Day 1: Depart USA
Today you depart your gateway city for an overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany
Day 2: Frankfurt, Germany
Time to rest or to explore the bustling metropolis on the River Main. Its beautifully restored Römerberg Square is well worth a visit. At 6 p.m. meet your traveling companions at a pre-dinner welcome hosted by your tour director.
Day 3: Frankfurt-Munich
The day is dedicated to Germany's Romantic Road leading from the flat country towards the Alps. Spend time in spectacular Rothenburg with its ramparts and towers, cobbled lanes and 16th-century houses. Heading south to lovely medieval Nördlingen. From here it's an easy ride towards the Danube Valley and Munich.
Day 4: Munich
Sightseeing with a local guide in Germany's "secret capital" includes the Olympic Stadium, 1,000-foot-high Television Tower, Nymphenburg Palace, Marienplatz with the Old and New Town Hall, the Gothic Frauenkirche, and a visit to the Old Pinakothek (closed on Mon.; visit Amalienburg instead) with its precious collection of paintings by Dürer, Cranach, Rubens, and other great masters. Afternoon at leisure; ask your tour director for good ideas. Tonight is your chance to sample Bavarian food in one of Munich's typical restaurants.
Day 5: Munich-Salzburg-Vienna, Austria
Through the forested landscape of southern Bavaria to the Austrian border, and on to Salzburg. A pleasant stroll with a local expert takes you through the historic center of Mozart's hometown: admire exquisite Mirabell Gardens, the Horse Trough, the Great Festival Hall, St. Peters's Churchyard, and the monumental Domplatz. Evening arrival in Vienna. For tonight your tour director will suggest a restaurant offering local specialties. Along Ring Boulevard, pass the State Opera House and stop at famous Heldenplatz for a picture of the Hofburg Palace, winter residence of the Imperial Royal Family. During your walking tour of the old town, see the synagogue and visit St. Stephan's Cathedral. Afterwards time to watch the famous midday parade of historical figures at the musical clock tower.
Day 6: Vienna
Start your sightseeing with vistas of the Prater amusement park with its giant Ferris wheel, and the ultra-modern United Nations City on the banks of the Danube River. Then drive Anker Clock. Afternoon at leisure. An optional excursion to Schönbrunn Palace is available.
Day 7: Vienna-St. Veit
From the urban sophistication of a capital with tradition to rustic simplicity. Scenic Semmering Pass, peaceful Baroque crossroad towns in Styria, and then the mountains, lakes, and popular resorts of Carinthia are on today's agenda. A welcome change of pace in the afternoon. Board an excursion steamer and cruise on lovely Lake Wörth. Overnight in St. Veit.
Day 8: St. Veit-Italian Dolomites-Innsbruck
An unforgettable day amid majestic Alpine scenery. Via the panoramic Iselsberg Pass and Lienz to the Italian border. Around midday reach Cortina d'Ampezzo, the Olympic skiing resort beneath the limestone towers of the Dolomites. A scenic detour via Tre Croci Pass and Lake Misurina to Brunico, then Brenner Pass to Innsbruck in the Tyrolean Alps. Stroll through its medieval lanes to Emperor Maximilian's Golden Roof. After dinner you may want to see an optional Tyrolean song-and-dance show.
Day 9: Innsbruck-St. Moritz, Switzerland
Ascend through the Inn Valley into the Swiss Engadine, a mountain area considered by many as the most beautiful in the world: deep-blue lakes, airy forests that turn golden in the fall, mountain peaks exceeding 12,000 feet, quaint villages with massive white stone houses in the characteristic Grisons style. Afternoon free in ritzy St. Moritz.
Day 10: St. Moritz-Lugano
A gradual change of scenery as you descend towards the shores of the Italian Lake Como and continue on to the southern tip of Switzerland. The vegetation south of the Alps is Mediterranean: chestnut groves, vineyards, olive and fig trees make you forget that earlier today you were within walking distance of the glaciers. Afternoon in the popular subtropical resort town of Lugano. For history buffs your tour director will propose an optional excursion to the impressive medieval fortress of Bellinzona.
Day 11: Lugano-Zermatt
From Lake Lugano to the Italian shore of Lake Maggiore for a break in elegant Stresa. Weather permitting, an optional boat ride to the enchanting Isola Bella will be arranged. On over the lofty Simplon Pass into the Swiss Valais, an area renowned for its excellent wines and great mountain resorts. To reach the most famous of them leave the coach behind in Täsch and board a mountain train climbing the last few miles up to Zermatt, a picturesque cluster of rustic chalets beneath the Matterhorn.
Day 12: Zermatt-Lake Geneva
Morning at leisure. A suggestion for those with strong hearts: ride Europe's highest rack-railway to 10,272-foot Gornergrat for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Alps. In the afternoon motor through the vineyards and apricot groves of the lower Rhône Valley to the shores of Lake Geneva. Here visit Chillon Castle, the 12th-century water fortress by the poet Lord Byron.
Day 13: Lake Geneva-Lucerne
Switzerland at its best on your way to Lucerne today: the terraced vineyards on Lake Geneva, the dairy country of Gruyère, the monumental Federal Palace and the Bear Pit in Berne. An afternoon break in Interlaken, a Bernese Oberland resort beautifully situated between two lakes and beneath the towering Jungfrau. Finally a scenic drive over the Brünig Pass.
Day 14: Lucerne
Medieval heritage every step of the way. See the impressive city walls, the famous covered Wooden Bridge, ornate patrician houses lining cobbled streets, and the Lion Monument, a masterful stone sculpture in honor of the heroic Swiss Guard of Louis XVI. Also included, a visit to the Swiss Transport Museum, Europe's greatest collection of vintage cars, aircraft, and locomotives. Afterwards shop for Swiss watches and choose from our optional activities: climb a mountain by cable car; take a cruise on the fjord-like lake; sign up for a folklore party with yodeling and alphorn blowing for a first-hand impression of alpine fun.
Day 15: Lucerne-Frankfurt, Germany
On the way back to Germany visit the thundering Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen, a 70-foot cataract of the River Rhine. From here head north through the lush valleys and pine-clad hills of the Black Forest, famous for its cuckoo clocks. In the afternoon a break in Heidelberg, well-known for its red-walled castle before returning to Frankfurt. Tonight a farewell dinner with the friends you gained during your exciting two-week vacation.
Day 16: Farewell to Europe
Your homebound flight arrives the same day.