If cities were royalty, Salzburg and Venice would compete for the title of prince, embodied in the preserved artistry, architecture, and culture of their respective lavish pasts. The splendor of nature surrounds Salzburg with dramatic alpine peaks. Tranquil waterways course between the collective islands creating Venice. Gondolas traverse the Grand Canal and climb to the snow-capped summits of the Alps. The streets fill with the aromas of marzipan, cakes, and freshly brewed coffee at all hours...
Salzburg – Luster of the Mountains
Salzburg is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, set amongst the Salzburg Alps in view of Untersberg Mountain, which reaches a height of more than 6,000 feet above sea level. Old Town contains narrow medieval streets and courtyards wrapped in arcades, harkening back to the past of an aristocratic decadence. Your flight arrives at Salzburg Airport, where your private transfer greets you at baggage claim. Your hotel stands on the promenade of the Salzach River with a view of the impressive Hohensalzburg Fortress.
The hotel’s opulence emanates from the regal décor and the history of servicing aristocrats, artists, and nobility since the 19th century. The water of the Salzach reflects the bridges and banks on the glassy surface. The river trickles past the hotel as your guide leads you on an introductory tour of the city, filled with spires and domes rising in imitation of the surrounding mountain peaks. Classical music drifts out of homes strewn alongside the cobblestone lanes. Residenzplatz, a large and historic square, stands in the heart of Old Town on the city’s left bank.
A marble Baroque fountain crafted in the 17th century crowns the center of the public square, reaching a height of nearly 50 feet. Dramatic horses rise out of the central pool beneath a figure of Atlas holding dishes. King Triton adorns the display with a conch shell in hand. Horse-drawn carriages glide down the avenues with the horse’s clopping hooves echoing against the stone homes and shops. The scent of marzipan emanates from the series of confectionaries. It feels as though you have stepped into a preserved picturesque fairytale.
Salzburg – Sounds of the Hills
In the morning, the scent of fresh croissants emanates from the bakeries in the heart of Old Town. The aroma of rich coffee drifts through the doors of a celebrated café at the fringe of the Neustadt district in view of Franz Josef Strasse. After breakfast, your guide meets you in the hotel lobby and leads you on a captivating tour, following in the footsteps of the real-life Van Trapp family, after whom the film The Sound of Music was based. The hills practically sing around Salzburg with emerald hues glowing against the powder blue sky. The river trickles as it passes beneath the pedestrian Makartsteg Bridge, on which passing couples have placed locks to symbolize their love.
The tour takes you to the lakes district bordering the town to see the Mondsee Abbey, where Captain Von Trapp and Maria were wed. The bright yellow façade radiates joyously, accentuated with pristine white borders imitating columns. The structure was erected in the 9th century and contains a fragment of a 9th-century biblical interpretation. The interior has 15th-century gothic vaulted ceilings painted blush-pink to accentuate the gilded altar adorning the gallery. Your guide leads you to an open gazebo in which Liesl, the oldest of the Von Trapp children, sings “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Once at the Mirabell Gardens, you can explore the bright petals of blossoming flowers set beside the palace and in view of the dramatic fortress.
Salzburg – Opulence Everywhere
St. Peter’s church rises above the surrounding structures in Old Town, retaining the title of one of the oldest churches in the city. The structure was erected in the 12th century and renovated with a Rococo style in the 18th century. The interior contains a remarkable vaulted marble ceiling and arched arcades lining the gallery leading your eye to the nave. The distinctive helm tower contains the city’s Glockenspiel, which chimes three times a day performing enchanting melodies. After breakfast, your guide whisks you away from Salzburg on a half-day tour into the mountains around the lavish city, beginning in the town of Berchtesgaden.
The area was established in the 12th century as a monastery before salt was discovered. The Bavarian Royal family prized the beauty of the mountainous landscape, erecting permanent residence there until the 19th century. Old Town contains a series of celebrated beer halls indicative of the social culture and popular drink. Market Square resembles a storybook town with decorative facades and tower homes bordering the center of the village. A 16th-century fountain stands at the center of the public square, which locals continue to use as a gathering point.
The marble basin supports a lion statue, symbolizing the Wittelsbach family. Cafes and restaurants line Market Street, along with authentic local shops filling their gallery windows with handmade Bavarian outfits, confections, and wooden toys. Soon you will venture to the Eagle’s Nest, the second seat of the Nazi government visible from town as it stands on a mountaintop offering panoramas of the Alps. Before reaching the summit, you walk along the Soleleitungssteg, a series of wooden walkways lining the steep cliffs above town since the 19th century. The nearly three-mile route leads from the Salt Mine to Ramsau, offering a spectacular panorama of Berchtesgaden along the way.
Hallstatt – Splendor of the Mountain Pass
In the morning, you enjoy the rich flavor of Austrian coffee accompanied by the sweet, flaky crust of a traditional croissant. Austria originally created the crescent pastry to celebrate their victory over the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. The bright hues of Number 9 Getreidegasse shimmer with history as the birthplace of Mozart. The interior exhibits the rooms once occupied by the family, along with musical mementos of the prodigy’s childhood, including a violin and original scores. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the hotel lobby and escorts you into the mountains to the charming town of Hallstatt.
Pastel painted homes reflect in the crystalline lake with the emerald mountains soaring in the background. The village overtakes a narrow space nestled between the foothills and shoreline. Evidence suggests the first settlers arrived in the area in 5,000 BC, but the village was officially founded in the 12th century AD. The breeze carries hints of pine and freshwater. Boats and ferries cruise along the glassy lake near a colony of grazing geese. Hallstatt is everything you imagined an alpine village would look like, with wood structures, sloped ceilings, and elegant church spires.
The lakeside promenade extends to over half a mile long and fills with the aroma of decadent chocolate emanating from confectionaries with windows displaying elegant marzipan creations. Stroll into the narrow alley leading to Market Square to find the brightly multicolored alleyway; an 18th-century construction erected after a large fire swept through the area. Tightly packed buildings contrast one another with their bright hues, from the mustard façade of the post office to the pink and peach of the Gasthof Simony.
Venice – Over the Hills and to the Lagoon
In the morning, your mind returns to images of the Ice Caves on the outskirts of Hallstatt. The frozen cavern network stands at 4,500 feet above sea level and was carved by water dripping into the subterranean tunnels before freezing into unique sculptures. After breakfast, you leave behind the majestic landscape of picture-perfect Hallstatt, making your way closer to the lagoon city of Venice, Italy. En route, you stop in the charming town of Tarvisio, located near the Austrian and Slovenian borders in a valley nestled between two Alpine ranges.
The unique position of the town blends Alpine culture with Slavic folklore and Italian culture. You continue to the shores of the Venetian canal, winding down the emerald colored hills until reaching the flood plains of Italy’s Veneto region. The undulating landscape settles into flatland. You reach the calm lanes of the alpine villages turn into the bustling waters of the Grand Canal. You step aboard a private boat to tour the important two-mile stretch of waterway. The image of the iconic city on the lagoon comes to life, no longer a picture in a photograph but a thriving, bustling mixture of grand marble palaces, gliding gondolas, wooden plinths protruding from the water, and staggering churches with entrances edging private docks.
Old women dressed in black carry groceries along the narrow cobblestone streets. Workmen reconstitute the plinths to support the walkways and structures bordering the canal. You pass three-storied Palazzo Grassi, a façade designed to impress through its combination of baroque and neoclassical character. The structure was erected in the 18th century before the collapse of the Republic, featuring four wings around a rectangular courtyard. The palace embodies the grandeur of Venice and its preserved opulence through the centuries.
Venice – Past Decadence
The gondoliers work their boats beneath the terrace of Hotel Monaco. The rich aroma of a freshly brewed cappuccino emanates from the hotel restaurant, adding another layer of unique beauty to the city on the lagoon. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you in the lobby of your hotel and escorts you to the Rialto Bridge to begin your immersive tour of Venice’s opulent past. The bridge was constructed in the 16th century to replace the previous wooden structure. The marble and stone edifice stretches more than 72 feet across the Grand Canal and was the only bridge crossing the famous waterway for centuries.
The Rialto Market brims with activity in the morning light beneath the historic marble plaques of the rules placed on the side of the bordering palace, set in stone. Fishers showcase their daily catches atop sheets of ice, with seafood ranging from marlins to mussels, along with types of fish you have never seen. Produce vendors from the island of St. Erasmo draw passersby’s eyes to the pyramids of eggplant and artichoke. You continue along the cobblestones until reaching the stunning public square of St. Mark’s Piazza framed by the Basilica and Doge’s Palace.
The campanile stands at more than 300 feet, topped by a gilded figure of Archangel Gabriel. The bulbous domes rising above the Basilica embody the Byzantine design features from the 9th century. The sunlight washes over the façade bathing the structure in a golden hue, causing the actual gilded mosaics adorning the archways to flicker with the precious metal. The Doge’s Palace has a more delicate character, embodied in the thin marble columns and rosy Veronese marble, creating a graceful feature similar to latticework.
The main entrance was crafted in the 15th century and remains a prime example of Venetian Gothic style through its carved doors adorned with allegorical figures. The Lion of St. Mark stands before a kneeling Doge, meant to symbolize the prince’s humanity beneath the heavens. In the afternoon, you set out into the neighborhoods of Venice with your guide in search of bacari, wine and tapas bars celebrated by Venetians and ingrained in the city’s culture.
Venice – Glass that Binds
Gondolas moored to the banks of the canal wade in the wake cast by passing vaporettos. The aroma of butter cookies and creamy cappuccinos drifts out of Torrefazione Marchi, a café known for their frothy drinks and succulent confections. You meet your private skipper on the dock to your hotel and set out onto the lagoon past the edges of Venice. The wind brushes over your skin as you glide down the Grand Canal and onto the open water before reaching Murano, an island famous for its glassblowing.
In the 13th century, the Doge decreed all kilns be moved away from the main island of Venice due to fear of fires. The craft became associated with the island, along with a coveted artwork of Venice by which artisans could grow to the status of nobility. Cobblestone sidewalks stretch beside the boat-lined canal. Boutique shops shimmer in the sun with the light reflecting off the handmade glass trinkets crafted on the island. The clock tower of the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato stands beside the San Donato Canal, with a stunning marble interior interwoven with lavish mosaics laid in the 12th century.
Glass factories offer public visits to watch the artists work the historic craft. Kilns continue to billow with fire. You can feel the heat inside the stone hearth and fill the stone gallery. The artist uses a long pole to place the glass into the fire before forming the malleable heated material into a unique shape. After Murano, you glide along the canal to the island of Burano, home to pastel-painted homes bordering the tranquil, reflective canals.
Venice – Taking a Mental Picture to Remember
In the morning, students sit at the outdoor tables set by the doorway of a café in Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo. The Rialto Market returns to full swing with produce vendors transferring their crates from a barge to their kiosks. Boutique shops display elegant masks depicting the iconic characters of Commedia dell’ Arte. The paneled ceiling in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco depicts Tintoretto’s depiction of the story of Mary’s life overtaking the Assembly Hall. The artist draped the ceilings of the upper salons with biblical tales told in his breathtaking style. The grandeur of Venice is endless, hiding both inside unassuming historical structures and inside hidden alleyways. You could spend another week in Venice enjoying every delectable moment. When you are ready, your private transfer escorts you to Marco Polo Airport for your flight home, whether you are ready today or in a week from now.
- Indulge in the true culture of Venice during a guided tour of the city’s treasured wine and tapas bars, which remain a deeply rooted tradition
- Experience the gorgeous scenery of Salzburg with a private tour of Old Town and the dramatic fortress
- Witness the stunning artistry and discipline of crafting glass during a glassblowing demonstration on the antique island of Murano
- Venture deep into the magnificent artistry and hidden chambers of St. Mark’s Square during a private tour of the Basilica and Doge’s Palace
- Enjoy an immersive tour into the enchanting stories and Hollywood fictionalization of The Sound of Music while exploring Salzburg and its surroundings
- Step into a storybook lakeside village in Hallstatt, nestled between alpine foothills and reflective waters
- Relish a private excursion along the Grand Canal for a panoramic view of Venice’s prestigious past embodied in the perseverant culture and architecture
- Wander the traditional Austrian town of Berchtesgaden for insight into the alpine spirit, along with a connection to the Eagle’s Nest, the secondary seat of the Nazi government during World War II
There is no feeling more thrilling than discovering that the dreamlike images of a far-off landscape are real. Your 8-day journey from Salzburg to Venice immerses you in the captivating cultures of the Austrian Alps and Italian floodplains to discover the true beauty of the cobblestone streets, enticing bakeries, and opulent histories. Whether a coffee enthusiast, a classical music fan, or a lover of extravagant palaces, you will stand beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and follow along with the Von Trapp family (which inspired The Sound of Music) for an unforgettable exploration.
Your tour begins with your arrival at Salzburg Airport. Your private transfer greets you at baggage claim and escorts you to a stunning hotel located on the promenade alongside the Salzach River. Venture out into Old Town and the historic splendor of the city with a guided tour crisscrossing the river and opening to a panorama of the Alpine foothills. The following morning, your guide leads you on a fascinating Sound of Music tour, traveling along the points of interest for the real Von Trapp family and the tales of the Hollywood film.
You continue to discover the treasures of the city with a visit to the fortress overlooking the cobblestone streets. Next, you head for the hills in the town of Berchtesgaden. Wander the storybook streets before visiting the Eagle’s Nest and celebrated Salt Mines. Afterward, you leave the elegance of Salzburg behind, following the scenic mountain road to Hallstatt. Stroll through the village before visiting the Ice Caves and relishing the view from a picturesque gondola. The next day, you take to the gorgeous roadway once more, stopping across the Italian border to enjoy time in the town of Tarvisio. Once in Venice, you board a private boat for an introductory tour of the Venetian Canal.
Witness the thriving culture and captivating architecture rising out of the lagoon en route to your luxurious hotel. Then, you have a private tour of St. Mark’s Square, taking in the beauty and hidden charms of the Basilica and the Doge’s Palace. In the afternoon, you wander the neighborhoods with a guide to find the celebrated wine and tapas bars known as bacari. You board a boat once more, this time traveling to the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello to visit the glassblowing studios, colorful homes, and Byzantine mosaics. Your private transfer meets you at the hotel on the final day and escorts you to Marco Polo Airport in Venice for your flight home.
$2,235 per person (excluding international flights)
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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