Feast on incredible views as you scale the heights of the Bavarian, Austrian, Italian and Swiss Alps by cable car and more… explore Munich, Salzburg and Lucerne... and experience the Oberammergau Passion Play (2022) with the Tauck Difference!
Time to enjoy an interlude of Alpine magic... by definition, an interlude means a short play or dramatic entertainment, a musical composition inserted between the parts of a longer composition or an intermission or pause... all of which apply in some form to our delightful respite in the alpine countries of Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Austria... and in 2022, we include the once-in-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play... Journey through some of the most inspiring scenery on earth, and climb to mountain summits via aerial cable car for sweeping panoramas of alpine splendor. Explore the exciting cities of Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg and Lucerne, and colorful Alpine villages and towns like Bolzano, Cortina d'Ampezzo and Oberammergau – where, in 2022, you'll experience, live and in person, the pageantry of the famous Oberammergau Passion Play, only performed in the first year of each decade. Savor a real taste of the Alps at a Swiss cheese-making demonstration, lunch with a tour and schnapps tasting at a 400-year-old farm, dinner in Berchtesgaden's salt mines, lunch in the Dolomites and meeting a noted Italian mountain climber, and an adventure at the summit of Mt. Titlis in the Swiss Alps. Your spirits will soar as high as the mountains as you discover the Alps...
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Hotel Bayerischer Hof. A transfer is included from Munich International Airport to the city-center Hotel Bayerischer Hof. Please join us for a welcome reception followed by dinner this evening.
A guided introductory tour of Munich reveals some of the must-see sights in the heart of the Bavarian capital this morning, including the celebrated Maximilianstrasse, the 17th-century Residenz, and the old town hall. Enjoy some time to explore more of this city as you please, before mid-afternoon traveling to the Oberammergau area for a two-night stay. Settle into your hotel, where you'll have dinner at your leisure this evening.
You're off to the village of Oberammergau this morning; along with the Passion Play, the village is also renowned for its tradition of skilled woodcarving and the charming lüftimalerei (frescoes) that decorate many homes, depicting scenes from Bavarian folktales. Early afternoon marks the beginning of one of Europe's most beloved and venerable traditions, the performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play (or Passionsspiele) depicting the story of the Passion of Christ. In the 1630's, as the plague raged throughout Europe, the people of Oberammergau vowed to perform a play about the life of Jesus Christ every ten years if they were spared from the epidemic... and they have kept their promise. The play begins early afternoon; following a dinner break, it continues into the evening. An English libretto is provided to enhance your enjoyment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
After departing the Oberammergau area, 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. Your final destination today is Salzburg, the beautiful Baroque hometown of composer W. A. Mozart, where you’ll begin a three-night stay in the heart of the city.
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.
Spend the morning as you please in Salzburg, a city divided into two halves by the Salzach River. The older half (on the left bank) consists of narrow streets, many pedestrian-only, lined with historic architecture that dates as far back as the Middle Ages, splendid squares and elegant burghers’ houses. 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 the movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music; you'll also stop in Mondsee for some picturesque views. Back in Salzburg, your evening is free.
Departing 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. After breakfast in Lucerne, 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 private farewell dinner cruise on Lake Lucerne – the perfect ending to your memorable Alpine adventure.
Tour ends in Lucerne. A transfer is included from Bürgenstock Resort in Lucerne to Zurich Airport (approximately 41 miles). Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in.
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