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Do you love nature and adventure travel? Visit these 20 cities in the mountains to see the world from new heights

Jul 20, 2023 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

When it comes to travel, we love to explore—no matter the location. We try not to play favorites, but it’s hard to deny that a breathtaking view makes a city all the more enchanting. If you want to explore charming towns perched atop soaring peaks and nestled into lush valleys, you’ll love visiting these cities in the mountains on tour with us. From cozy Alpine villages to sky-high cities in the clouds, these destinations will let you see the world from a whole new vantage point.

sunflowers growing near a cluster of buildings with a steeple in the mountains of Interlaken

1. Interlaken, Switzerland

Situated between two Alpine lakes and huddled beneath snowcapped mountains, the Swiss city of Interlaken looks like something out of a fantasy novel. Join us on the Jungfraujoch: The Top of Europe excursion offered on our Switzerland, Alsace & the Black Forest tour to see why Jungfraujoch, the soaring mountain pass, is known as “the Top of Europe.” Sip hot chocolate at the summit, sit down for lunch, or explore the Ice Palace—a glacial cavern filled with sculptures carved from ice. 

2. Annecy, France

Known as “the Venice of the Alps,” Annecy is one of the most beautiful and romantic mountain getaways in France. The lakeside town is interwoven with a maze of canals and is set against the dramatic backdrop of the French Alps. If you visit the enchanting town in the spring or summer on our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour, you’ll find the cobblestone streets and open-air markets awash with flowers. “I cannot recommend this tour enough,” said traveler Hilary. “We had a terrific chaperone in the amazing Lala, and the site visits were just heaven. Annecy is now one of my top ten favorite spots in the world!” We couldn’t agree more and have declared it one of the places in France you need to visit beyond Paris

a village in the valley of Chamonix, France with a backdrop of white-capped mountains

3. Chamonix, France

Seated at the base of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in the Alps, you’ll find the picture-perfect French ski village of Chamonix. This fairytale village is one of our 28 towns in France that are straight out of a storybook. “Chamonix is small, cute, a real ski area,” wrote traveler Judy after returning from our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour. Visit the village on the French Alps extension of our French Riviera & Provence: Nice, Avignon & Aix-en-Provence tour and ride up the side of a mountain on the historic Montenvers cog railway for a view of the Mer de Glace, France’s largest glacier. 

4. St. Moritz, Switzerland

St. Moritz just might be the best city in the mountains for winter sports fans. This Swiss resort town is a hub of winter sports and has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. The town hosts skiers, bobsledders, tobogganers, and plenty of travelers who simply visit for the stunning mountain views. Hop aboard the Bernina Express on our Jewels of Alpine Europe tour for a scenic journey to St. Moritz. “St. Moritz is beautiful,” said traveler Judy. “Do ride the Bernina Express if you can. It is a terrific train ride.”

5. Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein (one of the smallest countries in the world), is a tiny, walkable city in the mountains. Stop by for a quick passport stamp on our Germany, Switzerland & Austria tour and stroll down the cafe- and shop-lined streets. You’ll catch a glimpse of Vaduz Castle perched on a hill overlooking the city, but you won’t be able to go inside—the prince and his family still use it as their personal residence. Once a year, though, on August 15, the royal family opens the doors to the castle and throws a big party for all of the citizens of Liechtenstein in celebration of Liechtenstein National Day. 

a red tram driving by a row of buildings with a backdrop of snow-covered mountains

6. Innsbruck, Austria

If you prefer your mountain getaways with a touch of historic European charm, join us on our Germany, Switzerland & Austria tour and explore the Austrian city of Innsbruck. Stroll through the historic Old Town and marvel at the Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture set against the backdrop of the Austrian Alps. Don’t miss the famed Goldenes Dachl, the Golden Roof, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. 

If you visit Innsbruck on our Christmas Markets of Germany, Switzerland & Austria tour, you’ll find the city transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland. Sip a mug of mulled wine (one of the best souvenirs at Europe’s Christmas markets) as you meander among the wooden stalls, lit by thousands of twinkling lights. “Going to the Christmas markets was always fun and truly a unique experience,” said traveler Lynda after returning from the tour. “Many gifts were purchased. The snow that fell on the trip made it feel like I was in a snow globe. Magical and beautiful!”

7. Salzburg, Austria

If you’ve ever wanted to see the famous hills from The Sound of Music—you know, the ones that are “alive”—join us on a tour of Austria to the mountainous city of Salzburg. You’ll pass through the scenery that made Salzburg one of Austria’s most famous cities in the mountains. Of course, the mountains aren’t the only thing musical in Salzburg—the city also happens to be the birthplace of Mozart. Join us on the Mozart Concert & Dinner excursion offered on our Germany, Switzerland & Austria tour to enjoy dinner set to the tune of the master composer’s work accompanied by opera singing. 

8. Berchtesgaden, Germany

Not far from Salzburg, across the German border, you’ll find the mountain village of Berchtesgaden. The charming, candy-colored town has a complicated past and is popular among history buffs for its proximity to the former Nazi stronghold of Obersalzberg and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, a hilltop retreat where the dictator entertained guests. On the Berchtesgaden: Salt Mines & Village Visit excursion or the seasonal Eagle’s Nest & Salt Mines excursion (which runs mid-May through September) offered on our Germany, Switzerland & Austria tour, you’ll visit the village of Berchtesgaden and tour the nearby 450-year-old salt mines, complete with an underground boat ride across Mirror Lake. 

different colored canoes tied to a dock with snow-capped mountains and tall pine trees in the background

9. Banff, Canada

If your goal is to visit cities in mountains surrounded by nature, the Canadian town of Banff will not disappoint. The town is nestled within Banff National Park and surrounded by the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Spend some free time strolling through the charming downtown area, grab a bite to eat, pop into a few boutiques for souvenirs, and then head to nearby Lake Louise to see one of the best views in the U.S. and Canada. The turquoise glacial lake is ringed with a shore path that’s perfect for exploring. “Banff was gorgeous,” said traveler Suzie after returning from our Canadian Rockies by Train: Banff, Lake Louise & Vancouver tour. “Lots of cute shops, so many lakes, rivers, mountains, glaciers...everywhere you turn is another beautiful picture.” 

10. Canmore, Canada

The town of Canmore may not be as well known as neighboring Banff, but it’s one of the prettiest mountainous cities in the Canadian Rockies. The view of the Three Sisters mountains rising from the surrounding pine forest is worth a visit alone. A favorite landing spot among hikers and whitewater rafters, downtown Canmore is very walkable (some of the main roads are made pedestrian-only in the summer months), with plenty of art galleries, shopping, and breweries. Join us on the Canmore Brewery Tour & Dinner excursion offered on our The Canadian Rockies Walking Tour: Banff & Lake Louise to tour the Grizzly Paw Pub & Brewing Company. Learn how the brewery crafts beer and soda from local ingredients, and sample some of their creations at this local-favorite watering hole. 

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11. Kalispell, Montana

One of the best mountain towns in the U.S., Kalispell, Montana, serves as the gateway to Glacier National Park. Downtown Kalispell has a charming, historic “Main Street U.S.A.” feel to it, with small boutiques and local breweries ready to be discovered. It’s the perfect place to shop for Western wear or enjoy a bison burger after exploring the majesty of Glacier National Park on our National Parks: Canadian Rockies, Glacier & Yellowstone tour. After a day of soaking up the beauty of lofty, snowcapped mountains and pristine lakes, you’ll see why we consider the park one of the most beautiful places to visit in the U.S. 

12. Kamikōchi, Japan

Most of the places on this list are cities or towns with mountains surrounding them, but Kamikōchi, Japan, is more of a remote mountain valley with just a handful of hotels, shops, and restaurants. The tiny resort town is only accessible by bus or taxi (private cars are banned) and is only open from mid-April to mid-November. Visit on our Japan: Kyoto, the Japanese Alps & Tokyo to see one of the best places to experience the stunning Japanese wilderness. Walk along the shores of Taisho Pond, a tranquil lake formed by a volcanic eruption, and cross Kappabashi suspension bridge for a view of the surrounding mountains that will leave you breathless. 

a collage of a women posing at a viewpoint in front of snow-covered mountains and a group of travelers in front of the Denali National Park and Reservation sign

13. Denali, Alaska

One of the best things about visiting mountain towns is the wide variety of flora and fauna you’ll encounter. Join us on our Alaska’s National Parks: Denali & the Kenai Fjords tour for a chance to see Alaska’s Big Five—bears, wolves, Dall sheep, caribou, and moose—as well as eagles, foxes, and snowshoe hares. Denali is also home to its namesake peak, the tallest mountain in North America. “We saw grizzlies with cubs playing, moose, Dall sheep, ptarmigan, marmots, caribou, and ground squirrels,” wrote traveler JoAnn after returning from her tour. “We even saw Denali mountain in its entirety. This is a must; a once-in-a-lifetime trip that everyone should take.” 

14. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska, is one of the best mountain towns in the U.S. if you’re looking for a balance of scenery and culture. When you join us on our Alaska’s National Parks: Denali & the Kenai Fjords tour, you’ll have ample time to explore Alaska’s largest city, tucked away between the mountains and an inlet. Join us on our Alaska Native Heritage Center & Dinner excursion to learn about Alaska’s indigenous cultures and shop for artwork made by native Alaskan artisans. 

a collage of a traveler taking a picture of a waterfall from a boat and an image of a mountain and its reflection in the adjacent body of water

15. Milford Sound, New Zealand

If you like your cities in mountains to be more mountain, less city, consider a trip to Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island. Admiring the landscape surrounding this stunning fjord is one of our top things to do in New Zealand. Visit on our New Zealand: Untamed Landscapes tour and sip a glass of locally made wine as you sail past soaring cliffs and the staggering Mitre Peak, which rises more than 5,000 feet out of that water. “Sailing slowly through the misty fjords and seeing hidden waterfalls around every turn was truly one of the most magical experiences of my life,” said staffer Lynne. 

16. Queenstown, New Zealand

New Zealand is a small country made up of big, breathtaking landscapes. From glacial fjords to vast mountain areas, it’s no wonder the scenery has helped inspire so many films. Visit Queenstown, one of New Zealand’s mountainous cities, on our Australia & New Zealand tour and ride the Skyline Gondola up Bob’s Peak at sunset for staggering panoramic views. The ride is one of our favorite things to do in 48 hours in Queenstown, New Zealand. “Queenstown, on the south island, was my favorite,” said traveler Joyce of our New Zealand: Untamed Landscapes tour. “The scenery is stunning there, and the sunrises over the mountains were spectacular. Be sure to take the gondola up on Bob’s Peak, which overlooks the lake, where you’ll be able to see the numerous paragliders as they take off.” 

Old Bridge Heidelberg leading to the town of Heidelberg, photographed from behind a tree

17. Heidelberg, Germany

One of our favorite things about visiting towns with mountains is getting the opportunity to see the lavish castles and villas that were built to take advantage of the views (and strategically hard-to-reach settings). One such place exists in Heidelberg, a romantic city in southwestern Germany and one of the most incredible places to see in Germany. If you visit on our Grand Tour of Germany, you’ll take a funicular ride to the hilltop Heidelberg Palace to tour the rose-colored sandstone castle and gaze out over the city’s Old Town below. After returning from our Germany, Switzerland & Austria tour traveler Joan wrote, “Heidelberg was one of our highlights. Sitting on the river and the palace up high was a great historical experience.”

18. Ronda, Spain

The Spanish city of Ronda is one of the most unique mountain areas in Europe. Traveler Cheryl called it “One of the most beautiful and fascinating places I’ve ever been.” Perched atop a towering limestone cliff, the gleaming white city spans both sides of a deep gorge. There are so many reasons why you should visit Ronda, Spain, on our Grand Tour of Spain, but one of our favorites has to be a visit to Puente Nuevo Bridge, the impressive 18th-century bridge that traverses the gorge, connecting both sides of the city. 

19. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When people think of cities in the mountains, they often think of Alpine villages and ski resorts, but there are many mountainous cities in places that we more commonly associate with sun and sunshine, like Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of Rio’s most famous monuments, the Christ the Redeemer statue, sits atop Corcovado Mountain, one of the tallest peaks in the area. Hop aboard a cogwheel train on our Rio, Iguazú Falls & Buenos Aires tour to see why a visit to the summit is one of our five must-have experiences in Rio de Janeiro

a group of travelers posing for a picture on a viewpoint overlooking the city and coastline of Cape Town

20. Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, one of South Africa’s three capital cities, stretches out to the sea in one direction while meandering up the sides of mountains in the other. When you visit on our South Africa: Cape Town to Kruger National Park tour, you’ll have the opportunity to take a cable car up to the summit of Table Mountain for a panoramic view of this city in the mountains. A chance to admire the view from the top of Table Mountain is one of our top five reasons to travel to Cape Town. From the peak, you’ll spot Signal Hill, a nearby mountain where flags were once placed to signal weather conditions to passing ships.

Ready to explore these cities in the mountains? Join us on tour!

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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.

The mountains are calling...

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