The breathtaking Alps span the borders of several European countries, and this vacation gives you the opportunity to see the best of the alpine region. Begin in Bavaria’s capital, Munich, and see how the landscape changes from flatland to gentle hills to magnificent mountains. Visit King Ludwig’s rococo Linderhof Castle and cross the border into Austria to overnight in Innsbruck. From Tyrol, travel via the Grossglockner Pass to the majestic Dolomites, now a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. See quaint villages, imposing peaks, and enchanting forests, and learn about the alpine culture. Journey through South Tyrol and to Engadine National Park, one of the most beautiful mountain areas in the world. Stay in St. Moritz and enjoy leisure time. Experience the scenic Bernina Express train, which returns you to Italy, and skirt the blue shores of Lake Como. Visit Turin (Torino), recent host of the Winter Olympics. Back in Switzerland, visit car-free Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn, then ride on the Glacier Express train to Andermatt. Rejoin your motorcoach and travel to Lake Lucerne for an overnight. Then experience Interlaken and Berne (capital of Switzerland), and conclude your grand adventure in Zürich.
Day #1 Arrive in Munich Area, Germany. Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore this delightful Bavarian capital. Why not spend some time at the Marienplatz to marvel at the world-famous Glockenspiel or join the locals at a traditional Biergarten? Later, meet up with your Tour Director and fellow travelers.
Day #2 Munich Area–Linderhof Castle–Innsbruck, Austria. A fascinating itinerary today. First, a Local Guide will show you the main highlights of the capital of Bavaria. Then, head south to visit Linderhof Castle, set deep in a forested valley in the Ammergau Alps. The smallest of the three fairytale palaces commissioned by King Ludwig II and inspired by Louis XIV’s Versailles, the rococo-style Linderhof is surrounded by splendid Italian Renaissance gardens with landscaped sections similar to an English garden. Next, journey into Austria through the scenic Inn Valley to Innsbruck for an overnight and to admire its fascinating town center and historic Golden Roof. (B,D)
Day #3 Innsbruck–Kitzbühel–Cortina d’ampezzo, Italy. More glorious Alpine landscapes as you head to medieval Kitzbühel with its classic Tyrolean chalets and striking cobblestone center dating back to the 9th century. Later, motor to Grossglockner Pass—the highest in Austria and featuring thrilling views of 12,460-foot-high Grossglockner Mountain, lush dairy pastures, and picturesque villages. On through the splendid Dolomites scenery to the celebrated Cortina d’Ampezzo winter resort for an overnight. (B)
Day #4 Cortina d’ampezzo–Lake Carezza–Bolzano–Merano. This morning, travel west through the spectacular Dolomites, then over Falzarego and Pordoi Passes. Stop at the enchanting Lake Carezza to admire its brilliant rainbow colors and to search for the beautiful mermaid who, according to legend, hid here from the romantic pursuits of a powerful wizard. On to Bolzano, “Gateway to the Dolomites,” with time to visit the South Tyrolean Archaeological Museum and its famous “Iceman” mummy exhibit. Later, head for Merano for the night. (B)
Day #5 Merano–Glorenza–St. Moritz, Switzerland. Enjoy a morning break in Glorenza, the smallest fortified city in Tyrol and ideally situated where Switzerland, Austria, and Italy meet. Via Tubre, descend into Engadine National Park, one of the most beautiful mountain areas in the world. Deep blue lakes, airy larch forests that turn golden in the fall, 12,000-foot-high peaks, and quaint villages with characteristic Grisons-style homes usher you on to glamorous St. Moritz, the oldest and most famous winter resort in the world. (B,D)
Day #6 At Leisure in St. Moritz. A whole day to do as you please in this stylish Swiss spa resort, known for its stunning mountain scenery and superb shopping. Why not join an optional excursion? (B)
Day #7 St. Moritz–Bernina Express to Tirano, Italy–Lake Como. Today, experience a memorable trip aboard the Bernina Express. Crossing the Alps to Tirano in Italy, this spectacular rail journey takes you to altitudes greater than 6,560 feet. Later, rejoin your motorcoach and head via Chiavenna to the shores of Lake Como, Italy’s third-largest lake and one of the deepest in Europe. (B,D)
Day #8 Lake Como–Torino. Travel southeast today through the Po Valley to Torino (Turin), birthplace of Fiat automobiles and home to the intriguing Shroud of Turin. Upon arrival, sightseeing with a Local Guide includes all the major sites. This evening, consider an optional dinner. (B)
Day #9 Torino–Aosta–Martigny, Switzerland–Sion–Täsch. A pleasant drive through the Aosta Valley, known as the smallest region in Italy and a favorite winter sports area. Enter Switzerland via ancient Martigny and Sion, Switzerland. Via ancient Martigny and Sion, one of the country’s largest wine-making regions, head to charming Täsch in the Zermatt area. (B,D)
Day #10 Täsch–At Leisure in The Zermatt Area. Spend the entire day in Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s best-known resorts situated in the shadow of the legendary Matterhorn, strolling along the narrow, traffic-free streets lined with a variety of shops, cafés, and bars. Later, enjoy an optional ride on Europe’s highest rack railway to 10,272-foot Gornergrat for breathtaking views of the Alps. (B)
Day #11 Täsch–Glacier Express Train to Andermatt–Lucerne. Today, another highlight of your tour: the world-renowned Glacier Express. This is Switzerland’s most famous mountain railway, which passes over hundreds of bridges and through dozens of tunnels to give unique panoramic views of the Swiss Alps and surrounding valleys, forests, Alpine meadows, rushing streams, and picture-perfect villages. Board the Glacier Express in Zermatt and leave it in Andermatt in the St. Gotthard massif, 4,711 feet above sea level. Rejoin your motorcoach for the descent into the dramatically different landscape of lovely Lake Lucerne. (B)
Day #12 Lucerne–Interlaken–Berne–Zürich. Cross Brünig Pass this morning and continue to Interlaken. Along the way, take photos of the Jungfrau massif with its three legendary peaks: Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger. Travel through some of the country’s best farmland to its stately capital of Berne, where sightseeing includes Bear Park and the Federal Palace. Then, an easy drive to Zürich for a final overnight. (B)
Day #13 Zürich. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)