Alpine Mountain Magic
Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria & Germany
August/September 2018 • 11 Days • Price TBA
Offering walks and activities amidst the gorgeous Alpine areas of Europe!
Now accepting Early Bird deposits on this 2018 tour! An Early Bird is a $50 deposit that holds your spot during the planning stages of a trip, when we don’t have a set itinerary or dates. Early Birds are always refundable!
One of our newer tours has redefined our concept of an Alpine walking tour. We start in the easternmost part of the range, the Julian Alps of Slovenia, and work our way to the southernmost range, the Dolomites of northern Italy. A relatively remote corner of Switzerland, in the Romansh-speaking corner of the country, was a particularly treasured find by our tour planners, with a stunning walk offering non-stop vistas. Austria sits in the heart of the European Alps, and Kitzbühel is a ski resort with a long and venerated skiing history. In summer, we take advantage of the ski lift system to access more great alpine trails. Our last two nights in Prien give us access to Bavaria’s Lake Chiemsee, and one of Ludwig II’s opulent 19th century anachronistic palaces, visited by ferry boat. An added bonus on this program is the absence of 1-night stays—all are 2-nighters!
- Walks in 5 countries—Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany
- Slovenia’s picture-perfect Lake Bled, and the surprising architectural charms of Ljubljana
- Outstanding scenic trails in the South Tyrol Dolomites region of northern Italy
- A “pinch-me if it’s real!” family-run inn hanging on the edge of a jaw-droppingly gorgeous Alpine balcony overlooking the Switzerland’s Lower Engadine Valley
- Gondola rides to access breathtaking Austrian alpine panoramas from the ski resort village of Kitzbühel
- Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, that icon of Fascist ego perched atop one of Bavaria’s most lovely alpine settings
This is a draft itinerary. Revisions are currently being made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!
- All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
- Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations (3 or 4 star)
- 17 meals: 11 breakfasts and 6 dinners**
- All listed walks
- Cultural and historical expertise of national guide throughout program
- WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
- All tipping for national guide and coach drivers
- Guided coach tour of Ljubljana – Slovenia
- Grossglockner Alpine Road tour – Austria
- Dolomites driving tour – Italy
- Guided walking tour of Innsbruck – Austria
- Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest – Germany (weather permitting)
- Lake Chiemsee cruise – Germany
- Herrenchiemsee Palace tour – Germany
- More fun and educational stops than we can list!
** (BD) indicates included meals: breakfast or dinner
“Great locations, capable tour guides who have figured out all the important details about getting there, what to bring, etc., etc. Lots of value added that we wouldn’t have found or done on our own.”
-Jean L; Davis, CA
“Excellent, well organized walking (sightseeing) guides.”
-Phil K; Sunnyvale, CA
“WAI [Walking Adventures International] well organized; good communication, great hotels and restaurants; quick adaptation to sudden events; really flexible approach to touring.”
-Karen S; Portland, OR
“The quality of your tours – Best bang for your buck.”
-Carol Y; Fairborn, OH
“Trustworthy company with consistent quality of tours, guides – overall experience.”
-Lee P; Rockville, MD
“Well planned and executed – Every major highlight or points of interest are included – Walking with interesting folks – Learning history, cultural, geographical…etc.”
-Craig & Jane W; Pittsburg, CA
“The leaders, the walks – were fabulous – enjoyed all of them, the history – know so much more than when I started and other participants I liked a lot.”
-Anne S; Boise, ID
“Walkers make great traveling companions and WAI [Walking Adventures International] guides do all the preparatory work to make it a great experience.”
-John F; Anchorage, AK
“Extremely organized and something for everyone, super walks, information and great fellowship.”
-Rowena M; Bedford, IN
“Good information ahead of time, enjoyable fellow travelers with same goals and enjoyment of walking and other activities, well informed always, lots of variety in walks and activities and freedom to opt out of walks if necessary.”
-Gail R; Vancouver, WA
“Well planned tours, good combination of walking and sight-seeing… I feel like we’re traveling with friends.”
-Jane M; Matthews, NC
“One of the things I enjoy most about WAI trips is reconnecting with walkers from previous trips.”
-Kate Q; Spokane, WA
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Dan Friesen has been guiding tours for over 20 years on all 7 continents. He has hiked the Great Wall of China, hobnobbed with penguins in Antarctica, felt the spray of Iguazu Falls in Brazil, yodeled from the heights of the Swiss Alps, and walked the ruins of majestic Machu Picchu. He looks forward to exploring the history and culture of Central Europe with you!
Hildrun Mathies is one of our favorite overseas guides! She has a wealth of knowledge and experience, with a Master’s Degree in Art History and Religious Science; fluency in English, French, Spanish, and her native German; and over 20 years of experience guiding groups through central Europe. But it is Hildrun’s special blend of in-depth knowledge, lighthearted presentation style, passion for sharing, and her commitment to making the travel experience the best it can be for her travelers, that makes a trip with her so memorable.
This is a draft itinerary. Revisions are currently being made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!
Day 1: Arrive Bled, Slovenia (D)
Our Adventure begins in the land of Slovenia. Our hotel near the shores of Lake Bled is a 25 minute taxi ride away from the Ljubljana airport. Though this tour is centered around what promises to be an outstanding collection of Europiade walks in Kitzbühel, Austria, a plethora of alpine highlights await us in neighboring countries as well. Since travelers arrive throughout the day, our first activity is a Welcome Orientation at our Lake Bled hotel, followed by dinner. Your WAI guide, Dan Friesen, will introduce you to Hildrun Mathies, an Austrian/German guide who has become an integral part of our Adventures in Central Europe in recent years.
Day 2: Activities from Bled (B)
Lake Bled Walk – distance and rating to be announced
The Lake Bled area offers several opportunities for outstanding walking. Possible walk routes include a trail around lovely Lake Bled, a visit to a mountain lake in the Julian Alps, or a walk in nearby Vintgar Gorge. After a lunch break back in Bled, we go with our guide, Hildrun, to Ljubljana for a tour of this capital of the intriguing little country of Slovenia.
Day 3: Bled – Ortisei, Italy (BD)
Alpine scenery is a primary theme of this Adventure, and today’s drive takes us across southern Austria before heading north to Heiligenblut. This charming alpine village is a gateway to the Grossglockner Alpine Road, one of Europe’s most famous alpine routes. We travel through all the vegetation zones, from cornfields to everlasting ice, en route to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, a high point. Here, we have stunning views (weather permitting) of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, and longest glacier, the Pasterze. Our destination this evening is one of our favorite alpine valleys, Gardena Valley, snaking its way through the southernmost region of the Alps, Italy’s Dolomite Mountains.
Day 4: Activities in Gardena Valley (B)
Selva Gardena Dolomites Walk – 11 km, rated 2B
Today’s walk is one WAI walkers have been enjoying for years. It starts from Selva Gardena and winds through a pastoral tributary valley, then along a path flanked by Stations of the Cross carved from tree stumps – wood carving is a primary traditional occupation of the valley. Surprising glimpses of the stark limestone peaks of the Dolomites come into view on the last part of the route – a foretaste of this afternoon’s Dolomites drive, featuring an unforgettable scenic route with over 200 hairpin turns and non-stop Dolomite Mountain panoramas!
Day 5: Ortisei – Guarda, Switzerland (BD)
We leave Italy today en route to a neighboring corner of Switzerland. Along the way, we pass through Austria, stopping in Innsbruck to enjoy a taste of this delightful Tyrolean town. A prominent medieval history is evidenced in its lovely historic core; the modern era has twice decided to grace Innsbruck with the winter Olympics, in 1964 and 1976. We then continue into a remote corner of Switzerland new to WAI and inhabited by speakers of the Romansh dialect. Switzerland has four official languages; the least known is Romansh, an ancient derivative of Latin that bears testimony to the Roman occupation 2000 years ago. We spend the next two nights in the Engadin valley, enjoying the hospitality of a lovely family-run inn in a village of under 300 souls.
Day 6: Activities from Guarda (BD)
Guarda Swiss Alps Walk – distance and rating to be announced
Gorgeous vistas in the Engadin Valley are numerous, and you can be assured of more outstanding alpine scenery while enjoying our sojourn amongst the unique culture of this Romansh-speaking region of Switzerland.
Day 7: Guarda – Kitzbühel, Austria (BD)
Kitzbühel Walk – distance and rating to be announced
Kitzbühel is a charming town with a medieval past, situated in the Kitzbühel Alps of Austria. Our time here includes a walk through more breathtaking Alpine scenery.
Day 8: Activities in Kitzbühel (B)
We are putting together the itinerary for our second day in Kitzbühel. More details will be available.
Day 9: Kitzbühel – Prien am Chiemsee, Germany (B)
Königssee Lake Walk – 7 km, rated 1B
We travel this morning into Germany to the town of Berchtesgaden for today’s walk. Königssee is a delightful, gemlike alpine lake that is the destination of today’s route. After time for lunch in charming Berchtesgaden, we head for Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (weather permitting). This mountaintop aerie (Kehlsteinhaus in German) was built by Hitler’s henchman Bormann, and included an incredible private mountain access road, on the top of a nearly inaccessible peak with 360 degree views of the stunning German Alps. We continue to Prien am Chiemsee, on the shore of Bavaria’s largest lake, for our final two nights.
Day 10: Activities from Prien am Chiemsee (BD)
King Ludwig II was the enigmatic ruler of Bavaria in the mid-19th century, during a time when kings were becoming anachronisms of the feudal age. His family fortune and idealistic yearning for kingly duties and privileges drove him to construct three incredible palaces – one of these palaces is located on Herren Island in the middle of Lake Chiemsee. We cruise the lake today, making several stops along the way, including a visit to Herrenchiemsee Palace, a masterpiece of 19th century architecture intended to replicate the French Palace of Versailles, whose master, French King Louis XIV, was idolized by Ludwig II. We return to our hotel in Prien this evening for Farewell activities and dinner together.
Day 11: Depart from Munich (B)
An early departure this morning takes us to Munich’s International Airport. We leave the alpine region of central Europe having enjoyed hiking, history, and culture in Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany – leaving us with a quintet of alpine memories we won’t soon forget!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
Call or mail in your Early Bird ($50) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on this Adventure.
First Time Traveler Savings
In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $400 credit on this international tour!
Group Travel Credit
Start a Group of 5 or more to receive a discount on this Adventure!
Check out more information on the Group Travel Program.
How is airfare arranged?
The official start point for this Adventure is our hotel in Bled, Slovenia, a short ride from Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (airport code LJU). More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be made available after this itinerary has been finalized.
What about the walks?
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. The success of the walks is therefore predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system that is similar to one used by the American Volkssport Association (AVA), which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below.
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
What happens next?
We are currently developing the itinerary for this Adventure. Once the itinerary is released, we will accept registration deposits ($500) to save space.
If you have Early Birded with a refundable $50 deposit, your spot on the tour will be held for 2 weeks after the itinerary is published while you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to register. If you decide not to join us for this tour, your Early Bird can be refunded or transferred to another tour.
For now, we invite you to grab a cup of coffee and nestle into your favorite chair to take a mental journey through the Alps—then call us to lock in your spot and get ready to explore this scenic smorgasbord of Central Europe!