Enjoying the Alpine Countries: A Tour of Germany, Austria & Switzerland

A 15 day trip to Austria, Germany & Switzerland 
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Grasp the history and the culture of the countries that surround the Alps as the mountains rise over the sweeping plains, crystal clear lakes, and historical candy-colored villages. Your custom tailored tour takes you through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, where you can walk along half-timbered homes and dramatic storybook castles. Cuckoo clocks chime the hour and cobbled streets lead to the gilded rooftops and marvelous medieval monuments. Trails wind through the mountains, and paintings decorate the feudal bridges. Immerse yourself in the majesty of opulent palaces and old churches surrounded by the fascinating scenery of the Alps.                                                                                                             

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Frankfurt, Rothenburg, Black Forest, Munich, Lucerne, Bern, Interlake, Tasch, Zermatt, Lake Maggiore, Schaffhausen, Lugano, St. Moritz, Lake Cuomo, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Innsbruck, Cortina, Villach, Carinthia, Piber, Vienna, Salzburg   

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Frankfurt – Arrive in the Vibrant Contemporary City of Frankfurt

Your plane will ascend into the contemporary architecture of Frankfurt, a city that embodies modernity with glinting skyscrapers made of glass, steel, and concrete. The city holds the title of Germany’s most important commercial and economic center, with a skyline dominated by high-rises in the banking district. Your private transfer will meet you at the baggage claim of the Frankfurt Airport and escort you to the beautiful heart of the Romerberg, Frankfurt’s old town center. The Justice Fountain stands at the center of the oddly shaped square adorned by the goddess Justitia watching passersby.

The first fountain was inaugurated in the 16th-century as a monument to the city’s image as a city of justice. The fountain’s current iteration came in the 17th-century and was made from red sandstone. It is the oldest fountain in the city and has trickled with water since the coronation of Emperor Matthias in 1612. The traditional half-timbered houses are reconstructions of the original 15th and 16th-century homes that once bordered the square. The district of Old Town welcomes you to Germany and provides a perfect introduction to your tour of the history and culture to come.

What’s Included: dinner, transfer

Day 2: Munich – Enjoy a Scenic Drive to Medieval Rothenburg en route to Munich

In the morning, visitors of Frankfurt make their way to the home of one of Germany’s greatest writers, Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe. His family home includes a collection of rooms that are filled with elaborate décor, including a dining room and a writer’s room where Goethe penned some of his early works. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you in the hotel lobby for your journey to Munich. En route to Bavaria’s capital city, you will stop at Rothenburg, considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in all of Europe. Cobbled lanes, towering walls, and interspersed half-timbered housing create a storybook ambiance. The town looks over the River Tauber, positioned on steep banks, with its towers untouched since the 17th-century.

Stroll along the winding paths to find the Town Hall, an edifice originally constructed in the 13th-century. The façade dominates the main square of Marktplatz as the soaring 164-foot tower was added in the 16th-century, along with the quarter facing the market. The tower contains 220 steps that lead to a viewing platform that provides a full panorama of the stunning cityscape. The aromas of freshly baked bread and marzipan travel along the streets beneath the bright orange rooftops. The 15th-century stone edifice of St. Jacob’s Church overtakes the skyline with towers that average 183 feet tall. A stained glass window in the East Choir makes an everlasting impression with its colorful array of biblical images and its age of more than 700 years old.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Munich – Full Day Tour of the Bavarian Capital and Linderhof Castle

The allure of Munich is rooted in its Old Town streets and bustling contemporary cityscape. The city retains its capital title of Bavaria but also maintains its badge of “Germany’s Secret Capital,” due to its history, culture, and inviting heart. You will begin your tour in the more contemporary neighborhood of the Olympic Park, which housed the 1972 Summer Olympics. The park includes more than 29 million square feet and was once the training ground for the Royal Bavarian Army.

A zip line tour and architectural tour provide fun and insight into the grounds and its repurposing over the years. The Olympic Tower stands 951 feet tall and contains two pods, one of which has a revolving restaurant with a platform that provides a sensational view of Munich’s sprawling design. Tour groups bring children from all over to learn about the 1972 Olympics and the act of terror that marred the games. Make your way next to the Old Town to stroll the cobbled streets of the city’s renovated center to take it all in.

Enter next into the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps with St. Michael’s Church. The edifice was constructed near the end of the 16th-century and features a magnificent high barrel-vaulted roof. The three-story gilded altar adorns the gallery and shimmers in the light that pierces the upper windows. On the streets, you will find locals dressed in dirndls and lederhosen as the scent of freshly baked pretzels flows out of jovial restaurants. Singing and laughter will overtake the sound of clinking steins in the traditional beer halls. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 4: Vienna – Venture to Salzburg for a Musical Tour before Arriving in Vienna

The English Garden in Munich was designed in the late 18th-century and is one of Europe’s grandest parks as it reaches a length of over three miles. Paths meander around the mature oak and maple trees before they reach the meadows bathed in sunlight. Locals jog and stroll around the country atmosphere to play soccer or picnic on the grass. After breakfast, you will leave Munich behind to cross the border into Austria and enjoy the baroque charms of Salzburg. The movie The Sound of Music, with star Julie Andrews, took place in Salzburg, based on the story of the Von Trapp family.

The Dolomite Mountains swoop down to touch the edge of the city as the Salzach River runs along the streets. The domes and spires of Old Town shape the enchanting atmosphere alongside the riverbanks. The dominant cliff contains the intimidating Hohensalzburg Castle as horses pull carriages along the cobblestone streets of the old city. The aroma of crisp alpine air and evergreen trees sweeps through the city as you pass by the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

After you explore Residenzplatz and the former palace of the Prince of Bishops, continue to Schloss Mirabell and Gardens to follow in the footsteps of The Sound of Music.  Flowers bloom along the manicured grasses and trees of the 18th-century baroque palace gardens. After a fire in the 19th-century, the façade was restored to a simpler neoclassical style. The scent of citrus rises from the Orangery as terraces texture the estate and marble statues add a glossy sheen to the décor. Enjoy a view of the dainty dancer sculpture with the powerful fortress in the background.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Vienna – Enjoy a Half-Day Tour of Austria’s Illustrious Capital City

Wake up in glamorous Vienna, a city that both celebrates its history and looks forward to its future. The city’s illustrious past is the center of commerce and culture as the Austro-Hungarian Empire remains apparent in the architecture along the streets and outside of the city in the grandeur of the presidential palace. The aroma of freshly baked strudel drifts out of the side-street cafes to blend with a hint of strong Viennese coffee. Horses pull buggies and clop down the cobbled walkways of the older neighborhoods as the sound of their hoofs on the stone echoes off of the surrounding facades.

The baroque structure of Karlskirche church rises out of the southeast corner of Resselpark. The dramatic edifice was erected in the 18th-century framed by the fantastic twin columns along the façade. The towers were modeled after Trajan’s Column in Rome, which commemorated Emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. The gilded horses around the upper towers glint in the sunlight. The oval dome reaches a height of nearly 230 feet above the forecourt. City Hall covers 150,694 square feet and was once the Parade Ground for royal and military processions. The spired building was completed in the 19th-century and contains a banner carrying iron figure atop its central 321-foot tall tower. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Villach – Visit Schonbrunn Palace and Lipizzaner Stallion Stud Farm

In the morning, you will find the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans emanating from Frauenhuber on Himmelpfortgasse, which is one of the oldest cafes in the city, having opened its doors in the late 18th-century. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you to the grounds of Schonbrunn Palace. The 18th-century structure contains magnificent architecture in a park-like setting as the Baroque edifice contains more than 1,400 rooms and apartments with a history spanning more than 300 years.

The style of the interior highlights the changing tastes, interests, and culture of the successive Hapsburg monarchs over time. You will enter into the Hall of Ceremonies, known for its monumental paintings and elaborate style. The court used the room for banquets and large celebrations, and each displayed painting depicts a family event of historical and political import, including the marriage of Joseph to Isabella of Parma in the 1760s. The lush red carpet and glistening chandelier accentuate the room’s opulence.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 7: Innsbruck – Relish a Scenic Drive along the Dolomites and Tour Innsbruck

Today you will travel into the unbelievable beauty of the Dolomite Mountains that create a physical border between Italy and Austria. The scenic drive takes you along the winding mountain roads as streams meander down the rugged hills to pass beneath the street. Evergreen roots emerge from the soil and cling to craggy boulders. You will stop in the Italian ski resort town of Cortina d’Ampezzo for a look at the remarkable stone church spires, delightful cascading piazzas, and the soaring alpine peaks piercing the sky.

Continue to the Austrian town of Innsbruck to view the jagged rock spires of the Nordkette Mountains Range, which reach a height of more than 6,560 feet above sea level. Cows graze in the Alpine pastures as the bells around their necks chime in the tranquil ambiance to tell their farmers where they have gone. Old Town Innsbruck embodies Austria on a miniature scale as it houses medieval homes, a Baroque cathedral, and a lavish Hapsburg palace. The cobbled lanes twist and wind through the tall Gothic houses of the old city. You will have a view of the mountains from every corner of Innsbruck as you visit the Emperor’s Tomb, located in the 16th-century Court Church.

The interior altar contains a screen that dates back to the 1600s. Marble pillars support the vaulted roofs that are decorated with detailed molding. The Tomb and Museum of Emperor Maximilian I was built in the 16th-century. A bronze figure of Emperor Maximilian I adorns the impressive black marble sarcophagus, surrounded by a wrought-iron screen and 24 marble reliefs. Each relief depicts a scene from the Emperor’s life to create a parallel between the emperor and biblical figures.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 8: St. Moritz – Discover the Charms of Swiss Engadine Valley and St. Moritz

In the morning, the sunlight washes over the Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse arcade, a series of handsome merchant houses topped with a gilded roof to create the famous Folden Roof. More than 2,600 gilded copper tiles form the rooftop and lead your eye to the richly decorated coats of arms on the balustrade. After breakfast, you will ascend the mountains in route to St. Moritz, Switzerland. The River Inn travels through the Engadine Valley to give rise to villages filled with traditional houses, Gothic churches, and views of the mountaintops, some of which reach a height of approximately 12,000 feet. The town of St. Moritz stands in a region home to 25 crystal clear lakes fed by glacial rivers and snowmelt.

The opal water reflects the mountaintops and the rising forest trees. You can see the glinting snowcaps as they spread across the highlands, made from sprawling glaciers. The town is a famous ski resort in the winter but opens up to the blossoming wildflowers and meandering trails around the mountains in the summer. You can stroll along the lakeshore for a view of the tranquil water of Lake Moritz set amidst the trees or walk to the nearby alpine village of Pontresina. 17th and 18th-century Engadine houses with typically decorated walls line the streets of the village beneath a panoramic view of the Muottas Muragl Mountain. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 9: Lugano – Circle Famous Lake Como and Cruise along the Water at Lugano

In the morning, the rising sun brings the emerald trees and jade grass to light. Fish cause ripples in St. Moritz Lake as the rich aroma of hot chocolate drifts along the street. You will make your way across the Italian border once more to visit the stunning town of Lake Como. The stone-paved streets follow the original path set by the Romans two millennia ago. The Porta Pretoria, old Roman gate, continues to stand at the heart of the historic city center. Enjoy a moment walking around the charming city located on the lakeshore.

The 14th-century Duomo fills an entire side of the Piazza Duomo. Its Gothic, marble façade accentuates the stone carvings and statues of the elaborate rose window. You will continue your scenic drive through the mountains and return to Switzerland and settle in the majestic town of Lugano, located along the shores of its namesake lake. Lugano is the largest town in the Ticino region and glows with blossoming flowers that line the lakeside promenade. Lush, vineyard-clad hills replace the dramatic snowcapped peaks of the Alps.

Old Town contains a series of stairways and terraces that climb the hills to the upper rail station. A wide terrace leads you to the church of San Lorenzo, a once 13th-century Romanesque structure remodeled in the 17th and 18th-centuries. Medieval frescoes continue to decorate the interior and contrast with the Baroque façade. Your guide will lead you onto a boat at the marina and take you onto the reflective lake. Enjoy your scenic cruise that provides a full view of Lugano and the nearby towns that are secluded by protruding hills and luxurious water.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 10: Zermatt – Revel in the Swiss Alps on the Train from Tasch to Zermatt

Your day will begin outside of Lugano on the edges of Lake Maggiore that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy. Fig, olive, and pomegranate trees flourish in the mild climate of the region and contrast with the pine and evergreen trees of the mountains. A cable car travels to the top of Monte Mottarone at 4,891 feet above sea level for views of the entire city and edging mountains. You will see the islands that speckle the lake, filled with historical villas and lavish gardens.

You can venture out to Isola Madre or Isola Bella to visit the opulent décor, blossoming azaleas, and shimmering marble statues. The villa of Isola Bella contains a terraced pyramid in the garden topped with a balustrade of manicured grass where white peacocks laze in the sunlight. You will drive along the scenic roads of the Swiss Alps and leave the tropical trees of Lake Maggiore behind you. You will arrive at a funicular station in Tasch and ride to the valley beneath the shadow of the Matterhorn to the town of Zermatt. The cluster of half-timbered chalets offers open windows looking out into the spectacular image of the Matterhorn peak rising above the massif.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 11: Zermatt – Delight in a Day at Leisure in and around Zermatt

In the morning, the aroma of hot chocolate fills the hotel and provides a comforting start to your day. Intermittent clouds pass the Matterhorn peak to remind you of where you are in the world and at what altitude you currently stand. The day is yours to enjoy the mountain passes, valley pastures, and abundant trails around Zermatt. Cycle along the meandering roads or travel the cog railway that takes you up to Gornerrat at more than 10,100 feet above sea level to provide unparalleled views to the Matterhorn and Monte-Rosa massif.

You can even spot the Gornergletsher glacier, the second longest glacier in the Swiss Alps as you travel. Venture along the walkways of Gorner Gorge, which lies in a walking distance from the southern end of the village. A secured path of wood bridges leads you through the gorge as you pass the bizarre formations shaped by the elements and time. Moss and soft grass grow in the sunlight as rugged boulders jut out of the shade. Between 3 pm and 4 pm, the sunlight bounces off the Gornervispe to cause the greenish hues to glow an unforgettable turquoise color. You can get within feet of the icy waters for an intimate connection with the majestic landscape.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 12: Lucerne – Traverse the Lower Rhone Valley and the Brunig Pass 

Today you will board the railway and return to Tasch to watch the peak of the Matterhorn fade behind the mountain-clad horizon. The road descends into the lower Rhone Valley, to replace the pine trees and craggy cliffs with apricot groves and vast vineyards. You will reach the shores of Lake Geneva and Switzerland’s capital city of Bern. The city stands atop a sandstone ridge surrounded by the Aare River on three sides, and a series of bridges connects the oldest neighborhoods with the contemporary districts that reach across the riverbanks. Stroll along the streets of Old Town as you watch over the aquamarine river waters.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site retains its medieval character in its cobblestone streets and arcade sidewalks. Bookstores and cafes open up to the streets and apartments on the upper floors that overlook the passing crowds. The revolving figures of the Zytglogge, Bern’s famous clock tower, dance four minutes before the hour as the pealing bells fill the city. 11 decorative fountains built in the 16th-century depict the historical and folkloric characters of the Alps, accentuating the mystical luster of Bern and the surrounding mountain region. After exploring the beauty and history of the capital, continue to the town of Interlaken and settle in the city of Lucerne.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 13: Lucerne – Half-Day Guided Tour of the Historic City of Lucerne

In the morning you will wake up in the exciting city of Lucerne, situated along the cobalt colored lake of the same name. Beautiful music emanates from the sunny plazas and candy-colored buildings as the 14th-century town wall consist of nine towers and provide views of the lake and surrounding countryside. The earlier Roman city fell to the Germanic peoples of Alemannic. You will pass through the history of the town as you walk along the cobblestone streets and beneath the 14th-century covered wooden bridge. The passage runs across the Reuss River and was once the centerpiece of the city.

The rafters contain a series of paintings that depict patron saints and scenes from the town’s past. The octagonal tower of the Wasserturm was erected in the 13th-century alongside the bridge to stand at a height of 111 feet. Your guide will lead you to the second covered bridge of Lucerne known as Spreuerbrucke, which was erected in the 15th-century. The triangular panels contain 45 paintings that show the Dance of Death, designed in the 17th-century. Each panel dedicated to the progression is framed in black and inscribed with explanations in verse to help elucidate the subject the panel’s patrons.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 14: Frankfurt – Visit Schaffhausen and the Black Forest en route to Frankfurt

In the morning, the sunlight spreads across the stoic waters of Lucerne Lake. The city fills with the aroma of fresh pastries and decadent chocolates. The glacier garden consists of relics from the Ice Age, from polished glacier rocks to boulders dropped by the receding ice offering visual support to the changing climate and its effects on the earth. After breakfast, you will make your way back to Frankfurt. En route to the border, you will stop at Schaffhausen to view the momentous Rhine Falls. The powerful water echoes across the countryside with loud uproar as the waterfall reaches a width of 450 feet with a height of 75 feet to produce a torrent too powerful for fish to climb.

Small puffs of mist rise into the air shaped by the whitewater. The cobalt colored river splashes against the rocks before it trundles downward to contrast the verdant trees along the riverbanks. You will make your way to the Black Forest and the town of Maulbronn, nestled in vine-covered foothills near the Cistercian abbey. The abbey was founded in the 12th-century and is one of the most cherished German monasteries due to its surviving of the Reformation. Half-timbered buildings surround the gorgeous central courtyard as the cohesive mixture of Romanesque and Gothic elements create a unique style visible in the elaborate arcades and vaulted roof of the nave.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 15: Frankfurt – Depart for Home

The Old Opera House frames the open space of Frankfurt’s Opera Square as the plaza was constructed in the 19th-century with an Italian Renaissance style. A large fountain in the heart of the plaza flickers with light instead of water. The hall seats more than 2,400 guests and fitted with mahogany to create the desired acoustics. The beauty around Frankfurt brings you out of the beautiful old town districts around the alpine countries and back into a contemporary cityscape. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you in the lobby of your hotel and escort you to Frankfurt Airport for your flight home. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$4,995
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.