From the soaring Swiss Alps to gorgeous lakes, thriving cities to timeless villages, Switzerland is one great surprise after the next. Our 13-day Swiss Sampler tour is the best way to fully explore this amazing country! No busses and no hassles… just great train rides, fantastic destinations, charming hotels, and the best sights the Alps have to offer. This tour combines stays in 3 of Switzerland’s prettiest and most interesting cities – Lucerne, Lugano and Montreux – along with visits to 3 of the most incredible mountain areas anywhere – the Matterhorn region (Zermatt) and Jungfrau region (Mürren), and the Engadine (St. Moritz). You’ll travel every 2nd day, a sensible pace that gives you enough time to soak in the sights at each stop.
Our deluxe option pampers you with distinctive inns, 4-star hotels and a 1st class rail pass (5-star hotels and suite upgrades are also available), while the standard option includes more modest inns, 3-star hotels, and a 1st class rail pass. We’ll take care of all the details: get you the most appropriate rail pass, find the best hotels, recommend our favorite sights, and link them together in an itinerary that gets the most out of your time in Switzerland. All of the tours include breakfast each morning, and 4 dinners in Zermatt and St. Moritz.
As always, you can count on your hotels being the best in their class – charming, family run inns with perfect locations, great food, and professional service. Your typical day will start with a buffet breakfast at your inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice – giving you a good start for a full day of sightseeing. Then you’ll be out, seeing the sights such as Lucerne’s Chapel Bridge or Mount Pilatus, Switzerland’s highest train station – the Jungfraujoch, or breathtaking Gornergrat in Zermatt. Many days will include a scenic train ride between villages such as the Goldenpass route, Chocolate train (optional), Glacier Express and Bernina Express – all wonderful train rides that link the German, French and Italian sections together in an itinerary that gets the most out of your time in the Swiss Alps.
Lucerne – Arrive in Zurich and travel one hour to Lucerne, perhaps Switzerland’s prettiest city, where your tour will begin. The seamless connections between the Zurich airport and the Swiss train system will be your introduction to Swiss precision.
You’ll be right in the heart of Lucerne’s historic Old Town center, with cobblestoned, car-free roads presided over by ornate buildings and ringed by ancient city wall. See the famous Chapel Bridge, the Lion of Lucerne, and local museums, or perhaps take the cable car and cogwheel train up to the views from Mount Pilatus. We’ll give you maps and lots of helpful suggestions, and you’re free to tour the city at your leisure.
Lucerne – A second day in Lucerne gives you a chance to further explore, and there are many options.
Take a boat ride along Lake Luzern and visit the nearby mountain village of Engelberg, with magnificent views of the Central Swiss Alps from the Titlis cable car, or take a walk along the lakeside promenade to the impressive transport museum. Enjoy an open-air dinner along the riverfront looking out at the Chapel bridge.
Mürren – Maybe you’ll get a chance to visit the Lucerne farmer’s market (held continuously by the river for over 800 years!), before catching the Goldenpass train on a beautiful 4 hour trip to the Bernese Oberland’s Jungfrau region, perhaps the most impressive region in the Swiss Alps, where you’ll stay in the car-free village of Mürren.
Mürren is a fairly-tale landscape of huge mountains and waterfalls, flower-munching cows, and quaint villages. It’s the perfect place to unwind and slow down. Take a short hike or ride the cable car to Schilthorn for the region’s best views.
Mürren – A second day in Mürren gives you a chance to fully appreciate this incredible region, my favorite in Switzerland. The area is surrounded by hiking trails, and has many cable cars and trains to viewpoints that are all stunning and worthwhile.
You might decide to ride the Jungfraujoch train to the Aletsch glacier – Europe’s largest glacier, tunneling through the Eiger with numerous viewpoints enroute. Your included rail pass will give valuable discounts on this ride, and we’ll give suggestions on how to combine the Jungfraujoch trip with some sightseeing around Kleine Scheidegg. Or perhaps you’ll stay lower down and see the Yosemite-like Lauterbrunnen valley, surrounded by dozens of waterfalls, including the impressive Trummelbach falls, which have cut a canyon so narrow, they appear to be falling inside the mountain.
Montreux – Continue the Goldenpass route with a train ride through the pastoral Simmen valley to Montreux, your base on the shores of lovely lake Geneva.
Montreux is nestled among the vineyards of Switzerland’s Lavaux wine region, with a pleasant lakeside location and beautiful views of the distant Alps. Take a walk along the lakeside promenade, or try some local Swiss wine and enjoy Montreux’s ambiance in your only stop in French-speaking Switzerland.
Montreux – Among your many options for your second day in Montreux are a daytrip on the Chocolate train – a classic Pullman train that takes you on a ride through the gentle hills of the Gruyeres region to tours of both a chocolate factory and cheese dairy.
The Chocolate train is an all-day excursion that needs to be booked in advance (as us if you are interested in including this on your tour). Or, you may choose to stay in town for an intimate look at medieval life with a visit to the Chillon castle, and take a trip through the vineyards of Switzerland’s wine country.
Zermatt – Today it’s back to the Alps with a visit to another of Switzerland’s prettiest mountain regions. A morning transfer by train through the Rhone valley brings you to Zermatt, the atmospheric mountain village nestled up at the foot of the Matterhorn.
The Matterhorn is Switzerland’s most recognizable monument, a massive and distinctive mountain surrounded by dozens of fine, glacier-clad peaks. Ride a cable car up to stunning viewpoints, take a memorable mountain walk, or just enjoy the ambiance of the village with great restaurants and hotels and a lively shopping district.
Zermatt – You’ll have a second day in Zermatt to take in the sights, and again, there are no shortage of options.
The historic cogwheel train ride up the ridge to Gornergrat is a must, with gorgeous views of Monte Rosa (Switzerland’s highest mountain), the Gorner glacier, Matterhorn and more. If you want to get out, there are many walks from easy strolls to challenging hikes to choose from, or check out the fine Matterhorn museum in town.
St. Moritz – Ride the famous Glacier Express train, a comfortable and scenic 8 hr journey across the Swiss Alps to St Moritz in the Engadine region. The ride features numerous thrilling tunnels and bridges, and is comfortable and relaxing throughout.
St Moritz is a stylish and chic village in the Upper Engadine, a pretty town set on a gorgeous lake, and a great base in this region for mountain views, lakeside walks, and sightseeing trips to nearby villages. If you prefer a quieter village, we can book you in nearby Pontresina.
St. Moritz – A second day in St Moritz gives you a chance to explore this beautiful and peaceful region, home to a number of pretty lakes, huge mountains, beautiful villages, as well as Switzerland’s only National Park.
There are hikes from your hotel, cable cars and cogwheel trains to speed you to great viewpoints of the surrounding Alps, or quaint villages straight out of another century, such as Guarda and Soglio, to be explored throughout the valley.
Lugano – The Bernina Express route is one of Switzerland’s prettiest rides and brings you by train to Italy, then by bus along the shores of lake Como to Lugano, Switzerland’s sun-drenched, lakeside pearl.
This Italian-speaking region brings a distinctly Mediterranean feel, with charming outdoor markets on narrow, cobblestoned streets. Lugano is a tidy and vibrant city, and our hotel sits just across from the lake in the pedestrian-only core of the city.
Lugano – The options for our 2nd day in Lugano include boat rides along the lake, walks from nearby fishing villages, or a more adventurous journey to the valleys above Locarno.
Return to Lugano for a final night, and enjoy dinner in one of the many fine open-air restaurants that dot the old town. Take a stroll along the palm-tree lined lakefront.
depart – Arrivederci, and depart by direct train to Zurich or other post-tour destinations.
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