Question: Can you see four countries in Central Europe in four days? Why yes, yes you can. I recently came back from my Central Europe road trip that covered Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
My travel buddy and I hit three major cities and three smaller towns/cities, as well as ate delicious food and saw many amazing sights. Going in winter also gave me an appreciation of how busy these places are on an off-peak day.
It may have been a tight schedule, but neither of us felt rushed or felt that we missed out on anything big. It was a whirlwind tour, but damn, I was in awe of the most beautiful views everywhere we turned.
Four countries in four days was a significant accomplishment, here are some of the highlights of Central Europe.
Neuschwanstein Castle – a must for Central Europe
My first impression was the crowd; my second was the Disney-fantasy-like beauty of the castle.
The trick for this place is to RESERVE AHEAD. You have to book at least two days ahead, but when we arrived in Hohenschwangau, many people were out of luck for the inside tour. And you’re going to want to take the tour. Photography is not permitted inside the castle. (As a photographer, it was disheartening, as a traveller, it was exciting to experience a place without any expectations.)
Inside, you can imagine the 19th century as it was being constructed and how this project was a showcase to the love of fairytales and theatre.
Hallstatt, Austria – lakeside gem
Nestled on the shore of a mountain lake, Hallstatt is nothing but picture-perfect. The town, founded in 800BC (!!), is a UNESCO heritage site and is almost completely vehicle-free, which mean pedestrians can wander without fear of being run over.
Hallstatt is a town you’re going to want to get lost in. Around every corner is a discovery. From my perspective, this town is what I pictured Central Europe to be.
Throw this on your bucket list.
New Years in Munich – an adventure
New Year’s Eve in Munich is an adventure in and of itself. Avoiding certain death and the excitement means the whole night from 6pm on is an adrenaline rush.
In Munich, the fireworks are not a display; they’re an obstacle course. Every person, from tiny children to seniors had a pack of fireworks ready to be set off at the stroke of midnight. Most people can’t wait, however, so for most of the evening, fireworks are going off left right and centre.
Nowhere is safe, I joked. After a brief scare of having a firework blow up right in front of us, my travel buddy and I decided that the further away from Marienplatz, the better.
Once the clock struck 12, it seemed like every human being in the city was setting off their pyrotechnics. It was an event that I will never forget.
Salzburg’s historic streets – Winter Wonderland
If there’s one city that I could return, it would be Salzburg. The lights, the buildings and the laidback feeling of the city instantly captured my heart.
Salzburg was also still is Christmas celebration mode with the market and decorations still set up. It made the whole experience just perfect.
Zurich’s efficient transit – sightseeing’s companion
Being pushed for time, we had to stay on track with the places we wanted to see. I opted for a hotel outside the city centre in Zurich. This turned out to be a great plan as the transit system, both rail and tram were marvellous. It was so efficient and on time, which made sight-seeing that much better.
Zurich was a surprise, a mix of old and modern.
Regal Liechtenstein – the littlest country
Liechtenstein was the smallest of the four countries I visited in Central Europe, but it didn’t lack personality.
This little county is proud of its history and monarchy – “the last monarchy of the Alps.” Crossing a river means crossing over into Switzerland so that you can stand on the border! A must for this country!
When we visited, it was very foggy, and because of the holidays Vaduz, the capital seemed deserted. It gave it kind of an eerie feel.
If you could pick one of the above destinations, where would you go?