Note: I planned to lead this trip in 1999 for a group of 12; however, due to the unfortunate economic downturn of 2000 it was not scheduled.
The Alpen regions of Austria and Italy are unparalleled in natural history and beauty. Our adventure is an introduction to this breathtaking region by exploring the historic sites, experiencing the food, local culture, and natural aspects of the beautiful land. The adventure focuses on areas in and around the capitals of Tirol (Innsbruck, Austria) and Südtirol (Bozen, Italy). Both cities are used as “hubs” for our day trips and contain a rich concentration of cultural, religious and historic sites. Opportunities to explore and appreciate the local natural beauty abound. Transportation on EuRail trains, local buses, and electric trams will be utilized. Day trips always return to a clean bed with hot water facilities. Accommodation is based on double occupancy and includes overnights in hotels and guest houses.
Location: The Alps of the Austrian Tirol and Italian Südtirol
Trip Dates: (14 Days) Summer 2000
Cost: TBD. Air separate. Based on double occupancy.
Accommodations: Hotels/Guest House
Capacity: 12 people
Trip Rating: Moderate. Some activities are Strenuous. All are optional.
A full day traveling by air or rail to Innsbruck, Austria. Please bring a light jacket, water, your passport, tickets, traveler’s checks, and wear comfortable clothing. In addition, you may want to bring a few books to read and some extra money.
Your guides meet you at the Innsbruck airport or train station. After a short ride, we arrive at our guest house in Igls, a suburb of Innsbruck. Igls (shown) is a hiking village situated on a sunny plateau at the base of Patscherkofel (shown in background). The village is perfect for exploring the nearby natural areas. Our guest house accommodations will be home for the next seven nights.
PERSPECTIVE OF INNSBRUCK
We will gain a perspective of Innsbruck and the many sights by taking a short tram ride around the city, with a visit to the city tower. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes or hiking boots. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.
Our first full day in Innsbruck is spent gaining perspective. We board a local tram for a short introduction to sights in Innsbruck. In addition, we will visit Stadtturm, a 15th-century tower located in the heart of the city. The tower provides a superb view of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains. For those who want to enjoy a relaxing afternoon, Innsbruck is blessed with coffee houses and pastry shops which can be enjoyed at your leisure. For those with more energy, we will hike the Olympic Ski Jump overlooking the city. Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympic Games in both 1964 and 1976.
EXPLORATION OF INNSBRUCK
Historic Innsbruck offers a rich political and cultural history. From Innsbruck, the Habsburg empire grew to a European power that would shape European history for over 400 years. The adornments of the local churches and political structures are beautiful and lavish. Today we recommend that you carry a day pack, wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring some extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.
We begin our exploration of Innsbruck by visiting several of the oldest and most exquisite structures in the city. Within a few feet, we travel through hundreds of years of history. Beginning with Emperor Maximilian I and the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) we continue to his tomb in the Court Church. Inside we are surrounded by 28 haunting life-sized bronze and black statues. In addition, the church is the home to the tomb of Andreas Hofer, an Austrian national hero who led four revolts against Napoleon’s invading army. The Tyroler Volkskunst Museum (Museum of Tirolean Folk Art) has rich carved furniture and traditional costumes on display. The Hofburg, or Imperial residence, contains staterooms, historic paintings, tapestries and a richly painted ballroom (shown). Innsbruck is also home to a beautiful cathedral and basilica, for those desiring to attend a Sunday mass.
ALPINE ZOO, NORDKETTENBAHN CABLE CAR, AND HIKING
We spend a full day experiencing the wildlife and the high mountains of the Alps. We recommend you bring a day pack, snacks, ear band, a jacket, water, and extra money. Please wear comfortable hiking boots. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.
In the morning we depart for turn-of-the-century cable car-trolley, Hungerburgbahn which carries us up the mountain to the Nordkettenbahn cable car to the 7,000-foot summit. At the summit, we can see Inn Valley and Innsbruck one mile below us. In addition, we can see the peaks in Italy and Germany. We will be accompanied by a local guide for a four to five-hour hike. In the late afternoon, we visit the Alpenzoo, which houses such native fauna as river otters, bears, and European bison. We descend the Hungerburgbahn and return to our accommodations in the early evening.
EXPLORATION OF INNSBRUCK (cont.)
Today we continue to explore Innsbruck, including Schloss Ambras (Castle Ambras), once the guardian of these mountainous crossroads. We recommend you wear comfortable shoes, bring snacks, water, and extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.
We continue our exploration of Innsbruck by visiting Schloss Ambras (Castle Ambras). The castle (shown) is home to a rich collection of armor, historic weaponry, and an eccentric’s collection of paintings, sculpture and medieval collectibles. The grounds are located in a beautiful park-like setting. We may explore additional museums such as Maximilian’s Armory Museum, the 400-year-old Bell Foundry, and the Tyrolian Railway Museum.
THE TRAILS AND VIEWS OF PATSCHERKOFEL
We spend a day exploring the trails of Patscherkofel. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring a day pack, water, lunch, and snacks. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, lunch is the responsibility of the traveler.
The morning begins with a 3-hour hike to the top of the forested and pastured slopes of Patscherkofel. The ascent will provide an opportunity to enjoy the views and to check out the Olympic bobsled course. A small Alm, an Alpen hut, along the way offers tea and water for hikers. Depending on the wind conditions, we will enjoy our lunch on the summit. Afterward, we will take the cable car back down to Igls. The more energetic are welcome to return by trail. In the afternoon you can explore surrounding villages, rest, or enjoy the atmosphere of a local cafe.
HIKING AND EXPLORING THE STUBAI VALLEY
The Stubai Valley contains green fields dotted with villages and farms, all surrounded by magnificent tall peaks. The Stubai Valley extends southwest of Innsbruck and is easily accessible by tram. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring snacks, water, and extra money. Breakfast and dinner will be provided, additional meals are the responsibility of the traveler.
We board the electric tram in Innsbruck for a 1-hour journey through tunnels and over bridges into the beautiful Stubai Valley. Upon arriving we descend into the valley hiking from village to village on mountain paths and farm trails. Expect to see Alpine cows grazing as we pass the farms along the way. The tram connects the villages and we will use it for an easy return at the end of the day. In the evening we begin our transition to Italy by dining at a local restaurant that specializes in wood-fired pizza.
ARRIVE BOZEN, VISIT ÖTZI THE ICEMAN
Today we pack up and travel to Bozen, Italy. Bozen is the capital of Südtirol and is steeped in 5000 years of history. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast will be provided.
The day begins with a beautiful two-hour train ride to the capital of Südtirol, Bozen, Italy. Our train travels up the Sill Valley, over Brenner Pass, and into Italy. It is a breathtaking ride. Arriving in Bozen we settle in at our accommodations and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we will explore the Museum of Archaeology to see one of the greatest archaeological finds of the decade. Back in 1991, hikers found the body of Ötzi, a 5300-year old man frozen in the ice. The museum contains his mummified body and reconstruction of how he appeared before his death. We will see his preserved weapons, tools, clothing and other artifacts that related to his life. We will also see Roman historical findings. English recordings/translations are available at the museum. The late afternoon will be spent exploring local sights and shops, or relaxing in one of the many cafes. Our accommodations will be home for the next three nights.
DAY TRIP TO MERAN, CASTLE TIROL, AND WINERY
We spend a day exploring the beautiful surroundings of Meran. We recommend you bring a day pack, snacks, and water. Please wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast will be provided.
In the morning we depart by train for a 50-minute ride to Meran. The rail line passes through a multitude of vineyards and orchards. In Meran, we will explore the shops in town. In the late morning, we will visit Castle Tirol (shown). The castle is the namesake for the Tirol region. We will also visit a local vineyard and winery for a tasting. The remainder of the day will be spent exploring Meran’s historic churches and buildings.
EXPLORE BOZEN, SURROUNDINGS, AND SHOPPING
Bozen’s small alleys and streets are centuries old. Among these visitors can experience the open air markets, craft shops and larger department stores that include an abundance of clothes, leather goods and shoes. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast is included, additional meals are the responsibility of the participant.
Today is reserved for shopping, personal exploration of the city, hiking around the nearby vineyards or relaxing in one of the many cafes. Bozen’s open-air market (shown) is a favorite. This is a perfect opportunity to purchase souvenirs. Local medieval castles and churches are also worth a visit.
Sterzing is located close to the Austria-Italian border. The mountains are very prominent and vistas spectacular. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes. Breakfast is included, additional meals are the responsibility of the participant.
We enjoy a relaxed morning before boarding the train for an hours journey north to the town of Sterzing. Sterzing is a typically Tirolean town with architectural elements of Renaissance Italy. Sterzing includes a prominent central street (shown) with shops, cafes, and stores. Our accommodations will be home for the next two nights.
HIKE THE FORESTS AND MEADOWS OF ROSSKOPF
We spend a day exploring the trails on Rosskopf, overlooking Sterzing. We recommend you wear hiking boots, bring a day pack, water, lunch and snacks. Breakfast will be provided, lunch and dinner are the responsibility of the traveler.
The morning begins with a tram ride to the top of Rosskopf, where we enjoy views of the surrounding Alps and countryside. Depending on the wind conditions, we will enjoy our lunch on the summit. In the afternoon you can explore the museums and sights of Sterzing.
PERSONAL DAY AND FAREWELL DINNER
The final full day of our adventure is a personal day. Our day ends with a farewell dinner. Breakfast and dinner will be provided today. In the morning we leave from Sterzing and enjoy the scenery during the one-hour train ride back to Innsbruck. This will be the final full day of the trip in Tirol. After arriving at our accommodations the remaining day is open to shop, buy souvenirs, explore or relax. The evening is reserved for our farewell dinner.
DEPART INNSBRUCK OR CONTINUE ON YOUR OWN JOURNEY
The final day of our trip. For those departing, this is a full day of air travel. We recommend you bring a light jacket, water, wear comfortable clothing, and make sure you have your passport, tickets, and your traveler’s checks.
INCLUDED IN THE TRIP
Adventuring in the Historic Alpen Tirol includes 13 nights accommodations, a variety of meals, medical insurance, daily bus passes, EuRail passes, museum admission and a native speaking guide.
- Arrivals on September 17 into the Innsbruck airport or train station are met by trip leaders.
- Thirteen nights (13) accommodations (based on double occupancy) in quality hotels and guesthouses.
- Exploration of Innsbruck (Austria), Sterzing, Bozen, Meran (Italy) and surrounding natural areas.
- Thirteen breakfasts, six dinners. Also includes a mid-point and final evening dinner.
- All EuRail and local tram admissions on trips published in the itinerary.
- All bus/tram passes in Austria and Italy stated on published itinerary.
- Admission for up to twenty-one (21) historic and cultural museums.
- Personal days for exploring, shopping of relaxing.
- Guided and personal exploration of the Austrian and Italian Alps.
- Comprehensive medical insurance.
- Guides for the duration of the trip, including a bi-lingual Austrian. Local guides when required.
- Professional air-travel services for pre-trip planning if required.
Note: Tips, meals not listed in the itinerary, gifts and souvenirs are not included in the cost of the trip and are considered personal expenses. The participant’s decision not to participate in an activity does not represent a refund or partial refund of payment.
Overnight accommodations include hotels and guest houses (shown from left to right). All rooms include a private bath, shower, hot water, and television. All lodgings are based on double occupancy. The hotel in Igls is within walking distance to the village center, the Patscherkofel cable car station, natural areas and is a 15-minute bus ride to downtown Innsbruck. Hotel accommodation in Bozen Italy is located downtown close to the shops, museums and transit station. The guesthouse in Sterzing is located a short ten-minute walk from the village center, transit station, and natural areas. The final night is spent in the historic section of Innsbruck in a hotel founded in 1390. The hotel is close to restaurants, shopping, and the river Inn. During its history, the hotel has accommodated such names as Mozart and Goethe.