Hello! Welcome again to our great motorhome adventure in Europe. It was a total of 90 days behind the wheel. 9000 kilometers traveled and an infinity of towns, cities, natural parks, and the long etcetera that Europe has to offer. That’s why we decided to divide this trip into several chapters in order to tell you about our experience. You have already read about our stage in Spain and our stage in France. Now it is the turn of three wonderful countries that gave us dreamlike landscapes, postcard towns, and a contact with our most recent and oldest history.
Climb aboard our house with wheels that we are about to cover Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in a motorhome! Buckle up and let´s go!
- 1 Germany in a Motorhome – Part 1
- 2 Switzerland in a motorhome
- 3 Germany in a motorhome – Part 2
Germany in a Motorhome – Part 1
Stage 1: Colmar to Breisach – 24 kilometers
The River Rhine acts as a natural border between France and Germany, so just by crossing the bridge we are in the first German city: Breisach, founded in the eleventh century during the Holy Roman Empire, on a hill overlooking the Rhine Valley. This city, like the region of French Alsace, passed from hand to hand between the French and Germans on several ocassions. During the Second World War, it suffered enormous destruction (80% of the city was destroyed by Allied bombings).
Today after a meticulous reconstruction you can appreciate this city at the top of the hill with its XIII Century cathedral of Romanesque style and a Gothic altar, the St Stephansmünster Cathedral, and enjoy a beautiful sunset on the banks of the river watching the coast of France barely meters away.
We left our motorhome in the service area by the river bank. It costs 6 euros for 24 hours with all the services included:
Stage 2: Breisach to Freiburg – 30 kilometers
It was November 27, 1944, and at 7.58 PM the first explosion sounded. Then another, and another, and the noise began to be deafening. The heat began to take over the city, and its historic buildings started to melt. People were running in all directions but bombs invaded the sky and almost nothing could be seen. A total of 14,525 bombs fell on the city of Freiburg in a period of just 20 minutes.
Standing there in the main square, looking towards that beautiful Gothic cathedral of the twelfth century, one of the few survivors of that fateful day, it is hard to imagine a place that loos now so happy, colorful, full of people going from one place to another, being destroyed, falling victim of the injustice of war. When we think that 30% of the city of Freiburg was almost in ruins, that 2800 people lost their lives, that dozens of historic buildings succumbed to the power of fire and explosions, it forces us to stay for a while in silence, observing, trying to accept the past.
Trying to think for a while about something else, we started to walk this beautiful German city that welcomed us to the wonderful region of the Black Forest, its dense woods, its villages, and its mysticism.
We left the motorhome in the service area of the city of Freiburg:
Stage 3: Freiburg to Titisee-Neustadt – 35 kilometers
We arrived at Lake Titisee after the recommendation of the person in charge of the Colmar service area. She spoke of a small lake surrounded by the deep dark woods of the Black Forest and a spa town. The visit to this 1,3 km diameter glacier lake did not disappoint us. That’s why we decided to stay a couple of days to enjoy the different activities proposed by the area: hiking around the forest, sailing by boat, and the tranquility of its hidden corners.
Around the lake, there are three different campsite options. We toured the three and chose the one we considered the best in terms of location: on the shores of the lake with a small private beach. The price varies between 16 and 24 euros with the motorhome and two people included. It was there that we enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunrises of our trip, with the fog covering the lake, and the sun slowly illuminating the trees.
Here are the directions for the campsite:
The city of Titisee-Neustadt was a bit touristy but pleasant to walk, with the main street on the edge of the lake with the typical souvenir stalls and restaurants. One of the most interesting options in the area is to climb up to the Hochfirst Tower to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the lake. During the ascent, it rained and then the sun came out, so when we got up a beautiful surprise awaited us:
Switzerland in a motorhome
Stage 4: Titisee-Neustadt to Zurich – 112 kilometers
We went from Lake Titisee to the Swiss lake of Zurich, just as beautiful, surrounded by mountains, but with a somewhat larger city on its banks. The 400 thousand inhabitants transform Zurich into the main city of the country, financial engine and cultural center. It was also awarded as the city with the best quality of life from 2001 to 2008 consecutively, and since then it has always been second only to Vienna.
So we were not surprised to find an orderly, clean, respectful, and friendly city. We rode it perfectly by bicycle.
Its historic center with its Middle Ages houses, its main church (the Grossmünster) dating from the ninth century, its lakeside promenade, and its blend of the elegant, the historical, and the almost perfect, transform Zurich into an unforgettable city on a tour around Switzerland. Mount Uetliberg is perhaps the most beautiful point of the city since from there you get the best views of Zurich, with the Limmat River flowing into the lake. At dusk th, city acquires its prettiest appearance.
The best place to leave the motorhome is in a parking lot on the outskirts of the city, just 20 minutes on foot, or less than 10 by bike along an exclusive lane. It is very cheap. It only accepts Swiss francs. On the map:
Stage 5: Zurich to Lucerne – 52 kilometers
As much as we have seen it dozens of times in photos as the tourist symbol of Lucerne, the Kapellbrücke never ceases to amaze us when we see it in situ. It is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe, standing there since the 14th century and partially rebuilt after a fire, in 1993, severely damaged part of its structure. In addition, its 200 meters make it the longest on the continent. Along the bridge, dozens of paintings tell the history of the city. In total there were 111 paintings but the fire of 1993 destroyed 78. During a period of time, the bridge did not have any of the paintings on display but then they were restored as a symbol of life over death, of success over defeat, of evolution over destruction.
The bridge crosses the Reuss River and connects the new city with the old city. In the middle, the Wasstertum (“water tower”) witnesses the evolution of the city since the 14th century. It is believed that it was there even before the bridge was built. Watchtower, city archive and treasure chamber, among others, today the tower is the symbol of one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland.
Lucerne rises on the shores of the Lake of the Four Cantons and near the Pilatus and Rigi mountains of the Swiss Alps, so its natural environment is typical of the great Swiss cities. It is a very easy and pleasant city to explore on foot. Another of the great symbols is its monument to the Lion, a wonderful work of art carved into a rock wall as a commemorative symbol for the death of 700 mercenaries of the Swiss Guard during the French Revolution when defending the Tuileries Palace during the revolutionary assault. It was created by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen between the years 1819 and 1821.
To travel around the city, the best option would be to leave the motorhome in the port parking lot. Keep in mind that you can not stay overnight and the motorhomes must leave the site at 6:00 p.m. But its proximity to the city (10 minutes on foot) transforms it into an ideal place:
To sleep we let ourselves be guided by a Swiss family we met there and who were living in their motorhome with their little daughter, traveling the world, and we followed them to a wonderful enclave less than half an hour away, next to a lake, surrounded by mountains, and in the midst of a wonderful tranquility and solitude:
Stage 6: Lucerne to Interlaken – 68 kilometers
Es aquí en donde comenzamos a entrar en la parte más interesante de nuestro recorrido por Suiza: caminos de montañas, bajadas y subidas, vistas imposibles desde lo más alto. Nos estamos acercando a los Alpes, e Interlaken es uno de los centros más conocidos de la región. Como dice su nombre, es una ciudad ubicada entre dos lagos: el Thun y el Brienz, bastante alejados el uno del otro. Más allá de su fama, nos pareció un lugar demasiado turístico y no tan atractivo. Desde ya que el entorno natural es maravilloso, con las montañas alrededor, y a orilla de los lagos. Pero la ciudad, con su calle principal atestada de turistas y de tiendas de souvenirs y restaurantes caros en exceso, nos resultaron un tanto de “plástico”.
It is here where we begin to enter the most interesting part of our journey through Switzerland: mountain roads, descents, and ascents, impossible views from the top. We are approaching the Alps, and Interlaken is one of the most well-known centers in the region. As its name says, it is a city located between two lakes: the Thun and the Brienz, quite far from each other. Beyond its fame, we found it to be too touristy and not so attractive. Of course, the natural environment is wonderful, with the mountains around, and lakeside. But the city, with its main street, crowded with tourists and souvenir shops and expensive restaurants, we thought it was kind of “plastic.”
To sleep we decided on a very beautiful campsite (and quite expensive as everything in Switzerland): the Oberei Wilderswill, approximately 20 minutes by bicycle from the center of Interlaken and surrounded by mountains. The road to the lake is wonderful to do it on 2 wheels.
Here on the map:
Stage 7: Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen – 13 kilometers
Unlike Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, which is also a very touristy place in Switzerland, does not lose its wild and natural charm. It is a wonderful valley surrounded by large cliffs from which 72 waterfalls of different sizes fall (hence the name Lauter brunnen: “only fountains”).
It is a place to spend a whole day walking among alpine valleys, mountains of snowy peaks, and wooden houses. It is one of the largest natural reserves in Switzerland and where you can visit the famous 300-meter-high Staubbach waterfall and the Trummelbach, the largest underground waterfalls in Europe, a series of ten hidden waterfalls in the interior of a mountain. The waterfalls, with ten jumps, start at a height of 139.9 meters and project about 20,000 liters of water every second (the entrance to this last waterfall is paid, and as I said before in Switzerland, somewhat expensive, although it’s worth it: 11 euros per person).
To visit the valley you can leave the motorhome at the park entrance, near the waterfall Trummelbach, although it is not possible to stay overnight. On the map this is the parking:
Stage 8: Lauterbrunnen to Nüziders – 291 kilometers
It was not a place that was within our plans. In fact, we had never heard of this city. But Nüziders quickly became one of our favorite places on the trip. Surrounded by mountains of snowy peaks, with a beautiful walk in a forest that goes up slowly to provide unforgettable views of the valley, our brief stop in Austria left us wanting more.
It is not a place of great history, nor with a rich heritage of great interest, and with less than 5000 inhabitants, but Nüziders is one of those small places that give you a pleasant surprise and that you are happy to have included it in your adventure. The sunset from one of the hills, with a dry tree as a main character, was simply unforgettable.
The campsite where we stayed was undoubtedly the best campsite in Europe: the Panorama Sonnenberg, a 5-star campsite quite economically accessible, and with a quality worthy of a luxury hotel. We spoke about this campsite in our article “The Dream: Europe by motorhome”.
On the map:
Germany in a motorhome – Part 2
Stage 9: Nüziders to Lindau – 66 kilometers
After a brief passage through Austria, we arrived at what would become our favorite city of this first German visit (we would re-enter the country on our return from Poland). Lindau consists of a modern part and an exquisite medieval part on an island that is linked to the mainland by a bridge that crosses the waters of Lake Bodensee. The lighthouse, the Town Hall, the Cavazzen house, and the Saint Peter´s Church, are some of the points of interest of this small island that is greatly enjoyed in a bike ride.
To spend the night we chose the outdoor parking lot of Camping Lindau. For 14 euros you can use the camp facilities and access the private beach. Here on the map:
Stage 10: Lindau to Füssen – 100 kilometers
Füssen is located a few kilometers away from the Austrian border and has a very picturesque historic center. But undoubtedly what attracts the most about this Germanic town are the two wonderful castles found in Schwangau, a nearby town: that of Hohenschwangau, neo-gothic style and built in 1833, and the wonderful castle of Neuschwanstein, ordered by Ludwig II of Bavaria in the year 1866, time in which the castles no longer fulfilled a strategic or defensive function. That is why the king ordered it to be built as a pure romantic fantasy of an idealized medieval castle.
It is perhaps Germany’s most photographed castle and Walt Disney’s inspiration for the creation of the Sleeping Beauty Castle. Its interior can only be visited with a guide for security reasons. In addition to its wonderful architectural style, its location at the top of a gorge, with the backdrop of the Bavarian Alps and the Alpsee and Schwan lakes, give it a unique magical aura. Unfortunately, not everything you see in the photos is what you would like to see, as to enjoy the solitude of the place and enjoy from the bridge the unbeatable view of the castle, it is necessary to arrive very early in the morning to avoid feeling like if you were in a row at an amusement park game:
But beyond the tumult, the ascent to the castle that can be done either on foot, on horseback, or by bus (it is not possible to go in your own vehicle or bicycle), and the descent -which we did in a horse carriage-, are worth the trip. By winding mountain roads, surrounded by a deep forest, and there on top the castle slowly looming.
We left the motorhome near Füssen, in a complete service area only 1.5 kilometers away from the center, and then we went to the area of the castle by bicycle along a road that soon became on one of the most enjoyable bike rides of our trip. Here on the map the service area, which cost us 14 euros for 24 hours with all the services included (including wifi):
Stage 11: Füssen to Munich – 133 kilometers
Our last German stop before crossing the border into the Czech Republic was the beautiful and busy city of Munich, capital, the largest and most important city of the state of Bavaria and, after Berlin and Hamburg, the third city of Germany by the number of inhabitants, with almost one and a half million.
We leaft our motorhome in the parking lot of the Bayern Munich stadium (ideal place to leave it since it is super quiet and a few meters from the metro that leaves you in the heart of the city in 20 minutes.) But keep in mind not to go one day before a game as they close the parking lot and you can´t stay) that gave us this postcard at night:
The location on the map:
Munich is another of the German cities that suffered the most during the Second World War. 90% of the city was practically devastated, and 34% of the population either died or was transferred to other cities. Decades of meticulous work allow you to enjoy today one of the most beautiful cities in the region, with the Cathedral of Our Lady of Munich and its two towers of 99 meters high that can be seen from miles around thanks to an order that prohibits any construction that exceeds 100 meters.
Marienplatz, the geographical and social center of the city, is perhaps the most beautiful place in Munich, with the Neo-Gothic City Hall building (Neues Rathaus) as the main protagonist with its 100 meters in length and its 85 meters in height. Despite being a large city, its historic center is very easy to travel in one or two days.
Munich would be our last stop in Germany on our way to Poland. We would return later in our 90-day and 9000 kilometers motorhome adventure in Europe.
This third part of the trip left us with endless sensations. It invited us to feel the most wonderful nature in Switzerland, to discover a corner that was unthinkable in Austria, and to live history in every town and city in Germany. As for the economy, it was not the cheapest part of the trip, in fact for that reason we decided to accelerate our passage through Switzerland and Austria. But it was definitely worth it. Mountains and lakes, elegant cities and towns detained in time. Unforgettable sunrises and sunsets. And this was just the beginning.
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The fourth part is HERE!
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