15879
Switzerland
Splendors of Switzerland By Rail
Discover museums, villages, waterways and culture as you explore the Swiss Alps by rail, winding through some of Europe’s most iconic and photograph-worthy landscapes.
Rating (4.85)
Program No. 15879RJ
Length
16 days
Starts at
5,439
Flights start at
800
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16 days
15 nights
40 meals
14 B 12 L 14 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Lucerne
L,D
Hotel Waldstätterhof Luzern

Activity note: Check-in available upon arrival.

Lunch: Light buffet lunch at the hotel. Unless otherwise noted, lunches on this program are typically a two-course set menu. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals.

Afternoon: Free time to relax. 4:00 PM Program Orientation and getting to know each other. Your Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: Welcome drink and dinner at the hotel. Unless otherwise noted, dinners on this program are typically a three-course set menu.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Swiss Transport Museum
Lucerne
B,L,D
Hotel Waldstätterhof Luzern

Breakfast: Hotel dining room. On this program, breakfasts will offer a typical European style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold-cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: Lecture: “Introduction to Switzerland: Geography and Cultural Regions.” Coffee break. This will be followed by a short lecture on "The Swiss Transportation System."

Lunch: At the museum's restaurant.

Afternoon: Field trip to the Swiss Transport Museum. The museum houses more than 3,000 items, and is the most diverse museum about transportation and communication in Europe. Led by professional museum staff, your visit focuses mainly on historic trains, and the new trans-Alpine railway through the Gotthard.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Lucerne, Mt. Rigi, Paddle Steamer on Lake Lucerne
Lucerne
B,L,D
Hotel Waldstätterhof Luzern

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Lecture: "Swiss History and Politics." After a coffee break, attend another lecture: "Switzerland Today." Then we will visit the old town of Lucerne. You will see the famous sights and landmarks: the chapel bridge, the modern Congress and Concert Hall and the old town on both banks of the Reuss River.

Lunch: Light lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Excursion by historic paddle wheeler and cog railway to Mt. Rigi. The cog railway Vitznau-Rigi is the oldest in Europe (but well maintained and equipped with beautiful modern cars). It was constructed by the same Swiss engineer who built the cog railway up to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. You will enjoy the great panorama on an easy walk on Mt. Rigi. The way back is via Arth-Goldau.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Golden Pass Express, Interlaken
Interlaken
B,L,D
Hotel Carlton Europe

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Depart for the transfer to Interlaken. Visit the Lion Monument by public bus and on foot. Journey aboard the Golden Pass Express train and by boat to Interlaken via Bruenig Pass and Lake Brienz.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch at the restaurant aboard the boat on Lake Brienz.

Afternoon: Arrival in Interlaken. Enjoy a free afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: Lecture: "The Alps - History, Culture and Challenges."

DAY
6
Bern, Clock Tower, Zentrum Paul Klee
Interlaken
B,D
Hotel Carlton Europe

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: All day excursion by Intercity train to Bern, the capital city of Switzerland. Even though Bern is the capital of Switzerland, it is small. The old town, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is built into a bend of the Aare River and is very well preserved. It still gives the impression of a town in the 17th century. Expert-led visit to the old part of Bern, where you will see the Parliament building, the famous clock tower, and explore the Muenster (cathedral), one of the finest examples of gothic art. Then enjoy free time in Bern for strolling under the arcades.

Lunch: Explore local restaurants on your own in Bern.

Afternoon: Audio-led field trip to the excellent "Zentrum Paul Klee," the world's most important collection of paintings, water colors and drawings by Paul Klee. The museum was designed by star-architect Renzo Piano. We will take a late afternoon train back to Interlaken.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: Cultural event or at leisure. Your Group Leader will provide further information if an event is available, when you are on the program.

DAY
7
Jungfrau Region
Interlaken
B,L,D
Hotel Carlton Europe

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: We travel by train to Grindelwald in the Jungfrau Region, followed by a field trip to the local museum in Grindelwald. Learn about life in a mountain village today and in former times.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Grindelwald.

Afternoon: The Jungfrau Railway will bring you up to Kleine Scheidegg on the foot of the famous Eiger north face. You can admire the mountains on a delightful, easy walk over the alpine meadows or during a coffee break on one of the restaurant terraces. You may also wish to take the Jungfraujoch on your own during this time (your Group Leader can assist in purchasing tickets). We will take the Jungfrau Railway down to Lauterbrunnen in the "Swiss Yosemite Valley." From the train we can see numerous waterfalls. In Lauterbrunnen, we change trains to go back to Interlaken.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: Cultural event or at leisure. Your Group Leader will provide further information if an event is available, when you are on the program.

DAY
8
Alpine Cheese Dairy, Breathtaking Views
Brig
B,L,D
Schlosshotel Art Furrer

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Journey aboard the Golden Pass Panoramic train to Zweisimmen. Enjoy delightful vistas of the Simmental and the surrounding mountains. We will enjoy a stop at an Alpine cheese dairy to watch how tasty Bernese Alpine cheese is made on a mountain farm (weather permitting as there can occasionally be snow in the mountains at this time of year). (Your luggage will be transported directly to the hotel in Brig.)

Lunch: Eating “Raclette,” a Swiss Cheese Specialty at the Alp Dairy.

Afternoon: We continue our journey aboard the Golden Pass Panoramic Express from Zweisimmen to Montreux. This route offers great views of glaciers, over the Rhone valley and Lake Geneva. It ends in mondaine Montreux on the bank of Lake Geneva where you have to change trains. The Intercity-train then takes you along the lush Rhone Valley, the main Swiss wine country, passing the towns of Sion and Sierre to historic Brig. Check in at the hotel in Brig.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Brig.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Brig, Zermatt, Matterhorn
Brig
B,L,D
Schlosshotel Art Furrer

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Short Lecture: "The Simplon Pass." Then take an expert-led excursion to Stockalper Castle. Built in the 17th century by Kaspar Stockalper, the castle has an impressive courtyard, palace halls, chapel and gardens. Late morning departure for Zermatt; we drive along the Glacier Express Route.

Lunch: Enjoy a local specialty in a restaurant in Zermatt.

Afternoon: We will explore the car-free mountain village of Zermatt by walking down the main street or some of the quaint cobbled alleyways, where you will find ancient sun browned barns and traditional chalets. On a beautiful day you will take the cogwheel train from which you can admire the breathtaking panorama of a range of snowcapped high peaks, including the famous Matterhorn. If there is bad weather, we will visit the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt instead, which presents the history, culture and growth of Zermatt, including the story of the first climbers to ascend the Matterhorn. Late afternoon ride back to Brig to our hotel.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Brig.

Evening: At leisure or listening to "Valais legends."

DAY
10
Centovalli
Locarno
B,L,D
Hotel Geranio au Lac

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Journey to Locarno via Domodossola (Italy) and the Centovalli. You will travel through the Simplon Tunnel to Domodossola in Italy. There you change to the narrow gauge Centovalli-railway for the most spectacular part of the journey. The railroad winds through the picturesque Centovalli area, a valley with numerous side valleys (Centovalli means hundred valleys). Luggage will be transported on this transfer. Check in at the hotel.

Lunch: At a restaurant next door to the hotel.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: At a restaurant next door to the hotel.

Evening: Enjoy a film about the construction of the new 31-mile long Gotthard base tunnel, the main north-south rail link in Europe.

DAY
11
Bellinzona castles
Locarno
B,D
Hotel Geranio au Lac

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Attend a late afternoon lecture: "Ticino, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland." In the late morning, take an excursion by train to Bellinzona, the capital of the Canton Ticino. The three castles in Bellinzona are on the UNESCO list as World Cultural Heritage Sites. The medieval town is very picturesque.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own in Bellinzona.

Afternoon: Take an expert-led walk through Castelgrande (the big castle) and the Old Town. Then take the train back to Locarno.

Dinner: At a restaurant next door to the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Verzasca Valley
Locarno
B,L,D
Hotel Geranio au Lac

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Expert-led walk in the old town of Locarno. You will see the Visconti castle, the main church San Antonio, the fascinating baroque church Santa Maria Assunta, and of course Piazza Grande, the large town square where the famed Locarno film festival takes place every year in early August. Late morning: The postal bus (a modern public coach service) will bring you to the Verzasca Valley, a remote and very typical mountain valley of Ticino. You will explore Sonogno, the highest village in the valley with its archaic stone architecture.

Lunch: Enjoy a typical Ticino menu at a restaurant in Sonogno.

Afternoon: Free time in Sonogno. You may have a look at the old baking house and visit the little Museum of Valle Verzasca with its eclectic collection reflecting rural life in the old days. Postal bus back to Locarno.

Dinner: At a restaurant next door to the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Gotthard Tunnel, Oberalp Pass, Spiral Tunnels
St. Moritz
B,L,D
Hotel Soldanella

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Early this morning, the Inter-regional train takes you from Locarno along the Leventina Valley towards the Gotthard massif. This famous railroad line is 130 years old and includes the 9 miles long Gotthardtunnel and astonishing ramps with spiral tunnels to gain height on both sides. You will pass four of these “loops” near Biasca and the Piotta Canyon before passing through the old Gotthard-tunnel. You will leave the train at the northern tunnel portal in Goeschenen and change to the narrow-gauge cog railway that climbs up the Schoellenen-gorge to Andermatt. From Andermatt, a first class train will take you along the Glacier Express route over Oberalp-Pass, along the Rhine and through the Rhine Canyon. In Reichenau-Tamins you will change to a beautiful dining car. (Luggage will be transported also on this transfer.)

Lunch: In the elegant dining car on the Rhaetische Bahn.

Afternoon: The train takes you up to Berguen on the northern side of the Albula Pass. After the Albula tunnel the view suddenly opens up to the wide Upper Engadine Valley. Arrive in St. Moritz and check in at the hotel after a short walk along the fancy shopping street. Enjoy some free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Village of Poschiavo
St. Moritz
B,L,D
Hotel Soldanella

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Wrap up lecture about the canton of Grisons, its 4th official language "Romansh," and Switzerland in general, and get the opportunity to ask any last questions. Take the postbus from St. Moritz to Poschiavo.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Poschiavo.

Afternoon: Expert-led walk in the interesting village of Poschiavo, the Italian speaking part of the Grisons. You will see the main piazza in Italian style with the medieval old town hall, the oratory Sant'Anna with ossuary, and the Palazzi, a picturesque mid-19th century street of patrician villas. Take the Panoramic Bernina Express back to St. Moritz. The Bernina Express travels along the highest and one of the most scenic railroad lines in the world. It passes the Morteratsch Glacier very closely. The railroad masters gradients up to 70% without a rack-and-pinion system. Enjoy countless breathtaking vistas to high mountains, glaciers and the Italian Alps.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Transfer to Zurich
Zurich
B,L,D
Hotel Welcome Inn

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Transfer to Zurich. Your last spectacular train ride with the Rhaetische Bahn takes you again back on the Albula line (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its spiral tunnels and spectacular turns over two 295 foot high viaducts and through gorges down to Chur. The other direction offers totally different views than the way up. Change in Chur to the Intercity train to Zurich.

Lunch: Picnic on the train.

Afternoon: Local train to Zurich-Kloten. Check in at the hotel. Free time for a visit to Zurich city. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
16
Departures
Zurich
B

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Individual departure to the Zürich-Kloten airport (ZRH) by hotel shuttle bus. This concludes our program. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures.






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