Central European Roadtrip

For anyone that knows me, they know that I like to travel around places that are a little less popular or well known. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy large tourist attractions like the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower, but exploring countries in places like Eastern Europe is more exciting for me because there is a constant sense of wonderment about the whole experience.

When it came to visiting Switzerland the thought process was the same. Why just fly in and out of Switzerland when we could see so much more in the same time frame and explore out of our comfort zone? So we got planning for a 4 night, 5 day adventure throughout central Europe.

DAY ONE: Dublin -> Stuttgart

Our first leg of the adventure started by flying from Dublin to Stuttgart. This is a 2 hour flight with Ryanair and is usually quite cheap compared to other destinations. We stayed close to the airport in a really cute town called Leinfelden-Echterdingen. It’s about a twenty-minute drive from the city centre but is perfect if you have a car and are arriving late. We spent the night driving around the city and getting our bearings before heading back to our hotel. Stuttgart isn’t the most exciting of cities to visit, but it was nice to see the nightlife all the same and give us a sense of the city. It seemed very young and very relaxed. People were sitting in groups in the middle of pedestrian streets just drinking cans and enjoying themselves!

DAY TWO: Stuttgart -> Konstanz -> Lucerne

Mercedes Museum

We started off the day in Stuttgart where we went to visit the Mercedes Museum. I would highly recommend visiting there even if you aren’t interested in cars. The museum is laid out so that you start by learning about the introduction of vehicles in general such as the horse and carriage and shows the progression year on year. The layout is set so you walk around in circle around the outside of the room where you can learn about the history of cars, but also the history of that time period as well. At the end of each major change as the decades went on the spiral walk way opened up into a room full of cars from that period. It was honestly so amazing!

Lake Constance

Konstanz is about 2.5 hours from Stuttgart by car and I would highly recommend stopping off here! The weather was amazing while we were there and the town itself was absolutely bustling. This might be a very well known town to visit for Germans, but we actually only found it by chance by looking at a map of our route (how we found most places, to be honest!). If you are driving from Stuttgart to Zurich or Lucerne make sure to stop here and take in the views if nothing else. 

Sunset Lake Lucerne
Sunset on Lucerne

Lucerne blew me away from the moment we arrived. I had never seen mountains so majestic just sitting in the background before, and getting a sneak peak of the sunset that night accidentally was just the icing on top of the cake. We didn’t have time that evening to do anything apart from get settled, get our first glimpse of the lake and go for dinner but it was just enough for me to know that I absolutely loved it there. 

DAY THREE: Lucerne & Mount Pilatus

Esel Viewpoint Mount Pilatus
Edge of Esel Viewpoint

We had one full day in Lucerne, which started bright and early in order for us to get the first train to Alpnachstad so we could beat the crowds up Mount Pilatus. We ended up spending majority of our day up on the mountain and exploring so we only returned to Lucerne around 4pm that day. There is plenty to do in Lucerne but we opted to go to Seebad Lucerne for a swim while the weather was nice. For only €6 you get really nice facilities and the water is deep enough that you can dive in, something we didn’t appreciate until we visited other seebads later in the trip where we had to wade through muck as we climbed in! The town is pretty decent for shopping as well, well, window shopping if you are anything like me. Just as you would imagine, the streets are lined with Swiss watch brands and the prices are through the roof. I would recommend trying to get away from the waterfront for dinner in Lucerne because even prices in the lesser known areas will really hurt your pocket (we are talking €100 for two mains and two cocktails!) and if you go off the beaten track at least you get to see a bit more of the city. 

DAY FOUR: Liechtenstein -> Viktorsberg

Views from Liechtenstein
Views from Liechtenstein

We departed Lucerne early that morning ahead of our two hour drive to Liechtenstein. We didn’t really know what to expect of Liechenstein before getting there to be honest. Once we arrived we realised it was almost like a valley between the epic mountains around it which made for a really stunning view. Firstly, we headed to Triesenberg to have a look at the views before heading to their capital city, Vaduz. Being only 160 km² in size and with 38,000 residents it isn’t the largest, or hardest country to get around! We visited here on a Sunday which turns out, isn’t the best day to go. The whole place was list a ghost town apart from one bus of asian tourists and a small volleyball tournament smack bang in the city centre. We spent most of our time sitting down, having a few locally brewed beers and just relaxing. You can take a hike up to the princes castle that has the best views of the country, but unfortunately with the blistering heat we opted to be lazy and drink the beers instead! If you do visit Vaduz I would recommend this walk as it’s one of few activities to do, but do note that while you can hike up to the castle you can’t actually go in and around the grounds as it is occupied by the prince. If you bring your passport to the tourist office you can get a stamp for Liechtenstein and funnily enough, it’s one of few places that is actually open on Sundays!

Viktorsberg, Austria
The town of Viktorsberg

Once we were done being lazy in Liechtenstein we set out for Viktorsberg, a town on the Austrian border. Once again, we found this location by looking at a map. I wanted to spend a night in the mountains with a nice view, so found somewhere that looked relatively high up and that’s what brought us here! Our hotel was over 1500m high and had views as far as the eye could see. The road up to it was pretty bad, but for the views you wouldn’t mind it. There wasn’t much in Viktorsberg apart from a beautiful town but because we arrived in the evening and were heading the next day this wasn’t a problem for us. It isn’t somewhere you would spend your entire holiday, but it’s the perfect stopover for the route that we did. 

DAY FIVE: Viktorsberg -> Bregenz -> Neuschwanstein -> Stuttgart

Neuschwanstein Castle

Our last day of the holiday was a busy one to say the least! We set off from Viktorsberg that morning with full intentions of only visiting Bregenz before heading to the airport where we came across Neuschwanstein Castle. Bregenz is only a 30 minute drive from Viktorsberg and is on the other side of Lake Constance, where we visited Konstanz. We thought there would be more activities here and the possibility to swim in the lake but it seemed to act as more of a port town so once we had a walk around we headed onwards for Neuschwanstein. This leg of the journey was about 1.5 hours across the Austrian/German border.

I have a full seperate post on Neuschwanstein Castle so I won’t get into too much detail here other than that it is a must visit if you are anywhere near Stuttgart or Munich! The castle itself is beautiful, but the whole surroundings are just breathtaking. It’s nestled in a forest style area so the foliage and general atmosphere is very fairy-tale-esque as you wander around. If you like swimming and visit during the warmer months you can do what we did and stop off at Lake Alpsee for an hour or so. The lake is located just to the side of all the car parks and amenities for the castle and it’s just stunning. You get completely unobstructed views of the alps, the water is crystal clear and it’s the perfect way to wash off all the sweat you’ll work up walking up to the castle!

The drive from the castle back to Stuttgart airport is roughly two hours and is fairly straight forward, but if you don’t have a car I’m sure it’s also well serviced by coaches for these areas. 

That was our itinerary in a nutshell, without going into too much detail of our goings on so that I didn’t bore you. It was hands down one of the best holidays I have ever had due to the perfect mix of activities and relaxation. We saw and did a lot, but still had the time to enjoy the sun at a seebad. The only issue with this holiday is that it is pretty expensive. For what we spent in five days (in not the most upmarket of hotels, or frequenting nice restaurants) we spent more than what you would in for two weeks in somewhere like South East Asia. So while I recommend definitely seeing this amazing part of the world, just make sure your pockets are ready for the hit.

Is it a trip that you could see yourself going on? Let me know what you think!

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