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Christmas Markets of Switzerland, Alsace & the Black Forest

  • Duration: 12 days
  • Group size: 18-35
Alpine vistas, charming towns, and seasonal celebrations await.

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.

Your tour package includes
  • 10 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 10 breakfasts
  • 4 dinners with beer or wine
  • 2 wine tastings
  • 7 guided sightseeing tours
Included highlights
  • Christmas markets from Lucerne to Freiburg
  • Chillon Castle
  • Gornergrat open-air cog railway
  • the Matterhorn
  • Glacier Express train ride
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Day-by-day itinerary
Overnight Flight1 night
Day 1: Travel day

Board your overnight flight to Zurich today.

Lucerne Region2 nights
Day 2: Arrival in Lucerne via Zurich
Included meal: Dinner

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

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Lucerne & Christmas market visit
Included meal: 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 the Lucerne region on your own or add an excursion.

Mount Pilatus
Excursion (additional cost)
Zermatt2 nights
Day 4: Zermatt via Montreux & Chillon Castle
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Pass through the scenic foothills of the Alps today, stopping to visit Chillon Castle and Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. Then, make your way to the car-free mountain town of Zermatt. Upon arrival, follow your Tour Director on a short orientation tour and take in views of the iconic Matterhorn.

Day 5: The Matterhorn Region
Included meal: Breakfast

Set out to explore the mountainous landscapes surrounding the Matterhorn today. Stop along the way 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

Interlaken2 nights
Day 6: Interlaken via the Glacier Express & Andermatt
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Board the Glacier Express, a famed train with cars specially designed for scenic viewing, and travel north through the Alps to Andermatt. Then, make your way to Interlaken, the gateway to the region’s towering mountains and pristine lakes.

Day 7: Free day in Interlaken
Included meal: Breakfast

Enjoy a full free day in Interlaken or add an excursion.

Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe
Excursion (additional cost)
Strasbourg2 nights
Day 8: Strasbourg via Bern Christmas markets
Included meal: 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 continue on to Strasbourg, the capital of France’s Alsace region.

Day 9: Sightseeing tour of Strasbourg & Christmas market visit
Included meal: Breakfast

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, admiring the Petite France neighborhood, Barrage Vauban, and Ponts Couverts from the water

• 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.

Alsace Wine Tasting & Dinner
Excursion (additional cost)
Black Forest Region2 nights
Day 10: Sightseeing tour of Colmar & Freiburg Christmas Market
Included meal: Breakfast

En route to the Black Forest region, stop for a guided sightseeing tour of 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, the Bartholdi Museum, and Saint Martin Church

• Visit Colmar Christmas Markets and enjoy a cup of mulled wine and cookies

Continue on to the German town of Freiburg.

• Visit the Freiburg Christmas Market with your Tour Director this evening

• Enjoy a tasting of mulled wine, shop for handmade gifts, and enjoy 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.

• Visit Dorotheenhütte, a glassworks in the Black Forest town of Wolfach, to explore the museum and learn how glass and crystal are made

• Admire a traditional 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.

Flight Home
Day 12: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the Zurich airport for your flight home.

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Hotels, flights, & FAQ

Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.

Hotels

We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.

Grand Hotel Europe

This Belle Époque hotel is located near the lake promenade. Guests enjoy a restaurant, bar, and free Wi-Fi. Nearby, you’ll find Lake Lucerne, Chapel B...

Butterfly Hotel Zermatt

This Alpine-inspired hotel is located in Zermatt Village Center. Guests enjoy a Finnish sauna, free Wi-Fi, and a hotel bar. Nearby, you'll find the Go...

Flights

Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.

Add our airfare package and you'll get:
  • Round-trip flight for your tour
  • Airport transfers at your destination
  • A great price locked in today
  • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
  • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
  • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
  • Find out more about flights
FAQ
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 moderately uneven terrain, including paved roads and cobblestone streets, and will reach high elevations on select portions of this tour.
  • 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 managing your own baggage at times, as well as getting in and out of trains and boats.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
Transportation & arrival information
  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead Tours arrive in and depart from Zurich. A representative from Go Ahead Tours will meet you at the airport and take you 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 Tours. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead Tours 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 our 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
  • Winters in Switzerland, France, and Germany are generally cold. To ensure you’re comfortable for outdoor sightseeing and Christmas market visits, we recommend packing a warm coat, hat, and gloves, as well as rainwear.
  • We also suggest packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can easily be layered.
  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes, sneakers, or winter boots is recommended for sightseeing.
  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or special performance.
Health
  • There are no major health risks associated with 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](https://www.cdc.gov).
  • Please be aware that on select portions of this tour, you will be traveling to altitudes as high as 12,000 feet above sea level. These high altitudes can sometimes cause breathing difficulties for travelers who have heart problems or respiratory ailments. If you suffer from any of these conditions, please speak to your doctor regarding any potential health risks.
  • Even healthy travelers may sometimes experience altitude sickness, a temporary condition featuring symptoms of headache, fatigue, nausea, and light-headedness. Until your body acclimates to the higher altitudes reached on select portions of this tour, we suggest that you drink plenty of fluids and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
  • 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 Tours at least 30 days prior to departure by logging in to your account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience 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
  • Switzerland operates on the European standard 220-240 volts and use Types C or J plugs with two or three round pins, respectively.
  • France and Germany operate on the European standard 220-240 volts and use Types C, E, or F plugs with two small, round pins.
  • We recommend packing a universal adapter, as well as a voltage converter if you plan on using your own hairdryer or other device without a built-in converter.
  • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons, and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.
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 Time (ET).
  • When it’s noon in New York, it’s 6pm on tour.
Currency
  • You will use the Swiss franc in Switzerland and the euro in France and Germany.
  • 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 $7USD to and $10USD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD per person per day for your driver.
  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD 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. International travel is, by its very nature, unpredictable. We must therefore reserve the right to change this itinerary, without advance notice, to meet with local conditions at the time of travel. We appreciate your understanding. Please refer to our website for Terms & Conditions, dates, and prices.
Choose your dates to start a quote
1 Departures
Tour prices are per person, before flights, and based on two travelers per hotel room.
Dec 8–Dec 19, 2019
$3,399
95% of travelers would recommend Go Ahead Tours to a friend.
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