A region of stunning contrasts, Valais is simultaneously home to Switzerland’s most famous mountain, the Matterhorn, and vast plains of flourishing vineyards in the south. These two contrasts are enhanced by the canton’s dual-language: the west speaking French and the east speaking German. These opposites come together in Valais in apparent harmony, rich with interest for visitors. With such a varied landscape and culture, Valais is highly recommended to those visitors looking to experience the best of both sides of the country.We recommend travelling to Switzerland by train from London to Zermatt, via Paris, Basel, Bern, and Visp. Return flights from the UK with rail travel in Switzerland can also be arranged. Your destination is Zermatt, nestled between the rocky sides of an Alpine valley, and home of the Matterhorn. This town is unendingly popular during the winter for ski holidays, though sits so close to the Italian border that during the summer it makes the perfect sunny hiking destination. Glaciers remain intact on the creaking slopes between mountain peaks, high-altitude pathways offer sensational and unforgettable views, vineyards to the south produce some of the best wine in the country, and the picturesque streets of Zermatt are laden with chic bars, characterful chalet houses, and gourmet restaurants. A seven night stay here proves to be the ideal length for any in-depth exploration, allowing guests to enjoy the treasures of the region at their own pace, and with their own individual focus. Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.Day-by-day summaryDAY ONETravel from London to Zermatt by rail on your first day; or fly into Geneva and travel the rest of the journey by rail. The Eurostar leaves before eight in the morning for Paris, where you change to a TGV train headed to Basel. Here, change for a train to the capital, Bern, and then change again for Visp in northern Valais. Finally, change for a direct train to your destination, Zermatt, arriving in the early evening. Check into your chosen resort hotel.DAYS TWO TO SEVENSpend seven nights enjoying the highlights of Valais, first making the most of your three day rail pass to explore the mountains, the glaciers, and the hidden towns and villages.DAY EIGHTOn your eighth day, board a morning train from Zermatt back to Visp, Basel and Paris. Spend up to two hours in Paris before catching your connection back to London, arriving in the early evening. Choice of hotelsHotel Butterfly – 3 starRomantik Hotel Julen – 4 starGrand Hotel Zermatterhof – 5 starPricesBy rail from the UK staying in a 3-star hotel (Hotel Butterfly), from £1,360 per person with standard class rail travel for the duration of your holiday. Upgrade to first class from £380 per personBy air from the UK to Geneva staying in a 3-star hotel (Hotel Butterfly), from £1,290 per person with standard class rail travel within Switzerland. Upgrade to first class from £200 per personBy rail from the UK staying in a 4-star hotel (Romantik Hotel Julen), from £1,730 per person with standard class rail travel for the duration of your holiday. Upgrade to first class from £380 per personBy air from the UK to Geneva staying in a 4-star hotel (Romantik Hotel Julen), from £1,660 per person with standard class rail travel within Switzerland. Upgrade to first class from £200 per personBy rail from the UK staying in a 5-star hotel (Grand Hotel Zermatterhof), from £2,470 per person with standard class rail travel for the duration of your holiday. Upgrade to first class from £380 per personBy air from the UK to Geneva staying in a 5-star hotel (Grand Hotel Zermatterhof), from £2,390 per person with standard class rail travel within Switzerland. Upgrade to first class from £200 per personWhat’s included:Rail travel London to Switzerland via Basel in standard/ second class (first class can be booked at a supplement) return, or scheduled return flights from the UK to Geneva3 days Swiss rail pass for travel on 3 consecutive days7 nights’ bed and breakfast in your resort hotelWhat’s not included:Transfers in ParisTransfers in Switzerland station to hotel unless offered by your hotelOptional extensions:Combine this holiday with one of our Iconic Swiss Rail Journeys or another long stay in a different part of the country.
Under the imposing stare of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is a charming Alpine resort immersed in Switzerland’s most stoic and sublime landscape. At over 1,600m above sea level, Zermatt offers excellent access to Valais’ 8000km of hiking and walking paths, which weave between mountains, through valleys, and around crystal clear lakes and white glaciers. Zermatt is now a haven for elite sports visitors and the glamourous who want to experience the luxury hotels and excellent restaurants. The town centre is car-free, so retains a real sense of peace and serenity, without sacrificing its sophisticated, exclusive feel. Nature lovers will also find themselves at home here, with exceptional examples of Alpine flora, fauna, and panoramas in abundance.Places of interest in Valais:• Matterhorn – Zermatt’s main attraction; hike or take the cable car up to visit the glacier• Matterhorn Museum – on the slopes of the Matterhorn, this museum is divided into 14 huts that mimic the style of the original mountain villages• Gornergratbahn – a cogwheel railway that takes you up to Gornergrat at 3100m, from where you can walk to the Gorner Glacier and take in the views across 38 mountains• Gornergrat – the village itself holds a great deal of historic significance, with a Parish Church containing intriguing murals, a collection of very old timber houses, a cemetery that is the final resting place of many mountaineers, and the Alpine Museum• Parrotspitze – on the Monte Rosa Massif, this almost perfectly-conical summit looks particularly beautiful when its summit emerges through the layer of clouds• Findel Glacier – the east of Zermatt, this glacier is reportedly gaining mass• Trockener Steg Mountain Station – accessible by cable car, you can then walk to a nearby glacier and collection of shallow pools• Schwarzsee – the Black Lake is a small expanse of water not far from Zermatt that offers sublime views, and is named after the colour of its water when reflecting the dark surrounding rocks; it is accessible via cable car• Stausee Mattmark – a large lake with easy walk and trickling waterfalls• Lac de Moiry – contained by the Barrage de Moiry, the waters of this lake are incredibly blue• Glacier Paradise Cable Car – takes you up to Europe’s highest viewing platform• Hornlihutte – the restaurant and inn where climbers have stayed for decades before advancing up the Matterhorn• Alpine Folklore Parade – held on 15th August each year, and involving over 1200 participants• Ice Pavilion, Saas Fee – and underground museum that informs visitors of the importance of glaciers and how they are formed; above ground is a revolving restaurant• Aletsch Glacier – a river of ice; the longest glacier in the Alps, and reaching from the Jungfrau to the Rhone River; to the south is the Aletschwald, one of the highest pine forests in Europe and an excellent location for summer hikes• Riederalp – home to an Alpine dairy and an Alpine museum• Brig – further north in Valais is the city of Brig, home to the 17th century Stockalper Castle, built out of granite and volcanic rock and recognisable for its onion domes; it is the emblem of Valais• Brigerbad – this town has the most open-air thermal baths in Switzerland, suited to those seeking the curative properties as well as more leisurely visitors• Leukerbad – home to the hottest springs in Switzerland, Leukerbad was once a Roman settlement• Mauvoisin Dam – a stunning piece of engineering, the dam is wedged in the narrow Bagnes Valley, and holds back 180 million cubic metres of water; public transport to this area is infrequent, so the trip requires a long hike• Sierre – home to many beautiful Chateaux and surrounded by vineyards; the Chateau de Villa holds a wine museumLocal sports suggestions:• Hiking – hikers may wish to tackle the challenges of the Matterhorn, the Hohtalli, the Unterrorthorn, the Breithorn, the Theodul Pass, the Riffelhorn, and the Gornergrat• Hang-gliding and paragliding in Verbier• Golf at Crans-Montana and Verbier• Summer skiing on the Matterhorn – the Klein Matterhorn has the highest cable station in Europe, at 3820m.The abundance of available activities, from exploring picturesque historic towns and villages to scenic walks and hiking, will ensure that each of your days in Valais is unique and memorable. This seven night rail holiday allows you to make the most of this variety and get to know the region in-depth.Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.
As part of this single centre rail touring holiday, we include a seven night stay at your choice of 3, 4, or 5 star hotels, as listed below. Other options in Zermatt and Valais are available on request, and additional nights can be added here or in other destinations.Hotel ButterflyThe three star Hotel Butterfly is nestled into a steep mountain valley in Zermatt, Switzerland. A popular destination for skiers, this town is often shrouded in a surreal snowy blanket. The Hotel Butterfly, therefore, has been designed with all the romantic features of a traditional ski chalet in mind. This picturesque wooden building has balconies across its full width, a shallow and sometimes snow-dusted roof, and colourful hanging baskets. Inside, the rustic feel is continued with the roaring fire and dim lamps of the lounge. Cosy armchairs, stone floorings, and dark wood furnishings welcome guests at the end of the day. The warm and homely restaurant serves delicious breakfasts and evening meals, and has an adjoining piano bar that will make your after-dinner drink that bit more relaxing. The rooms are equipped in a suitable, in-keeping way, with comfortable furnishings built out of the same dark wood as is so prevalent downstairs and intricate illustrations across the walls. Balcony rooms offer phenomenal views across Zermatt, wooded areas, and the jagged mountains beyond. This hotel works well as a one- or two-night stop-over on a longer rail touring holiday.Click here for more information about the Hotel Butterfly.Romantik Hotel JulenA traditional wooden building, with a homely, welcoming ambience, the four star Romantik Hotel Julen captures the best of Swiss hospitality near the centre of Zermatt. This family-run business still carries the ethics and values of its founder, Meinrad Julen, who put the wellbeing and comfort of his guests at the forefront of his ambition. The dark wood panelled façade, complete with red shutters and colourful window boxes, introduces you to the traditional style of the interior, inspired by the ‘Tradition Julen’ that the owners pride themselves on. The rooms have a distinct chalet feel, with wooden walls and ceilings, colourful carpets, and rich textures and fabrics. Warm, golden lighting illuminates the space around the beds, and wide windows offer views across the mountains and icy peaks in the distance. Higher room categories have more individual details, such as wrought iron candle holders and emerald tiled chimney breasts. The Julen Spa provides guests with a sanctuary in which to unwind after a day hiking across the mountains or exploring the pretty streets of Zermatt. A pool, equipped with waterfall and bubble bench is refreshing after a spell in the Finnish dry sauna. A caldarium relaxes muscles with its hot, bubbling water, and a laconium offers a cooler alternative to the sauna. On the walls, scenes of the ancient Egyptian landscape have been painted to contrast the turquoise tranquillity of the pool. Guests can also enjoy the atmospheric spa at the Hotel Alpenhof, which has additional Kneipp basins. Restaurant Julen, on the ground floor of the hotel, proves continually popular with local residents, serving snacks and light lunches until 2pm, and gourmet cuisine in the evenings. We would recommend reserving a table to ensure you are able to dine here during your stay. The decoration of the restaurant reflects the homely, friendly atmosphere of the hotel, with embroidered cushions, characterful details, and rustic wooden tables. Guests are also free to use any of the restaurants and bars at the Julen family’s other Zermatt hotels: the Hotel Alpenhof, and the Hotel Daniela. The brand new Papperla Pub, just across the road from Hotel Julen, for example, is the perfect place to spend the evenings, with live music, international guests, and a lively atmosphere. The Romantik Hotel Julen offers an authentic and memorable taste of traditional Swiss lifestyle, with many quirky characteristics and a very welcoming vibe.Click here for more information about the Romantik Hotel Julen.Grand Hotel ZermatterhofThe five star Grand Hotel Zermatterhof in Zermatt is possibly the most prestigious address in the town. Its majestic façade, flanked by the hotel wings, has been rendered a pale cream. Accompanied by the wooden frames of its windows and the balconies, the building achieves a faintly French impression that sets it apart from others in Zermatt. This grand image is topped with gold lettering and fluttering red flags. Traditional themes, with French and Swiss flare, are continued inside. The dining room of the Prato Borni Gourmet Restaurant reflects the excellent Alpine ingredients that it serves. Beautiful crafted wooden chairs and tables are dressed with white and natural green cloth, while glass chandeliers hang above. An open kitchen allows guests to watch the impeccable design of their food come together under the hands of expert gourmet chefs. Brasserie Lusi enhances the French touch, but with the influence of the meaning of its name: in Zermatt, ‘Lusi’ is the name for the lantern that climbers used to take with them up the mountainside. The restaurant is therefore light, airy, and fresh, with mirrored walls framed by light polished wood and lilac flowers in the centre of the tables. To taste the most authentic local cuisine imaginable, enjoy the fondue at the dedicated Cheese Restaurant, which celebrates the most prosperous product of the Alps. In the two hotel bars, guests can choose between old-world Swiss style and bright modern interior design while they enjoy a specially crafted cocktail or a glass of wine from the vineyards of Valais’ southern border. The guestrooms have the kind of individual detail and luxurious comfort that is associated with five star hotels, as each one seems to have been taken from a regal Swiss stately home. Warm-hued wooden furnishings are accompanied by neutral bed covers, bold golden cushions, rich fabric curtains, and subtle, homely ornamentation. Large windows look out onto wrought iron French balconies decorated with pink flowers. The overall effect is one of warmth, comfort, and light. There is space enough here to spend a few hours enjoying peaceful, private relaxation at the end of a day exploring Zermatt. The Alpine Spa is perfect for whiling away a few hours one afternoon or morning; equipped with swimming pool and waterfalls, soothing treatment rooms, a cosy lounge, an intriguing ice grotto, and a range of saunas that promote different aspects of wellbeing. Guests are sure to finish their stay here feeling rejuvenated and revived. The Grand Hotel Zermatterhof is recommended for those looking for a relaxing, indulgent few nights at the foot of some of Switzerland’s most popular mountains.Click here for more information about the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof. Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.
Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.
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