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  • The grand romantic Swiss rail tour

    Lake Geneva. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    The Matterhorn. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Glacier Express. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Locarno. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Lake Maggiore. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Lucerne. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Lake Lucerne. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    GoldenPass Line. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Horneggli. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    Gstaad. Credit: Switzerland Tourism

    The grand romantic Swiss rail tour

    8 or 9 nights/ 9 or 10 days
    Lake Geneva – Zermatt – Centovalli Express – Lake Maggiore – Gotthard – Lake Lucerne – Saanenland
    Travel via some of the most scenic and charming rail routes in Europe, passing forested valleys, Alpine meadows, sublime lakes, and historic old towns. This romantic touring holiday takes you from Lake Geneva, down into Mediterranean-style Ticino, back up to Lake Lucerne, and then into the lush countryside of the Saanenland.
    Iconic Rail Journeys Included: Glacier Express – Centovalli Express – Gotthard Panorama Express – GoldenPass Line

    Begin this touring holiday with a rail or air journey into Geneva, from where you travel on to Lausanne for your first night in Switzerland. Choose from our selection of luxury Lausanne hotels for this night, before catching a train the next morning to Montreux. Here, you change trains and head for Visp, where you change for Zermatt. Spend two nights in Zermatt, taking in the sights of the Matterhorn, and a ride on the Gornergratbahn. Then the Glacier Express takes you to Brig, where you change for Domodossola to join the Centovalli Express. This iconic train journey is one of the most romantic in Europe, and takes you through to Locarno, where you will spend the next two nights. Enjoy Lake Maggiore and the colourful streets here, before heading north to Lucerne on the GotthardPanorama Express train and boat. Two nights in Lucerne allows you plenty of time to explore the lakeside, and perhaps travel further northeast to Zurich for a few hours. On your penultimate day, travel down to Zweisimmen, where you join the GoldenPass Line for the remaining journey into the Saanenland. Spend your final night in Gstaad or Schoenried before traveling once again by the GoldenPass Line into Montreux, and then on to Geneva for your return flight. If you intend to return home by train, we would recommend spending another night in Geneva before departure.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    Sample prices
    Flights to/from Switzerland and second class rail travel in Switzerland at 4 star hotels (eg Angleterre et Residence, Park Hotel Beau Site, Castello Seeschloss, Hotel Wilden Mann and Hostellerie Alpenrose), from £2,060 per person
    Supplement: First class rail in Switzerland £270 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, including Geneva (eg Angleterre et Residence, Park Hotel Beau Site, Castello Seeschloss, Hotel Wilden Mann, Hostellerie Alpenrose and Hotel Bristol Geneva), from £2,330 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £450 per person

    Flights to/from Switzerland and second class rail travel in Switzerland at 5 star hotels (eg Beau Rivage Palace, Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Eden Roc Hotel, Palace Luzern and Le Grand Bellevue), from £2,800 per person
    Supplement: First class rail in Switzerland £270 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, including Geneva (eg Beau Rivage Palace, Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, Eden Roc Hotel, Palace Luzern and Le Grand Bellevue and Hotel Beau Rivage Geneva), from £3,540 per person
    Supplement: Standard premier on Eurostar and first class on all other trains £450 per person

    What’s included:
    • Scheduled flights from the UK to Geneva return 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)
    • 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Lausanne
    • 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Zermatt
    • 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Locarno/ Ascona
    • 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Lucerne
    • 1 night’s bed and breakfast in the Saanenland

    Additional nights in any of the aforementioned stopovers or in Geneva at the end of the holiday.

    What’s not included:
    Transfers 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 romantic Swiss rail tour

    Day-by-Day Itinerary
    Lake Geneva – Zermatt – Centovalli Express – Lake Maggiore – Gotthard – Lake Lucerne – Saanenland

    DAY ONE:
    Arrive in Geneva and travel to Lausanne for your first night

    From London, catch a train or flight to Geneva, arriving in plenty of time to catch your connecting train to Lausanne. Perhaps spend an hour or two exploring Geneva, home to fine watch-making, the headquarters of the UN, and the Jet d’Eau fountain. Wander around the Vielle-Villa, the largest Old Town in Switzerland, stopping at the St Pierre Cathedral. In Lausanne, seek out the impressive historic monuments as well as the new, modern additions. Lausanne Cathedral is believed to be one of Europe’s most beautiful Gothic monuments, crowned by spires of unusual purple and orange hues. A brand new Olympic Museum has recently opened in the heart of Lausanne’s Old Town; three levels of interactive displays and illustrations depict Olympic history in all its colourful grandeur. The placement of this new museum comes as a result of the Olympic Committee Headquarters being in Lausanne. The Olympic Park is adjoined to the museum, and is dotted with artworks, sports sculptures, and well-maintained flowers and trees. Beside the Olympic Park is the promenade at Ouchy Harbour, which, when lit up in the evening, will be one of the highlights of your trip. The promenade takes you from the park along to the Haldimand Tower, the Bellevrie Swimming Pool, the Chateau d’Ouchy, and the port. Enjoy dinner in this beautiful area before returning to your choice of luxury hotel.

    DAY TWO: Lausanne to Zermatt

    Day Two takes you on to Zermatt. This train journey takes just shy of three hours, passing the 80 hectares of the stunning Lavaux Terraced Vineyards, Montreux and 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 THREE: 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 FOUR: Zermatt to Locarno/Ascona on the Glacier Express and Centovalli Express
    You board the Glacier Express and travel through the enchanting village of St Niklaus, punctuated by alpine chalets, rustic houses, and golden and green trees, to Brig. Spend time in this town if time permits to ensure you are able to visit the 17th century Stockalper Castle, the emblem of Upper Valais and the largest 17th century private building in Switzerland. Here, change trains for Domodossola, where the Centovalli Express begins in earnest. Reputedly one of the most romantic train journeys in Europe, the train will take you through picturesque small villages in both northern Italy and southern Switzerland. Stop off in Re to see the imposing Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Blood, which stands perched on the edge of a sheer cliff, before crossing over the border. Gently sloping valleys are interspersed with narrow gaps, tunnels, and bridges that reach across channels of thrashing white and turquoise water. In Ticino, the Centovalli Express ends in Locarno.

    DAY FIVE: Locarno/ Ascona

    Your hotel is located in the peaceful adjacent town: Ascona. Here you can appreciate the Mediterranean feel of this canton, but with the bustle of Locarno at a distance. In Locarno, however, you may wish to visit one of the many 16th and 17th century churches, the 15th century Sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso, or the Visconti Castle and its permanent exhibition of Roman glass. Should your visit fall on a Thursday, attend the local market to sample a few delicacies and watch the streets really come to life with colour and enthusiasm. Outside Locarno, adventurous guests may attempt to climb the Cadada Cimetta, from which you can see both the highest and lowest points of Switzerland simultaneously: the Valais High Alps and Lake Maggiore. In the evenings, return to Ascona to reclaim your bubble of peace and serenity.

    DAY SIX: Locarno and Lucerne on the Gotthard Panorama Express train and boat

    On your sixth day, you will embark on a route shaped by the legend of the Swiss National Hero of Liberty: Wilhelm Tell. Begin this journey by catching a train to Bellinzona, home to three of Switzerland’s best-preserved Medieval castles, where you may need to change for Fluelen. This train journey weaves its way along the valleys of Ticino, passing the waterfalls of Biasca, the Italianate architecture of Faido, a series of historic isolated chalets, and the town of Airolo. On your way out of Ticino, you will pass through the Gotthard Strassentunnel, as well as the complex network of rail lines in Goschenen. Navigate the Gotthard Loop Tunnels as you travel through the canton of Uri towards the southernmost point of Lake Lucerne. The railway track follows the course of the Reuss River, across flat, wide valleys as it loses altitude. In Fluelen, disembark and consider walking along the narrow promenade that separates the lake waters from the marina. Board the Gotthard Panorama Express steamboat or salon motorboat as you begin the true exploration of William Tell's story. Pass the Rutli Meadows, where Friedrich Schiller’s telling of the tale is set, and which was also the site on which a treaty was signed in 1291 between Lake Lucerne’s neighbouring cantons. The boat also stops off in Sisikon, home to Tell’s Chapel and Tell’s Slab, where Wilhelm Tell reputedly jumped from the bailiff’s boat and pushed it back into the stormy lake waters in the original story. Disembark from the boat at the lido of the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne where you stay next. 

    DAY SEVEN: 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.

    DAY EIGHT: Lucerne to Saanenland on the GoldenPass line.
    The first part of your next journey takes you to Interlaken via the Brunig Pass. Here, you can spend a few hours enjoying the town’s remarkable location before boarding another train to Zweisimmen via the Simmental, where you catch the GoldenPass Line for the remainder of the journey to the Saanenland. The distinctive golden carriages of the GoldenPass Line take you from Zweisimmen, the gateway of the Saanenland, to Schoenried and Gstaad. Disembark here for one night at a hotel of you choice.

    DAY NINE: 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 a few hours 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 evenings, retire to your hotel in Schoenried or Gstaad for a gourmet dinner and a drink beside the cosy fireplace.

    DAY TEN: Saanenland to Geneva on the GoldenPass line
    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 catch an additional train to Geneva for your return flight. If you intend to travel home by rail, we would highly recommend spending an extra night in Geneva to break up the journey.

    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 Romantic Swiss Rail Tour 

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

    Hotel Information

    These are the luxury hotels that are featured in this vast touring holiday. Alternative hotels are available in some destinations – please contact us for full details.

    Hotel Angleterre et Residence – 4 star

    In the sought-after area of Ouchy, the Hotel Angleterre et Residence combines the cosiness of an English cottage, the sleek stylishness of contemporary modern design, and the charm of a Swiss chateau. Each of its buildings is strikingly different from the outside, but with the same elegant interiors and fantastic service. L’Accademia is reputedly the best Italian restaurant in Lausanne.
    Hotel Beau Rivage Palace – 5 star
    This elegant spa hotel has a stunning, palatial façade, beautifully grand, ornate rooms, and convenient tennis facilities. Diverse internationally-inspired dining options provide plenty of indulgent options for evening meals. From the outdoor pool, guests can see Lake Geneva, and the mountains on the other side. This hotel is just a short walk from Ouchy Harbour.

    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.
    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.
    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.
     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.

    Romantik Hotel Castello Seeschloss Ascona – 4 star

    Possessing all the charm, character, and personalised service of a boutique hotel, this four star option in Ascona looks out across Lake Maggiore with a distinctly Mediterranean façade. This intimate converted castle still has its original tower, in which some of its rooms are held, though the dining room is of a particularly contemporary design.
    Eden Roc Hotel – 5 star superior
    Offering the ultimate feeling of luxury in Ascona, the Eden Roc Hotel sits right on the shore of Lake Maggiore and has its own private beach. Water sports, waterside barbecues, luxurious spa facilities, a range of varied dining options, and striking designer rooms ensure that a stay of a few nights here will be thoroughly enjoyable and memorable.

    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.

    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.

    Geneva (optional night at the end of the tour)
    Hotel Bristol Geneva – 4 star superior

    This glamourous and traditionally-inspired hotel sits close to the banks of the Rhone River. The deceptively contemporary façade gives way onto gracefully appointed rooms. Dimpled red leather sofas populate the bar beneath authentic portraits and large mirrors, and the Cote Square restaurant captures the best of sophisticated dining. At the end of a day’s exploration, relax in the hotel’s well-equipped spa.
    Hotel Beau Rivage Geneva – 5 star
    This luxurious property on the banks of Lake Geneva has its own Michelin-starred restaurant, a Thai restaurant, regal bedrooms, and an enviable location in the city. On the outside, French balconies are decorated with blue flowers, and inside an authentically recreated Roman atrium provides a wholly unique place to relax.

    Click here to download a full PDF itinerary.

  • Grand Heart of Switzerland Mountains Rail Tour

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    Travel on three of Switzerland’s most iconic railway lines as you trace the pattern of valleys and mountains a

    Grand Lakes of Switzerland Rail Tour

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    Linking together the most breath-taking Swiss lakes.

    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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