1 Frankfurt and On to Mainz.
Welcome to Germany. From the Rhine Valley to the Alps, experience lively cosmopolitan cities, historic old towns and breathtaking natural scenery. Transfers from Frankfurt airport to your Mainz hotel depart at 09:30 and 12:30. Mainz has been a bustling and important town since the time of the Romans. Join your Travel Director and fellow guests at 18:00, for a walk through the Cathedral Quarter to witness the magnificent architecture of the city's Dom. At a local restaurant, enjoy a pleasant evening of good food and wine during your Welcome Dinner. (DW) Stay: Hilton Mainz.
2 Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber and The Romantic Road to Munich.
Head to fortified Rothenburg ob der Tauber, overlooking the winding Tauber River. Once through the medieval walls, you are immediately transported back into the 16th century, as cobblestone streets lead you to the medieval Market Square with its Town Hall. Perhaps visit Tilman Riemenschneider's ‘Holy Blood' altarpiece in St Jakob's Church or pop into the Christmas shop where you'll find the festive spirit all year round? Follow parts of the Romantic Road to fun-loving Munich. (B) Stay: The Westin Grand Munich.
3 The Bavarian Capital of Munich.
During your orientation you will see Victory Arch and the university, concluding in the Marienplatz with its soaring Gothic Town Hall and colourful Glockenspiel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Why not try a foaming stein of beer at the world-famous Hofbräuhaus? (B)
4 Lake Chiemsee to Salzburg.
Travel alongside the beautiful Lake Chiemsee and cross the Austrian border to Salzburg, ‘alive with the Sound of Music.' Walk with your Local Expert through the formal gardens of Mirabell Palace and admire the city skyline, crowned by the majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress. Cross the Salzach River to see Mozart's birthplace on the Getreidegasse, a lively shopping street lined with charming wrought-iron signs. For those arriving before Christmas, visit the festive Christmas Market and meet a local stallholder for a taste of traditional Lebkuchen and a fragrant cup of Glühwein. Follow the narrow lanes of the Old Town to the domed cathedral and the splendid Residenz Fountain, before having time at leisure to enjoy as you please. In the evening, perhaps visit an Austrian chalet for dinner, drinks and the opportunity to learn about life in the countryside? (B) Stay: Arcotel Castellani, Salzburg
In the morning, choose to either meet your coachman and take in the delightful scenery and pure fresh air on a horse-drawn carriage ride, known as a Fiaker. Alternatively, visit the magical world of Swarovski Crystal. In the afternoon, a scenic journey takes you through snow-capped mountains to Innsbruck. See the Imperial Palace and magnificent Golden Roof in the Old Town, then loose yourself in the festive atmosphere as you spend some time exploring Innsbruck's magical Christmas Markets. The giant Christmas tree dominates the square and is adorned in lights and decorations. Browse the market stalls, selling handmade trinkets that make perfect gifts for friends and family, along with delicious local treats of home-made biscuits, jams and delicious, soul-warming Glühwein. At night, journey to the charming town of Hall in Tirol, which boasts one of Austria's best-preserved historic town centres. Enjoy a medieval highlight banquet set in a 700-year-old building. (B/DW) Stay: AC Hotel Innsbruck.
6 Liechtenstein and Lucerne By The Lake.
This morning depart for Lucerne by first stopping at the Wilten Basilica where a multitude of Rococo cherubs and angels will greet you when you venture inside. Delightful scenery abounds as you make your way to the Arlberg Tunnel. Stop in Vaduz, capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein, one of Europe's smallest countries. Cross the Swiss border and continue to lakeside Lucerne. Your Travel Director will show you the covered wooden Chapel Bridge and you'll learn about the poignant history of the Lion Monument. Then you are at leisure to shop for Swiss watches or delicious chocolate. (B) Stay: Hotel Astoria, Lucerne.
7 Lovely Lucerne.
Start the day with a spectacular cable car ride with incredible views up Mount Pilatus. Back in Lucerne, you are free to admire the superb baroque Jesuit Church, stroll along lakeside promenades, or explore the old walls and watch towers of the medieval fortifications. (B/DW)
Stop at Schaffhausen to see the Rhine River thundering over the Rhine Falls. Cross the German border and venture deep into the Black Forest. Following the Rhine Valley north, head for the town of Heidelberg, set on the banks of the river Neckar and dominated by its magnificent red sandstone castle. Stroll through the old town with your Travel Director. Perhaps see the old Student Prison? In the evening, enjoy good food, wine and company at your Celebration Dinner. (B/DW) Stay: Crowne Plaza Heidelberg City Centre.
9 Depart Frankfurt Airport.
A transfer to Frankfurt airport's Terminal 1 arrives at 09:00 and Terminal 2 at 09:15. (B)