Traditional Glacier Express 2019

Overview

The Glacier Express

Stunning scenery and spectacular views regale us as we travel by rail through the heart of the Swiss Alps on the world-famous Glacier Express. We enjoy mountain railways, charming towns and dramatic Alpine scenery on this tour through the breathtaking landscapes of Switzerland.

What's Included:

  • Fully escorted by a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
  • Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras
  • Standard Class rail travel throughout
  • Porterage included between the station and your hotels in Chur and Kandersteg, as well as between Kandersteg and Chur
  • 7 nights' hotel accommodation including 1 outbound overnight stay in Cologne, 3 nights at the Hotel Freieck in Chur and 3 nights at the Hotel Belle Epoque in Kandersteg
  • 12 meals including 7 breakfasts and 5 dinners including a farewell dinner in Kandersteg
  • Journey on the iconic Glacier Express
  • Full day excursion on the Bernina Express Mountain railway excursion to Zermatt
  • Free time in Chur
  • At leisure in Poschiavo Explore Kandersteg
  • GRJ Swiss Travel Card, permitting 50% discounted fares on free days for rail, boat and most mountain railway journeys

Full Itinerary

Day 1: St Pancras - Strasbourg

After meeting at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras, we board the Eurostar to Paris, continuing on by high-speed rail to Strasbourg, where we overnight.

Day 2: On to Chur

Enjoy a morning at leisure in the Alsatian town of Strasbourg, before we begin our onwards journey into Switzerland, to Basel and onwards to Chur, Switzerland's oldest town at over 5,000 years old.

Day 3: Discovering Chur

Your day is free to explore historic Chur and the surrounding region. Today is the perfect opportunity to discover the area by mountain railway, using your included Swiss Travel Card for 50% fares.

The wild, rugged and rocky landscape of the glorious Graubünden region is waiting to be discovered, with superb railway journeys available from Chur that take you over, around and across the dramatic valleys that make this one of Switzerland's most attractive cantons.

Chur itself, as the first settlement in Switzerland has a wealth of history to discover, from the days of the Roman Empire to Chur today, the capital of the wonderful Graubünden region. The old town, which harks back to medieval times, brushes shoulders with an old Roman Vicus or neighbourhood, and in various sites across the city there are a number of museums detailing the varied and storied history of Chur.

Day 4: Over the Bernina Pass to Poschiavo

Today's excursion takes us on the historic Bernina Express - a railway journey on the superb Bernina Line that passes mighty glaciers, rushing mountain streams and flower-filled Alpine meadows. The railway line is over 100 years old and has been rewarded with UNESCO World Heritage Status as a testament to the incredible civil engineering that was required to create the line, as well as for the breathtaking scenery through which it travels. From Chur we head south, travelling through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges, including the instantly recognisable Landwasser Viaduct, an architectural treasure.

The track clings to the mountainside as we wind our way above deep ravines and past idyllic waterfalls. Looping and spiralling through the rugged landscape of the Engadine Valley, our ascent takes us through the Albula Tunnel and over the Bernina Pass to an altitude of more the 7,000 feet.

We then begin our descent towards colourful Poschiavo, entering the Italianspeaking region of Switzerland before arriving at our destination. Pastel-coloured houses line the streets of picturesque Poschiavo, where we have time for lunch before our journey in the opposite direction, arriving back in Chur in time for dinner.

Day 5: The Glacier Express to Kandersteg

We leave Chur today, travelling from the rocky landscape of the Graubünden canton to the fantastic sunny Valais on the iconic Glacier Express - 'the slowest express train in the world'. Our entire journey is accompanied by views of the scenery for which Switzerland is justly famous; sloping meadows, broad vineyards lined with lush greenery and dense forests rising up the hillside beside the track towards towering snow-capped peaks. We travel along the beautiful Rhine Valley, climbing steadily and then steeply as we make our way up and over the Oberalp Pass, the distant peaks of the Italian Alps in view to the south. At 6,670 feet, the Oberalp Pass is the highest point of the route.

From here we descend past the countless small villages that line our route, nestled in the foothills of the surrounding mountains, before travelling through the Furka Base Tunnel and into the flourishing Rhône Valley. The final part of our journey on the Glacier Express takes us through expansive vineyards that line the surrounding hillsides to the small town of Brig.

Here we take the local railway for a wonderful journey over the imposing Kander Viaduct, through the old Lötschberg tunnel and past soaring mountain peaks to the town of Kandersteg. The resort of Kandersteg is one of Switzerland's truly unspoilt gems - a picturesque destination surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery. We check in for three nights at the Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria, a charming familyrun hotel surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Day 6: Narrow-Gauge Mountain Railway to Zermatt

Today we visit the charming, car-free resort of Zermatt. We travel to Brig to join a narrow-gauge train, heading south through picturesque vineyards and alongside the River Rhône to Visp. From here we join the mountain track for the steep ascent to Zermatt. The train clings to the track as we wind left and right, ascending past small clusters of houses and tiny hamlets that together form the region's village communities.

The spectacular approach to Zermatt takes us through eight tunnels and across 42 bridges, the gradient of the ascent requiring cogwheels to be engaged. Finally we reach the grandiose scenery of Zermatt, nestled below the tilted peak of the instantly recognisable Matterhorn. In Zermatt you are free to spend your time as you choose. One option that you will find hard to resist is the ascent to the summit of the Gornergrat by funicular railway (payable locally). Running for just under six miles, the route travels from Zermatt to the summit of the Gornergrat, some 10,135ft above sea level.

Day 7: At Leisure

Your day is free to explore this region using your Swiss Travel Card for 50% fares. We particularly recommend travelling along the Rhône Valley to Montreux. From here you can enjoy a cruise on Lake Geneva or join the GoldenPass Line panoramic train. The journey on the Centovalli Railway across 'a hundred valleys' to Locarno on the northern shores of Lake Maggiore is also an excellent choice for today. The much-loved railway is a popular tourist attraction, granting easy access to stunning Locarno.

Boasting palm trees and 2300 hours of sunshine a year, Locarno is a peaceful town with a Mediterranean climate, beautiful lakeside public gardens, a 15th century castle to explore as well as a picturesque Old Town, lakeside promenades and great shopping available under the arcades of the Piazza Grande. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner in Kandersteg.

Day 8: Kandersteg - St Pancras International

We depart Kandersteg today for Paris, via Geneva and Brig. Once in Paris, we join the Eurostar service for the return to London St Pancras.

Hand Picked By

Claire Train

Is there any better way to reach your destination than by rail? Great Rail Journeys don’t think so. There is something fascinating about seeing the world from this unique perspective, and they offer a range of tours from around the world. From the toy trains in India to the railroads of America, from the Glacier Express in Switzerland to the multitude of railway lines right here in the UK, they have a myriad of fantastic railway journeys that are bound to enthral and delight anyone who travels on them.

Claire Train

Additional Information

  • Date: July 2019 - September 2019
  • Board Basis: Bed & Breakfast plus 5 dinners
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Departure Airport: London St Pancras
  • Guide Price: From £1,495pp
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