Discover the majestic Swiss Alps by First Class rail
Spectacular views and stunning scenery have made the Glacier Express from Chur to Brig famous the world over. Discover Zermatt by mountain railway, visit beautiful Interlaken, take a journey on the Bernina Express and explore the Alps at your own pace during this popular mountain holiday.
After meeting at our St Pancras Departure Office, we board the Eurostar to Paris, continuing by train to Strasbourg for an overnight stay. The following day, we continue to Basel and then on to Chur, Switzerland's oldest town.
Today's excursion takes us on the historic Bernina Express - a railway journey on the superb Bernina Line that passes mighty glaciers, rushing mountain streams and flower-filled Alpine meadows. The railway line is over 100 years old and has been rewarded with UNESCO World Heritage status as a testament to the incredible civil engineering that was required to create the line, as well as for the breathtaking scenery through which it travels.
From Chur we head south, travelling through 55 tunnels and over 196 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 idyllic waterfalls. Looping and spiralling through the rugged landscape of the Engadine Valley, our ascent takes us through the Albula Tunnel and over the Bernina Pass to an altitude of more the 7,000 feet.
We then begin our descent towards colourful Poschiavo, entering the Italianspeaking region of Switzerland before arriving at our destination. Pastel-coloured houses line the streets of picturesque Poschiavo, where we have time for lunch before our journey in the opposite direction, arriving back in Chur in time for dinner.
Your day is free to explore historic Chur and the surrounding region. Today is the perfect opportunity to discover the area by mountain railway, using your included Swiss Travel Card for 50% fares.
Chur's old town is well worth a visit. Tucked away at the heart of Chur, this area is pedestrianised and a true delight to walk around. Cobbled streets and sublime architecture are the highlights here, and there are small shops and restaurants in abundance, full of superb meals and local produce. The wild, rugged and rocky landscape of the glorious Graubünden region is waiting to be discovered, with superb railway journeys available from Chur that take you over, around and across the dramatic valleys that make this one of Switzerland's most attractive cantons.
We leave Chur today, travelling from the rocky landscape of the Graubünden canton to the fantastic sunny Valais on the iconic Glacier Express - 'the slowest express train in the world.' Our entire journey is accompanied by views of the scenery for which Switzerland is justly famous; sloping meadows, broad vineyards lined with lush greenery and dense forests rising up the hillside beside the track towards towering snow-capped peaks.
We travel along the beautiful Rhine Valley, firstly along the dramatic stretch known as the 'Swiss Grand Canyon', where the river has carved its path deep into the white rock, and then climbing steadily and then steeply as we make our way up and over the Oberalp Pass, the distant peaks of the Italian Alps in view to the south. At 6,670 feet.
From here we descend past the countless small villages that line our route, nestled in the foothills of the surrounding mountains, before travelling through the Furka Base Tunnel and into the flourishing Rhône Valley. During our journey, we enjoy a two course lunch on the train, with the outside scenery making for the perfect backdrop to our meal.
The final part of our journey on the Glacier Express takes us through expansive vineyards that line the surrounding hillsides to the small town of Brig. Brig dates back to the Roman era, and today is a bustling mountain town. The cobblestones of the Stadtplatz at the heart of Brig are well worth visiting, capped by a remarkable old building at its head, replete with turrets and a café.
Today we visit the charming, car-free resort of Zermatt. We join a narrow-gauge train, heading south through picturesque vineyards and alongside the River Rhône to Visp. From here we join the mountain track for the steep ascent to Zermatt. The train clings to the track as we wind left and right, ascending past small clusters of houses and tiny hamlets that together form the region's village communities. The spectacular approach to Zermatt takes us through eight tunnels and across 42 bridges, the gradient of the ascent requiring cogwheels to be engaged. Finally we reach the grandiose scenery of Zermatt, nestled below the tilted peak of the instantly recognisable Matterhorn.
In Zermatt you are free to spend your time as you choose. One option that you will find hard to resist is the ascent to the summit of the Gornergrat by funicular railway (payable locally). Running for just under six miles, the route travels from Zermatt to the summit of the Gornergrat, some 10,135ft above sea level. From here, there are uninterrupted views of the Matterhorn mountain, a pyramid set against a crisp Alpine sky.
Your day is free to explore this beautiful region, using your GRJ First Class Swiss Travel Card which gives 50% reduction on rail fares. We particularly recommend travelling along the Rhône Valley to Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. Here you can join the GoldenPass Line panoramic train to make the spectacular trip to the chic winter resort of Gstaad, a favourite destination of the rich and famous. Alternatively, a journey on the Centovalli Railway across 'a hundred valleys' is an excellent choice for the day.
Today we travel to the lakeside city of Interlaken. Interlaken is an excellent starting point for adventures into the Bernese Oberland and provides an excellent 'base camp' for a comprehensive exploration of the surrounding Alps - over 45 mountain railways, cable cars, chair lifts and ski lifts lead to 200 kilometres of groomed ski pistes and a dense network of hiking trails. Excursion ships, including historic paddle steamers, ply the waters of Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner together.
Today we begin our journey home, walking to the station for the high-speed rail service to Paris via Geneva. Once in the French capital, we transfer to the Eurostar service to London St Pancras.
Please note that whilst every departure of Classic Glacier Express will feature the same excursions, the order of the itinerary may differ from that given above.
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
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 9 verified reviews
Excellent journeys throughout with great guide, very informative.
Very efficiently organised, well planned itinerary with plenty of free time, friendly and helpful tour leader. Accommodation clean and comfortable, food very good and, considering it was Switzerland, very reasonably priced. Altogether a thoroughlu enjoyable and memorable holiday, many thanks.
Our 10th trip with GRJ and one of the best with great scenery and interesting places to visit.
Excellent Tour excellent place to visit nice train journeys Kim Tour Manager Excellent
This really was a 'Great Rail Journey!' The organisation behind the trip was perfect. Also it required a tour manager who was able to guide the group to the right place at the correct time. All the panoramic Swiss trains were a perfect way to view the scenery. A perfect view of the Matterhorn, on a spectacular blue sky day, that I'll remember for ever.
Overall an excellent holiday - our tour manager Ian Hague did an excellent job in getting all members of the group in the right place at the right time - thanks Ian. All hotels were very nice and provided everything that we required. Our only criticism, was the excursion on the Bernina Express to Poschiavo - there was only time there for an "extended lunch break" and not much time to explore - having said that Poschiavo did not seem to have much to offer and maybe a different destination should be considered - however the journey there was spectacular. On the return from Poschiavo, we stopped off at St. Moritz, and again there was very little time to visit the town - forty minutes total I believe.
Everything about the holiday, except the French Rail Strike, and even that was well managed
Good selection of places to visit & stay.
This holiday totally met our expectations in relation to first class rail travel, hotels (with the exception of the transit hotel in Strasbourg), food and outstanding tour mangement. Our tour manager was outstanding in terms of authority mixed with humour and understanding of the needs of individual members of the group. She provided interesting options for activities on our free days, and was at the top of her game throughout. Scenery was breathtaking and will remain with us forever.
The overall experience was excellent. I would have given 5 star, the reason being why not is that when we arrived we weren't kept in a group so that we could all have been introduced first, before we made our way to check in.
Discover the majestic Swiss Alps by First Class rail