Day One – Zürich, Chäserrugg, Liechtenstein, Füssen
A couple springs ago, when international travel was still a thing, I took what is still one of my favorite all time trips. Two friends and I rented a car and took a whirlwind road trip around Europe, visiting 6 countries in 8 days, starting and finishing in Zürich, Switzerland.
Arriving in Europe
For the trip over the Atlantic we had taken advantage of a $327 American Airlines fare, and flew from Tampa to Washington to New York, and on to Zürich. Incredibly, our return flight the following week was delayed overnight, and due to the EC 261 regulations we received a $700 flight voucher. Double the original cost!
We arrived in Zürich early on Sunday morning and our plan turned out to be a fairly aggressive one, mainly since we had just taken 3 flights and had very little sleep – to drive through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, part of Austria, and eventually end up in Füssen, Germany, where we had a one night hotel reservation at Ruchti’s Hotel.
Originally we had thought of renting the car one-way out of Zürich, and taking a train, a bus or even a plane (depending on where we ended up) back to Zürich, but one-way rentals were in the $700 range, so we decided to do a roundtrip when we found prices to be less than half that.
We picked up our rental car at the Sixt location at Zürich International, and when the very cool girl at the counter saw my size (6’-6” 225 lbs) she asked if we had meant to pick the tiny car that was on our reservation. When we made the reservation we had just booked the cheapest car, without really considering that size would be an issue. She stressed that the one we chose was going to be way too small, especially for the amount of driving we planned to do, and so she bumped us up to the next size at no extra charge. Thank you!!
On The Road Again
We loaded our bags into the car, which even though not the smallest offered was still small, and headed out, extremely grateful to the rental agent.
We drove southeast through Switzerland for about an hour and forty minutes, and then made our first stop high up in the Swiss Alps, in Wildhaus-Alt St. Johann. The “Seven Peaks” of the Churfirsten mountain range are located here, and we decided to take the funicular up the eastern most of the seven peaks, Chäserrugg.
It was a beautiful crisp clear sunny early spring day, and the air was just so fresh you could feel that you were someplace special.
We had a fairly tight schedule so we decided not to go all the way to the 2262 meter peak of Chäserrugg, and opted to take the funicular to the first stop on the mountain, Iltios, at an altitude of 1350 meters. It was awesome, but it was such a clear day I kind of regret not taking the cable car the rest of the way up to the peak. The views must have been spectacular!
After a beautiful trip up the mountain, we were back in the car and headed toward Liechtenstein for some lunch. The capital city of Vaduz was a slight detour to the south on our route, but being so close we wanted to check it out and add another country to our trip.
It took around 40 minutes to drive from Wildhaus-Alt St. Johann to Vaduz, and we found a parking spot and walked around town.
Even though Vaduz is the capital city of Liechtenstein, it’s a very small town, with only around 6,000 residents.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and not much was open around town, so we found a Subway shop that was open and had subs for lunch.
After lunch we got back on the road for our last, and longest leg of the day to Füssen, in Bavaria, Southern Germany.
Füssen sits right near the Austrian border, and is the closest town to one of the main attractions on our trip – Neuschwanstein Castle!
After about a 3 hour drive through picturesque parts of Austria and Germany, we arrived at our hotel and checked in, totally exhausted.
Füssen looked like a beautiful little Bavarian town, and has an amazing history, but unfortunately on this trip it was just a place to sleep and we didn’t get to see much of it.
Next up: Day Two – Neuschwanstein Castle!