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Mountaintops of Switzerland

Spend nine days with your head in the clouds

From $4,115 per person


Three of Switzerland's most unique hotels all contribute to this very special small groups tour around Switzerland. Spend nine days with your head in the clouds at these peerless mountaintop properties, and enjoy journeys aboard impressive mountain railways, with dinner served aboard the Glacier Express as you journey through the ever-changing vistas.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights

What’s included

Days 1-2 - Giessbach
Lake Brienz

Meet you group and Tour Manager at St Pancras International where we travel to Paris aboard the Eurostar, enjoying the journey in Standard Premier Class. On arrival we take the train from Paris' Gare du Lyon to Basel where we spend the night.

After breakfast on Day 2, we make the short walk to the railway station, with our bags being separately transported so all we have to worry about is enjoying the journey. Our train takes us directly to Interlaken where we board a boat, sailing across Lake Brienz which delivers us into the heart of scenic Switzerland as we admire the remarkable colour of the pure Alpine waters contrasting with the green slopes of the mountains. From the boat, we can enjoy watching the towns and villages which dot the shores of the lake, many of which reside under the shadow of a church steeple. Waiting for us as we disembark is the Giessbach funicular railway which transports us in style to our mountaintop hotel, the Grandhotel Giessbach.

Please Note: For Departure MTS2001 you will overnight at the Mercure Mulhouse Centre Hotel in Mulhouse.

Please Note: For departure MTS2003   you will overnight in Colmar

Day 3 - Brienz-Rothorn Mountain Railway
Brienz-Rothorn Mountain Railway

Travelling back down the mountain and across the lake to Brienz, we make our way to the town's station where we board the steam-hauled, narrow-gauge Brienz-Rothorn Mountain Railway as it begins its steep ascent up the mountain. The rack-and-pinion line traverses a number of bridges, crossing the steep, stony mountain trails as it continues to climb. For much of the route the glittering waters of Lake Brienz can be seen, and as we climb further, the view becomes yet more dramatic. We continue through the undulating greenery, with views out to the surrounding jagged peaks. Before long, we reach the first of three passing loops for oncoming locomotives, before travelling through woodland and a series of tunnels hewn from the rock. We then arrive at the second passing loop where some of the older steam engines pause to take on water. Finally we reach the line's terminus at the summit of Rothorn, 7,362 feet above sea level, and four-and-a-half miles away from our starting point in Brienz. There's free time at both the summit of Brienzer Rothorn and back in the town of Brienz.

Day 4 - The Glacier Express to St Moritz
The Glacier Express

Checking out of the Grandhotel Giessbach today, we travel by rail to Brig for one of the world's most unique rail experiences, a journey aboard the one and only Glacier Express. Famed for being the slowest 'express' train in the world, the distinctive red and white carriages - painted to match the colours of the Swiss flag - link Brig with St Moritz. Along the route the train makes its way across hundreds of bridges and viaducts, as well as through 90 tunnels, and one of the highlights comes as we climb the 6,669 foot Oberalp Pass. Using cogwheels in the steepest places, the train allows us unimpeded views across green valleys, picturesque villages and the high Alpine lake on the Oberalp Pass. We enjoy dinner on board before reaching our final destination and transferring to the Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl, accessible only by its own funicular railway.

Days 5-6 - The Bernina Express and the Hotel Pilatus Kulm
Bernina Express

Connecting Switzerland and Italy via one of the highest mountain railways in the Alps, the Bernina Express train rises to the challenges presented such steep gradients to delight passengers with a journey of breathtaking beauty through this iconic mountain range. Joining the train in St Moritz, we travel to an altitude of more than 7,000 feet enjoying views of the snowcapped peaks and turquoise glacial lakes as we make our way to Tirano in Italy, traversing the spiralling Brusio Viaduct en route. In Tirano you are at leisure to explore before we make the return trip.

On Day 6 we utilise the efficient Swiss rail network once again, travelling to Lucerne where we board the Mount Pilatus Railway, the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. We spend a delightful half hour ascending almost two kilometres from lakeside Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm, where our unique hotel, the Hotel Pilatus Kulm, awaits.

Day 7 - Lucerne
Lucerne

We return to Lucerne by rail today, this time for some independent sightseeing. Set in an impressive location, overlooking the surrounding landscape with Mounts Pilatus and Rigi visible on the horizon. Lucerne's famous landmark is the Kapellbrücke (Chapel) Bridge, separating Lucerne's Old and New Town. The oldest wooden bridge in Europe, built in the 14th century, it was constructed to help protect the city of Lucerne against attacks. Inside, a series of paintings from the 17th century display the city's history. With its ornate churches, cobbled streets, chapel bridge and charming old town, Lucerne offers traditional culture as well as a plethora of cosy cafés. Back at our hotel this evening we enjoy a farewell meal together.

Days 8-9 - To Strasbourg and home
Strasbourg

We begin the journey back to London today, with the first leg of our travels delivering us to Strasbourg for the night. Here you have some free time. We sit down to dinner at a local restaurant before catching the train to Paris on Day 9. From here we join the Eurostar returning to London St Pancras, where our Swiss adventure comes to an end and you are free to make your way to the airport for your flight back home.

Recommended airports
Airport waiting room

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.

Visa Requirements

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.

Departure Dates
20 June 2020Please call
11 July 2020Please call
15 August 2020Please call
5 September 2020Please call
19 September 2020From $4,525
3 October 2020From $4,115

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.

Trains
Bernina Express
Bernina Express arriving in Tirano

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.

Brienz-Rothorn Mountain Railway
Brienz-Rothorn Mountain Railway

The Brienz-Rothorn Mountain Railway is notable for a number of reasons. To name a few, it is powered almost entirely by steam engines, it is one of the steepest railways in Switzerland - and of course it passes some truly wonderful scenery on its route from Brienz to the peak of Rothorn Mountain.

Eurostar
Eurostar

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
Glacier Express

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.

Mount Pilatus Railway
Mount Pilatus Railway

Opened in 1889, Lucerne's Mount Pilatus Railway is the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. Spend a delightful half hour ascending almost two kilometres from lakeside Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm. Mount Pilatus affords beautiful views of the Alps and Lake Lucerne, and is home to astonishingly diverse flora.

TGV
TGV

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.

Hotels
Grand Hotel Giessbach, Giessbach
Grand Hotel Giessbach

It's not many hotels that boast their own funicular railway allowing you to make a grand entrance into an equally grand building. Perched at the top of a mountain above the glacier-like waters of Lake Birenz, the 4-Star Grandhotel Giessbach features outstanding views of the surrounding forests, Alpine meadows and the Giessbach waterfall. Inside, the Belle Époque decor adds an extra touch of grandeur.

Hotel Pilatus Kulm, Kriens
Hotel Pilatus Kulm

Gondola lift and cogwheel railway are the only way to reach the 4-Star Hotel Pilatus Kulm, which sits at the top of Mount Pilatus. This historic mountain lodge dates back to the 19th century and as well as its elegant and refined ambience, one of its most impressive features has to be the views; you'll be hard-pressed to find better sunsets and sunrises, and on a clear evening it can seem like you're at one with the stars themselves.

Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl, Samedan
Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl

Nestled in the heart of the Alps at over 8,000 feet above sea level with panoramic views stretching out over the Engadine Valley, the unique Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl can only be accessed by private funicular railway The minimalistic rooms feature warm pine furnishings, something that has helped the hotel win a number of awards for being environmentally-friendly.

Upgrades

We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!

This page was printed from www.greatrail.com/us/tours/mountain-tops-of-switzerland/#MTS20 on 19 January 2020.
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