8 Days - European Tour
A tour experiencing some of the world's most breath-taking scenery including the Tyrol, Innsbruck, Austria, Bavaria, the Brenner Pass, ancient Roman roads, the Zugspitze and the staggering remains of a Stone Age man.
Stunning pink and grey snow-capped mountain peaks; sparklingly clear and torrentially flowing streams; verdant meadows; swathes of densely forested hillsides; shimmering lakes; wooden chalets bedecked with bright flowerboxes; iconic onion shaped church spires. Coupled with a tradition of genuine hospitality, tasty cuisine, excellent local wine, schnapps and great beer, plus an intriguing history stretching back to pre-historic times - all the unmistakable hallmarks of the astonishingly beautiful Tyrol. We stay in the utterly charming alpine village of Seefeld, a perfect spot from which to explore the many and varied highlights of this mountainous province, bisected by the twisting river Inn.
We enjoy the culture, imperial history and historic treasures of the region's capital Innsbruck, marvel at the mountain vistas and the awe inspiring natural beauty of the glaciers and towering summits of the Oetz valley. See Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze and the towering turrets of the fairy-tale castle of Neuschwanstein. Travel by train on one of the world's oldest steam railways, still using original locomotives from the line's 1888 opening. Plus venture along the outstandingly beautiful Brenner Pass, guarded at every twist and turn by a host of medieval castles, to explore the melting pot of architecture and language where north meets south in the SÃ¼dtirol. Once an integral piece of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, culturally the area is unmistakably part of the Tyrol. In its capital Bolzano, you can visit one of the planet's oldest men - Oetzi the Iceman - a remarkably preserved Stone Age mountain dweller. It is clear there is so much more to the Austrian Tyrol and its surroundings than at first meets the eye.
Of course you will adore some of the world's most outstandingly beautiful Alpine scenery but also discover some real hidden treasures: delightfully medieval Rattenberg, once a silver mining centre, now an atmospheric village; the gorgeous stucco work and gilded altar of Stams Monastery; Innsbruck's glittering polished copper 'Golden Roof' and fabulously decorated Hofkirche founded by the Habsburgs; Merano's affluent spa town, Belle Ã?poque elegance and a host of other gems just cry out to be explored. You will be enchanted by this amazing blend of gorgeous scenery, crisp mountain air, immense glaciers, and sloping chalet-style wooden buildings in perfect harmony with their stunning surroundings and the host of fascinating towns and places of interest at the heart of one of Europe's most fascinating regions.
Stay in picturesque Seefeld in the heart of the astonishing Austrian Tyrol
Experience some of the world’s most breath-taking alpine scenery
Sightseeing tour of Innsbruck - Royal City of the Habsburgs
Experience the Achensee Cog Railway using original 19th century steam locomotives
Visit the wonderfully preserved Cistercian Monastery at Stams with its amazingly intricate baroque and gold leaf decoration
Tour the Italian Tyrol visiting the stunning town of Bolzano and the spa town of Merano
Visit the former silver mining village of Rattenberg, full of beautiful 15th century buildings
Tour the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle - seat of the Bavarian Kings
See the immense Oetz valley glaciers
Option to join a complimentary guided walk
Return scheduled flights
Selected departures from May to October 2019
- European Tour
- Birmingham Airport
- London Gatwick Airport
- Manchester Airport
- London Heathrow Airport
- Edinburgh Airport
- Dublin Airport
You will arrive at the airport intimeto take your flight to Munich or Salzburg. On arrival you will be met by Riviera Travel and we then drive over the Austrian border to Seefeld, one of the Tyrol’s most attractive villages with its wooden, chalet-style buildings, bursting with colour from countless window boxes. We stay seven nights with dinner at the four-star superior Krumers Post hotel, situated on the main square opposite Seefeld’s charming church. Built in the typical Tyrolean style with sloping roofs and wooden exterior, the hotel offers generously sized rooms which are superbly appointed, and complimentary Wi-Fi for all guests. To make your stay more special, you have the option to upgrade to an even more spacious suite.
The hotel’s restaurant serves wonderful Tyrolean specialties and international cuisine, while the “Platzhirsch” bistro offers more delicious options. Enjoy a refreshing drink at the hotel bar, which also serves snacks and excellent apple strudel. Visit the panoramic rooftop terrace equipped with sun loungers, from where you can admire stunning views of the village and mountains beyond. Should you wish to relax, you may visit the hotel’s wonderful spa, equipped with two panorama pools, a sauna area, massage pool and leisure lounge. The staff are what make this family-run hotel special – many have worked here for years and offer friendly service with a genuine smile, continuing the true tradition of Austrian hospitality.
After breakfast, we take the short drive along Inn valley to the Tyrolean capital, Innsbruck, for a guided tour of this delightful city. An important trading centre since Celtic times, then capital of a Dukedom before being incorporated in the Habsburg Empire, today your eyes can feast on the historic architecture. There is the famous Golden Roof, the magnificent baroque St Jakob’s cathedral and the former Imperial Palace, once home of Empress Maria Theresa, the Stadtturm belfry tower with its excellent views across the city and Schloss Ambras, the Renaissance castle and palace. Today Innsbruck is delightful - wander its medieval streets, absorb the genteel ambience or just listen to the talented street musicians before we return to Seefeld mid-afternoon.
The Tyrol was first documented as a Province in 1271 and history still has a key role in today’s as we take the historic Roman “Via Claudia Augusta”, flirting with the Swiss border. The route overflows with astonishing Alpine scenery – rolling hills, studded with apple orchards, majestic snow-capped peaks, roaring rivers, shimmering lakes, and the occasional village – a kaleidoscope of the perfect Alpine landscape. The Südtirol (South Tirol) was always a frontier region, regarded by the Romans as the start of “The North” and by German and French Emperors as start of “The South” and because this key mountain trade route traversed their lands, the Tyroleans became rich on tolls and taxes, eventually becoming incorporated in the mighty Austro- Hungarian Empire.
Firstly we visit opulent Merano, a lovely spa town where it’s just lovely to just wander, taking in the glorious Belle Époque buildings, fine gardens and excellent cafes which line a leafy river bank walk, all set in a theatre of high mountain peaks.
After the First World War the Südtirol became Italian but even today this fiercely independent region is undoubtedly Austrian in style and outlook, retains its German language, its culture and unique architecture. Bolzano, the region’s capital, gives you the opportunity to experience this fascinating mix of modern Italian and historic Tyrolean lifestyles - classic Italian coffee and delicious Tyrolean cakes make a great match! Bolzano’s strategic location is one reason for its many castles and fortified buildings, plus its historic centre and gothic cathedral complete with colourful mosaic roof are fascinating. But for something different, in 1991 an amazingly mummified 5,000 year old man was discovered high in the Alps. Now preserved at the Archaeological Museum you can view his body – which staggeringly, in addition to tattoo’s, carries evidence of rudimentary treatment of arthritic pain! His clothes and weapons are displayed too, and we have surprisingly detailed information on his life - he was 45 years old when he died, had no tooth decay, carried a sophisticated fire lighting kit and even wore thermal shoes. An internationally significant source of research, knowledge gained from “Oetzi”, as he is nicknamed, has changed our view of human history!
Our return to Seefeld takes us through the famous Brenner Pass - one of the most important transalpine trade routes since earliest times, as evidenced by the host of ruined castles guarding seemingly every hilltop. The scenery is simply stunning here, as mountain top after mountain top just gets higher and more colourful, with most way above the tree line.
Today is a free day so you can take pleasure in Seefeld’s many attributes as you wish. Perhaps enjoy a round of golf, a horse drawn carriage ride or a gentle stroll around the lake before selecting a favourite café to sample some of those luscious “torte” cakes. There are several chairlifts, cable cars or a funicular railway, enabling you to explore the village’s higher reaches such as the rocky outcrops Seefelder Joch and Härmelekopf. The tourist office operates a range of guided walks, whether you choose an easy ramble or a more challenging walk, it’s an excellent way of discovering the hinterland. Explore the peaceful meadows and woodlands, hire a boat on the lake or perhaps indulge yourself in the hotel’s excellent spa. Whatever your choice, you’re assured of another splendid meal at the hotel this evening.
An increasing number of you want to stretch your legs whilst away so you may want to join our complimentary walk this morning .This gentle walk is designed to suit any occasional walker in good health, and it takes about 3 hours. (It’s not arduous, it’s best to have light walking shoes or good ‘trainers’ though). We start our leisurely walk in Seefeld and head out of the centre towards the Casino Arena, the home of the Olympic ski jump, where the original jump was first used in 1931, before continuing through the alpine meadows to Mösern. We then follow a delightful track through an unspoilt forest teeming with wildlife, with our guide describing the flora and fauna we encounter. We arrive at Lake Mösern where you can relax, take in the mountain views and after time for a coffee we head back to Seefeld through the meadows. Places are limited so please advise at time of booking.
Today we drive up the ever narrowing Oetztal valley to the high mountain resort of Soelden, enjoying ever more scenic views. Despite being almost 5000 feet high, this remote village is dwarfed by surrounding giant snow-capped mountains. Our spectacular drive continues up the Oetztaler Glacier Road into the heart of the mountains for stunning views of glaciers and peaks, ice and snow covered throughout the summer. Breathe deeply for several minutes - the rarefied air deep in your lungs has an almost medicinal quality! Keep your eyes peeled for the mountain wildlife here, including eagles and those delightful indigenous rodents, marmots - hugely entertaining bundles of fur with a spine tingling whistle. It was near here that Oetzi the Iceman met his fate all those millennia ago, the victim of a Bronze Age arrow, why he was attacked, we shall never know.
This afternoon we return to the river Inn and a guided tour of the splendid Cistercian monastery at Stams. Founded in 1273, the two majestic onion shaped towers of its superb 17th century Basilica, can be seen from far and wide. This is a truly magnificent building justifiably renowned for its murals, ceiling frescoes, fine Baroque altar and breathtaking gold leaf decoration. Having suffered a turbulent history, including dissolution by the Nazis, Stams has been beautifully restored and is once again a thriving monastic community, welcoming travellers of all nations and beliefs and even baking its own delicious bread!
Today’s drive takes you into nearby Bavaria seeing the might of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. Some of our journey will be on the fabled ‘Romantic Road’ and the beautiful ‘Deutsche Alpenstrasse’ – the Alpine Road, leading to one of Germany’s most famous monuments and one which seems to typify an image of the country, the castle of the instantly recognisable, and equally unpronounceable, Neuschwanstein! This is the classic ‘fairytale’ castle, inspiration for so many stories and allegedly the model for Disney’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ that has fascinated children the world over.
One of Bavaria’s most famous kings, Ludwig, modelling himself on France’s Louis XIV, embarked on an epic castle building programme, eventually bankrupting the then independent country! Indeed, one of his pet projects is the subject of our tour today. Clinging to the side of a vast valley in the most dramatic of settings, Neuschwanstein was constructed with pink granite, a symbol of Ludwig’s self-belief as divinely chosen for kingship and in homage to his idol, Wagner! The architecture inside is equally impressive, with marble everywhere; the design draws freely from different architectural styles, Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic. Tapestries and intrinsic art decorate the walls and the standard of workmanship is admirable.
After breakfast let us head back in time over 100 years, taking a journey to Jenbach where the unmistakable aroma of steam coal, which once graced every British station, fills the air and a narrow gauge railway winds away into the hills. This is a magically scenic experience on the truly historic Achenseebahn, a metre gauge railway climbing from the Inn valley using rack assistance to surmount the steep gradient. The coal-fired locomotives are amongst the world’s oldest working steam trains still doing the job they were built for in the 19th century, taking tourists at a leisurely pace up to the beautiful Achensee Lake.
Rejoining your coach, we journey even further back in time to delightful medieval Rattenberg, the Tyrol’s smallest municipality nestling by the river Inn. The gorgeous medieval stone buildings you see here are the result of growing rich on the proceeds of silver mining, then prospering from nail a glass making. It’s wonderful exploring the narrow streets, discovering the charms of this historic village. The creation of fine glassware is its major occupation today - raw materials fashioned into exquisite pieces by the skilled craftsmen – no wonder this lovely spot has such renown. Climb to the ruined castle for splendid views of the town and it surroundings – there’s also a lift, so don’t miss the fine panorama!
Today at the appropriate time you will be returned to the airport for your return flight.
Touring Holidays with Riviera Travel
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