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Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Photo by Markt Garmisch-Partenkirchen Jîrg Lutz
Alpine Tasting Menu
On a weeklong tasting journey through the Alps of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, travelers will delight in daily discoveries of a food scene that ranges from Zurich’s Michelin-starred venues to hearty farm fare in Austrian and Bavarian mountain villages.  

For some time now, young chefs in the region have been seeking out their culinary roots. In sourcing natural resources and historic food ingredients, they often literally head to their grandparents’ larder to rediscover healthy root vegetables and meadow herbs and to their backyards for delectable berries and versatile old apple, pear, and apricot varieties. They’re searching out producers of ancient goat and sheep cheeses and farmers who are bringing back livestock breeds that had nearly vanished.  

Game and freshwater fish pair wonderfully with wines from the world-class terroirs that surround the Alps. And hearty classic dishes like Austrian knödel (dumplings), German Weisswurst, and Swiss raclette always taste even better with either historic brews made following centuries-old recipes or those from the booming craft beer scene.  An added bonus is that there is no shortage of physical activities—from city walks and riverside bike rides to mountain hikes—to work off all the rich feasts. You can indulge without guilt on your noshing adventure.
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    Day 1
    Switzerland's largest city, Zurich, is surprisingly compact, with a walkable old town and delightful trams that get you around in a flash. That means you will be able to sample many of the culinary highlights of the "little big city" even if you are only there for a quick visit.

    Of Zurich's many luxury hotels, the modern, glass-fronted, and art-filled, Park Hyatt Zurich has an ideal location close to Lake Zurich. The historic and non-fussy Hotel Adler is right off the Limmat River in the pedestrian-only old town.

    A zunfthaus is a guildhall, and the Zunfthaus zur Waag restaurant with its rich interiors occupies one of the finest buildings in this former town of weavers. It's a popular place to try one of the city's signature dishes, Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (veal in a mushroom cream sauce). You might not expect to find a 120-year-old vegetarian restaurant in a meat-heavy region, but Haus Hiltl is a local favorite for its Indian-inflected menu.

    Next to the train station in a park that juts into the Limmat River, the Swiss National Museum just added a new wing to its historic structure filled with archaeological and historical displays.

    Tip: At 1,300 feet high, nearby Uetliberg Mountain is not tall compared to many other peaks in the Alps. Once you hike up to its summit—or ride the train if you prefer—and climb the observation tower, however, you'll be awed by the views of massive snow-capped peaks that seem to extend to the distant horizon.
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    Day 2
    Switzerland is packed with so many star destinations, from the iconic Matterhorn to the refined city of Geneva, that northeast Appenzell Innerrhoden which is tucked just below the popular Bodensee (Lake Constance) can be unfairly overlooked. The canton has some soaring peaks, but for the most part Appenzell—whose name refers to the cells in which abbots once lived—is an easily traversed land of gentle hills and dairy pastures.

    Lying at the source of the Sitter River, the commandingly large Hotel Hof Weissbad uses arnica, St. John's wort, and countless other medicinal herbs in its health treatments. On the main square in the village of Appenzell, the Romantik Hotel Säntis with its chalet-sloped roof and decorated facade looks like a postcard version of a Swiss hotel. While you are in the village, make time to treat yourself to brews at the Brauquöll Appenzell after a tour to learn about the secrets of brewing Appenzell beer.

    You might not expect it in the German Swiss countryside, but the rustic chic Landgasthof Sammelplatz restaurant serves Italian-inflected meat, fish, and pasta dishes. (It also has a home design shop that is a perfect place to pick up gifts.) A true mountain venue reached by cable car, and only open from May through October, the Berggasthaus Äscher is perched right into a cliff. Likewise, the Hoher Kasten mountain peak and its revolving restaurant require a cable car to reach them.

    Tip: Newly laid hiking trails throughout Appenzell offer opportunities to stretch your legs between meals.
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    Photo By Markt Garmisch-Partenkirchen Martin Gulbe
    Day 3
    Near the Austrian border, and the gateway to the nearly 10,000-foot-high Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak, Garmisch-Partenkirchen hosted the fourth Winter Olympic Games. Before becoming famous for the nearby ski slopes, Garmisch and the cobblestoned Partenkirchen had been separate villages.

    In the German language, organic is known as "bio" and the family-run, center-town Garmischer Hof, which dates back to 1898, is now a Bio-Hotel that used natural woods and fibers in the design of the building while the restaurant serves dishes made with organic ingredients. The early-20th-century landmarked Schloss Elmau spa hotel is alone worth traveling for to the Bavarian Alps. Its setting high in the Wetterstein mountains makes for a fairy-tale scene in every season, whether the slopes are covered in snow or wildflowers.

    The weekly farmers' market on the Mohrenplatz in Garmisch carries on a tradition that dates back to Roman times. Reached by cable car and sitting high up on the Zugspitze peak, the Gletschergarten restaurant's glass dome assures optimal views in every direction.

    King Ludwig II is famous for his Neuschwanstein confection of a castle, but the only one of his three palaces that was actually completed in his lifetime was the rococo Linderhof Palace with its fanciful rooms and soaring fountains northwest of town. For centuries, monks have produced beers and spirits at the Ettal Abbey, and the distillery there continues to produce herbal liqueurs that you can sample on a tasty tour.

    Tip: The AlpspiX, reachable by cable car, is a high-design viewing platform that extends out over a 3,200-foot drop to the valley floor below. (It's also possible to hike there, though it's about a seven-hour journey on foot.)
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    Photo By Salzburgerland Tourismus
    Day 4
    Salzburg is famous as a city, but it's also the name of one of Austria's nine provinces. SalzburgerLand, with its many lakes and pastures in the shadow of rugged peaks, is a foodie world unto itself, and increasingly famous for its organic produce and fare.

    Just south of the city of Salzburg, on the Salzach River, the town of Golling is home to the Döllerers Hotel with a gourmet restaurant, vinoteca, and the original butcher shop that predated the hotel. If you want to experience a stay in an authentic, meticulously restored farmhouse, Käth & Nanei is a luxury chalet available as a unique holiday rental.

    Lying upstream on the Salzach River, and below the famous Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves, the Restaurant Hotel Obauer is one of Austria's most celebrated for dishes such as oxtail and pike-perch. Along the nine gourmet routes that comprise the Via Culinaria, you can sample Tennengau mountain lamb, local grilled fish, mountain herbs, cheeses, and schnaps in varieties that you've never heard of.

    Even if you are a high-culture maven, it is hard to resist the Sound of Music Trail. Developed in 2015 for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved movie's release, the mile-long path starting in Werfen village has a dozen interactive stations related to filming locations.

    Tip: A popular filming site, the huge and brooding Hohenwerfen Fortress seems to balance on a rock and is surrounded by snowy mountains. Falconry shows are a highlight for many of a visit to the 900-year-old castle.
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    Photo By Tourismus Salzburg
    Day 5
    As you wander its medieval streets and admire the Baroque buildings that helped earn Salzburg a place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, it's easy to think that the city is a fantasy creation. But this hometown of Mozart grew rich out of a modest product—the salz in its name is German for salt, after all, and even its river Salzach's name reflects that commercial past.

    Just down the celebrated Getreidegasse lane from Mozart's birth house, the Arthotel Blaue Gans (Blue Goose) may occupy an historic townhouse, but its space and rooms are thoroughly modern and rich in contemporary art. Named for the gently curving old gold guild lane on which it lies, the Hotel Goldgasse occupies a 700-year-old building in which the contemporary decor is mixed with quirky touches such as antique copper pans. The restaurant's menu is inspired by rustic Austrian dishes such as the popular Salzburger Nockerl meringue soufflé. Serving tafelspitz and goulash, Zum Fidelen Affen is a celebrated traditional dining establishment, while the 220 Grad Café (grad means degrees) serves light fare with their own roasted coffee brews.

    Two of Salzburg's iconic sites lie on either side of the Salzach River: With a rich museum collection of historic artifacts, Hohensalzburg Castle looms over the old town; the Mirabell Palace with its stunning Marble Hall and formal gardens lies on the left bank.

    Tip: As you explore the city, pick up some of the famous Mozartkugeln chocolate balls—you know, just to keep up your strength.
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    Photo By DZT, Viktualienmarkt
    Day 6
    Gateway to the Alps, the Bavarian capital of Munich is much more than its famous Oktoberfest. It's a city rich in cultural offerings from theater to world-class museums in the enormous Kunstareal complex of galleries whose holdings range from antiquities to contemporary art. It's also home to surprises like the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron's super-cool 2005 Allianz Arena with its colorful lighted panels.

    The Geisel brand's contemporary residence hotel Beyond puts you right on the central Marienplatz where the neo-Gothic Town Hall is a landmark in the reconstructed old town. On Kleinhesseloher Lake in the splendid English Garden, the Mediterranean fish restaurant Seehaus has outdoor terraces and a beer garden. One of Germany's most famous food markets, the enormous Viktualienmarkt includes a beer garden, of course.

    A trip to Viennese architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au's celebrated BMW World brings you to what is equal parts showroom for high-end vehicles and, with the adjacent museum, a tribute to the history of an iconic brand. Representing creative talents on a much more local scale, two Cameroonian-born sisters sell their exquisite dirndls which are designed on African textiles at their two Noh Nee shops.

    Tip: Of course, a Munich visit requires a beer experience, and the Benedictine monks at Andechs brewery will be happy to share their secrets with you.
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    Photo By DZT, Francesco Carovillano
    Day 7
    While its UNESCO World Heritage Site historic center, Gothic cathedral, and elegant Stone Bridge draw plenty of visitors, Regensburg remains perhaps less famous than some other Bavarian cities. The old Celtic and Roman town, which lies on a bend in the Danube, can feel like a surprising discovery for first timers as they exit the Alps just to its south.

    As palace-y as palace hotels come, yet with modern guest rooms, the Baroque Park Hotel Maximilian is a city landmark that lies within a huge urban park.

    Named for the nearby cathedral, the Domresidenz suite apartments are in a 13th-century building whose bright-white interiors are furnished with antiques. Named for the goose stalls that once stood in its place, the Gänsbauer Restaurant is known for its organic dishes served under low vaulted ceilings and outdoors in a cobblestone courtyard. Another option with outdoor seating, as well as a celebrated confectionary shop, the Café Prinzess has a history that dates back to 1686, shortly after coffee first became popular in this part of Europe.

    Germany is bierland, of course, and Regensburg is one of the best places to explore Bavaria's beers with a number of guided tours at various breweries. Plying the Danube on pleasure cruises, the Crystal line of boats are Swarovski-bedecked floating palaces, featuring dancing and dining onboard.

    Tip: A boat ride to the nearby Weltenburg Abbey offers an opportunity to visit the renowned brewery run by the Benedictine monks there.