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Scenic Switzerland & Glacier Express

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You are viewing the 2024 itinerary. Select your departure year
20242025
10 days Sold out
4.9 stars(15 reviews)
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Dramatic scenery rivaling anything you have experienced before paves the course for this incredible alpine adventure that features transit on beloved scenic railways and time in charming Swiss towns.

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: SGE24

About the tour

Embrace the history, traditions, and vistas unique to Switzerland on this scenic rail tour through the Alps. Your time here is split between Zürich, Chur and Brig, with excursions to surrounding locales to further your Swiss immersion. Enjoy day trips on two railways renowned worldwide for their spectacular routes, the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express. Travel to Zermatt to learn about alpine rescue missions at Air Zermatt and experience the car-free resort town at your own pace. Enjoy a visit to Aletsch Arena punctuated by sweeping glacier and mountain views from cable cars and a guided introduction to yodeling atop a mountain. The vacation wraps up with a visit to the centuries-old Spiez Castle set on the shore of Lake Thun and a guided tour of Zürich that introduces the city's history on foot. Whether you seek snow-capped mountain splendors or experiences that you cannot have anywhere else in the world, this guided vacation makes your travel dreams come true.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Zürich

Arrive in Zürich and make your way underground to the Zürich Airport railway station to board your train into town. The ride is quick and easy and sets you in the town center within walking distance of your hotel. Take some time to get settled in before joining your group and tour manager for a quick welcome meeting that lays out the excitement to come. A delicious dinner is served in the hotel's restaurant following the meeting. Overnight Zürich.

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 - To Chur By Train

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning, and then take some time to get acquainted with your surroundings. Stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse to hit the town's best shops or visit Old Town to see historic buildings, gorgeous old churches and fantastic museums. Around lunchtime, head back to the town center to Zürich's train station, where your train to Chur awaits. The route ahead gives you your first taste of Switzerland's beauty, skirting lakes and venturing past distant mountains on its way to Chur, Switzerland's oldest town. On arrival, take a short walk to our hotel, the historic Hotel Stern, and check in before enjoying a few hours to begin sightseeing in the city. Chur boasts over 5,000 years of history and has the architecture and charm to prove it. This evening, meet the group for a welcome drink and a three-course dinner at the hotel. Overnight Chur.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - The Bernina Express

A buffet breakfast greets you ahead of the day's adventure: a ride on the legendary rails of the Bernina Express. Over 100 years old, this journey follows the Bernina Line past expansive glaciers, craggy mountains, lush alpine meadows, and tranquil mountain streams. The scenery is ethereal and joins with incredible civil engineering as the basis for the Bernina Express's UNESCO World Heritage status. As we board in Chur for our southerly route to Poschiavo, take a seat next to one of the large picture windows and watch the wonders unfold. The train travels through 55 tunnels and crosses over 196 bridges and viaducts, including the instantly recognizable Landwasser Viaduct. Look down upon deep ravines and rushing waterfalls as the Bernina Express clings to the mountainside. A series of loops and spirals pave the course into the rugged landscape of the Engadine Valley, then we ascend through the Albula Tunnel and over Bernina Pass to the highest altitude of the journey, at more than 7,000 feet. From here, it is all downhill - literally. The train begins its descent into the Poschiavo Valley in Switzerland's Italian-speaking region. When pastel-hued buildings adjoin the picturesque views, we have arrived. You have time to grab lunch in one of Poschiavo's cafés or to wander along the cobbled streets before we reboard the train and loop back toward Chur. A three-course dinner awaits your arrival back at the hotel this evening. Overnight Chur.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 - Chur at Leisure

The day is yours to bask in the splendors of Chur and the surrounding region at leisure. Old Town is a delight to discover on foot, with its pretty squares, cobbled streets and lack of vehicular traffic. Historic buildings filled with shops and cafés line the pathways, and if you keep a close eye, some feature red plaques that offer historical tidbits. Chur features beautiful churches, including the 800-year-old Chur Cathedral. With your Swiss Travel Card in hand, you are welcome to utilize the local railway systems at a reduced rate. Join a journey through the idyllic valleys and past impressive mountains, or venture to a surrounding town to further your cultural immersion. Overnight Chur.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 - Glacier Express

We depart Chur this morning aboard "the slowest express train in the world," the Glacier Express. Awe-inspiring views lie ahead as the iconic train pulls out of the station and begins its journey through the rocky landscape of Graubünden canton. It doesn't take long to cross into Valais, where the Swiss landscapes of storybooks are brought to life. From your panoramic window, marvel at the meadows, vineyards and forests that surround the tracks. The snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps frame the backdrop for the entirety of the route, with the Glacier Express seemingly squeezing through them at times while navigating tight curves and compact valleys. Keep watch as we venture through the gorgeous Rhine Valley and cross the Rhine Gorge, lovingly referred to as the "Swiss Grand Canyon." From this point, the train begins its ascent to the highest point of the route, the Oberalp Pass, at 6,670 feet. The descent is just as scenic, offering peeks at charming hamlets and wonderful mountain views before crossing the Furka Pass via the Furka Base Tunnel and entering the Rhône Valley. Finish up your two-course lunch as the final miles of our journey find the tracks surrounded by vineyard-clad hillsides and we approach Brig.

It is a quick walk from the station to our hotel, and after checking in, you are free to begin exploring this historic destination. Because of the hotel's central location, all of the city's most remarkable sites are within easy reach. Perhaps venture to the Stadtplatz, the main square, where colorful buildings constructed throughout the ages line cobbled streets or pop in some local boutiques. Stockalper Palace, dating to the 17th century, demands attention with its three towers and gilded onion domes. Dinner is served this evening at the hotel. Overnight Brig.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - Zermatt

The resort town of Zermatt is our base for exploration today. We set out from Brig's train station, with views of lush vineyards and the River Rhône paving the course. Our train travels south through Visp, passing through eight tunnels and crossing over 40 bridges during its steep ascent toward Zermatt. You will know we are getting close as the pyramid-shaped peak that is easily recognized as the Matterhorn comes into view. After we station in the car-free town center, we walk to the Air Zermatt Heliport for an immersive behind-the-scenes tour. Take a look at the helicopters and the helipad itself and enjoy interactions with the pilots who operate the aircraft. Their stories of rescue missions in the Alps and their international work are fascinating.

Walk into town following the excursion for time to sightsee at leisure. If you crave adventure, Zermatt is rife with hiking trails that lead to glacier-fed lakes and unbelievable vantage points. In town, the lack of vehicular traffic makes exploring on foot so enjoyable. The Old Village is fascinating and somewhat of a living museum, with its 30 traditional Walser houses and old barns, stables and shops to discover. Of course, you can also join the Gornergrat Railway (payable locally) for a ride to the summit of the Gornergrat and breathtaking views of the Matterhorn. We return to Brig this evening in time for dinner. Overnight Brig. 

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - Brig at leisure

With a free day today, you may want to use your Swiss travel card to explore the towns and hamlets around Brig. Perhaps visit Eggishorn, where you could take a gentle hike, enjoy a drink or meal with wonderful views at the Horli Hitta restaurant. Alternatively, travel by cable car to the viewpoint platform in nearby Bettmerhorn, swim in Lake Bettmersee and visit the famous chapel, 'Mary of the Snow'. Otherwise, Riederalp is home to Villa Cassel, once a summer residence for British Royals, it's now a nature conservation centre.

Alternatively use your Aletsch Explorer Pass to visit the Eggishorn and the Aletsch Arena. This pass gives you access to all the cable cars throughout the park, scenic hiking trails and excursion summits. Take the short train ride from Brig to Fiesch before switching transportation methods, to join a series of cable cars first to Fierschelp then to Eggishorn. The views are simply spectacular; the car crosses over the Aletsch Glacier and offers glimpses at some of the region's most popular peaks, including Jungfrau, Eiger, Mönch and Finsteraarhorn. Feel free to return to Brig at leisure. Overnight Brig.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Spiez Castle

After breakfast, we make our way to Brig's train station to board a train to Spiez, perched on the shore of Lake Thun. Our time here is spent admiring the architecture and history of Schloss Spiez, better known as Spiez Castle. First constructed in the 10th century and rebuilt and expanded throughout the following centuries, this impressive fortress is a Swiss heritage site of national significance. Enjoy a wine tasting to kick off the excursion, followed by ample free time to meander through the castle's impressive rooms. Look upon both residential and court rooms, all impeccably preserved in period decor. Favorites of visitors include the wood-paneled Renaissance Room and the elegant Banquet Room. Walk along the grand halls and admire the different perspectives the castle offers. We then enjoy a scenic cruise on Lake Thun before we head back to Brig this evening for a chef-prepared three-course dinner. Overnight Brig.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Zürich Touring

Watch in awe as the scenes of Brig, the surrounding Alps, glacier-fed lakes, and more fade into the backdrop during our train ride back to Zürich. Our route takes us north, passing through major cities, like Bern, and quintessential Swiss villages. We arrive in Zürich early this afternoon and walk from the train station to our four-star hotel to drop off our baggage. A knowledgeable guide greets us in the lobby, and together, we set out into the city for a two-hour guided tour. As we walk, points of interest may include Fraumünster Church, St. Peter's Church and Grossmünster. Traditional guild houses and historic buildings tell the tale of the city. You are free to continue exploring on your own after the tour. Tonight, enjoy a final dinner together at the hotel. Overnight Zürich.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 - Tour Conclusion

Your tour concludes after breakfast this morning. You are free to make your way to the train station at leisure for your return to Zürich's airport.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Trains

Bernina Express
The Glacier Express
Gornergrat Mountain Railway

Reviews

4.9 stars4.9 / 5 · 15 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (13)
  2. 4 stars
    (2)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

G Parnell

5 stars

Submitted 21/May

We really enjoyed our trip. Our only complaint was our hotel in Zurich, The Mercure. The trip info said it would be "in the town center" but it was necessary to take the train to the town center. There was nothing near our hotel. Our guide Oliver Tracy was the best! He deserves 6 stars. He was patient, knowledgeable, and even arranged for us to take a side trip to Italy on an "off" day. Our group agreed we would like to take other trips with Oliver. Yay Oliver!

Collected by Trustpilot

HENSE, VICKIE LYNN

4 stars

Submitted 16 Oct 2023

Our trip was a wonderful experience. Switzerland is beautiful and traveling by train was so convenient and comfortable. The hotels we stayed at were also comfortable and well appointed. Our tour manager, Julia Denny was great! She went above and beyond in getting us around and also with assistance in solving a personal issue we had. The only disappointment of the trip was having to drag our luggage from train stations to hotels and back, at multiple stops. VBR needs to change this!

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Mel Malay

5 stars

Submitted 11 Oct 2023

Our guide Julia was terrific! Handled everything beautifully. Hotel qualities were top notch as was the food they served. Switzerland is an amazingly beautiful country, clean, safe and so picturesque! We are already looking forward to our next visit!

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NEWHART, KENT

5 stars

Submitted 03 Oct 2023

The tour was fantastic and especially our tour guide Julia. It was great that our meals were served in a manner that we sat together and met people and formed friendships. The food was fantastic and the scenery was beyond explanation!!!

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Dan Egbers

5 stars

Submitted 03 Oct 2023

This was a well-organized tour and the Tour Manager, Julia Denny, made sure that the pace was appropriate for all members of our group. The hotel selections were excellent and the food was above average. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and made many new friends.

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BLAIR, KAREN ANN

5 stars

Submitted 02 Sep 2023

Most awesome trip ever. Our guide Alan was great n so helpful! The views and food were spectacular! Would go again!

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