Journey through spectacular mountain scenery and picturesque cities as you experience three Alpine countries. Spend four nights each in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bern and the charming Alpine city of Innsbruck. Ride the legendary GoldenPass Panoramic Train from Montreux to the Alpine ski resort of 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. Tour the fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein. Sample traditional regional cuisine, including cheese fondue, at some of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Europe. The hills are alive on this enchanting journey across Switzerland, Austria and Bavaria.
- Itinerary Type : Standard
- Activity Level : 3
- Number of Days:10
- Number of Meals:12
- Hotels:Hotel Innsbruck (Innsbruck), Hotel Bern (Bern)
- Experiences:Ride the GoldenPass Panoramic Train from Montreux to Gstaad.
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 tour the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
- Culinaries:Savor a dinner featuring local cuisine such as traditional cheese fondue.
Delight in dinner at the 1,200-year-old St. Peter's Restaurant, Austria's oldest.
Glimpse into the cheese production of Gruyères and sample these dairy delights.
Itinerary (9 days)
Bern, Switzerland - Tour Begins
Your journey begins in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. This UNESCO World Heritage site rests in the Swiss countryside. The cobbled Old Town section is so well preserved that residents who lived here 500 years ago would still find it familiar today. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner featuring local cuisine such as traditional cheese fondue.
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. Perhaps you’ll 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.
Bern - Gruyères - Montreux - Panoramic Train Ride - Gstaad - Bern
Travel to Gruyères, famous for its creamy cheeses. Sample some of these delectable dairy treats during a cheese making demonstration. 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 this 800-year-old city such 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. Tonight, dine at one of Bern’s great restaurants.
Bern - Innsbruck, Austria
En route to Innsbruck, make your way through Liechtenstein, the smallest German-speaking country in the world and the only country to lie entirely within the Alps. Upon arrival in Innsbruck, 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.
Innsbruck - Salzburg - Innsbruck
Travel through the picturesque Austrian countryside to Salzburg. Enjoy a 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. Complete your day 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 - Innsbruck
Today fairy tales come to life with a tour of Bavaria’s famous castle, Neuschwanstein.* Built by King Ludwig II, it is the most photographed castle in Germany. Next, return to Innsbruck. Later, experience the rich musical tradition of mountainous Austria during a Tyrolean folklore show hosted by a well-known local musical family.
Savor a free day in this beautiful city. You may stroll through Old Town and shop at many of the city’s outstanding stores or you may just relax and breathe in the mountain air while enjoying a beverage in one of the many cafés that dot this charming city. Tonight you are treated to a farewell dinner in one of Innsbruck’s traditional restaurants.
Innsbruck - Tour Ends
Your tour comes to an end in Innsbruck.
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).
Cheese Making Demonstration
Travel to the quaint medieval town of Gruyères, famous for its delicious handcrafted cheeses. While there, glimpse into the cheese production process during a cheese making demonstration, complete with samples of the delectable dairy treats.
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.
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.
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.
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 fairy-tale castle was built on the ruins of an earlier castle by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, beginning in 1864. The king had spent time in his youth in the town near the site of the castle, and when he took the throne he began building a fantasy castle on the ruins of two earlier fortresses. Many of his fantasies came from his love of the musical mythological works of Richard Wagner, who was his friend, and he spent most of his personal fortune and borrowed to build Neuschwanstein Castle. He only lived there 172 days before his death. The castle was an inspiration for the Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle.
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.