Spend nine days with your head in the clouds
Three of Switzerland's most unique hotels all contribute to this very special small groups tour around Switzerland. Spend nine days with your head in the clouds at these peerless mountaintop properties, and enjoy journeys aboard impressive mountain railways, with dinner served aboard the Glacier Express as you journey through the ever-changing vistas.
Meet you group and Tour Manager at St Pancras International where we travel to Paris aboard the Eurostar, enjoying the journey in Standard Premier Class. On arrival we take the train from Paris' Gare du Lyon to Basel where we spend the night.
After breakfast on Day 2, we make the short walk to the railway station, with our bags being separately transported so all we have to worry about is enjoying the journey. Our train takes us directly to Interlaken where we board a boat, sailing across Lake Brienz which delivers us into the heart of scenic Switzerland as we admire the remarkable colour of the pure Alpine waters contrasting with the green slopes of the mountains. From the boat, we can enjoy watching the towns and villages which dot the shores of the lake, many of which reside under the shadow of a church steeple. Waiting for us as we disembark is the Giessbach funicular railway which transports us in style to our mountaintop hotel, the Grandhotel Giessbach.
Travelling back down the mountain and across the lake to Brienz, we make our way to the town's station where we board the steam-hauled, narrow-gauge Brienz-Rothorn Mountain Railway as it begins its steep ascent up the mountain. The rack-and-pinion line traverses a number of bridges, crossing the steep, stony mountain trails as it continues to climb. For much of the route the glittering waters of Lake Brienz can be seen, and as we climb further, the view becomes yet more dramatic. We continue through the undulating greenery, with views out to the surrounding jagged peaks. Before long, we reach the first of three passing loops for oncoming locomotives, before travelling through woodland and a series of tunnels hewn from the rock. We then arrive at the second passing loop where some of the older steam engines pause to take on water. Finally we reach the line's terminus at the summit of Rothorn, 7,362 feet above sea level, and four-and-a-half miles away from our starting point in Brienz. There's free time at both the summit of Brienzer Rothorn and back in the town of Brienz.
Checking out of the Grandhotel Giessbach today, we travel by rail to Brig for one of the world's most unique rail experiences, a journey aboard the one and only Glacier Express. Famed for being the slowest 'express' train in the world, the distinctive red and white carriages - painted to match the colours of the Swiss flag - link Brig with St Moritz. Along the route the train makes its way across hundreds of bridges and viaducts, as well as through 90 tunnels, and one of the highlights comes as we climb the 6,669 foot Oberalp Pass. Using cogwheels in the steepest places, the train allows us unimpeded views across green valleys, picturesque villages and the high Alpine lake on the Oberalp Pass. We enjoy dinner on board before reaching our final destination and transferring to the Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl, accessible only by its own funicular railway.
Connecting Switzerland and Italy via one of the highest mountain railways in the Alps, the Bernina Express train rises to the challenges presented such steep gradients to delight passengers with a journey of breathtaking beauty through this iconic mountain range. Joining the train in St Moritz, we travel to an altitude of more than 7,000 feet enjoying views of the snowcapped peaks and turquoise glacial lakes as we make our way to Tirano in Italy, traversing the spiralling Brusio Viaduct en route. In Tirano you are at leisure to explore before we make the return trip.
On Day 6 we utilise the efficient Swiss rail network once again, travelling to Lucerne where we board the Mount Pilatus Railway, the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. We spend a delightful half hour ascending almost two kilometres from lakeside Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm, where our unique hotel, the Hotel Pilatus Kulm, awaits.
We return to Lucerne by rail today, this time for some independent sightseeing. Set in an impressive location, overlooking the surrounding landscape with Mounts Pilatus and Rigi visible on the horizon. Lucerne's famous landmark is the Kapellbrücke (Chapel) Bridge, separating Lucerne's Old and New Town. The oldest wooden bridge in Europe, built in the 14th century, it was constructed to help protect the city of Lucerne against attacks. Inside, a series of paintings from the 17th century display the city's history. With its ornate churches, cobbled streets, chapel bridge and charming old town, Lucerne offers traditional culture as well as a plethora of cosy cafés. Back at our hotel this evening we enjoy a farewell meal together.
We begin the journey back to London today, with the first leg of our travels delivering us to Colmar for the night. Here you have some free time. We sit down to dinner at a local restaurant before catching the train to Paris on Day 9. From here we join the Eurostar returning to London St Pancras, where our Swiss adventure comes to an end and you are free to make your way to the airport for your flight back home.
For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from, London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport (LGW or LHR). London Gatwick is approximately 30 miles from your start and end point, and London Heathrow is approximately 19 miles from your start and end point.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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 travel during your tour
Characterful accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Spend nine days with your head in the clouds