Rick Steves' Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland Tour, Day by Day
What's it like to experience the heart of Europe in two weeks on a Rick Steves tour? Hop aboard this slideshow preview of our Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 14 Days tour. Let's go! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Trier and the Mosel Valley
We'll meet at 4 p.m. at our hotel in Trier for a "Welcome to Germany" meeting. Then we'll take an evening walk through Deutschland's oldest city, and get acquainted over dinner together.
We'll begin the next morning with a walking tour of the historic Roman and medieval core of Trier, marveling at its Porta Nigra gate, the most impressive Roman fortification in Germany. Then we'll drive along the hill-hugging vineyards and villages of the Mosel Valley, stopping for lunch together in the über-quaint village of Beilstein. Nearby, we'll stretch our legs with a walk and tour of mighty Burg Eltz — Europe's oldest castle still in use as a residence. We'll return to Trier for a free evening to explore more of this pedestrian-friendly town. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Day 3: Baden-Baden Beckons
Our destination today is the old resort town of Baden-Baden, famous for its mineral baths and games of chance. Upon arrival we'll tour the ornate casino and take an orientation stroll through the town. You'll have the rest of your day and evening free to "do the spa" (with or without your swimsuit), wander along the shaded riverside promenade, or hike into the surrounding hills. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 4, 5 & 6: Black Forest and Swiss Alps
We'll start our day with a scenic drive to the Black Forest Open-Air Museum. Here we'll have a local guide walk us through the preserved farmhouses and mills, giving some free time to linger in the past and order up some lunch (prepare for the wurst!). Then we'll drive up into Switzerland's snow-peaked Berner Oberland country. At the end of the deep Lauterbrunnen Valley, we'll take a thrilling gondola ride up to our hotel in cliff-top Mürren, where we'll enjoy amazing views and have dinner together.
The next day is all yours. You may want to join your guide for an optional mountain walk…or ride the gondola up to the Schilthorn at 10,000 feet, loiter in the thin air, and find your way back to Mürren…or take a narrow-gauge railway up the other side of the valley to Kleine Scheidegg, near the majestic Eiger and Jungfrau peaks.
We'll begin our second full day in the Alps with a roaring, thundering, crashing, splashing display of nature's awesome power in Trümmelbach Falls — a series of subterranean waterfalls that plunge hundreds of feet into darkness behind the valley's cliffs. You'll have the afternoon free to take a brisk mountain walk, or explore more of the Berner Oberland on your own before we regroup for dinner. (photo: Rich Sorensen)
Days 7 & 8: Scenic Bavaria and Munich
Today's drive is a good time to catch up on your trip journal, listen to music, curl up with a good book, or just sit back and enjoy views of pristine mountains and sparkling lakes. We'll stop for lunch on our way to the heart of Bavaria — home of fairy-tale castles, well-worn lederhosen, sing-along beer gardens, and oompah-hospitality. Tonight we'll enjoy dinner together and sleep in Munich.
We'll start the next morning getting a behind-the-scenes look at Munich with a walking tour through its historic Old Town and learn about the "checkered" history and traditions of Bavaria. The rest of the day is yours to stroll around Germany's most livable city, soak up some culture at its world-class museums, or rent a bike to pedal the car-free paths of the English Garden and Isar River. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 9 & 10: Neuschwanstein and Salzburg
This morning we'll drive through farming country, then take an uphill hike to tour the fairy-tale fantasy of "Mad" King Ludwig: Neuschwanstein Castle. We'll hike back down to share a picnic lunch together, then (weather permitting) drive to a nearby luge course for a ride on a tiny sled with wheels before leaving Germany behind. Later this afternoon we'll arrive in Salzburg and settle into our quaint hotel. We'll end our day with an orientation walk through the historic center, and share a "Welcome to Austria" dinner together.
Salzburg is a perfect town for a walking tour, and that's how we'll spend the next morning: strolling under the wrought-iron signs of the Getreidegasse, going Baroque at the Salzburg Cathedral, and exploring the Mirabell Gardens. The rest of your day is free for wandering through more of Salzburg's magnificent gardens, hiking up the fortress hill for a panoramic view, or pedaling a rented bike into the countryside, singing "do, re, mi." Your guide will give you a run-down of local concerts you could sneak away to this evening. (photo: Cameron Hewitt)
Day 11: Austria's Lovely Lake District
This morning we'll make our way to the postcard-pretty village of Hallstatt. It's far too cute for our bus, so upon arrival we'll enjoy a boat cruise (weather permitting) on the way to our inviting lakeside hotel. Spend a free afternoon communing with Mother Nature on foot or by boat — or hike up to one of the world's oldest salt mines before tonight's dinner together at our hotel. (photo: Rick Steves)
Days 12 & 13: Lessons of History and Classy Vienna
Today we'll drive toward Vienna, stopping en route to tour the thought-provoking Mauthausen concentration camp, where we'll learn about the Holocaust and lessons of 1933–1945. Then we'll follow the Danube Valley to the grand finale of our tour — Vienna — once the capital of Europe's wealthiest empire. We'll cap off our day with an evening tour through historic Vienna, including a visit to St. Stephen's Cathedral. Your guide will discuss your best bets for dinner on your own.
We'll begin our next day in sophisticated Vienna with a trip to the Third Man Museum for a fascinating look at the city's post-WWII history. Then we'll explore the city's rich Habsburg heritage including the elegant Opera House (when available), and the Hofburg Treasury. Your afternoon is free to explore another world-class museum or two, or slow down to enjoy sipping a coffee in the city where Europe's café scene was born. Tonight we'll meet for our last dinner together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. Prost! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Day 14: Tour Over After Breakfast
This morning we'll enjoy breakfast together and say our final goodbyes before we head for home…or you're welcome to stick around for a few more days to explore more of Europe on your own. Auf Wiedersehen! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Learn more about Rick Steves' Best of Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 14 Days tour.
(Itinerary specifics subject to change.)