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The Very Best of Ireland

The Very Best of the Alps

The Alps have captured the awe and amazement of human beings for millennia.  This range of mountains is where rugged, inhospitable, and dangerous glaciers and jagged peaks meet lush, inviting, calm green meadows and valleys dotted with tiny villages inhabited by people who live a life the modern world forgot long ago.  Locals have been eking out a living in these high alpine meadows for millennia – it’s only been in the modern era that people started visiting this region of Europe for leisure.  The alps are where mountaineering and downhill skiing were born.  Indeed, the word “alpine”, which is used to describe mountain pursuits the world over, literally means “like the Alps”.  On this tour through the Alpine regions of five countries you will enjoy vista-filled day hikes, historical and cultural sites, and fine local food and drink with a chauffeur to get you where you need to be and a nice comfortable hotel room to sleep in every night.  No need to carry a huge backpack on this hiking trip!

Alps Map


  • Traditional Alpine Cuisine of Each Region
  • The Karwendel
  • Olpererhütte
  • Schlegeis Suspension Bridge
  • Alpe di Siusi
  • Batzen Brau Brewery
  • Sasso Piatto
  • Neuschwanstein Castle
  • Marienbrücke Bridge
  • Zugspitze – Germany’s Highest Peak
  • Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum
  • Lauterbrunnen Waterfall
  • Bernese Oberland
  • Five Lakes Matterhorn Trail
  • Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (optional)
  • Theodul Glacier Summer Skiing (optional)
  • Lac Blanc
  • Mer de Glace
  • Aiguille du Midi Mont Blanc

Aug 24 – Sept 4, 2023

Aug 22 – Sept 2, 2024


Per Person + Air Based on Double Occupancy
All prices in US dollars.  Payment in other currencies possible – contact us.

Very Best of the Alps Itinerary
Day 1: Grüß Gott!

Welcome to the Alps!  We begin our tour in the late afternoon meeting in our centrally located hotel in Innsbruck where we’ll have an informal meet and greet and an aperitivo before we make our way to our welcome dinner at a traditional Tyrolean restaurant.
Sleep in Innsbruck (3 nights) / Bus: none / Walking: Light
Meals provided: Dinner


Day 2: The Karwendel

After our hearty breakfast we’ll board a series of lifts from the centre of Innsbruck that will take us high above the city to the Karwendel – a limestone section of the Tyrolean Alps with stunning views over the city itself and north to Germany.  With maps and plenty of advice from your guide, you’ll be able to confidently explore the trails in this rugged region as you wish, returning to the city whenever you are ready to.  Bring a picnic or dine on local cuisine in one of the alpine huts.
Sleep in Innsbruck / Bus: none
Hiking: Your choice
Elevation at top of lift: 2300 m / 7550 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast


Day 3: Olpererhütte

This morning our driver will pick us up at the hotel and drive us out to the Schlegeisspeicher Resevoir where we’ll hike as a group up to the Olpererhütte.  This mountain refuge is situated high above the lake and features a full-service restaurant with fantastic Alpine food with a side of beautiful vistas.  Behind the hut you’ll find the Schlegeis suspension bridge, one of the most photographed spots in the Alps.  You’ll see why when you get there!  We’ll have some free time after we arrive at the hut for you to visit the bridge, get a meal and explore the surrounding area before descending back to the bus and heading back into Innsbruck.
Sleep in Innsbruck / Bus: 3.5 hours
Hiking (metric): 3 to 4 hours; 7 km round trip; 600 m elevation gain
Hiking (imperial): 3 to 4 hours; 4.4 miles round trip; 1970 feet elevation gain
Elevation at Olpererhütte: 2389 m / 7838 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast


Day 4: The Dolomites

We cross our first border after breakfast from Austria into Italy – destination the Alpe di Siusi, Europe’s largest alpine meadow.  Surrounded by dramatic peaks, this is one of the prime spots for summer and winter exploration in the Italian Alps.  Once we disembark from the cable car into the lush green meadow it will be your choice what you wish to do with your time up here.  There are many different opportunities here for hiking and mountain biking, and with plenty of advice from your guide you are sure to have a great day exploring this area.  One suggestion you’ll get from is to hike to the summit of Sasso Piatto – a massive slab of granite sitting overtop of the meadow like an ancient pyramid.  When we’re finished our hiking adventure, we’ll head down into the lively town of Bolzano where we’ll visit the brewery of Batzen Brau and have a true South Tyrolean feast to celebrate our day in the Dolomites!
Sleep in Bolzano (1 night) / Bus: 2.5 hours
Hiking: Your choice
Elevation in Compatsch (start of the Alpe di Siusi): 1869 m / 6132 ft
Elevation of Sasso Piatto: 2969 m / 9740 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 5:  THE Castle

Heading back north after breakfast, we’ll find ourselves on the frontier of Germany and Austria where we’ll board a lift that will zip us up to the summit platform of the Zugspitze.  A short walk from the platform’s cafés and you’ll be standing on the photo-worthy highest summit in Germany.  After lunch we’ll take the lift back down where our driver will pick us up and take us to the town of Schwangau in the Bavarian Alps.  Here we’ll hike up a hill to the most famous castle in Germany – Neuschwanstein.  With our reserved entrance we’ll be able to enter the castle with a guide and visit the ornately decorated rooms of King Ludwig II’s pleasure palace.  And of course, we’ll hike up behind the castle for stunning views from Marienbrücke bridge.  When we’ve had our fill of Neuschwanstein, we’ll head back down and celebrate with a local beer, and then drive into the charming town of Füssen where you’ll have some time to explore and find a nice restaurant for a Bavarian feast.
Sleep in Füssen (1 night) / Bus 4.75 hours
Hiking (metric): 1.5 hours; 4.5 km round trip; 125 m elevation gain
Hiking (imperial): 1.5 hours; 2.8 miles round trip; 410 feet elevation gain
Elevation at Neuschwanstein: 925 m / 3035 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast


Day 6: The Swiss Life

Leaving the European Union behind, we’ll enter the famously neutral country of Switzerland, one of the world’s oldest democracies.  Switzerland is of land of disparate regions, languages and cultures.  In order to get a taste for the country’s diversity, our first stop will be the Ballenberg Swiss Open-Air Museum.  A collection of 100 buildings from all over Switzerland, the museum features craftspeople who work with traditional tools, farm animals, acres of rural landscape to explore, and restaurants with regional Swiss cuisine. After our visit to Ballenberg we’ll be off to Lauterbrunnen, located in a gorgeous valley featuring a huge waterfall and views of some of the most iconic peaks in Switzerland.  Tonight, we’ll dine on the hearty Alpine food of the Bernese Oberland.
Sleep in Lauterbrunnem (2 nights) / Bus: 6 hours
Walking: Moderate
Elevation in Lauterbrunnen: 802 m / 2630 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast and dinner


Day 7: The Bernese Oberland

Today is yours to explore this wondrous Alpine landscape. Using the excellent system of cogwheel trains and cable cars, you can experience the impressive and unique views from mountains like the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, including those from the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. The crystal-clear waters of Lake Thun or Lake Brienz are perfect for a refreshing dip. Be inspired by the authentic Alpine atmosphere and enjoy unforgettable moments passing through rustic villages where people live much the same way as their ancestors did a century ago.  Your guide will give you plenty of advice for the best way to spend your time today – the opportunities are endless.
Sleep in Lauterbrunnem / Bus: none
Hiking: Your choice
Elevation in Lauterbrunnen: 802 m / 2630 ft
Elevation at Jungfraujoch: 3463 m / 11362 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast


Day 8: The Matterhorn

This morning our driver will take us to the town of Täsch where we’ll board a short shuttle train to the vehicle-less Alpine village of Zermatt.  The first thing you’ll notice is the Matterhorn looming over the town like a crooked talon.  After checking into the hotel, we will hike the Five Lakes Trail, which affords some of the most stunning views of the Matterhorn and surrounding peaks while visiting, as the name suggests, five different Alpine lakes.  For dinner tonight we’ll be feasting on fondue and other regional specialties.
Sleep in Zermatt (2 nights) / Bus: 3 hours
Hiking (metric): 3 hours; 10 km; 165 m elevation gain
Hiking (imperial): 3 hours; 6 miles; 542 feet elevation gain
Elevation at Blauherd Station (highest point of hike): 2571 m / 8435 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast and dinner


Day 9: Zermatt

Today is a free day for you to choose your own adventure.  Ride the highest cable car in Europe up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise where you can see the Matterhorn from a different angle as well as peaks in France and Italy and on really clear days you can even see the Mediterranean.  You can also walk into man-made tunnels underneath the glacier to admire the artistry of the ice carvers.  If you’re interested, you can ski in the Alps today!  The Theodul Glacier ski area is open 365 days a year, and with rental facilities that include proper ski clothing you can spend some quality time on the slopes where national ski teams from many countries come to train during the summer months.  If you’d rather stay down in the valley closer to Zermatt, there are dozens of hiking routes you can choose from.
Sleep in Zermatt / Bus: none
Hiking/Skiing: Your choice
Elevation at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise: 3883 m / 12740 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast


Day 10: Bienvenue en France!

We leave Switzerland and enter our final country of the tour, France, this morning.  A tour of the Alps could not possibly be complete without a visit to Chamonix – home of the very first Olympic Winter Games in 1924, and base of the highest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc.  After we check in at the hotel, we will head up the lift to La Flégère and commence our hike to the spectacular Lac Blanc, with the best views of Mont Blanc and surrounding peaks anywhere in the region.  This evening you’ll have plenty of time to explore the beautiful resort town of Chamonix.
Sleep in Chamonix (2 nights) / Bus: 2.75 hours
Hiking (metric): 3.5 hours; 7 km; 500 m elevation gain
Hiking (imperial): 3.5 hours; 4.4 miles; 1640 feet elevation gain
Elevation at Lac Blanc: 2352 m / 7717 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast


Day 11: Mont Blanc

This morning we will board the cable car in Chamonix and be whisked up above the forest to Plan de l’Aiguille, where we’ll switch cars and ascend to Aiguille du Midi – the highest mountain peak served by an aerial lift system.  After exploring the top and visiting the “Step Into The Void” attraction where you are on a glass floor high above the Mont Blanc glacier, we will descend back to Plan de Aiguille and hike across the face of Mont Blanc and its surrounding mountain range to the Mer de Glace, a shrinking glacier high above the town of Chamonix.  After a scenic descent into Chamonix, you’ll have some free time – rent an e-bike, hit the golf course, explore the shops, or just relax with a nice craft beer at the local brewery – your choice.  This evening we will gather together for our last supper, celebrating our memories of the very best of the Alps!
Sleep in Chamonix / Bus: none
Hiking (metric): 3.5 hours; 7.5 km; 130 m elevation gain / 530 m elevation loss
Hiking (imperial): 3.5 hours; 4.7 miles; 426 feet elevation gain / 1740 feet elevation loss
Elevation at Aiguille du Midi: 3842 m / 12605 ft
Elevation at Plan de l’Aiguille (start of hike): 2310 m / 7579 ft
Meals provided: Breakfast and Dinner


Day 12: Auf Wiedersehen, Arrivederci, and Au Revoir!

The tour is officially over after breakfast.  The airport in Geneva is about 1 hour away by taxi or 1 hour 40 minutes by shuttle bus.  If you are staying on in Europe your guide will be happy to give you advice about further travels.
Meals provided: Breakfast

The Fine Print – What You Get:

Not so much fine print: 
We believe in up front pricing, not a hard-to-read long list of extra costs.
Group Size: We run small group tours, less than half the size of a normal big bus tour. Our average group size is 12 travellers, plus a tour director and a driver.
Transportation: Transportation is by chartered coach. Transportation to and from airport is your responsibility. Innsbruck and Geneva (close to Chamonix) are well served by train connections to the airports.
Activity level:  This tour is suitable to people with a good fitness level. You will need to carry your own bags, climb hotel stairs, and keep a moderate pace on group hikes. This trip is suitable for adults. It is not suitable for young children.
Accommodations: We choose generally smaller, family-run hotels, in the 3-4 star category, that are close to the action, rather than large impersonal hotels in some industrial park outside of town. All rooms have private ensuite bathrooms with shower or bathtub. Most rooms are doubles.

  • Solo travelers: You may choose to pay extra for one of the limited number of single private rooms, or you can room with another solo traveler in the group of the same gender and skip the extra fee.  See the registration form for specific prices.
  • Couples: Couples will usually share a room with one double or queen bed (large King beds are not common in Europe).
  • Two friends traveling together: Two friends or siblings traveling together will be roomed together with two beds in a twin room. Note: some European twin beds share one headboard but they will always have separate sheets.
  • Triple room: A typical triple room will be one double bed and one single bed.

Sightseeing tours and attractions: This is the main reason you are in the Alps, and we understand this! Led by your tour director, and local guides when appropriate. Entrance fees to all group attractions are included.

Meals: Breakfasts are always included. Note that because we stay in characteristic Alpine hotels, breakfasts will reflect local preferences . Many lunches/dinners are on us – the rest are up to you. See itinerary for breakdown.

Gratuities: Unlike most tour companies who ask you to pay a “mandatory” tip to the driver and guide, with us tipping is not required.

Book Your Very Best of the Alps Tour now!