Journey through spectacular mountain scenery and picturesque cities as you experience the enchanting Alpine cultures of Switzerland, Austria, and Bavaria. Spend four nights each in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bern and the charming Alpine city of Innsbruck. Walk the halls of the 13th century Château de Chillon, a princely residence on the shores of Lake Geneva. Ride the legendary GoldenPass Panoramic Train from Montreux to the Alpine ski resort, Gstaad. Explore Lucerne, the "Swiss Paradise on the Lake.” Visit Mozart's birthplace and the Mirabell Gardens, featured in the "Sound of Music," during your time in Salzburg. See the fairy-tale castle, Neuschwanstein. Visit Oberammergau, a picture-perfect traditional German Alpine village. Sample traditional regional cuisine, including cheese fondue, at some of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Europe.
- Itinerary Type : Reverse
- Activity Level : 3
- Number of Days:10
- Number of Meals:12
- Hotels:Hotel Grauer Bar (Innsbruck), Hotel Ambassador (Bern)
- Experiences:Visit Wies Church, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Walk the halls of the legendary, medieval Château de Chillon, located on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Witness the musical tradition of Austria during a Tyrolean folklore show.
- Must Sees:Spend a day exploring Salzburg's historic past and charming old town.
Enjoy a walking tour of Lucerne's Alstadt (Old Town).
Travel to Bavaria and see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
- Culinaries:Savor a dinner featuring local cuisine such as traditional cheese fondue.
Enjoy traditional cuisine in one of Bern's great restaurants.
Delight in dinner at the 1,200-year-old St. Peter's Restaurant, Austria's oldest.
Itinerary (9 days)
Innsbruck, Austria - Tour Begins
Your journey begins in Innsbruck, the “Capital of Tyrol,” a quaint medieval city nestled in a valley and surrounded by the Austrian Alps. Tonight you are treated to a welcome dinner in one of Innsbruck’s most famous traditional restaurants.
It’s your choice! Select one of two leisurely walking tours: join a local guide as you discover the city’s history, culture and popular attractions including Maria Theresien Strasse, the Hofburg and the “Golden Roof” -OR- you may embark on a tour focusing on Innsbruck’s unique architectural structures including its famous ski jump. The remainder of your day is at leisure. Perhaps you will join an optional excursion outside the city.
Innsbruck - Salzburg - Innsbruck
Travel through the picturesque Austrian countryside to Salzburg. There, enjoy a leisurely paced walking tour featuring Mirabell Gardens (seen in The Sound of Music), the quaint Getreidegasse (birthplace of Mozart), and many other highlights of this beautiful city. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to independently explore and enjoy Salzburg’s fabulous sights. The day concludes with a delightful dinner at the 1,200-year-old St. Peter’s Restaurant, the oldest in Austria and still owned by the monks.
Innsbruck - Bavaria, Germany - Oberammergau - Innsbruck
Today fairy tales come to life with a picture stop at Bavaria’s famous castle, Neuschwanstein. Visit Wies Church, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site, before proceeding to the picturesque village of Oberammergau. Enjoy a brief tour and learn more about this charming place, famous for its Passion Play. Performed only every ten years to fulfill a pledge made by the villagers to God for sparing their city from the plague in 1633, the Passion Play has grown into an international event. Later, experience the rich musical tradition of mountainous Austria during a Tyrolean folklore show hosted by a locally well-known musical family.
Innsbruck - Bern, Switzerland
En route to Bern we travel through Liechtenstein, the smallest and richest German-speaking country in the world and the only country to lie entirely within the Alps. Arriving in Bern, enjoy free time to explore Old Town from your centrally located hotel. Tonight we dine at one of Bern’s great restaurants.
Explore delightful Bern on a panoramic sightseeing tour featuring the Bundeshaus (the Swiss Parliament), the famous Bear Pit, the Rose Gardens and the gothic cathedral which dominates Old Town’s skyline. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore independently or perhaps take a ride in the red carriages of the Gurtenbahn funicular railway, climbing Gurten Mountain to an altitude of 2,574 feet (858 meters) for impressive views of Bern, the surrounding towns and mountains.
Château de Chillon - Montreux - Train Ride - Gstaad - Bern
Travel the shores of Lake Geneva to the legendary, medieval Château de Chillon. This princely residence faces the lake and puts forth the image of an imposing fortress from the mountains. Later, enjoy inspiring Alpine views with a ride on the GoldenPass Panoramic Train from Montreux to Gstaad. Discover the delightful ambience of this world-famous Alpine ski resort with its numerous traditional wood chalets.
Bern - Lucerne - Bern
Set out for Lucerne, the “Swiss Paradise on the Lake.” Enjoy a leisurely paced Altstadt (Old Town) walking tour, exploring the hidden treasures of the city. Lucerne has more than 800 years of history. Explore such medieval treasures as the covered Chapel Bridge (1333); the famous Water Tower which has served as a prison, watchtower and treasury; the Renaissance-style Town Hall; the baroque Jesuit Church; and the Lion Monument, carved from natural rock to commemorate the heroic Swiss Guard. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner featuring local cuisine such as traditional cheese fondue.
Bern - Tour Ends
Your tour ends in Bern.
This is the capital of the state of Tyrol in the Alps of western Austria. Innsbruck is famous as a winter sports center and was the site of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. It is beautifully situated in the valley of the Inn River, and its most famous sights are the Golden Roof (a structure made from 2,800 gilded copper tiles that was added in 1500 to a building to celebrate the marriage of Emperor Maximilian I), the beautifully preserved city center with buildings covered in traditional Christmas decorations in the season, and the surrounding mountains.
This Alpine region covers much of western Austria, and contains some of the highest peaks in the Alps, such as the 12,370 ft/3770 m Wildspitze. The city of Innsbruck is in the heart of the Austrian Alps, and Salzburg is in the foothills on the northeastern end of the mountains. Other well-known destinations in these mountains are Zell am See, St. Anton am Arlberg and Saalbach, and skiing and mountaineering are the most popular activities here.
Choice On Tour
In Innsbruck choose between two leisurely walking tours. You may focus on the city's history and popular attractions or explore its unique architecture and structures.
The name of this city means “Salt Fortress” and it comes from the custom of taxing salt shipments down the Salzach River. It is the 4th largest city in Austria, and the capital of the state of Salzburg. The baroque Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the city sits in a valley surrounded by the Alps. Mozart was born here in the 18th century, and the city was the setting for “The Sound of Music”. Salzburg became part of Austria in the early 19th century, given by Bavaria. Some of the important sights are the Salzburg Castle, Salzburg Cathedral, Mirabell Gardens, the birthplace of Mozart and sites associated with “The Sound of Music”.
These gardens are located on the grounds of the Mirabell Palace, built by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Raitenau for his mistress, Salome Alt in 1606, and she lived there for 6 years until he was deposed. The gardens were created in the early 18th century , and are geometrically designed and filled with mythology-inspired sculptures. Emperor Franz Joseph opened the gardens to the public in 1854. Scenes from “The Sound of Music” were filmed here, including the “Do Re Mi” song with the children dancing around a horse fountain.
St. Peter’s Restaurant
Guests will enjoy a lovely full course meal including wine and beer, while comfortably seated in an 1,200-year-old St. Peter’s restaurant. Stiftskeller St. Peter is a restaurant within the monastery walls of St. Peter's Arch abbey in Salzburg, Austria. At the heart of Europe’s oldest restaurant, which dates back to 803, is Austrian culture, history and modernity. St. Peter Stiftskeller first built as inn, prospered into homes of the nobility including Austrian composer, Michael Haydn. It soon became the quarters for French troops during the Napoleonic wars in 1809. The culinary arts have flourished for centuries at St. Peter Stiftskeller and continue to evolve. Seasonal changes and sophisticated ingredients contribute to an ever-changing dining experience.
Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast, and its capital is Munich. It makes up almost 1/5 of Germany today, and was a powerful Duchy and Kingdom dating from 555 until its inclusion in modern Germany in the 19th century. The flag is white and blue, representing the colors of sky and heaven. Much of southern Bavaria is in the Alps, including the town of Oberammeragau. Many Bavarians consider themselves Bavaria first, German second. For many Americans, Bavaria brings to mind cars (BMW) and beer (Munich’s Oktoberfest).
This German town of 5,100 people is located in the Bavarian Alps, very close to the Austrian border. It is most famous for the Passion Play, which takes place here every 10 years. It was first held in 1634 to give thanks for escaping the Bubonic Plague and is performed only by inhabitants of Oberammergau. Almost half of the villagers took part in the last play in 2010. The town is also known for traditional Alpine woodcarving and frescoes on house facades, so walking through the center is like being in a museum. Many shops sell examples of the woodcraft. During WWII, Messerschmitt aircraft were built here, partly in tunnels in the mountain behind the town. Now the German Army and the NATO School occupy the former Nazi barracks here.
Tyrolean Folklore Show
Traditional costumes for the Tyrol region in Austria include lederhosen and dirndls, and brightly embroidered fabrics. The dances are similar to jigs, and the most famous is the Schuhplattler (shoe-slapping) dance. The instruments may include long Alpine horns, cow bells, zithers and harps. Yodeling is also sometimes featured.
Bern, the capital of the Swiss Confederation, has a population of about 660,000 in the metro area. It is located in west central Switzerland, in a bend of the Aare River. Legend says that the city got its name from the first animal the founder, Berchtold V, Duke of Zahringen, saw when he was hunting: a bear. In honor of this legend, bears are kept in an enclosure in the city center. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its beautifully preserved medieval buildings, and the major sights are the bear pit, the Cathedral and the Zytglogge (medieval clock tower).
Chateau de Chillon
This castle is located in southwest Switzerland on an island in the eastern end of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), and it dates from the early 11th century. It was made famous by Lord Byron in his poem “The Prisoner of Chillon”; Byron even carved his name on a pillar in the dungeon. It was home to the Counts of Savoy, including Peter II, who was uncle to one of Henry VIII’s wives, Eleanor of Provence. Today’s castle began as about 100 smaller buildings that were gradually connected to form what we see now.
This is a small city at the eastern end of Lake Geneva in western Switzerland in the foothills of the Alps. It was originally settled in the Bronze Age, and became an important Roman town along one of the main roads from Italy to France. It is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and is considered a Swiss Heritage Site. Beginning in the 19th century, it became one of the stops in the “Grand Tour” of Europe taken by the rich and famous, and several of the grand old hotels still remain here.
GoldenPass Panoramic Train
Begun in 1901, this train is the oldest electric railway in Switzerland, and it features panoramic coaches with large windows and some dome cars. It began as a main line train, but soon became more touristic, and the gold-painted panoramic cars were added. This trip will take about 1 ½ hours from Gstaad to Montreux, which is on Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). Enjoy the spectacular views along the way!
This world-famous ski resort in the canton of Bern is one of many “jet set” destinations in the Swiss Alps. There are about 140 miles/225 km of ski slopes here making it one of the largest resorts in Switzerland. The town is a shopping paradise, with all of the major labels such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Prada, and has been home to people like Julie Andrews, Roger Moore, Roman Polanski, Elizabeth Taylor and Prince Rainier and Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. Gstaad was one of the locations for the movie “Return of the Pink Panther."
This city of 80,000 people is in north-central Switzerland in the canton of Lucerne and sits on the shores of Lake Lucerne. The town began with a Benedictine monastery in the 8th century and gained importance from its location on trade routes. The most famous sights in Lucerne are the wooden Kapellbrucke (Chapel Bridge) across the Reuss River, the Hofkirche (Church of St. Leodegar) and the Swiss Museum of Transport. The city celebrates Carnival every year beginning the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Mt Pilatus, with the world’s steepest cog railway, is visible from Lucerne.