Ultimate Alps Tour with Edelweiss

Please read the update below about this post

In May 2020 during the lockdown I revisited this post and realised I had at the time barely written anything about this tour and posted a mere dozen images that were straight from the camera (since I did not start post processing my photos until around 2012). I recently found all the old photos and thanks to modern software managed to enhance many images shot with just a 5MP pocket camera into something reasonable. I also had my first Olympus Pen with me on this tour which I wish I had used exclusively as the difference in image quality stands out (as I am sure you will see). I have added about 40 new photos to this ride report and removed most of the originals – it’s basically entirely refreshed.

Unfortunately I cannot recall the day to day events very well to add much more to the written content. In my Bio page where I mention I publish this blog just so I don’t forget I really mean that, it’s not said in jest. However the new images and their descriptions go some way to forming a overall story of the ride and showcasing how very good the roads and scenery are in the Alps which I did not express well previously. Original text now starts below.


I’ve been wanting to ride the Europe alps for a long time but never got around to planning anything. Despite having the experience of driving a camper van around Europe a long time ago I decided to go with tour and chose the biggest name in the business, Edelweiss. I wanted a holiday as much as a ride with my work being very stressful of late so I needed everything smooth no hassles and also to be a social event to let off some steam.

The tour I picked is called the Ultimate Alps Tour and I really just chose it last minute but turns out this is one of the best or classic routes that the company offers. Starting in Munich it travels in the German, Austrian, Swiss and Italian alpine regions. I then chose a Honda CB600F for the tour which I thought would be ample.

There are two tour guides from Edelweiss, Ramon and Christoff who shared the roles of tour lead rider and support van driver. I don’t like to ride in a group much however these guys were easy to ride with and I found the pace to mostly be acceptable. It’s first class riding with a van to carry everything and you arrive at the hotel already checked in and your suitcase in your room. Long lunches, plenty coffee stops and each night a big group dinner with local wines or beer to make it a fun social event as well as a special ride.

Day 1. Having filled out insurance and checked the bike the previous evening today was just hop on and ride. Lots of autobahn action first half of day, hard to adjust brain to riding 200kph legally. A picnic was organised which was great spread of food then some nicer countryside by mid afternoon.

German alps.
Picnic spot was superb

Day 2.

Morning day 2. Hotel near Warth, Austria we stayed at with great view.
Excellent scenery
Superb lake view in Austria riding towards Liechtenstein
Long view down to the valley
Climbing up Klausenstrasse, Switzerland
Scenic outcrop at summit
The road down other side
Crossing lake near Lucerne
End day 2 overlooking Lucerne, Switzerland. Huge meal and lots of beers tonight.

Day 3.

Dawn breaks day 3, amazing I woke up for this after all the beer.
Beautiful day ahead
Swiss countryside is stunning
Riding in wonderful mountains continues
The views are incredible
Some incredible scenery I wish I had photographed better
Fantastic lunch today
Pretty swiss towns
Day 3 just gets better and better. Made famous in a James Bond movie

Swiss alpine roads. See the lake in the distance at top of switchbacks – below is at that lake, a detour I took with two great blokes from New Jersey, some of the photos on the blog are courtesy of Brian the rider in the photo below.

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How the Swiss mountain passes cling to the side of the mountains.

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Nice accommodation in Zermatt
Iconic peak at the end of a awesome day

Day 4.

I don’t seem to have a lot of photos for day 4 when we rode from Zermatt to Lugano. We all agreed to share our photos afterwards, one couple in particular took a lot of photos of me riding or at places and assured me I could have a copy but that never happened.

Furkapass
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We had a lovely lunch besides the lake and coffee at another lake in afternoon

Day 5. Everyone wants to ride Stelvio so we detour despite the advice from the tour leader that its overrated and weather looks poor up top today.

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He was right, boring as hell road just endless u-turns and could not see anything.
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However a terrific night out in Bolzano

Day 6 started out raining however that cleared to give a beautiful afternoon ride in the Dolomites. Unfortunately I don’t have many photos, my pocket camera broke here which I think was blessing as I started using solely the bigger camera. (not sure why I had both now – I think I bought the Olympus duty free perhaps)

Shocker of a self portrait but great backdrop

Day 7.

After a week of fine and mild weather on the passes cold weather kicked in the last days of the trip (it was end of September). I was then glad to have bought all the winter gear with me as the passes became suddenly very cold.

I was oblivious to the risks of black ice coming from the tropics but the other riders were concerned
I always liked these but worried about maintenance costs.
Conditions deteriorated over the 2nd pass of the day and I think we just timed it nice to be leaving
I feel lucky that I got to not only have fine weather to ride every day but also got to see the passes in snow as well.

Day 8

I don’t have any decent photos from the last day. There was some nice forest riding but then also a fair bit of highway to cover to get back to the starting point.

Back in Munich I visited the BMW headquarters and October fest.

Inside BMW

I really cannot think of too much bad to say about the tour itself. Of course the cost is far much more than DIY however somewhat offset by all the high quality hotels and meals included. The guides were wonderful and the route superb and everything is organised very well. If you are experienced traveler riding solo is more affordable option but if you prefer company, are too busy in your work or just want enjoyable social nights as much as a ride then this could be good choice for you.

* 2020 note. There was a couple on this tour that were obnoxious and it’s fair to say ruined parts of the ride for some of the group. Although I mostly ignored them my original report had a negative tone with too much focus on that aspect and a similar experience with previous group travel (which possibly turned me into a solo traveler). Time has softened my memory so I’ve removed those paragraphs since they were not helpful.

After this instead of taking high speed train back to Berlin for my flight I rented an Audi TT convertible and spread the journey over a few days solo drive. (2020 note – yeah I had more money then haha)

Small town Germany is really nice

I will tour Germany in detail in future, by motorbike of course and revisit the alps also in more detail.

*2020 note. A decade later and I still have not revisited much except the Dolomites briefly. So easy to let the time get away from you.

15 Comments

  1. Great photos – I already want to go back.

    Knew you'd have a great time, and glad you enjoyed the Dolomites. Where did you go that afternoon?

    100% agree about the spectacular passes not necessarily being fun – I didn't enjoy Stelvio because it was just too slow and twisty. Probably says something about my lack of technique 🙂

    • stelvio–couple of gears down,wind her open,,on and off throttle,sometimes in first clutch in,round we go and go for it,,fantastic buzz(legal limits of course)Aint got the tee-shirt but done it and will be again….mates said i hade a deathwish,,dunno why,,those roads are there for fun,fun,fun-responsibly of course :-)who's thinking of going 2012 june/july????

    • I am going to US this year but I will return to Europe 2013. I did not find Stelvio (or any if the switchback roads) much fun so will go to Spain next time perhaps. I like leaning into corners more then acceleration. My perfect road is same gear, same speed, no braking or acceleration, just lean left, lean right and repeat 🙂

  2. I've been hanging out for your ride report from the trip ever since you announced it.

    Green with envy I tells ya…

    Thanks for sharing

  3. Beautiful Pics, must be the right time of the year to ride there. South Africa is very dry at the moment, so grate for riding but we need the rain to encourage the green to pop out. Maybe you guys may consider a ride down here sometime, best roads and best weather.
    Cheers, Joe.
    Due South Motorcycle Tours – South Africa
    http://due-south.co.za
    info@due-south.co.za

  4. I need to check the route we took in the Dolomites Rob as it was put together by Ramon for us based on less time available but with only a few bikes that arvo we made good time with only small breaks.

    I did not like Stelvio either, got poor photos of it due to cloud rolling up the hill so nothing to post, I was told the road to the south is much better and wish now I had taken that instead but hey it's so famous you want to see it.

  5. South Africa is on my list.

  6. I haven't done the Alps in a very long time… thanks for resurrecting my memories. The pics are lovely.

  7. Anonymous

    Did the Ultimate Alps tour in August 2014 also with Edelweiss.
    The Vstrom 650 was the best choice for me, Light enough and great handling. A heavier bike would have been too much hard work for me.
    Enjoyed it immensely. Loved the roads,the food. the beer, the hotels and the company of other riders….The Bike….Rode it like I stole it.

    • Thanks for the feedback, it was very good, hope I didnt come across negative as that is not a reflection of my tour.

      I just have been riding Spain on a Kaeasaki z800 and such s small nimble machine it was a blast in even the tighter corners.

  8. I just revisited your tour of the Alps, and I spotted a few paces that I had been to this summer, among others Cannobio at Lago Maggiore 😉 We might even have been in the same restaurant from which your photo was taken.

    What I always miss when traveling around in Europe is finding quiet spots. Everywhere (where motorised vehicles can go) there are already lots of (noisy) people. That's why I miss Canada so much. One could go on riding for hours and not see anyone else but oneself in the mirror…

    • Hi Sonja, I re-read what I wrote again myself and probably come across bit negative above unintentionally (it is easy to do in merely words lacking tone and body language) but I really enjoyed riding there and the scenery and everything – nothing but fond memories!

      I'd love to ride across Canada then back across USA then south. It is my big future ride I slowly plan. I would have to purchase a bike there or ship one over… Big skies and open land 🙂

  9. I totally get what you mean about an organised group ride we did a Canada rockies ride – I’m not sure how I’d go if I did it by myself as I’m not generally a group rider … but as a couple it was fantastic. We will be riding some of the roads you mentioned above in a couple of months with a Swiss couple we met on our ride in Canada/US. Being shown around some of their local roads should be great.

    • I find there is pro’s and cons with a group, harder to meet the locals however great way to meet other riders and some destinations like the Himalaya ride I did would be tough solo.

  10. Just to clarify for anyone reading the comments and wondering – I have edited the original post and removed a couple of paragraphs at the end in which I originally came across quite negative towards group riding, this tour and perhaps even towards visiting Europe in general. That was not my intention, it was simply very poorly worded. I do prefer solo to group and I do find Europe more challenging to visit than Asia, but not in a negative way.

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