If you intend to drive from Zürich to Salzburg, you are probably wondering if there’s anything worth visiting and making stops along the way.
There are different ways to reach Salzburg from Zürich, Switzerland. You can travel by bus, train, plane, car, and so on. If you decide to travel by car, then you need to plan your route and add all the pit stops to your road trip in advance.
Some people prefer driving their own vehicle, while others would rather rent a car. It is of great importance to carefully plan a customized itinerary and trace travel routes anyway.
Besides, you need to have an idea of how long you will stay at some places and which attractions you’ll visit during your trip. You will want to craft a trip itinerary that is overwhelming and fun alike.
We’re going to plan the best road trip route and create an epic itinerary with Google Maps. So keep reading to discover the right places and find everything you’d ever want to know when traveling from Zürich to Salzburg, Austria.
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Driving from Zürich to Salzburg via Munich
It is possible to get from Zürich to Salzburg in many different ways. If you’re looking for the shortest and fastest way, then you should follow the A96 autobahn and A8 motorway as well.
Alternatively, you can drive on the A12 motorway (distance: 473,2 km; driving time: 5h 20 min) or get to Salzburg via A1 (total distance: 464,7 km; driving time: around 6 hours).
We will explore the quickest route (via A96 and A8). In this case, it will take about 5 hours to drive from Zürich to Salzburg and the distance between these cities will be 451 km.
That’s a considerable distance, which is why we will break it down into four smaller routes:
- Zürich to St. Gallen
- St. Gallen to Memmingen
- Memmingen to Munich
- Munich to Salzburg
Zürich to St. Gallen (86.2 km, 59 min)
Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, is your starting point. This exciting city offers a number of tourist attractions throughout all seasons. If you’re wondering what to do here, consider exploring the Old Town, shopping at Im Viadukt, and eating gourmet meals in local restaurants.
Aside from outings and activities, there are a lot of highlights and landmarks, including museums, churches, and a wide range of sights. Listed below are must-see sights and spots you shouldn’t miss in Zurich:
- Kunsthaus Zürich
- Rietberg Museum
- Grossmünster Church
- Fraumünster Church
- Uetliberg Mountain
- Lake Zurich
- Bahnhofstrasse – Shopping Boulevard
- Zurich Old Town – The historic center of the city
Upon sightseeing in Zurich, head towards St. Gallen (also called St Gall). This charming Swiss town is located 86.2 km east of Zurich, from where it can be reached in about an hour when traveling by car.
It is good to know that there’s a direct bus between these two cities, which departs twice a day. That journey would take around 1h 10 min. There is also a direct train operating every day and departing every thirty minutes. It takes approximately 80 minutes to reach St Gall by train from Zurich.
It’s a nice journey and your time will pass quickly. If you get hungry, buy some food before setting off.
St. Gallen to Memmingen (118 km, 1h 31 min)
Once you arrive in St. Gallen, you are advised to spend some time strolling through squares and streets. You’ll come across a lot of small stores as well as food shops and restaurants.
Despite the fact that it is a medium-sized town, there is plenty to do and see. It’s home to the University of St Gallen, a reputable European business school. The Abbey of Saint Gall is one of the main tourist attractions though.
This magnificent Carolingian monastery boasts one of the oldest and richest libraries in Europe and beyond. It’s worth mentioning that this medieval library is a place where many precious books and manuscripts have been kept for centuries. There is also a remarkable cathedral within this awe-inspiring architectural complex. The Abbey of St Gall was added on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983.
While driving from St. Gallen to Memmingen, you will pass by Obersee (Upper Lake Constance) and Untersee (Lower Lake) on the left side of the road. The Lake Constance offers a feeling for the sea.
This region, in general, is ideal for family-friendly holidays. Besides having water fun and enjoying the fresh breeze, you can also visit nearby cultural and historical buildings like Montfort Castle.
And there you are in Germany!
Memmingen to Munich (116 km, 1h 29 min)
After the 118-kilometer drive from St. Gallen, you will eventually get to Memmingen, Germany. Located in Swabia, this Bavarian town is the administrative, economic, and educational center of the Danube Iller region.
Memmingen is surrounded by the Lower Allgau (district of Unterallgau) to the south, north, and east. It is nestled near the Iller river.
The locals often call it Tor zum Allgäu (the Gateway to the Allgau), given that Memmingen is situated close to the Allgau region. The town has excellent transport links not only by air but also by road and rail.
It’s a big transport hub that connects the Allgäu with Central and Upper Swabia.
This town celebrates the Fisherman’s day (Fischertag) every year. The Wallensteinfestspiele, a big historic festival, takes place every four years in Memmingen.
If you can take some time off, be sure to visit fortifications, palaces, and castles. There are also many courtyards near Memmingen which are worth visiting too.
It’s time to keep driving after a short break in Memmingen. Let’s head out for Munich, Germany.
Munich to Salzburg (144 km, 1h 42 min)
If you didn’t make stops so far, you should definitely set aside some time in Bavaria’s capital and Germany’s 3rd biggest city. Munich offers a unique set of attractions and sights. It would take you more than a week to discover them all.
From opulent museums and baroque cathedrals with an abundance of masterpieces to glorious monuments, gorgeous palaces, and fascinating buildings, there is plenty to see in Munich. There are also many beautiful parks, and that’s why Munich is called a green city.
If you want to enjoy stunning views, then go to the top of the Alter Peter (the 299-feet tower of famous St Peter’s Church) or the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus). These are the best places in Munich to catch sight of the whole city and surrounding Alps.
Here are some must-visit landmarks and attractions in Munich:
- St Peter’s Church
- Neues Rathaus
- Deutsches Museum
- Bavarian National Museum
- Nymphenburg Palace
Munich is going to leave you with a strong impression, so the remaining route of 144 km will pass quickly even though it takes about 100 minutes. You will reach Salzburg quickly after crossing the border. Stay up to date with the entry requirements to Austria.
Finally, you get to Salzburg, Austria. After this memorable but exhausting route that takes about 5 hours, you will want to take a rest before exploring the city. So, you will need to find accommodation in Salzburg.
If you’re looking for a nice, tranquil lodging for the night, we suggest choosing the Keep (The Keep Eco Residence). As the name implies, this accommodation features an environmentally conscious attitude and it’s designed with sustainability in mind.
Instead of the typical check-in process, The Keep Eco Residence offers keyless entry which is much more convenient. Unlike traditional hotels, the Keep lets go of the unnecessary.
All the rooms are designed with a lot of wooden and natural elements. There are plenty of room options to choose from, including single rooms, twin rooms, as well as 3-bed and 4-bed suites with private shower.
Bonus: Things to Consider When Driving from Zürich to Salzburg
In addition to researching spots to stop along the way, you should also take into account some things when planning your road trip to Salzburg. Don’t leave anything to chance and risk running into trouble.
First things first, take into consideration that the route crosses some country borders. As a matter of fact, it goes through three countries: Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. So be sure to verify border restrictions beforehand.
Considering that you will cross the border to two states, you need to stay informed about the current situation and entry requirements.
Those who are going to travel internationally to Salzburg should consider applying for an international driving license. This is particularly true for those coming from the United States. They are required by Austrian law to have an International Driver’s Permit to drive in Austria.
Other than that, you should also purchase a vignette (a window permit sticker) for driving on Austrian expressways. These toll stickers can be purchased at tobacco stores or gas stations.
Have a good trip!