Nothing is better than leaving all your worries behind, exploring new places and making memories along the way. Grab a friend, download your favorite playlists, pack some clothes and jump in your car. Here we share some of the places we visited on an Alps road trip, including the section in northern Italy called the Dolomites, and part in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Read on to find seven places that should not be missed on your next trip.
Venice to the Dolomites
We picked up our car at the Sixt location at Venice Marco Polo Airport. The friendly staff allowed us to choose from three different vehicles in the category we booked. We chose a BMW because of its size and comfort – the perfect rpad trip car.
Stop 1: Meadows in the Dolomites
Our journey began by heading into one of the most iconic and beautiful areas in the Alps: the Dolomites. After a three hour drive, we finally reached the first place on our list, Alpe di Siusi in the South Tyrol province of Italy. It is the largest high-altitude Alpine meadow in Europe, and is famous for the iconic Sasso Lungo, Seiser Alm, and countless cabins. The morning we arrived, we were very lucky with the conditions; a low morning fog covered the lush grass fields and we witnessed a beautiful sunrise (see photo below). To reach this spot, follow the road from Siusi that leads up to Alpe di Siusi. You can park your car at the settlement at the western end of the pasture, Compaccio (Compatsch), and then walk for 30 minutes to reach this view. It’s definitely worth getting up early to see the sunrise!
Stop 2: The mountain lake Lago di Carezza in the South Tyrol province of Italy
Later that day we decided to take the route from Alpe di Siusi and continue exploring the Dolomites. We visited a beautiful mountain lake, Lago di Carezza. One of the prettiest lakes in South Tyrol, it is famous for its view of the Latemar mountain between South Tyrol and Trentino, and the unique color of the water. The lake is located directly next to the road and you can park your car right next to it.
Stop 3: Tiny Churches and Three Peaks
Another spot not to miss when you are visiting the Dolomites is the Val di Funes, a valley in northern Italy famous for its two little churches in a beautiful alpine setting. They are easy to reach by car and on a clear day you can see the Geisler/Odle mountains in the background.
Our last stop in the Italian portion of the Alps was our favorite. We visited the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, a series of three peaks also known as the Drei Zinnen. We decided to do the hike to see the sunrise, and spent the night sleeping in our car in a parking lot. We started hiking towards the Tre Cime at about 3:30 am. For us, it is really important not to miss the first morning glow on the mountains so we always prefer getting there earlier than the sunrise. The hike takes about 2 hours and it is relatively easy and enjoyable. Like a lot of places in the Dolomites, it can get very busy during the day so we highly recommend starting early. You should aim for the Rifugio Antonio Locatelli where you will have the best view of the spectacular mountains.
Onto Germany and Austria
Stop 4: Geroldsee in the Bavarian state of Germany
After all the beauty we experienced in the Italian Alps we were ready to head to the German portion of the Alps. The first spot we visited in Germany is Geroldsee, a picturesque lake in Bavaria. It is interesting how fast the landscapes shift when you are driving from Italy, through Austria, to Germany. The mountains look different and the landscapes keep changing. We arrived just in time for the sunset and got to enjoy our evening by the lake.
Stop 5: The mountain lake Plansee in the Tyrol section of Austria
The next day we decided to take it slow and spend our morning in a cafe in a charming town close to Geroldsee that’s known for its ski resort, Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Later that day we drove to Plansee, a lake in Tyrol in Austria, where we decided to go for a swim. The water was freezing cold but very refreshing.
Stop 6: The iconic Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany
Later we briefly drove back across the border to Germany to see one of the most iconic castles. Neuschwanstein Castle is a 19th-century palace in the Romanesque revival style, sitting on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria.
Discovering the Swiss Alps
Stop 7: The view from Augstmatthorn in central Switzerland
Then it was back across the border to drive through Austria toward Switzerland. We enjoyed the Swiss landscapes and the good food and stopped in a few little towns before reaching our final destination, the resort town of Interlaken. There is a lot to see and do in this part of central Switzerland. We decided to do a short two-hour hike up to Augstmatthorn, that took us to the top of a mountain ridge. We got very lucky with the weather and it was the perfect spot to finish our alpine road trip.
Back to Venice
Finally, it was time to head back to the airport in Venice. Although we were exhausted from all the exploring, we were also happy with all the amazing experiences and memories we made during our alps road trip. Traveling by car is a great way to travel because you are so flexible, can see so many destinations and have some amazing scenic drives.
Do This Alps Road Trip Yourself
Pick up station: Venice Airport
Distance Traveled: 1,700 km
Duration: 24 hours
This trip could also be a one way European trip if you don’t have time to drive the whole route.
Further Driving Tips
If it’s your first time driving in these countries, please know that some countries have different regulations in terms of driving. Before you start your travels, be sure to check out our: