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A #Nofilter Tour of the Alps
Alpine photos don’t require a filter, what with all those blue skies, emerald green meadows, and craggy peaks, many of which are dusted with snow even throughout the summer. On your #NoFilter tour of Switzerland, Austria and Southern Germany, all the work is done for you naturally before you even post any images to wow your friends back home.  

The same holds true of the area’s cities and towns. Austria’s lakeside town of Hallstatt with its tall church spire and wooden balconied houses is so picture-, er Instagram, perfect that a replica of the entire town has been constructed in China. With the many beautiful sights waiting to be photographed in the Alps, we suggest you buy an extra memory card (or two) after you’ve booked your flight.  

You’ll start your snap-happy tour of the region in the Swiss town of Zermatt (#Matterhorn) and finish in Munich with its lively beer halls and charming old town. In between, in restaurants and inns, you’ll be posting all your savory dishes of Alpine game, fresh lake fish and berries and herbs plucked that morning. And you might practice those selfies now, so you’ll be ready when you are shooting from cable cars thousands of feet above impossibly green valleys.
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    Day 1
    Zermatt
    The Swiss village of Zermatt just might be the granddaddy of all Alpine settings, and for that we can thank the iconic, nearly 15,000 foot-high Matterhorn and its pyramid-perfect northeast face that looms over town. It helps that the town's historic center looks much as it did when it first became a world-famous destination following the 1865 ascent of the Matterhorn by a team of British climbers.

    The name 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat comes from the elevation (in meters, roughly 10,200 feet) of this hotel above Zermatt which has views of both Mt. Blanc and the Matterhorn-the latter seemingly close enough to touch. Perched just above town, the Omnia Mountain Lodge is a modern take on a traditional hotel. Fireplaces provide a cozy warmth on cool evenings while the terraces are ideal for lounging under crisp blue skies on sunny days.

    In the hamlet of Findeln, at almost 7,000 feet, the old farmhouse restaurant Chez Vrony's menu is sourced from the pasture right outside the dining room. From the terrace, the Matterhorn glistens in the summer sun.

    After a ride on the Zermatt Bergbahnen cable cars, you can tackle the Five Lakes Hike which passes the Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee, and Leisee lakes, each different in size and color from the other.

    Tip: A flock of cute Valais Blacknose sheep-guaranteed to get likes-are ready for you to take their photo at the Julen family farm on the edge of Zermatt.
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    Day 2
    Lugano
    Tucked snugly in a bay on Lake Lugano, the crescent-shaped city of the same name in the canton of Ticino has an unmistakably Mediterranean feel. Lugano is in Switzerland's Italian-speaking region and the famous palm trees and elegant villas complete the look.

    As you'd expect from a property named View Lugano, all its rooms have terraces with stunning lake vistas, as well as ultra-contemporary teak floors in this spa hotel. With a lush lakefront garden, the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola and its gourmet dining reflect the opulence of its late-19th-century noble era.

    The dark-wood interior in the front room café and pastry shop at the Ristorante Grand Café Al Porto has an old-school Viennese feel, while you'll want to head to Restaurant Seven if some time at the casino tables and international DJs spinning the latest dance hits sounds more appealing.

    After lunch, you may want to set out on the Olive Grove Trail, a footpath with information panels that runs alongside the lake for two miles and showcases olive trees that have been reintroduced here. You can continue your horticultural adventure exploring 15 acres of rhododendrons and conifers at the San Grato Botanical Garden.

    Tip: Not only does the Hermann Hesse Museum in the village of Montagnola honor the celebrated German writer's 43 years in Ticino, its director leads walking tours of town.

    Plan Your Trip
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    Day 3
    St. Moritz
    St. Moritz in the Engadin Valley is a legendary year-round playground. In summer, its slopes are laced with trails that take you through meadows and past traditional farmhouses. Or, you can ride the Corviglia tram up to the top of 10,000-foot peaks for gorgeous lake views. An iconic short hike is the Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard trail, which has educational panels on greenhouse gases and climate change.

    In 2007, interior designer Carlo Rampazzi gave the grand Carlton Hotel St. Moritz, originally built in 1913, a bold contemporary renovation. The 32-room Hotel Steinbock is another overnight option in the village of Pontresina. The oldest inn in the town, it first opened in 1651 and has been owned by the same family for three generations.

    In a centuries-old farmhouse with traditional Engadine valley sgraffito decorations, the celebrated Talvo by Dalsass restaurants features the culinary masterpieces of Tyrolean chef Martin Dalsass. The Hotel Giardino Mountain's three restaurants serve a range of cuisine from gourmet to hearty local dishes.

    After you have finished your dessert, St. Moritz is crisscrossed with mountain bike trails to explore as well as endless hiking options. Founded in 1914, the Swiss National Park just east of St. Moritz is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with resident ibex, lynx, chamois, and golden eagles.

    Tip: On a guided tour with naturalist Christine Salis you can observe Switzerland's largest ibex colony around the 10,400 foot-high Piz Albris, above Pontresina.
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    Photo By Herbert Lechner
    Day 4
    Garmisch-Partenkirchen
    Near the Austrian border, and the gateway to Germany's highest peak, the nearly 10,000-foot-high Zugspitze, Garmisch-Partenkirchen first became famous around the world when it hosted the fourth Winter Olympic Games. Before then, Garmisch and the cobblestoned Partenkirchen had been separate villages and each still retains different atmospheres-Garmisch having a reputation as the livelier of the two.

    More than a century ago an Englishwoman built herself an "English Castle," just outside of town. Today it houses Das Kranzbach spa hotel.

    The early-20th-century landmarked Schloss Elmau spa hotel is reason enough to travel to the Bavarian Alps. Its setting, at 3,300 feet high in the Wetterstein Mountains, makes for a fairytale scene in all seasons, whether the nearby hills are covered in snow or wildflowers.

    High up on the Zugspitze peak, and reachable by cable car, the Gletschergarten restaurant offers diners traditional dishes and stunning views. In the heart of Garmisch, the menus reflect what is at the peak of freshness at Koch's as well as at nearby Vaun restaurants.

    King Ludwig II is famous for his Neuschwanstein confection of a castle, but of the three palaces he commissioned, the only one that was actually completed was the rococo Linderhof Palace with its fanciful rooms and splendid fountains. The AlpspiX is a high-design viewing platform high up in the local mountains, reachable by cable car.

    Tip: The home and lifestyle accessories line Alpenterieur is the brainchild of local artist and muralist Bernhard Rieger whose themes reflect mountain life rendered in modern design.

    Plan Your Trip
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    Photo By Innsbruck Tourism
    Day 5
    Innsbruck
    Put on the world map by the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympic Games, Tyrolean Innsbruck is often called the Capital of the Alps by its inhabitants. Two good options for your stay here are the Nala hotel, a 1950s inn recently turned trendy, close to all the excitement of Innsbruck's bars and restaurants. The city's tallest hotel, the Adlers, is a cool and contemporary option and you may want to stop by for a drink or meal at its 12th floor bar or restaurant even if you stay elsewhere.

    Innsbruck's sights include ones both old and new. The late architect Zaha Hadid elevated the city's stature in the design world with her stunning Hungerburg funicular stations that lead up the Nordkette Mountains. Ambras Castle and the Golden Roof, on the other hand, are both around 500 years old. Archduke Ferdinand ordered the construction of the castle in 1563, and its armories and galleries provide a glimpse of life under the centuries of Hapsburg rule. The Golden Roof dates from 1500, and is a structure with more than 2,000 gilded copper tiles that served as a viewing platform for Emperor Maximilian and his wife.

    When you are ready to explore Innsbruck's restaurants, Die Wilderin restaurant is a laidback and unpretentious choice, known for its fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Just a short way down the Inn river, the Swarovski Crystal World's museum and garden serves seasonal gourmet cuisine and afternoon tea at Daniels Kristallwelten restaurant.

    Tip: If it's on the menu, order some Tyrolean speck. The local specialty is a delicious beechwood-smoked ham flavored with herbs and spices.
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    Photo By Oesterreich Werbung Weinhaeupl
    Day 6
    Hallstatt
    Since 1997, the collective Hallstatt-Dachstein/Salzkammergut region has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some 250 million years ago the region was an inland sea, leaving minerals which were later pushed to the surface by the Alps. For seven millennia, salt-"white gold"-has been mined around the Hallstätter See, a fjord-like glacial lake. In recent years, significant Bronze Age archaeological discoveries have also been made here. The long history of the area and a picture-postcard setting make Hallstatt and its lake the most photographed site in Austria.

    With one-off rooms in its three combined old houses, the Hotel Heritage Hallstatt serves gourmet cuisine in its Im Kainz restaurant. The lakeside Seewirt Zauner hotel rooms are designed in aromatic Swiss stone pine wood which is said to enhance sleep. Its restaurant specializes in fresh fish and game from the Dachstein Mountains.

    Sit on the restaurant Bräu-Gasthof's lakefront terrace sipping a beer-Emperor Maximilian gave the house its brewing rights back in 1504—and you'll risk simply not wanting to get up. Across the lake, where diners are treated to freshly caught fish, the Restaurant Höllwirt's house has been in the same family since the 1700s.

    Recently, a Skywalk viewing platform was added that hovers 1,200 feet over the lake. You can explore Hallstättersee lake itself on traditional salt transport boats called Fuhr.

    Tip: The local Salzkammergut salt makes for a good gift for friends back home, and it's said to have curative powers.

    Plan Your Trip
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    Photo By GNTB Rainer Kiedrowski
    Day 7
    Munich
    You'll end your journey of photographing the Alps in the Bavarian capital of Munich, a city rich in cultural offerings where the holdings in the world-class galleries in the Kunstareal complex of museums range from antiquities to contemporary art. Make sure to also stop at the Allianz Arena, a first-class sports arena with famously colorful and decidedly photogenic lighted panels.

    Just off Munich's enormous English Garden, the urban-style Hotel Pullman lies in the upscale Schwabing shopping and dining district. Near the city's other fine green space, the Maximilian Park, the Hotel Münchner Palast hits that sweet spot between modern and classic design.

    Before you explore the city, you may want to get some lunch. Right on the lake in the iconic English Garden, the popular Seehaus with terrace seating serves fish as you'd expect. Under vaulted ceilings in a centuries-old building, the Alter Hof restaurant is another delicious option, serving hearty dishes from the nearby Franconia region.

    Viennese architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au's celebrated BMW World brings is both a show room and, with the adjacent museum, a tribute to the history of an iconic brand. For a Munich beer experience, the Benedictine monks at Andechs brewery will be happy to share their secrets with you.

    Tip: The funky Brandner und Kneißl shop is both a tattoo parlor and a boutique selling custom lederhosen. You can count on some social media comments whether you get a new tattoo or a pair of the traditional leather breeches.