Any thoughts on a Euro-road trip in October?
August 2, 2015 6:51 AM   Subscribe

northern Italy, southern Germany and Austria - what is a must see?

We live near Nice and are considering going to Munich during the school break during the last two weeks of October. We are a family of four, kids 6 and 8. One option would be to drive and see some sights on the way. Just curious what the weather and sights might be like on this route toward the end of October. Also, do these drive times look accurate? Is there anything you have seen in any of these places that is really great, especially if it is kid-related, kid-friendly?

Day 1 - Nice to Lake Como - 5 hrs
Day 2 - Lake Como through Lichtenstein to Lake Constance - 4 1/2 hrs
Day 3 - on to Munich - 3 hrs
Day 4 & 5 - Munich
Day 6 - Munich to Salzburg - 2 1/2 hrs
Day 7 - Salzburg to Venice - 4 1/2 hrs
Day 8 - Venice to Nice - 6 hrs
posted by pandabearjohnson to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total)
Clearly you know your kids better than I do but at that age spending 3-6 hrs/day in the car most days of a holiday would have been my idea of hell. I was actually quite a calm child, generally able to entertain myself for hrs and I didn't mind a long drive to get to a destination (because destination = exciting fun things to do and explore) but I also got bored and car sick and this would not have been fun at all. My brother didn't get car sick but he'd have been bored out of his mind with sitting still so long with little to do (and I appreciate we didn't have the benefit of in car dvd players like kids have today but still, it's a lot of time), which would have made him very annoying, especially for me, because he'd start to wind me up to entertain himself and I was already feeling sick....

Having said all that I am originally from Munich so I fully endorse your idea of spending your break there. But I'd recommend flying to Munich, spending all your time in or around Munich and then flying back home. Plenty of kid friendly things to do both indoors and out that will keep you going for more than a week with ease. You don't really need a car in or around Munich as there are many frequent public transport options that cover the whole of the greater Munich area. But you could rent a car if you wanted to go further afield and perhaps explore one of the castles.
posted by koahiatamadl at 7:26 AM on August 2, 2015

Neuschwanstein castle is on the way from Liechtenstein to Munich if you don't take the easiest looking route.

Salzburg is, in my opinion, not kid friendly. Are they big fans of Mozart? They might like the castle and a river up the funicular but not sure beyond that.

I also see some value in flying to Munich direct. You can always take train trips from there to Salzburg and elsewhere or get a car for a longer excursion that would still cut car time dramatically.
posted by biffa at 7:46 AM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would have loved the Ai Pioppi playground (near Venice) as a kid although it's certainly far from the safest place on earth..
posted by bigendian at 8:10 AM on August 2, 2015

It would add an hour and a half of travel time to your Venice to Nice trip, so I don't know if it's possible, but stopping off in Florence is worth it and a fun place to stroll with kids. Lots of outdoor markets, art/artisans/street musicians, open squares, breathtaking river views, places to grab a quick (and tasty!) bite, very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. If you can fit it in, I can't recommend Florence strongly enough.
posted by nightrecordings at 9:26 AM on August 2, 2015

koahiatamadl - yeah, that's a very good point. I loved car travel when I was a kid but I think my kids will give me a lot of grief about it. Thanks for the advise about public transport in Munich. Sounds cool, can't wait to go.
posted by pandabearjohnson at 9:46 AM on August 2, 2015

You can take a boat ride on the Thunersee, you can take lunch in the mountains there is an amazing glacial valley in that area and see snow, see the Zugspitz.dyou can find a gondola ride in that area go up on a mountain and look down. With kids you can park the car so you can see it from above then they get a sense of distance.
posted by Oyéah at 9:52 AM on August 2, 2015

I'd really recommend looking into traveling by train for at least part of the trip. You could probably get a family deal on tickets, which might make it even cheaper than traveling by car. If you want to explore this option, I'd call BETS and speak to Byron; he could give you feedback on your itinerary and honest train-versus-car advice. (I'm not affiliated with the company but have had great experiences working with them over the years for my own trips!)
posted by smorgasbord at 9:15 PM on August 2, 2015

We drove from Prague to Salzburg to Munich this past spring, and we wouldn't drive a car in Europe again. I think train travel is definitely the way to go. Especially in Austria, with the tiny, quaint roads. Quaint, sure, until a semi comes barreling toward you on the two-lane street with no shoulder and wilderness on either side. Driving toward Munich as well, although there are multi-lane freeways, they don't seem to believe in shoulders. And there, you're not allowed to sit in the left lane, which is only used for passing. So you're constantly having to change lanes to pass people, because there invariably will be someone faster coming up behind you on the left lane, especially on the Autobahn. Unless you're content to just sit in the middle lane or the right lane, going nice and slow. That is, until you get stuck behind a semi and need to switch lanes again... and then switch back again. It just requires a lot more concentration than driving in the US, and if there were tired/hungry/generally disgruntled kids in the backseat, that would make the experience that much more unpleasant. But on the plus side: gorgeous scenery all the way, everywhere. But I'm thinking you could see that from a train too, no?

I'd skip Salzburg for both the adults and the kids. Very pretty but very small and not much to see and everything is exorbitantly priced. Unless they're obsessed with the Sound of Music or Mozart.

Munich was quite nice, though I can't recall anything specifically kid-friendly. We saw a lot of castles, like Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, Nymphenburg, and more. They started to blur together after a while, so I would probably just visit one or two and call it good.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 11:56 PM on August 2, 2015

if you do decide to do Salzburg then the kids might like Schloss Hellbrunn, its out near the zoo if that's also any help.
posted by biffa at 2:18 AM on May 13, 2016

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