Our Vacations by Rail Best of Switzerland Rail Tour begins in Zurich the largest city in the country. On arrival at the airport we took the local train to the city then walked to our hotel. Trains are the best way to see the country. Zurich alone has 3000 trains per day. We explored this old city by walking on our own before meeting our tour manager and our group of 32.
Switzerland is the cleanest most organized country we have visited. The city of St. Gallon is an easy 1 hour train ride from Zurich. It’s most famous for its abbey and Baroque cathedral. After our tour we had time to try some local foods like biber, a kind of gingerbread and the best hot chocolate ever.
Our next day we took the local train to Lucerne, one of Switzerland’s mot idyllic cities. On arrival we caught a paddle wheel ferry on Lake Lucerne to Vistnau. There we rode the Rigi Mountain cog railway to the top of Mt. Rigi. This was the first railway of its kind in Europe. It was originally built in 1871. Now we’re clearly in the Alps with spectacular views in all directions. On the way back to the lake we took the cable car. We ferried again back to Lucerne where we stayed in a 500 year old hotel, Wilden Mann. Lucerne is beautiful and we’d love to visit again.
The Golden Pass Line train from Lucerne took us over the Brunig Pass and Bernese Oberland to Interlaken, a resort town from the 18th century. The town sits between two lakes and is still popular with the elite. We enjoyed watching hang gliders leap from the adjacent mountains and land in the town green. Our journey that day ended in Lausanne on Lake Geneva in the French speaking west of Switzerland.
Montreux was our first stop the next day where we toured 1000 year old Chateau Chillon, one of the most authentic castles in all of Europe. The castle sits on the shore of Lake Geneva on the same location where Romans built a fort 2000 years ago to guard the trade route from Italy to France. Our train journey this day ended in Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn.
In Zermatt we had a walking tour and history talk with a local guide. After that we walked to the Gornergrat Railway station where we caught the highest cog railway in Europe to the top at 10135 feet. The ride was spectacular but after a quick look at a glacier the clouds obscured the Matterhorn and everything else. On the way back we were able to hike to get a great shot.
Next day we rode the famous narrow gauge Glacier Express to St Moritz. 8 hours on the slowest Express train in Europe. This train crosses 291 bridges and 91 tunnels on its 181 mile journey. Lunch is served on the train before arriving in St Moritz. We stayed at Hotel Simi in this ritzy town.
We rode another famous train the next day. The Bernina Express runs from St Moritz to Tirano Italy. It’s the highest rail line in Switzerland and a UNESCO World Heritage site. We had great views above the treeline and then dropped down into Italy. We enjoyed a great lunch there and picked up some food delicacies. Then we took a local train back to St Moritz.
Our last train day took us on local trains from St Moritz to Chur (coor) then to Zurich. We had a walking tour in Zurich and then a farewell dinner at our Hotel Glockenhof.
We highly recommend Vacations by Rail and their Best of Switzerland tour. Oliver was a great tour manager. We had excellent hotels every day, fabulous buffet breakfasts and lots of walking. Our first week we each had over 100,000 steps. Switzerland is a beautiful country. They have the best chocolate, bread and cheese. Their trains are among the best in Europe. Always on time, quiet and clean. We’d go back anytime. There is more to see.
You guys look good. The trains looked fun. The stone trestles looked like they were a lot of work. The most spectacular to me were the flowers! So glad you’re able to do this much travel. So sorry you missed the hurricane.