The first time I flew from the United States to Europe, TSA didn’t exist, my parents walked me to the gate to say goodbye and people could still smoke on planes.
A lot has changed since then, but the magic and the history of the area is still such a beautiful draw.
I was lucky enough to spend a semester studying in Oxford and traveling – by plane, bus and train – truly any way I could to see as much of the continent as I could.
But, now that I’m older and have more time to travel, there is an place I’d love to visit – the Alps – and the three countries that make up the heart of this area – Switzerland, Germany and Austria. As you can imagine, I’m building quite an itinerary as I plan an Absolutely Alps vacation I know my entire family would love.
The beauty of this part of the world lies not only in it’s architecture, its cuisine and culture or its glorious history, but in the fact that we can choose how we would love to experience all of it. Taking the train would allow us to sit back and enjoy the scenery as it rolls slowly by – stopping and getting off in each city as we choose.
However, taking a road trip allows us to be the full masters of our destiny, opting to stay an extra night when we fall in love with the beauty of Lake Thun in Switzerland or with the people of Innsbruck, Austria.
As I researched the area, I found myself falling more and more in love with the opportunities to follow an Absolutely Alps road trip itinerary, knowing each leg of our travels would be less than four hours – and sometimes as little as an hour…and would include a journey through history. If you are finding it hard to imagine – take a look at this Absolutely Alps video…you will be mesmerized.
In my perfect world, we’d start in central Switzerland, driving through one of the most visually dramatic areas in the country – Gotthard Pass – a mountain pass that connects northern and southern Switzerland and measures more than two-thousand meters in height. At the top of the pass there is a museum and a small beer garden.
It is impossible to ignore the magnificence of this country. Isn’t this view of the Matterhorn spectacular? Its peak is more than 14-thousand feet high.
Have I told you I am obsessed with history? This means castles. I’m fascinated by wandering the grounds and imagining the many people who have done so before me. Who were they? What did they wear and eat? Who did they love? Absolutely making my list of ‘must visits’ is Oberhofen Castle on Lake Thun. While the view and the architecture are clearly stunning, I’m desperate to know more about the history. It was built in the early 13th century and was a private residence for hundreds of years – only being opened as a museum in 1954.
Baden-Baden is also known for its wine and I can promise you there is a piece of black forest cake in my future.
It wouldn’t feel right to leave Germany without experiencing some of their modern history in Stuttgardt. The sixth-largest city in Germany is often referred to as “Benztown” as it is home to two luxury automotive brands – both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Both brands have headquarters and museums in the city.
From Stuttgart, the drive to Innsbruck, Austria is just shy of four hours, but I can almost imagine taking even more time than that to enjoy the clouds as they dance over the hills and mountains.
This Absolutely Alps video offers some highlights of the area and will likely leave you as hypnotized as it left me.
Knowing my love of castles, you know I would add the Ambras Castle to my list. A 16th century castle, it now houses a museum, a portrait collection, art and an armory.
And for a feeling of the people, the heart and culture of Austria, I’ve added Salzburgerland to our journey. The home of Mozart, the area is teeming with art and festivals – nearly four-thousand cultural events happen each year so there are many to choose from….our hardest decisions will come when choosing where to eat and finally deciding to that we must head home.
If you are thinking about this glorious area of the world, Absolutely Alps offers three different road trip itineraries as a guide to keep you on track and make sure you see and experience the very best of the food (like these 9 must-try dishes),culture and history with these 9 hidden gems this part of the world has to offer. If you still need an extra push to start planning, here are 9 fun facts about this beautiful part of the world.
So, where would you like to go?