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 sublime landscapes of Switzerland.
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.
Please Note: For departures GYJ2002, GYJ2006, GYJ2014 & GYJ2015 you will overnight in Mulhouse
Please Note: For departure GYJ2012 you will overnight in Colmar
Please Note: For departures GYJ2007, GYJ2009 & GYJ2016 you will overnight in Colmar
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.
Your day is free to explore historic Chur and the surrounding region, making it the perfect opportunity to discover the area by mountain railway. The wild, landscapes of the Graubünden region are 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 uncover. The Old Town, which harks back to medieval times, brushes shoulders with an old Roman neighbourhood, and in various sites across the city there are a number of museums detailing the varied history of Chur.
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.
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 Hotel Bernerhof.
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.
We travel today to the crisp and peaceful waters of Oeschinen Lake near Kandersteg, cradled in the Oeschinen Valley. An oasis of calm at the heart of the Bernese Oberland, this is Switzerland at its pristine best. To get here, we board the Oeschinensee cable car which carries us up through the mountains, offering staggering views below as we rise above the peaks. We walk from our departure point to the lake, where you have free time to soak in the Alpine panorama which surrounds you.
Please note: Lake Oeschinen cable car does not operate until mid-May. Departures before 10 May will enjoy a day trip to Interlaken by rail
We depart Kandersteg today for Paris, travelling via Brig and Lausanne. Once in Paris, we join the Eurostar service for the return journey to London St Pancras.
Please note: One of the excursions on this tour is at high altitude. If you have any medical conditions or concerns that could impact this part of the tour, we recommend you seek medical advice and talk to us. We want to make sure that any holiday you book is right for you.
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At Great Rail Journeys, they’ve been providing market-leading holidays for 45 years, making them true rail holiday specialists. Their itineraries combine comfortable hotels, exciting excursions, many delicious meals, leisure time, and fantastic rail experiences – from journeys on modern trains to heritage rail adventures.
Alongside their classic escorted rail holidays, they now have more choices than ever. Their European chartered cruises sail on fantastic vessels with sublime dining options and some of the largest cabin sizes in the industry, and their small groups tours give you access to unique destinations and experiences that wouldn’t be possible in a larger group.
The key elements of their holidays are quality and value. Everything you see is included in the price, and their itineraries are carefully crafted to make the most out of each destination. They use professional Tour Managers, informative local guides and convenient transport. On many tours, they include special touches such as opera visits, special meals, or farewell dinners.
As well as being the leading UK provider of escorted rail holidays, they have also won a number of awards, most recently being awarded the gold award for Best Rail Holiday Company at the 2018 British Travel Awards – a testament to their commitment to outstanding holidays.
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