Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich. A transfer is included from Munich International Airport to the city-center Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich. Please join us for a welcome reception followed by dinner this evening.
Discover Munich & a poignant visit to Dachau
An introductory tour of Munich includes visits to the opulent 17th-century Nymphenburg Palace - a favorite summer residence of the Bavarian kings, the birthplace of the 19th-century Bavarian King Ludwig II, and today the home of Franz, Duke of Bavaria (head of the House of Wittelsbach, the former royal family of Bavaria) - as well as the Carriage Museum. You'll also have time to explore the heart of this cozy city on your own; at the pedestrian crossroads of Marienplatz (Mary's Square), you may catch the glockenspiel show and find many of Munich's must-see sights within walking distance. In the afternoon, join us if you wish for a poignant guided visit to the memorial complex at Dachau, site of the first and longest-operating Nazi concentration camp between 1933 and 1945. Return to your hotel in Munich for an evening to spend as you please.
Oberammergau to Seefeld in the Austrian Alps
Departing Munich this morning, make your way through Bavaria for a visit to the quaint village of Oberammergau - famed for its once-a-decade performances of the Passion Play (the next occurs in 2020), as well as for its tradition of skilled woodcarving and the charming lüftimalerei (frescoes) that decorate many homes, depicting scenes from Bavarian folktales. After lunch in Oberammergau, continue on into Austria to the Alpine winter ski resort village of Seefeld in the Austrian state of Tyrol, site of several Winter Olympic Games, for an overnight stay.
Imperial treasures in Innsbruck, Tratzberg & Salzburg
Green domes and red roofs welcome you to the Alpine city of Innsbruck along the Inn River - twice the host city for the Winter Olympics; it's also home to one of the most beautiful medieval city centers in Austria (Gothic Old Town), and impressive imperial architecture that dates back to its days as the capital of late 15th-century Habsburg Emperor Maximilian I. After a walking tour with a local guide, enjoy some free time on your own. Travel by rail to Schloss Tratzberg, on the slopes of the Karwendel Alps, where an entertaining private tour introduces the castle's half-century of history, and medieval merriment reigns during a private wine reception featuring wines produced from the castle's own vineyards. Your final destination today is Salzburg, where you'll begin a three-night stay in the heart of the city.
Salzburg sightseeing, the Eagle's Nest & Berchtesgaden's Salt Mines
A guided walking tour this morning introduces Salzburg, a city of intensive cultural traditions that took off with the career of its most famous resident, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You'll see his birthplace and other local attractions, followed by lunch on your own and free time to explore the sights as you wish. This afternoon, depart for the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest), a 6,000-ft. mountaintop tea house built in the 1930s. A special mountain coach takes us high up the Kehlstein road; blasted out of solid rock in just 13 months, it is considered a feat of engineering. This evening brings fascinating travel into mountain depths on a memorable visit to the Berchtesgaden Salt Mines. You'll don protective overalls (and perhaps a sweater) for an optional slide* down into this centuries-old miners' world, including an illuminated lake and an interactive chamber where you'll learn about the long history of salt mining in the Alps. A private dinner with entertainment follows in the salt mine, today converted into a gasthaus - for Tauck guests only!
Salzburg at leisure, then a trip to the beautiful Salzkammergut
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Salzburg, a city divided into two halves by the Salzach River. This afternoon, travel to St. Gilgen in the Salzkammergut, a region of peaceful lakes and craggy peaks that you might well recognize from film locations used in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, for a visit to a local farm. Back in Salzburg, your evening is free.
Through Grossglockner Pass to the Dolomites & a schnapps tasting
Leaving Salzburg, and weather and visibility permitting, find yourself on one of the most scenic roads in the world today as you travel through famed Grossglockner Pass. This is what you've come to the Alps to experience - a seemingly endless panorama of towering alpine peaks and mighty glaciers. Opened in 1935, Austria's Grossglockner-Hochalpenstrasse (High Alpine Road) paved the way to one of the most impressive and incomparable natural experiences on Earth. The road takes you up into the most spectacular Alpine scenery you could possibly imagine; from the highest point, you'll be able to see more than 30 mountains higher than 8,000 feet! Enjoy a lunch of East Tyrolean fare - along with a memorable schnapps tasting - at a 400-year-old family farm in Kuenz. Continue on to Cortina d'Ampezzo, a Dolomites resort town in northern Italy, famed in winter for skiing and in summer for mountain climbing, for a two-night stay; the town is both chic - and considered chic to be seen in.
A day in the Dolomites
From Cortina d'Ampezzo, head out with experienced mountain guides to spend a full day in the Dolomites, their sheer rock walls standing like silent stone sentinels against the sky. You'll have an opportunity this morning for in-depth exploration of this starkly beautiful region, which a century ago was the scene of harsh, bitter fighting between Italian and Austrian troops during World War I; the front line passed through the area you'll visit today. Your choices include a hike with a mountain guide around the Refuggio; a rock climbing session with an experienced climber; or time spent relaxing and taking in the spectacular views at the Refuggio. Lunch includess a Q&A session with a noted Italian mountain climber; return to your hotel in Cortina d'Ampezzo for an afternoon and evening spent as you wish.
Via the South Tyrol to the Swiss Alps
Drive through the Dolomites this morning and into the South Tyrol (also known as the Alto Adige) in the Italian Alps, to its capital, Bolzano - a small, well-preserved city of mountain landscapes, medieval architecture and a fusion of Italian and Austrian cultural influences. After time to check out the town and have lunch on your own, our Swiss Alps tour travels this afternoon across the Italo-Swiss border and by train through the Flüela Pass (conditions permitting) and on to Davos, Switzerland for a two-night stay. Tonight, join us for a quintessential Swiss dinner with fondue and wine at your hotel.
Alpine cheese, Monstein brews & more on your Swiss Alps tour
Like the Swiss farmers who bring their cows from the valleys up to Alpine pastures each summer, you'll find yourself in the mountains surrounding Davos this morning on the Clavadeler Alp for a cheese-making demonstration. From the locals, learn why Swiss cheeses, like gruyère, raclette and emmanthaler, are enriched when cows graze on summer's high grasslands, hear the resonating tones of an alphorn, once used by lone herdsmen to gather and calm their charges. In the village of Monstein, visit the highest brewery in Europe where beers are crafted with water sourced from mountain streams; enjoy a demonstration and tasting at the brewery, and a guided visit to the village. Return to your hotel in Davos to spend the rest of the day and evening as you please.
Einsiedeln, ski jumping & William Tell
Travel from Davos to the Alpine town of Einsiedeln, known both for its Benedictine abbey dating to the 10th century (featuring some of the finest 18th century Baroque buildings in Switzerland) and its state-of-the-art ski jumping complex, Schanzen Einsiedeln, whose first facilities were built in 2001. You'll learn the history of ski jumping and much more on a tour of the Einsideln jump complex - now Switzerland's national ski jumping venue, comprising four ultra-modern hills - which includes a chairlift ride and breathtaking views of Einsiedeln and environs. Later, meet "William Tell" himself, who recounts a story or two, and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Brunnen. Continue on to Lucerne for a two-night stay; upon arrival this afternoon, join us for a guided walking tour of this historic Swiss city on Lake Lucerne, and have dinner at your leisure at the hotel tonight.
Lake Lucerne cruise & up to Mt. Titlis
While a thoroughly modern, culturally rich city, lakeside Lucerne retains much of its old-world charm and a strong sense of its history, with its medieval covered wooden bridges and the many Renaissance and Baroque fountains that dot its landscape - along with many wonderful galleries, shops and cafés. Join us this morning for a boat cruise across Lake Lucerne to Stansstad, then a drive to the vicinity of Mt. Titlis in the Uri Alps, site of the world's first rotating cable car in the 1960s. Today, your Mt. Titlis experience includes passage on the cable car system from Engelberg to Mt. Titlis, the Ice Flyer chairlift, and activities on the summit - including Glacier Park, the illuminated Glacier Cave, and the incredible Titlis Cliff Walk, Europe's highest suspension bridge, which opened in 2012. After lunch at Mt. Titlis, return to Lucerne for time on your own and this evening's farewell reception at your hotel, followed by a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Tour ends: Lucerne. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern to Zurich Airport (approximately 41 miles). Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in.