Austria and Germany

Alpine History, Culture, and Adventure

Trek on the paths of medieval pilgrims within the natural beauty and romantic lore of the Alps, while looking out on the world from 7,500’, swimming in glacial lakes, exploring turrets and dungeons of castles and traversing a Stone Sea.
Harkness Travel - Austria and Germany
Harkness Travel - Austria and Germany

Interested in World War II history, medieval castles, alpine vistas, and mountain adventure? Then lace up your hiking boots, strap on a backpack, and come explore the Bavarian and Austrian Alps! Our program will begin in the "Deutsche Ecke" or "German Corner" in the Berchtesgaden National Park in Germany and conclude in the connected mountains of Austria's Salzburgerland. This trip will combine the disciplines of cultural, political, and natural history with outdoor leadership.

Visiting Berchtesgaden and the Obersalzburg will set the group deep into the historical origins of the Nazi regime with Hitler's Eagle's Nest looming above. Traveling into the Salzburg and Pinzgau region of Austria, we will visit Castle Hohensalzburg Festung and encounter the rich medieval history of the 12th-century Investiture Controversy. We will be joined by local Austrian students from the Gymnasium Saalfelden to hike up and over the Stone Sea from Germany into Austria, spending our evenings in mountain huts and exploring the unique geology of the land, the flora and fauna it yields, and the sustainable practices that support alpine culture today. We will culminate the experience with a Summer Solstice celebration in the mountains with bonfires and festivities.


Harkness Travel - Austria and Germany
Harkness Travel - Austria and Germany

Simultaneously, students will participate in Lawrenceville’s experiential Harkness Travel Leadership curriculum that emphasizes intentional student research contributions to the experience. It includes rotating daily responsibilities such as leader of the day, navigator, journalist, photo-journalist, logistics coordinator, resource manager, etc. This process will develop individual authenticity and important collaborative skills like communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and decision-making. Time for journaling will allow for a mindful exploration of self and place- based insights as well as critical analysis of the historic and environmental elements of the program.

From the high shrills of the marmot, to the silent presence of the mountain goats, to fields of flowers and deep carved chasms, the region is filled with natural beauty. If this type of adventure sounds exciting, then this is the trip for you!


Sign-Up Instructions

Participation for all Lawrenceville Harkness Travel Programs is dependent upon a review of student applications, Head of House/Advisor recommendations, medical clearance for participation, and financial and disciplinary standing. Seniority and gender balance is also considered in the selection process.
Application to this program is not considered complete until both of the following items have been submitted:
Head of House / Day Advisor Recommendation must be completed and submitted to Tara Gonzalez by Monday, October 30, 2023.
Application Survey must be completed by Monday, October 30, 2023.


June 10 - 24, 2024



Includes all ground transportation, flights, meals, accommodations, visas and all required non-routine vaccines. Families will receive a list of all MANDATORY vaccines that are required. All travelers must be up-to-date on routine vaccines. Families will be charged for any trip related routine vaccines administered on campus. If the participant has received any of the mandatory vaccines, documentation must be provided to the Health and Wellness Center; they will be in touch with that date sometime in early 2024.

Target Student Population

This trip is open to II - IV Formers. Students must be able to hike up to seven hours per day, carrying their own backpacks through varied terrain. Maturity and fitness will be used in the selection process to create the best possible backcountry team. All participants will attend regular winter and spring term orientation meetings, including a mandatory spring training hike.

Program Leaders

Michael Hanewald
History Teacher and Associate Director of the Harkness Travel Program
John Hughes
Director of Experiential Education
Nicole Stock
Associate Director of Athletics

Pre-Trip Work

There will be regular meetings and preparatory homework during the Winter and Spring terms to prepare for the expedition, including a MANDATORY training on March 29 - 30.

Student Expectations

This trip will be physically rigorous. Students will be required to carry 35+ lb. backpacks holding both personal and group gear as we hike between four-seven hours a day on the 5-day trek through the Stone Sea. The weather in the Austrian mountains can be quite variable, with hot weather in the 80’s to potential snow showers. You will need to pack for all weather scenarios. The trails in the Alps are rocky and steep, so the hiking will range from moderate to strenuous. There will also be stream crossings and snow and scree field navigation. Other outdoor activities will include biking, touring ice-caves and glaciers, swimming in a lake and/or pool, and possibly riding an alpine slide.

Passports MUST be valid through October 15, 2024; if the passport will expire before that date students should apply for a replacement as soon as possible.

Location Info

State Department