Ever since my road trips through Iceland and South Africa I wanted to explore the countries closer to home the same way: by car. When planning for this trip I actually had no real clue as to which places exactly I wanted to visit. It would change every single day. And when I thought I finally had it all figured out I changed my mind, again.
That’s why I left Belgium on a sunny Friday afternoon with only half a plan in mind, a big suitcase in the trunk of my small car and my friend Caroline next to me. We were ready!
Especially for the second half of this trip (when Caroline would leave back to Belgium) I hadn’t really planned ahead. And I can honestly say that I am happy that I didn’t! I ended up exploring Austria instead of visiting Slovenia and visited the most INSANE places!
I am so stoked to share this itinerary with you and hope it will give you inspiration to go on an adventure of your own! For every day I added the exact hotel/airbnb that I stayed at during this trip.
MY 2 WEEK ROAD TRIP
Leave Belgium – Königswinter, Germany
Burg Eltz – Cochem – Rheinstein – Mespelbrunn, Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber – Schwangau, Germany
Lago Di Braies – Alpe di Suisi, Italy
Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Italy
Val di Funes – Karersee – Venice, Italy
Venice – Halstatt, Austria
Altaussee – Kaprun, Austria
Ginzling – Plansee, Austria
Return home, Belgium
KÖNIGSWINTER – Let’s start this road trip by ticking off as many castles in Germany as possible. As you may know already, a lot of fairytales originated here and it’s easy to understand why. Our first visit is the beautiful Schloss Drachenburg (closing time is 6PM).
Stay at Waldherberge Moselblick (€43/night) to make a head start on the second day!
BURG ELTZ – The most magical spot to start of the second day. The castle doors only open from 9AM and it’s rooms can only be visited with a guided tour. Take the scenic route down alongside the main road to have a spectacular view over the castle.
COCHEM – Grab breakfast at the main market square before hiking up towards Cochem Castle.
RHEINSTEIN CASTLE – Only a few hours driving from Cochem you’ll find this beautiful castle overlooking the river Rhine. Make sure to hike up behind the castle to get to the best viewpoint!
MESPELBRUNN CASTLE – On our way to Rothenburg ob der Tauber we stumbled upon this beautiful, privately owned castle. Closing time is 5PM so make sure to arrive on time!
Stay at Ferienhaus & Ferienzimmer Frickental (€38/night) for a cheaper option than any hotel in Rothenburg ob der Tauber (only 20 minutes driving).
ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER – For the best experience in this cute little town make sure to arrive before 9AM. It’s one of the most visited towns in Germany by day trippers so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
LIECHTENSTEIN CASTLE – Don’t miss out on this beautiful castle overlooking a valley. It’s not very famous with international tourists but it is a favourite amongst German day trippers. Enjoy a quick lunch at their restaurant.
SCHWANGAU – This is by far the best place to stay when visiting Neuschwanstein Castle! Make sure to go out for sunset and enjoy a nice local dinner at Hopfensee.
Stay at Guesthouse Elisabeth to have the most beautiful view over Neuschwanstein Castle.
NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE – Probably one of the most famous and also most visited castles in entire Germany. Neuschwanstein castle has to be on your list! Tours start at 9AM (only guided) so make sure you’re up on the hill at least 1 hour before that to enjoy the scenery without hundreds of selfie sticks poking out your eyes.
Continue your road trip South. The drive to the Dolomites will lead you through Austria so don’t forget to buy the vignette for the highway! You can get a 10-day vignette for €19.
Stay in San Vigilio in the Dolomites to be in the center of all the main sights. I stayed here for 3 nights to have as much time as possible in the mountains.
LAGO DI BRAIES – The best time to visit for photos is at sunrise. If you want to go for a boat ride make sure to be there before 9am so you don’t have to wait in line.
SEISER ALM – One of my favourite locations in the Italian Dolomites! The area can be reached by cable car or by car (only before 9AM or after 5PM). Note that between those hours there is no driving up or down possible.
TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO – One of the most beautiful hikes in the Dolomites and a fairly easy one as well. The total loop is around 10km and offers magnificent viewpoints. After this hike you might be a little tired, especially if you started it at sunrise like me. Take the rest of the day off and simply enjoy nature. And yes I highly recommend starting your hike that early cause once 9AM you’ll have to wait in line to enter the parking lot.
VAL DI FUNES – If you’ve ever seen a postcard from the Dolomites chances are around 99% that this location was pictured in it. It’s the perfect place to start the day and then later drive down to Venice!
KARERSEE – On our way to Venice we stopped by this beautiful emerald green lake.
VENICE – Park your car at Tronchetto and take Vaporetto 2 to get to the center of Venice.
Stay at the Canale Grande to wake up to the most beautiful views in Venice. We stayed in Venice for 2 nights!
VENICE – We stayed in Venice for 2 nights and if you’re not interested in visiting Murano or Burano it’s plenty of time to see everything and enjoy an Aperol or 2, maybe even 3.
Make sure to read my guide on all of the Most Instagrammable Places in Venice to not miss anything!
HALSTATT – By now it was time to drop off Caroline at the airport and continue my journey solo.My plans changed last minute since I was originally planning on visiting Slovenia. I decided I would drive North to Austria and visit a long time bucket list destination of mine: Halstatt! I arrived in the early evening and even though that it was still rather busy, most of the day trippers had already left.
Stay at Hotel Salzburgerhof (€101/night) to avoid the steep prices in Halstatt. Flachau is only 1.5 hour driving from Halstatt!
BERCHTESGADEN – The National Park of Berchtesgaden is only 2 hours driving from Halstatt so I decided to venture off in the morning to explore the Königsee and Obersee. After enjoying a quick lunch in the main town I drove towards Hintersee and hiked around the lake.
Stay at Kempinski hotel Berchtesgaden to enjoy a luxury experience in the heart of the mountains.
BERCHTESGADEN – Before breakfast I decided to drive up to the Panoramastrasse to enjoy the sunrise and afterwards visited Maria Gern. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the sunshine in the mountains.
Drive to Loser Alm in the evening and stay at JUFA Hotel Altaussee (€129/night) so you’re only 5 minutes away from the entrance to Loser Alm mountain pass.
LOSER ALM – I absolutely wanted to visit this place to watch the sunrise from one of the paraglide platforms! For the exact location make sure to check this blog post.
STAUSEE MOSERBODEN – The only reason I visited this location is because it was on the way to a spectacular hike near Mayrhofen. While the scenery is absolutely stunning, the hassle to get there wasn’t worth it to me.
If you can stay at a hotel in Ginzling so you don’t have to drive too long in the morning. I stayed in one of the neighbouring towns but really don’t want to promote this hotel.
SCHLEGEIS STAUSEE – Hike to one of the most spectacular hanging bridges Austria, and maybe even Europe has to offer! Follow directions to Oplerhütte and after a 2 hour hike you’ll reach this unique place.
HIGHLINE 179 – It’s time to head back North to Belgium. On the way back you’ll come across this insane hanging bridge. I am not the biggest fan of heights, especially when walking I can see the ground through the floor so I turned around when I was halfway the bridge.
PLANSEE – Only 20 minutes driving from Highline 179 you’ll find this beautiful lake! If you’re just passing by to take photos, you can easily park you car on the side of the road and enjoy the magnificent view. This is definitely a must see during sunset!
I stayed at Romantik Alpenhotel Waxenstein (€127/night) for 2 nights cause I simply loved it that much! Make sure to ask for one of the rooms on the 3rd floor with a view over the mountain! It’s the perfect place to sit back and relax with a glass of red wine.
EIBSEE – By now I had made it back to Germany and I was very keen on visiting the beautiful lake Eibsee. Do know that during the weekend and on a sunny day this place will become very crowded from 10am. I chose to explore during sunrise to have the most epic reflections in the water from the mountains.
GARMISCH – PARTENKIRCHEN – It’s the perfect place to visit on the last evening of this road trip. Hike to the Wagenbrüchsee and go up the hill to have a spectacular view.
MITTERSEE – I decided to quickly drive back into Austria to visit this rather unknown lake. If you want to visit it you’ll have to park your car at Weibensee and walk around 20 minutes from here. For the best view you have to walk around Mittersee and then you’ll be able to see this reflection in the water.
Today it’s time to drive back home! This road trip was one of the most fun but also most tiring experiences. SO if you’re keen on visiting the same places but you want a little more down time add 4 extra days. This should be more than enough to have adequate time to relax :).
I hope this itinerary will serve as an inspiration or guideline for you when planning your trip! I had the best time driving through these countries and I am sure you will as well!
If you have any questions drop them below!
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