My husband and I are planning a GAS tour in 2020. We are trying to decide on going on the May 9th or September 5th tour, with weather being the deciding factor. In checking the weather charts the temps and dry days seem about the same (understanding that the weather is unpredictable!). I would appreciate input from those of you who have taken the tour during these months. Why did you choose the month you did and how was the weather? Thanks!
I went the last week of August (2016) and hit a heat wave in Germany. Switzerland, however, was perfect. I had chosen that time of year because on a previous RS tour that included Switzerland in September the guide was saying he had had to cut steps in the snow for his group in June. I wanted to make sure I could do some hiking as the big draw for me for GAS was the 3 nights in Switzerland. The trails were perfect that time of year.
If I were choosing again I’d go a week later than Sept 5 if you can manage but I’d do Sept 5 over May for the Swiss portion. The rest of the trip would be fine in May!!
I loved Trier. I recommend you arrive at least 2 nights ahead if you can as there is a lot to see in Trier especially if you enjoy Roman history!
You may run into Alpine snow in May - no chance of that in September.
Would you prefer to see the Berner Oberland waterfalls at full flow with the possibility of snow - May; or drier waterfalls, perhaps hotter trails, almost certainly more crowded, and no chance of snow - September?
It is really what you'd prefer to find. What do you like more? Which is easier to get away for?
The May 9 start is 6 weeks from the longest daylight hours of the year, and getting longer each day.
The Sept 5 start is 9 weeks past the longest daylight and shrinking each day.
I have not been at that time of year, but the prospect of spring flowers and lengthening daylight hours would have me choose May
We went in May and it was really beautiful. Some rain but not bad. In Switzerland however we were not able to get onto the high trails as there was still snow. So if you want to go do the higher passes go with September.
We went the first two weeks in May this year and the weather was cold, wet and at some times snowy for most of the tour. Everyone said they were having spring in April and winter in May. There was snow at Neuschwanstein on Mother’s Day. The shuttles were not running. And a number of things were shut down/not running/poor visibility in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
We did this tour in July and Switzerland was just about perfect. The rest of the tour was definitely warm but not beastly. My vote would most definitely be Sept.
I didn't do the RS tour but I did do an Alpine tour to the same countries in early September and the weather was perfect. In general I prefer to travel in Autumn because while it is sometimes cooler than in Spring, the weather is generally more settled in Autumn, with less chance of large temperature swings during the day and less chance of storms, rather than light rain. And, as others have said less chance of snow in September than in May, especially in the mountains.
We went on the RS GAS tour in late August and had spectacular weather in the mountains in Switzerland. A few years ago, we returned to Wengen/Lauterbrunnen in September for several days. The day we arrived was overcast and cold, but the following days were clear and beautiful. It happened to be during the Jungfrau Marathon, and that brought fun festivities, too.
FYI- since the forecast was cold, I packed a pair of grocery store tights, and a long-sleeve T to layer with my pants, shirt & raincoat, and I was fine.
Thanks guys for all the advice! Pam, I would prefer to go a week later in September, but the price goes up $300 per person. It is during the Octoberfest so I imagine that is why the price increase. I really appreciate all the advice on this forum. I can't tell you how much information I have gotten here. Thank you again for taking the time to help others!
No question, the answer is September!! We took that tour a few years ago in Sept. and weather was fantastic. Went back to Murrren last September and stayed for 9 days, just couldn't leave. The weather and hiking was unbelievable with the most panoramic views. Only rain on 1 of the 9 days. If you go in May, there will still be snow around where many hiking trails will be closed. It is a wonderful tour, you will have a blast, every city is amazing.
jddible, I've been in those areas in May and September, and I too vote for September. I'd go further and suggest you sign up for one of the GAS tours in September, that puts you in Munich for Oktoberfest. Its a great way to experience this event (not the drunken orgy people have an image of) with a tour group and without the bother of logistics planning.
Did the tour in 1st week of September. Couldn't ask for nicer weather. No rain, comfortable temperatures, still plenty of water falls.
I picked September because it was the only time I could get enough days off together that year to take the trip (the RS tour was a few days longer that year than it is now).
I'd say July.
But in terms of the Switzerland portion, the mountains create their own weather, so you could get lucky (or not) any month. Summer if your best bet, though, but realize it'll be hot in places like Vienna and possibly Salzburg. Trier and Baden Baden weren't as bad in my time there, but of course, anything is possible.
"I would prefer to go a week later in September, but the price goes up $300 per person. It is during the Octoberfest so I imagine that is why the price increase"
Oh darn....I didn't even think of that! Yes, I'm sure the hotel rates really jump in Munich during that time.
Then, I'd stick with the Sept 5 tour unless you decide to take the advice above and go for Oktoberfest! (I'm not a crowd lover so I'd be avoiding that!)
About to leave on Friday (7/19) for the 7/20-8/2 GAS trip, and though it's been a few years since I went through Germany and Austria during the summer months, I seem to remember it being fairly warm but not completely oppressive, if that helps any. Switzerland was pretty great in August, though, undoubtedly helped by the high altitude and mountains. Still packing for hotter weather than usual this year, what with the recent record heat-wave Europe's currently experiencing.
We took the GAS tour last May 18th. We had a few days of rain, it was already starting to get hot in Munich. We had gorgeous weather in Switzerland and the waterfalls were amazing. The year before we did Best of Germany in September. It was really hot, especially in Berlin. So, your heat tolerance is going to be a big factor in your decision.
My sister and I are looking at the 9/5/20 GAS tour, as well. After reading all these responses, I feel good about our choice. Very excited!
Heidi, so excited to hear we may be on the same tour! I look forward to meeting you!