In November we took a five day trip to Germany & Austria. This has been one of our favorite trips and we are already planning another trip back in the spring. Below you will find what we did plus tips, tricks and photography tips.
An overview of our trip:
Day one: Land at Munich & visit Dachau Concentration camp
Day two: Visit Neuschwanstein Castle
Day three: Visit Salzburg, Austria
Day four: Visit Halstatt, Austria
Day five: Fly home
Visit to Dachau Concentration Camp
We landed in Munich and after getting the rental car decided to drive about 20-30 minutes to the concentration camp, Dachau. Since we were traveling with our three kids I did a lot of research to figure out if it was alright for them to go.
The internet is full of opinions on this but I used the Dachau website as my main source. I knew that my children would walk around and be respectful so I didn’t worry about them ruining it for other people.
After talking it over with my husband we decided that we would take the children but skip the tour as the recommended age is 14 and we only took our oldest into the museum as the recommended age is 12.
We also decided that we would take turns going inside the building with the gas chambers so one of us could stand outside with the children. Prior to going we had them listen to some of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne.
Upon arriving to the camp you can purchase an audio guide and walk to the main entrance. Dachau was the first concentration camp created and opened in 1933.
The words on the gate mean “Work sets you free”
I found it interesting that they allowed some of the Catholic priests who were prisoners to perform mass. You can see in the photo above on the left there is a small altar and crucifix.
Above, top left, is the main square where people stood for roll call. The other images are the outlines of the barracks that once stood here.
Where to stay in Bavaria, Germany
We decided to try and pick a central location that would allow us to visit all the different places we wanted to hit on this trip. Edelweiss Lodge and Resort was perfect for us. However, this is a military resort and it’s only open to military members and their families. Be sure to ask for a room with a view of the mountains.
Favorite restaurant in Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Off the recommendation of friends and the hotel we went to Mukkefuck for dinner. Holy cow, was it delicious! In fact, we liked it so much we went back the second night. They recommend making reservations ahead of time. The steak with garlic butter was incredible and all of us couldn’t get over their homemade salad dressing. Yum!
Must-visit Neuschwanstein Castle
This castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle and its not hard to see why. This picturesque castle is stunning in person. I couldn’t wait to get my camera on it.
Tips for visiting Neuschwanstein Castle
- Purchase your tickets ahead of time.
Purchase tickets directly from their website. Tickets need to be purchased at least two days prior to your visit. Keep in mind, the time slot you pick is the time you go into the castle for the tour but your tickets need to be picked up 90 minutes prior.
- Ride the horses up & walk back.
Our kids loved getting to ride in the horse drawn carriage to the top where the castle sat. You pay for each way so we decided to walk back.
- No pictures inside the castle.
Go ahead and put your camera away during the tour as they do not allow photos. Also, if you have a backpack you will be asked to either wear it on your front or carry it by your side.
- Be mindful of the fog
Weather is out of your control but the fog can be heavy around the castle. When we arrived we started to head towards the bridge but one of the people we passed warned us the fog was too heavy to see the castle. We tried again after the tour and it had let up. In fact, while we were on the bridge the fog continued to clear.
- Eat lunch in the town
We really enjoyed our lunch at Alpenstuben. Their version of mac & cheese was what the waiter recommended and it was amazing. My husband ordered it and I wish I had as I ate about half of his meal.
Photography Tips for Neuschwanstein Castle
When visiting a place like this you are looking for the perfect spot. It’s not hard to search Instagram and see these beautiful images of the castle from far away.
Walk to Marienbrücke or Mary’s Bridge for the best photos of the castle
Once you make your way to the top you will see a sign for Marienbrücke. It’s about a 15 minute walk but worth it to stand on the bridge and photograph the castle from far away.
Keep in mind that the photos you see are all edited.
As I mentioned above we were there in a very foggy day and it looked quite gloomy in photos. However, I knew that if I didn’t overexpose the sky then I would be able to manipulate the image in Lightroom.
I purposely underexposed my shot so that I would be able to work with the sky and fog when I got home. Below are my before and after shots.
Head to Salzburg, Austria
We drove about two hours to Salzburg and got an AirBnB for the night since the next day we were going to head to another town further from our hotel.
Visit Mirabell Gardens
After we arrived we had a small lunch and then headed to Mirabell Gardens which not only a lovely garden but the location of where the Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi was filmed. Although we had a tour scheduled that would end at the gardens, I knew being their in November meant the sun would set around 4:30pm and the gardens would be dark once the tour was done.
Yes, I did act out as much of the song in the gardens, in the rain, as I could. Yes, we did get strange looks from other people and tour groups. We can’t be the first people to be skipping around.
Book a Sound of Music Tour
Whether you are a huge fan like me or not, a Sound of Music tour is a great way to see the city of Salzburg and it’s surrounding towns. Interesting fact, The Sound of Music was not a popular movie in Austria.
We booked through the Original Sound of Music Tour®. You meet outside the gardens and get on a bus where you travel around and sing songs from the movie.
You learn all kind of facts about the movie as well as explore a lot of the beautiful locations that were included in the film.
Now, I’m a huge Sound of Music fan and my husband went on this because he knew it was important to me. However, once it was all over, he said that was one of his favorite parts of the trip because we stopped and explored some amazing places we wouldn’t have found.
Photography tip: When traveling and you aren’t sure what you want to do with your photos, I always suggest taking both a vertical and horizontal image.
Plan a quick trip to Hallstatt, Austria
I almost don’t want to include this as I have recently read that Hallstatt has been overrun with visitors and is trying to cut back. Even if you don’t make it to Hallstatt just driving around Austria is simply beautiful. In fact, my husband kept stopping the car so he could get out and take photos.
We drove to a quiet little town, Hallstatt, Austria. It is one of the first locations to have found salt and you can visit salt mines.
Hallstatt is a darling little town nestled in between a lake and a mountain. You can’t go five steps without wanting to stop and take photos.
Photography tip: When walking around and you see everyone stopping to take a photo, challenge yourself to turn around, look up and see what else you see. There’s something beautiful around every corner.
Want to create a starburst effect like below? Check out this tutorial – 5 steps to creating a starburst effect day or night