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Europe Trip Planner: Alpine Heights & "Old-World" Delights

Click here for our Europe trip planner -A lpine heights and
old world delights route map


Click here to find your dream holiday

Europe Trip Planner: Alpine Heights & "Old-World" Delights*

*Click on the blue country and city links below for more details and reviews of your destination

Follow the route of this Europe Trip Planner and discover incredible, breathtaking Alpine scenery and fascinating village life on your fascinating adventure through Austria, Italy & Switzerland.

Imaginative, incredibly varied and scenically staggering are just a few words that describe this extraordinary travel adventure. This was my first ever camper vacation as an adult. I had previously visited Europe many times, mostly to major cities, or touring by car and staying at hotels. This camper vacation really turned to be a fantastic, completely different vacation for the whole family - an eye-opener that really got me hooked on the lifestyle.

Just a little plug here: If you're flying in and maybe need a hotel for the night, I find I get the best deals when I book air + hotel together with Travelocity And if you intend on renting a motorhome, let CamperTrails help you find the best deal too. Click here for more information without leaving this site.

The Europe route planner trip, detailed below, encompasses 23 days. Obviously, you should take this trip at your own pace, so treat the time and route as a guideline, and just adapt it to your needs.

When planning this trip, we decided on Munich as our start/end point for the simple reason that camper rentals in Europe usually work out much cheaper from Germany than in other countries - something about car tax I expect. It also usually works out much cheaper to drop-off your camper at the same location where you picked it up too. Most European camper rentals are small companies who do not have the facilities to allow drop off in other locations, and even the larger companies charge quite a heavy surcharge for this.

Also, take into account that this is a very popular mode of travel and if you are planning a trip during the peak season, it is best to book at least 2-3 months in advance of your trip to ensure you get the vehicle type you want. If you're renting, Campertrails has arranged a serious discount with major Europen RV rental companies - and when you rent through us, you get a the reduction and our exclusive TravelPak as well. Click here for details.

I planned our route to include Salzburg, Austria, a delightful gingerbread type town that is also the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the magnificent Italian cities of Venice and Florence. The idea of Venice came up because our 12 year old daughter had heard about this romantic 'water park' in a city, and she thought it would be a great way to cool off in the Italian summer and have fun at the same time. After several unsuccessful attempts at trying to explain her mistake, we arrived in Venice and we all had a great time (even our 12 year old, who started the visit a little disappointed with her amusement park).

You may want to extend your time at these fantastic cities, especially if this is your first visit. The route takes you past (and through) the spectacular Alps, and includes including the Matterhorn, France's Mont Blanc as well as the Eiger and Jungfrau peaks.

Off the regular tourist track, you can take the time to discover the Krimml falls, Sirmione, the fishing villages of Cinque Terre, and plenty more.

This trip proved without a doubt that there is truly no better way to experience Europe than in a motorhome. This Europe trip planner will show you what we did and describe our experiences. Use it as is, or adapt it to your own needs.

Day 1 - Munich to Salzburg
Departure from Munich. Plan enough time to pick up and get operating instructions on your rental . I usually figure in 2-2.5 hours for this. Don't forget you'll also need time to stock up before departing. Fortunately we didn't have too long to drive to our first campground near Salzburg. There are many things to do in the area, but we concentrated on Salzburg itself.

Day 2-5 Salzburg Area
Apart from this being Mozart's home town, the year 2006 marks his 250th birthday and there are many Mozart concerts to choose from throughout the year. Apart from that and his home, other places of interest in Salzburg include: the "Getreidegasse", the "Salzburger Dom", the "Festspielhauser" and the "Hohensalzburg" fortress. Other day trips easily accessible from the camper park we stayed at are the spectacular Schmittenhohe hiking trails and visits to the many gorges and caves in the area.

Day 6 - Crossing the Austrian Alps
A day to savor spectacular Alpine sights. We start with a visit to the Krimml Falls, located at the north-western margin of the Hohe Tauern, near the Tyrolian border in the area of Krimml. The Hohe Tauern are part of the impressive and diverse range of the Eastern Alps, in which lies the highest mountain of Austria, the Grossglockner (3798 m.).

Many waterfalls are found in this area, among them the falls of the Krimml Ache. These falls rank eighth among the great waterfalls of the world and are the highest in Europe. Awesome site. We carried on our journey, climbing the steep Grossglockner pass, with magnificent views of icefields and 12,000 feet summits.

We reached the Italian border at mid afternoon, and soon after arrived at our campground at the base of the Dolomite Mountains.

Day 7 - The Dolomites
Leaving our camp after an early breakfast, we drove through the Italian Dolomites, a rugged limestone massif with towering rocky cliffs. The route took us past pristine clear-water lakes, grand panoramas and mountain villages. Make sure you visit the resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo.

We didn't dawdle here, but driving at a leisurely pace we reached our pre-booked camper park on the beach near Venice by the end of the day. This was a spectacularly great day!

Day 8-10 - Venice. Ah! Venice!
Got up bright and early again. Birds chirping all around. What a life. We grabbed the water bus (Vaporetto) to Venice's famed Piazza San Marco and spent the day wandering around taking in all the highlights of this remarkable city. It's like visiting a museum without the queue! (Except when you want to visit a real museum or monument). After a leisurely lunch at one of the city's excellent restaurants, we visited the Doge's palace. Later, we visited the Leggy Guggenheim Museum at the Palazzo Avenger de Alone, in the Dorsoduro section, just over the Accademia bridge.

Much of the same the next day, except we took a boat out to the island of Moreno where we were able to watch the glass artists at work and do some souvenir shopping at the same time. The girls especially loved that part. Dinner again at a great restaurant (Viennese cooking is something else!), and after a nice evening stroll we took the vaperetto back to the camper park.

Day 11 - Verona and Lake Garda
Leaving Venice behind, we headed westwards towards the town of Verona. The city center still bears its mediaeval charm and an hour after leaving Venice we were thoroughly enjoying our stroll through the historic town (We passed Julia's balcony. Couldn't find Romeo, though). Another must see is the Coliseum, one of the largest Roman amphitheaters in the world, and the market is also well worth a visit. On the road again, we stopped at a local vineyard, for a taste of Valpolicella wine.

The Valpolicella wine region, located directly north of Verona, is a place of many contrasts. The region doesn't have a signposted wine road like the neighboring Bardolino wine region or other tourist-friendly Italian wine regions like Chianti Classico in Tuscany. Despite the lack of signs, however, Valpolicella has many wineries that are regularly open for tasting and buying wine, and have some of the friendliest, most welcoming people in all of Italy.

Valpolicella wine can be watered down and bland, or a complete delight. We made a slight detour to the town of Gargagnago di Valpolicella where we sampled some excellent wine at the Serego Alighieri estate. One thing led to another, as it generally does, so after tasting some great wine, I got myself a couple of bottles (no trouble where to store it when you're traveling by camper) to be enjoyed later on, and we journeyed on to our next camper park, near Sirmione on Lake Garda. This is a very chic town and is blessed with some of most interesting Roman ruins in Northern Italy.

Day 12 - Lake Garda to Tuscany
After a morning spent exploring the town and surrounding areas, we broke camp and drove across the Po river plains and along the "Autostrada del Sole" through beautiful wooded hills into Tuscany. Day 13's camper park was located in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, not far from Florence.

Day 13 -15 - Florence
So much has been said about Florence, I don't think I can add much. Be sure to take in Michelangelo's David at the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence (the whole museum is a must of course - take your time) and his fantastic staircase at the Biblioteca Laurenziana.

Other great sites include the city's many art and architectural treasures, including the Duomo and Baptistry Doors, San Lorenzo market, Ponte Vecchio and the Santa Croce church David. The covered market is one of the most colorful and vibrant sights in a completely overwhelming city. We picked up some bread and vegetables, the best pruscutto I have ever tasted, a bottle of really delicious olive oil and other odds and ends, and happily headed home for a delightful picnic supper.

I strongly suggest you allow at least two days for Florence - preferably more. Four will do nicely, if you have the time. It's OK to leave your camper at the camper park and come into the city by coach. I personally could spend months here. Definitely a tour highlight!

Day 16 - Florence to Siena

We start the day with a pleasant drive through the rolling hills and vineyards of the Chianti region, stopping at a vineyard or two ;-) for some wine tasting.

Reaching Siena In the early afternoon, we tour what many believe to be the best preserved Renaissance town in Italy. The walled city has retained all of its charm and is a delight to explore. Apart from the city, we find that the many restaurants are well worth exploring too. Pleasantly stuffed, we drive on to our next camper park right near by.

Day 17 - Siena to Lucca
Tuscany has to be one of the most beautiful areas on earth. No wonder it is the birthplace of so much beautiful art and architecture. It is completely inspiring. My wife loves to sketch, and she really got her charcoal out in this area. Day 17 was another day of spectacular Tuscan views as we leisurely drive from Siena the hilltop town of San Gimignano, famous for its medieval towers and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Center.

After spending several hours in the town, we moved on across the Arno plain to Lucca, another beautiful Renaissance town. We spent a relaxed evening walking along the town's ramparts and among the Gothic and Renaissance palaces. After sampling some of the regions gastronomic delights (mmm) we headed to our overnight camper park near Lucca.

Day 18 - Cinque Terre
Bright and early, and we're on our way to Cinque Terre. The five small villages built in the rocky terrain between the terraced vineyards and the beach are the perfect location to escape the throngs of tourists, as access by road is limited. We left our camper at the beach resort of Levanto, and took the local train for the short ride to the fishing villages of the Cinque Terre. We spent the day wandering around the isolated villages and climbing the surrounding hills, thoroughly enjoying the 'relative' peace and quite after the tourist-full towns we had visited in Tuscany. Cinque Terre is one of the best preserved natural areas in the Mediterranean. Truly unique, the entire area has been designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. The Italian Government has designated it a National Park to protect the characteristic landscape. After another landmark day (this trip seems to be full of them), we returned to our camper park near Lucca for the night.

Day 19 - Italian Riviera to Piedmont
Leaving the Italian Riviera, we headed northward in the direction of Piedmont. This entire region is a food lovers paradise. A Mecca for gourmands from all corners of the globe, people travel vast distances to sample the great wines, cheeses and all the other classy food. Autumn is the truffle season, so you can just imagine what goes on here.

Piedmont is the ancient domain of the Savoy family, ill fated rulers of Italy from the Unification of 1870 until the abdication of King Umberto II in 1946. The abdication effectively ended the 999-year reign of the Savoyards. (I'm a bit of a history freak, so just skip those parts where you feel I get a bit long winded).

Pondering the ill-fated Savoys during our (extremely) enjoyable drive through the rolling Piedmont hills (the male descendants of the family were constitutionally banned entry to their homeland until 2002, mainly because of King Victor Emmanuel III's [Umberto's dad] infatuation with fascism and Mussolini) built up an appetite for all of us. Allthat brainwork, you know. Not wanting to stop, we made up some sandwiches in the back of the camper and had a picnic on-the-go.

The winding roads of Piedmont finally led us to our next camper park, near Alba. (Take my warm suggestion - camp here for a few days and get to know the area. Well worth the time).

Day 20 - Piedmont to Lake Geneva
Well, our circuitous route is almost at an end :-(.

Continuing north through the Aosta valley, the smallest of Italy's 20 regions, surrounded by Europe's four highest mountain peaks (Mont Blanc-Monte Bianco, Matterhorn-Cervino, Monte Rosa and the St Bernard Pass, at 8100 feet one of the highest Alpine frontier passes. First mentioned in 69 A.D., the pass has been protected for centuries by the monks living in the Hospice at the peak. Even though the views aren't outstanding and the souvenir stalls an eyesore, you feel drawn by the sense of history - well I do, anyway.

For centuries, this was the only pass between northern and southern Europe for hundreds of miles on either flank, and countless travelers have arrived to the same view of the little summit lake backed by the same mountain panorama.

After a very interesting visit to the museum which documents the history of the pass and an exploration of the surrounding area where you can see the statue of St Bernard and the remains of the Roman road cut into the bedrock we continued our journey through the pass and into Switzerland. Our destination is our camper park for the night - near the town of Montreux, near Lake Geneva.

Day 21 - LakeGeneva to Interlaken
Starting off bright and early as usual, we start our next to last day with a visit to the town of Gruyeres, a charming little hill village world famous for its cheese. After a visit to a cheese factory we drove onwards in the direction of Interlaken, a lovely town set in beautiful scenery in the middle of the Bernese Oberland. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the views of cascading waterfalls and of the mighty Eiger and Jungfrau peaks, and spent the night in a camper park near Interlaken.

Day 22 - Interlaken to Lindau
OK, this is it. We're basically at the end of our trip. We are on our way to Lindau, our final stop before returning our camper. Our route takes us on a scenic drive across central Switzerland, affording us magnificent vies of Lake Lucerne, Lake Walen, towering Alpine peaks and meadows and pastoral villages.
Lindau is located on the shores of Lake Constance, on the German side of a three-nation triangle created by Germany, Austria and Switzerland. There is a lot to do in the vicinity, but we settled on a foot tour of Lindau town, situated on an island in Lake Constance. In the evening we had a great farewell BBQ cookout, enjoying it with some new friends we made at the camper park. All that was left after that was to prepare our camper for drop off the next day in Munich.

Day 23- Lindau to Munich
(Not too) bright and early we mount up and head off to Munich, to rseturn our camper at the rental depot. That's it - the end of a fantastic vacation, but definately leaving us with a taste for more. And more there were.Click here to check out other great trip planners.

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