Stunning views on a classic rail journey
Take advantage of our latest saving of up to £75 per person when booking your Swiss 2018 holiday on or before 28th December 2017.
Dramatic mountain scenery and beautiful lakes provide the setting for this magnificent tour, as we take the iconic Glacier Express through the Swiss Alps, staying in glamorous St Moritz, and Zermatt, where we enjoy breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.
After meeting your Tour Manager, we board the Eurostar at our St Pancras Departure Office, travelling to Brussels before continuing on to Cologne in First Class, where we overnight.
Today we depart Cologne and travel to Basel , before we start the scenic ascent through the Alps to St Moritz, set at 6,000 feet amidst majestic mountain peaks. We travel through countless tunnels and across numerous bridges, including the instantly recognisable Landwasser Viaduct, an architectural treasure. The track clings to the mountainside as we wind our way above deep ravines and past rushing waterfalls.
Looping and spiralling through the rugged landscape of the Engadine Valley, our ascent takes us through the Albula Tunnel then down to the Upper Engadine valley. On arrival in St Moritz we walk to the Hotel Schweizerhof for a three-night stay. Situated in the centre of St Moritz, this beautifully appointed 4-Star hotel benefits from a piano bar, spa and original Belle Epoque surroundings. It is the perfect base for exploring this wonderful region.
From St Moritz we join the historic narrow-gauge Bernina Express, a railway journey on the superb Bernina Line which passes mighty glaciers, rushing mountain streams and flower-filled Alpine meadows. The railway line has been rewarded with UNESCO World Heritage Status - due to the incredible civil engineering that was required to create the line, as well as for the breathtaking scenery through which it travels. The track clings to the mountainside as we wind our way above deep ravines and past rushing waterfalls.
Our ascent takes us over the Bernina Pass to an altitude of more than 7,000ft. Enjoy breathtaking views of the snowcapped peaks and turquoise glacial lakes as we travel to Tirano in Italy, traversing the spiralling Brusio Viaduct en route. You have some free time in Tirano before we return to St Moritz. Tirano is a delightful town, one of the most northern in Italy, with various squares and streets lined with cafés, shops and restaurants. Running through the town is the River Adda, flowing down from the glacial waters of the Alpine peaks
Today you are free to explore St Moritz by cable car, free of charge using your St Moritz Travel Card. Synonymous with glamour, the prestigious resort of St Moritz also claims to be one of the first towns in Europe to popularise winter sports. You may wish to ascend the Diavolezza at 9,970 ft, which boasts stunning views over the surrounding peaks. Alternatively explore the mountains further afield with 50% fares using your Swiss Travel Card. Each village, town and railway station has something to offer, whether it is an insight into how the Alpine populations live amongst these glorious surroundings, or a hidden gem in the shape of various mountain walking trails.
Today we take the famous Glacier Express narrow-gauge train along the iconic route from St Moritz to Zermatt, enjoying the incredible views through the panoramic windows of our First Class carriage. Our journey takes us through the classic landscapes which have made Switzerland famous; from the jagged mountain peaks to the flower-filled meadows below, and from the sprawling vineyards to dense woodland dotted along the hillsides. The train benefits from large panoramic windows, so every piece of the picture-postcard surroundings is unmissable, including the beautiful Rhône Valley and the Oberalp Pass - the highest point of the line at 6,670 feet.
On leaving St Moritz we descend towards the valley floor, emerging from a rock tunnel to cross the famous Landwasser Viaduct and into the upper Rhine Valley. A two-course lunch is served at our seats during the journey, followed by tea and coffee - the perfect accompaniment to our time on board 'the slowest express train in the world', whilst you watch stunning scenery pass slowly by.
The train climbs steadily and steeply up and over the Oberalp Pass, the peak of the route, and spirals downwards past countless villages, before crossing the spectacular gorge at Brig. From Brig we ascend once more, as we wind left and right, passing small hamlet communities, rushing mountain streams, and spectacular waterfalls. The approach to Zermatt takes us across 42 bridges and through 8 tunnels, before finally we reach the grandiose scenery of this tranquil mountain town, nestled below the tilted peak of the Matterhorn. Our base here for the next four nights is the fabulous Parkhotel Beau Site.
Today we ascend via Gornergrat Mountain Railway, opened in 1898, the highest open-air cogwheel railway in Europe. The train climbs to the summit of the Gornergrat at 10,134 ft and offers spectacular views of the Matterhorn; on a clear day at the top you can see 29 snow-capped peaks of more than 4000 metres. After some time at the top to enjoy the scenery and views over the Gornergletscher, the second largest glacier in the Alps, we descend and enjoy a guided tour of beautiful Zermatt. The pretty town is a car-free zone, with timbered buildings and an English church dating back to 1870, and is known as a popular ski resort.
Today we travel by train to Domodossola in Italy, where we take a coach to Stresa, on the shore of Lake Maggiore. On arrival, we take a cruise across Lake Maggiore to the charming island of Isola Pescatore, a wonderfully atmospheric rustic fishing village boasting some fantastic restaurants and shops.
The island measures just 350 metres in length and is 100 metres wide, and only has a population of around 50 people. Take some time here to visit the beach or take a stroll along the main street against the small piers and minute harbours which jut out into Lake Maggiore. Of particular note is the pretty chapel of San Vittore. We return to Zermatt for dinner this evening.
Today is free for you to explore Zermatt. Perhaps relax and take advantage of the hotel's excellent pool and spa facilities, enjoy a walk along one of the many marked trails or climb the Kleine Matterhorn by regional cable car. Another option is to use your First Class Swiss Travel Card to explore further afield.
The card allows 50% fares on most trains, buses and lake steamers. Among the most popular options available to you is a journey 'across a hundred valleys' on the Centovalli Railway, a narrow-gauge line that winds over high bridges and past sleepy villages to the town of Locarno, located on the shores of delightful Lake Maggiore.
Today we begin our journey home. We travel via Visp to Basel, then join the onward service to Colmar, where we spend the night. On Day 10 we travel through France to Paris. Here we connect with Eurostar to London.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 16 verified reviews
Organisation of holiday, communication from booking to end of holiday, choice of hotels, job done by the tour guide were all excellent. Unavoidable delays in journeys were very efficiently dealt with by the tour guide.
As you know our tour had a change to the 2nd, we had to use a coach as a section of rail was under repair. Non of the problems this caused I realise were within your control, but I do feel German Rails let you down. On the day the train from Cologne was 2 carriages short and all reservation were cancelled, we discovered on boarding. Beverley did a great job keep the group together. We all eventually got a seat, not first class but we all got to the coach. It was a very long day arriving over 2hrs late in St Moritz. Most people were very pleased to have a free day the next day as the Bernini was postponed to day 4. It meant no early start after such a long day. We both still had a great and memorable visit to Switzerland and would not hesitate recommending GRJ.
Well organised, excellent rep
Despite rail inconveniences to and from Switzerland, we felt the holiday was a roaring success. The weather was beautiful, the scenery breathtaking, the. food good and the companionship within the group brilliant. Thanks to the competence of Mrs. Goring, tour manager, everything ran very smoothly.
The tour Manager Angie Eccles was superb. Hotels excellent. Travel well organised but several unfortunate frustrations and changes but these were resolved by Angie very calmly.
Well organised, good quality hotels.
Excellent hotels and tour manager. Too many people on this trip and some of the connections were far too tight - indeed we did actually miss one train. The bus replacement in Germany was poor. The driver spoke on his phone whilst driving and the bus was not of the standard expected The windscreen was badly cracked and the bus not especially comfortable.
First class hotels and outstanding train journeys, in spectacular scenery. Perfect.
The communication from and planning by Great Rail was way above what other companies provide and extremely helpful and informative. Ivan, the Tour Director, was one of the best we have experienced in all our travels. The trip itself was just fantastic.
everything was well planned
Stunning views on a classic rail journey