Grand Tour of Switzerland

Grand Tour of Switzerland

from £2,598 excluding flights

  • 14 nights
  • May-Oct
  • Multi-destination
  • Rail
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switzerland alps behind lucerne astk

Grand Tour of Switzerland

from £2,598 excluding flights

  • 14 nights
  • May-Oct
  • Multi-destination
  • Rail

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Highlights

In pictures
switzerland glacier express crossing landwasser viaduct stefan schlumpf

Take four iconic rail journeys including the Glacier Express & Golden Pass

switzerland walking along lake moritz near st moritz astk

Immerse yourself in the Alpine paradise of St Moritz

switzerland lucerne old town astk

Delve into Lucerne’s beautiful old town

switzerland terraced vineyards lavaux maude rion

Visit the famous terraced vineyard of Lavaux

switzerland cruising lake lucerne luis astk

Sit back and relax as you cruise across Lake Lucerne

switzerland view over interlanken hans zurbuchen

Explore the Bernese Alps from Interlaken

Why this trip...

sweden railway track astk transport used 02 white

On track and flight free

Slow travel from London to the classic towns and cities of Europe with your rail tickets and accommodation taken care of

canada forest trail istk well researched route white

Carefully planned

This itinerary has been thoughtfully designed to provide the experiences and places you'll enjoy at a comfortable pace

Aoraki Mt Cook National Park tailor made white

Tailor made

This itinerary can be tailor made to suit you and is intended to give you a guideline of what is possible in a given timeframe

Overview

Combine the spectacular alpine scenery of Switzerland and the engineering prowess of the Swiss and you have a recipe for truly extraordinary rail journeys. In fact, we think this two-week itinerary is one of the best rail holidays in the world. Not only does it seamlessly link four iconic and seriously scenic train journeys – the Golden Pass, Glacier Express, Bernina Express and Gotthard Panorama Express – but it also includes ample opportunities for exploring medieval towns and cities, sampling traditional Swiss cuisine and enjoying the odd mountain hike, cable car ride or boat trip. What’s more, it’s completely flight-free – simply hop on a train at London and let your rail adventure begin!

Golden Pass

Connecting central Switzerland with Lake Geneva, the Golden Pass route is made up of three train journeys: the Luzern-Interlaken Express, the Interlaken-Zweisimmen leg and the Golden Pass Panoramic (between Zweisimmen and Montreaux). There are quicker ways of travelling between Lucerne and Lake Geneva, but none take you on a more breathtaking route through the heart of some of Europe’s finest mountain scenery. End-to-end, the Golden Pass takes six hours, but you’ll be breaking your journey in Interlaken for a two-night alpine interlude. Highlights of the journey include the Brünig pass and the steep descent to Montreaux, weaving through vineyards and country estates.

Glacier Express

It takes around 7.5 hours to trundle 180 miles on the famous Glacier Express, travelling at an average speed of just 24mph. The slower the better as far as we’re concerned! Linking Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn with the iconic ski resort of St Moritz, this is arguably Switzerland’s most scenic train journey, and you’ll want to spend every minute soaking up the views of snow-capped peaks, alpine forests and mountain villages from the special panoramic coaches used on this route. Highlights include the Rhine Gorge (the ‘Grand Canyon of Switzerland’), the Oberalp Pass and the remarkable mountain-to-mountain Landwasser viaduct – one of nearly 300 bridges traversed.

Bernina Express

Another contender for Switzerland’s most scenic rail journey, the Bernina Express is the highest railway in the Alps, crossing the 2,253m Bernina pass, tackling gradients as steep as 1 in 7 and negotiating 55 tunnels and 196 bridges on its trans-Alpine route between Chur in Switzerland and Tirano in northern Italy. After climbing up to the Morteratsch Glacier, the line descends through flower-speckled meadows and conifer forest, passing picturesque villages like Poschiavo. When you roll into sunny Tirano, you’ll have covered 90 miles in four hours. Slow travel at its best!

Gotthard Panorama Express

The fourth and final stage of Grand Tour of Switzerland is on the Gotthard Panorama Express – a combination of train and boat travel. From the Mediterranean city of Lugano, with its grand palaces and fine parks, the railway takes you to the 15th-century castles of Bellinzona (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), through the vineyards of Gionico and the 15km-long Gotthard Tunnel before climbing in tight loops above the village of Wassen with its eye-catching Baroque church. Arriving at Flüelen, you transfer to a Lake Lucerne steamboat for an equally relaxing journey by water, passing Tell’s Chapel and Rütli Meadow before arriving in the beautiful city of Lucerne. Gotthard Panorama Express operates between May and the 18th of October.

Swiss Travel Pass

Your Swiss Travel Pass offers unlimited travel by train, bus and boat for the duration of your holiday. You are also covered for unlimited travel on premium panorama trains and the compulsory seat reservation fees are included with this itinerary. Enjoy unlimited use of public transport in more than 90 towns and cities and a free admission to more than 500 museums, as well as up to 50% discount on many of the mountain excursions.

Itinerary

Day 1 London - Zurich

Depart London in the morning and travel to Paris Gare du Nord on Eurostar. Transfer to Gare du Lyon, just two stops on the Paris PER, in time for lunch, before departing on your onward journey to Zurich where you'll spend the following two nights.

Depart London in the morning and travel to Paris Gare du Nord on Eurostar. Transfer to Gare du Lyon, just two stops on the Paris PER, in time for lunch, before departing on your onward journey to Zurich where you'll spend the following two nights.

Day 2 Zurich

With a full day to explore Zurich, we suggest heading to the medieval old town, Altstadt, and strolling along the waterfront where you can admire the beautiful guild houses that were built for tradespeople such as carpenters, merchants and spice dealers. Zurich’s Niederhof area is also worth exploring. Dominated by the Romanesque church of Grossmunster, it’s riddled with cobblestone alleys lined with trendy boutiques and Swiss eateries. Don’t miss the Neo-Baroque Conditorei Péclard where you can treat yourself to traditional sweets or sample the truffles, pralines and cakes. Visit the Cabaret Voltaire to learn about the birth of the Dada movement over a century ago. Overnight in Zürich.

With a full day to explore Zurich, we suggest heading to the medieval old town, Altstadt, and strolling along the waterfront where you can admire the beautiful guild houses that were built for tradespeople such as carpenters, merchants and spice dealers. Zurich’s Niederhof area is also worth exploring. Dominated by the Romanesque church of Grossmunster, it’s riddled with cobblestone alleys lined with trendy boutiques and Swiss eateries. Don’t miss the Neo-Baroque Conditorei Péclard where you can treat yourself to traditional sweets or sample the truffles, pralines and cakes. Visit the Cabaret Voltaire to learn about the birth of the Dada movement over a century ago. Overnight in Zürich.

Day 3 Zurich - Interlaken

Take the morning train to Lucerne before boarding the Golden Pass railway to Interlaken. Leaving Lucerne, the Golden Pass train skirts the Pilatus mountain and two lakes (the Sarnersee and Lungernsee) before climbing to the Brünig Pass at 1,008m. A 413m descent on a cogwheel track brings you down to Meiringen, from where you follow the Hasli valley to serene Lake Brienz and Interlaken for a two-night stay.

Take the morning train to Lucerne before boarding the Golden Pass railway to Interlaken. Leaving Lucerne, the Golden Pass train skirts the Pilatus mountain and two lakes (the Sarnersee and Lungernsee) before climbing to the Brünig Pass at 1,008m. A 413m descent on a cogwheel track brings you down to Meiringen, from where you follow the Hasli valley to serene Lake Brienz and Interlaken for a two-night stay.

Day 4 Interlaken

Boasting spectacular views of three famous Swiss peaks – Mönch, Jungfrau and Eiger – Interlaken makes a superb base for exploring the Bernese Alps by train, funicular, cable car and, of course, via an extensive network of hiking trails. An optional cruise on either Lake Thun or Brienz aboard an historic paddle-steamer is highly recommended. Overnight in Interlaken.

Boasting spectacular views of three famous Swiss peaks – Mönch, Jungfrau and Eiger – Interlaken makes a superb base for exploring the Bernese Alps by train, funicular, cable car and, of course, via an extensive network of hiking trails. An optional cruise on either Lake Thun or Brienz aboard an historic paddle-steamer is highly recommended. Overnight in Interlaken.

Day 5 Interlaken - Montreux

Today, you continue your rail journey on the Golden Pass. Leaving Interlaken, the train weaves through the mountain-framed Simmen Valley, verdant with farms and forests, before climbing to a high point near Saanenmöser at 1,279m. The line passes the glitzy Swiss resort of Gstaad before descending to Montreaux on a dramatic, sinuous track that offers wonderful views of Lake Geneva. Spend the following two nights in Montreaux.

Today, you continue your rail journey on the Golden Pass. Leaving Interlaken, the train weaves through the mountain-framed Simmen Valley, verdant with farms and forests, before climbing to a high point near Saanenmöser at 1,279m. The line passes the glitzy Swiss resort of Gstaad before descending to Montreaux on a dramatic, sinuous track that offers wonderful views of Lake Geneva. Spend the following two nights in Montreaux.

Day 6 Montreaux

An idyllic montage of mountains, lake and vineyards… Montreaux has inspired artists, writers and musicians ranging from Freddie Mercury and Prince to Igor Stravinski. It feels almost Mediterranean along the shores of Lake Geneva between Villeneuve ad Lutry where Montreaux Riviera enjoys a microclimate that sustains the famous terraced vineyard of Lavaux (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Enjoy a wine tour, or venture from the lake shore into the forests where walking trails lead through alpine meadows to fabulous panoramic viewpoints. Overnight in Montreaux.

An idyllic montage of mountains, lake and vineyards… Montreaux has inspired artists, writers and musicians ranging from Freddie Mercury and Prince to Igor Stravinski. It feels almost Mediterranean along the shores of Lake Geneva between Villeneuve ad Lutry where Montreaux Riviera enjoys a microclimate that sustains the famous terraced vineyard of Lavaux (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Enjoy a wine tour, or venture from the lake shore into the forests where walking trails lead through alpine meadows to fabulous panoramic viewpoints. Overnight in Montreaux.

Day 7 Montreaux - Zermatt

Continue by rail to the famous Swiss ski resort of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn. This car-free village offers numerous summer activities. We recommend the cogwheel train ride to Gornergrat which takes you to over 3,000m for a breathtaking view of the Matterhorn. It’s also a great starting point for Alpine walks. Overnight in Zermatt.

Continue by rail to the famous Swiss ski resort of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn. This car-free village offers numerous summer activities. We recommend the cogwheel train ride to Gornergrat which takes you to over 3,000m for a breathtaking view of the Matterhorn. It’s also a great starting point for Alpine walks. Overnight in Zermatt.

Day 8 Zermatt - St Moritz

Embark on the classic Glacier Express rail journey to the elegant alpine resort of St Moritz. This 290km, 7.5hr train ride takes you through a head-spinning kaleidoscope of snow-capped peaks and narrow valleys, through spiral tunnels and across the Obralp Pass. Perhaps the crowning glory of this epic train journey is traversing the Landwasser – a curved, six-arched limestone viaduct, completed in 1902 and carrying you 65m above a ravine before burrowing straight into a tunnel carved in the cliff face. Spend the following two nights in St Moritz.

Embark on the classic Glacier Express rail journey to the elegant alpine resort of St Moritz. This 290km, 7.5hr train ride takes you through a head-spinning kaleidoscope of snow-capped peaks and narrow valleys, through spiral tunnels and across the Obralp Pass. Perhaps the crowning glory of this epic train journey is traversing the Landwasser – a curved, six-arched limestone viaduct, completed in 1902 and carrying you 65m above a ravine before burrowing straight into a tunnel carved in the cliff face. Spend the following two nights in St Moritz.

Day 9 St Moritz

Birthplace of Alpine winter tourism, St Moritz has twice hosted the Winter Olympics – but summer is equally beguiling in this spa resort where mineral springs were discovered 3,000 years ago. With a full day to immerse yourself in this Alpine paradise, choose from a plethora of activities, ranging from hiking and mountain biking to sailing, horse riding and golf. Don’t miss a romantic carriage ride around the lake, through the town or Staz forest. Overnight in St Moritz.

Birthplace of Alpine winter tourism, St Moritz has twice hosted the Winter Olympics – but summer is equally beguiling in this spa resort where mineral springs were discovered 3,000 years ago. With a full day to immerse yourself in this Alpine paradise, choose from a plethora of activities, ranging from hiking and mountain biking to sailing, horse riding and golf. Don’t miss a romantic carriage ride around the lake, through the town or Staz forest. Overnight in St Moritz.

Day 10 St Moritz - Lugano

Today’s rail journey takes you on another classic route: the Bernina Express to Tirano. Climbing to 2,253m, you’ll reach Ospizio Bernina station – the highpoint of this exciting trans-Alpine railway. Panoramic carriages provide unobstructed views of the surrounding glaciers and peaks. In Tirano, change to the Bernina Express bus to complete your journey to the stunning lakeside town of Lugano. Spend the following three nights in Lugano.

Today’s rail journey takes you on another classic route: the Bernina Express to Tirano. Climbing to 2,253m, you’ll reach Ospizio Bernina station – the highpoint of this exciting trans-Alpine railway. Panoramic carriages provide unobstructed views of the surrounding glaciers and peaks. In Tirano, change to the Bernina Express bus to complete your journey to the stunning lakeside town of Lugano. Spend the following three nights in Lugano.

Days 11-12 Lugano

The Italian-speaking Swiss town of Lugano is not only famous for its spectacular views of the San Salvatore and Bré Mountains, but also for its colourful neoclassical architecture and intimate old town. With two days to explore Lugano, we’d recommend taking the funicular up to San Salvatore or Bré Mountain and then hiking back, taking a boat trip on Lake Lugano, sampling some local and seasonal cuisine and simply enjoying the town’s beautiful architecture – the cathedral of San Lorenzo is well worth a visit. Both nights in Lugano.

The Italian-speaking Swiss town of Lugano is not only famous for its spectacular views of the San Salvatore and Bré Mountains, but also for its colourful neoclassical architecture and intimate old town. With two days to explore Lugano, we’d recommend taking the funicular up to San Salvatore or Bré Mountain and then hiking back, taking a boat trip on Lake Lugano, sampling some local and seasonal cuisine and simply enjoying the town’s beautiful architecture – the cathedral of San Lorenzo is well worth a visit. Both nights in Lugano.

Day 13 Lugano - Lucerne

Embark on another iconic rail journey – the historic Gotthard Panorama Express to Flüelen. Travelling in a first-class panorama coach, relax as you watch the spellbinding scenery slip past. Highlights include Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro – the trio of 15th-century Bellinzona castles built by the Dukes of Milan and now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will also travel through the 15km-long Gotthard Railway Tunnel, a masterpiece of engineering dating from 1882. At Wassen, the train gains height in a series of loops, allowing you to admire the village’s striking Baroque church several times. At Flüelen, transfer to a lake steamer and voyage along Lake Lucerne, passing Tell’s Chapel (where Wilhelm Tell is said to have made his daring escape) and Rütli Meadow (where Switzerland was founded in 1291). Arrive in the charming lakeside city of Lucerne where you spend the following two nights.

Embark on another iconic rail journey – the historic Gotthard Panorama Express to Flüelen. Travelling in a first-class panorama coach, relax as you watch the spellbinding scenery slip past. Highlights include Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro – the trio of 15th-century Bellinzona castles built by the Dukes of Milan and now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will also travel through the 15km-long Gotthard Railway Tunnel, a masterpiece of engineering dating from 1882. At Wassen, the train gains height in a series of loops, allowing you to admire the village’s striking Baroque church several times. At Flüelen, transfer to a lake steamer and voyage along Lake Lucerne, passing Tell’s Chapel (where Wilhelm Tell is said to have made his daring escape) and Rütli Meadow (where Switzerland was founded in 1291). Arrive in the charming lakeside city of Lucerne where you spend the following two nights.

Day 14 Lucerne

Spend your final day in Switzerland exploring what many consider to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Hugging the shores of Lake Lucerne, with mountains as a backdrop, Lucerne’s must-see highlights include the 14th-century landmark of Chapel Bridge, the old city square of Weinmarkt and the fortified Musegg Wall. Don’t miss the Dying Lion of Lucerne – a rock sculpture described by Mark Twain as ‘the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world’. For a final meal out, try regional specialities like Lucerne vol-au-vents, dried meats or fillet of lake trout. Overnight in Lucerne.

Spend your final day in Switzerland exploring what many consider to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Hugging the shores of Lake Lucerne, with mountains as a backdrop, Lucerne’s must-see highlights include the 14th-century landmark of Chapel Bridge, the old city square of Weinmarkt and the fortified Musegg Wall. Don’t miss the Dying Lion of Lucerne – a rock sculpture described by Mark Twain as ‘the saddest and most moving piece of rock in the world’. For a final meal out, try regional specialities like Lucerne vol-au-vents, dried meats or fillet of lake trout. Overnight in Lucerne.

Day 15 Lucerne - London, via Paris

Board the morning train to Paris Gare du Lyon, then transfer to Gare du Nord for the evening Eurostar to London.

Board the morning train to Paris Gare du Lyon, then transfer to Gare du Nord for the evening Eurostar to London.

Accommodation Options

We will recommend accommodation for this holiday, but with a vast choice available, we can adapt to suit your personal preference mixing different grades and styles in different cities.

Discuss your options with our Travel Specialists.

Prices and Departures

Price from £2,598 excluding flights

This itinerary is based on rail travel from the UK, so flights are not required.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Breakfast throughout
  • All rail travel
  • All compulsory seat reservation fees on panorama and international trains
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

From price per person

Based on two sharing a twin room with private facilities and breakfast. Prices may vary depending on departure date. Please contact us for a detailed quote based on your preferred travel dates.

Departure Duration Twin Price
01 May - 06 October 14 nights £2,598 Round trip by train
01 May - 06 October 14 nights £2,434 Fly back on Day 15 - price excludes flights*

*Please note that flights are not included in the price, but will be quoted at the time of booking.

This itinerary is flexible and the number of nights at each of the overnight stays can be extended or reduced.

Meet our expert

nordic team eric shadbolt bw
One of our specialists
Meet Eric

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