DAY 1 - (Sat.) Board your overnight transatlantic flight.
DAY 2 - Arrive in Vienna, Austria - (Sun.)
Time to rest or start exploring the Viennese capital.
At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a special welcome dinner at your hotel.
DAY 3 - Vienna - (Mon.)
Meet your Local Guide and start your sightseeing with vistas of Prater Park with its giant Ferris wheel, and the United Nations City on the banks of the Danube River. Then, drive along Ring Boulevard, pass the State Opera House, the Jewish quarter, and stop at the Hofburg Palace, winter residence of the Austrian Imperial family.
Marvel at the impressive courtyards and famous Heldenplatz and visit awesome ST. STEPHEN’S CATHEDRAL. Afternoon at leisure. Optional excursions to Schönbrunn Palace and the wine village of Grinzing are available. (Breakfast)
DAY 4 - At Leisure in Vienna - (Tue.)
A full day to explore Vienna independently. Why not visit the imposing Hofburg Palace to see the precious Habsburg Dynasty treasures or visit the Museum of Fine Arts with works by Jan Van Eyck, Rubens, Rembrandt, Raphael, and more. You may want to join an optional excursion to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. (Breakfast)
DAY 5 - Vienna–Melk–Salzburg - (Wed.)
This morning, enjoy a leisurely DANUBE CRUISE. Afterwards, follow the Danube Valley to historic Melk for pictures of the abbey.
No landscape is more typically Austrian than the Salzkammergut lakeland. Stop for a picture of the Parish Church in Mondsee, which was used for the wedding scenes in the Sound of Music, then, continue to Salzburg. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 6 - Salzburg - (Thu.)
Stroll with a Local Guide through the historic center. Admire exquisite MIRABELL GARDENS, the Great Festival Hall, ST. PETER’S CHURCHYARD, the monumental Domplatz, and take pictures of Mozart’s birthplace in the charming Getreidegasse. Afternoon at leisure or join an optional excursion to Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s Eagles Nest. (Breakfast)
DAY 7 - Salzburg–St. Moritz, Switzerland - (Fri.)
Via the Tyrolean Mountains enter the Swiss Engadine, considered by many as the most beautiful mountain area in the world, with its deep-blue lakes, airy larch forests that turn golden in the fall, mountain peaks exceeding 12,000 feet, and quaint villages with massive white stone houses in the characteristic Grisons style. The rest of the day is at leisure in ritzy St. Moritz. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 8 - St. Moritz–Chur–Zermatt - (Sat.)
Drive through exhilarating Alpine scenery. At Chur, board the first-class panoramic coach of the world-renowned GLACIER EXPRESS TRAIN.
Admire thundering waterfalls, impressive peaks, glacial ice fields, and tiny villages as you pass through the Valais, a region known for its great mountain resorts and excellent wines. This afternoon you are in Zermatt, a picturesque cluster of rustic chalets beneath the majestic Matterhorn. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 9 - At Leisure in Zermatt - (Sun.)
An entire day at leisure. Perhaps ride Europe’s highest rack-railway to 10,272-foot Gornergrat for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Alps. (Breakfast)
DAY 10 - Zermatt–Berne - (Mon.)
Board the MOUNTAIN TRAIN to Täsch and motor through the lower Rhône Valley to the shores of Lake Geneva. Here, enjoy a highlight visit to CHILLON CASTLE, the 12th-century water fortress immortalized by poet Lord Byron.
Evening arrival in Berne. (Breakfast, Dinner) Chillon Castle One of Switzerland’s most visited landmarks, Chateau de Chillon (Chillon Castle) has a checkered history due to its most famous “guest.” Magnificently situated jutting out over Lake Geneva, you cross a wooden bridge above the shore waters to enter the round towered fortress.
It faces the snow-capped French Alps which rise above the far side of the lake presenting an amazing view, even to a man chained to a pillar for six years.
Built in the 13th Century by the House of Savoy, the castle offers a glimpse into the life of the time with period furniture, artwork and stately rooms and passageways.
It is best known as the prison sight for Francois Bonivard, tethered in the dungeon and chained to a pillar from 1530-1536, because he supported the Protestant Reformation.
Lake Geneva Stretching along Switzerland’s southern border with France, Lake Geneva (also called Lac Leman by the Swiss) is the largest lake in Europe. It’s pristine shores support a strong fresh water fishing industry. Some would argue that it offers the most beautiful views of any waterway. They are jaw-droppingly amazing; especially the snow capped Jura Alps across the lake from Montreux and Vevey.
The temperatures are moderate along the lake in winter; most of the weather takes place in the mountains. In summer numerous music festivals and artistic events are held in towns along the lake, especially Lausanne, the third most popular city for travelers in Switzerland, next to Zurich and Geneva. It is a sophisticated artist’s haven and the city where T.S. Eliot lived when he wrote “The Wasteland.”
DAY 11 - Berne–Interlaken–Lucerne - (Tue.)
Your guided walking tour focuses on the monumental Federal Palace and the beautifully preserved medieval Old Town. Witness the hourly parade of painted figures at the Clock Tower and take your pictures of ornate, flower-adorned fountains. Stop in Interlaken, beautifully situated beneath the towering Jungfrau. Across Brünig Pass to picture-book Lucerne. You may wish to sign up for a folklore party with yodeling and alphorn blowing for a first-hand impression of Alpine merrymaking. (Breakfast)
DAY 12 - Lucerne - (Wed.)
On your walking tour this morning, admire Thorwaldsen’s LION MONUMENT and ornate patrician houses of the walled Old Town, then, cross the famous covered CHAPEL BRIDGE to the Jesuit church. Afterwards, shop for watches and choose from our optional activities: climb a mountain by cable car or take a cruise on the fjord-like lake.
Tonight, a farewell dinner to celebrate the success of your Swiss vacation. (Breakfast, Dinner) Lion Monument “The Lion of Lucerne” (Lowendenkmal) is a compelling statue in the north section of Old Town dedicated to the 42 members of the Swiss Guard who were assigned to protect Louis the XVI, Maria Antoinette and their family at the Royal Palace.
When the Tuileries was stormed on August 10, 1792 by rioting Parisians at the start of the French Revolution, the king ordered the soldiers to lay down their arms. They were subsequently slaughtered by the crowd and the royal family was captured. Louis had made a big mistake.
In 1821 Danish sculpture Berthel Thorwaldsen finished the sculpture, a 30-foot likeness of a wounded and dying lion with a broken lance in its heart and his paw resting atop the fleur-de-lys shield of the Bourbon king. The Latin inscription translated “To the bravery and fidelity of the Swiss.”
DAY 13 - Lucerne–Zürich Airport (Thu.)
Morning transfer to Zürich Airport in time for homebound flights leaving no earlier than 10 am. Extra nights are available in Zürich, not Lucerne. (Breakfast)