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22543
Switzerland

Switzerland in a Nutshell: Cities and Peaks by Train

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.
Rating (4.78)
Program No. 22543RJ
Length
11 days
Starts at
4,479
Flights start at
950
Switzerland

Switzerland in a Nutshell: Cities and Peaks by Train

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.
Length
11 days
Starts at
4,479
Flights start at
950
Program No. 22543 RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 6 - May 16, 2022
Starting at
4,479
May 20 - May 30, 2022
Starting at
4,479
Jun 3 - Jun 13, 2022
Starting at
4,479
Aug 19 - Aug 29, 2022
Starting at
4,699
Sep 2 - Sep 12, 2022
Starting at
4,699
Sep 23 - Oct 3, 2022
Starting at
4,699
Oct 14 - Oct 24, 2022
Starting at
4,699
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 6 - May 16, 2022
Starting at
5,079
May 20 - May 30, 2022
Starting at
5,079
Jun 3 - Jun 13, 2022
Starting at
5,079
Aug 19 - Aug 29, 2022
Starting at
5,299
Sep 2 - Sep 12, 2022
Starting at
5,299
Sep 23 - Oct 3, 2022
Starting at
5,299
Oct 14 - Oct 24, 2022
Starting at
5,299

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.

Best of all, you’ll…

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

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.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Paula Rudolf
Paula Rudolf was born and raised in northeastern Brazil. In 1997, she graduated with a degree in international public relations, and after getting married, she and her young family moved to Switzerland. Since then, Paula has been engaged in politics and her community, and has worked as a business administrator. Today she is very happy to share her knowledge and experience of her adopted home country of Switzerland with the Road Scholar groups.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Paula Rudolf
Paula Rudolf View biography
Paula Rudolf was born and raised in northeastern Brazil. In 1997, she graduated with a degree in international public relations, and after getting married, she and her young family moved to Switzerland. Since then, Paula has been engaged in politics and her community, and has worked as a business administrator. Today she is very happy to share her knowledge and experience of her adopted home country of Switzerland with the Road Scholar groups.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Culture Smart! Switzerland
by Kendall Maycock
A concise, no-nonsense guide to Switzerland's customs, etiquette and culture.
A Tramp Abroad
by Mark Twain, David Eggers (Introduction), Kerry Driscoll (Introduction)
Written 11 years after Innocents Abroad, this is Twain's second foray into European travel. Filled with his characteristic wit and humorous observations, it documents his journeys through Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy. Now with an introduction by Dave Eggers.
The Apple and the Arrow
by Conrad Buff
Families will enjoy this spirited retelling of the famous legend of William Tell and his 12-year-old son, Walter, which won the 1952 Newbery Medal.
The Gilded Chalet, Off-Piste in Literary Switzerland
by Padraig Rooney
In this amusing guide, a grand tour of literary Switzerland, Rooney profiles 200 years of outstanding works and their strong Swiss influences. He argues that the land of luxury hotels, fresh air and fresh milk deserves wide renown as a literary hub.
Swiss Watching, Inside Europe's Landlocked Island
by Diccon Bewes
An international bestseller. Diccon Bewees, a neutral Brit, covers cheese, chocolate, William Tell, bureaucracy and banks, all with humor and thorough research. His cultural portrait of the one-of-a-kind nation includes tips on local customs, greetings and etiquette. Second edition.
Hotel du Lac
by Anita Brookner
Funny, stylish and spellbinding, Brookner's novel tracks the story of a romance novelist seeking evasive peace and quiet at the luxurious Hotel du Lac in Switzerland. Winner of the Man Booker Prize.
Asterix in Switzerland
by Rene de Goscinny
This entry in the Asterix series of comic books features excellent drawings of the Swiss Alpine landscape.
William Tell: One Against an Empire, A Swiss Legend
by Paul Storrie
The classic tale of a Swiss hunter facing a terrible choice, as a graphic novel for ages 9-11.
Insight Guide Switzerland
by Insight Guides
This handsome guide gives a profusely illustrated overview of Switzerland, featuring concise essays by well-regarded authors on history, politics and culture, as well as hundreds of photos and maps and other practical information.
Switzerland Map
by Michelin Maps
A colorful, shaded relief map of Switzerland at a scale of 1:400,000.
Eyewitness Guide Switzerland
by Eyewitness Guides
A compact, thoroughly illustrated guide, featuring over 900 photographs, good maps, and plenty of information on hiking in the Swiss Alps, natural and tourist attractions and the history and arts of Switzerland.
The Alps, A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond
by Stephen O'Shea
In an entertaining narrative, O'Shea drives, hikes and climbs through 500 miles of the Alps while musing on the historic personalities who braved the forbidding range, including Napoleon, Hitler and James Bond. A thoughtful introduction to the Alps.
Wild Flowers of Britain & Northern Europe
by Andrew Cleave
A colorful field guide featuring commonly encountered species of the fields and gardens of Europe.
La Place de la Concorde Suisse
by John McPhee
McPhee deploys his usual insight and wonderful prose on the phenomenon of the Swiss army, presenting an irreverent portrait of Switzerland and the Swiss mindset.
Killing Dragons, The Conquest of the Alps
by Fergus Fleming
Fleming spins lively tales of man against nature in this entertaining history of the eccentrics, adventurers and publicity-hounds who sought to conquer the Alps, including Whymper and his first ascent of the Matterhorn 150 years ago.
Heidi
by Johanna Spyri
The beloved tale of a little girl who is sent to live with her curmudgeonly grandfather in a remote Alpine village. This handsome hardback edition retains the quaint prose and buoyant disposition of Johanna Spyri's 1880 original.
Coming Out Swiss, In Search of Heidi, Chocolate and My Other Life
by Anne Herrmann
Part memoir, part history, part travelogue, Anne Hermann’s passionate celebration of what it means to be Swiss intertwines personal revelation with cultural fact.
The Theoretical Foot
by M. F. K. Fisher
MFK Fisher's first novel, considered too racy for its time, features two unmarried American couples tramping through Europe in the late 1930s whose love affairs are tested by the rise of fascism and looming war.
Slow Train to Switzerland, One Tour, Two Trips, 150 Years -- and a World of Change Apart
by Diccon Bewes
Bestselling author Diccon Bewes (Swiss Watching SWZ73) follows in the footsteps of an 1863 tour group who traveled from London to Lucerne, Switzerland. In his trademark breezy, intelligent prose, Bewes traces how tourism and time have caused a sea change in Switzerland.
Daisy Miller
by Henry James
A classic story of a young American woman's innocent flirtation and its misinterpretation by a sophisticated European man, set in Lac Leman and Chillon. This is James' first fictional work to gain mass popularity and one of his great American female portraits.
Alpine Cookbook
by Hans Gerlach
Subtitled "Comfort Food from the Mountain," DK’s Alpine Cookbook collects 110 delicious recipes from Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland. The dishes, which combine traditional cuisine with modern trends, include schnitzel, potato pancakes, meaty main courses and savory vegetarian options.
Banner in the Sky
by James Ramsey Ullman
A suspenseful tale of a young boy determined to keep his father's mountaineering dream alive.
Europe, A True Book
by Sandra Newman
Part of the True Book series, this illustrated, readable volume geared toward ages 9 to 12 introduces children to the geography and diverse cultures of Europe.
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11 days
10 nights
21 meals
9 B 6 L 6 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 2:30 p.m.

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

Lunch: At a restaurant close to the hotel, we’ll have a light plated lunch with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

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, a local expert will provide some information about the lake’s history.

Lunch: Aboard the boat on Lake Zurich, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

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
Romantik 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.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel and walking 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 with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

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
Schlosshotel Art Furrer

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 by bus to/from the train station to/from the hotels.

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, we’ll have plated meals with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will walk to the train station meet our luggage before boarding and taking a spectacular ride on the Glacier Express 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. Water is included with other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Stockalper Castle, Free Time
Brig
B
Schlosshotel Art Furrer

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 Riffelalp, a small village 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, we’ll enjoy plated meals featuring a local specialty with water included; other beverages available for purchase.

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 a short walk to the hotel for check-in.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have plated meals accompanied by a wine tasting with water included.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Lausanne, Lake Geneva, Free Time
Lausanne
B,D
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: At a local restaurant.

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 walk 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 featuring a choice of sandwich, fruit, small cake, piece of chocolate, orange juice, water.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Basel, we will take a short tram 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 with water and a glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase. 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 12:00 Noon. Getting on/off train; ride to Zurich is about 1 hour. 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!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.