Today I wanted to share with you all of the places we stopped on our Austria and southern Germany road trip. I’ll try to keep it brief but we visited so many places during our time in the car. Each stop will be noted with how much time we spent there and if it was an overnight stay then I’ll link our accommodation. This is by no means the perfect itinerary but we wanted to take in cities and mountains as well as spend the weekend at the German F1 in Hockenheim. Let’s dive in.
Austria and Southern Germany Road Trip
10 nights | 11 days
We decided to pick the car up in Vienna as we wanted to be able to drive across a good amount of Austria and see as much as possible. During our two weeks we spent two nights before we got the car and one night after we dropped the car off in the city. This allowed us to maximize time with the car on those days as we didn’t have to leave the city afterwards.
Vienna is probably my favourite city stop from this whole trip and somewhere worth spending a bit of time in. The architecture is gorgeous, there are so many museums and the coffee house culture is as good as it sounds. Allow time here for the cultural things but also time to just eat and drink. The summer weather was perfect for chilling in the sun in a park but I can imagine how cosy the cafes are in the winter.
This was a cute little town and our first stop outside of Vienna. We parked on the edge of town and then wandered along the main pedestrian street from the clocktower gate end. There were plenty of cute cafes and gorgeous buildings mostly in pastel colours. It was a great stop for a stretch of the legs and a coffee.
Time spent there | 1 hour
This little town was an absolute gem, it had an almost toy town feel to it with barely any cars allowed in the town. It seemed like a very popular stop with cyclists as it was perched right along the Danube river where the cycle path ran. The town was also famous for its ruins of a historic castle. We decided not to do this hike as it would have taken over an hour but instead wandered around the gorgeous town and spent far too much time in the Christmas shop.
Time spent there | 1 hour
I loved this stop! The town was again another gorgeous gem but the location of this one was standout with the lakeside views. The town had cobbled streets with more pastel coloured houses but it was the area around the Town Hall and lake that captured our hearts. We stopped at one of the cafes around the lake for coffee and cake but only got the coffee as service seemed a little slow.
Time spent there | 1 hour
This is the most famous and iconic spot of the first day’s stops and I was so excited to explore here. We arrived around 5pm which was perfect timing as most of the tourist buses were getting ready to leave for the day. The town is set along the lakeside and is full of the most gorgeous buildings all with a variation on the iconic Austria buildings we were beginning to know and love. A lot of this very touristy town is this residential and therefore it is important to respect the privacy of the locals. There are so many photos spots here but the most iconic is to the north of the town.
We opted to get dinner here and extended our stay but you could easily be done in under two hours. A visit at sunrise or generally until 9am would also allow you to enjoy this town at little quieter time.
Dinner | Restaurant am See
Time spent there | 3 hours
This was to be our final stop for the night as it was close to Hallstatt but at a much more affordable price. We were quite surprised by the charm of the town which seemed to be lively even on a Monday night so we joined the locals at the main pub for a beer. The following morning we made the most of the fresh air with a little run around the town.
Time spent there | 1 night | We stayed at Frühstückspension Aussee
St Gilgen & Wolfgangsee
The reason for stopping here was because this spot was used for filming in Sound of Music but the whole area was beautiful. The lake seemed to be the main point with many little villages built around it. As we drove by we saw beach areas where people were swimming and so many boats etc. on the lake. I now regret a little not taking a dip… We parked up in St Gilgen and had a little wander but didn’t want to stop long as we had plenty more to see on this day.
Time spent there | less than 1 hour (because we did have change for parking)
Schloss Hellbrunn & Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron
These next two stops were purely Sound of Music based, the first is where the pavilion’s home now is and the second where the Von Trapp family home is. These two spots are close together and just outside of Salzburg so were easily accessible from the city with the car. At Hellbrunn there is also a beautiful palace and grounds that can be visited although we didn’t do this. The Leopoldskron Hotel is slightly trickier as it’s only open to hotel guests but if you head around the lake you can get some great views of the house.
Time spent there | 1.5 hours between the two
This city was much smaller than I had imagined but it was crammed full of gorgeous buildings and cobbled streets. The city is split into two, the old town and the new town with the river being the divider. The old town felt full of character, with amazing architecture, cute laneways and lots of people in traditional clothing. The new town didn’t feel quite as quaint but it was home to the final Sound of Music stop of Mirabell Gardens.
Time spent there | 4 hours
We then stayed in Oberwinkl around 30 minutes outside of Salzburg up in the mountains | Zum Kasnocknwirt
This was our first stop in Germany and it did not disappoint! We arrived here nice and early which was a good job as by 8.30am the car park was already very busy. The lake is about a ten minute walk from there through a touristy plaza area. Once we reached the lake we were in awe of the crystal clear water and bright blue color. We were less in awe of the queues for the ferry, although we had never planned to take one. Our original idea was to walk to the left of the lake following a walk we’d read about online but once we past the rowing boat hire hut we decided this was a much better way to see some of the lake.
Time spent there | 1 hour (because we didn’t have car park change but we could have done with many more!)
Once we’d fueled up on food in Berchtesgaden we decided to head up to this famous spot. It played a key role in World War Two and Hitler’s life, as many important meetings took place up here in secret. To reach the top it required many steps: arriving at the parking, booking a shuttle bus, waiting for said bus, arriving at the upper bus stop, taking an elevator up and then finally you arrive at the top! The hassle is worth it for the amazing views across Germany and Austria just don’t expect it to be quiet.
Time spent there | Roughly 3.5 hours (1 hour waiting, 2.5 hours visiting and taking the bus)
Munich was one of my favourite stops of the trip even if we did get a crazy heatwave for most of our visit. We stayed just outside of the city and I felt like this gave us opportunity to see local Munich as well as touristy Munich. It was such a great city to be in while it was hot as they have the biggest park right in the middle of the city with a little river for cooling off. However, we of course had to check out some of the buildings, the beer halls and food too. It was such a great city with so much energy and now all I want to do is go back for Octoberfest.
Time spent there | 2 nights | We stayed at Hotel Imperial
Dachau Concentration Camp
This spot is around 30 minutes from Munich and is easy to do as a day trip from the city too. We arrived around opening time when it was fairly quiet and picked ourselves up an audio guide to help us understand everything behind this important place. It was the first concentration camp in Germany and therefore became a model for every other. Although these days it looks different and is an important memorial for those that lost their life there, it is easy to see the features that would have been there during its years of use. Not an easy visit but a very important one.
Time spent there | 2.5 hours (but we could have spent more)
Mercedes Benz Museum
Our second stop of the day was little different to the first but also as informative about history. This car museum doesn’t just focus on the past and present of racing cars but the history of how the motorcar changed society and more. Having been to the concentration camp already that day I found the history even more fascinated. Car fans don’t fear because there are also plenty of cars on display with detailed information. The building itself is also something to be admired. This museum and whole Mercedes complex is located on the outskirts of Stuttgart.
Time spent there | 1.5 hours
This cute university town was our home for three nights while we enjoyed a weekend of more car action in the form of Formula 1 racing. We’d chosen not to camp at Hockenheim and instead decided to base ourselves a short 20 minute train ride away. I couldn’t really tell you much about the town as during our visit we really only saw the walk to the train station or supermarket but it seemed to have a good atmosphere.
Time spent there | 3 nights | We stayed at this Airbnb
This was our first stop in the Black Forest and wow what a place to stop first. This town was described as chocolate box like in Lonely Planet and they were spot on. The town was that German fairytale type that you imagine; the buildings were pastel colours and there were plenty of cafes to enjoy a coffee and cake at. Of course our cake of choice was a black forest gateau and it was as delicious as we hoped. From here we then decided to take the ‘smaller roads’ so that we’d be immersed in a bit more of the Black Forest scenery.
Time spent there | 1 hour
Freiburg im Breisgau
When I was researching the Black Forest this spot came up again and again so I knew we had to add it to our list. There was good reason for this because the city is gorgeous and oozes charm on every corner (as soon as you get away from the main drag). There are little gutters of water that run through the streets known as Freiburg Bächle and myth has it that if you step in one of these accidentally then you’ll marry a Freiburger. We had lunch around the gorgeous cathedral and wandered the backstreets.
Time spent there | 2-3 hours
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By the time we reached this gorgeous lake it was already after 5pm and we were flagging from all of the driving we’d done that day. Still it was a great spot to stretch our legs for an hour (even if we spent half that hour finding the toilet). The town was full of more gorgeous buildings and everyone was enjoying an ice cream or late afternoon beer. Had we spent more time here we’d probably have taken a boat out on the lake for an hour.
Time spent there | 1 hour
We stumbled upon Tuttlingen as our over night stopover when booking accommodation. We’d originally wanted to stay in Meersburg or near Lake Constance but that area was very expensive, so we decided on just outside of Tuttlingen. The town itself was a little sleepy on the Monday night we arrived on, however, we managed to find a little German pub with the friendliest owner for dinner. The following morning we enjoyed our best run of the trip along forest paths.
Time spent there | 1 night | We stayed at Pension La Cascina
This was possibly the place I wanted to visit the most in Germany and I can confirm it did not disappoint! We had a long drive to get here so didn’t arrive until after midday which did make our visit busier than I’d hoped for but it really was worth the crowds. Just driving into the town to park we kept catching glimpses of this castle and Hohenschwangau Castle which is also built here. I was so excited when we got out the car to start our climb to the bridge lookout. Once we got up there, spoiler the hike is really steep, we were greeted with a queue to get on the bridge! It didn’t last too long and we decided to hike up beyond the bridge to a second view point. The views were just incredible and the sun came out as we got to the top. I’d have spent many more hours here exploring the surrounding towns.
Time spent there |3-4 hours
This was another spot I was super excited to get to, I’d wanted to visit Innsbruck for years albeit in the winter. Typically as we approached the surrounding mountains it got very stormy and as we arrived the heavens opened! We didn’t let this deter us from wandering around the old town and enjoying a delicious evening meal. The following morning the rain had let up even if the clouds had not, this meant we were able to enjoy the town a little in the dry even if we didn’t get to see the iconic mountains that border this place.
Time spent there | 1 night | We stayed at Hotel Heimgartl and I honestly think this was my favourite accommodation of the trip!
Our stop for today was the best known road in Austria, or at least it would have been had it not of been pouring with rain, thundering, lightening and the sky heavy with cloud. Before heading towards this point we had thought the weather wasn’t good enough but it was our only chance to experience the road so we drove on anyway. That was until we reached the toll booth (yes it costs a whopping €36 to drive this thing!) and the attendant told us we couldn’t/shouldn’t go up. I’m sure this spot is highly worth the money if it’s a clear day!
Taxenbach was one of those out of season ski villages that you could just imagine in the winter; covered in snow and full of groups enjoying a little snow holiday together. Everywhere had TVs showing the weather at the top of the mountains and cosy interiors. Like a few other spots we arrived here hungry at a time that was not ‘meal time’ this meant lots of wandering to find food but other than that this place was a cute little stopover for the night before the long drive back to Vienna.
And just like that we were back where we had started. We powered through the last day of driving to reach Vienna with enough time to enjoy an afternoon in the city and make the most of our second hotel, which was a lot fancier than our first stay.
We did this trip over 10 nights and 11 days with the German F1 in the middle. If I was to do the trip again I’d travel less distance and spend longer in each spot. However, it was a fantastic trip which meant we got to see so many different spots and take some breathtaking drives. I hope this helps you with some of the stops you can make on an Austria and Southern Germany road trip. I’ll be writing some more in depth posts for certain parts of this Austria and southern Germany road trip so be sure to check back soon.