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  • Glacier Express Holiday

    Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Glacier Express holiday – iconic Swiss rail journeys

    5 nights/6 days
    Geneva – Zermatt – Glacier Express – St Moritz – Zurich
    The Glacier Express is one of Switzerland’s best loved iconic rail journeys, traversing stunning Alpine landscapes from Zermatt through to St Moritz.


    Begin this Glacier Express touring holiday by either flying into Geneva, or arriving via train. Then, continue by rail to Zermatt, a picturesque, traffic-free town overlooked by the Gornergrat, the Hornli Ridge, and the Matterhorn. After three nights exploring idyllic Alpine Zermatt, board the Glacier Express and hurtle on through enchanting villages punctuated by Alpine chalets which emerge from clusters of vivid green forest. Pass the emblematic castle of the Upper Valais, head through the Furka tunnel to Oberwald, traverse the Gotthard Pass, witness the Benedictine monastery of Disentis, see the thrashing turquoise water of the Ruinaulta, cast a sweeping gaze over Switzerland’s oldest town, journey through the Albula tunnel, until finally you reach St Moritz, all the while rising and falling with the varied lie of the land, passing rivers, glaciers, and surreal mountain peaks. Your journey back to the UK takes you via Zurich where, if returning by train, you may wish to stay for an extra night.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    Samples prices
    Rail (standard class on Eurostar and second class on all other trains) from London and throughout back to London at 3 star hotels (eg Hotel Butterfly, Zermatt and Hotel Hauser, St Moritz), from £1,370 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £370 per person

    Flights to/from Switzerland and second class rail travel in Switzerland at 3 star hotels (eg Hotel Butterfly, Zermatt and Hotel Hauser, St Moritz), from £1,520 per person
    Supplement: First class rail in Switzerland £280 per person

    Rail (standard class on Eurostar and second class on all other trains) from London and throughout back to London at 4 star hotels (eg Parkhotel Beausite, Zermatt and the Hotel Schweizerhof, St Moritz), from £1,550 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £370 per person

    Flights to/from Switzerland and second class rail travel in Switzerland at 4 star hotels (eg Parkhotel Beausite, Zermatt and the Hotel Schweizerhof, St Moritz), from £1,690 per person
    Supplement: First class rail in Switzerland £280 per person

    Rail (standard class on Eurostar and second class on all other trains) from London and throughout back to London at 5 star hotels (eg Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermatt, and the Grand Hotel des Bains, St Moritz), from £2,310 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £370 per person

    Flights to/from Switzerland and second class rail travel in Switzerland at 5 star hotels (eg Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Zermatt, and the Grand Hotel des Bains, St Moritz), from £2,450 per person
    Supplement: First class rail in Switzerland £280 per person

    What’s included
    Flights from UK to Geneva and back from Zurich OR rail travel London to Switzerland and back via Paris (first class can be booked at a supplement)
    4 day Swiss rail flex pass (first class can be booked at a supplement)
    3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Zermatt
    2 nights’ bed and breakfast in St Moritz

    What’s not included
    Optional nights in Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne, St Moritz, or Zermatt
    Transfers in Paris
    Transfers in Switzerland station to hotel unless offered by your hotel
    A luggage transfer service is available within Switzerland – please contact us for further details.

    Dates
    This rail holiday can be arranged throughout the year. Timings can vary depending on the month and day of the week.
    For more information regarding rail services to and within Switzerland, view our train guide.

    Day-by-day Itinerary

    Geneva - Zermatt - Glacier Express - St Moritz - Zurich

    DAY ONE:
    Begin this Glacier Express holiday by travelling to Geneva, either by plane or train. From here, board the train to Zermatt in the early afternoon. Change trains at Visp, and arrive into Zermatt around four hours after departure from Geneva. Stay in your choice of luxury hotel for three nights.

    DAYS TWO TO THREE:
    In an idyllic, car-free zone, known for its popular winter sports, Zermatt is a stunning place to start this memorable trip. A peaceful village in the summer months, Zermatt is a haven for gourmet food lovers, with the highest concentration of gourmet restaurants, serving very typically Swiss cuisine, on the Glacier Express route. Quaint boutique shops are also housed within the chalet houses in the village centre. Take in the views of the icy Matterhorn, and wander along some of the 400km of walking paths that vein the landscape around Zermatt, Tasch, and Randa. Perhaps even enjoy the sights from the smaller railways that can take you as high as 3000m above sea level. The Glacier Paradise cable car will take you up to Europe’s highest viewing platform, while the Gornegratbahn, the world’s highest open-air cog railway, take you from Zermatt station up to the Gornergrat where you can view the peaks of 38 surrounding mountains, including the Matterhorn. Consider visiting the famous Hornlihutte, where climbers have stayed for decades before advancing up the sides of the Matterhorn via the Hornli Ridge, the Zmutt Ridge, or through the north wall. To witness more of the sublime and intriguing history of the area, visit the Zermatlantis Matterhorn Museum, an archaeological site that has been faithfully recreated.

    DAY FOUR:
    After your final night in Zermatt, catch the Glacier Express to St Moritz at around 9 in the morning, with a view to arrive in the late afternoon. Some highlights of this route include the phenomenal Stockalper Castle, the icy walls near the Rhone Glacier, the harsh landscape of the Gotthard Pass, the complex network of tunnels, viaducts, and railway tracks of the Oberalp Pass, the winding Rhine River, the panoramas across Chur, the castles and palaces of the Domleschg Region, the curved Landwasser viaduct, and the Cresta Run, just outside St Moritz. The full, detailed journey, with altitudes, stops, and descriptions of the views, can be found on the 'About the Train' tab above. You will now spend two nights in St Moritz.

    DAY FIVE:
    At 1856m above sea level, visitors are welcomed by stunning views across the lakes of the Upper Engadine Valley, and the refreshing dry, clear, Alpine climate. Navigate the local peaks via railway, reaching the Piz Corvatsch, Chantarella, and Corviglia, where a cable car takes you up to Suvretta’s most famous viewing point. Enjoy the water sports at the sublime Lake Sils and Lake St Moritz, or the windy Lake Silvaplana. While staying in St Moritz, it is possible to use this opportunity to explore another of Switzerland’s most iconic rail journeys, the Bernina Express. In one of the distinctive red trains, with their tall, angular windows, and comfortable, airy interiors, the Bernina Express rail journey takes you from Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland, south through the winter resorts of Davos and St Moritz to Tirano on the Swiss-Italian border. En-route you pass the dramatic Ruinaulta, or Rhine Gorge, the castles and palaces of the Domleschg Region, and the Morteratsch Glacier, and travel over the Landwasser Viaduct and around the Montebello Curve. For a more detailed insight into the Bernina Express journey, click here.

    DAY SIX:
    If you depart for Zurich in the mid-morning, you will arrive at around half one in the afternoon, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy a few hours in the city before catching a flight home. If you are catching a train from Zurich back to London, we would recommend spending the night in Zurich before your departure.

    Optional
    It is possible to add extra nights in Zermatt or St Moritz, or in Geneva and Lausanne en route to Zermatt, and in Zurich before returning to the UK.

    Hotels

    At both Zermatt and St Moritz, you can choose from a range of different luxury hotels, details of which can be found below.

    Zermatt
    Hotel Butterfly – 3 star

    The Hotel Butterfly is a very traditional Swiss chalet, positioned on the sloped outskirts of Zermatt, with exterior wooden panels, hanging plants draped over the balconies, and murals on the bedroom walls. The hotel has its own restaurant, piano bar, and several indulgent wellness facilities to help you relax after a day exploring.
    Parkhotel Beau Site – 4 star
    The Parkhotel Beau Site boasts a grand chalet style and stunning views of the Matterhorn from its location to the east of the Matter Vispa. Dine with this magnificent backdrop on the terrace, and enjoy the pool, Hammam, and beauty treatments in the luxurious spa.
    Hotel Christiania – 4 star
    With large, spacious guestrooms that overlook the snowy landscapes of the mountains around the Matterhorn and the Matter Vispa at the end of the garden, the Hotel Christiania is a modern Spa hotel with elegant touches of tradition. Speciality drinks and food is served in the panoramic restaurant and on the terrace, and the indoor swimming pool is lined with cosy spots for relaxation.
    Romantik Hotel Julen – 4 star
    Priding itself on its traditional service and style, the Hotel Julen is a dark wood chalet adorned with Swiss red shutters and colourful flowers. Spa facilities, warm lounges, and wooden-panelled rooms keep guests comfortable for their whole stay. The Romantik Hotel Julen sits at the heart of Zermatt.
    Grand Hotel Zermatterhof – 5 star
    A history, chic property, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof may well be the most prestigious hotel in Zermatt. Positioned in the centre of the village, it is just a minute’s walk from the main church, a park, the best restaurants in Zermatt, and the Matter Vispa. The rooms blend state-of-the-art comfort with regal charm.

    St Moritz
    Hotel Hauser – 3 star

    This family run hotel is a hub of social activity in St Moritz, providing excellent food on a pretty outdoor terrace that caters for visitors and local residents alike. The guestrooms have a simple elegance, and are the perfect base from which to get out and explore St Moritz.
    Hotel Schweizerhof St Moritz – 4 star
    Dating from over 100 years ago, the Hotel Schweizerhof St Moritz is a sophisticated hotel built in the Belle Epoque style. Fresh, bright, and luxurious rooms are accompanied by multiple dining options, including a picturesque garden and a selection of relaxing spa facilities.
    Suvretta House – 5 star superior
    At the foot of the mountain that gives it its name, Suvretta House is a stunning, palatial hotel that offers its guests excellent regional cuisine, including some Swiss favourites, a tranquil spa with 25m swimming pool, and spacious, refined accommodation with a regal touch.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    The Glacier Express rail journey

    The Glacier Express is one of Switzerland’s best loved iconic rail journeys, traversing stunning Alpine landscapes from Zermatt through to St Moritz.

    Route Length: 8hrs, over 291km, from Zermatt to St Moritz
    Stops: Zermatt, St Niklaus, Brig, Fiesch, Andermatt, Disentis, Chur, Thusis, Tiefencastel, Filisur, Bergun, Samedan, Celerina, St Moritz
    Facilities: On-board restaurant and waiter service, and panoramic carriages

    The train: Each distinctive Glacier Express carriage has wide panoramic windows and skylights to ensure that guests can fully appreciate the views. 2nd Class carriages are organised with bays of four seats situated around tables on each side of the aisle, while 1st Class carriages have bays of four on one side and two on the other, both with tables. 1st Class therefore offers a quieter travel experience and more individual space. As an alternative to the on-board restaurant, orders are taken from passenger seats for snacks, drinks, and lunch items throughout the journey, with a wide selection of wines; passengers can also bring their own.

    Beginning at the foot of the Matterhorn and taking you through some of the most spectacular Alpine landscapes, via ancient towns, winding tracks, and picturesque cities and villages, the Glacier Express is one of Switzerland’s best loved iconic rail journeys.

    The route of the Glacier Express can be traversed from either St Moritz or Zermatt, the latter of which shall begin this example journey. In an idyllic, car-free zone, known for its popular winter sports, Zermatt is a stunning place to start this memorable trip. Take in the views of the icy Matterhorn, and wander along some of the 400km of walking paths that vein the landscape around Zermatt, Tasch, and Randa. Perhaps even enjoy the sights from the smaller railways that can take you as high as 3000m above sea level. The Glacier Paradise cable car will take you to Europe’s highest viewing platform, while peaks such as the Gornergrat offer views across the 38 surrounding mountains. Consider visiting the famous Hornlihutte, where climbers have stayed for decades before advancing up the sides of the Matterhorn, via the Hornli Ridge, the Zmutt Ridge, or through the north wall. To witness more of the sublime and intriguing history of the area, visit the Zermatlantis Matterhorn Museum, an archaeological site that has been faithfully recreated. Zermatt is also home to the highest concentration of gourmet restaurants on the Glacier Express route, so is the perfect place to enjoy some traditional Swiss specialities before embarking.

    From Zermatt, continue on to the first stop, in the peaceful and enchanting village of St Niklaus, punctuated by alpine chalets, rustic houses with peaked roofs, and a smattering of golden and green trees. Next, pass through Brig, home to the 17th century Stockalper Castle, which is the emblem of Upper Valais and the largest private building built in the 17th century in the country. If you have time to stop, enjoy the arcades, chambers, gardens, museum, chapel, halls, and views of the onion domes, monastery, and old town in this fantastic and striking building.

    Continue on through Fiesch and through the Furka tunnel of the Furka Steam Railway that links Realp to Oberwald. This 2 hour stretch weaves its way through the vast panoramas of the mountainsides, passing wooden chalets, the ice caves near the Rhone Glacier, old, wonky houses with moss-covered roofs and light stone walls, and the quaint river and bridge of Oberwald itself.

    Your next stop will be in Andermatt, nestled in the indomitable Gotthard Pass, initially avoided by the Romans, but conquered when the Scholenen Ravine, an important North-South connection, was established. Zig-zagging roads are dug into and supported above the craggy rocks, overlooking flat agricultural plains and clusters of white houses.

    To get from Andermatt to the next stop in Disentis, the Glacier Express takes you over the Oberalp Pass; a network of tunnels, viaducts, and winding roads and railway tracks. At its highest point, the Pass reaches 2044m above sea level, affording passengers in the panoramic carriages unforgettable, breath-taking views of undulating green countryside. Disentis itself sits in the upper half of the Anterior Rhine, the Surselva. A large Benedictine monastery crowns the town, which is dominated by snow-capped chalets, mountain views, and is distinctive due to its proximity to the source of the Rhine in Tomasee.

    From here, travel through the Ruinaulta, or Rhine Gorge, taking in one of the most picturesque landscapes in the Alps, which makes for a sensational experience. The winding river changes altitude beside the railway tracks, passing sheer white cliffs, hilltop towers, and slinking under arched viaducts.

    Next, you will pass through Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland and the lowest altitude stop on this route, affectionately named the ‘Alpine City.’ Twisting streets, historic buildings, restaurants, bars, museums, galleries, boutiques, and a pedestrianised Old Town provide days of cultural entertainment to those staying for longer, so you may wish to disembark for a night. You can also take the Dreibundenstein Panorama Path from Brambruesch to Dreibundenstein and Feldis if you wish to appreciate a selection of Alpine flora and more fantastic views. Nearby Heidiland was home to the eponymous character, and still retains its chocolate box feel, and the thermal waters springing from the earth in Bad Ragaz make this a very enjoyable spa destination. The waters reach their warmest, at 37 degrees, in the atmospheric Tamina Gorge.

    The Glacier Express will then take you through the Domleschg Region, the area with the most castles and palaces in Switzerland. Some areas of this lush region resemble fairytale English countryside, with paths sheltered by trees and shady groves. Next, pass through Thusis and Tiefencastel, the latter of which has ochre-fronted houses, stunning, narrow stone bridges, and is crowned by a solitary tower. The track takes a brief diversion east to Davos, nestled between the slowing rising slopes. From here, the Glacier Express traverses the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Bernina Railway Line. One of the highlights of this stretch is the curve of the Landwasser viaduct, built in 1901. This route takes you on through Filisur, gaining altitude via a series of loops, before entering the Albula Tunnel at 1789m above sea level and heading towards Bergun, where you may wish to stop to visit the Bergun Railway Village, home to the Albula Railway Museum and the Railway Adventure Trail. Otherwise, ensure you take in the sight of the crystal clear blue waters that run in the rivers.

    Gaining on its final destination, the Glacier Express then stops in Samedan and Celerina, home to the Cresta Run. Built in 1884, this is one of the St Moritz area’s most famous attributes. Then, hurtle on to St Moritz, one of the most famous Alpine resorts in the world. At 1856m above sea level, visitors are welcomed by stunning views across the lakes of the Upper Engadine Valley, and the refreshing dry, clear, Alpine climate. Navigate the local peaks via railway, reaching the Piz Corvatsch, Chantarella, and Corviglia, where a cable car takes you up to Suvretta’s most famous viewing point. Enjoy the water sports at the sublime Lake Sils and Lake St Moritz, or the windy Lake Silvaplana.

    We would highly recommend completing your trip by allowing us to organise rail travel to and from England, with a night in Zermatt and St Moritz on either side. This varied and iconic journey remains popular with clients seeking a taste of both nature and culture in Switzerland, with the possibility of exploring some of the country’s most phenomenal towns and cities.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    Glacier Express Holiday Map


    Glacier Express Touring Holiday Map
     

    Glacier Express Route Map


    Glacier Express Route Map 2 

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

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