Flavors of Switzerland
Get in touch with the true culture of Switzerland alongside an intimate group of travelers on this exciting journey, which includes an in-depth look at the lesser-seen sites, the travel systems and the cuisine that make Swiss life so special.
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Switzerland may be known for its Alps and chocolate, but there is so much more to be uncovered on this 11-day tour through the country. Alongside a group of no more than 30 guests, discover the country by train, boat and foot. Each guest is offered an 8-day Swiss travel pass to explore the museums and public transportation systems independently, as well as the opportunity to immerse himself in Swiss culture with planned excursions, cooking lessons, wonderful local meals and trips to sites that both attract tourists and are off the beaten path. Moving through the country from Zürich to the final destination of Lausanne, all travel between major destinations in done by train, so all you have to do is sit back, relax and take in the ethereal panoramas.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Glacier Express
- Gornergrat Railway
- Gotthard Panorama Express
- Hotel accommodations for 10 nights
- 16 meals including welcome & farewell dinners
- 8-day Swiss Travel Pass
- Mount Stanserhorn excursion
- Lake Lugano Cruise with cooking demonstration
- Emmental Dairy and Kambly Biscuit tours and tastings
- Private tour of Chateau Chillon
- Zurich, Lugano and Lausanne sightseeing
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Baggage Handling
Day 1 - Depart USA for Zurich
Make your way to Zurich, Switzerland using your preferred airline for the overnight flight. (Flights no included)
Day 2 – Zürich
Meet your guide at the airport, and transfer by coach to your hotel in Zürich. Included transfers will accommodate flights arriving into Zurich before 10:30 am. After checking into the hotel, enjoy a short orientation walk through Zürich - a city that may be known for modern banking businesses but is equally renowned for its stunning architecture and river-side charm. Take some leisure time to get settled in or to explore the cobblestone streets of Altstadt (Old Town) before meeting up with the group for your Welcome Dinner. Overnight Zürich. (D)
Day 3 – Lucerne
After breakfast, join the group for a short walk to Switzerland’s largest train station, Zürich Hauptbahnhof, where you will board the train to the scenic lakeside destination of Lucerne. Upon arrival, the day is yours to explore the sites, such as Chapel Bridge, the Water Tower and the Franciscan Church, which date back to the 13th and 14th centuries, amongst other modern and medieval locales. Alternatively, use your Swiss Travel Pass to get out and discover the region; go up to Mount Rigi, or take a boat ride on Lake Lucerne - the options are endless. Should you need suggestions or help with your travel plans for the day, your tour manager will be happy to assist. Overnight Lucerne. (B)
Day 4 – Mount Stanserhorn
Today we will have a full-day excursion to Mount Stanserhorn. We will arrive in Stans, where we board a vintage funicular train and travel up to the valley station where we board the world’s first cabriolet cable car. The CabriO is a Swiss engineering masterpiece- a cable car with an open roof upper deck- allowing for unobstructed views as we travel up to Mt. Stanserhorn. At the top the views are magnificent, spanning ten lakes and three countries. There will be time to take explore the walking paths and the rotating restaurant. Overnight Lucerne. (B)
Day 5 – Emmental Dairy
Enjoy a scenic ride through the rolling farmlands of the valley in Emmental today. Traditional Swiss farmhouses dot the landscape as we make our way through the lush, green hills, and the stunning views of the Bernese Oberland are sure to delight. The Emmental region is known for its cheese dairies and its traditional Emmental cheese, and we have the opportunity to get a lesson in, and a taste of, the cheese-making process. After the tour, we head back to Lucerne, with one last stop along the way - the small town of Trubschachen. In this small agricultural town, discover the origins of Switzerland’s best-known premium biscuit brand at the Kambly factory. Learn about the production of more than 100 varieties of biscuits, and sample some along the way, on the insightful tour, which is known as the “Kambly Experience.” Overnight Lucerne. (B, L)
Day 6 – Gotthard Panorama Express
This morning, we check out of the hotel in Lucerne and make our way to the pier, where we board a historic paddle steamer for a cruise across Lake Lucerne to Flüelen. Along the way, enjoy your lunch as you soak in the contrast of the rugged mountains and the beautiful architecture. Upon arrival in Flüelen, board the famed Gotthard Panorama Express for our journey to Lugano via Bellinzona. Thoughtful commentary regarding the history and attractions of the region provide deeper insight as we move along the tracks. The group arrives in Lugano with enough time for an orientation tour of the ever-impressive Swiss-Mediterranean city before turning in for the night. Overnight Lugano. (B, L)
Day 7 – Lugano Lake Cruise & Cooking Demonstration
Enjoy an enchanting cruise on Lake Lugano today. This stunning lake is shared by both Switzerland and Italy, and locals pride themselves on the untamed look of the shoreline, where mountains and forests seem to meet right up with the water. The tour takes us from our home base of Lugano to a site on the opposite shore, which provides an unbelievable view of the city. Take in the sights as you prepare for a lunchtime cooking demonstration with a trained chef. As a group, we learn how to prepare traditional Ticinese risotto and enjoy it for our meal. We make our way back to Lugano following the tour, and the remainder of the day is yours to explore the city’s parks, historic town square or myriad of local businesses. Overnight Lugano. (B, L)
Day 8 – Glacier Express
We depart Lugano this morning and head to the village of Andermatt via train. The journey lasts approximately 2 hours and takes us right into the heart of the Swiss Alps and to the place where the Oberalp Pass begins. It is here that the group boards the world-famous Glacier Express for an unforgettable ride through the Swiss Alps, along the river Rhine, deep into valleys, into the “Swiss Grand Canyon” and past some of the most idyllic scenery Switzerland has to offer. Enjoy the views from the panoramic windows of the train as you enjoy a lunch of local Swiss cuisine and drink thoughtfully paired wines. Tonight, we arrive in Zermatt, a car-free vacation destination that has preserved its original charm. Overnight Zermatt. (B, L)
Day 9 – Gornergrat Railway
This morning, we board Europe’s second highest rack railway for a trip from Zermatt to Gornergrat, the Gornergrat Railway. This journey, while brief in length at just 33 minutes, is rich with sights to behold. Take in the snow-capped peaks and the wildlife as we make our way up to the summit and marvel at piece de resistance of the tour, the magnificent Matterhorn. You have time to take in the views from the top before we head back to Zermatt for a day at leisure. During your free time, stroll through the resort town without the worry of traffic, and enjoy the shops and restaurants. Alternatively, check out one of the many outdoor excursions Zermatt is known for. Overnight Zermatt. (B)
Day 10 – Chateau Chillon
In the morning, we depart Zermatt to Montreux for a private tour of Chateau Chillon, an island castle that dates back to the 12th century. The castle sits on the shore of Lake Geneva and includes an array of rooms to explore, including a chapel, great halls, preserved bedrooms, a weapons room and even some spectacular underground rooms. As the most visited historic building in Switzerland, this site impresses on every level. After the in-depth tour, we continue on to Lausanne for an orientation tour. Overnight Lausanne. (B)
Day 11 – Lausanne at leisure
The day is yours to take on the Lausanne area however you please. Your Tour Manager will be available to assist and give suggestions. This evening, the group reconvenes at the hotel and moves to a local restaurant for a Farewell Dinner and a tasting of locally produced wine, of which less than 2 percent is exported. Overnight Lausanne. (B, D)
Day 12 – Tour Conclusion
Enjoy one final breakfast in Lausanne this morning, then we transfer to the airport in Zürich for our return flights home. Included transfers will accommodate flights departing Zurich after 1:00 pm. Vacations By Rail can arrange for a post-tour hotel stay in Zurich upon request. (B)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Hotels include Hotel Glockenhof (Zurich), Hotel De La Paix (Lucerne), Continental-Parkhouse (Lugano), Jagerhof (Zermatt), and Hotel Continental (Lausanne)
This train winds its way through the Swiss Alps, travelling through 91 tunnels, and crossing 291 bridges. Relax and enjoy the view through the panoramic windows at your seat or take in a drink at the bar. This express route takes you on the journey from Zermatt to St. Moritz in eight hours but explores distinct types of scenery. You'll have views of snow-capped mountains, canyons, narrow valleys, and rushing waters.
Board the world’s first fully electrified cog railway, which has been upgraded to an energy-efficient train with a regenerative braking system. Take the 33-minute journey from Zermatt on the highest open-air railway in Europe to score the best panoramic views of the Swiss Alps. At 3,089m, you have a stunning view of 29 mountains, including the Matterhorn.
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
: Departs 20th June 2019 (Sold Out) 30th August 2019 ($3,985), 19th September 2019 ($3,985)
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Tour members must be able to walk reasonable distances and use stairs to access trains.