Imagine embarking upon a 10-night journey, starting in Venice on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, then journeying to Verona, home to Romeo & Juliet. Then, we will set off across the Venetian Plains to the Italian Dolomite mountains, some of the most beautiful in Europe. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy a hike before crossing the famous Brenner Pass into Austria. In Austria, we’ll visit Innsbruck, host to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, before moving on to Salzburg. We’ll discover the beautiful city of Mozart and The Sound of Music before finishing this exceptional Grand Tour in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, Germany, famous for its great architecture and style. Along the way, we’ll enjoy many different food styles, but a highlight will be lunching at #SearchingforItaly, which our guide has loved for decades. It was recently discovered and televised on Stanley Tucci’s CNN show.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the trip
Fly into the Venice Airport where our driver will meet you to whisk you off to the Relias & Chateau Hotel Villa Franceschi in Mira. Janet and Lucy, your guides, will be waiting at the hotel to welcome you to this beautiful hotel.
Relax, unpack, and settle in. We’ll meet for an evening welcome drink followed by a dinner of traditional Italian and Venetian food at the hotel restaurant.
Well rested, we’ll start the day with a fabulous breakfast on our hotel terrace. Then we’ll head by boat to Venice for the day. As we cruise along the Grand Canal, we’ll see boats of every kind. Magnificent palaces will line our route.
As we pass under the Rialto Bridge, you’ll see the Venice fish market in operation here for more than 700 years. The boat tour ends at a typically Venetian restaurant for a selection of local ‘cicchetti’ (delicious local snacks).
In the afternoon, you’re welcome to head back to the hotel to relax or stay with Janet and Lucy and continue exploring the hidden gems of Venice. There’s quite literally ‘Treasure in Every Church’ in Venice. In the evening, we’ll meet in the hotel lobby for dinner.
After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, we’ll set off to discover the Venetian countryside and the Brenta Canal. Venetian aristocrats built their country houses along the Brenta. We’ll visit the spectacular Villa Pisani, admired by Napoleon and built on the Versailles plan. Try to escape from the difficult maze if you can! Next, we’ll drive to Fusina and take a private boat across the lagoon to the islands of Torcello and Burano.
Torcello is famous for its mosaics and was one of the first inhabited islands on the lagoon. Lunch today is at the fantastic Da Romano Trattoria - risotto is the specialty. This restaurant was recently featured in Stanley Tucci’s ‘Searching for Italy’ (on CNN).
Dinner is a casual supper at the hotel.
Venice to the Italian Alps
Today, we’ll pack our bags and head for the hills. We’ll stop in Verona, the romantic hometown of Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. We’ll visit Juliet’s famous balcony and the charming medieval squares of Verona and will be sure not to miss the Roman Amphitheater that hosts an opera season every summer. It’s almost two thousand years old!
After lunch in Piazza del’Erbe, Verona’s prettiest square, we’ll follow the shores of Lake Garda and continue our journey northwards into the mountains. On the way, we’ll stop off for a delicious Italian ice cream (gelato) and a coffee.
We’ll arrive in the Italian Alps, known as the Dolomites, in the late afternoon. The fabulous Romantik Hotel Turm is our luxury accommodation for the next few days.
Time to unpack, relax, and make the most of the hotel’s world-class spa.
The next few days are all about relaxing, immersing yourself in the fresh mountain air, and recharging your batteries. Relax at the hotel or go into the local town of Bolzano to experience Italian fashion and boutiques. Or you can spend the day outdoors with an alpine walk to a traditional mountain hut (“Alm”) for lunch.
In the afternoon, we’ll go to the nearby Trauttmansdorff Castle, which has spectacular botanical gardens. If you prefer, you can stay at the hotel and luxuriate in the amazing spa facilities. Our dinner this evening will be in the hotel.
The Dolomites in autumn are particularly special – the days are still long and sunny, and yet there is a mountain crispness in the air. If you haven’t tried out the spa yet, today is your chance.
If relaxing and a sauna aren’t your thing, there’s a rock-climbing wall at the hotel for you to get active! There will be an optional hike today – an energizing walk in the hills with an “Einkehrmöglichkeit” you can’t miss. To translate, that’s a stopover for coffee, cake, or even a light lunch.
Rustic log cabins dot the alpine pastures, and the Dolomite peaks soar in the background.
In the evening, we’ll drive down the hillside to Grottnerhof. This 13th-century wine estate was recorded under the ownership of Oswald von Wolkenstein. The winery has an extensive history as well as a selection of fabulous wines. We’ll enjoy a wine tasting and dinner in this historic setting.
Dolomites – Innsbruck – Salzburg
Farewell to our spa, and hello to Austria. Today, we’ll be leaving Italy and heading over the Alps via the extraordinary Brenner pass into Austria. The Brenner is a key alpine pass that’s been a challenge for travelers for generations. Even in May, heavy snow is not uncommon.
Stopping halfway for lunch in Innsbruck, we’ll enjoy a couple of hours in this charming city, nestled in a mountain valley. Innsbruck was the imperial capital of Austria in the 16th century. In recent years, it has been an important winter ski destination. There’s a world-famous Olympic ski jump here.
Afterward, we’ll continue our journey to Salzburg, the land of the Sound of Music. First, we’ll stop in the village of Watters to visit the amazing world of Swarovski crystals for a tour that includes the sparkling chamber of wonder.
Tonight, we’ll be staying at the Gersberg Alm Romantik Hotel, only 15 minutes from the city of Salzburg.
After a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, it’s time to discover Salzburg. This is the city of Mozart and the Sound of Music. Our local guide will introduce us to this charming city of beauty.
We’ll visit the birthplace of Mozart. Then, we’ll have a Sound of Music tour with a singing tour guide. Salzburg is full of traditional coffee houses and great shops – an ideal place to pick up souvenirs and get an early start on holiday gifts!
If you fancy a hike or a panoramic view of the city, you can head up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress with its own funicular railway.
Salzburg to Munich
Today’s drive from Salzburg to Munich will take us approximately 2 hours. We’ll cross the border into Germany, traveling past the famous Chiemsee to our right and the Austrian-German Alps to our left.
We’ll stop at Prien am Chiemsee for a coffee and a walk along the shores of what is known as the “Bavarian Sea.”
Then we’ll continue to Munich, the capital city of Bavaria. Munich is so full of history, culture, and shopping opportunities that you’ll have plenty of choices here. After a short walk around the city center, we’ll make our way to the centrally-located hotel – The Excelsior Hotel. Unpack and relax before we meet for dinner in the fabulous city of Munich.
You'll have free time this morning to explore the Marienplatz, Munich's main square. There’ll be a walking tour of the city center with a local guide, ideal for anyone wanting to learn more about Munich’s rich heritage and history. We’ll visit the 15th-century Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady), followed by coffee and cake in a traditional Munich Kaffeehaus.
This afternoon, we’ll visit the beautiful Nymphenburg Palace. For centuries, the palace was home to the Wittelsbach family.
Tonight, our last evening together, we’ll end the trip in style with a farewell dinner at a traditional wirsthaus, Maximilian. It offers a range of German beers and local South Tyrolean fare. Tonight, we'll break the fun meter!
Today, our trip reaches its end. There’ll be several vehicles leaving for Munich Airport at different times, depending on your flight. Your transport will leave the hotel approximately 3 hours before your departure.
We wish you ‘Buon Viaggio’ and ‘eine gute Reise’ from Italy, Austria and Germany! Until next time – we already can’t wait to welcome you back to Europe again soon.
Relais et Châteaux Hotel Villa Franceschi is outside Venice in a 16th-century villa. Here you can wander the gardens with a glass of wine while admiring the statues.
Romantik Hotel Turm will be your home for a few days. Enjoy the wellness center which includes saunas, a gym and a pool.
Romantik Hotel Die Gersberg Alm is a carefully remodeled inn dating back to the 1830's. Situated 10 minutes outside the city, this hotel is a wonderful spot to rest your head.
This exceptional journey is led by geographer and art historian Janet Simmonds, a friend of Girls’ Guide with a master’s degree from the University of Oxford. Janet lives in Venice and works throughout Italy. When she’s not tripping, she writes about travel, including articles on Sicily.
The trip of a lifetime
Three countries, ten days, coasts, mountains, boat trips and hikes, castles, art, history, food and wine. Laughter, friendship and fun…This is the trip of a lifetime!
Everything stated in itinerary above including all meals (except where otherwise noted) plus beer or wine with dinner
Beautiful, unique hotel stays
Multi-lingual tour guides; experts in History, Art, Geography and Culture
All visits, excursions, experiences as listed in the itinerary
All transport after arrival in Venice
Roundtrip airfare to Europe – Venice / Munich
Additional wine, beer, or spirits beyond what is offered at meals
All personal souvenir purchases
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
Fly into the Venice Marco Polo Airport. (VCE)
The trip officially starts on September 28th, but if you are traveling across an ocean to get to Venice, consider arriving a day early so you have time to relax and adjust to the local time zone. If you do decide to arrive early, please let us know. We will take care of your booking and make sure that you stay in the same room when the trip starts.
We will have a zoom call about 6 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
In Venice during October average daily high temperatures decrease from 65F to 55F. In the Alps it will be a little cooler, with high temperatures of 55F and lows of 40F.
This exceptional journey will be led by geographer and art historian Janet Simmonds, a friend of Girls’ Guide with a master’s degree from the University of Oxford. Janet lives in Venice and works throughout Italy. When she’s not tripping, she writes about travel including numerous articles on Sicily.