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Classic Glacier Express at Christmas

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4.8 stars(8 reviews)
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Enjoy a wonderful winter rail adventure at Christmas time

Mobility Rating 2

2023 Tour code: GEX24

About the tour

Snow-bound views and stunningly seasonal scenery have made the Glacier Express famous at this time of year, while glistening winter peaks and sugar-frosted forests provide a picture-postcard backdrop as we explore local resort towns over the Christmas period.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and Strasbourg

After meeting at London St Pancras, we board the Eurostar to Paris, continuing by high-speed rail to Strasbourg for an overnight stay. Capital of the Alsace region, known for its wine production, Strasbourg is an enchanting medieval city and a wonderful winter destination. Over the festive season its colourful half-timbered houses, historic buildings and market squares are all lit up and buzzing with activity. This evening we have dinner at a local restaurant which serves typical Alsace cuisine.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Day 2 – Strasbourg Christmas market and Brig

Your morning is free to visit Strasbourg's famous Christmas market, set on the Grande Île near Strasbourg Cathedral and Place Kléber. Enjoy walking through the warren of festive stalls, sampling the delicious homemade food and drinks and admiring the traditional decorations. Afterwards, we take the local railway for a wonderful journey over the imposing Kander Viaduct, through the old Lötschberg tunnel and past soaring mountain peaks to the town of Brig. A historic town in the Valais canton, Brig dates back to the Roman era and we enjoy a three-night stay here.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Zermatt

We board a narrow-gauge train heading south through wintry vineyards and alongside the River Rhône to Visp. From here, we join the mountain track for our steep journey to Zermatt. The spectacular approach takes us through eight tunnels and across dozens of bridges as the magnificent Matterhorn comes into view. On arrival in this delightful car-free resort, you're free to spend your time as you choose. Zermatt has many inviting cafés and restaurants where you can warm up with a hot drink or a hearty lunch. You may wish to visit the Matterhorn Museum, which reflects the history and culture of the area, and tells the story of the first ascent of the famous mountain. Another option is to make the ascent to the summit of the Gornergrat by funicular railway - this route travels to the mountain's peak where you can enjoy stunning views across to the Matterhorn.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Brig

Today is free in Brig and you could make the most of your Swiss Travel Card by taking the train along the Rhône Valley to Montreux, on the shores of Lake Geneva. Here, you can join either the GoldenPass Line panoramic train to Gstaad or the Centovalli Railway for a journey across '100 valleys'.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - The Glacier Express

We leave Brig, travelling on the iconic Glacier Express to Chur, Switzerland's oldest town and our base for four nights. Switzerland's striking natural beauty is revealed on our journey which, at this time of year, is transformed into a picture-postcard landscape of snowy meadows, frozen streams and white mountaintops. The Glacier Express passes icy forests and frozen rivers, all playing their part to create a jaw-dropping winter wonderland setting, as we marvel at the Alpine scenery from our panoramic windows. Unmissable views come as we travel over the Oberalp Pass, the highest point on the route, and make our way through the Rhine Gorge to Disentis.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 6 - Christmas Eve in Lucerne

We make our way by rail to Lucerne, situated on the shores of Lake Lucerne at the foot of the Swiss Alps and known for its cobbled streets and ornate churches. The festive atmosphere here adds an almost magical touch, as we take in the illuminated streets and decorated plazas. Your time is free to explore, so why not enjoy a stroll through the town to see the famous Kapellbrücke, a 14th-century wooden bridge that separates Lucerne's Old and New Town? The Old Town is situated north of the River Reuss and has a rich history. Houses decorated with frescoes line the picturesque squares, with several half-timber structures and the remnants of the old town walls a reminder of just how old Lucerne is. The Jesuit church, dating from the 17th century, is regarded as Switzerland's first baroque building and the twin towers of the Hofkirche form an integral part of the townscape. Alternatively, travel on the Pilatus or Rigi mountain railways or enjoy a paddle steamer cruise across Lake Lucerne using your Swiss Travel card for 50% fare reductions. Back in Chur this evening, the celebrations begin with a special five-course dinner, accompanied by wine and followed by carols around the Christmas tree.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Christmas Day in Chur

Christmas Day is free for you to look around Chur, a destination with a history dating back over 5,000 years. Its quaint Old Town boasts some fantastically-preserved medieval buildings and is entirely traffic-free, making it the ideal place to explore on foot. It's here you'll find the city's 800-year-old Cathedral of Assumption, as well as the terracotta-fronted Bishop's Palace. And once you've marvelled at the historical landmarks and wintry mountain setting, back at the hotel we sit down to a traditional festive dinner with all the trimmings.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - The Bernina Express

We take the Bernina Express to Poschiavo on Boxing Day, enjoying a festive journey over the Alps, admiring views of ancient castles and the magnificent, mountain-ringed Lake Bianco as we wind above deep ravines and past idyllic waterfalls, emerging from the Albula Tunnel and crossing the mighty Bernina Pass.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Chur and London

Departing Chur by train, we travel to Paris via Basel for the Eurostar back to London St Pancras.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel Ambassador, Brig

Hotel Ambassador, Brig

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Hotel Stern, Chur

Hotel Stern, Chur

View hotel

Trains

Bernina Express
Eurostar
The Glacier Express

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

Inclusive Luggage Upgrade
Extending your European holiday in Cologne
London Hotels
UK rail connections

Reviews

4.8 stars4.8 / 5 · 8 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (6)
  2. 4 stars
    (2)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

David Rose

5 stars

Submitted 16/Jan

As ever with Great Rail, this was a super trip with a very good tour manager - Linda. The hotels were very nice with some excellent meals. Glacier Express and Bernina Express were wonderful ways to see Switzerland. We really enjoyed the experience but a note to anyone going on a rail trip across Europe - you will have to change trains at various cities and be able to manage yourself and your bags across busy stations. We enjoy the excitement of rail travel but some folks seem surprised that a good level of mobility is required.

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Geoff Turner

5 stars

Submitted 5/Jan

What a fabulous way to spend the Christmas holidays, with unforgettable trips on both the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express. All expertly arranged by Great Rail Journeys !! Highly recommended !!

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Brian Gleeson

5 stars

Submitted 4/Jan

This was a wonderful experience in Switzerland over the 8 days. Despite all the industrial unrest, our journeys were completed on time although we had an extra night in Paris to complete our journey. The GRJ organisation was superb with accommodation in superb hotels in Strasbourg, Brig and Chur. We would have liked to stay an extra day in Strasbourg because of the great Christmas Market and the towering Cathedral and the Leonor hotel was great. The hotel rooms in Brig and Chur were small, mainly because they were old buildings and en suite facilities had been installed. However, the food was very good and the management friendly and efficient. There were too many free days. Only one day is enough. I found myself wandering about on the free days, devoid of any company. The guide, Alan Coltman, was wonderful. He possessed a wealth of knowledge about the country, it’s geology, customs and history. He kept control of the group at busy railway stations with good humour and rapport. The Glacier and Bernina Expresses were fantastic and it was great to have your coaches reserved wherever you went on the train, carefully managed by Alan. All in all, a great journey not to be missed.

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Brian Johnson

5 stars

Submitted 3/Jan

Great experience, excellent Tour Manager, great company.

Collected by Trustpilot

tony

4 stars

Submitted 3/Jan

A very pleasant holiday.

Collected by Trustpilot

Ms M Kennedy

4 stars

Submitted 18 Apr 2019

Delightful holiday overall, but there was a surprisingly long trek, dragging luggage to pick up the coach for transfer between stations at Paris, no problem for us but some of the less mobile guests struggled. Very poor meal in Strasbourg on the first night

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

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