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 railway 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 Railway. Also found here is an impressive railway 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 railway 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 railway, 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 railway. 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.
All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.
The narrow-gauge Bernina Express connects northern and southern Europe and offers a spectacular means of crossing the Alps. The route runs through the ancient landscape of Switzerland's beautiful Grisons/Graubünden region and provides essential links to the Italian-speaking population in the south.
The high speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium.
Eurostar's Standard Class coaches feature two seats on either side of the central aisle, most of which is arranged in an 'airline' seating configuration with drop down tray tables. There are two tables for four per carriage. Passengers travelling in Eurostar Standard Class coaches can take advantage of the Bar-Buffet which sells a range of snacks, meals, hot and cold drinks - including Champagne!
The highest class of Eurostar travel available for leisure customers is Standard Premier Class. In your dedicated Standard Premier carriage you'll find a less dense seat configuration, meaning the seats are larger and you have ample space to relax and stretch out. As part of the service you'll enjoy complimentary drinks and refreshments, served at your seat by friendly, helpful waiting staff.
For the class of travel used on your chosen tour, please refer to the 'What's Included' section of the tour page.
The Glacier Express is undoubtedly Switzerland's best known train. The 181 mile (290km) trip from Zermatt to St Moritz lasts around eight hours winding its way through some of Europe's most dramatic and beautiful scenery.
Beginning in Zermatt, a pretty Alpine resort close to the Matterhorn, the Glacier Express glides northwards from under the shadow of the mighty Matterhorn and follows the Matter Vispa River and the Rhône Valley to Visp. The train then heads east to Brig, before climbing through Betten, Grengiols and Oberwald on its journey to the 9¼ mile (15km) long Furka Base Tunnel.
The train emerges and makes its way to the village of Andermatt, before beginning its ascent towards the Oberalp Pass which at 6,670 feet (2,033m) is the highest point on the line. It then makes the steep descent towards Disentis, where the train is attached to an RHB locomotive. From here we pass the historic town of Ilanz, descending to the stunning Rhine Gorge where we continue on to the attractive cantonal capital of Chur.
Introduced in 1981, France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) was the original European high-speed train. Linking Paris with Lyon, the new service revolutionised train travel and meant that travelling by air over medium and short distances was no longer seen as the best option, even for business travel.
The network has expanded rapidly and today these sleek, stylish trains offer links to over 60 destinations throughout France. Operated by SNCF, the French national rail operator, TGV trains travel over specially-constructed high speed lines. The trains can achieve speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h) on most long distance routes and 200mph (320km/h) on the new TGV Est line, which links Paris with Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Basel. With the exception of shorter journeys, TGVs almost always have an on-board buffet car, serving a selection of drinks and light refreshments.
A family run establishment, in operation since 1929, the 4-Star Hotel Gaia is next door to the railway station in Basel and enjoys resplendent interiors harking back to the early 19th century. The facilities here are truly excellent, with a fine restaurant serving both Swiss cuisine and international dishes, along with a well-stocked bar. Each room has a television, a hairdryer, safe and a minibar.
Located on the banks of the Inn River, this 4-Star hotel is just a short walk from Celerina train station. A traditionally Swiss hotel, rooms are furnished with pine and are a perfect blend of Swiss style and modern amenities, such as a television, a complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel boasts two restaurants, one serving delicious food, that have been grilled traditionally using a lava stone grill, and the other serving traditional local cuisine. There is also a speak-easy style bar, lounge area and a sauna.
In Lucerne we stay at the 3-Star Hotel Seeburg, located on Lucerne's outskirts close to the lake shore. The modern hotel has two restaurants, a lounge and bar as well as a lovely garden on the shore of the lake - the perfect spot to relax by the water. We are accommodated in the hotel's Seeburg 61 rooms, all of which were refurbished in February 2012. Each room also has a television, telephone, radio, minibar, tea and coffee making facilities and a safe.
Typical meal arrangements when dining at the hotel:
Situated just a short walk from the picturesque waterfront the 4-Star Hotel De La Paix is a popular hotel set in a building that charmingly blends Swiss efficiency with Italian style. Close to the cable car and Lugano's Old Town, the De La Paix offers a wonderful bar area, fine dining restaurant with sun terrace and an additional Italian restaurant area. There is also an on site pool and an art gallery, exhibiting local works.
The 4-Star Hotel Sonne boasts a splendid location, watched over by the mighty Matterhorn and close to Zermatt's railway station. The hotel is housed in a classic Zermatt building with wooden finishes and impressive interiors and offers fantastic wellness facilities including an indoor swimming pool and spa. The guest rooms are elegantly furnished, and come complete with a balcony, television, internet access, a comfortable seating area and tea & coffee making facilities.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
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