Oktoberfest: Jewels of Alpine Europe 13 days / Special Event Tours
About This Experience
Experience rich culture, impressive architecture and culinary delights against a backdrop of soaring alpine peaks. Journey from Switzerland’s mountain-lined Lake Lucerne to France’s inspiring Lake Annecy. Take in the picturesque Chamonix valley, before heading east to Italy’s Lake Como. Cross Liechtenstein and hit the winter wonderland of Innsbruck, Austria, before heading north to Munich, the lively capital of Bavaria.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
11 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 5 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Private deluxe motor coach
Multilingual Tour Director
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Spectacular mountain scenery at every turn
Swiss chocolate, French pastries & German beer
Lovely lakeside villages with alpine views
The winter wonderland of St. Moritz
You’ll follow the footsteps of Olympians in Innsbruck
Munich—Bavaria’s food & culture capital
Overnight Flight1 night
Lucerne2 nights - hotel info
Discover the piece of stone Twain called the “saddest” in the world
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Zurich! A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and then accompanies you to the beautiful lakeside city of Lucerne, where you’ll be assisted with hotel check-in. At an included dinner this evening, meet your fellow travelers.
Cross the ancient Kapellbrücke and ascend soaring Mount Pilatus
A guided tour introduces you to Lucerne. Stroll down the city’s winding streets and across the Kapellbrücke, a covered bridge whose history dates back to medieval days. The murals lining its walls are nearly identical to those painted in the 14th century. Be on the lookout for the colorful hand-painted facades as you venture down the streets of the Old Town. You’ll also view the captivating Löwendenkmal, a sandstone lion statue commemorating Swiss Guards slain in 1792. After your tour, you’ll enjoy free time to explore the city as you please. Or, opt to ascend Mount Pilatus to enjoy breathtaking views of the Swiss Alps.
Mount Pilatus $99* pp
This scenic excursion begins with a cruise on Lake Lucerne. After docking, ascend 7,000-foot Mount Pilatus on the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. Legend holds that the mountain was named for Pontius Pilate, blown here by the devil after the Crucifixion. From the peak, the views of the Alps are stunning; on a clear day, you can see for 200 miles. Toward the end of your trip, you’ll return to the base of the mountain via gondola. Please note: The cruise and cogwheel railway only run from mid-May through October. During the winter months, this excursion includes the cable car ride only. If the cogwheel railway is unavailable, you'll enjoy lunch on the mountain.
Annecy2 nights - hotel info
Get a glimpse of the Swiss capital before arriving in la belle France
Your first stop today is Bern, where your Tour Director will lead an informal tour of the Swiss capital. Later, you’ll pass through Geneva before crossing into France’s Lake Annecy region. The rest of the day is free to walk along the canals of Annecy and search for the perfect croissant. Dinner is included tonight.
Cruise around Lake Annecy and be awestruck by the alpine scene
Lake Annecy cruise (seasonal)
Begin the day with a boat cruise (seasonal; some groups may enjoy a walking tour) around Lake Annecy, featuring panoramic views of the Alps as well as a close-up look at some of the villas on the lake’s shores. Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne found inspiration for his famous Le Lac d’Annecy after a visit here.
Lake Como Region2 nights - hotel info
Soar to the top and tunnel through the center of towering Mont Blanc
Explore Chamonix, a charming village at the base of Mont Blanc. Opt to take a cable car to a nearby peak for gorgeous views of the Chamonix valley. Later, travel through the Mont Blanc tunnel— Europe’s longest such passageway—into Italy. Arrive in the Lake Como region in time for dinner.
Embark on an Italian escapade around Lake Como
Villa Carlotta (seasonal)
Begin the day with a visit to Villa Carlotta (seasonal; during the off-season, a funicular ride to Brunate may be offered instead). This elegant 18th-century Italian estate stands amid 14 acres of gardens, whose 500 plant species include azaleas, orchids, camelias, eucalyptus and banana trees. Continue to the town of Como and join your Tour Director for an informal tour. You’ll pass by the 15th century Gothic duomo, the medieval quarter, and the 12th-century Porta Vittoria. Later, choose to join an optional Lake Como cruise, with a stop for dinner in the lakeside village of Bellagio.
Lake Como Cruise & Bellagio $75* pp
Hop aboard a scenic cruise of Lake Como to soak in some of Italy’s most beautiful estates and gardens. Float past charming lakeside towns to Bellagio, a village whose scenery has inspired poets and young lovers for centuries. You’ll have time to take in Bellagio’s classic beauty before heading to a local restaurant, where you'll sample cuisine from a carefully chosen menu. Please note: Your included meal may be lunch or dinner. In addition, this excursion is only offered March through October, and its departure time varies by season.
St. Moritz1 night - hotel info
Bundle up to see the sights of St Moritz—the Swiss capital of snow
Returning to Switzerland, travel to St. Moritz. The snow and mountains of St. Moritz have inspired the invention of some of the world’s most popular winter sports, including bobsledding and curling. During free time, enjoy the views of the Engadin Valley and see St. Moritz’s leaning tower, which is all that remains of the 13th-century St. Mauritius Church. Dinner is included tonight.
Innsbruck2 nights - hotel info
Take a jaunt through tiny Liechtenstein
Travel into Liechtenstein, a tiny Alpine principality dating back to the Holy Roman Empire and now best-known for its wines and postage stamp trade. Pass the royal family’s hilltop castle, still in use as a royal residence, as you visit Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s capital. Later today, cross into Austria and reach Innsbruck, where you’ll enjoy a guided walking tour in the afternoon, including stops at the Golden Roof and the courtyard of the Hofburg Palace.
Admire the architecture and sample the sweets in age-old Innsbruck
Enjoy a free morning in Innsbruck. Site of two Winter Olympics and capital of the Austrian Tyrol, Innsbruck is a sparkling mix of centuries old royal splendor and modern allure. The streets of Innsbruck are dotted with gems of Baroque architecture, including the pink-stuccoed Helblinghaus. Save some time for browsing, pastry sampling or a climb up to the Olympic ski jump. This afternoon, join an optional excursion to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Neuschwanstein Castle $49* pp
Depart from Innsbruck and spend your day discovering the regal Neuschwanstein Castle—the historic retreat of Bavaria’s “Fairy Tale King” Ludwig II. Known for his reclusive tendencies, Ludwig had Neuschwanstein commissioned as a retreat (the Castle was the inspiration for Disney Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle). Choose to take the shuttle up the castle hill, or make the short walk to Maria Bridge, a famous photo stop. On a guided tour, explore the residential areas of the castle, including the oak-furnished servants’ quarters and the King’s lavishly decorated staterooms. Afterward, descend the hill by horse-drawn carriage and make your way to an included lunch at a local restaurant.
Munich2 nights - hotel info
Prost! Raise your stein at Oktoberfest
Travel to Munich today. Slip on your figurative lederhosen in the afternoon, as you join thousands of people from all over the world to celebrate Oktoberfest. You’ll have special admission to one of the Oktoberfest’s tents, where you can sample Bavarian delicacies (not included) along with steins of Munich’s famous beer.
Hit the Bavarian capital for grand palaces and world-class beer
This morning, discover the best of Munich on a guided sight-seeing tour, including views of the Olympic Village, Nymphenburg Palace, Marienplatz and the Residenz. In the evening, share a farewell dinner with your fellow travelers.
Extend Your Stay
Add Salzburg $249*
Dubbed the 'Rome of the North' because of its many churches, Salzburg is a beautiful city filled with museums, mansions, parks and churches. Spend two days soaking up the city’s celebrated musical history.
Sing along to the Sound of Music
Transfer to Salzburg, where a local guide will lead a walking tour of the old town, including the university, Max-Reinhardt-Platz, churchyard of St. Peter, Kapitelplatz, Cathedral, Residenzplatz and Alter Markt, ending up in Mirabellgardens. Highlights of the tour include admission into the home where Mozart was born and some scenery featured in The Sound of Music. In the evening, opt to attend a Mozart concert and dinner.
Mozart Concert & Dinner $115* pp
Step inside the 1,200-year-old St. Peter Stiftstkellar, the oldest restaurant in Europe located within St. Peter's Abbey, for an evening of fine dining and Mozart. Mozart composed over 600 works in his short life, and tonight, you'll hear his masterpieces as you sample local delicacies. Let the music carry you late into the night. Please note: This excursion requires advanced reservations and payment at least 20 days prior to departure.
Venture to the salt mine depths and the Eagle’s Nest heights
Spend a free day exploring Salzburg or join an optional tour into the Bavarian Alps. Stop for a tour of the Berchtesgaden Salt mines before continuing to Hitler’s Alpine retreat, known as the Eagle’s Nest.
Eagle's Nest & Salt Mines $105* pp
Drive through the Bavarian Alps to the mountain village of Berchtesgaden, where you'll tour the 450-year-old salt mines that brought wealth to Bavaria and Salzburg. Continue to Obersalzberg, where a scenic bus ride along steep gorges offers gorgeous views of the snow-capped Alps. Here, you’ll visit the Eagle’s Nest, built as an Alpine retreat for Adolf Hitler's 50th birthday. Please note: The elevation of the Eagle’s Nest is approximately 4,500 feet, which may not be advisable for travelers with heart/lung problems or other altitude-related limitations. This optional is seasonal from mid-May through late October.
Passport & Visa
This tour includes the following countries: Switzerland, France, Italy, Austria, the principality of Liechtenstein (on the transfer) and Germany. In order to enter these countries, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return to the United States. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Travelers should be aware of high-altitude conditions in this region. Chamonix is 3,400 feet above sea level, while some bus transfers may also pass through high altitudes. The tour also includes two optional excursions by rail or cable car to peaks of over 7,000 feet. Consult your doctor or health care provider for specific recommendations and up-to-date overseas travel requirements.
Swiss food, influenced by surrounding countries, is varied and sophisticated. The most famous local dish is fondue, made from molten cheese, flavored with wine, garlic and liquor, into which pieces of skewered bread are dipped. Raclette is another delicious cooked cheese dish, served with roasted or boiled potatoes, air-dried beef and pickled onions. Sausages, breaded veal fillets and freshwater fish are also popular. Swiss dairy products are among the world’s finest, and full-cream milk is the essential ingredient for the exceptionally good chocolate produced here. In France, a country that loves its fine foods, you’ll find a variety of cheeses, richly prepared meats and freshly baked breads and pastries. Northern Italian cuisine is light and savory, emphasizing fresh pasta, simply prepared seafood and vegetables roasted with herbs. In Austria, thick soups of paprika and onion, veal, beef and venison with cranberries are all popular, as is the renowned Wiener Schnitzel. Fish lovers will find wild trout, roast carp and crayfish. Austrain desserts are perhaps the most memorable including, strudels made with all kinds of fruit and nuts, souffles and elegant chocolate cakes such as the world-famous Sachertorte.
Transportation / Walking on tour
Round-trip flights arrive in Zurich and depart from Munich. Included transportation is by private motor coach. In your free time, the best way to explore Alpine cities and towns is on foot, as most are small and built for walkers, with little public transportation. You can break up the walking with rides on city buses in Lucerne and Innsbruck. Keep in mind that taxis are usually costly in Switzerland.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing and Packing Tips
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
The euro (in Austria, France, Italy and Germany) and the Swiss franc (in Switzerland and Leichtenstein) are the currencies you’ll be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in your destination countries, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be exchanged for cash at local banks, as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATM’s on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.