Up until I graduated college, I had never been out of the country. My family told me one day that they were planning a 2 week vacation to Italy. I knew I had to join. If I didn’t, I probably would have found an excuse to push my wanderlust in the other direction. Fast forward to 2018, and I’m now working a job that allows me to travel full time!
During my first trip to Italy, I mainly stayed along the western coast. I knew that when I went back, I had to see the Dolomites. When the opportunity presented itself for me to tag along on an epic 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary, including the Dolomites, with four other creatives, I jumped on it!
Where to Arrive
I flew in and out of Zurich. We made our road trip into a loop that would put us back in Switzerland after it was over. This sort of 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary is what was most convenient for us based on the countries that we wanted to see. Should you plan your own Europe road trip, try to arrive in large International airports to save money. My ticket to Zurich was around $400 because I decided to purchase my ticket during a sale. You can use apps like Hopper to keep track of flights you are thinking about purchasing! They'll let you know when tickets are sitting at a reasonable price.
When to Go
To cut some costs and skip the tourists, we decided to plan our 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary for late May. May is the end of shoulder season in Europe while the summer months are peak season. Fall can be a great option as well; Europe turns into a beautiful palette of orange and red in autumn! I will admit, however, that a part of me wishes we would have pushed this trip back to early or mid June. Most parts of Switzerland were closed, which was a total bummer. I highly recommend looking into road construction and other happenings in your to plan your best 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary! Most of the time, Google Maps had no idea there was a closer in place, so we found ourselves turned around.
To get the most out of our 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary, we opted to rent a car. Since there were 5 people on this trip, we found that a van was our best option. For 2 weeks, the van was about $1,350 total. We didn't find parking to be an issue. I'm sure renting a smaller car makes it even easier to park if you plan on visiting large cities. You can definitely take trains around different parts of Europe, however, we already knew we were going to be on the road quite frequently so we knew a car would be the best option.
I went with four other folks on this road trip, and I never felt like I was in danger. The areas that we visited were mostly in remote mountain towns. Walking around at night was never an issue, and people were friendly, primarily! Remember that you’re the best judge of your safety. While I felt comfortable in my situation, always remain aware of your surroundings!
Where to Go
There are so many places you can easily add to your 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary that would probably leave you speechless. Below I have linked the map I used to get to most of the spots I am going to discuss. Feel free to use it on your Central Europe road trip itinerary too!
Day 1 – Switzerland
Arrive in Zurich
When you arrive in Central Europe, you’ll most likely experience jet lag. I had a room booked in a hostel in Old Town Zurich, where I was able to leave my luggage, grab a coffee and relax. So this is where our 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary will start! It was the best decision I ever made. If you’re not looking to drive to the city, you can opt to stay in one of the budget hotels closer to the Zurich airport, which will still put you at a good location for the next destination on our trip.
During our long send to Frankfurt, I was able to charge my devices using the BioLite Charge 20. Their Charge Series features durable, stainless steel chargers with a silicone gasket, making them ready for unexpected weather. It’s perfect for a country like Germany that has unpredictable weather!
Day 3 – Germany
See Eltz Castle for Sunrise
Eltz Castle, otherwise known as Burg Eltz, is one of the more popular attractions in this area, and for a good reason! Eltz ended up being one of the best parts of our 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary. The castle looks like something straight out of a fairy-tale. I suggest catching Eltz Castle for sunrise. You’ll have the whole place to yourself, and you’ll have some of the best light for photos. Make sure you walk around the enter castle perimeter! Lush meadow and greenery surround it.
Visit Hangeseilbrukcke Geierlay
Hangeseilbrukcke Geierlay is a one of the longest suspension bridges in the mountains of Central Germany. You can visit the bridge and hike along the other trails in the area. If you’re into mountain biking, this is an excellent place for that too. After seeing the bridge, it’s time to head over to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the next set of adventures!
Visit Neuschwanstein Castle for Sunset
Of all the castles in Germany, this was one of my favorites! Castle really help make this the best 2 week Central Europe road trip Itinerary. This castle sits upon a tall hill, making it hard to miss as you drive past it! I suggest visiting the castle for sunset- that’s when some of the best light is. Multiple trails around the castle will give you a high vantage point of the structure. Some folks like to hike along the bottom of it and drone above Neuschwanstein to get a better view overall.
Day 7 – Austria
Hallstatt is a quaint village off the shore of Lake Hallstatt. 16th-century homes line the town, making it extremely picturesque! If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some swans swimming in the lake! Since the previous days of our trip were spent along the Germany-Austria border, we decided to use our time in Hallstatt to relax and get ready to see more of Slovenia/ Italy in the coming days. Hallstatt is so small and cute, there is no reason to not ad it to your 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary. It's a great stopover for what you will be up to next!
Day 8 – Slovenia
Head Down to Soca Valley
Soca Valley is seriously one of the most underrated places! I never imagined a country like Slovenia would have such blue water…everywhere. There is a slew of hidden waterfalls here as well. You can even rent kayaks and paddle down the valley floor. If you haven’t added this area to your list of places to see, do it now! It’s an adventurist's dream. I really wish I would have had more time in this area, but I fell in love with the parts that I did see. You probably will too! I'm happy we decided to add the Soca Valley to this 2 week Central Europe road trip itinerary. I never knew blue water like this would be in Slovenia, and it made me want to go back for more!
Drive to Bled
After a day in the sun at Soca Valley, drive over to Bled. The town is quite cute and best known for Lake Bled, which you can hike above to get a better vantage point of the church in its center! I recommend seeing it for sunset if you can! The hike to the top of Bled is short with a bit of elevation gain. You can also choose to walk around the perimeter of the lake to get a different perspective of what is going on. While I loved the hike to the viewpoint, I think I liked walking the perimeter a bit better.
Drive-By Val Gardena
From here, I headed to the Val Gardena area for sunset. We took this short trail to a view that left us nothing but speechless! It was nice to have the BioLite BaseLantern XL to light up our trip down the trail once we were done!
Drive Gardena Pass
Europe has some of the windiest roads I’ve ever been on in my life. If you’re in the mood for a headache (kidding), then drive through some of them! The views from the tops of the pass are honestly gorgeous! You’ll just be a little car sick when you get there.
Take a Cable Car to Rifugio Lagazuoi
If you want more mountain views, take a tram to Rifugio Lagazuoi! The Rifugio is another mountain spot that offers a ton of hiking to visitors. There is also a cool, cylinder sauna there.
Day 13 – Switzerland
Zermatt is the gateway to the Matterhorn. You can take trams to the base of the mountain where you can hike to various lakes and viewpoints. To do sunrise and sunset here, you need to spend the night! While in Zermatt, the tour desk will be able to provide you with the most up to date information on camping and vistas up there.
Day 14 – Switzerland
Lauterbrunnen is a mountain town in Switzerland. It has “moody” vibes and waterfalls surrounding it. You can take a trail that will bring you underneath the falls! You can also take the train to smaller towns in the area to see different viewpoints of the city. Otherwise, this town is super picturesque and worth roaming around!
Visit Lake Thun
After leaving Lauterbrunnen, you can drive over to Lake Thun. There are scenic roads that go around the area and trails that give you a higher viewpoint of Thun.