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BlogDestinationsThis incredible itinerary will take you to the most breathtaking cities in the European Alps

This incredible itinerary will take you to the most breathtaking cities in the European Alps

Apr 28, 2023 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

Are you looking for that once-in-a-lifetime grand tour of Europe that combines classic hot spots with unexpected destinations? If so, our 13-day Jewels of Alpine Europe tour might be the trip for you.

This itinerary, which visits six Alpine countries, is the type of unforgettable European trip that ticks all the right boxes: You’ll enjoy glamorous, lakeside relaxation; bustling city breaks; bucolic fairytale locales; and, of course, unbelievable views of the rugged peaks of the Alps in Europe. It’s a tour that brings to life the grandeur of the region while allowing you to discover picturesque mountain villages you might not have thought to visit before.

a small lake situated between rigid mountains, surrounded by wildflowers growing in grassy fields

How to visit the Alps?

This iconic, snow-capped mountain range stretches across eight different countries in Western and Central Europe. One of the benefits of going guided to the Alps is that you don’t have to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Whether you’re making your way to a tiny village or a large city, our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour takes you there via private transportation.

You’ll bask in the natural glory of the Alps of Europe—its staggering mountains, lush valleys, crystalline lakes, and narrow canals. You’ll explore the region by foot, train, and boat, delighting your senses all the while.

Discover the best cities of Alpine Europe on this 13-day trip

Lucerne, Switzerland

If you picture the perfect city in the Alps of Europe, you might think of Lucerne. With its stunningly preserved medieval architecture, lakefront perch, and close proximity to snow-capped mountains, your two days in Lucerne during our 13-day Jewels of Alpine Europe tour will be packed with activities that showcase both the history and beauty of this little city.

You’ll visit the Lion Monument—built in homage to the heroic Swiss Guards who died during the French Revolution—and stroll the Kapellbrücke, a wooden footbridge that crosses the river Reuss. You can also sign up for the afternoon excursion to Mount Pilatus. It starts with a cruise on the clear waters of Lake Lucerne before taking you 7,000 feet up the mountain on the world’s steepest cog railway. Get those cameras ready: A lake-and-mountain adventure is one of the best parts of the Alps.

Experience the lakeside city of Lucerne on tour

Interlaken and Bern, Switzerland

Travel in the Alps is full of surprises, and on day four of our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour, you’ll get to visit two beautiful Swiss destinations: Interlaken and Bern. Both are in the country’s Bernese Oberland region, but they couldn’t be more different from one another.

Interlaken is a compact village sandwiched between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz (Interlaken literally means “between lakes” in German), with old timber houses and jaw-dropping views of Jungfraujoch, the saddle connecting the giant peaks of the Bernese Alps. On the other hand, Bern is Switzerland’s capital, with a UNESCO-listed Old Town that dates back to the 1200s. The rushing Aare River borders Bern on three sides, and in the summer, you’ll find locals happily swimming in its cool waters.

If you’re looking for the best places to go in the Alps, it doesn’t get better than these two classic Swiss hot spots. Whether you’re traveling in the summer or winter, they show off the best of the Alps.

Discover the picturesque Alpine village of Interlaken and the charming capital city of Bern on tour

Annecy and Chamonix, France

One of the perks of traveling in the Alps is the chance to experience the effortless atmosphere of small, historic villages like Annecy. Nestled next to its namesake lake in southeastern France, Annecy’s Old Town is worth hours of exploration as you follow the meandering paths of its narrow canals.

Your Tour Director will also lead a visit to the open-air market, a bustling fixture of local life in Alpine Europe, where everyone gathers around stalls packed with colorful produce. You’ll have most of your day free to discover Annecy on your own. (We suggest paying its many churches—with their stained-glass windows, towering pipe organs, and Old World paintings—a visit.)

One of the most famous ski destinations in the European Alps, Chamonix sits at the base of the iconic Mont Blanc, near where the borders of France, Italy, and Switzerland meet. In a country where places look like they’ve been plucked out of fairy tales, Chamonix is the picturesque Alpine village postcards are made for.

Soak in the best of the Alps in Annecy and Chamonix on tour →

Lake Como, Italy

Take one look at the villa-fringed shores of glamorous Lake Como, and you’ll know exactly why celebrities have been flocking to this classic Italian destination for decades. Shaped like an upside-down Y at the foothills of the Alps, the area’s natural and cultural allure makes it a must-see destination when you travel in the Alps. Check out our Lake Como Travel Guide for the ins and outs of this beloved vacation spot.

On day seven of our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour, your stay in Como will start with some free time—so grab lunch at a lakeside trattoria, shop designer boutiques, or simply enjoy the dramatic vistas of this gorgeous pocket of northern Italy. Then, your Tour Director will guide you through Villa Carlotta, famous for its elaborate, colorful gardens. Our optional Lake Como Cruise & Bellagio excursion is the perfect way to get more out of your visit: You’ll enjoy a cruise on the lake before disembarking at Bellagio, one of its most beautiful villages.

Live your Hollywood fantasy at Lake Como on tour

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St. Moritz, Switzerland

The birthplace of winter tourism in the Alps, St. Moritz has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. And thanks to its perch in the Upper Engadine valley, it gets plenty of sunlight, making it a fabulous year-round destination, too. Here, everything—from skiing and hiking to Michelin-starred dining and luxury shopping—is world-class.

It’s easy to understand why, for many, St. Moritz is the best part of the Alps. But one of the highlights of this portion of our 13-day Jewels of Alpine Europe tour is the scenic ride aboard the Bernina Express. The train snakes around the mountains, presenting some of the most awesome views of the lakes and villages of the European Alps. It’s truly a bucket list-worthy train ride.

Experience the glamor of St. Moritz on tour

Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Maybe you’re already familiar with the most famous Alpine countries in Europe, but have you checked Liechtenstein off your list? One of the European Alps’ unsung destinations, Liechtenstein and its capital, Vaduz, are often used as a launchpad for exploring the rest of the region. But our Jewels of Alpine Europe itinerary gives you a proper introduction to this city, which is home to fewer than 6,000 Liechtensteiners. You’ll get to stroll through the tiny city center before passing by Vaduz Castle, which is perched on the hill just outside town. It was first built in the 12th century and remains the royal residence.

Visit small but mighty Vaduz on tour

Innsbruck, Austria

What makes a trip to Austria so special? The whole country’s cocooned in beautiful nature, and Innsbruck—the capital of the Tyrol region that borders Germany and Italy—is no different. The streets of this Alpine region of Europe are full of colorful Gothic and Baroque buildings that would thrill the most ardent architecture enthusiasts. And your Tour Director will even lead a visit to the Golden Roof: Originally completed in 1500 (and covered with 2,657 gilded copper tiles in celebration of Emperor Maximilian I’s wedding), it’s one of the city’s most emblematic places.

Thanks to its mountainous setting, Innsbruck’s human-made marvels are in constant competition with the majesty of the European Alps. And on your second day in Innsbruck, you can even take an excursion to stately Hohenschwangau Castle, the childhood home of Bavaria's Mad King Ludwig. Besides sensational views, its grounds are home to brilliant rooms—some now chapels, others adorned with muraled ceilings. That’s what travel in the Alps can be—a mixture of historic architecture and non-stop natural splendor.

See the imperial glory of Innsbruck on tour →

Munich, Germany

If you think the Alpine region of Europe is mostly about visiting small, charming mountain towns, let Munich impress you with its big-city energy. A lot has been said about the spectacular attractions that it such a thrilling travel destination: The Bavarian capital is beloved by beer buffs for its annual Oktoberfest celebrations, but traveling to Munich also means shopping at designer stores and bustling local markets (especially during Christmastime); perusing world-class artworks in countless museums; and surfing the Eisbachwelle in the middle of the city. If you don’t surf, it’s still quite exciting to watch those brave enough to tackle it.

Our Jewels of Alpine Europe itinerary features a two-night stop in Munich. During your stay, your Tour Director will lead visits to Marienplatz—the city’s medieval core—to see the famed Glockenspiel (the largest in Germany) as well as the opulent Residenz, the former home of the royal family. On day two, you can also choose to join our excursion to Dachau, which is now a poignant Holocaust memorial.

Still, there’s plenty of free time for you to people-watch and soak in the distinctly modern Bavarian vibes of Munich—one of the best parts of the Alps.

Discover Munich’s big-city energy on tour

Salzburg, Austria

Eager to keep your tour of the Alps of Europe going? Add two more days to your Jewels of Alpine Europe itinerary with an extension in Salzburg. Known as the birthplace of Mozart and the filming location for The Sound of Music, this picturesque border city is packed with attractions that make it one of the best places to go in the Alps.

Your Tour Director will guide you through the delightfully Baroque Salzburg Cathedral, the Old Town’s centuries-old Alter Markt, and some of the spots where The Sound of Music was filmed.

You can also sign up for some pretty special excursions, like our Mozart Concert & Dinner and an exciting seasonal day trip to the Eagle’s Nest & Salt Mines. From the perch of this historic Alpine retreat—originally built for Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi Party—it looks as if the best parts of the Alps lay before you.

See what makes Salzburg sing on tour

Ready to travel in the Alps with us? Shop our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour now.

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About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.

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