Looking for a whirlwind trip around Europe? I have the perfect itinerary that allows you discover 5 countries in 9 days. Based upon low cost airfare, we flew in and out of The Netherlands and road tripped through Germany, Austria and Belgium. My scheduled date was based upon the tulip festival in the Netherlands which occurs mid April lasting 8 weeks. Since there was extensive driving required, we traveled into the evenings with late hotel checkins. Thus how we were able to began most days in a new country.
Tips: When traveling by car through Europe, check on available parking and be aware of high rates.
Departure LAX (Flight duration 8 hours 45 minutes)
Arrive Iceland 1:35pm – layover 1 hour 35 minutes
Depart Iceland at 3:10pm (Flight duration 3 hours 20 minutes)
Arrive 8:30pm in Amsterdam
Amsterdam > Destination: Bruges, Belgium (2 hour 30 minute drive)
- The “Ten Wijngaerde” Béguinage (24-30 Begijnhof, 8000 Bruges, Belgium). The only preserved beguinage in the Belgian city of Bruges.
- The Markt (Markt, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) The heart of the city. This includes medieval architecture and The Belfry tower.
- The Belfry (Belfort, 7 Markt, Bruges, Belgium)
- Rozenhoedkaai (Rozenhoedkaai, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) A famous corner area in Bruges that is ideal for taking pictures and obtaining a beautiful view of the city.
- Wander canals eating waffles and chocolate!
- Eat dinner in The Markt square. There are plenty of wonderful restaurants to choose from.
Hotel Van der Valk Brugge-Oostkamp.
- When in Belgium eat waffles! We ate them for desert and at Chez Albert the next morning with fresh strawberries.
Bruges Belgium > Destination: Eltz Castle Germany (3 hour 50 minutes drive)
- Eltz castle is closed for part of the year so check their website. Open daily from 9:30am – 5:30pm. However, we arrived after closing but still hiked and photographed this spectacular castle from the outside.
Hotel Villa Vinum Cochem.
Hotel Villa Vinum Cochem > Destination: Reichsburg Castle, Cochem (4 minute drive)
Destination: Hohenzollern Castle (72379 Burg Hohenzollern, Germany) (4 hour drive)
- Purchased tickets for castle but cash is required for parking and tram.
- Destination: Neuschwanstein Castle (Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany) (2 hour 45 minute drive)
- Entrance tickets are available only at the Ticketcenter Hohenschwangau in the village below the castle. Make sure to find the right tram since they have 4 different bus stops all going different places. Our bus to go up the hill came every 30 minutes. However, we waited for a second bus because of volume of people. Give yourself plenty of time. Tickets for the castle include a guided tour inside the rooms. Without a ticket, you can view the castle from a distant bridge.
Neuschwanstein Castle > Salzburg, Austria (2 hours 45 minute drive)
This whole day was unplanned. We headed south and discovered the beautiful town of Salzburg.
Things to do:
- Mozart’s birthplace (Getreidegasse 9, Salzburg 5020, Austria)
- Salzburg Cathedral (Domplatz, Salzburg 5010, Austria)
- Salzburg Fortress (Moenchsberg 34, Salzburg 5020, Austria)
- St. Peter’s Abbey (Sankt-Peter-Bezirk | off Kapitalpl., Salzburg 5020, Austria)
- Wander the street markets
- Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg. Many tours and destinations to visit including Mehlweg where Julie Andrews sings the opening song in this movie.
Salzburg > Amsterdam (10 hour drive)
Since we added the detour to Salzburg, we were unable to visit Giethoorn, Netherlands. This is on my list if I return. However, we were able to visit a similar looking city Zaanse Schans, 25 minutes from Amsterdam. This neighborhood is known for its well preserved wind mills that can be toured. Besides the scenery, I enjoyed more delicious Belgium and Dutch waffles.
Zaanse Schans > Amsterdam City Center
- Wander Jordaan Neighborhood known for its picturesque canals and houses
- Walk through Centrum and Red Light District
- I Amsterdam sign (Hobbemastraat 19, 1071 XZ Amsterdam)
- Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam)
- Flower marker (Singel 630 to 600 1017 AZ Amsterdam)
The Amsterdam Flower Market is open Monday to Saturday 09:00 to 17:30 and Sunday from 11:30 to 17:30. Market is located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein.
Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport (Rijnlanderweg 800, Hoofddorp 2132 NK)
- Keukenhof festival – Deemed one of the largest and prettiest flower gardens in the world. Keukenhof goes back to the 15th century. Over 100 companies and 500 flower growers participate in creating the garden that includes 7 million spring-flowing bulbs. This year Keukenhof is open March 23 – May 21.
- Viewed individual flower fields owned by local residents near Keukenhof.
- Day 9
Fly out of Amsterdam > Iceland
- With a 3 hour 50 layover in Iceland, we decided to leave the airport and explore. This is not recommended unless you’re willing to plan every minute, your plane arrives on time, and are willing to run. I booked our seats in row 2 for an early exit with our carry on bags through customs. We then grabbed a cab on a 20 minute journey to Blue Lagoon. Here we enjoyed a wonderful hour swim, fruit smoothie and two relaxing face masks. Due to its popularity, buy tickets ahead of time. After the swim, we showered and quickly returned to the airport. Thankfully, we made it through security just in time for our flight. Glad nothing hindered our departure.
And that wraps up the INSANE itinerary for this trip… 5 countries in 9 days. Great trip but glad to be home!