Christmas Markets of Switzerland, Alsace & the Black Forest

12 days Special Event, Multi-country
From Switzerland’s mountainous landscapes to Germany’s mystical Black Forest, impressive views are around every corner in this breathtaking region. Wind your way through Christmas markets in Lucerne, Strasbourg and Freiburg, joining in on local traditions as you go. The stunning sights and seasonal flavors you’ll experience on this wintry, whirlwind tour are bound to inspire holiday cheer.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Tour group size: 18 - 35 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 2 hours daily across mostly flat terrain, including cobblestone streets, paved roads and dirt paths, with some hills and stairs.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 10 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine, 1 wine tasting

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Private deluxe motor coach

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Overnight Flight 1 night

Day 1: Travel day

Board your overnight flight to Zurich today.

Lucerne 2 nights Hotel info

Day 2: Arrival in Lucerne via Zurich

  Included meals: Dinner

Welcome to Switzerland! After arriving in Zurich, transfer to your hotel in Lucerne to meet your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Lucerne & Christmas market visit

  Included meals: Breakfast

With your guide leading the way, get to know Lucerne, the most populous city in Central Switzerland.

• Pass hand-painted facades along the cobbled streets of the Old Town

• View the Lion Monument, a tribute to the Swiss Guards who sacrificed their lives in Paris during the French Revolution

• See the Jesuit Church, the first large Baroque building of its kind to be built in Switzerland north of the Alps

• Cross the medieval Kapellbrücke, a covered wooden footbridge spanning the Reuss River, and view the Water Tower

• Take time to explore the city’s many Christmas markets, full of handcrafted items and seasonal specialties

Enjoy a free afternoon to explore Lucerne on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Mount Pilatus $115pp* Details

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.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $125)

Zermatt 2 nights Hotel info

Day 4: Glacier Express to Zermatt

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Pass through the Alps today as you make your way to the car-free mountain town of Zermatt. Finish your transfer to Zermatt aboard the Glacier Express, a famed train with cars specially designed for scenic viewing. Upon arrival, follow your Tour Director on a short orientation tour.

Day 5: Excursion to the Matterhorn Region

  Included meals: Breakfast

Set out into the mountainous landscapes surrounding the Matterhorn today to visit Gornergrat, a ridge overlooking the Gorner Glacier.

• Board Europe’s highest open-air cog railway for a ride to the summit

• Take in spectacular panoramic views of the Matterhorn

Interlaken 2 nights Hotel info

Day 6: Interlaken via the Alps

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Bid adieu to Zermatt as you make your way north through the Bernese Oberland Alps to Interlaken, the gateway to the region’s towering mountains and pristine lakes.

Day 7: Excursion to Jungfraujoch

  Included meals: Breakfast

Today, venture up to Jungfraujoch, a mountain pass over 11,000 feet above sea level that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site.

• Journey to the summit on two different trains with plenty of photo opportunities

• Peruse the exhibits located at the summit and pay a visit to the Ice Palace

Strasbourg 2 nights Hotel info

Day 8: Strasbourg via Bern Christmas markets

  Included meals: Breakfast

Before crossing the border into France, make a stop in the Swiss capital of Bern for a sightseeing tour.

• Cross the Aare River and head to the iconic Bern Bear Park, home to a community of brown bears

• Stroll through the UNESCO-recognized Old Town, making your way past the Cathedral of Bern

• Enjoy free time to stroll through Bern’s Christmas markets

Then head to Basel, Switzerland’s third-largest city, for free time before continuing on to Strasbourg, the capital of France’s Alsace region.

Day 9: Sightseeing tour of Strasbourg & Christmas market visit

  Included meals: Breakfast

Included entrances: Wine tasting

Explore Strasbourg, which is home to some of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, on a tour with a local guide. Then, take to the river for a short cruise. 

• Make your way through the Grande Île neighborhood, passing by Place Gutenberg, Cathédrale Notre-Dame and Palais Rohan, known as a miniature Versailles

• Continue your tour by boat, taking in the Petite France neighborhood from the water with views of Barrage Vauban and the Ponts Couverts

• Warm up with a taste of mulled wine—known as vin chaud in French or Glühwein in German—before setting out to see all that the city’s many Christmas markets hold

This afternoon, enjoy free time to continue exploring Strasbourg on your own or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Alsace Wine Tasting & Dinner $95pp* Details

Drive through the picturesque vineyards that dot the Alsace countryside to the Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr regions, known for their medieval villages. Here, you’ll take a tour of a traditional wine cellar before enjoying a tasting of four Alsatian varietals, including flowery Riesling and aromatic Gewürztraminer. Then, sit down to dinner in a local village restaurant for a taste of Alsatian cuisine, famous for its signature blend of German and French influences.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $105)

Black Forest Region 2 nights Hotel info

Day 10: Colmar & Freiburg Christmas Market

  Included meals: Breakfast

En route to the Black Forest region, stop to explore the charming  city of Colmar, known for its impeccably preserved old town.

• Discover “Little Venice,” an area known for its canals

• Walk through the famous old town, seeing Maison Pfister and Saint Martin Church

• Enter the Bartholdi Museum, dedicated to the artist who designed New York’s iconic Statue of Liberty 

Continue on to the German town of Freiburg. Visit the Freiburg Christmas Market with your Tour Director this evening, sampling local foods, browsing for handmade gifts and enjoying the festive lights and decorations as you go.

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of the Black Forest

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Set out on a tour of the fabled Black Forest.

• Learn how glass and crystal are made at the Dorotheenhütte Glassworks and explore the materials’ history at the Glass Museum

• Visit the world’s largest cuckoo clock and enjoy beautiful Black Forest landscapes

• Try a slice of Black Forest cake, named for the tart cherry liquor that gives it its signature taste 

Later this evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner.

Day 12: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Zurich airport for your flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Lucerne, Switzerland
  • Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Interlaken, Switzerland
  • Strasbourg, France
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & visa requirements

  • This tour visits Switzerland, France and Germany. In order to enter these countries, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry. 
  • We recommend having at least one blank passport page for entry stamps.
  • There is no visa 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.   

Tour pace

  • You will walk for about 2 hours daily across mostly flat terrain, including paved roads and cobblestone streets, with few hills. * Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
  • You should feel comfortable boarding and disembarking trains and boats. This tour also takes you above 11,000 feet in elevation for a short time, so some altitude fatigue may be felt.  
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Relations Team at 800.597.0350.

Transportation & arrival information

  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead arrive and depart from Zurich. When you first arrive at the airport in Switzerland, a Go Ahead representative will meet you after clearing customs and will escort you via private motor coach to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival. 
  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead for an additional cost.
  • A Glacier Express train ride between Zermatt and Andermatt is included in the price of your tour.  * All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. 

Baggage allowance

  • Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. 
  • Contact your airline for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. 
  • One carry-on bag of 45 total inches (length + width + height) is also permitted.
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.

Clothing & packing tips

  • We recommend packing warm, comfortable clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a warm jacket.
  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes or boots is recommended for sightseeing.
  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or special performance. 
  • To keep warm while visiting the outdoor Christmas markets in each city, we recommend bringing a warm hat, mittens and a scarf.

Health

  • There are no major health risks when traveling to any of the countries on this tour. 
  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to My Account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Relations Team.

Cuisine

  • Swiss food is varied and sophisticated, and some popular dishes include sausages, breaded veal fillets, freshwater fish and cheese dishes such as fondue and raclette. Be sure to try Swiss chocolate, which is among the world’s finest. 
  • For a picnic with French flare, stop at a small grocery store for cheeses, pâtés, cured meats, fresh-baked bread and fruit. In the cities, sidewalk vendors are known for their steaming crepes, while mouthwatering pastries and hot café au lait beckon from cafes. In restaurants, the prix fixe option is a popular way to enjoy a set three- or four-course menu for a good price.
  • German food is hearty and substantial. Among the specialties are dumpling stews, sauerkraut, sausages, smoked cheeses and dark breads. Bavaria produces some of the world’s purest beers, and white German wines are exceptionally good.

Electricity

  • All destinations on this tour operate on 220 volts and the standard European two-pronged plugs are used. 
  • In all of these countries, the plugs are different than those used in the U.S.
  • We recommend packing a universal adapter as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other electrical device without a built-in converter. 
  • Some of the hotels on this tour will provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. 

Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. 
  • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches. 
  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.

Time zones

  • Switzerland, France, and Germany are one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). 
  • When it’s noon in New York, it’s 6pm on tour.

Currency

  • You will use the Swiss franc and the euro (in France and Germany) on your tour. 
  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, 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 used to withdraw cash at local banks, as needed. 
  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. 
  • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.

Tipping

  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $6USD/CAD to and $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver.
  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. 
  • Tips can only be paid in cash. 

Purchasing excursions on tour

  • Most optional excursions, will be available for purchase while you are on your tour. 
  • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for excursions. 
  • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged. 
  • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.

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