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Recommendations for Alps towns (and other) in Northern Italy, Switzerland, Austria, France

I was going to do the RS Alps tour, but looks like group travel will not be happening in July - which is the only month I can travel. Therefore, I'm planning to do independent travel. (I'm a healthcare worker who is slated to get the vaccine soon.) For those who have done this tour - or have visited these places - can you please make recommendations on towns/cities and hotels? Doesn't have to only be Alps-type towns. I notice that RS tour hotels are not always listed in his tour books - at least that has been my experience. What towns were best and what hotels do you recommend? So far, I'm thinking Kastelrotto but I'm looking for other extraordinary places to visit. Maybe also Lauterbrunnen? Hotel recommendations there? Other location suggestions?? Many thanks in advance.

Posted by
5880 posts

ALpine, about the tour hotels. They aren't always the same hotels, so they're not going to be identified as such in the books. For tour groups, RSE needs to have 12-15 rooms available, with breakfast, etc., which means a larger hotel than many listed in the books, or multiple hotels near each other. Plus they may not always be available during those specific time periods. You can tease out which hotels were used on a specific tour in the past, by asking questions about the specific towns here, and hope they're open again after the pandemic breaks.

Posted by
251 posts

We stayed in Compatsch while in the Dolomites on the RS Best of Italy tour and loved it, my sister stayed in Kastelrotto when she took the same tour and loved it. We visited Bolzano while on that tour and my husband remarked he could live there. Any of those 3 towns (well Compatsch is more a wide spot in the road) would be good places to stay in the Dolomites. Bolzano is more of a jumping off place, bigger town and close to the highway. Kastelrotto is charming and much closer to the mountains. I equate Compatsch to Murren in Switzerland, more “in” the thick of things than “looking” at the scenery.

Posted by
641 posts

Did not do the tour but went to 3 out of 4 of the places you want to visit.
we enjoyed all the towns we chose
dolomites we stayed in selva di val gardena
south tyrol austria in seefeld
switzerand we stayed in lauterbrunnen
have a good trip!

Posted by
18700 posts

Bolzano is a lovely place (and the Archaeological Museum with the Iceman is great), but it is down in the valley and can be surprisingly hot in the summer. Trust me; I spent several days there in 2015. After a look at the weather forecast (I was booking my hotel only a few days in advance), I spent the money for an air conditioned 4-star hotel, which pained me but had to be done. Many of the smaller hotels in Bolzano and Bressanone (another valley town) are not air conditioned. Not yet mentioned as a possible Dolomites base is the village of Ortisei (at altitude, so typically much cooler), which I know several people on the forum have liked.

There may be quite a lot of turnover in hotels when things open back up. In addition to asking for personal recommendations here, I'd also take a look at a website like booking.com to get an idea of costs. I believe you'll find Swiss lodgings much, much more expensive than those in the Dolomites.

I don't know how long your trip will be, but if you want to include some non-alpine destinations, these are among the many watery options in that part of Europe: Italian or Swiss lakes, Lake Constance (Bodensee), Annecy (France).

Although people don't usually go to Switzerland for the cities (though they are attractive), many folks especially like Lucerne. But it would be quite a challenge to find an unattractive spot in Switzerland.

There's a string of interesting towns between Venice and Milan, including Padua, Vicenza, Verona and Bergamo. Bergamo, which has a medieval district on top of a hill, is on a secondary rail line. Padua has more than its share of historical sights as well as a largish historic district I enjoyed. Vicenza has some Palladian architecture.

Posted by
49 posts

So we stayed in the Dolomites/Val Gardena area. It was awesome. Recommend staying at this wonderful small lodge. Run by a family with an excellent Chef and Hostess. We ate breakfast and dinner there each of our 4 nights and loved every minute of it. You will not find a nicer place as this: https://www.stuacatores.com/en/
Lots of places to hike, or take the tram up to the mountains or visit the city below to shop and eat if you'd like.

Posted by
3746 posts

First of all, thank you for your work as a healthcare worker during this stressful year for you! I hope your trip is full of clear blue skies!

Salzburg - we love Salzburg! We’ve been there with the RS tour and also on our own. We like the Weiss Taube (White Dove) hotel.

Dolomites - we stayed at Kastelrotto with the RS tour. When we returned, we stayed in Moena, a nice small village. We stayed at Hotel Monza - a friendly family-run small hotel with half-board meals. Next time we will probably try Ortisei.

Fussen - the closest we’ve stayed to that location was Mittenwald, Germany. A charming small town with a wonderful violin/town history museum. I think our hotel was Alpenhotel Rieger - excellent breakfast - huge options.

Lauterbrunnen Valley - we stayed in Lauterbrunnen during the RS GAS tour. When we returned a few years later, we chose to stay up in Wengen which we thought was the better choice. We stayed at Hotel Alpenruhe with the breathtaking views from our room and balcony.

Chamonix - the closest we’ve stayed was at beautiful Lake Annecy. We stayed at the Imperial Palace hotel, and it was the perfect location to enjoy the lake and town.

Posted by
121 posts

Can’t go wrong with nearly any of the various locations used on the My Way Alpine Tours. Go to the Tour Scrapbook section where past travelers log the trip and you will get great pictures, sense of the ares/towns and hotel info on where people stayed. I read all that were posted through the years for the Alpine tour and would estimate people liked the selected hotels at least 90% of the time.

Loved the whole trip but my first repeat will be back to the Dolomites and Austria lake regions south of Salzburg. Enjoy.

Posted by
6481 posts

We had a wonderful stay in Ortisei at Hotel Grones, family owned and run. One of our favorite hotel experiences ever.

Posted by
3317 posts

We stayed in Murren on two occasions. One was the Hotel Alpenruh (on tour) and one was Hotel Jungfrau (traveling independently). Both were good locations and I would cheerfully stay at either of them again in the future.

One nice feature of the Hotel Alpenruh is that is located near the Cable station and also offers a discount on going up the Schilthorn for their breakfast since they are owned by Cable Company.

Posted by
17 posts

Yes, the hotels that the tours use are not usually in the guide books. I believe because, Rs usually has them pretty much booked up most the season. So if RS is not running tours there should be plenty of room. We took this tour about 3 years ago, and I loved it. All the places we stayed were perfectly fine. In Castlerotto we stayed at Hotel Cavallino D'Oro. It was a short bus ride to the lift up to the Alpe di Siuse. Later on the tour we stayed at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen. After the tour we spent a few days at the Hotel Bellevue in Mürren. Basing yourself in Wengen would good also, but I have no experience with hotels there.

Posted by
251 posts

In the Berner Oberland, we stayed in Murren (highly recommended rather than Lauterbrunnen) at the Hotel Jungfrau. Great, great hotel, we were lucky enough to get a room with balcony overlooking the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Breathtaking!

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980 posts

In 2019 I took the train from Zurich to Lauterbrunnen Valley & spent 4 nights in Murren at the Alpina Hotel. Then headed by train again to Lucerne, Hotel des Alpes, before heading to Paris. I enjoyed staying in Murren, but you couldn't go wrong with staying in Lauterbrunnen Valley or even Wengen. I enjoyed the smaller village atmosphere of Murren and plan on returning there again.

Posted by
2700 posts

Italy.
La Villa, Alta Badia. Ciasa Montanara.

Switzerland. Wengen.

Austria. Zillertal or Oetztal.

Posted by
24 posts

We stayed in Merano and loved it. It is a lovely town with easily accessible walks up the mountain to beautiful small villages with beautiful overlooks and places to eat overlooking the valley.

Posted by
16847 posts

Note that having your own wheels (tour bus or rental car) makes transportation between these mountain destinations more efficient than train. But you’ll usually want to circle back to drop off a rental car in it’s original country to avoid high fees. So that’s perhaps two steps forward and one step back for efficiency.