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ALPINE ASCENT OF SWITZERLAND & ITALY

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Zürich
  • Lucerne
  • Interlaken
  • Montreux
  • Zermatt
  • St Moritz
  • Bellagio
  • Ascona
  • Zürich

19 Days Exploration
  • Departing:
  • 11 Jun 2023 Less than 5 places remain

The allure of alpine scenery during a northern summer is difficult to resist. Aboard some of Europe’s most celebrated railways, we engage with the landscapes of Switzerland and Italy, rolling through vast valleys and ascending monumental summits. A group of no more than 22 guests will enjoy outlooks onto lakeside chalets and verdant pine forests, in a style unknown to the region’s early mountaineers.

Map
Switzerland
Switzerland

Ascend to Jungfraujoch

Board the Jungfrau Railway on a journey to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station. At an altitude of 3,454 metres, the sight of the station’s façade, amid a landscape of snow and ice, borders on the mystical.

Switzerland
Swiss Cheese

Gastronomy in Gruyères

Take a trip to the small town of Gruyères, home to the world-famous cheese of the same name. Visit La Maison du Gruyère to learn its production secrets, while enjoying the idyllic country setting and a few samples.

Switzerland
Lake Como

Striking Shorelines of Switzerland and Italy

Switzerland and Italy boast some of the most beautiful lakeside scenery in the world. From the shores of Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and Lake Lucerne, we absorb the colourful villages and picture-perfect hillside outlooks of this spectacular region.

Switzerland
Switzerland

The Many Sides of Mt Pilatus

Reach the peak of Mt Pilatus by cable car and admire the serene views of Lake Lucerne below. The world’s steepest cogwheel railway guarantees a thrilling descent, before a cruise of the lake offers yet another perspective of our awe-inspiring surroundings.

Switzerland
Switzerland

Staggering Sights from St Moritz

During our two-night stay at the elegant Kulm Hotel, we enjoy astounding views onto Lake St Moritz and the Engadine Valley, while your other senses can also be indulged in the hotel’s spa and restaurants.

Itinerary

From Zurich, we travel to the city of Lucerne, set stunningly upon the lake that shares its name. Our home for the next three nights is the majestic Hotel Palace Luzern.

This morning, we visit the Rigi massif. From the viewing platform, admire Lake Zug, Lake Lucerne and the rustic country scenes below us. Or look north across the plains into Germany. Afterwards, enjoy a paddle steamer ride back to Lucerne and relax at our striking lakefront hotel.

Today we board a cable car for our ascent to Mt Pilatus. From the mountain’s peak, we enjoy sweeping views of Lake Lucerne. Our journey back down the massif takes place aboard the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, enabling us to absorb the spectacular alpine scenery at close range. We barely have time to reacquaint with terra firma, before boarding a boat for a cruise of the lake’s tranquil waters.

The Luzern-Interlaken Express train carries us through magnificent alpine scenery, past crystal-clear lakes and a backdrop of steeply rising rock faces. Numerous chalets dot the mountain landscape, which we also see adorned with a covering of verdant grass and spruce forests. Our train climbs the Brünig Pass. Reaching the plateau, our gaze is met by a number of contented cows grazing upon the undulating meadow. We then descend the mountain, our train soon rolling alongside the sparkling waters of Lake Brienz. Shortly thereafter, we arrive at our destination Interlaken. On arrival, we climb aboard a funicular and traverse the sharply rising Harder Kulm. On reaching the summit, we are treated to unparalleled panoramic views from the mountain’s restaurant. Here, we enjoy lunch, relishing in our vantage point at the top of Interlaken. The elegant Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa then invites us in for three nights.

Today, we board an historic steam train, which takes us to the peak of Mt Rothorn. From this altitude, Lake Brienz appears as a small turquoise pool set within the valley. Following our descent, a cruise on the pure waters of Lake Brienz reverses our perspective. With the breeze upon our faces, we pass pretty fishing villages and the arresting mountains of the Bernese Oberland. Our boat returns us to Interlaken for dinner and we make our selection from the area’s best restaurants.

Today, we make the quintessential Alpine train journey to Jungfraujoch. At 3,454 metres above sea level, this is the highest railway station in Europe. On one side, we have a view of the Swiss plateau, as far as the Vosges mountains in France. On the other, we see the Aletsch, the largest ice cap in the Alps. Perhaps dine on some classic Italian cuisine in our hotel’s restaurant this evening.

Another iconic train journey awaits us this morning. We board the panoramic GoldenPass Express in Interlaken for the journey to Montreux. As we leave behind Jungfrau and the Lauterbrunnen Valley, our train winds its way through steep mountains carpeted in pine trees and grassy meadows. These seemingly endless vistas of green are occasionally punctuated by small alpine villages. Soon we arrive at our accommodation. Regal and resplendent, the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace sits upon the shores of Lake Geneva, where it has been welcoming guests ever since 1906. We have the pleasure of enjoying its exemplary hospitality over the course of the next three nights.

We trace the shoreline of Lake Geneva this morning, on our way to the Lavaux-Oron District. One of Switzerland’s best-loved wine regions, the Lavaux hosts us today for a tasting. With dazzling views of Lake Geneva and the Alps before us, we sip some of the country’s finest dry whites and elegant reds. Perhaps unwind before dinner this evening in the Montreux Jazz Café or at Funky Claude’s Bar in our hotel.

The epicures in our group rejoice today. We board a train bound for Gruyères, a town famous for the cheese named after it. And, also for the chocolate it produces. At La Maison du Gruyère, we learn how the cheese is made, and also taste some there and then. We return to Montreux for dinner.

We board a train for the short journey from Montreux to Le Châtelard. Our waiting coach then guides us through the mountains and on to the small village of Täsch. From here, the only way of reaching car-free Zermatt is by the dedicated shuttle train. Upon setting foot in the idyllic resort town, we check in to Hotel National Zermatt for the first of our two nights here. Relax and take the afternoon, as well as the evening, at your own pace.

Once a small farming town, Zermatt developed at a frenetic pace after the first ascent of the Matterhorn was made in 1865. We set out on a walking tour of the village this morning, before climbing aboard yet another train for our journey to Gornergrat. Our elevation increases gradually as we wind our way around the mountain and pass behind small villages, the rocky ridge of Gornergrat always in sight. As we reach our destination, we’re afforded expansive views of the Monte Rossa massif from an altitude of 3,089 metres. From here, we can also easily make out the Gorner Glacier and the Matterhorn, as well as over 20 other mountains, each standing at more than 4,000 metres in elevation. The afternoon is free for you to explore on your own schedule. This evening, enjoy some traditional regional cuisine in our hotel’s restaurant.

Today, we set out on another legendary train journey, the Glacier Express, from Zermatt to St Moritz. Lunch is served on board the train and we arrive in St Moritz at 5pm. We check in to our home for two nights, the Kulm Hotel, whose dining room holds the distinction of being the first room in Switzerland to be lit by electricity. No such innovation is required to enhance the scenery during our stay here, however, with each of us guaranteed a room with Lake St Moritz views.

We relax in the comfort of our grand lodgings, whose founder is credited as one of the pioneers of winter tourism. After a light lunch, we head out to inspect the town before taking a funicular to the summit of Muottas Muragl. From here, we enjoy sweeping views of the Engadine Valley and its lakes. Tonight, dinner is in a mountain restaurant on Muottas Muragl.

Today, we travel to nearby Pontresina and board the Bernina Express. On one of life’s great short train journeys, we roll south and shortly cross the border into Italy. Glaciers and crystal-clear lakes make up the scenery along the way. In between these remarkable sights, our train also passes over steep valleys along the region’s vertiginous bridges. Lunch is enjoyed in the quiet town of Tirano, with superb views of the Alps. After some time to explore, we continue our journey, boarding a coach for Bellagio. On arrival, we recognise our glorious residence, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, a sight to behold on the shores of Lake Como. With only two nights here, be sure to indulge in the fine cuisine of our hotel’s restaurant.

Enjoy a walk along Bellagio’s narrow laneways this morning, glancing up towards colourful terrace houses, whose balconies are adorned with terracotta-potted plants. On the edge of Bellagio’s sun-drenched squares, we browse the wares of restaurants, boutiques and artisanal ice creameries. The afternoon is yours at leisure. Perhaps wander the tree-lined waterfront promenade or take advantage of our hotel’s lakeside outdoor pool or private beach. This evening, you may like to savour some traditional regional cuisine in the second of Villa Serbelloni’s two restaurants.

Embark a boat this morning and cross the waters of Lake Como to arrive at Villa Carlotta. Here we see the sumptuous fusion of art and nature. We explore the villa’s vast art collection, acquired over three centuries. No less a kaleidoscope of colour, the villa’s gardens showcase a large collection of hydrangeas in full bloom, as well as 500 other species of plant. Following a light lunch, we farewell the Italian lakes and join the road back to Switzerland. We soon reach the town of Ascona, resting on the banks of Lake Maggiore. Equal parts modern and elegant, the Hotel Eden Roc hosts us for two nights. A world of choice is ours this evening, with our hotel’s four restaurants all available for dinner. Select from French-inspired classics, Mediterranean delicacies and Italian delights.

We venture north to Val Bavona, an isolated valley, famous for its ancient dwellings and absence of electricity. It is also the steepest and rockiest valley in the Alpine region, making it a popular destination for rock climbers. The lack of power means the area is only inhabited during summer, but any perceived drawback from such scarcity is more than offset by its enchanting and enduring wilderness. Take a walk through the neighbouring villages, arriving in Foroglio to admire its majestic waterfall. In Sonlerto, several houses have been built between the boulders of a prehistoric landslide. Back at Hotel Eden Roc, we soak up the magnificent mountain views on our final night in southern Switzerland.

This morning, we farewell delightful Ascona and board a train for our return to Zürich. After checking in to the stately Hotel Schweizerhof Zurich, we take the afternoon at leisure to explore the city, or simply relax.

Waking in Zurich, take the morning on your own schedule before we transfer to the airport. Our magnificent journey through the Swiss Alps is at an end.

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