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Discover Switzerland, the Great Rail way

Switzerland

Switzerland's scenery commands attention. Ancient glaciers that have slowly taken shape over millennia, age-old mountain peaks, lakes you just can't help but dip your toes in, and Alpine meadows that offer up a botanical feast for the eyes. These landscapes lend themselves effortlessly to the intrinsic charms of rail travel, so it's little wonder that Switzerland's rail journeys are among the most iconic, not to mention scenic, in the world.

Away from the wild allure of nature, chocolate-box villages, medieval towns and modern cities are waiting to be explored. Add in a rich history and enticing cuisine, who can resist Swiss chocolate and cheese, and you'll start to understand all this destination has to offer.

HIghlights

  • Pay a visit to enchanting Zermatt
    Enjoy free time to explore its cobbled streets and thriving plazas, almost all of which are car-free for pedestrians.
    Classic Glacier Express
  • The Jungfrau Railway
    Journey to the 'top of Europe' on the Jungfrau Railway, one of Switzerland's favourite railways.
    Jungfrau Express Five-Star all inclusive
  • Exclusive Small Groups Tour
    3 of Switzerland's most unique hotels all contribute to this very special small group tour around Switzerland.
    Mountaintops of Switzerland

 

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Traveller's Guide to Switzerland

 

 

Swiss Trains

Discover the fantastic railways of Switzerland. It should come as no surprise that we love railways and we know many of you do too! That's why our tours feature some of the most iconic railways and trains on the continent.

Travelling by train is indisputably the best way to enjoy Switzerland's scenery and cities and at Great Rail Journeys we do our utmost to provide escorted tours of Switzerland that highlight its best attractions and experiences whilst also representing unrivalled value for money.

Swiss Culture

Switzerland is famous for its folk culture. Yodelling, originally used by livestock herders on mountains to call out to one another, is said to have originated in Switzerland, and has since become celebrated all around the world, most famously being used by 'Tarzan' in various films and television shows.

Thanks to the Alps, which inhabits most of the country, mountain sports are extremely popular here. Every winter, hundreds of thousands of tourists descend upon Switzerland to take part in some of the fantastic skiing that can be found here.  In the summer, after the snow melts away, the lush green meadows are revealed, and hiking becomes a popular pastime.

From tradition to science, this country is also the home of some of the most important scientific innovations in the world. Lying underground near Geneva sits the Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful particle collider in the world, and the motors currently powering the Mars Rover are Swiss made.

 

 

Swiss Cuisine

Swiss cuisine is heavily influenced by the countries that surround it, taking inspiration from France in the meringues, Italy and polenta, and Germany in the wide variety of sausages. Some things, however, are purely Swiss, including the delicious melted cheese dish of fondue. This mouthwatering meal is a sauce made with cheese, wine, and garlic, and is served in a communal pot. Using long forks, diners can dip various pieces of bread or vegetables into the dish.

If you're not wanting to share the pot, but are still craving melted cheese, then a raclette is perfect. This wheel of cheese is cut into wedges, heated, and then scraped onto a plate, where it can be enjoyed with various meats, potatoes, and gherkins.

Cheese isn't the only famous dairy product to emerge from this country. Switzerland is one of the finest producers of luxury chocolate, and is the home of high quality brands such as Lindt and Nestlé.

Swiss Trains

The rail travel in Switzerland is efficient, easy to use, and connects the entire country. On our tours, we travel on a few of the most spectacularly scenic journeys in Switzerland: the Glacier Express, the Jungfrau Express, and the GoldenPass.

The Glacier Express is ironically named, and is often called 'the slowest express train in the world'. Travel in panoramic carriages as you luxuriate in the surrounding beauty of Switzerland, travelling along the Rhine Valley and up and over the steep Oberalp Pass, and passing small villages and towering snow-capped peaks.

 

 

Switzerland’s Climate

Like most European countries, the climate in Switzerland is fairly moderate, with not extreme temparatures. The summers are warm, with temperatures ranging between 65° F and 82° F, however there is always the chance for rain, so always bring along an umbrella or a light waterproof, and prepared for a sudden change in the weather.

Switzerland is synonymous with skiing and snow, so in the winter make sure that you have sturdy shoes and a warm coat. The temperatures are not extreme, and are usually between 28° F and 45° F, but the nights can be bitterly cold, so warm evening wear is a must.

Switzerland has four national languages: German, French Italian and Romansh. A few useful phrases to know are:

Hello - in French 'bonjour' (bon-zhaw), in German 'guten tag' (gooten tahg), and in Italian 'buongiorno' (bon-jor-no)

Goodbye - in French 'au revoir' (or rev-wa), in German 'auf wiedersehen' (owf vee-der-zehn), and in Italian 'arrivederci' (ah-ree-ver-der-chi)

Thank you - in French 'merci' (mercy), in German 'danke' (dan-kah), and in Italian 'grazie' (grat-zie)

Please - in French 's'il vous plaît' (sih vous play), in German, 'bitte' (bitter), and in Italian 'per favore' (per fa-vor-ay)

Switzerland's bill system usually includes a tip, so tipping isn't strictly necessary, however if you wish to leave something extra, rounding up the bill to the nearest 5 or 10 usually suffices. The currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc.

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Lynne Broadley
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Luke Simpson
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