Back to nature: 5 authentic experiences in scenic Europe
5820 · By Katie Shaw
Discover a way of travelling that puts nature centre stage, as you discover Europe’s spectacular lake and mountain scenery in the best possible way - by rail.Read more
Brig grew up because of its position at the north end of the Simplon Pass, the south end of the Loetschberg route and where these cross the Rhone Valley. The most important building in the town is the Stockalper Palace, built 1658-78. There are many alleyways and pedestrianised streets in Brig that are worth exploring. The town was hit by bad floods in 1993 and required restoration work on many of its buildings. Brig's two most important churches are Spiritus Sanctus on Simplonstrasse and Chapel of St Sebastian in St Sebastian square.
Lac Leman (Lake Geneva)
The journey takes you back down the Rhône valley to Lac Leman (Lake Geneva), the largest lake in Switzerland. After reaching the lake the train passes through Villeneuve and, shortly afterwards, passes the Castle of Chillon as made popular in a poem by Byron. The train then reaches the lakeside resort of Montreux where there are many options. There is a lakeside footpath through Montreux that goes to Villeneuve in one direction and to Vevey in the other. Vevey is 5 minutes beyond Montreux from Brig, but about 2 hours walk. This is the home of Nestlé, but also an attractive lakeside town. The old town is between the station and the lake. There is also a trolleybus service between Montreux and Vevey every 10 minutes.
Rochers de Naye
From Montreux, you can head up to the summit of the Rochers de Naye for spectacular views across Lake Geneva and the surrounding region. Travel by cogwheel railway to the summit; an hour's journey to the top at over 6,562 feet (2,000 metres).
Centovalli Railway to Locarno
Probably the most popular optional excursion from Brig is to Locarno, on the Centovalli Railway. This narrow-gauge line winds its way across "a hundred valleys", over high bridges and past sleepy villages on its way to Locarno, on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore.
Chamonix on board the Mont Blanc Express
Travelling across the Trient Gorge and ascending to breathtaking heights towards Chamonix, the Mont Blanc Express takes you past waterfalls and across valleys with majestic mountain crags rising in the background. Shady forests alternate with cosy villages and ultimately give way onto the grandiose glacier of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest peak. Remember to bring your passport, as this journey crosses into France.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland, despite its population of only 134,000. The old city lies in a U-bend of the River Aare (turn left out of the railway station on arrival in the city). Main features are the arcades lining the streets; the Zytglogge (clock tower), the oldest building in the city, be there at least 5 minutes before the hour to see all the effects; the Cathedral (building started 1421); the Bear pits just across the Nydeggbrucke at the end of the main street.