Journey through the heart of the Alps on this grand tour of majestic Switzerland
Journey through the heart of the Alps on this grand tour of majestic Switzerland. Visit the picturesque cities of St Gallen and Lucerne, explore delightful Lugano and Bern and experience wonderful Swiss rail over and around the spectacular Swiss peaks.
After meeting at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras International, we board the Eurostar to Paris. After arrival in the French capital, we continue by TGV into Switzerland, bound for the city of Zurich. Here, we check into our overnight hotel.
This morning we travel to the town of St Gallen. We enjoy a guided tour of charming St Gallen, taking us through the pretty Old Town quarter, lined with brightly painted windows. The Old Town, which is entirely traffic-free, is full of fashionable boutiques and cosy cafés. We pay a visit to the Abbey of Saint Gall, with its world-famous library. This fascinating landmark has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
Later, we board the Pre-Alpine Express for a scenic ride through the verdant Swiss countryside to Lucerne. Starting in St Gallen, we cross into the rolling hills of Canton Appenzell, via the Sitter Viaduct, the highest railroad bridge in Switzerland. The train slowly makes its way through the rolling hills and picturesque towns and the panoramic windows give you wonderful views of the scenery en-route. In Lucerne, we stay at the Hotel Seeburg.
Today we enjoy a guided tour of the captivating Swiss Museum of Transport with a specialist guide. Opened in 1959, the museum contains a wide variety of exhibits on all forms of transport, from ships to aircraft. The museum is also, famously, home to EURECA, the 4.5 tonne satellite, one of the few objects to return to Earth from space relatively intact.
The Swiss Transport Museum has many exceptional rail exhibits with many famous engines housed in its halls. Notable examples include what was once the most powerful locomotive in the world - the Landi Locomotive along with one of the first trains to use the Jungfrau Railroad. Also found here is an impressive railroad model of the Gotthard rail route with around 1,148 feet of track
You are free to explore Lucerne at your leisure today. Lucerne is one of Europe's prettiest cities; perhaps you could take a stroll through the cobbled streets and squares of the city, past ornate churches and medieval buildings with painted façades and the famous Kapellbrücke, a 14th century covered bridge. Lucerne is also surrounded by wonderful scenery, the shimmering waters of Lake Lucerne ever present - you could consider exploring further afield by rail.
This morning we journey to Lugano by regional rail along the route of the Gotthard Panorama Express, through wonderful Swiss valleys and into the region of Canton Ticino, the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. This excellent stretch of railroad takes in the best of this verdant region, offering views of white-capped peaks and mossy pine forests.
The train climbs up to a height of 3,608 feet, passing through the 19th century Gotthard Tunnel, a 9 mile tunnel hewn through the looming Alps mountain range. We emerge from the darkness on the southern side of the Alps, in southern Switzerland, and continue down to Lugano, where we check into the De La Paix.
Today is free to explore the picturesque city of Lugano, which sits on the Swiss- Italian border. Known as the 'Monte-Carlo of Switzerland', the city has a wealth of historic buildings and museums to explore.
Lugano's scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Its namesake, the Lake Lugano is a glorious stretch of water in a glacial lake, populated by white sailing boats which navigate the impressive hills and lakeside towns. The town itself is an elegant and prosperous offering, with a charming promenade stretching along the lake, populated by restaurants providing both Swiss and Italian food.
We travel by postbus to Tirano, where we join the Bernina Express for our journey northwards to St Moritz, passing mighty glaciers, rushing mountain streams and flower-filled Alpine meadows. The line is over 100 years old, and has been rewarded with UNESCO World Heritage status due to its incredible feats of engineering, and to acknowledge the stunning scenery it passes through. The crisp beauty of the Swiss Alps is made all the more special by the panoramic windows of our carriages, allowing us near-perfect views of the spiky trees and towering mountains. The Bernina pass is a highlight of this route. With three lakes at its heart, and bordered by various ancient peaks, this is an excellent example of Alpine majesty. The group stay in Celerina.
Today you are free - perhaps make use of your included St Moritz Travel Card, and make the journey by rail to scenic St Moritz. You may wish to ascend the Diavolezza at 3,039 metres by cable car, which boasts stunning views over the surrounding peaks, before making your way round to the Morteratsch Glacier.
This morning we board the world famous Glacier Express at St Moritz, bound for Zermatt. The train passes through stunning mountain scenery as we make our way along the Rhine Valley on the slowest express train in the world. Enjoy lunch on board as we wind left and right, ascending the Oberalp Pass before we make our final ascent into Zermatt, looping and spiralling past small village communities, to reach the spectacular sight of the titled Matterhorn. This is one of the most recognisable mountains in Switzerland, mostly thanks to its instantly identifiable pyramidal shape as it rises above the town below.
You can explore the pretty village of Zermatt today. You may like to board the Gornergrat railroad, which travels from the resort of Zermatt up to the summit of the Gornergrat, which, at 3,089 metres, is Europe's highest open-air cogwheel railroad. The line opened in 1898 and was the first of its kind in the country. The final destination and summit offering sumptuous views across the magnificent Alpine range.
This morning we walk to the station for our onward journey to Bern. Upon arrival, we enjoy a guided tour of Switzerland's capital. Our tour explores the main sights in this historic city, including the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town and the elaborate Zytglogge, or Time Bell, a Gothic clock tower complete with moving puppets. The city also contains a wealth of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, including the famous 'Ogre Fountain' found in the Old Town. We then return to the station and continue on to Basel. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner here for our final night in Switzerland.
From Basel, we travel by high-speed TGV to the French capital, where we join the Eurostar for the journey back to London St Pancras International, where your tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.
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
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Journey through the heart of the Alps on this grand tour of majestic Switzerland