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Leisurely Lake Lucerne

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Breathtaking Alpine scenery, enchanting Swiss towns and extraordinary mountain railways

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2019 Tour code: LCL19

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Day 1 - London to Colmar

Our adventure begins today at London St Pancras International, where you meet your Tour Manager and the rest of your group at Great Rail Journeys' dedicated Departure Office. We board the Eurostar service to Paris to connect with our onward rail journey to Colmar, where we overnight.

  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Day 2 - To Lake Lucerne

You are at leisure this morning in Colmar, a pretty town in France, close to the German border. With its enchanting Old Town, cobblestone streets and colourful, half-timbered buildings, Colmar is a picture-postcard example of an Alsacian town. After some free time, we make the journey into Switzerland, travelling by rail to Basel and continuing to the historic, lakeside city of Lucerne.

Nestled in the foot of the Swiss Alps on the shores of the eponymous Lake Lucerne, the German-speaking city of Lucerne offers stunning mountainous panoramas, with views of Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi and the towering peaks of the Alps. On arrival, we make the short coach transfer to our base for the next seven nights, the 3-Star Hotel Seeburg Lucerne, which enjoys a tranquil lakeside location just outside of the city centre. A Lucerne Travel Card providing free bus travel between the centre of Lucerne and the hotel is included in your tour, giving you the opportunity to enjoy both the atmospheric city centre and the serene surroundings of the hotel in equal measure.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Lake Lucerne
Day 3 - Discovering Lucerne

Our introduction to Lucerne begins after breakfast this morning, as we embark on a guided walking tour of the city. We step back in time with a visit to Lucerne's charming and car-free Old Town, which is found just north of the River Reuss. Here, we discover picturesque town squares, ornate churches and traditional cobbled streets lined with beautifully frescoed, half-timbered houses, as well as the remnants of the old town walls.

We continue to Lucerne's most celebrated landmark, the Kapellbrücke, or Chapel Bridge, a covered wooden footbridge which rises up from the waters of the River Reuss and separates Lucerne's Old and New Town. Built in the 14th century as a fortification measure, the Kapellbrücke is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe and is now a popular tourist attraction. Enjoy a stroll across the beautiful bridge, taking in the unique series of triangular paintings that can be seen in the wooden roof panels.

Created by a local Catholic painter, Hans Heinrich Wägmann, the paintings date back to the 17th century and illustrate meaningful events from Swiss history. Unfortunately, many of the original paintings were destroyed in a catastrophic fire in 1993; from the 147 that remained, 47 were recovered and 30 were restored. After our tour, you have time at leisure to further explore the city. With humble beginnings as a fishing village in the Middle Ages, Lucerne flourished due to international cultural trade.

It remained a small medieval town until the end of the 18th century when Switzerland began to attract tourists, and it is now a popular tourist destination. Often referred to as the gateway to central Switzerland, the city has retained its relaxed, small-town atmosphere, and its compact centre is a delight to explore. Perhaps enjoy a lunch of local specialities in a traditional Swiss tavern, before returning to the hotel at leisure with your included Lucerne Travel Card.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Mount Pilatus

Today's excursion takes us to Lucerne's iconic mountain, Mount Pilatus, for a spectacular journey on the steepest cogwheel railway in the world, starting with a journey to Alpnachstad, where we board the cogwheel train that will take us up the mountain. Dating back to 1889 and travelling on a gradient of up to 48 percent, the railway grants beautiful views across the Alps and Lake Lucerne and is home to some astonishingly diverse flora.

Spend a delightful half hour ascending over a mile from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm, where we are greeted with breathtaking, uninterrupted panoramas across Lake Lucerne and the surrounding vertiginous mountain peaks. After time to soak up the sweeping Alpine views, we make our descent by cable car, after which you are free to return to the hotel at leisure.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Mount Pilatus
Day 5 - At leisure in Lucerne

Your day is free today to explore the beautiful landscapes that surround Lucerne, using your included Swiss Travel Card for 50% fares on train, bus and boat journeys. Alternatively, why not visit the Swiss Museum of Transport? This fascinating museum houses a variety of exhibits on all forms of transport, including what was once the most powerful locomotive in the world, the Landi Locomotive, and an impressive model of the Gotthard railway.

  • Breakfast
Swiss Transport Museum
Day 6 - Gotthard Pass Route to Lugano

We enjoy an unforgettable trip on the Gotthard Pass Route today, a scenic journey which takes us by boat and train to Lugano, in Switzerland's Italianspeaking Ticino region.

Our day begins with a captivating cruise across the waters of Lake Lucerne to Flüelen, where we board the train for our journey through the heart of Switzerland. The line is a magnificent example of railway engineering, and we travel southwards along a scenic route filled with many bridges, tunnels, and spiral loops. So serpentine is the line, that we pass the church of Wassen no fewer than three times, granting us the opportunity to see the pretty Baroque building from multiple angles. On arrival in the Italian-speaking city of Lugano, we are free to discover its enchanting blend of Swiss and Mediterranean cultures, before returning to Lucerne by rail in the late afternoon.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - At leisure in Lucerne

Today is at leisure to further explore Lucerne, or travel further afield with your included Swiss Travel Card for 50% off fares.

  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Mount Rigi

We enjoy a short stroll to a local boat stop this morning, where we catch a boat for a scenic journey along the lake to Vitznau. From here, we are treated to a journey on the Mount Rigi Mountain Railway, the first mountain railway in Europe, which dates back to1871. We travel to Rigi Kulm, the highest peak of Mount Rigi, where we are rewarded with a view consisting of an astonishing 13 lakes and a plethora of stunning, soaring mountain peaks. We descend via Arth Goldau, where we transfer to the rail service back to Lucerne.

We enjoy a farewell dinner together in our hotel this evening; a wonderful opportunity to share our favourite memories of an unforgettable trip.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Mount Rigi Mountain Railway
Day 9 - Homeward bound

After breakfast this morning, we travel by rail to Paris, via Basel. In Paris, we board the Eurostar service to London, where our tour concludes upon arrival.