Lacing together the region's beautiful scenery, fairy-tale castles and beer-garden friendliness from Vienna to Hallstatt, Salzburg, Munich, the Swiss Alps and the Rhine — Rick Steves' money-saving My Way tour gives you the freedom to decide your own daily sightseeing priorities and pace. We cut the stress by providing comfortable rooms in centrally-located hotels, private bus transportation from city to city, and a travel-savvy escort to help advise you along the way. Join us for My Way: Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 12 Days!
You'll get all this!
- This is an "un-guided" tour — giving you the freedom (and responsibility) to manage your daily sightseeing schedule and meals
- A small, friendly group of 24-28 people will share our big, comfy bus during the trip, but not do organized sightseeing together
- A Rick Steves escort will manage the group's transportation and hotel arrangements, and provide advice for sightseeing, meals, etc.
- All group transportation from Vienna, Austria to St. Goar, Germany
- 11 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
- All breakfasts are included
- All tips for escort and driver
- Free Audio Europe™ app for Apple and Android (or get free podcast/mp3 files) featuring Rick's audio walking tours of sights, museums and neighborhoods in Germany and Austria. Also includes Rick's radio interviews with experts on destinations covered in this itinerary
- More free stuff including Rick Steves' Germany and Rick Steves' Vienna, Salzburg & Tirol guidebooks; Europe Through the Back Door travel skills handbook (one per household); Switzerland Sightseeing Guide; German phrase book; moneybelt; and earplugs
- Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
- Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
- 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
- Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
- Costs not covered: As this is not a guided tour, you will be responsible for the cost of all your lunches, dinners, drinks, admissions, sightseeing, and non-group transportation. Be sure to plan and budget accordingly. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above
* = included in Rick's audio walking tours
Day 1: Welcome to Vienna
Welcome to Vienna, the capital of classical music, home of the rich Habsburg heritage, and one of Europe's most sophisticated cities. Depending on when you arrive, today is a great day to take in one of the city's amazing museums. We'll rendezvous at our Vienna hotel at 5 p.m. for a welcome meeting. Your escort will give an overview of the days ahead, answer your questions, and offer a quick orientation to our neighborhood and Vienna's easy-to-use public transportation. Then you're free for dinner on your own, and maybe an evening stroll around the Museums Quartier. Sleep in Vienna (2 nights).
Day 2: All Day in Vienna
Vienna is all yours, all day. With the help of Rick's Vienna guidebook and Audio Europe™ app, you might begin your day riding the Ringstrasse Tram* followed by Rick's favorite Vienna city walk*. To wallow in the wealth of the Habsburgs, explore the art and jewels of the Hofburg Palace's Imperial Apartments and Treasury, then head to the outskirts to tour the family's spectacular summer residence at Schönbrunn. This evening, take in a concert. As with every day of this trip: it's your choice! No bus today.
Day 3: Hallstatt and Salzburg
This morning we'll pack up, bid auf wiedersehen to Vienna, and hop aboard our comfortable bus for Salzburg. On the way, we'll stop for a few hours in the picture-perfect lakeside town of Hallstatt. We'll arrive in Salzburg with plenty of time for you to stroll around the Old Town* and maybe take in an evening dinner concert in the town that Mozart made famous (reserve ahead). Sleep in Salzburg (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs.
Day 4: All Day in Salzburg
Today is for savoring Salzburg. Climb up to the fortress to reward yourself with a sweeping view of the city, and a cold beer. You can also rent a bike for an easy ride and picnic along the Salzach River, try your hand at Doe-a-Deer by joining a Sound of Music bus tour, or take an excursion out to Berchtesgaden to see Hitler's infamous Eagle's Nest retreat. No bus today.
Day 5: Marvelous Munich
It's just a three-hour drive to Munich this morning, which gives you all the more time to play in Bavaria's historic capital. Enjoy the glockenspiel in the Marienplatz, Munich's main square, or take in the dazzling Deutsches Museum. This evening, feel free to join the party at the Hofbräuhaus beer hall, where you can hoist a liter-size mug of beer, gnaw on a pretzel as big as your head, and oom-pah through the night. Sleep in Munich (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs.
Day 6: All Day in Munich
Germany's most livable city, Munich, is pleasantly explored by foot, bike, or public transit. Today you can take in the opulent Residenz palace or the sprawling English Garden; enjoy a leisurely outdoor lunch with beer at the Viktualienmarkt — or take a bus or subway ride to Dachau Concentration Camp or the state-of-the-art BMW Museum. You can also join a local tour company for an excursion to Mad King Ludwig's fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle (2 hours each direction). No bus today.
Day 7: Bavaria and the Swiss Alps
Today we'll drive across Bavaria and climb high into the heart of the Swiss Alps. By dinner time we'll be in the Berner Oberland's magnificent Lauterbrunnen Valley, flanked by towering, waterfall-laced cliffs and crowned by a trio of Switzerland's most formidable peaks: the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. After settling into our creaky old chalet, you'll find hearty dinner options and spectacular views just a short walk away. Sleep in the Lauterbrunnen Valley (3 nights). Bus: 7 hrs.
Days 8 & 9: Hiking the Alps
For the next two mornings, you'll wake up in one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. Take off on a mountain excursion that combines the local cog railway, a gondola lift up to Männlichen, and a spectacular Alpine walk above the tree line, surrounded by a panorama of cut-glass peaks. You could also explore what's above the opposite side of the valley, ride a gondola lift to the top of the 10,000-foot Schilthorn, loiter in the thin air, and enjoy the mighty view. For a more restful day, stick closer to home and walk to the thundering Trümmelbach: a unique set of waterfalls encased behind the valley walls. No bus today.
Day 10: To the Rhine Valley
This morning we'll get an early start as we make our way from the Swiss Alps to Germany's Rhine Valley, with a stop for lunch and leg-stretching along the way. Arriving at our St. Goar hotel in the early evening, you'll have time to watch the parade of river barges, stroll the river bank, and enjoy the charms of a small Rhine village. Sleep in St. Goar (2 nights). Bus: 8 hrs.
Day 11: Castles and Cruising the Rhine
The Rhine Valley is storybook Germany, a fairy-tale world of legends and robber-baron castles. Today you may want to tackle the nearby Rheinfels Castle, once the mightiest in the region. You can also climb aboard a Rhine steamer and cruise the best of the Rhine*, home to craggy castles, steep vineyards, and legends galore. No bus today.
Day 12: Tour Over After Breakfast
From St. Goar, it's a convenient 90-minute train trip to Frankfurt's airport. Your escort will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Auf Wiedersehen!
Itinerary specifics subject to change.
Rick Steves tours are physically active!
This is an integral, essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our My Way: Germany, Austria & Switzerland in 12 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...
- Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- Be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
- Be responsible for your own daily sightseeing, admissions, meals (except breakfasts) and non-group transportation
We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.
Sightseeing On Your Own
When you arrive in Vienna, use your included Rick Steves' Vienna guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of German, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.
Walking tours make a great introduction to any town. Use your Audio Europe™ app for Apple and Android (or get free podcast/mp3 files) which includes a Vienna city walk and Ringstrasse Tram Tour.
Remember, you will be in charge of your own sightseeing for ALL destinations on this trip. We strongly suggest you begin planning well before you fly to Europe!
Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.
There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). It's easiest to fly into Vienna and home from Frankfurt. It is roughly a 90-minute train ride from St. Goar to Frankfurt's Main Airport.
Flying within Europe can be reasonable. Ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For links to helpful rail and air websites, go to www.ricksteves.com/plan/links and look under "Transportation."
Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.
If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thinking you could use some expert, in-depth help to plan your sightseeing days? Tour members enjoy a 50 percent discount on Rick's Trip Consulting services!
See a chart with monthly rain and temperature information for this tour.
There will be (weather permitting) great opportunities to hike during our stay in the Swiss Alps. While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend you bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction.
We also recommend that you consider bringing a smart phone, tablet or other device to assist in planning your activities, and to access Rick's Audio Europe app and walking tours.
For more ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.
Favorite tour memories from recent alums
"The whole tour was filled with 'WOW' moments, but the Swiss Alps elicited the most 'WOWs' as we hiked down the mountain from Mürren to Lauterbrunnen. I thought it couldn't get any better, but then the next day we hiked across the other mountainside with views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfraujoch and it was breathtaking. A hike accompanied by musical cowbells is the best!"
— Christine in Olympia, WA
"The Alps were the star. Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn were magnificent! The Sound of Music tour was really, really fun! The salt mine tour included two 100-foot slides into the mine that were really a blast! The Mozart concert in the Vienna State Opera House was sublime and the one in the Mirabell Gardens was top notch."
— Toni in Auburn, WA
To see more comments on Rick Steves' tours, read through our tour member reviews.
Videos & More
This region is rich in history, art and culture. To help you get the most from your trip, we've put together this collection of travel resources from Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, as well as recommended books, films and music.
Rick Steves' TV Clips & Shows
(For more Rick Steves' TV clips on this region, visit Rick on YouTube.)
- The Third Man (1949)
- The Sound of Music (1965)
- Amadeus (1984)
- Before Sunrise (1995)
- North Face (2010)
Rick Steves' Radio Interviews
(For more radio interviews on this region, see Rick's Audio Europe™ files for iPod, PC & MP3.)
Rick Steves' Audio Tours
- Vienna: Vienna City Walk, St. Stephan's Cathedral, Ringstrasse Tram Tour
- Salzburg: Salzburg Town Walk
- Rhine River: Best of the Rhine
- Munich: Munich City Walk
Rick Steves Audio Europe™
- Classical: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Strauss
- Opera: Wagner, Lisa Otto
- Pop/rock: Nena, Tokio Hotel, Falco
Rick Steves' Articles
(For more articles on this region, see Rick's Best Destinations.)
- The Good German — Joseph Kanon
- All Quiet on the Western Front — Erich Maria Remarque
- A Death in Vienna — Frank Tallis
- The Tin Drum — Gunter Grass
- The Book Thief — Markus Zusak