What do you get when you combine picturesque Venetian canals, hilltop Bavarian castles, snow-capped Swiss mountain ranges, and bustling Christmas markets? Some would say this trip and, sure, they’d be right. But what do you really get? A Christmas-time fairytale.
Riding in a gondola through the canals of Venice
Yodeling from atop the majestic Swiss Alps
Raising a toast inside one of Munich’s legendary beer halls
Living a fairytale on the balcony of a hilltop castle
Snapping selfies in front of bright and festive holiday lights
What you'll get
Round-trip flights & airport transfers
8 nights in handpicked accommodations
Expert Tour Director
24/7 support from our travel gurus
3 insider city tours with local guides
Trips to Christmas markets in each destination
- Day 1: Overnight Flight
Pack your appetite for adventure (and pasta) and board your overnight flight to Italy. This is the time to rest up—new countries, cultures, and cuisines await.
- Day 2: Arrive in Venice + Welcome Dinner
Benvenuto (welcome) to the Venice Region, otherwise known as Veneto. Once one of the richest and largest maritime trade empires in the world, the sheer number of canals, bridges, and boats should come as no surprise. You’ll drop off your bags, stretch your legs, then venture over to an authentic neighborhood on the western side of Venice.
In the evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner of local cuisine and drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!
- Land at the airport and meet a waiting EF representative.
- Transfer to your hotel to check in and check out your room.
- Get familiar with the area around your hotel with an introductory walk with your Tour Director.
- Travel to and tour the Santa Margherita neighborhood of Venice.
- Day 3: Sightseeing Tour of Venice + Christmas Market
On your first full day of adventure, you’ll arrive at the gorgeous St. Mark’s Square after a short boat ride into the city. You’ll be met by a local guide who’ll show you the famous sights of the city, including the intricate artwork of St. Mark’s Basilica. Just remember to observe the local custom of covering your shoulders and knees before entering—but covering your mouth in awe is completely up to you.
- Arrive in true Venetian style at St. Mark’s square via the Giudecca Canal.
- Gawk at the golden ceiling of St. Mark’s Basilica (Crowds and schedule permitting the group will enter the basilica. If not, you’ll have the option to enter in your free time)
- Stand in the footprints of history on the Rialto Bridge, the oldest spanning the Grand Canal.
- See for yourself why the 15th century Scala Contarini del Bovolo staircase literally means ‘of the snail’.
- Get in the Christmas spirit at Campo Santo Stefano, a square that is completely transformed into a Christmas village this time of year.
Free time suggestions
Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal: What better way to experience a city known for its bridges and canals than with a gondola ride down the grandest of them all? Your Tour Director will point you in the right direction if decide you want a ride but finding the gondoliers yourself won’t be hard either—just look for their traditional uniform of black pants and striped shirts.
Libreria Acqua Alta: Calling itself the most beautiful bookstore in the world, this gem is absolutely worth the visit. Wander through charming rooms stacked wall-to-wall with books in this unique shop that battles the nearly constant flooding by placing some of its books in waterproof basins, bathtubs, and boats.
- Day 4: Travel to Salzburg via Innsbruck
Put the canals of Venice in the rearview and set your sights on the city known for Mozart and The Sound of Music. Along the way you’ll stop in the town of Innsbruck, Austria, a popular destination for winter sports featuring colorful architecture set against the jagged peaks of the Alps.
- Travel by bus from Venice to Salzburg, gaining altitude and a newfound appreciation of the towering Alps as you go.
- Take a deep breath of fresh mountain air while you explore the scenic town of Innsbruck with your Tour Director.
- Arrive in Salzburg and enjoy a free evening to explore the city on your own.
- Day 5: Explore Salzburg + Christmas Market
Sitting on the northern boundary of the Alps, Salzburg is known for its well-preserved baroque architecture and stunning alpine setting. Its name literally means ‘salt castle’ but we suggest opting for a delicious local strudel instead.
- Join a local guide for a tour of the city including Kapitelplatz, Residenzplatz, and Old Town.
- Stand before Sphaera, a prominent piece of art featuring a large golden sphere with a man perched on top.
- Browse Alter Markt, the oldest weekly market in the city known for its selection of dairy, cabbages, and herbs.
- Head to Residenz Square with your Tour Director and experience one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets with over 100 stalls.
Free time suggestions
Hohensalzburg Fortress: Dominating the city’s skyline atop Festungsberg mountain, this fortress is the largest fully preserved castle in Central Europe. Built in 1077 and never once captured by foreign troops, it nonetheless provides an amazing vantage point for its visitors.
Sound of Music Tour: Walk in the footsteps of the von Trapp family as you explore original shooting locations and pose for the camera—just remember to think about a few of your favorite things to make sure you’re in character.
- Day 6: Travel to Munich + Christmas Market
Make your way to a major center of German art, music, and innovation. Considered by many to be the greatest beer destination in the world, it’s no wonder that it was rated as the world’s most livable city. And even if you’re not there during Oktoberfest, the beer still flows freely. Prost!
- Follow a local guide on a tour of Munich’s main attractions including Frauenkirche, Marienplatz, and Glockenspiel.
- Tempt yourself with the delicious array of food and drink in the massive farmer’s market and beer garden of Viktualienmarkt.
- Stop by one of Munich’s famous beer halls and have a stein on your own dime.
- Head back to Marienplatz, Munich’s famous square that happens to be completely Christmas-ified this time of year.
- Day 7: Free Day in Munich + Optional Trip to Dachau
Let your heart, or your stomach, take the lead on a day that’s completely up to you. Explore, sample the local fare (hint: sausages are wildly popular), and keep your eyes and ears peeled for a live show from a traditional Oompah band. Lederhosen optional.
Free time suggestions
BMW Museum: Pick up a ticket and discover an impressive collection of over 120 of BMW’s most valuable and attractive automobiles and motorcycles. The past, present, and future are all on display at this monument to German innovation and engineering.
Bike through Englischer Garten: One of the world’s largest urban parks at over 900 acres, this English style garden has a lot to explore. Pedal your way by the Japanese teahouse, a stream with a standing wave surfed by locals, and more.
Dachau (extra cost)
Once a typical German town, Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
- Day 8: Travel to the Lucerne Region via Neuschwanstein Castle + Christmas Market
Get ready to roll out of Germany—but not before stopping by a castle so picturesque it’s rumored to be the inspiration behind Cinderella’s castle. Then it’s off to Switzerland, home to some of the finest chocolate in the world.
- Climb aboard the private bus for a scenic ride across the European countryside.
- Take a guided tour of Neuschwanstein Castle before heading up to Mary’s Bridge for the best view of the day.
- Check another country off your list as you arrive Switzerland.
- Feel the Christmas cheer at Franziskanerplatz, where you can wander, shop, and stay warm with mulled wine.
- Day 9: Tour Lucerne + Optional Trip Up the Swiss Alps
Breathe in fresh lake air with hints of fresh chocolate (it might only be your imagination) as you explore a charming city overlooked by the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. It won’t take long to see why so many people flock to Switzerland—and seemingly never want to leave.
Share some laughs and any stories you may have missed along the way at this included farewell dinner with the group.
- Get introduced to the city with a guided tour from your Tour Director.
- Stand in wonder before Löwendenkmal, an impressive sculpture of a wounded lion carved into a sheer rock cliff.
- Stroll across the Kapellbrücke, a covered wooden footbridge featuring a series of paintings dating back to the 17th century.
Trip up the Swiss Alps (extra cost)
Take an amazing trip to the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Cross Lake Lucerne by boat, then ride a cable car to the summit. Take in the incredible panoramic views of Lucerne, its pristine lake, and the majestic Alps.
Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.
- Day 10: Fly Home
Auf Wiedersehen, Freunde!
Translation: Goodbye, friends. Before you head to the airport, make sure to take one more group photo and grab that final drink. But this isn’t goodbye because you can always get the gang back together for another trip soon. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, we have a couple ways to keep your vacation going.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
Traveling with us helps the EF community plant trees, at no extra cost to you.
Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5
Based on 367 authentic traveler reviews
Absolutely amazing!!Savannah, traveled Sep.. 2021
This is my first time traveling with EF as well as traveling out of the country so I was very nervous to take such a big step and travel to so many countries with strangers through a company I didn’t really know anything about but this was the best decision I could ever make ! This was an amazing trip, from the views and the food to the wonderful people I me... See more
If you’re on the edge about booking, JUST DO IT.Camryn, traveled Aug.. 2022
This was one of the first things I truly did for myself for a long time. If you are in the edge about solo traveling, this is your sign to do it. Our guide Vinnie was beyond knowledgeable and extremely kind hearted. He effortlessly made everyone feel included and was just a joy to be around. As an overplanner and generally high strung person, every detail of... See more
Highly Recommended TripJeremy, traveled Jul.. 2022
This trip was a fun opportunity to explore a small portion of Italy, Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Understandably due to the short span of the trip, I wasn't able to explore as much of these countries as I would normally have liked to. Regardless, I believe that I did see a good amount for the time spent. My only critique is of the opti... See more
Best Girls trip EVER!Hannah, traveled Jul.. 2022
This trip was amazing! Beautiful cities with so much to do and see! I will never forget the memories I made. I would also recommend all of the excursions, definitely worth the extra $! I went with my BFF and it was amazing to make all those memories with her!