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 Spiez Castle, 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. 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 board the iconic Glacier Express today, often referred to as 'the slowest express train in the world.' Leaving Chur, we leave behind the rocky landscape of the Graubünden canton as we journey towards sunny Valais.
The journey lets us experience some of the most impressive Swiss landscapes as the train traverses meadows, vineyards, and dense forests, with snowcapped peaks forming the backdrop of the entire journey. We travel along the beautiful Rhine Valley, crossing the Rhine Gorge or the 'Swiss Grand Canyon' - as tourists often fondly call it. We climb up to the Oberalp Pass, the highest point of our journey at 6,670 feet. From here we descend past hamlets before crossing the Furka Pass via the Furka Base Tunnel, and into the Rhône Valley. During our journey, we enjoy a 2-course lunch on the train.
The final part of our journey on the Glacier Express takes us through the expansive vineyards that line the surrounding hillsides of Brig. Brig is a historic town in the Valais canton and dates back to the Roman era. With a little free time here, the cobblestones of the Stadtplatz are well worth visiting, capped by the remarkable Stockalper Palace - built in the 17th century by a prosperous silk merchant.
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 tiny hamlets that together form the region's village communities. The 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 an 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 10,135 feet above sea level. From here, there are uninterrupted views of the Matterhorn, 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 Schloss Spiez or Spiez Castle, in the town of Spiez, overlooking the waters of Lake Thun. A Swiss heritage site dating as far back as the 10th century, this impressive castle and its decorative gardens play host to us as we wander its halls and enjoy the Alpine sunshine. In a special moment, we sit down to a wine tasting against a spectacular backdrop of mountains and the lake's blue surface.
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: One of the excursions on this tour is at high altitude. If you have any medical conditions or concerns that could impact this part of the tour, we recommend you seek medical advice and talk to us. We want to make sure that any holiday you book is right for you.
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
NEW FOR 2020: Inclusive Luggage Transfer
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 7 verified reviews
This was our first trip with great Rail Journeys and it was an excellent experience. Paul Parmenter was a superb tour guide and was passionate about Switzerland which shone through. There was 32 people on the trip who all got on very well couldn't have asked for better.
The tour exceeded my expectations in accommodation (except Strasbourg although their breakfast was one of the best. I just had a bad room - No.215.), In fact, everything first class. Other passengers on the tour were congenial, and the weather was perfect!!! Portering one's luggage, especially Paris between stations, was a bit tricky but not impossible.
Tour delivered everything it promised and more.
So many beautiful rail journeys viewing magnificent scenery. Meeting welcoming people.and staying in hospitable hotels. Plenty of time to explore areas at own place. Our tour manger was superb.
An excellent experience in every respect
Excellent tour manager. Always there to help and advise
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
Discover the majestic Swiss Alps by First Class rail