Explore some of the most magnificent sights Switzerland has to offer by car and train on this unique 12-day rail and drive tour.
About the Tour
See the country of Switzerland on your own terms with this journey, which combines train travel to some of the country’s biggest cities with time for you to drive between smaller towns in a rental car. Your tour in this beautiful country begins in Zurich, where you will have time to explore and do some sightseeing before setting out into the countryside. The first leg of the trip is accomplished by car, taking you through Neuchatel, Gstaad and Lucerne. From Lucerne, you hand over your keys and let someone else take the wheel, as you move on by train to Lugano, take the renowned lines of the Bernina Express to St. Moritz and then move by high-speed train back to Zurich. In each destination you can view famous landmarks and will overnight in comfortable, centrally located hotels. This tour allows you to explore the beautiful Swiss mountains and forests by famous railways, as well as roads of your choice.
- Hotel accommodations for 11 nights
- 11 meals
- 6-day car rental with GPS (automatic transmission)
- Train from Lucerne to Lugano and from St. Moritz to Zurich
- Rides aboard the Gotthard Panorama Express and Bernina Express
- Lucerne Visitor’s Card
- Swiss Coupon Pass providing attractive offers in 11 destinations
Day 1- ZurichArrive in Zurich, gather your luggage and head to the rental car desk at the airport to pick up your vehicle for the next six days. Drive to your hotel, with the remainder of the day free to enjoy the sights and scenery of this metropolis. Overnight Zurich.
Day 2 - Zurich to NeuchatelEnjoy your first authentic Swiss breakfast this morning at your hotel before you set out on the day’s expedition - a scenic drive to Neuchatel. You can make the drive as quickly or as leisurely as you please. Depending on the route you take, you may wish to visit one of the quaint villages along the way, or to detour up to the Swiss/French border and visit the charming town of Basel. You will pass by Doubs Nature Park and UNESCO World Heritage Sites Le Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. As you arrive in Neuchatel, check into your hotel and begin your explorations of the town. Some of the most popular sites include the Collegiate Church and the Neuchatel Castle, both of which date back to the 12th century. Overnight Neuchatel. (B)
Day 3 - Neuchatel to GstaadLook over the scenery of Neuchatel as you enjoy breakfast at your hotel. Today’s journey takes you into the heart of Switzerland to Gstaad. Your route will take you around the banks of Neuchatel Lake and just outside Gantrisch Nature Park, which is located in the foothills of the Alps and offers a mixture of canyons, forests, idyllic villages and, of course, beautiful mountain views. Moving along, you will reach one of the oldest medieval regions in all of Switzerland, Fribourg. Here, there are over 200 Gothic buildings in Old Town, dating back to the 15th century and boasting character that cannot be replicated in today’s construction. From fountains and cobbled pathways to charming shops and cafes, this is a must-stop destination. Your route continues through the rolling meadows and open rural landscapes of the Gruyère region - home to Gruyère cheese. Finally, as you arrive in Gstaad, you will check in to your hotel, drop off your belongings and have the remainder of the evening to enjoy the amenities of this upscale resort town. Overnight Gstaad. (B)
Day 4 - GstaadA popular destination for high society, Gstaad is filled with luxury, yet remains true to its Alpine roots with its quiet, unhurried atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings. After breakfast this morning, take some time to soak in the mountain scenery. There are hiking and biking trails, a cable car that takes you up above the resort and plenty of opportunities for outdoor sports. Staying in the commercial center offers a traffic-free promenade and a wonderful shopping district. If you want to venture out of Gstaad, there are nine surrounding chalet villages within close proximity. Overnight Gstaad. (B)
Day 5 - Gstaad to LucerneLook over the mountains as you enjoy your hotel’s breakfast and plan your route for today - you are off to the beloved destination of Lucerne. To make the most of your drive, head to Interlaken first. Here you can embark on a boat cruise across Lake Brienz or Lake Thun, or you can use the funicular railway to climb the Harder Kulm and gaze over the Bernese Oberland. You can also hop aboard the Jungfrau Railway in Interlaken for a journey to the highest railway station in all of Europe. Moving on from Interlaken, you will travel through the capital city of Bern, which boasts an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City, as well as a Federal Palace and a variety of unique landmarks. Your drive continues past meadows, forests, and small villages as you continue winding through the mountainous landscape before arriving in Lucerne. Upon checking into your hotel, you will have the remainder of the day to gaze upon the water of Lake Lucerne and enjoy the mountain views. You could visit the iconic Kapellbrücke or explore one of the many museums, galleries, shops and restaurants in town. Overnight Lucerne. (B)
Day 6 - LucerneEnjoy a delicious breakfast at your hotel before setting out for the day’s adventures. After returning your rental car, explore Lucerne by making use of your included Lucerne Visitor’s Card. This card not only gives you access to free public transportation within the Zone 10 city, it also offers discounted admission for mountain railways, museums, cable cars and excursions throughout the region. Whether you desire to see historic sites, such as the Church of St. Leodegar, or desire a more modern experience today, such as a visit to the Swiss Museum of Transport, there are plenty of options in Lucerne. Overnight Lucerne. (B)
Day 7 - Lucerne to LuganoFollowing breakfast this morning, transfer on your own to the banks of Lake Lucerne, where a paddle steamer will be awaiting your arrival. You are in for a true treat as you cruise across the lake, taking in the ever-changing scenery, en route to Flüelen. You will watch the cityscape of Lucerne fade into the distance and see Mount Pilatus, Mount Rigi, shoreline forests, the snow-capped peaks of Gotthard Pass and Tell’s Chapel over the course of 3 hours. Once you arrive in Flüelen, you board the Gotthard Panorama Express bound for Lugano. The next leg of the trip is accomplished in approximately 2 1/2 hours, as you move out of the Swiss Alps and down into the Mediterranean. Along the way, you will travel through the valley of the River Ruess, a series of spiral loops and two tunnels: the Gotthard Tunnel and the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is the longest railway tunnel in the world. As traditional Mediterranean architecture and palm trees come into view, you will arrive in Lugano. Upon arrival at the station in Lugano make your way to the hotel and have the remainder of the day to enjoy this culturally diverse region. Overnight Lugano. (B)
Day 8 - LuganoThe day is yours to enjoy Lugano as you please today. Begin with breakfast at your hotel, then set out for one of many adventures. Perhaps spend the day cruising across the sparkling waters of Lake Lugano; there are many private boats you can charter to take you through the glacier-fed waters. If you would prefer an organized excursion, you have the opportunity to set out for a boat ride and cooking experience in which you will cruise the waters of Lake Lugano and then head to the Grotto, where you will learn how to cook a perfect risotto under the guidance of a trained chef. Alternatively, visit Villa del Balbianello, which was built in the 12th century and was featured in one of the James Bond films, or take a trip to Monte San Salvatore for hiking, a cable car ride up to the mountain peak and wonderful views. Your options are aplenty. Overnight Lugano. (B)
Day 9 - Bernina Express to St. MoritzFollowing breakfast this morning, you will board the Bernina Express Bus bound for Tirano, Italy. The route follows narrow roads through the Swiss countryside and passes through picturesque expanses in Italy before arriving at the train station in Tirano, where you will board one of the most scenic train lines in the world, the Bernina Express. As the train leaves Tirano, you will pass by palm trees, vineyards and orchards. The scenery takes a dramatic turn as you cross into Switzerland and continue the northerly journey up into the Alps. In fact, the Bernina Express is the highest railway in the Alps. Set your sights on the castles, glaciers, mountains, small villages and lush meadows of Switzerland as the train makes its way to St. Moritz. The train crosses through 55 tunnels, makes its way over 196 bridges and navigates over amazing viaducts - including a marvelous circular viaduct - during the 2-hour train ride. Overnight St. Moritz. (B)
Day 10 - St. MoritzBreakfast is served at your hotel this morning, then you are off for a day of independent exploration in this alpine resort town. As you step out of your hotel, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and embark upon your adventures for the day. You could explore the various shops and museums, such as domed Segantini Museum, which is filled with original paintings, or the Engadiner Museum, which highlights the alpine way of life in years past. The architecture throughout St. Moritz offers a look at many traditional and modern construction styles, and there is even an ancient leaning tower that offers the perfect photo op. Of course, this mountain town also has to plenty offer nature lovers. From hiking and mountain climbing to windsurfing and paddle boarding, the options are limitless. As the day winds down, consider heading to Muottas Muragl for a ride aboard the funicular railway and incredible panoramic views of the sunset over the villages below. Overnight St. Moritz. (B)
Day 11 - ZurichThis morning you will return to the St. Moritz train station after breakfast, at which time you will board a high-speed train bound for Zurich. The journey is just over 3 hours in length and offers one more look at the varied scenery of Switzerland as you ride through the some of the most easterly parts of the country. As you arrive in Zurich, you will have the remainder of the day to enjoy the sights and scenery as you please. Overnight Zurich. (B)
Day 12 - Tour ConclusionYour Grand Swiss adventure concludes after breakfast today as you make your own way to Zurich Airport. With the memories of this exciting tour lingering in your mind, board your return flight home or continue your adventures by embarking on a new journey. (B)
Hotels commonly used are the Hotel Coronado, Zurich, Hotel Landhaus, Gstaad, Boutique Hotel Weisses Kreuz, Lucerne, Continental-Parkhotel, Lugano, and Hotel Soldanella, St. Moritz. Hotels are subject to availability. Substitutes will be of similar quality and amenities. Rail reservations onboard the Gotthard Panorama Express, Bernina Express, and rail from St. Moritz to Zurich are in 2nd-class; upgrade to first class available at an additional fee.
Hotels commonly used are the Glockenhof Zurich, Hotel Gstaaderhof Swiss Quality, Gstaad, Seehotel Hermitage, Lucerne, Suitenhotel Parco Paradiso, Lugano, and Hotel Reine Victoria, St. Moritz. Hotels are subject to availability. Substitutes will be of similar quality and amenities. Rail reservations onboard the Gotthard Panorama Express, Bernina Express, and rail from St. Moritz to Zurich are in first class.
Gotthard Panorama Express
Previously named the Wilhelm Tell Express, the Gotthard Panorama Express is a wonderful piece of railway engineering with many spiral loops, bridges and tunnels. The journey includes travel by train and boat offering very diverse scenery with snowcapped mountains and palm trees along the way.
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.
Additional departure dates available. Speak with a rail specialist for details.
Passport & Visa Requirements
It is your responsibility to check and fulfill 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.