Your Fairy Tale Guide through the Alps

February 20, 2016


Did you know that Alps attracts approximately 120 million visitors every year? Ever wonder what it’s like to travel through the Alps? Here is your guide to a trip, by car, train, or bus, that will tell you all of the beautiful cities to see, things to do, and goods to buy. Travelling through the alps is high peaks, sheer valleys, cool lakes, local food and amazing views! You’ll find plenty of charming towns and villages to explore, notably Grenoble, which possesses a vibrant nightlife and lively cultural scene, spa resort of Aix-le-Bains, lake Geneva, Salzburg, and a lot more. 


The Julian Alps

THE ROUTE: Ljubljana – Bled – Bohinj – Ljubljana – Salzburg

TRAILHEAD: Fly to Ljubljana. The shuttle bus from the airport to the bus station costs around €4 ($5), runs hourly and takes around 50 minutes. Shared transfers can be booked with companies such as GoOpi (goopti.com) for about €9 ($10). Taxis cost between €40 and €45 ($50).

You will have enough time to visit Bled and Bohinj in the same day. Go from Ljubljana to Bled by bus. There are busses every hour and it takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes to Bled. You can also find a bus connection from Bled to Bohinj. If you have enough time visit also Vogel mountain. You can rent a car for a day that will cost around €18 ($20). Check out Skyscanner or Momondo for different options and prices. (More travel apps here.)

Train from Ljubljana to Salzburg. Standard one-way fare ticket is around €49 ($55).

ACCOMMODATION: Ljubljana has a wide variety of accommodation options available but because many of them are small, independent operations, it’s important to book early. Check out: Hostel Celica, Hostel Tresor, Hotel Cubo, Only Apartments or Airbnb (speaking of Airbnb, check out the best Airbnbs with a view), the entire apartment will cost at around €41 ($45).

MUST HAVES:

Prešeren Figs

Slovenian honey 

Sečovlje salt flower 

Wishing bell from Bled

Bled cream cake ‘Kremšnita’

Local wine (Renski Rizling, Traminec, Beli Pinot, Sipon, Cvicek)

Prsut

Dough figurines

Chocolate “Gorenjka”

A spectacular journey across the Julian Alps of Slovenia to the summit of Mt Triglav, is impossible to beat! The Julian Alps offers some of the most impressive mountain scenery in Europe. It’s perfect for mountain walking.

Ljubljana is one of those surprising European cities — a place with a secret little gem, romantic bridges, exquisite architecture and vibrant cultural creativity. Ljubljana’s ancient centre at the foot of the hill is relatively small and easily accessible on foot or by bicycle. The lush vegetation surrounding the city guarantees plenty of outdoor hiking, cycling and recreational opportunities.


Bled and Bohinj are Slovenia’s most beautiful alpine lake resorts. Bled, famous for its alpine lake with a little island in the middle and a castle by its side, is one of the most popular Slovenian resort towns. The Bohinj resort is famous for its scenic alpine lake of glacial origin and unspoilt nature.  


The Austrian Alps

THE ROUTE: Ljubljana – Salzburg – Innsbruck – Lucerne 

TRAILHEAD: Train from Ljubljana to Salzburg – standard one-way fare ticket is around €49 ($55). Train from Salzburg to Innsbruck – 2 hours, one way ticket is around €15 ($17), generally no need for reservations – this is a major train corridor with frequent service. Train from Innsbruck to Lucerne via Zurich. The journey will take around 4 hours, and will cost around €85 (95$).

ACCOMMODATION: In Innsbruck, it’s better to couchsurf or to rent an apartment with Airbnb – that will cost you around €50-60 ($67).

MUST HAVES:

Mozart gateau 

The delicious sweet dumplings called ‘Salzburger Nockerln’

The most authentic ‘apfelstrudel’

Mozart bonbon or ‘Mozartkugeln’ 

Sachertorte 

Gerstner candied violet petals

Salzburg is an atmospheric old town and is in close proximity to some of the choicest ski slopes in the country. Skiing is the main activity of choice for most winter visitors to the city. If visiting during summer time, don’t forget about the Salzburg festival. Salzburg has many fairs and markets during the summer, including the ‘flee market’, wine growers market, and Salzburg’s traditional summer fair known as the Fair Salzburger Dult. 

Innsbruck is the very picturesque capital of the Austrian Federal State of Tyrol, nestled on the very edge of the Alps. This is a city with historical lanes, castles, ultra-modern buildings, museums, and world class restaurants.Summer is a great time to explore the town and take excursions to some of the beautifully villages close by such as Going, Ellmau, and Söll. Skiing and winter sports are the most popular winter activity in and around Innsbruck. This city is the entrance to the humongous Olympia SkiWorld with easy access to nine surrounding ski resorts and a combined 282 km worth of ski slopes. 

The Swiss Alps

THE ROUTE: Innsbruck – Lucerne – Geneva – Aix-les-Bain

TRAILHEAD: The train from Lucerne to Geneva will usually involve a change in Bern. One-way 2nd class fare is €63 ($70) and travel time is around 3 hours. Train from Geneva to Aix-les-Bain will cost around €16 ($18). It’s just over an hour by train and 4 or 5 direct trains a day. Alternatively, use the ride-sharing websiteBlaBlaCar to avoid expensive trains and meet locals.

ACCOMMODATION: Hostels will cost around €27 ($31) per night, and private rooms will start at around €68 ($75) a night for a single room. Hotels can be expensive, and will cost around €77-104 ($86-116) per night for a double room in a budget hotel. In Geneva, hotel rooms are a bit higher, starting at around €90 ($101) a night. A good alternative to hotels is Airbnb, where private rooms start around €45 ($50).

Note* – By booking accommodation in Geneva, you can receive a Geneva Transport Card for free. This card allows you to use any public transportation for free during your stay. 

MUST HAVES:

Cheese like Sbrinz, Schabziger, Raclette 

Chocolate like Lindt, Cailler, Läderach 

Local beer like Quöllfrisch (lager), Felsenau Bärni (dark beer), Calvinus (unfiltered) 

Swiss Army Knife

Lucerne – Where else can you sit and gaze at mountains, a river, and a lake plus architectural treasures? Beyond the lake are the mountains, snow-covered all year round, dominated by the vastly impressive peak of Mount Pilatus. The city is full of history, thanks partly to its strategic position as a gateway between Protestant Northern Europe and Catholic Italy.

Geneva – As the third largest city in Switzerland, Geneva offers spectacular views of the city’s lake (Lake Geneva), museums, the world’s largest fountain, and a collection of restaurants to satisfy anyone’s palate.

The French Alps

THE ROUTE: Geneva – Aix-les-Bain – Grenoble – Paris

TRAILHEAD: Direct train from Geneva to Aix-les-Bain will cost around €16 ($18). The train from Aix-les-Bain to Grenoble will cost around €14 ($16). Checktimetables. From Grenoble you can take a direct train to Paris for around €50-60 ($55-66). Check prices and timetables. Alternatively, use the ride-sharing websiteBlaBlaCar to avoid expensive trains and meet locals.

ACCOMMODATION: Grenoble has a wonderful selection of budget, mid range, and more expensive accommodation options. Whatever your taste and budget, you will not be disappointed. Check out Citadines City Centre Grenoble, Hotel de l’Europe,Tulip Inn Hotel D’Angleterre.

MUST HAVES:

Grenoble walnut 

Le Bleu du Vercors Sassenage (Blue cheese) 

Saint Marcellin cheese 

Les ravioles du Royans 

Matheysine murçon (pork sausage) 

Chartreuse liquor 

Cheese Tome des Bauges 

“Génépi” liqueur 

Unique wines Jongieux and Chautagne crus 

Aix-les-Bains is a picturesque resort town in the mountains by Lake Bourget. The internationally renowned spa town has many parks and a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere. The town is famous for its natural springs that were used for curative purposes in Roman times. The town has modern spa establishments, including Marina d’ Adelphia, Thermes Nationaux, and Marlioz thermal baths. 

Grenoble, “capital of Alps”, lies in a basin of the Isère Valley surrounded by mountains rising to 3,000 meters. There are more than 200 skiing resorts in the surrounding area. From here, it is easy to access skiing, mountain climbing, and paragliding. You can either rent a bike or drive to the nearby region where the Robert Lake and Achard Lake will offer you one of the most spectacular views you have ever seen.

Complete your trip with a couple of days in Paris – check out our Smart Travel Tips in Paris

Don’t forget that you can sign up as a Grabr Traveler to make extra cash during your journey! 

This article was written by Olga Feoktistova.

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