Germany, Austria, and Switzerland–Three countries with incredible history and breathtaking landscapes that are at the top of every backpacker’s destination list! On this European adventure designed specifically for intrepid teens, you’ll enjoy some of the Continent’s most happening cities, as well as relax in off-the-beaten-path mountain towns. There’s something for everyone on this program, as you’ll explore the culture of capital cities and get your adrenaline pumping on our awesome nature activities.
This trip of a lifetime begins in Berlin, the capital of Germany and the location of some of the most important events of the Twentieth Century. Cross between East Berlin and West Berlin and see what remains of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery. From Berlin, we board a modern, comfortable train and head south to Munich, often referred to as the cultural heart of Germany. Bike through this city like a local and pay your respects at one of the most important World War II sites, Dachau Concentration Camp. Next, hop over the border and cross another country off your bucket list as we explore beautiful Zell Am See. This town is a hidden gem at the heart of the Austrian Alps, and we’ll take advantage of the slower pace and fresh mountain air to do nature-based activities. After Austria, the idyllic backpacker haven of Interlaken awaits us. Swim in refreshing alpine lakes, ride the cable cars up the mountains for incredible views, and even have the option of soaring over the Alps on a once-in-a-lifetime paragliding adventure! We’ll cap off this trip with an upscale final dinner in the modern city of Zurich, before saying auf wiedersehen to these three incredible countries. This program is perfect for any teen who’s looking to go beyond a traditional summer camp experience and push their boundaries to try something new. Join Travel For Teens on this thrilling adventure this summer!
During this program, you will…
- Gaze in awe at the mighty Brandenburg Gate and pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
- Take an off-the-beaten-path tour of Berlin’s underground bunkers used in World War II and the Cold War
- Let our local guides lead you through Berlin and Munich by bike
- Learn to use a European InterRail pass as we travel across these three countries by train
- Visit a fairytale castle outside Munich, bike across the castle grounds, and go for a swim in the lake*
- Savor incredible Bavarian cuisines like pretzels and hot dogs at an authentic beer hall
- Breathe in the fresh mountain air at the Tyrolean Alps of Austria
- Slip, slide, swim and climb your way through our adrenaline-pumping canyoning adventure in Interlaken
- Enjoy a homemade barbecue dinner aboard a boat as you cruise along Lake Brienz at twilight
- Take in unparalleled views of Switzerland as you soar over the Alps on a paragliding adventure*
- Take easy hikes through fields of flowers and ride cable cars between gorgeous Alpine villages
*This is an optional excursion
DAY 1: DEPART FROM NEW YORK (JFK)
DAYS 2-4: BERLIN
Welcome to Europe! Our adventure begins in Berlin, where some of the most pivotal events of the Twentieth Century took place on the very streets we’ll be walking. Observe the inner workings of the German Parliament from the roof of the Reichstag Building. Stroll through the Tiergarten until you arrive at the Brandenburg Gate, then take some time to pay your respects at the somber Holocaust Memorial right nearby. Head underground for a unique tour of the bunker system that is still underneath the city, leftover from World War II and the Cold War. Then, hop on a bike and let our local guide lead you to some of Berlin’s hidden secrets. Of course, no trip to Berlin would be complete without a visit to the incredible East Side Gallery to see what remains of the Berlin Wall!
DAYS 5-7: Munich > Neuschwanstein
Take a comfortable train across Germany to arrive in the heart of Bavaria! Munich is where some of Germany’s most famous cultural exports come from–think pretzels, beer halls, and lederhosen. Do some souvenir shopping in the vibrant Marienplatz area of downtown Munich. Climb Alter Peter, the belltower of the centuries-old cathedral, and watch the surfers at the wave pool in the Englischer Garten. See some of Germany’s most famous products up close at the BMW Museum, and go on a bike tour to see even more of the city than you would otherwise. We’ll also spend a morning learning about one of the darkest moments in German history at Dachau Concentration Camp, infamous during World War II. Lastly, you will even have the option to take a day trip outside of Munich to the gem of Bavaria, Neuschwanstein Castle. Bike along the castle grounds, explore this fairytale castle that inspired Walt Disney, and even cool off with a swim in the Alpine lake at the base of the castle!
DAYS 8-9: ZELL AM SEE
Take a short train ride over the Austrian border to the heart of the Tyrolean Alps, Zell Am See. This tranquil village nestled in the middle of the mountains will quickly feel like home. Take a cable car ride up into the mountains and hike through fields of wildflowers to a traditional mountain lodge for lunch. Savor local specialties at the farmer’s market, and relax on the lake with fun activities like SUP and waterslides! We’ll even take a nighttime hike through a beautiful gorge, go on a toboggan run, and to top it all off, soak in a thermal bath spa.
DAYS 10-12: INTERLAKEN > ZURICH
Nestled in the valley between two lakes, Interlaken is a must-see for any visitor to Switzerland! Our time in this quaint town will be filled with adrenaline-pumping adventure activities. Go on a canyoning excursion in the rugged forests and valleys surrounding Interlaken–you’ll slip, slide, swim and climb your way through this exciting track. Ride the cable cars up to the mountainside villages and hike through fields of fresh flowers as you explore the traditional Swiss way of life. Enjoy cheesy homemade fondue with fresh bread, and have a barbecue dinner served onboard a boat as you cruise around Lake Brienz at twilight! Of course, Interlaken is known as the paragliding capital of Switzerland, so you’ll have the opportunity to soar over the mountains and lakes with a professional pilot.
After our time in Interlaken, we’ll head to the glitzy city of Zurich for some last-minute souvenir shopping and an upscale final dinner to celebrate the end of an incredible journey together.
DAY 13: RETURN FLIGHT TO THE USA
Who can go on this program? What kind of teen typically goes on this program?
Teens from all over the world join this program! Typically, our participants are culturally curious individuals who are excited to make new friends, experience something unique, and interested in stepping out of their comfort zones and expanding their horizons.
This program is exclusively for students who are currently in grades 9th through 10th and approximately 14 to 16 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are chosen specifically in safe areas and are well suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. We do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities; we prefer to select smaller, family-run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for the program.
Do most travelers go on their own?
Yes! In fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that form along the way. When we travel by ourselves, we are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new friends on another TFT program the next summer!
If you are thinking about joining a TFT program by yourself but you are feeling unsure, please let us know! We have plenty of references from solo travelers who had great experiences and would be happy to chat with you about it.
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We ask that if you do come with a friend, you and your friend(s) maintain openness to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
What do students like most on this program?
Students enjoy the chance to explore both big, cosmopolitan European cities and smaller, traditional towns on the same program.
What is included?
Tuition cost includes ground transportation; accommodation; chaperones and guides; program-related activities and admissions; taxes and tips; all breakfasts and dinners.
Not included in cost (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list): airfare; lunches; visas and visa application fees; personal and medical expenses; activities and admissions that are not program-related or referenced in the itinerary; beverages other than filtered water at meals; participant expenses that are outside of the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels; expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss the program’s flight details. There is no requirement to take the group flight, but there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is usually chaperoned by a TFT staff member, and it also offers an opportunity for the students to get to know one another prior to the start of the program. Parents are responsible for coordinating transport to the departure airport – however, the logistics team will send out instructions detailing the exact meeting spot and airport point person. For additional information about flights, visit our dedicated flight page.
Who leads the program?
Our staff is a cut above the rest! We seek out two main characteristics in our counselors – extensive knowledge of and experience in our destinations, and a passion for working with teens. Our staff’s backgrounds include living abroad and working in summer camps or other educational settings. Team members are proven leaders and role models, who connect easily with others and form genuine friendships with each student – all while bringing each destination to life.
We celebrate diversity! Our staff represents 49 different nationalities, speak a combined total of 21 languages, and visited 142 countries. Additionally, 80% of our staff lived or worked abroad in their lives. With so many unique experiences to share, you are sure to gain a global perspective.
Our average minimum ratios are one staff member to every seven participants. Each program has one Trip Director with several support staff, depending on the group size. Directors must be at least 25 years old and have prior experience working with TFT.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
Our staff members undergo a rigorous hiring process. They receive the same background check as school educators, an extensive training process to go over all safety precautions and protocols, and are required to be certified in CPR and First Aid. We exclusively hire responsible, multi-talented individuals who are safety-minded and are as passionate about teen travel as we are.
What is the average group size?
We pride ourselves on small group sizes to create a more authentic and personalized experience. Our group sizes fall between 14 and 21 students – the perfect size to facilitate new friendships without feeling lost in a crowd! We believe smaller groups eliminate the likelihood of cliques, and allows for a well-rounded, healthy group dynamic.
How does this program connect to other programs?
Our program dates are designed specifically so that participants can opt to combine trips throughout the summer. When connecting to another program, your counselor will escort you to the airport on the last day of the program and assist you in meeting your next group at your new destination.
Families who sign up for more than one program will also receive a 15% discount on the lesser-priced program.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
In Germany and Austria, we’ll have a chance to discover delicious Bavarian specialities. German cuisine is primarily based around bratwurst (sausage), schnitzel (breaded meat), and potatoes (in every form you can imagine!). Students will also get a chance to sample authentic German pretzels, of course!
No trip to Switzerland would be complete without a Swiss fondue night! In addition to fondue we will enjoy other tasty swiss treats, including authentic Swiss cheese and chocolate!
Of course, we are always willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
Do we ever get time to go off on our own?
Our staff and teens are nearly always together, but we do provide the opportunity to break up into smaller groups to allow for flexibility and customization within the itinerary.
We offer free time in defined safe areas – for example, shopping in a market or exploring a museum. During these times, students remain in groups of at least two and are given no more than an hour. Of course, the counselors remain nearby and available. Additionally, a lifeguard-certified counselor supervises the campers any time they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program?
We recommend checking with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the destination you are visiting. For more information, please check the World Health Organization’s website. Upon registration, we provide a list of recommended vaccinations that can be discussed further with your doctor.
Do I need a visa?
Any US citizen that enters Europe is automatically granted a free 90-day tourist visa.
When joining a TFT trip from outside of the US, please be sure to check your country’s specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the language?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!
Authenticity is engrained in everything we do. Eat, stay, and travel like a local.
Check out what past travelers have to say about TFT and discover why we were awarded Top Youth Travel Organization in 2017.
"I had never done an overnight camp before and I decided to go big and go to Scotland and Ireland with TFT! It was the best experience I ever had and I made so many memories. First off, the staff is incredible and they always take care of safety first, they are very fun and very supportive. One of the best adventures I remember was when we went rock climbing on the cliffs and rocks on the coast of Ireland, we got to jump off from the cliffs and into the ocean and that was such a blast. We also got to visit a castle and learn about falcons and even hold them as they would fly back and forth off our arms. The food was also incredible, as we got to try typical meals like a full English breakfast and haggis. The accommodations were very good too. For two of the three places we stayed at, we stayed at a hostel. They were quite small, but with all the new friends you meet there, it does not feel weird to be within such close proximity with others. The third place we stayed at was at an outdoor activity center on Achill Island and that was the most fun since every day there was a new activity such as surfing, canoeing, coasteering (climbing the rocks by the ocean), archery, and so many more. I have traveled a lot before, but with TFT, they are always on the move and you are trying new activities and trying new food while taking in the breathtaking scenery."
"I was given the opportunity of a lifetime: to travel across Europe with amazing kids my age and outstanding counsellors. This trip showed me beautiful parts of the world I longed to see since I was a little girl. Not only were the people, accommodations and food incredible, but also the activities. Like canyoning down a mountainside in the middle of the Swiss Alps, paddle boating in the canals of Amsterdam and riding my bike on a beautiful trail just at the foot of Neuschwanstein Castle to a lake where we could swim to the middle and face the German hillside with two beautiful castles as the backdrop. After going on this trip, I can now tell my friends that I’ve travelled across Europe and I’m not even finished with high school yet. It was truly an incredible experience and I would totally recommend it to any teenagers aspiring to travel."
"I have traveled with TFT for four summers now, exploring Costa Rica, Croatia, Fiji and Greece. These trips have been the highlight of my summers. They have broadened my horizons and strengthened my confidence. Going on these trips and meeting new people changed how I view the world. I love having conversations with locals and people I meet along the way. The small TFT groups and the knowledgeable and enthusiastic group leaders make for a fun and eye-opening experience. What sets TFT apart is that we immerse ourselves in the culture and we are not just tourists. We meet locals, hear stories about their lives, and it is truly invigorating. Travel For Teens has given me so much more than fun memories over the summer. They have given me the ability to be comfortable talking to anyone, being in new places, having a widened perspective on other cultures, and to be independent. On my Costa Rica and Fiji trips, we volunteered with school children. In a very short time we made deep connections that I will always cherish. I feel so fortunate to have had my eyes opened through TFT to so many beautiful places and memorable people."