, we'd decided to do a road trip in Europe for my silver wedding anniversary year. We'd lived in Munich, Germany for 3 years from 2001 to 2003 and hence, we wanted to show my daughter her city of birth.

We wanted to start with Munich, Germany and then visit Lucerne and Interlaken in Switzerland followed by Innsbruck and Salzburg in Austria. Round trip of approx. 2600 KM

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-gmaps-route.jpg

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-car-pic-2.jpg

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-car-pic-1.jpg


Preparations for the trip:

1. First challenge was getting an appointment slot for German Schengen visa at VFS centre at Bangalore. Got a reference of a travel agent who got the appointment slots for me in end June '23
2. Most European countries require that you carry the IDP (International Driver Permit) in addition to the driving license. This took we 1 week to get with the agent and cost me 4k
3. Preparing the extensive documentation for the Schengen visa application with showing blocked air tickets, hotel accommodation, bank financials, salary slips and IT returns for the past 2 years
4. Received visa 3 weeks after the VFS appointment via Blue dart courier
5. As it was summer in Europe, light jackets were sufficient. Only needed a heavier jacket for the visit to Jungfrau peak at 13,000 ft
6. Suitable mid size suitcases for 3 ladies and smaller 2 suitcases for 2 gents
7. Loading up the forex cards with Euros and Swiss francs. Enabling international transactions for credit cards
8. Hotel/apt reservations on Booking.com
9. Basic spices for the apartment stay at Switzerland where we could cook.
10. Medicines for any minor illness
11. Car reservation with Alamo after checking comparisons at carrental.com

Day 1-3 @ Munich, Germany

We travelled on Lufthansa from Bangalore -> Frankfurt -> Munich on 27th July. Reached on time but had 2 bags missed that had to reported at the Baggage counter. We had lunch at the McDonalds just outside of Terminal 2 at Munich airport and then headed to the car rental building, a short 5 min walk. Reached the Alamo counter where they verified my Indian driving license but did not ask for the IDP.

As Alamo is a subsidiary of Enterprise and I had rented a car for 2 months during business travel to the US in 2022, got a free upgrade to a full sized diesel SUV: a SEAT Taracco. This was perfect for me as we needed the additional luggage space in the SUV. The SUV was approx the same size as the XUV 700 and folding down the 3rd row of seats gave us good luggage space. I also tool the additional CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) additional that cost 200 euro extra for the 11 day rental. Total was approx. 1100 Euro + 250 euro deposit.

All the rental cars were neatly parked in the lower basement and had to follow-up the instructions from the agent to locate my car after a search for 10-15 min.

Spent 10 min getting familiar with the rental cars controls before coming out of the garage. Had booked at a mid range hotel chain “Meninger Hotels” at Munich Olympia park that was 38 kms from the airport and Google maps showed a drive time of 45 min due to the evening office traffic between 4 to 6pm.

Joining the high speed autobahns was initially looking scary but was soon comfortable on the middle lanes around 130 kmph. Need to look out for this sign that indicates that the upcoming stretch does not have a speed limit.

Overtaking in most European highways is strictly on the extreme left lane only and hence driving on the middle lane is less tiresome. The Taracco was well refined and could hardly hear the engine though it was a diesel engine.

Munich is a beautiful city and especially green during summer months. We spent the first evening at the Olympia park gardens opposite our hotel
11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2141.jpg

The 2nd day we spent visiting the famous Marienplatz area in central Munich. We also spent around 2 hrs at the Residenz palace exploring the huge complex and exquisite interiors.
11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2167.jpg

On day 3 we visited the BMW museum and spent 2 hrs understanding the history of BMW and the beauty and engineering behind their products

Never knew that BMW had some many products labels

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2257.jpg
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11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2271.jpg

We then headed to visit the Neuschwanstein castle that is in the classic fairly tale castle shape around 110km drive from Munich. Unfortunately, the castle tours for the day were fully booked and we had to contend with outside pictures.


From Neuschwanstein, we drove to Stuttgart to meet a friend and his family. The drive was around 210 km and took us 3 hrs.
11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2310.jpg

Day 5 to Day 8: Lucerne and Interlaken, Switzerland

We drove to Stuttgart to Lucerne and took a Pitt stop enroute at Schaffhausen to view the enchanting Rhine falls. Need to purchase the Swiss vignette sticker from any of the gas stations near the border for 42 euro and this is valid for the full calendar year. Understand that the fines are steep, if your car from outside of Swiss is found without this sticker. The beautiful Rhine falls in the background..

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2328.jpg

Once we crossed the border to Switzerland, the highways become narrower and we encountered many tunnels that are just 2 lanes. Need to be fully alert to the changing speed limits and having a co passenger assist on the navigation was definitely helpful. Tooks some random stops on the Swiss highways for some picture perfect scenery..

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2381.jpg

At Lucerne, the main attractions were the Chappel Bridget, Mount Titlis and the cruise in Lake Lucerne.

On day 6, we drove to Interlaken which is at 90 km distance. Got to know that the name “Interlaken” is derive as the town lied between two big lakes “Thun” and “Brienz”.

The best of Interlaken is the day trip to Jungfraujoch on the cable car and mountain train. Just cant imagine that this track was build way back in 1912 and took 16 yrs to tunnel through the mountains.

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2579.jpg

Day 9 to Day 11: Innsbruck & Salzburg, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic

From Interlaken, we then headed to Innsbruck Austria and got to see the Swarowski crystal world museum and shop. At the border crossing to Austria, had to purchase the Austria toll vignette for 12 euro for the 10 day option.
Austria had a strict speed limit of 130 kmph unlike the autobahns of Germany. At the entrance to the Swarowski Crystal world below..

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-img_2650.jpg

We then drove from Innsbruck to Salzburg that is known all over the world as the shooting location of "Sound of Music". The Hohensalzburg castle is impressive and worth visiting

The last city we visited was Prague, Czech Republic before returning to music. Lovely city especially the old part with the castle, Charles bridge and the jewish settlement that remind us on their persecution by the Nazis in World War 2.

Summary of the driving tips in Europe:

1. Need to review the rules and driving rules before you take the rental car
2. Watch out for the changing speed limits; they will change from 120 to 60 in short interval
3. Look for the temporary lane markings in yellow wherever there is road upgradation work in progress. Here the speed limit will be 60 kmph
4. At the roundabout or circles, yield to those who have already entered the circle
5. On the highways, stick to the middle lanes and maintain a comfortable speed of atleast 100-120 kmph
6. Look out for cyclists at tourist hot spots and slow down when you pass them
7. Give priority to pedestrians crossing at all places
8. Strictly no honking during the entire 12 days drive
9. Be prepared to pay for garage parking at Europe as street parking is expensive and very limited. You should be prepared to spend 10-20 euro per day for garage parking
10. The parking ticket has to be paid at the machine and validated before you come to the parking exit

If you have driven in the US, then you can confidently drive in Europe on your IDP for upto 6 month. Do remember to sign up for the CDW (Collision Damage waiver) for the car rental that will give you peace of mind

Enjoy the flexibility of driving and stopping at picture perfect locations to appreciate the scenery. For a family of 4-5, this option will also work out cheaper than train travel. However for crowded cities like Munich or Prague. taking a day pass for 24 hrs travel is a better way to visit the city centre on public transport- Underground, Trams and bus are all included. The hotel reception desk will have this ticket that has to be validated with a stamp on your first usage of the public transport.

Look forward to seeing more of Team BHP friends planning thier driving tours of Europe.

Last edited by indrangiri : 15th August 2023 at 10:51. Reason: Post formatting
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Old 15th August 2023, 11:37   #2
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re: 11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Moving the thread from Assembly Line to Travelogues. Thank you so much for sharing.
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Old 15th August 2023, 17:31   #3
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re: 11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Thank you for the wonderful TL @Indrangiri. Your pictures evoked nostalgia because my wife and I spent 3 months in Munich and returned by the end of this June. We have visited all the places that you have, except Stuttgart. But we have always used public transport, as it was mostly 2 of us, and sometimes our son and daughter-in-law used to accompany us. We were lucky that the German government introduced a 49-Euro ticket for unlimited travel all over Germany for the concerned month.

All 4 of us spent 6 days in Switzerland, and owing to the 4+1 day bonus Swiss Pass scheme, dropped the idea of renting a car, though i was strongly in favour of renting a car.
We got huge discounts in Switzerland on account that 5-day travel pass, and all public trains, trams, boats, ferries and funiculars were free, except a few like Jungfrau and Schilthorn. But even for those trips, we got a discount of nearly 30%.

I'm glad you chose the rental car option, and I am sure you would have seen more places than we did. The only place we rented a car for 2 days was in Florence, and man, what a thrill it was to drive on the highway to Pisa and Sienna/ Chianti region! And it was the first time for me and my son to drive on the 'other' side of the road, and that too an automatic Cadillac XT4 SUV.

We also took a Flix bus to Innsbruck--very cheap for 12 Euros one way. In addition we took a 24-hour Innsbruck card that entitled us free transport all over the city and suburbs, entry to all musuems and Swarowski museum and also the 3 funicular/ropeway rides to the 'Top of Innsbruck' view point.

Last edited by vnabhi : 15th August 2023 at 17:34.
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Old 16th August 2023, 16:25   #4
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Re: 11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Thanks @vnabhi for sharing your travel experience Germany & Swiss. I had lived in Munich for 3 years between 2000-2003 and always loved this vibrant city

See that you were excited to drive to Florence in the cadillac SUV. Good to know that you were able get excellent offers on the Swiss Rail pass and German Deutshce Bahn. Wishing you exciting experiences on your upcoming trips !!
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Old 18th August 2023, 06:09   #5
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Re: 11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Here is link to to a snippet of Switzerland drive with the beautiful countryside in view

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Old 19th August 2023, 02:43   #6
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Re: 11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria

This evokes immediate nostalgia for me! Did a two week Austria-Switzerland trip early May this year. Fell in love with Austria! Especially Innsbruck. (see photos!) That place is beautiful and so much underrated vs. Switzerland (which is beautiful in its own might, but oh-so-touristy!)
I really wanted to do a day trip to neuschweinstein from Innsbruck, driving down ; both that didn't work out because my IDP did not come through in time, and plus, it wasn't too economical for 2 people and 1 day of rental. Chose to spend the extra day in Innsbruck taking the Innsbruck city pass, and did not regret it!
Planning to visit next year again and your experience on car rental will be really helpful. Cheers!
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11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-20230503_193418.jpg  

11-day, 2600-km road-trip across Germany, Switzerland and Austria-20230502_192653.jpg  


Last edited by sauravm_89 : 19th August 2023 at 02:48. Reason: Spelling error and photos
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