Discover the stunning scenery and famous mountain railways of the majestic Swiss Alps
About the Tour
Welcome to Switzerland, a country renowned for its breathtaking scenery, thanks to the Swiss Alps. Your 9 days here are split between two major cities, Chur and Brig, with unforgettable excursions to surrounding resort towns and villages, including the car-free resort town of Zermatt. Additionally, enjoy scenic travel through the Alps aboard two of the world’s most beloved scenic railways: the Bernina Express with its 55 tunnels and 196 bridges and the Glacier Express past alpine meadows, the “Swiss Grand Canyon,” beautiful vineyards and, of course, amazing mountain views. Guests of this journey enjoy first-class train travel to and from Switzerland from London, as well as high-end hotel accommodations, including 3 nights in Chur’s 360-year-old Romantik Stern Hotel. This introduction to Switzerland is one to remember.
Your vacation start or end can be tailored to meet your travel needs.
- Rail travel on board the high-speed Eurostar train
- Two scenic rail excursions: Glacier Express and Bernina Express
- Swiss Travel Card permitting 50% discounted fares on free days for rail, boat and most mountain railroad journeys
- Hotel accommodations for 8 nights
- 15 meals, including a farewell dinner in Brig
- Visit to Spiez Castle
- Dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 - To France
Arrive at London St. Pancras, and meet your group and Tour Manager at our designated St. Pancras Departure Office. Together we board a Eurostar train to Paris, and upon arrival, we switch to a high-speed TGV train bound for Strasbourg for an overnight stay. Overnight Strasbourg. (Eurostar Meal, D)
Day 2 - To Chur
Our journey presses onwards by train as we continue into Switzerland. We first arrive in Basel and then move onto Chur. As the oldest town in Switzerland, Chur boasts over 5,000 years of history. After checking into your centrally located hotel, the rest of the afternoon is yours to begin your explorations. Take some time to wander through car-free Old Town or peruse the fine works of art the fill the Bündner Kunstmuseum. Overnight Chur. (B, D)
Day 3 - The Bernina Express
Today's excursion takes us on the historic Bernina Express. This railroad line is over 100 years old and has been rewarded with UNESCO World Heritage status, thanks to the incredible civil engineering that was required to create the line and the breathtaking scenery through which it travels. We board in Chur and begin our southerly journey, traveling through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges and viaducts, including the instantly recognizable Landwasser Viaduct. The train clings to the mountainside as we wind above deep ravines and past idyllic waterfalls. Looping and spiraling through the rugged landscape of the Engadine Valley, our ascent takes us through the Albula Tunnel and over the Bernina Pass to an altitude of more than 7,000 feet. We then begin our descent towards colorful Poschiavo in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. Pastel-colored houses line the streets of picturesque Poschiavo. We disembark here and enjoy time for lunch before our journey continues in the opposite direction, arriving back in Chur in time for dinner. Overnight Chur. (B, D)
Day 4 - At leisure in Chur
Take the day at leisure to explore historic Chur and the surrounding region. Today is the perfect opportunity to discover the area by mountain railroad; use your included Swiss Travel Card for half-off fares. Departing from Chur, there are railroad journeys that travel all throughout the surrounding valleys and rugged mountains. If you prefer to stay in the city, perhaps visit the Chur Cathedral or wander through Arcas square. Overnight Chur. (B)
Day 5 - Aboard the Glacier Express to Brig
We leave Chur aboard the iconic Glacier Express, often referred to as “the slowest express train in the world.” The rocky landscape of the Graubünden canton fades into the distance as we journey towards sunny Valais. During the journey, legendary Swiss landscapes are brought to life as the train traverses meadows, vineyards and dense forests, with snow-capped peaks forming the backdrop of the entire journey. We travel along the beautiful Rhine Valley and cross the Rhine Gorge, also known as the “Swiss Grand Canyon.” The highest point of our journey is Oberalp Pass at 6,670 feet, and from here, we descend past hamlets, cross the Furka Pass via the Furka Base Tunnel and make our way into the Rhône Valley. A 2-course lunch is served onboard during our travels.
The final leg of our Glacier Express journey takes us through vineyard-lined hillsides of Brig and into the heart of the historic town. Check-in at your hotel, and then enjoy some free time to wander along the cobbled streets, explore Stadtplatz or visit the remarkable Stockalper Palace - built in the 17th century by a prosperous silk merchant. Overnight Brig. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - To Zermatt
The car-free resort town of Zermatt is our destination today. From Brig, a narrow-gauge train takes us south through picturesque vineyards and alongside the River Rhône to Visp. From here, we join the mountain track for the steep ascent to Zermatt. The approach to Zermatt takes us through eight tunnels and across 42 bridges. The first hint of the grandiose scenery of Zermatt that comes into view is the instantly recognizable Matterhorn.
In Zermatt, you are free to sightsee at leisure. You may wish to climb to the summit of the Gornergrat by funicular railroad (payable locally). The railway climbs to a peak of 10,135 feet above sea level during its 6-mile course. In Zermatt village, Old Village has the essence of a living museum, with its 30 “Walser” houses. We return to Brig this evening for dinner. Overnight Brig. (B, D)
Day 7 - At leisure in Brig
The day is yours to explore Brig and the surrounding region. Again with your Swiss Travel Card in hand, enjoy a 50 percent reduction on your rail fair while you explore the region’s scenic railways. Some of the most enticing include the GoldenPass Line panoramic train to the resort town of Gstaad and the Centovalli Railroad across “a hundred valleys.” In Brig, the 17th-century Stockalper Palace is filled with opulent furnishings. Overnight Brig. (B)
Day 8 - Spiez Castle
Today’s excursion takes us to the town of Spiez, overlooking Lake Thun, to visit Schloss Spiez or Spiez Castle. This impressive castle dates back to the 10th century and has been designated as a Swiss heritage site, thanks to its cultural significance. We wander the grand halls of the castle and visit some of the impressive rooms, including the wood-paneled Renaissance room and the banquet room, which features early Baroque styling. In a special moment, we sit down to a wine tasting against a spectacular backdrop of mountains and the lake's blue surface. We continue back to Brig this evening for one final dinner together. Overnight Brig. (B, D)
Day 9 - To Geneva
Our journey begins today as we walk to Brig's station and board our high-speed rail service to Geneva International Airport, where our Swiss adventure concludes. (B)
(2020 departures include roundtrip rail to London)
Romantik Hotel Stern, Chur
A traditionally Swiss hotel, the 4-star Romantik Hotel Stern has been a hallmark of Swiss vacations for over 300 years. This hotel is located in central Chur, just a short walk from the train station, and offers the perfect blend of rustic heritage and modern convenience. At the Romantik Hotel Stern, there is a well-established onsite restaurant that specializes in traditional Swiss fare and a deep wine cellar that includes the region’s largest selection of wines. There is a rooftop terrace from which to enjoy the surrounding scenery, as well. Each room is complete with contemporary furnishings, free Wi-fi Internet, digital TV and more.
Hotel Ambassador, Brig
Conveniently located near the railroad station in Brig, the 4-star Hotel Ambassador in Brig is a charming family-owned establishment. The hotel boasts an award-winning restaurant and a delightful garden terrace, as well as renovated rooms with stylish furnishings. Guests enjoy solace from the outside world, thanks to the soundproof doors and windows. Other amenities of the rooms include digital LED TVs, telephone and minibars.
High-speed Eurostar trains link St. Pancras International in London with Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam in Europe. These modern trains travel at speeds of up to 186 mph and include multiple classes of service for guests to enjoy. The highest class is Standard Premier, and here, the seats are larger and more spacious and complimentary drinks and refreshments are served right at your seat.
Since 1981, France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) has been the premier choice for train travel. This was the original European high-speed train, and throughout the years, technology has allowed for speeds of up to 186 mph on long-distance journeys and 200 mph on the new TGV Est line. Paris was originally linked to Lyon, thanks to TGV; however, throughout the years, the offerings have expanded to include cities all over France and into Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain.
A UNESCO World heritage railway completed in the early 1900s, the narrow-gauge Bernina Express is a marvel of engineering and the highest railway line in the Swiss Alps. This railway follows a 90-mile route from Chur, Switzerland to Tirano, Italy and connecting northern and southern Europe. The train crosses through tunnels and over countless bridges and viaducts as it moves through the ancient landscape of Switzerland's beautiful Grisons/Graubünden region.
The Glacier Express is undoubtedly Switzerland's best-known train. Its 8-hour route includes 181 miles of track leading between Zermatt and St Moritz. Along the way, some of Europe's most dramatic and beautiful scenery unfolds before your eyes. Enjoy views of the mighty Matterhorn, the Rhône Valley, Oberalp Pass, the Rhine Gorge and more as the train weaves through mountains and valleys, countryside and attractive villages.
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