Dates: Sept 11-20, 2022 (9 nights/10 days) – SOLD OUT!
Route: Austria (Vienna/Burgenland, Salzburg/Wachau), Germany (Meersburg), France (Colmar, Strasbourg), Germany (Boppard, Frankfurt)
Includes: 9 nights accommodation in 3 or 4 star hotels including buffet breakfast, 3 dinners, airport transfers to/from hotel, transportation from town to town, local guide escort for entire trip, 3 guided walking tours (Vienna, Colmar, Strasbourg), 5 separate wine tastings (plus additional optional opportunities to taste wine), arrival bus tour of Vienna, entrance to either Haus der Musik or Sissi Museum Hofburg, Esterhazy Palace, Forchtenstein Castle, wine museum, Neuschwanstein Castle, Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen (Switzerland), Weinstrasse tasting, Moselle winery and cellar visit, Rhein cruise, Rheinfels Castle.
Cost: $4050 pp assuming double occupancy of hotel rooms. Single supplement = $800. *Local accommodation tax of EUR 1.50 – EUR 3.50 per person per day is payable locally at check-out
Not included: airfare, meals other than those noted, wine tasting other than those noted, activities not noted, additional tour guides, travel insurance, tips
Day 1 (Sunday, September 11): Willkommen in Vienna
After your morning arrival at Schwechat International Airport we’ll have a city tour of Vienna in our coach and on foot. We’ll travel the grand Ring Road and learn about the magnificent imperial buildings commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph in the 19th century. On foot we will stroll the pedestrian shopping streets in the city center and visit the marvelous St. Stephan’s Cathedral. Depending on arrival time, we may have time for an inside visit to one of the fantastic museums, or perhaps the Sissi rooms at the Hofburg residence, or maybe the House of Music. You will understand why Vienna is a truly a city alive with art and music. After some down time to check in and freshen up, we visit a wonderful Heuriger (traditional rustic wine tavern) for dinner (pay as you go).
Day 2 (Monday, September 12): Burgenland, Home of Austria’s Most Famous Red Wine
We have an excursion today to the region where Blaufränkisch and Blauer Zweigelt, Austria’s most outstanding red wines, are produced. Burgenland, which literally means land of castles, is a hilly region also known for sunshine and thermal waters. Our wine experience will be an intimate visit to a local Buschenschank (seasonal wine tavern) for lunch and a visit to the vineyards or cellar. On the way south we stop at in the region’s capital city to visit the Esterhazy Palace, one of the most beautiful baroque palaces in Austria. On the return leg to Vienna we’ll visit the magnificent Forchtenstein Castle, which boasts several interesting collections and a secret treasure vault. Evening free in Vienna.
Day 3 (Tuesday, September 13): The Wachau and Salzburg
We depart Vienna heading west along the Danube through the Wachau, a picturesque valley with castles, forests, and terraced vineyards. The region is also known for apricots, and, by extension, apricot liqueurs. Our morning experience will be a visit to a wine museum to learn about the history of the area’s vineyards and production. Lunch today is a special treat; we will be visiting the restaurant of the oldest wine growing estate in Austria, complete with a cellar visit. From there continue west for a mid/late afternoon arrival in Salzburg. You will have plenty of free time to explore this fantastic city from our old town hotel.
Day 4 (Wednesday, September 14): Neuschwanstein Castle
Our longest travel day is punctuated by an afternoon visit to the majestic Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Bavaria. This is the castle that greatly inspired Walt Disney, both for its enchanting architecture and the stunning setting perched high above a wide river valley. You will learn about the story of the building and of its creator, the eccentric King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The drive itself will be a treat along the north rim of the Alps both before and after the castle visit. Our home tonight is Meersburg on the shores of Lake Constance. Meersburg is a pretty wine town that boasts both a palace and a castle and lots of half-timbered (exposed beam) architecture. Free time to explore Meersburg this evening
Day 5 (Thursday, September 15): 3 Countries, 3 Highlights
We make a foray into Switzerland today to visit the most powerful waterfall in Europe, the Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen. Get up close and personal to the falls in an adventure boat or on the cliffside platforms. Then we drive straight through the heart of the southern Black Forest, where we have lunch at a picturesque spot with lakeside and/or mountain views. We take the scenic route back down to the Rhine river valley before crossing the border into the lovely Alsace region of France. We stop in Eguisheim, our first picture-postcard wine village for a wine tasting and strolling the cobblestone lanes. Then it is on to Colmar, our home for the next two nights. Dinner in one of the delightful restaurants in this enchanting city.
Day 6 (Friday, September 16): The Beautiful Wine Villages of the Alsace
We start the day with a short walking tour of pretty Colmar, birthplace of Auguste Batholdi, creator of the Statue of Liberty. The rest of the day we spend visiting more of the splendid wine villages in the area around Colmar. Each village is more impressive than the next, regardless in which order they are visited. It is really one of the loveliest regions in all of Europe. The village visits include Kaysersberg and Riquewihr and the drive through the vineyards is simply spectacular. There will be time in each village to stroll the pretty lanes, take photos, and taste some wine. Free time in Colmar this evening.
Day 7 (Saturday, September 17): Strasbourg and the German Wine Route
We head north along the Rhine river valley to the important city of Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament. The city is a cultural bridge between France and Germany. We have a short tour of the Grand Île (Grand Island), the historic old town area, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then we continue north, crossing the border and driving along the German Wine Route. We’ll stop in one of the quaint towns for lunch and tasting. On our way to the scenic Middle Rhine (another UNESCO site and our home for the next two nights) we pass straight through Rheinhesssen, Germany’s largest wine producing area. This evening we have a special wine-pairing dinner in the wine cellar of our hotel.
Day 8 (Sunday, September 18): The Moselle River Valley
There are many reasons the Moselle is Germany’s most famous wine region. The river slowly winds through sloping vineyards and is dotted by castles, castle ruins, and quaint villages. Our excursion today is an immersive dive into the viticulture and history of this beautiful region. We will spend time in wineries, in the cellars, and in the vineyards. We visit a few of the charming villages, including the central town Cochem with the ominous looking Imperial Castle looming overhead. We also visit pretty Bernkastel-Kues, hub of the annual wine festival. In Traben-Trarbach we will visit one of their famous wine cellars. With fine weather we can enjoy an afternoon Riesling from castle ruins high above the river. Time on your own in Boppard this evening.
Day 9 (Monday, September 19): The Rhine River Valley
Our last full day may be the most memorable one. We take a 2-part boat ride down the Rhine, tour the river’s largest castle, which is partly rebuilt and part ruins, and visit a few of the enchanting villages along the way. The first leg of the boat ride takes us from Boppard to St. Goar, where we will tour the Rheinfels Castle and have lunch. Then we travel by coach to Bacharach, the prettiest town on the river, for coffee and cake. In Bacharach we take the second boat to the town of Rüdesheim, known for wine, brandy and the oldest castle (now a wine museum) on the Rhine. We will be staying near the Frankfurt Airport this evening, and will enjoy a Farewell Dinner in a village near the hotel.
Day 10 (Tuesday, September 20): Auf Wiedersehen
Safe transport to your flight home.