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  • The grand heart of Switzerland mountains rail tour

    Montebello Curve. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Brusio Viaduct. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Jungfraubahn. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Lavaux Vineyard Train. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Matterhorn. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Lucerne. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Chapel Bridge. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Alp Grum. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Ticino. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Horneggli. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    The grand heart of Switzerland mountains rail tour

    11 or 12 nights/ 12 or 13 days
    Lake Lucerne – Bernese Oberland – Saanenland and Gstaad – Lake Geneva – Zermatt – Lake Lugano – Bernina Pass
     
    Travel on three of Switzerland’s most iconic railway lines as you trace the pattern of valleys and mountains all around the country. Spend nights beside the Matterhorn, Suvretta Mountain, the Jungfrau, the Gornergrat, Monte Tamaro, Rigi Mountain, and the Wispile, navigating their dramatic relief via funicular railways, cable cars, and internationally renowned trains.
    Iconic rail journeys included: GoldenPass Line – Glacier Express – Bernina Express


    This grand tour of Switzerland begins with your arrival into Zurich, either by rail or by air. From here, you catch a train southwest to Lucerne, for two nights beside the lake, taking in the most popular cultural sights, including the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower. Then, move on into the Bernese Oberland for two nights in the chocolate box villages of Grindelwald or Wengen in the Lutschine Valley. This is the perfect opportunity to ascend the Jungfrau by rail to Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. After two nights, continue west into the Saanenland, staying another two nights in either Schoenried or Gstaad. Here, five valleys meet to create a wide, picturesque bowl of green plains between countless mountain peaks. Next, catch the GoldenPass Line from the Saanenland to Montreux beside Lake Geneva. Travel south into Valais to Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn. Spend a couple of days under the brooding stare of Switzerland’s most famous mountain before continuing on via the Glacier Express to Lugano in Ticino. The icy Alpine landscapes of Valais here blur into the lush green Mediterranean fields and hills of Ticino. Lugano will be your host while you explore the eponymous lake and nearby Monte Tamaro. Your final night in Switzerland is spent in St Moritz, after taking the Bernina Express bus and train via Lake Como and Tirano in northern Italy. On your last day, re-board the Bernina Express to Chur, where you change trains for Zurich. Should you wish to return to the UK by rail, we would recommend spending an extra night in Zurich before departure, though flights can be arranged on the same day.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    Sample prices
    Rail (standard class on Eurostar and second class on all other trains) from London and throughout back to London at 4 star hotels (eg Hotel Wilden Mann, Hotel Wengener Hof, Hostellerie Alpenrose, Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, Parkhotel Beau Site, Hotel Lugano Dante and Hotel Schweizerhof St Moritz), from £2,680 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £410 per person

    Flights to/from Switzerland and second class rail travel in Switzerland at 4 star hotels (eg Hotel Wilden Mann, Hotel Wengener Hof, Hostellerie Alpenrose, Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, Parkhotel Beau Site, Hotel Lugano Dante and Hotel Schweizerhof St Moritz), from £2,610 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £260 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 Palace Luzern, Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald, Le Grand Bellevue, Fairmont Le Monreux Palace, Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Villa Castagnola and Giardino Mountain), from £3,600 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £410 per person

    Flights to/from Switzerland and second class rail travel in Switzerland at 5 star hotels (eg Palace Luzern, Hotel Schweizerhof Grindelwald, Le Grand Bellevue, Fairmont Le Monreux Palace, Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Villa Castagnola and Giardino Mountain), from £3,530 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £260 per person

    What’s included:
    • Scheduled flights with British Airways, return from London to Zurich OR rail travel from London to Switzerland return via Paris (first class can be booked at a supplement)
    • 8 day Swiss rail flexi pass (first class can be booked at a supplement)
    • 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Lucerne
    • 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Grindelwald or Wengen
    • 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in the Saanenland
    • 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Montreux
    • 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Zermatt
    • 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Lugano
    • 1 night’s bed and breakfast in St Moritz

    Optional
    Additional nights can be added in Zurich (at either end), Lucerne, Grindelwald, the Saanenland, Montreux, Zermatt, Lugano, or St Moritz. If you are arriving from or returning to the UK by rail, we would recommend spending an extra night in Zurich at the beginning or end of your tour.

    Not Included
     
    Transfer in Paris
    Transfers in Switzerland station to hotel unless offered by your hotel.  

    Click the tabs above to view our suggested day-by-day touring itinerary and to find out more about the hotels featured.

    The grand heart of Switzerland mountains rail tour

    Day-by-Day Itinerary
    Lake Lucerne – Bernese Oberland – Saanenland and Gstaad – Lake Geneva – Zermatt – Lake Lugano – Bernina Pass


    DAYS ONE: Travel to Lucerne via Zurich
    Choose to either arrive in Zurich by air or to travel by rail via Paris and Basel to Lucerne, depending on time constraints and preferences. If travelling via Zurich, either spend an hour or two exploring this crisp, historic city, or immediately board the train to Lucerne. The short train journey leaves you plenty of time to explore the city before retiring to your choice of luxury hotel.

    DAY TWO: Lucerne
    An essential visit on any stay in Lucerne is the Chapel Bridge, the city’s main landmark and the most photographed monument in Switzerland. Walk along the bridge, taking in the views of the Reuss River, the so-called Water Spike, and the Water Tower. For both historical significance and architectural beauty, visit the 17th century Jesuit Church, which overlooks the water and is topped by two droplet-shaped domes. Above the city is the Musegg Wall, a 14th century structure that once protected the city within. Though the city now sprawls outside of this wall, the nine defensive towers still remain, three of which are open to the public. Enjoy lunch in a pavement café on the Kornmarkt Square, beside the colourful Pfistern Guildhall, the Hirschenplatz Square, or the Weinmarkt Square, where Lucerne swore its federal oath with Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden. To see some exemplary Swiss culture, visit the prestigious KKL Luzern gallery, the Rosengart Collection of works by Picasso and Klee, the Wagner Museum in Tribschen, and the Swiss Museum of Transport. Finish your days with a sumptuous dinner back at your hotel, or in one of Lucerne’s many gourmet restaurants.

    DAYS THREE:  Lucerne to Bernese Oberland
    This touring itinerary then takes you southwest from Lucerne into the Bernese Oberland. The train journey takes you along the western shore of Lake Lucerne, Lake Sarnen, Lake Lungern, and north around Lake Brienz. Change trains at Interlaken, perhaps spending an hour admiring the stunning location of this town, and move on up the steeper cog railway to Grindelwald or Wengen.

    DAY FOUR: Bernese Oberland
    The enchanting chocolate box villages of Grindelwald and Wengen afford stunning views of the surroundings from your location at over 1,000m above sea level. The two nearby villages are connected by two cable cars, by bus, or by train, and both sit at the base of the Jungfrau. Your stay here is therefore perfectly placed for enjoying the most iconic attraction of the Bernese Oberland. Travel by funicular railway up to Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe, to appreciate the stunning views. For hiking trails, take cable cars up to the Monch and the Eiger, or simply follow the softer trails that lead out of Grindelwald. The picturesque Lake Fallboden makes for idyllic and relaxing afternoon and evening walks. Complete or begin your stay in Grindelwald with a self-guided stroll between the rustic wooden chalet houses.

    DAYS FIVE: Bernese Oberland to Saanenland

    At around lunchtime, board the train from Grindelwald back to Interlaken, on to Zweisimmen, and then to Schoenried or Gstaad along the first section of the GoldenPass Line.

    DAY SIX: Saanenland
    On the border between the cantons of Bern and Vaud, the Saanenland marks the surreal convergence of five individual valleys. Schoenried itself sits on slightly higher ground than its famous neighbour, Gstaad. The area is known for its delicious Alpine dairy products, which are served in many of the 100 gourmet restaurants that line Gstaad’s main promenade in the form of fondue or raclette. The boutique shops and quaint cafes housed inside these iconic chalets are well worth a few hours of your time as they capture a great deal of Swiss authenticity. The Molkerei Gstaad allows visitors to taste a selection of the 3,000 cheeses produced in the Saanenland. We would recommend spending one of your two days in the Saanenland joining the dots between the traditional farmhouses that surround the fields outside Gstaad, and perhaps venturing further out on one of the hundreds of Alpine trails and paths. Adventurous visitors will want to take a trip up to Glacier 3000 to take in the views of 24 of the surrounding mountains that measure above 4000m. In the evening, retire to your hotel in Schoenried or Gstaad for a gourmet dinner and a drink beside the cosy fireplace.

    DAY SEVEN: Saanenland to Montreux on the GoldenPass Line
    In the late morning of your seventh day, board the GoldenPass Line for the two hour journey from Schoenried to Montreux. After passing through Gstaad, the GoldenPass Line crosses the border into Vaud, stopping first in Rougemont, and then Chateau-d’Oex. Here the mountainscapes are dotted with quaint chalets, small churches, and petit castles; an image that is very typical of the Pays-d’Enhaut. The villages you will pass next all retain their own individual architectural character, emerging out of plumes of evergreen trees. In Rossiniere and Montbovon, passengers can view the startling translucent turquoise water that runs in rivers crossed by ancient wooden bridges. At Les Avants, the train begins to wind its way down the hillside towards Montreux, where you will stay for one night on the banks of Lake Geneva. On this brief stop, we would recommend exploring the railway history of the area, taking the Vineyard Train (S31) through the Lavaux Terraced Vineyards between Vevey and Puixdoux-Chexbres, the train through the meadows to Rochers-de-Naye (on which you can sometimes see the Jet d’Eau in Geneva), and the Chocolate Train to the Maison Cailler chocolate factory and museum. The highlight of your visit to Montreux, however, may well be Chillon Castle, perched on a rocky outcrop and seemingly emerging out of the water. This is Switzerland’s most popular historical landmark, and, with its fairy-tale beauty, it is easy to see why.

    DAYS EIGHT: Montreux to Zermatt
    Today you travel by train from Montreux to Zermatt. This train journey takes around two and a half hours, passing Chillon Castle, Martigny, and pausing at Visp while you change trains. As you enter Zermatt, the area’s crowning glory will make itself apparent: the Matterhorn. Around it, over 400km of walking and hiking paths vein the landscape, allowing you to capture stunning panoramas of both Zermatt and the Matterhorn while uncovering more of the Alpine flora and fauna. 

    DAY NINE: Zermatt
    Small railways from Zermatt take you high up into the mountains, reaching 3000m above sea level, and the Glacier Paradise cable car transports you up to Europe’s highest viewing platform. To extend both your experience of the railways of Valais and the mountains, take the Gornergratbahn up to the summit of the Gornergrat, from where you can bask in views of 38 mountain peaks. Consider visiting the Hornlihutte, where for decades climbers have famously stayed as they prepare to climb the Matterhorn, via the Hornli Ridge, the Zmutt Ridge, or the north wall. For something wholly unique, spend an hour or two at the Zermatlantis Matterhorn Museum, a faithfully recreated archaeological site. After a thrilling and busy day exploring this dynamic area, dine in one of Zermatt’s abundant gourmet restaurants or back at your chosen hotel.

    DAY TEN:
    Join the Glacier Express from Zermatt to Andermatt, where you catch a separate train to Lugano, where you will spend one night

    Today you board one of the distinctive carriages of the Glacier Express to Andermatt, where you change trains on your way to Lugano. This short stretch of the Glacier Express takes you first through the enchanting village of St Niklaus, defined by its rustic chalet houses with peaked roofs, and then onto Brig, where the 17th century Stockalper Castle stands proudly at the centre of the Old Town, crowned by unusual onion domes. The Glacier Express then takes you through the Furka Tunnel of the Furka Steam Railway, past the ice caves of the Rhone Glacier, and over the bridge in Oberwald. At Andermatt, you cease journeying east and turn immediately south into the province of Ticino. Follow a single main valley as the environment becomes gradually more Mediterranean and the climate becomes warmer. Trickling waterfalls spill out of the mountainsides, and sparsely populated villages spread across flat valley floors. This train passes through Bellinzona, the most Italianate town in Switzerland. Here, three castles stand opposite each other on green bluffs, forming a single well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lake Maggiore is visible in the distance as you continue further south past Monte Tamaro towards Lake Lugano and your destination. Arrive in the afternoon and if possible take the funicular railway up to the summit of Monte Bre from Casserate, or simply sit back and enjoy the Mediterranean feel of the waterside in this colourful city.

    DAY ELEVEN: Lugano to St Moritz on the Bernina Express coach and train

    You depart Lugano by yet another mode of transport: the Bernina Express coach. The Bernina Express bus from Lugano to Tirano in Italy leaves at around 10am, arriving three hours later and passing Lake Como and the picturesque villages of northern Italy on its way. In Tirano, you have an hour to enjoy the charming combination of Italian architecture and Alpine backdrop. Perhaps stop off at the Santuario della Madonna di Tirano on the quiet central square, or seek out the historic monuments and paintings dotted around the town. Then, embark on the final part of your Bernina Express journey, ready to arrive into St Moritz two hours later. This stretch takes you past thriving orchards and vineyards, over the unique Brusio viaduct as it spirals back on itself to compensate for the changing altitudes, and into Le Prese over the Swiss border. Continue on through the Bergamo Alps, through grand and regal Poschiavo and the Val Poschiavo, to Alp Grum, the only restaurant to be exclusively accessible by rail. If time permits, perhaps stop here for a light lunch before continuing with your tour. The Bernina Express now begins its ascent to the highest point on the Rhaetian Railway in Ospizio Bernina. Before arriving into St Moritz, you will pass two of the most famous sights on this railway: the Montebello Curve and the Morteratsch Glacier. The Curve itself allows you plentiful time to appreciate the views of the glacier. Arrive into St Moritz for your final night in Switzerland, perhaps using the time to reach the best viewing point of the Suvretta Mountain by cable car, or to visit Lake Sils, Lake St Moritz, or the windy Lake Silvaplana. The neighbouring mountains, including the Piz Corvatsch, Chantarella, and Corviglia, can all be explored by rail.

    DAY TWELVE: St Moritz to Zurich via Chur

    On what may be the final rail journey of your holiday, travel from St Moritz to Zurich via the oldest town in Switzerland: Chur. This route takes you first to Chur, past the Cresta Run in Celerina, the Albula Railway Museum in Bergun, the towering Landwasser viaduct in the Domleschg Region, the popular resort of Davos, the stone bridges and ochre houses of Tiefencastel, and the sublime Ruinaulta before arriving in the ‘Alpine City.’ Change to a direct train to Zurich, which takes just over an hour and skirts around Lake Walen and Lake Zurich on the way. Round up your touring holiday with an hour or two in Zurich before your return flight or train. Those planning to travel home by train are encouraged to spend an extra night in Zurich after the journey from St Moritz.

    Click the 'Hotel Information' tab to find out more about the hotels featured in this touring itinerary.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    Grand Heart of Switzerland Mountains Tour 

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    Hotel Information

    These are the luxury hotels that are featured in this vast touring holiday. Choose your ideal combination, and one of our personal travel specialists will put together an individual price for you.

    Lucerne
    Hotel Wilden Mann – 4 star

    Hotel Wilden Mann has been hosting guests for over 500 years; first as a bar, then as a tavern, and now as a luxury hotel. Inside, the original winding corridors and traditional elements remain, adding further quirkiness to the building that clings to the edge of the river. The lovingly decorated rooms have antique furnishings, abundant character, and a very classical style.
    Palace Luzern – 5 star
    The lakefront Palace Luzern is in a very prestigious area, flanked by houses equally as palatial as the hotel itself. Light airy rooms follow either a traditionally elegant style, an art deco design, or are sleek and modern. Higher category rooms feature works by Miro, Kandinsky, and Chagall. The gourmet restaurants are unique in Lucerne; one serving exclusively seafood. A highlight is the tempting and luxurious spa.
     Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern – 5 star
    This luxury hotel enjoys a central location on the lakefront close to the historic Old Town. The Schweizerhof has seen many a famous face stay here and is now run by the fifth generation of the family. The hotel offers a wellness and beauty area with stunning views of the lake as well as two on-site restaurants.
     Hotel Waldstaetterhof – 3 star
    This centrally-located hotel offers sleek, bold accommodation that strikingly contrasts the fairy-tale appearance of its 20th century townhouse exterior. Polished wooden floors, white walls and bedsheets, and bold reds, blues, or greens create a very warm feel, which is complemented by the sharp lines, feature colours, and unique ornaments of the restaurant and bar.

    Grindelwald
    Romantik Hotel Schweizerhof – 5 star

    This attractive, traditional hotel has an abundance of authentic Swiss character, from the dark wood chalet exterior, to the rich, cosy colours of the interiors. A ‘stubli’ style restaurant serves guests a range of Swiss specialities, a comfortable lounge and a picturesque garden provide hours of relaxation, and the idyllic spa offers a place to relax after a day exploring the mountains of the Bernese Oberland.

    Wengen
    Hotel Wengener Hof – 4 star
    With easy access to both the Jungfrau and the Lauterbrunnen Valley, this chalet-style hotel offers a charming and homely four star option. A garden of trees and flowers leads you up to the front door, and inside, traditional Swiss decoration and design takes precedence. Guests here can also access the spa and dining facilities at the sister hotel, the Hotel Silberhorn.

    Saanenland
    Hotel Alpenrose – 4 star
    A boutique property housing cosy and elegant accommodation, the Hotel Alpenrose is a consistently popular option for clients staying in the Saanenland. Rustic facilities compliment the Alpine setting, making the spa, restaurant, bar, and guestrooms all the more homely and comfortable.
    Le Grand Bellevue – 5 star
    Just a short walk from Gstaad’s main boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, Le Grand Bellevue is a highly convenient hotel immersed in the picturesque lifestyle of the Saanenland. Its pale yellow façade is palatial in design, with a distinctive tower that shapes some of the hotel suites. Equipped with a Michelin starred restaurant and an indulgent spa, this is a luxurious property in which to spend two or three nights while you explore the Saanenland.

    Montreux
    Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic – 4 star

    This stylish hotel in Montreux is a stunning palatial property with beautiful views of Lake Geneva. Enjoy an evening here relaxing at the bar and taking in the stunning views from the vast terrace. Accommodation is in elegant rooms appointed in minimalist style with classical touches. Opt for a lake view room here for an extra luxurious touch.
     Fairmont le Montreux Palace – 5 star
    This startling luxury hotel stands right on the banks of Lake Geneva. The Willow Stream Spa, the 3 restaurants and 4 bars, and the beautifully appointed rooms make this hotel a highly rewarding five star option for stays in Montreux. The Belle Epoque design reflects the building’s history, while setting the tone for the sophistication and elegance that lies within.

    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.
      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.

    Lugano
    Hotel Lugano Dante – 4 star

    Built around traditional Swiss elements, this hotel provides simplistic luxuries in an area rich with gourmet restaurants. Inside the hotel, guests experience cosy, warm rooms, sleek, monochrome suites, and an unrelenting attention to detail.
    Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola – 5 star
    Housed within a late 19th century mansion, the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola channels aspects of Mediterranean culture in its pale-peach façade, its summery garden, and the dining experiences on offer. Guestrooms have wholly unique touches to ensure that every stay here is different, and the swimming pool, lounges, and bars encourage guests to keep returning.

    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.
    Giardino Mountain – 5 star
    This chic, luxury hotel is a gem amongst the Engadine hotels. Traditional alpine style architecture is balanced with stylish accommodation, authentic and modern dining, an indulgent spa and a fantastic central location for summer sports as well as laid-back relaxation. The Giardino Mountain closes for several months between the main winter and summer seasons.
     
    Chur (optional replacement for St Moritz)
    Romantik Hotel Stern – 3 star

    This timeless townhouse is situated within each reach of Chur’s famous Old Town. White shutters frame the tall windows, and the combination of pink and white stucco gives this building a very pretty aspect. Guests here are treated to a real taste of authentic Switzerland, in the light, yet rustic bedrooms, and in the ‘stubli’ restaurant, which serves a range of Alpine delicacies.

    Zurich (optional additional night)
    Hotel Ambassador a l’Opera – 4 star

    As a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, the Hotel Ambassador a l’Opera prides itself on the high quality of its service, its seasonal and locally-sourced food, and the very particular, serene style of the rooms. It is well-placed for enjoying Lake Zurich, the Limmat River, and the small marina at the end of the street.
    Hotel Storchen Zurich – 4 star
    Since the beginning of its hospitality 650 years ago, the unique and charming Hotel Storchen Zurich has offered an authentic insight into Swiss culture, design, and lifestyle. A pavement café lines the riverside, and behind the distinctive pink façade are high-ceilinged, tastefully decorated rooms, and the Rotisserie Restaurant, the ceiling of which is decorated in frescoes.
    Hotel Baur au Lac – 5 star
    Set on the banks of Lake Zurich, the Hotel Baur au Lac is equipped with a Michelin-starred restaurant, extensive tranquil parkland, and a rich, warm interior design. Guests can enjoy the beauty of the lake from the promenade or from a boat cruise, before returning to the hotel to enjoy the serene gardens, the chic luxurious indoor spaces, and the circular restaurant the juts out across the water.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

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    Grand Grand Switzerland Rail Tour

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    This grand tour of Switzerland encompasses all the highlights of this diverse country.
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