This Itinerary takes you through some very scenic territory, leads you to a number of Europe's best cities, and includes some smaller towns that I've found very interesting in my travels.
First we'll take a look at the itinerary map and see that the distances are short, eliminating those long, lost transit days.
Like all suggested itineraries, this one isn't cast in stone; you can modify it to fit your needs and desires. In fact, one such diversion is marked on the map--you can add Salzburg, Austria if you crave another big city on your journey.
Here's another suggestion. if you head east out of Vienna instead of north to Brno, and then make a right turn as you get to the Czech Republic (Czechia), you can visit the tourist favorite called Český Krumlov, which is one of the prettiest villages around, with a 13th century castle and a belltower that gives you an overhead view of the old town and river.
What better place to start our tour but one of the foundations of the European Grand Tour, Venice. Besides trade, Venice also shares some history with Austria. Napoleon, campaigning against Austria in Italy in 1797, got rid of the last doge. As a result, the treaty of Campo Formio cedes Venice and the Veneto to Austria. Venice remained under Austrian rule until Austria was defeated in the Seven Weeks' War in 1866.
Villach is a small village where Wolfgang Puck started his cooking career. It's pleasant enough for a one night stay, and the food is certainly first rate, but an overnight stay should be considered optional, unless you're adverse to long days on the train as I am. The train from Venice stops here, where you can either transfer to a connecting train to Salzburg, or wait for the Vienna train.
Salzburg is Austria's fourth largest city, the birthplace of Mozart, and home to the famous Salzburg Festival. Hike up to the Salzburg Fortress while whistling something from The Sound of Music.
The old town of Salzburg was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The Salzburg Fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, built in the 11th century, is a must, if only for the spectacular view of the city and the alpine peaks surrounding it. You can walk from the old town or take the funicular. There's lots to see inside the fortress, including torture chambers and a couple of museums.
What's the weather like in Salzburg? Find out with Salzburg Weather and Climate.
Vienna sits at the crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe, Have dinner along the lively Spittleberg Street, hang out in a few of the city's famous coffee shops, catch a movie and a quick bite in front of the Rathaus (city hall) in the summer, or catch a musical performance. Spend some time in one of the 1440 rooms that make up the Schloss Schönbrunn Palace, the summer palace of the Habsburgs (Only 40 are open to the public). You can even visit the Mozart-Wohnhaus at Makartplatz 8 where the compooser lived from 1773 to 1787.
Brno is an interesting city, the Czech Republic's second largest and birthplace of Gregor Mendel and Milan Kundera. I especially enjoyed the trudge up to Špilberk Castle and the museum inside, especially the documentation on torture (really--I'm not the type that pulls the wings off flies with immeasurable glee--it's interesting to see how far we've come!--[or not]). If you like the torture deal, you might also want to visit the Catacombs at the Capuchin Monastery.
Prague is everyone's favorite destination in Eastern Europe, and why not? It's a treasure trove of fabulous architecture. See it all from the water by taking a boat ride on the Vlatva River--or hang out in a jazz club or on the famous Charles Bridge, or diddle around at the Sex Machines Museum.
If you don't have time, you can skip this end of the trip, but you'd be missing some fabulous scenery on the train ride from Prague to Nuremberg. And Nuremberg is a very interesting little city in itself.
Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria. It has a very famous Christkindlesmarkt on the Hauptmarkt. Nuremberg is reputed to have the best sausage and beer in Germany.
It was the center of was the center of the German Renaissance, melding the Italian Renaissance with the German Gothic traditions..
On January 2, 1945, 525 British bombers destroyed over 90% of the old section of Nuremberg, it being the center of Third Reich ideology. But that's behind us now, the city has been rebuilt and is quite beautiful.
From Nuremberg, you could easily take the train down to Munich, or even to Neuschwanstein. See this Rail Map of Germany for more. This could make the itinerary a pretty easy loop, ending up back at Venice. From Venice, you can easily get to Ferrara, or even Bologna.
Happy travels. I hope you've enjoyed this suggested itinerary.
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