Best of Switzerland by Rail
The quintessential Switzerland experience awaits on this 11-day roundtrip tour through Zürich, Lucerne, Lausanne, Zermatt and St. Moritz.
Zürich, Lucerne and Zermatt - oh my! These are just a sampling of some of the great destinations that lie ahead on this 11-day tour through Switzerland. Get your first taste of the country in Switzerland’s largest city, Zürich, before traveling to the country’s renowned destinations by train to gain an unforgettable perspective on this European destination. Soak in the rural splendor of Appenzell; see the stunning contrast of the Swiss Alps against medieval architecture in Lucerne; get a look at the clear waters of Lake Geneva and ride aboard several fantastic rail lines, one of which has UNESCO World Heritage designation. Along the way, we will embark on fantastic excursions to some of Switzerland’s charming villages and most enticing locales and even dip down into Tirano, Italy for a day to remember. There is so much more to Switzerland than just chocolate and some of the world’s most beautiful mountains, and during this escorted tour, you get to experience it first-hand.
Highlights and Inclusions
- Glacier Express
- Bernina Express
- Gornergrat Railway
- Goldenpass Panoramic
- Lucerne-Interlaken Express
- Hotel accommodations for 9 nights
- 14 meals, including a fondue dinner
- Zürich city tour
- Excursion to Appenzell
- Visit to St. Moritz
- Day trip to Tirano, Italy
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
- Baggage handling
Day 1 – Depart USA for Zurich
Make your way to Zürich, Switzerland using your preferred airline for the overnight flight. (Flights not included)
Day 2 - Zürich
Welcome to Switzerland! Arrive at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Transfers will accommodate flights arriving into Zurich before 10:30 am. Once at the hotel, check in, unpack and get settled in. The remainder of the afternoon is yours to relax or to begin your explorations of the city independently. You could check out a museum, marvel at the contrast of modern and centuries-old buildings or simply get a taste of authentic Swiss chocolate. This evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner with your tour manager and fellow travelers. Overnight Zürich. (D)
Day 3 - Appenzell Excursion
This morning we set off on our first excursion, this time to the charming, car-free village of Appenzell. We will pass through the rolling hills of the Alpstein region along the way and enjoy a glimpse at Switzerland’s more rural side. We will tour one of the local dairies and savor their cheeses, as well as lunch, along the way. Upon arrival in Appenzell, you will have free time to explore however you see fit. As the cultural and economic center of Appenzell Innerrhoden, this village offers a little bit of everything. Peruse the numerous storefronts, shop in interesting boutiques or even explore the Appenzell Museum, which is located in City Hall. Overnight Zürich. (B, L)
Day 4 - Lucerne
This morning we make our way to the local train station to board a train bound for Lucerne. The route is short and sweet, at just under an hour in length, yet astounds with its scenery. Take in the mountains, the rolling hills, bodies of water and rural villages as the train moves along to Lucerne. Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most idyllic medieval cities, surrounded by a beautiful lake and nestled amidst snowcapped Alps. You have the option to spend the rest of the day getting acquainted with Lucerne on your own terms, or you can join a group excursion to Mount Rigi. Choosing the latter allows you to ride aboard two cog railways and a panorama cable car from which you can see all the way across the Alps into Germany and France. The views are truly unforgettable. Overnight Lucerne. (B)
Day 5 - Lucerne to Lausanne by train
All aboard for a day filled with rail excursions! To begin, we board the Lucerne-Interlaken Express. The train passes through the Bernese Oberland and crosses the Brünig Pass before arriving in Interlaken. We make a brief stop in this resort town, giving you time to gaze over the emerald waters of Lakes Thun and Brienz and to see the beautiful timber homes before boarding the BLS RegioExpress Train bound for the alpine town of Zweisimmen. In Zweisimmen, we board the Goldenpass Panoramic, which offers large windows from which to see the amazing landscape en route to Montreux. From here, you will be transferred onto Lausanne, where the rest of the evening is at leisure. Overnight Lausanne. (B)
Day 6 – Montreux and Zermatt
We are off to the resort town of Zermatt today. We will depart Lausanne, following the curve of Lake Geneva, before we arrive in the lakeside town of Montreux. This beautiful town, with its mountain and lake views, is renowned as the Swiss Riviera. You can choose to spend your time here taking in the amazing sights or you can embark on an optional excursion to Chillon Castle. Located on an island on Lake Geneva, Chillon Castle offers hundreds of years’ worth of history. Moving on, we will head to the rail station to board our train to Zermatt. Upon arrival, we will be transferred to our hotel for the next two evenings. Overnight Zermatt. (B)
Day 7 - Gornergrat Railway
Our day begins with adventure, as we are off to Gornergrat for the first part of our day. From the hotel, we will travel to Zermatt city center to board the Gornergrat Train. This fully electric cog railway has been taking passengers up Gornergrat Mountain since 1898, and we will be the lucky riders today. As you make your way up to the summit over the course of 33 minutes, you will be treated to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, including a look at the Matterhorn. At the top in Gornergrat, there is a restaurant, as well as a variety of shops in the highest shopping mall in all of Europe. Upon descending the mountain, we return to Zermatt for a day of leisure. Enjoy a walk through the ancient village, where some structures date back 500-plus years; check out some of the local shops or sample the local fare at one of the restaurants. Tonight, you will enjoy conversation and wonderful food at the group’s fondue dinner. Overnight Zermatt. (B, D)
Day 8 - Glacier Express to St. Moritz
Yet another spectacular railway lies ahead today, with our ride aboard the famed lines of the Glacier Express. As you board the train in Zermatt, get settled into your seat to take in some of the world’s best views. The ride takes approximately 8 hours and includes some 291 bridges, 91 tunnels and tight curves through the Swiss Alps. There is something new to see at every turn. At lunchtime, we will savor a three-course meal that is served by the train’s staff. The ride continues with even more twists and turns, inclines and declines before the train pulls into the station at St. Moritz. Overnight St. Moritz. (B, L)
Day 9 - Bernina Express to Tirano, Italy
Your views will alternate between snow-capped mountains and Mediterranean vistas today, as we take a trip aboard the Bernina Express. The train leaves the St. Moritz station for the 2-hour trip through the Swiss landscape and down into Italy. Along the way you will marvel at the scenic views as you ascend through the mountains. You will cross the border into Italy, where ancient buildings and beautiful Mediterranean plants contrast the lush mountain scenery. Once in Tirano, the day is yours to sightsee amongst the various churches, the town’s palace and through the narrow streets. The train will return us to St. Moritz, where the remainder of the day will be yours to explore independently. Overnight St. Moritz. (B)
Day 10 - St. Moritz / Zürich
Today, we set off on our last rail adventure of the tour, this time returning back to Zürich. Along the way, you get to see the postcard views of Switzerland come to life one last time. Upon arrival in Zürich, we will truly have a chance to get acquainted with the city during a guided tour. Some of the sites you might see along the way include the National Museum, which looks much like a castle; the Opera House; Lake Zürich and Fraumünster Church, where Marc Chagall’s 5-piece stained glass windows flood the chapel with light and color. We will see the famed banking district, as well as the vast array of shops and boutiques the city has to offer. Following the tour, you will have some time to revisit your favorite sites or explore the city further on your own. Tonight, you will celebrate your new experiences and new friendships with a group Farewell Dinner. Overnight Zürich. (B, D)
Day 11 - Tour Conclusion
Indulge in one last Swiss meal before the group is transferred to Zürich’s international airport for return flights home. Your Swiss expedition may be coming to a close, but your memories will last a lifetime. Transfer will accommodate flights that depart Zürich after 10:00 am. (B)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Hotels include Crown Plaza (Zurich), Hotel Luzernerhof (Lucerne), Hotel Continental (Lausanne), Hotel Derby (Zermatt)*, and Hotel Baren (St. Mortiz).
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.
Depart St. Moritz and cross the border into northern Italy on this two and half hour journey. The route passes through a variety of terrain including orchards, chestnut trees and vineyards on its way to Tirano. Cross the famous Brusio Circular Viaduct on this narrow-gauge train that begins in the mountains and winds down to street level. Pass through the town of Tirano as you reach the city's station. The train includes refreshments and the commentary of a tour guide.
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.
Ride in modern train cars on the Goldenpass line that provides panoramic views of cities and scenery. You might want to visit one of its wine cellar coaches to enjoy a drink or snack as you relax. The Goldenpass is all about ease of comfort and blending into the surrounding landscape. This smooth ride will make you feel like you are a part of nature.
Board another new addition to the European train lines and ride the sleek Lucerne-Interlaken Express to Interlaken, situated between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. The highlight of this route is crossing the Brünig mountain pass at an altitude of 1,000m. Enjoy the panoramic views on this two-hour trek that passes by glistening lakes and crashing waterfalls. The air-conditioned cars are designed with the highest level of comfort in mind.
Depart Interlaken and travel along the shores of Lake Thun before you head west to Zweisimmen. You'll spot a mixture of chalets and castles that dot these small villages of the Bernese Oberland before you cross through Simmental. Comfort is a top-notch priority on this train filled with panoramic windows for the best views of the scenery.
* The August 15 departure will stay at the Ambassador in Zermatt
Click here to view testimonials for Best of Switzerland by Rail.
Whole trip was wonderful. One of the best!
It has been an excellent tour based on the 'Natural Wonders' of Switzerland. The highlights selected for the tour, the scope of interesting places, transportation modes and mostly because of the tour manager's skill in so very successfully directing the entire tour!
Dates & Prices
Select from the packages below to view prices for this tour.
: Departs 8th August 2019 ($3,290), 15th August 2019 ($3,390), 8th September 2019 (Sold Out)
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Should your flight times not be eligible for group arrival or departure transfers, individual transfers can be purchased at an additional cost. Tour members must be able to walk reasonable distances and use stairs to access trains.