European Road Trip: Germany, Czech Republic & Austria

European Road Trip: Germany, Czech Republic & Austria

In December 2016 we went on an incredible 17 day road trip through Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. Here is a run down on our itinerary, how to organise your car and what to expect while driving through each country.

This road trip covers some of the highlights from each area. Starting off in one of our favourite cities, Munich, this 17 day trip will take you through some of Germany’s most iconic cities, alongside the Austrian Alps and to the bohemian capital of Prague.

This tour will give you a great taste of each country without being in a massive rush. Enjoy!

Recommended Itinerary

Day One: Munich to Prague via Regensburg

Driving Time: 6 hours inc. stops

After a few days exploring Munich and its famous beer halls, it’s time to hit the road!

Pick your car up first thing in the morning. Make sure to allow some time to pick the car up and get used to your vehicle. Use the GPS in the car (or on your phone) to direct you to the centre of Regensburg. Make your way out of Munich and on to your first autobahn!

Regensburg is almost exactly half way between Munich and Prague. When we found our way to Regensburg’s old town and came across the incredible Regensburg Cathedral we were completely blown way – it’s massive! Grab yourself a park in the centre of town. There are plenty of paid car parks and they are quite cheap. Spend a hour or two exploring the cathedral and the old town before grabbing lunch.

Once you’ve finished exploring, jump back in your car and make your way to Prague.

TRAVELATOR TIP: We have explained the vignette system below. Be sure to grab your vignette sticker before entering the Czech Republic. There are a number of service stations selling them just before the border.

Day Five: Prague to Berlin via Kutna Hora (Bone Cathderal)

Driving Time: 6 hours inc. stops

Prague is one of our favourite cities in Europe and leaving is never easy. Alas, it’s time to jump in your car and make your way to Berlin, another of Europe’s showpiece cities. First up, take a detour to Kutna Hora and it’s infamous Bone Cathedral. This fascinating side trip will add around 90 minutes to your drive from Prague to Berlin.

The drive today is fairly stress free. You will have noticed by now that there are A LOT of roadside rest stops where you can pull in for lunch. These stops offer everything from McDonald’s to freshly made sandwiches.

Sedlec Ossuary a.k.a The Bone Church in Kutna Hora

Day Nine: Berlin to Dresden

Driving Time: 2 hours

This is the easiest drive of the trip! The short drive from Berlin to Dresden will only take 2 hours, giving you some time to see more of Berlin before heading off to the beautiful city of Dresden. Dresden was famously flattened by Allied bombing in WWII, but it’s historic centre has been reconstructed beautifully.

The Dresden Cathedral

Day Eleven: Dresden to Fussen

Driving Time: 6 hours inc. stops

This will be the longest day in the car with no detours planned. The long drive from Dresden to Fussen will see you almost cover the length of Germany. We would recommend getting up and hitting the road early and grabbing lunch on the way.

Day Twelve: Fussen to Innsbruck via Neuschweinstein Castle

Driving Time: 4 hours inc. stops

Get up nice and early to visit the iconic Neuschweinstein Castle, or the Disney Castle as it is commonly referred to. We spent close to three hours at the castle, but you can save some time by pre-booking your tickets online. You can buy tickets on the day at the ticket office, but in peak times it may sell out – you have been warned!

Once you’ve finished at the castle, make your way to Innsbruck. The drive takes you through the Alps with some stunning scenery along the way!

TRAVELATOR TIP: Grab your Austrian vignette sticker from Fussen as there are no places to buy the sticker between Fussen and the border.

The view from Mairenbrucke of Neuschwanstein Castle

Day Fifteen: Innsbruck to Salzburg

Driving Time: 2.5 hours

After seeing the sights in and around Innsbruck it’s time to head to Salburg, the home of The Sound Of Music and Mozart. This drive will take you back through Germany on your way to Austria but don’t worry – your vignette sticker for Austria will still be valid from your earlier border crossing.

Hohensalzburg Castle sitting above Salzburg

Day Seventeen: Salzburg to Munich

Driving Time: 2 hours

The final day of your trip will take you on the short drive from Salzburg to Munich. The traffic in Munich can be awful at peak hours so plan your arrival to avoid it.

Hiring Your Car

We did a stupid amount of research for this car. We looked for the best value, most reliable and the easiest company to use. We finally settled on booking through Sixt. The main factors for us was their range and price. In the end it was their service which was the stand out.  They were incredibly helpful and prompt before and after our booking.

There are a few must do’s when hiring a car – to see them all check out our Backpackers’ Guide to Car Hire.

What car did we use?

We were lucky enough to be joined by some family members for this road trip. This meant two things: we would need a bigger car and we had a bit more money to play with.

For this trip we splurged a little and got an Audi A6 wagon. It had more than enough room for the 4 of us along with our luggage. We could also fully enjoy the autobahns!

Did we use GPS?

Our fancy Audi came with in-built satellite navigation which we used for pretty much everything.

In saying that, the roads are incredibly well signed and English is used throughout. If your car doesn’t have a GPS, your phone GPS should suffice.

What To Expect

Road conditions

The roads throughout this entire trip are in excellent condition. While the speed limits may vary from country to country everything is very well signed and leaves no confusion. Driving overseas doesn’t get much easier than this.

Road rules

Driving in Europe is a dream, the drivers are careful, aware and considerate. Mind you, if you are holding people up or taking too long to do something they will let you know about it!

Overtaking – you’ll get the hang of this very quickly. The general rule is if you’re overtaking, do it in the left lane. If not, sit in the right lane and let people pass.

Speed limits – unlike our adventure through Armenia & Georgia, throughout Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic speed limits are clearly signed and easy to follow. You will not go far before seeing a sign indicating the speed and and changes are well signed.

Parking – this is the number one concern for a lot of people thinking of driving around Europe. Throughout our entire time with the car we did not have a single problem with parking. Throughout the cities, paid parking lots are well priced and easy to use. On-street parking signs are everywhere and easy to read which is a huge help. Try to book accommodation that includes a car park.

Tolls – we encountered no toll gates or similar systems during our drive. However, you will need to purchase vignette stickers (see below).

Crossing borders – Vignettes

Never heard this word before? Neither had we.

Vignettes are a small sticker that you place on the inside of your front window when crossing borders. Think of them as paying a border crossing toll. For example, if you hire a car in Germany, you will need to buy a vignette sticker in Germany before crossing into Austria. Each country will have their own vignette sticker and they can be purchased from service stations within 20km of the border. Of course, you need to buy the sticker before you cross the border! Stickers are usually valid for 10 days, and cost around 12 euro.

What do you think about road tripping through the Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic? Tell us in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “European Road Trip: Germany, Czech Republic & Austria

  1. I see you have a very nice time in Europe, like your route. Just a small correction Vignettes are not for “paying a border crossing toll” but with them your are paying for highways – your driving on highways. If you wouldn’t drive on highway you wouldn’t need them. 😉

  2. Sounds like a beautiful trip. I’ve never been to Europe but would love to travel there after my time in Asia. We’re thinking of spending a month there going from place to place the summer after next. Of especial interest is Prague. My cousins lived there for a short time and have only told us great things about it’s beautiful architecture.

    In your opinion, is a car necessary? I’m becoming spoiled by Asia’s incredible transportation system, but I was wondering if it was necessary to grab a car if there were other methods (trains, subways, planes..) that could be used to circumvent having to rent one. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    1. Hi Jared, thanks so much for your comment. Prague is one of our favourite cities of all time – we have been there 3 times now! You could visit each of these destinations using public transport quite easily. Trains and buses are available between most cities. We loved having a car because it gave us some extra freedom and was more cost effective because there were 4 of us, but public transport is a great option too.

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