June 9 – 19 Total Tour – (11 Days)
June 8 – 18 Total Tour – (11 Days)
This tour is designed to combine great riding with outstanding sight seeing opportunities. We spend 3 full days riding to our base just south of Salzburg. We then use the bikes to visit special places that are fun to ride to and easily accessible from our base hotel. After we finish our sight seeing segment we focus on a great ride back to our home base in Thun. It promises to be a very memorable adventure.
Please note that sightseeing is OPTIONAL. You can choose to visit one of the attractions below, all of them, different ones or none. There is plenty of great riding available if you are not inclined to sight see. On the other hand Austria, and the area around Puch in particular, provides easy access to a multitude of beautiful, classic European and Alpine sights for those tour members who want split their enjoyment between riding and culture. It’s completely up to you.
Some of the Austrian rides and sights available to us include:
- Hallstatt – A beautiful lakeside village and UNESCO World Heritage site (see photo below)
- Hallien Salt Mines – The largest salt mine with unique rock and water formations and unique fun wooden slides to ride from level to level as you tour the mines
- Salzburg – Home to Mozart, Sound of Music, the Hohensalzburg Castle and more. My favorite city.
- Berchetsgaden (The Eagles Nest) – Spectacular views and a history buff magnet
- The Grossglockner High Alpine Road – A motorcyclist’s dream road and a Top 3 Austrian attraction
|DURATION:||11 Riding Days|
|DISTANCE:||200 kms – 300 kms per day (120 miles – 180 miles) – Asphalt roads|
|DIFFICULTY:||3 out 5 stars|
|COUNTRIES VISITED:||Switzerland, Austria, and Italy|
|LAYOVER DAYS:||3 Total – Puch bei Hallein (Can ride every day or rest)|
|ACCOMODATIONS:||2 to 4 star hotels – family run Alpine style|
|MINIMUM # OF RIDERS:||5|
The 11-day total tour includes 9 nights away from our base in Thun. Of those 9 nights 6 are in Austria (A), 2 are in Switzerland (S) and 1 is in Italy. The schedule of overnight stays is as follows:
- Friday – Thun (S)
- Saturday – Pontresina (S)
- Sunday – Dorf Tirol (I)
- Monday – Hiegelblut (A)
- Tuesday – Puch (A)
- Wednesday – Puch (A)
- Thursday – Puch (A)
- Friday – Puch (A)
- Saturday – Imst (A)
- Sunday – Glarus (S)
- Monday – Thun (S)
- Tuesday – Fly Home
- Friday – Free Day – The bike is yours all day. There’s lots of great riding nearby
- Saturday – Grimsel, Furka, Oberalp, Linzerheide, Abula
- Sunday – Bernina, Forcola di Livgno, Ofen, Umbrail, Stelvio, Tonale, Gampenjoch
- Monday – Jaufen, Penserjoch, Gardena, Valparola, Falzerago
- Tuesday – Grossglockner (beautiful high Alpine road with Austria’s highest pass)
- Wednesday – Salzburg + local riding/passes
- Thursday – Berchetsgaden (Eagles Nest), Salt mines at Hallein + local riding/passes
- Friday – Hallstat (UNESCO World Heritage site) + local riding/passes
- Saturday – Gerlos, Ziller, Brenner, Timmelsjoch
- Sunday – Hahntennjoch, Flexen, Arlberg, Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse (high Alpine road – beautiful pass), Schwagalp, Ricken
- Monday – Pragel, Glaubenbuelen, Schallenberg
MOTO-CHARLIE reserves the right to alter the exact route at his discretion.
This tour focuses on enjoying Austria. We spend 3 days riding to our base hotel in Puch Austria, just south of Salzburg. On our way there we zig zag over some of Switzerland’s best passes, climb the most famous Alpine pass – Stelvio in Italy, enjoy the beautiful Tirol area of Italy (formerly part of Austria prior to World War I) and spend a day enjoying the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, the highest paved pass road in Austria, a veritable playground with 48 kms of fun. We then spend 4 nights in Puch from which we can ride to various famous sightseeing destinations or enjoy pass blitzing loops, all while staying at a very pleasant, full service Austrian Alpine style hotel. We then work our way back to Switzerland via Imst (home to one of the first and still longest Alpine Coaster rides in the world). Our last night on the road is spent at a beautiful, uncrowded Swiss lake. A few more unique Swiss passes gets us back to Thun for the conclusion of our tour. This tour is designed to please sightseers and hardcore riders alike. This tour will show why Austria is a truly unique destination.
Most people like to arrive a day ahead of time on Thursday. The motorcycle is usually available to pick up on Friday afternoon. If the entire group arrives on Friday we usually plan two group rides on Saturday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You are welcome to come on both, one, or none of the Saturday rides. I’ll be more than glad to help you plan whatever alternate Saturday activity might be of interest to you.
- Friday – Pick up the motorcycle. There are many wonderful sites to see in the immediate area, either by motorcycle or public transportation. Go visit the neat town of Interlaken located between the Thun See (“see” is the german word for lake) and the Brienzer See or take in Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald and gaze upon the Eiger. Or just hang out in Thun or Steffisburg. You’re welcome to just relax in the morning, post jet lag, and partake in a short group ride in the afternoon to get used to the bike and the roads. In the evening please feel to join the other tour members for a group dinner or head off on your own for a quiet, private meal. It’s all your choice.
- Saturday – Today we start the tour in grand style by heading directly to the Swiss pass mecca of Andermatt, where I whet your appetite for this famous motorcycle playground by taking you over the Grimsel and Furka passes before stopping in Andermatt. We then leave this area via the Oberalp pass, considered to have some of the finest swepers in the Alps. We then work our way to Chur where we head head up the Linzerheide (of Heidi fame) and then onto the Abula with its split personality moonscape like formations. We end the night in Pontresina at a classic Swiss style hotel consistently ranked as one of the most popular hotels on my tours. Pontresina sits at approx 1,800 meters, the height of many lower Alps passes and can see snow even in summer. It’s a great alternative to nearby St. Moritz.
- Sunday – Yesterday was a warm up for some serious pass riding today. We leave Pontresina and immediately begin climbing the Bernina pass, one of Switzerland’s most famous, kept open all year for its skiing and it’s major north/south access. It too has beautiful sweepers. Just over the top we turn left towards Italy and head over the Forcola di Livigno into the duty-free town of Livigno, also a well-known ski resort. From there we work our way through a unique tunnel carved right into the mountain (the Swiss/Italian border is inside) and come out the backside into Switzerland again. Another beautiful sweeper style pass brings us into Sta Maria, at the base of the Umbrail pass, #10 in the Alps. We climb the Umbrail to within sight of the Stelvio (#3 highest pass in the Alps). After crossing into Italy we ride to the top of the Stelvio where we stop to enjoy the carnival atmosphere, multiple switchback views and famous food karts. We then get to experience the 48 switchbacks that make up the north side approach to Stelvio as we ride down the pass. At the bottom we connect to the main valley road where we transit through the temperate city of Merano and onto Dorf Tirol, a mountain village with beautiful views that look down on Merano and the surrounding valley full of vineyards and farm fields. Our hotel has spectacular views. With any luck we will get a light show via nature’s lightning that is spectacular to view in the valleys below.
- Monday – Today we say Ciao to Italy but not before enjoying some of the best that Italy and the Dolomites have to offer. The main road north from Dorf Tirol takes us up over the Jaufen pass. There are some great views from the Edelwiess Refugio at the top. From there it’s down the other side and the up the Penserjoch, kind of a sister parallel pass to the Jaufen. We then curl off onto some of my favorite on high valley roads that look down onto the Italian countryside below including the autostradas and train tracks. These roads are frequently 1-lane wide and with beautiful views used mainly by locals – definitely not your normal tour group roads. We finally come down at the main entrance to the road that leads into the heart of the Dolomites and the Val Gardena. We will sample several classic Dolomite passes, enjoy a great Italian lunch, maybe take a cable car for superb views and then hit the valley road for our night’s hotel in Heigelblut, at the foot of the Grossglockner.
- Tuesday– Last night we sacrificed our cappuccino cups to the weather gods in the hopes that we have good weather for one of the riding and viewing highlights of the tour – the Grossglockner High Alps Road (and Austria’s highest pass). Over my years of travel in the Alps this road has had the most unpredictable weather. Pack accordingly. The Grossglockner road begins almost immediately after we leave our hotel. It is a private toll road and runs approx. 30 miles as it goes up and over the spine of the Austrian Alps. It is a spectacular high Alpine road and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Austria, frequently ranking in the top 3 Austrian tourist destinations. It is also a major motorcycle Mecca. You can play back and forth along it all day once you pay your toll. It’s got great road surface, unbelievable views, a dead end road with Austria’s largest glacier and at the very top the Hoch Tor, at 2,575 meters Austria’s highest pass and #8 on the TOP 10 list. Once down at the bottom we travel beautiful backroads that highlight the Austrian countryside until we reach Puch, our base for the next 4 nights.
- Wednesday – We stay in Puch because it is a small delightful Austrian town and because it is centrally located to many Austria’s most famous and beautiful tourist sights. The descriptions for Wednesday through Friday can be swapped around or changed to fit your pleasure (and perhaps also the weather forecast 🙂 I indicate the expected sightseeing highlights here for info purposes. One of the other reasons I picked Puch as our Austrian base is because it is on the main train line into Salzburg – no need to drive into the city and hassle for parking or directions. Just hop on the train and 20 minutes later we can be in the center of the old city. Both my wife and I consider Salzburg to be one of our favorite European cities, if not the favorite. You can visit Mozart’s birthplace, take in a concert or romantic carriage ride, do a Sound of Music tour, visit the famous Hohensalzburg Castle that overlooks the city or just enjoy a street side cafe while people watching. It’s a very beautiful city where you can easily while away a day or more.
- Thursday – Today we can ride a short distance across the border into Germany. The low Alps riding in this area offers some special back country riding and some lower, little known passes. This area is also home to Berchetsgaden and the Eagles Nest. Aside from the fame this area garnered as Hitler’s retreat the fact is that it’s a very beautiful area and the views are spectacular. There is a museum for history buffs and tours (or on your own walking exploration) of the Eagles Nest. Be advised that Berchetsgaden is quite accessible but access to the Eagles Nest is controlled via small tour buses. Best to get there early in the morning as the site can see 3,500 – 4,000 visitors on a busy summer’s day. After enjoying the heights of the Eagles Nest you can do the exact opposite and hop on the bike for a short ride to descend into the Salt mines in Hallein (Salzburg is named for the various salt mines in the area – the largest of which are the Hallein mines). Here you don protective clothing to keep you and the mines clean, slide down various wooden slides into the interior of the mines, visit subterranean caverns with intriguing water pools, lights and rock formations before resurfacing into the daylight. I really enjoy those slides. Quite a day of contrasts.
- Friday – The bikes beckon as we head toward one of the most famous, and photographed, lake towns in Austria (if not the entire Alps). Today we are heading to Hallstatt, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town does not allow general vehicle traffic. Access is either by public parking/shuttle bus or by ferry boat across the lake. Like many small towns the beauty is in the walking and exploring. The little side streets have wonderful shops and restuarants as does the lakeside. It is a very beautiful peaceful place and one of the favorite spots based on tour member feedback. You are welcome to spend the day or perhaps a 1/2 day whereby you can enjoy some wonderful Austrian pass riding for the balance of the day, including the exquisite Nockalmstrasse (a close cousin to the Grossglockner strasse) with its wonderful views, turns and sweepers) before heading back to Puch for the evening.
- Saturday – Today we bid Auf wiedersehen to Puch but not to Austria as we begin to head back towards Switzerland. Our route starts by meandering through back country valley roads as we work our way towards Zell am Zee and then onto the Gerlos Pass (with it’s famous waterfalls nearby). Afterwards we ride through the Zillertal valley, one the wildest in Austria with it’s high alpine road at 1,600+ meters, equally as high as many pass roads. From there it’s onto the Brenner pass, one of the most famous north/south roads in the Alps. We stay OFF the autobahn and ride the parallel road over the pass. This brings us back into Italy for a short bit. At the bottom we briefly retrace our earlier route and ride the Jaufen pass in the opposite direction (I really like this pass). At the bottom, in the village of St. Leonard, we start up the wild and whooly Timmelsjoch’s, #9 highest pass in the Alps. The Italian side has lots of twist and turns and is a challenging ride. Once over the top we descend back into Austria with a fairly quick and smooth descent followed by a long pleasant valley road, which takes us to tonight’s destination in the Austrian town of Imst. As a side note Imst is home to one of the first, if not the first, Alpine summer time coaster runs (think little toboggins on rails). It is still the longest run of it’s kind in the world although now there are numerous copies of the concept including multiple ones in the USA including my home state of NH. Our hotel for the evening has a very nice few of the mountains and valley below.
- Sunday – Once again, we have sacrificed our cappuccino cups to the weather gods the night before because today we take on another special high Alps road (in Austria of course), the Silvretta Strasse. Before we get there we ride the Hahtenjoch pass, starting out right from our hotel. Once over that pass we travel a short distance to ride the Flexen pass and then the Alrberg pass, both well known to skiers as they lead to multiple international ski destinations. About a half hour from the Alberg pass we start up the Silvretta Strass (another private toll road). This road is a long east/west loop road with a beautiful lake at the top near the pass, several dead end valley roads with lakes and views to die for, and of course several wonderful places for lunch. We then wind our way through the valley and into the Apenzell region of Switzerland. Some travel experts consider this region to be quintessential Swiss countryside with rolling hills and farmland and small back road passes with post card picture views. We end the day at our hotel in Switzerland by the side of a gorgeous mountain lake. It’s a treat to eat outside on the patio overlooking the lake and enjoy the view as the sun slowly sets for the night. One of my favorite places.
- Monday – It’s Monday, so we can ride the Pragel pass, which is closed to motorcycles on the weekends. This basically 1-lane pass winds up above the lake and through back country rarely visited by tour groups. At the bottom our long slow descent takes us into the city of Schwyz, which sits in the center of Switzerland. Supposedly Switzerland gets its name from this town. There is a large Victorinox factory here, which make all manner of Swiss Army gear. Of course there is a storefront too where you can buy just about anything made in the factory. A short ride to Brunnen brings us to the shores of the Vierwald atter See, one of the largest lakes in Switzerland. We’ll ride along the north shore for a bit and then take a ferry across the lake to Beckenried, thereby saving us a ride on the autobahn and a long tunnel, not to mention that it’s quite enjoyable to ride the water. Back on shore we enjoy a lunch break and then ride the Glaubenbuelen and Schallenberg passes, both of which brings us back into Thun on lesser known, but quite pretty passes through Swiss back country. We get back in time to turn in the bikes. At night we enjoy one more group dinner and bid farewell to our new found friends and a great Alps tour.
- The tour dates are shown at the top of this page. Naturally, you are welcome to come sooner. I generally arrive on Friday. If you would like to come sooner, or stay longer, hotel and motorcycle arrangements can readily made to suit your schedule.
- When to book your reservation obviously depends on your schedule. As a rule I suggest at least 3 months in advance of the tour date in order to ensure that you get the motorcycle that you want and to secure a place on the tour. There is a limit of 3 motorcycles per tour. There are nearly a full line of BMW and Honda motorcycles to choose from. In the case of certain BMW’s there are several bikes of the same models available. In the case of the Honda one of each. If having a specific bike is a high priority for you then please book early.
The final cut-off date is technically 30 days before the tour starts. At this point there is enough lead-time for any adjustments or cancellations as they relate to our motorcycle supplier and related hotels. If someone contacts me to sign up with less than 30 days to go every effort will be made to accommodate you. The issue will usually be the motorcycle availability.
The cost for this tour at the current exchange rates will be:
- Single rider in a single room – $4,840
- Passenger sharing a double room – $2,695
- Couple riding two-up sharing a double room – $7,535
These cost numbers should cover your direct travel costs including motorcycle rental, all hotels and meals, gas and my fee. For a more complete discussion of the cost of this tour please click here.
5 Bikes or 7 Tourmembers
Please refer to the “Contact Me” section for my telephone or e-mail address. I am not a paperwork intensive person. So, the process of making a reservation and getting what I need for my records is pretty simple once you contact me.
Feel free to contact me to ask any questions about my tours in particular, or the Alps in general. If I can be of help in any way I’ll be glad to do so.
I enjoy all of my tours very much. Riding on great roads with great people is why I do it. Anyone who has been to Europe knows that it is simply chock full of wondrous places and beautiful things to see and do. This tour is designed to let Tour member ride as much, or as little, as they want while providing them the time and opportunity to sample some of Austria’s most spectacular places. With this tour you can enjoy Austria and the motorcycle fun that is everywhere in the Alps.