Switzerland

Switzerland in a Nutshell: Cities and Peaks by Train

Program No. 22543RJ
Ride the rails through the mountain of Switzerland to discover ancient towns, idyllic lakes, pristine countryside and the legendary Matterhorn with time for independent explorations.

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At a Glance

As massive, snow-covered peaks reach towards the sky, sloping green hillsides offer shelter to medieval cities, historic cathedrals and fascinating residents. Switzerland is a country of geologic and cultural wonders — and the ideal way to discover them is by train. Join us for a Swiss adventure along the rails that begins in the metropolitan city of Zurich and rolls along mountain landscapes to the vibrant city of Basel. Along the way, learn about French and German cultural influences, cross bridges over breathtaking gorges and thrill in the sight of the “Mountain of Mountains,” the Matterhorn.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to three miles; cobblestones, stairs and extensive standing. Elevations up to 7,300 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

What You'll Learn

  • Board the Glacier Express — Switzerland’s most famous railway — for a journey along mountain landscapes, idyllic gorges and over impressive bridges.
  • Enjoy a ride, weather permitting, on a cogwheel train for panoramic views of the Matterhorn.
  • Join an expert for a walk through the well-preserved medieval Old Town of Basel.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials.
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Year
2024
  • 2024
  • 2025
Date and Direction
Oct 11 - Oct 21 (Zurich to Basel)
  • May 03 - May 13 (Zurich to Basel)
  • May 17 - May 27 (Zurich to Basel)
  • May 31 - Jun 10 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Jun 14 - Jun 24 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Aug 16 - Aug 26 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Aug 30 - Sep 09 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Sep 13 - Sep 23 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Sep 27 - Oct 07 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Oct 11 - Oct 21 (Zurich to Basel)
Please Note: The program differs on certain dates.
Oct 11 - Oct 21, 2024 Itinerary Differences: This departure will stay at the Hotel Adhhoc in Brig.
Please Note: The program differs on certain dates.
Select trip year and date
2024
  • 2024
  • 2025
Oct 11 - Oct 21 (Zurich to Basel)
  • May 03 - May 13 (Zurich to Basel)
  • May 17 - May 27 (Zurich to Basel)
  • May 31 - Jun 10 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Jun 14 - Jun 24 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Aug 16 - Aug 26 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Aug 30 - Sep 09 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Sep 13 - Sep 23 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Sep 27 - Oct 07 (Zurich to Basel)
  • Oct 11 - Oct 21 (Zurich to Basel)
Oct 11 - Oct 21, 2024 Itinerary Differences: This departure will stay at the Hotel Adhhoc in Brig.
While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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11 days
10 nights
20 meals
9 B 6 L 5 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Zurich, Check-in, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Zurich
L,D
Sorell Hotel Seefeld

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Carrying luggage on/off trains. Depending on your choice of transportation to the hotel, walking 2 - 10 minutes.

Morning: After checking into the hotel, feel free to relax and settle in before lunch.

Lunch: At a restaurant close to the hotel.

Afternoon: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Unless otherwise noted, dinners on this program are typically a 3-course set menu and lunches on this program are typically a 2-course set menu. Breakfasts will offer a typical European-style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea, and water. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel, we’ll have a plated welcome dinner together with a glass of wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Introduction to Switzerland, Free Time in Zurich
Zurich
B,L
Sorell Hotel Seefeld

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles throughout the day; some stairs and cobblestones. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice. Getting on/off a boat; about 1.5 hours roundtrip.

Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as cold cuts, cheeses, cereals, yogurt, fruit, and breads, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Joining our Group Leader, we’ll gather for an introductory lecture on Switzerland’s history and politics. Then we’ll take an expert-led walk in the Old Town of Zurich, which will conclude at the docks where we will board a boat for a lunchtime ride on Lake Zurich. Upon boarding, the group leader will provide some information about the lake’s history.

Lunch: Aboard the boat on Lake Zurich.

Afternoon: Next, we will take a walk together with our Group Leader to visit the Fraumünster church to see the beautiful Chagall windows. This 11th-century cathedral features five iconic stained glass windows that were created specifically for the space by Marc Chagall in the 1970s, each of which depict a biblical story. Afterwards, take some time for independent exploration. You might like to explore the city or visit a museum.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Transfer to Chur via Appenzell & St. Gallen
Chur
B,L,D
Hotel Stern

Activity note: Getting on/off train; ride is about 115 miles (180 km) throughout the day; approximately 5 hours total. Walking about 4 miles throughout the day, periods of standing; stairs to get on/off trains. Luggage will be transported via bus directly to the hotel in Chur.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we will take the tram to the train station. We will transfer by train to Appenzell, enjoying the ride through the picturesque rural area. Upon arrival, we will take a short walk in this traditional Alpine village with our Group Leader to see its painted facades. Afterwards, we will take another ride on the Appenzeller train line to St. Gallen.

Lunch: At a restaurant in St. Gallen, we’ll enjoy a typical plated Swiss lunch.

Afternoon: Then we’ll walk to the Baroque Abbey District of St. Gallen for an expert-led field trip. The convent is a perfect example of a great Carolingian monastery. The library is one of the richest and oldest in the world and contains precious manuscripts. In the late afternoon, we’ll take a train to Chur through the Rhine River valley. From the train station, we’ll take a short walk to the hotel and check-in.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the afternoon.

DAY
5
Chur, Transfer by Glacier Express to Brig
Brig
B,L,D
Hotel Adhhoc

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles throughout the day; unavoidable cobblestones; stairs on/off trains. Getting on/off train; approximately 100 miles (160 km); about 4.5 hours on the train total. Luggage will be transported via bus directly to the hotel in Brig.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel on foot, we’ll go on an expert-led visit to the Old Town of Chur, during which we will walk by the modern railway station, through the town center, and along the narrow winding streets. While in the oldest town in Switzerland, we’ll learn about its 5,000-year history. Afterwards, enjoy a bit of free time before lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Chur.

Afternoon: We will walk to the train station to take a spectacular ride on the Glacier Express route from Chur to Brig. The most famous railway in Switzerland, it runs through untouched mountain landscapes, deep gorges, delightful valleys, 91 tunnels, and across 291 impressive bridges. Upon arrival in Brig, we’ll take a walk and check-in at the hotel.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a Swiss cheese specialty: fondue.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Stockalper Castle, Free Time
Brig
B
Hotel Adhhoc

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; unavoidable stairs and uneven terrain on the castle grounds. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Joined by a local expert at the hotel, we’ll attend a lecture on the Alps with a focus on their geography, culture, and challenges. After a short walk, we’ll have an expert-led visit to Stockalper Castle. Built in the 17th century by Kaspar Stockalper, the castle has an impressive courtyard, palace halls, chapel and gardens. While here, we’ll explore the amazingly preserved castle and learn about the life of its creator—a merchant, trader, and entrepreneur who wanted his home to reflect his wealth and power.

Lunch: On your own to explore the local fare.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in the picturesque Old Town of Brig. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to sample more of the regional cuisine.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
7
Matterhorn, Transfer to Lausanne, Wine Tasting
Lausanne
B,L,D
Hotel des Voyageurs

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; unavoidable cobblestones; stairs getting on/off trains. Getting on/off a train; about 125 miles (200 km); approximately 5 hours on the train total. Luggage will be transported via bus directly to the hotel. Getting on/off cog railway; ride is about 1/2 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we will take a walk to the train station and then, travel along the Glacier Express route to Zermatt, a car-free mountain village where we’ll find quaint cobbled alleyways, ancient sun browned barns, and traditional chalets. We will take the cogwheel train to Sunnegga, a small platform that offers great views of the Matterhorn, from which we will admire the breathtaking panorama of a range of snowcapped high peaks, including the famous Matterhorn.

Lunch: At a restaurant in Zermatt.

Afternoon: We’ll then have some time for independent exploration in Zermatt before meeting at a predetermined time and place and taking the train for the ride down the Rhone Valley, into Swiss wine country, and through the vineyards of Lake Geneva to Lausanne. Upon arrival, we’ll take the metro to the hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Lausanne, Lake Geneva, Free Time
Lausanne
B
Hotel des Voyageurs

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total during group activities; unavoidable cobblestones and stairs in the old town. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Setting out on foot from the hotel, we’ll take an expert-led visit to the Old Town of Lausanne and its cathedral, the largest gothic cathedral in Switzerland and a place of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages. The entire city of Lausanne is built right on the shores of beautiful Lake Geneva, which we will also discuss. Back at the hotel, we’ll settle in for a lecture about French-speaking Switzerland given by a local expert.

Lunch: On your own to explore the local fare.

Afternoon: Free time. You might like to visit a museum, or engage in some activities featuring the beautiful Lake Geneva!

Dinner: On your own to sample more of the regional cuisine.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
9
Transfer to Basel, Jura Mountains
Basel
B,L
Hotel Odelya

Activity note: Getting on/off train; riding about 120 miles (190 km); approximately 3 hours on the train total. Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; unavoidable cobblestones and stairs in the old town.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will take the metro to the train station and set out on a scenic train ride to Basel along Lake Biel, Lake Neuchâtel, and through the Jura Mountains.

Lunch: Aboard the train, we’ll have packed lunches.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Basel, we will take a short bus ride to the hotel for check-in. Once settled, we will then attend a lecture about Basel and the arts while learning from a local expert about Basel, the cultural heart of Switzerland. Afterwards, we’ll have a briefing that will introduce us to different museums one may wish to visit during free time.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Basel, Cultural Heart of Switzerland
Basel
B,D
Hotel Odelya

Activity note: Getting on and off public transportation; about 1/2 hour. Walking about 2 miles throughout the morning; some unavoidable cobblestones and stairs in the old town. Extent and duration of walking and other activities during free time according to personal choice.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: A local expert will the join us at the hotel to lead a lecture and discussion on what Switzerland is like today, with topics based on group interest. Then, getting around on foot and via public transport, we’ll take an expert-led field trip to the beautiful, well-preserved Medieval Old Town of Basel. While here, we will walk past the famous Tinguely Fountain, the cathedral, Münsterplatz, City Hall, and through the winding streets and alleyways. The rest of the day will be free to explore Basel on your own.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free time to continue exploring Basel on your own.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we’ll enjoy a plated farewell dinner together and share your favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
11
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. Getting on/off train; ride to Zurich is about 1 hour. Carrying luggage on/off train. Getting in/out taxis; driving less than 1/2 hour. See your program’s “Transportation Information” regarding transfers.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we will transfer back to Zurich Airport via taxi and train. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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