Self-guided Great Alpine Classics

Switzerland, France Village-based

For a dream trip to Alps, why not take in all of the grandest destinations, scenic train rides, and mountain vistas?

Self-Guided Tour

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  • Length
  • 13 days, 12 nights
  • Departure Dates
  • Jun 08 – Sep 20, 2016
  • Tour Cost
  • Standard: $4590 per person
    $400 single supplement

    Deluxe: $5790 per person
    $600 single supplement
Reserve this Tour


This tour covers 4 classic mountain destinations – hike beneath the Jungfrau, Mont Blanc and Matterhorn mountains, and ride the Glacier Express to the peaceful Engadine region. All four areas contain numerous unforgettable hikes and vistas that make this tour a classic in every sense! Our welcoming hotels, walkable villages, and beautiful locations make this a perfect choice for non-hikers as well.

Your tour starts in Chamonix, France, the stylish and historic village at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps. After 3 nights there you continue on to Mürren, a gorgeous car-free village perched dramatically atop a cliff surrounded by beautiful mountains and peaceful scenery. Then you’ll transfer by train to Zermatt, another hiker’s paradise, nestled beneath the incomparable Matterhorn. Finally you’re off on the Glacier Express train to Pontresina, the scenic and serene jewel of the St. Moritz lakes region. Along the way, you’ll stay in absolute comfort in traditional, exquisite 3 and 4-star hotels. If you don’t have enough time for the full tour, we offer shorter versions of either half of the Alpine Classics tour, West or East.

Your typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel – a feast of freshly baked bread and croissants, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs, coffee and freshly squeezed juice – which gives you the energy needed for the day ahead. Before setting out on your hike, visit a bakery and market for lunch supplies, or bring some money for a stop in one of the alpine restaurants along your route. Soon, you’ll be out on the trail for 6-8 hours, with many hiking options to choose from.

You should finish your hike around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, perhaps settle into the pool, or just gaze upon the outside panorama from your room balcony. After that, you’ll enjoy dinner at your hotel restaurant most nights. These are multi-course feasts, often centered on local specialties like bratwurst, rösti, or cheese fondue, but may also feature chicken, fish, or other continental specialties. Our hotels all serve fabulous food, and dinners will be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious. Typically we leave off all dinners in Chamonix and one dinner at each of the other locations, so you will have a chance to explore on your own.

Map of Self-guided Great Alpine Classics


Day 1

Chamonix – The Alpine Classics tour starts with arrival in Geneva or Zurich, and transfer by shuttle or train to Chamonix, France – the world-famous resort and mountaineering center at the base of Mont Blanc. 

Enjoy the crisp mountain air as you explore the village, and your first impressive views of Mont Blanc, before settling in to your comfortable hotel.

Day 2

Chamonix – One of the classic hikes in the region takes you to Lac Blanc, high above the village. 

This high-mountain lake sits in the Aiguilles Rouges, across the valley from Mont Blanc, and commands one of the greatest mountain views anywhere. Make good use of local cablecars to can enjoy more time hiking near the lake. Return to Chamonix for a 2nd night.

Day 3

Chamonix – Another favorite dayhike in the region rises up to Mer de Glace, a long glacier slicing down in an elegant S-curve toward the valley floor. 

Check out the glacier from a tunnel built into the ice, and return along a pleasant wooded trail along the old moraine wall.

Day 4

Mürren – A scenic 5 hour train ride takes you past alpine lakes, through the vineyards of the Rhone valley, and into Mürren, our home away from home in Switzerland. 

Mürren is an idyllic, car-free village, perched atop a sheer 3000-foot cliff above the waterfall-filled Lauterbrunnen valley (picture Yosemite with a Swiss village on top). Take a look around this beautiful town before settling in to dinner at your friendly hotel.

Day 5

Mürren – One of our favorite hikes starts in town, and gently meanders up the hills to the pastoral setting at Spielboden. 

Here you cross the Schiltbach stream and start a steep and invigorating ascent to the local peak of Bryndli. Take your lunch enjoying birds-eye views of Mürren and the Lauterbrunnen valley, perhaps with a soaring golden eagle for company. From here the trail levels off, and becomes a relaxing stroll through flowery meadows to a quiet alpine hut at Bogangen. The trail back leads over a small ridge for more great views, before dropping back down to Mürren.

Day 6

Mürren – The Upper Lauterbrunnen valley curls back beneath the white-capped Breithorn – considered by many to be the most perfect mountain in the region. 

It’s also a nature preserve, and contains many wonderful hiking trails. One of our favorites leads to the small farm at Obersteinberg, where the proprietors keep cows and make cheese by the same simple methods that have been used for centuries. This part of the valley also contains some of the area’s prettiest waterfalls.

Day 7

Zermatt – After breakfast, say good-bye to Mürren, and board the train for Zermatt, the lively alpine village at the base of the Matterhorn. 

You’ll have a chance to check out the historic village center and perhaps take a short walk before settling in to your lovely 3-star hotel. Check out the innovate Matterhorn museum, enjoy wonderful views of the Matterhorn from the hotel, or spend the afternoon at the indoor pool and spa.

Day 8

Zermatt – Taking quiet trails through fields and forest, you have a range of choices as you gain the wide ridge of Gornergrat, past marmots and small glacial lakes, to what has to be one of the finest viewpoints in Europe. 

The jumbled mass of the Gorner glacier stretches out before you, and behind that, Monte Rosa, Lyskamm, the Breithorn, and the Matterhorn form a spectacular backdrop.

Day 9

Zermatt – There are many peaceful trails criss-crossing the larch forests outside of Zermatt. You might take one that leads along a suspended wooden walkway through a narrow river gorge.

After a harrowing (but safe) walk through the gorge, you emerge and continue on to the enchanting, centuries-old hamlets of Zum See and Zmutt. Perhaps you’ll make the strenuous climb to the Schwarzsee lake, or even up to the Hörnli hut (a sort of Matterhorn base camp) to enjoy fabulous, close-up views of the Matterhorn and and a sweeping look back at the valley below.

Day 10

Pontresina – You’ll spend the day crossing Switzerland on the famous Glacier Express train, an all-day journey that brings you to St. Moritz before a short transfer to the pretty town of Pontresina. 

The hiking here is amazingly varied, and you’ll have numerous hikes to choose from. Enjoy a short walk through the village or relax at the enclosed pool and and extensive hotel spa.

Day 11

Pontresina – In Pontresina, the mighty Morteratsch glacier is an impressive destination. 

An easy, wooded walk takes you to the snout of the glacier, while a relatively moderate climb to the Boval hut rewards you with panoramic views of white-capped giants in every direction. Soft larch forests and abundant wildflowers help round out a great hike.

Day 12

Pontresina – From Pontresina, one of our favorite hikes anywhere is the panoramic Muragl traverse above Pontresina. 

Boasting quiet wooded stretches, abundant wildlife, and surprising views of the giant Piz Bernina and the paternoster lakes of St. Moritz, this hike provides a wonderful farewell to the Engadine region.

Day 13

depart – After breakfast at your hotel, say good-bye and leave for your post-trip destinations. 

Included Standard tour:
12 nights prepaid 3-star hotels
12 breakfasts, 6 dinners
Geneva-Chamonix airport transfer
1st class 4-day Swiss Flex rail pass
Glacier Express reservations
Glacier Express lunch

Deluxe tour:
12 nights prepaid 4-star hotels
12 breakfasts, 6 dinners
Geneva-Chamonix private airport transfer
1st class 4-day Swiss Flex rail pass
Glacier Express reservations
Glacier Express lunch

also included:
one month Half-fare card
topo maps
detailed route descriptions
sightseeing suggestions
train schedules
local contact for questions

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