Depart from the U.S. for Austria. The particulars of your arrival overseas are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.
Day 2 - Arrive in Salzburg
Upon arrival at the Salzburg Airport, claim your luggage and clear customs. VBT's local representative will meet you outside the customs area in your arrival terminal and will be holding a VBT sign. Your representative will help you transfer (approximately 25 minutes) to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to settle in and explore the city. Tonight, choose a restaurant for dinner on your own. VBT provides you with a City Information Packet included in your Final Travel Booklet that has information and recommendations on what to see and do in Salzburg during your stay.
Please note: If you arrive early, your hotel room may not be available until 1 p.m. You may store your luggage with the Reception Desk. If you are traveling from the West Coast, your arrival in Salzburg may not be until late in the evening.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you fly in earlier than the scheduled program dates, transportation from the airport will be at your own expense.
Day 3 - Meet Trip Leaders / Warm-up ski / Welcome reception
VBT No-Air Package guests: At 9:00 a.m., meet your local VBT representative and the rest of the group at our Salzburg hotel – Hotel Goldener Hirsch (address: Imperial Hotels Austria AG Getreidegasse 37, 5020 Salzburg, Austria. t +43 662 8084-884 f +43 662 8084-845). From here we'll transfer to Dobbiaco, Italy (distance about 169 miles, or 3 hours, 30 minutes) by private coach, with a lunch stop in Lienz. Plan to wear your ski clothes on the transfer or have them packed in a small day pack that will be easily accessible upon arrival in Dobbiaco.
VBT highly recommends flying to Austria at least one day before the tour begins. This allows you to rest and recover from jet lag before you begin sightseeing and skiing. In the event your arrival is delayed, please contact our hotel in Salzburg, Austria at t +43 662 8084-884 f +43 662 8084-845; or call ahead to our hotel in Dobbiaco, Italy at +43 4847 5288 to advise staff of the delay. They will pass your message along to your VBT Trip Leaders.
VBT Air Package and Pre-Extension guests: Meet your local VBT representative at 9:00 a.m. in the main lobby of our Salzburg hotel; he or she will be holding a VBT sign.
From Salzburg, we will take a 3 hour transfer to Lienz (137 miles), enjoying breathtaking views of the Alps along the way. Your VBT Trip leaders will meet the group in Lienz, where you will have lunch on your own.
Lienz is a medieval town and the capital of the eastern Tirol region. It is an alpine town that plays host to Alpine Ski World Cup competitions and cross-country ski events, such as the Dolomitenlauf. Lienz sits at the junction of three valleys – the Isel to the northwest, the Puster to the west, and the Drau to the east. The old town of Lienz stretches along the banks of the Isel River, with Liebburg Palace, a 16th-century building, now the seat of local government, overshadowing the Hauptplatz (Main Square).
After lunch, we will take the bus to Dobbiaco (traveling for approximately one hour) and head to the Nordic Ski Center. You should be ready to ski upon arrival with your ski clothes on or in an accessible backpack containing ski attire. Changing rooms are available. Your Trip Leader will hold a ski-fitting session followed by a brief talk about the area trails and the afternoon schedule. If you are an advanced skier, you may head off on your own with some trail recommendations from our Leaders. You may also choose to stay and work with a local instructor for a lesson. Your warm-up ski will be around the trails.
Dobbiaco is one of the Alps' most beautiful villages. It blends harmoniously into the unique landscape of the upper Pusteria Valley, which opens to reveal magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. It is a place for those seeking serenity and relaxation, but also for people looking for adventure off the beaten path. In the winter, Dobbiaco is connected via “Pista Internatzionale” (International Ski Trail) to Austria and to Cortina to the south. A very famous inhabitant of Dobbiaco is the Norwegian cross-country skier and biathlete Ole Einar Bjorndalen – winner of 6 Olympic Gold medals, including 4 in Salt Lake City in 2002.
All guests will meet back at the hotel in the late afternoon/early evening where your luggage will await you. The Hotel Cristallo is owned by the local Walch family. It is a true gem located close to town and is just a short distance away from the Dobbiaco Ski Arena. After arrival, you can shower and relax and get to know your travel companions. The leaders will hold a welcome cocktail reception followed by a hearty dinner at the hotel.
Day 4 - Ski Dobbiaco trails / Haunold Chairlift / Sledding
Today, after breakfast and a trail review enjoy a morning ski on the Dobbiaco trails and explore the Pusteria Valley. The Pusteria Valley is a paradise for cross-country skiers and active people of all types with its network of trails and community aimed at promoting an environmentally friendly lifestyle and healthy discovery of the region. Stop along the trail for a strudel and cappuccino at a trailside restaurant.
Our ski today will take us to San Candido, close to the border with Austria. Arrive early and take a stroll in this thousand-year-old little city, or ski longer and explore town after lunch. In San Candido, you can visit the ancient, Romanesque Duomo della Collegiata – the oldest monastery in the Dolomites, or explore the cobblestone pedestrian area. The Pusteria Valley is rich in history and legend as it was on the ancient trade route to Aguntum (now in Austria) from Rome.
We will meet in San Candido and take the Haunold chairlift to the top of the mountain for lunch on your own. After lunch, choose to rent a sled and cruise 3km downhill back to the valley or return to San Candido via chairlift. From the base of the mountain you can either ski back to our hotel or take the local ski bus back.
You will have the rest of the afternoon and evening to yourself to relax in the wellness center at Hotel Cristallo or explore the town of Dobbiaco and enjoy dinner on your own.
Day 5 - Ski from Dobbiaco toward Cortina / Local dinner in Dobbiaco
After breakfast and the morning route review, we ski in the opposite direction from the previous day, this time towards Cortina. Glide along the Rienz River and over Lake Dobbiaco. Our ski today will take us up a gradual climb to Lago di Landro where you can soak in the views of Mount Cristallo—one of the most iconic Dolomite peaks and also the namesake of our hotel.
Stop at the turnaround point for a bite to eat at the trailside Ristorante Lago di Landro and take in magnificent views as you look out over the breathtaking spires of the Dolomite.
You can choose to ski downhill back to the ski center or enjoy a ride in the ski bus back to Dobbiaco. In the afternoon, we'll have time to relax at our hotel before a special dinner in Dobbiaco.
Day 6 - Transfer from Dobbiaco to Cavalese / Lunch and afternoon ski at Passo Lavaze
After breakfast, we say goodbye to Dobbiaco and transfer to Cavalese (about 80 miles, or 2 hours) in Val di Fiemme, often called the “cradle of cross-country skiing” in Italy. On the way we will wind through the Trentino wine region. Nestled among the natural Dolomite spectacles are charming towns and castles. Early this afternoon we arrive at Passo Lavaze, where we will enjoy a group lunch at the Albergo Dolomiti before an afternoon ski.
We convene at the local ski shop to get outfitted. Your skis will be at the shop when you arrive. After a bite to eat, take another ski lesson with local instructors or ski on your own along the spectacular trail network. Passo Lavaze is a landmark for cross-country ski lovers. Located on a plateau between Trentino and South Tyrol, with over 50 miles of trails perfectly prepared by a professional technical staff, the center is able to satisfy skilled skiers and beginners alike. The trails wind through the plateau's beautiful woods, as well as the spectacular mountains of the Latemar chain and the Dolomites. The enchanting sight from the pass, the natural environment surrounding the tracks, the sun shining on most of the circuit and the many alms along the way where you can enjoy a drink make this a skiers' paradise. When our skiing is done we will head to our hotel where you will have time to unpack before our evening's events.
The Hotel Maria, situated with a magnificent view amidst the timeless beauty of the Val di Fiemme, is owned by the Braito family who has been proudly serving their guests for over 30 years.
Tonight we will enjoy dinner at the hotel's lovely restaurant. After dinner, move into the warmth of the Stube to share a glass of wine or grappa with your fellow skiers, or curl up in the comfort of your inviting room.
Day 7 - Predazzo / Discover Lago di Tesero / Ski jump stadium / Strudel cooking class
This morning we depart from our hotel on the ski bus to the Cavalese tram station to enjoy the scenic tram ride to the bottom of the valley. Choose to ski the long option to Predazzo or short option to the Lago di Tesero ski stadium, home to the 2013 Nordic Ski World Championships.
Perhaps you'll stop for a snack along the way, at the renowned ski center at Lago di Tesero, where the Nordic World Ski Championship for both 1991 and 2003 were held and where they will again be hosted in 2013. The center offers over 11 miles of beautifully groomed trails and connects to an expanded and more challenging network of trails.
We will end our ski here in Masi where you may enjoy lunch on your own. Explore a bit after lunch, or return on your own by ski bus or gondola back to Cavalese, where you can spend time browsing in town or you might hop another ski bus back to our hotel.
In the event of marginal snow conditions, we'll spend Thursday morning skiing in Passo Oclini with spectacular views of the Bolzano Valley below.
In the afternoon, we'll have a strudel cooking class with award-winning hotel chef, Monica Braito. Dinner is on your own in Cavalese, where there are a number of fine local restaurants and lively spots to dine in. A shuttle will be provided back to the hotel after your evening on the town.
Day 8 - Ski to Passo Lavaze plateau / Discovery in Cavalese
In the morning, after our breakfast and route review we depart for a morning ski in Passo Lavaze, with the option to walk on the paths as well. Ski to one of several mountain refugios on the Passo Lavaze plateau, all ranging from about one to five miles from the trailhead. After lunch on your own we ski back to the trailhead and return to the Hotel Maria in the afternoon.
Tonight we have our farewell dinner at the Tito Speck restaurant in Daiano, where the meat and the sparkling prosecco wine are as fresh as the air. Before our dinner of locally raised and prepared specialties, you may choose to take a tour of the facility. The restaurant is renowned for its speck, a distinctively juniper-flavored ham from this region combining the arts of salt-curing and smoking. The production of speck has been taking place for over half a century on the family farm, located on the plateau of Ganzaie, above the village of Daiano.
Day 9 - Transfer to Verona / VBT No-Air Package ends
VBT No-Air Package guests: As a group we will leave from Cavalese after breakfast and head to Verona (2 hours, or about 100 miles.) Your tour ends at our Verona hotel. You are responsible for your own transfer to the airport for your flight home. You can take a taxi on your own to the Verona train station and continue on to the airport (or to many other Italian cities.) Taxi fare to the Verona train station is approximately 10-15 Euro and the ride takes about 10 minutes.
VBT Air Package guests: After breakfast, say goodbye to your Trip Leaders and board the coach for your transfer to Verona (2 hours, or about 100 miles). You will arrive in Verona around lunch time and have time on your own to walk around the city and explore on your own with VBT's City Information included in your Final Travel Booklet as your guide. If you have chosen the independent Post-Trip extension to Verona, you'll remain at this hotel.
Day 10 - Depart for U.S.
Early this morning, transfer to the Verona Airport for your flight back to the U.S. VBT recommends that you check the transfer time in your “Transfer Reminder” the night before your flight. The transfer is prearranged and prepaid by VBT.
Please note: For guests with early-morning departures, breakfast at the hotel may not be available. Please check with the Front Desk to verify the times that breakfast is served. You may be able to request a bagged breakfast as well.
Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.