You will enjoy it more if you are relatively fit and healthy. There may be a multi-share night, with shared bathrooms in the mountain huts. Though typically the hotels have private facilities. Be prepared to deal with what the weather has in store, sun, rain, snow or wind. It’s all part of the experience though we choose autumn as it is often more stable than summer.
- Lake Luzern and Pilatus mountain railway excursion
- Wander the coastal walkway of the Cinque Terre and its colorful villages
- Spend time in the ancient walled city of Lucca and visit Pisa
- Sample a real Swiss fondue
- Enjoy spectacular walks around Zermatt and the famous Matterhorn
- Hike with the locals off the beaten track in Austria and Italy
- Ride Europe’s highest cog railway
- Stay in a little known Austrian village with spectacular scenery
- Walk through the stunning Italian Dolomites
- End with a night in beautiful Vienna
Day 1: Arrival Day Luzern. Short welcome meeting and dinner in one of the lovely riverside outdoor restaurants. Meals: (D).
Day 2: Traverse the lake on one of the original paddle steamers and then ride the cog railway up to Mount Pilatus for spectacular views and a short hike for a picnic lunch stop. From the top we take a cable car down the other side and/or walk part of the way through picturesque mountain scenery, forests and there’s even time to stop for a beer at in a mountain pub on the way.
Day 3: This morning you have another opportunity to savor the medieval town center of Luzern, before we depart on a beautiful train trip over the Brunning Pass to Interlaken and Grindelwald. Our base for the next few days in the Jungfrau region. Enjoy an afternoon walk to the stunning glacier gorge of Grindelwald.
Days 4-5: From here we include a visit to the uniquely U shaped valley of Lauterbrunnen and the Trummelbach Falls which drain the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. Ride up an elevator inside the mountain to see them! A stunning train ride up to Jungfrau Joch, the highest cog railway in Europe takes us though the north wall of the Eiger mountain as we gain height. At the top, the glacier stretches for miles out behind the Monch, and there are ice caves complete with sculptures. Walks in this region can include the spectacular Eiger Trail underneath the north face, or a walk towards Lauterbrunnen through alpine pastures. We may take the cable car up to First and walk along a high trail to Grosse Scheiddeg.
Days 6-7: After a four hour traverse of Switzerland to the mountain village of Zermatt, home of the famous Matterhorn. We will hopefully be rewarded with a sunset glimpse of this majestic peak. Our day walk with plenty of rests and photo opportunities takes us up the lower sunny slopes in the morning and then crossing over to the other side of the valley for a longer but gentle up hill through a forest then spectacular views of the Matterhorn from a different perspective.
Days 8-10: Our train journey today takes us through the alps, into Italy and on to Monterosso, one of the five Cinque Terre villages where we stay for the next three nights. The area is so unique that it has been named a UNESCO world heritage site and is a group of five fishing villages clinging to the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Our main hike takes us along the ancient pathway joining the villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We will walk among the steep terraces that allow for cultivation of olives, grapes, and chestnut trees.
Days 11 & 12: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a swim in the bay, then it’s only a couple of short train rides to the ancient city of Lucca, hemmed in by 16th century ramparts and laced with cobblestone streets. The best way to get around Lucca is by bike, as cars are not allowed on many of the streets within the wall. For fabulous views and a great morning walk, bike or run, the 5 km loop on the top of the ramparts was once a racetrack and is now paved and tree lined. There is time to visit Pisa which is only 40 minutes by bus from Lucca, perhaps enjoy a wine and olive tasting.
Day 13: Morning train to Trento and bus to our hotel on the slopes of Monte Bondone. This is an area famous for its scenery, wine making and medieval town with underground Roman ruins.
Day 14: Today we spend time walking in the Three Peaks area for dramatic views. If we have bad weather, our day will be spent exploring Trento, which has ancient Roman ruins under the museum and remnants of a town wall, a castle and one of the best pizzeria/breweries in northern Italy.
Days 15 -18: Our journey takes us to the village of Wolkenstein in the heart of the Dolomites. The scenery is spectacular and the walks varied. Enjoy one our most dramatic stops with amazing local trails, food and a hearty welcome from the family who run the cozy B&B where we stay.
Days 19-21 A short train ride takes us into Austria for the start of our stay at Neustift in the magnificent Stubai Valley. Here we stay in another lovely family owned B&B. On our first night a leisurely 1 hour walk takes us to a typical restaurant in the forest, for a feature dinner of their local treats.Then we take the road less traveled and hike to the alpine club mountain huts throughout the valley. Most of the hikes to the huts are no more than 2 hours each way and we can actually go from hut to hut over rocky mountain passes and some spectacular scenery. This option will depend on weather and group ability.
Day 22: This morning we board our train to Vienna. It’s a scenic journey through central Austria. Our final days in Austria are spent exploring the classic city of Vienna. An extra night or two is recommended and if you have time, why not take the 2hr fast train to Budapest. It is a fabulous day trip and great contrast to Vienna.
Day 23: Departure day.
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