MAJESTIC MOUNTAINS, CULTURAL GEMS AND LAKESIDE TOWNS; ALPS & REGIONS, SWITZERLAND
Day 1 – Arrive Genève, Switzerland; Transfer to Lausanne, Switzerland
There are direct flights to/from Genève, Switzerland from the major European hubs, including Frankfurt, Paris, London and Amsterdam. Upon arrival at the Genève Airport, we walk to the underground level, location of the Genève Airport Railway Station. We take a 50 minutes’ direct train to the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station) and then a 5 minutes’ taxi to our hotel.
Day 2 – Lucerne, Bern, Thun
In the morning, we arrive at the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station), situated at a 5 minutes’ taxi ride or 20 minutes’ walking distance from our hotel. We take a 2.5-hour direct train (IR) from the Gare de Lausanne to Bahnhof Luzern (Lucerne Railway Station). A few minutes’ walk from the Lucerne Railway Station leads to the wooden Chapel Bridge over the River Reuss and to the Old Town. We follow the cobblestone streets to visit the Weinmarkt square, the Rathaus (Town Hall) and the Peterskapelle (Saint Peter’s Chapel) at the Kapellplatz square. We have a quick lunch at the riverside restaurant and then walk to the Lucerne Railway Station to take 1-hour direct train (IR) to Hauptbahnhof Bern (Bern Railway Station). Bern’s Old Town is situated around 15 minutes walking distance from the Bern Railway Station. We visit the Bärenplatz Square and the Bundenshaus (Parliament Building). The cobblestone streets guide us to the Marktgasse, the Berner Münster and the 15th century Rathaus. The pathway along the River Aare overlooks the city’s old houses and the Bärenpark. Afterward, we walk back to the Bern Railway Station and take a 30 minutes’ direct train (S1) to Thun, a historic town along the River Aare. We walk 15 minutes to the 16th century Town Hall and the nearby 12th century Thun Castle. After a light dinner, we walk back to the Thun Railway Station and take a 30 minutes’ direct train (IC) to Bern, followed by 1 hour and 20 minutes direct train (IC) to Lausanne.
Day 3 – St. Gallen, Zürich
Early morning, we take a 5 minutes’ taxi to the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station), then take a 3 hours and 40 minutes’ direct train (IC) to the Bahnhof St. Gallen (St. Gallen Railway Station). St. Gallen, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated at a 10 minutes’ walking distance from the St. Gallen Railway Station. We visit the square of Marktplatz, the St. Gallen Cathedral and Monastery and the Stiftsbibliothek (Abbey Library of St. Gall). We walk toward the Kirche St. Laurenzen (St. Lawrence Church) to view its original interiors decorated with frescoes. After a quick lunch, we walk back to the St. Gallen Railway Station and take an approximately 1-hour direct train (IC) to the Hauptbahnhof Shopville Zürich (Zürich Railway Station). The Alshtad, Old Town of Zürich, is located at a 15 minutes’ walking distance from the Zürich Railway Station. We follow the cobblestone street of Niederdorfstrasse and the promenade along the Limmat River. We explore the city’s historic churches, including the Grossmünster, the Fraumünster and St. Peters Kirche. We admire the 15th century Rathaus (Town Hall), enjoy panoramic city views atop the Lindenhof Hill and have dinner at the riverside restaurant. Early evening, we walk back to the Zürich Railway Station and take a 2 hours and 20 minutes’ direct train (IC) to Lausanne.
Day 4 – Lausanne, Château de Chillon, Saint-Saphorin
Our morning starts in the lakeside district of Ouchy. We walk a few minutes from our hotel to the Ouchy Harbour. The promenade around Lake Geneva offers panoramic views and overlooks the 12th century Château d’Ouchy. After our walk, we take a 10 minutes’ taxi to the Old Town of Lausanne and visit the Place del la Palud and the 17th century Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). We walk up the hill to the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Lausanne and the nearby Château Saint-Maire, the seat of the government of the Canton of Vaud. The narrow streets guide us to the 19th century Palais de Rumine, L’Église St Laurent and the tranquil park of Esplanade de Montbenon. We enjoy sandwiches for lunch and walk around 10 minutes to the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station). We take an around 35 minutes’ direct train (S5) to the Gare de Veytaux-Chillon (Veytaux-Chillon Railway Station). We walk 5 minutes along Lake Geneva to visit the nearby Château de Chillon, the 11th century medieval castle and fortress. Afterward, we return to the Gare de Veytaux-Chillon (Veytaux-Chillon Railway Station) and take a 20 minutes’ direct train (S5) to the village of Saint-Saphorin. We explore the village’s stone houses, its lakeside vineyard terraces and have dinner. In the evening, we take a 25 minutes’ direct train (S5) to Lausanne.
Day 5 – Swiss Alps, Zermatt
We take a 5 minutes’ taxi to the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station) to take a 1 hour and 40 minutes’ direct train (IR) to Visp Bahnhof (Visp Railway Station) and then the connecting 1 hour and 10 minutes’ direct Glacier Express Train to Zermatt Bahnhof (Zermatt Railway Station). Note: The Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn is a railway company connecting the regional towns to the Alpine town of Zermatt. Upon our arrival, we walk from the Zermatt Railway Station on the Bahnhofstrasse toward the historic Hinterdorf district with old wooden chalets along the Hinterdorfstrasse. We take the Matterhorn Express, a cable car from the Zermatt Station at Schluhmattstrasse, via the Furi Station to the Zermatt Schwarzsee Station, enjoying the panoramic mountain views. A cableway from the Zermatt Schwarzsee takes us to the Klein Matterhorn Summit Station (also known as Matterhorn Glacier Paradise). The summit is an ideal place to relax, degust the regional cuisine and enjoy the beautiful Alps. After the visit, we take the cableway back to Zermatt and take a 3 hours’ train via Visp to Lausanne.
Day 6 – Village of Gruyères, Montreux
Early morning, we arrive at the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station) and take the train with two connections to the village of Gruyères. Our train route includes a 20 minutes’ train (IR) to Montreux, a 50 minutes’ train to Montbovon and a 20 minutes’ train to Gruyères. We walk 15 minutes from the Gare de Gruyères (Gruyères Railway Station) to the village center. We visit the Château de Gruyères and its medieval ramparts overlooking the Saane Valley. The Restaurant Le Chalet de Gruyères is a Swiss style wooden chalet that serves a traditional regional cuisine. In the afternoon, we walk to the Gruyères Railway Station and take 1 hour and 15 minutes’ train with 1 connection to Montreux (Gruyeres to Montbovon to Montreux). The resort town of Montreux has a quaint Old Town and a lakeside promenade. We explore the town’s architecture, lakeside scenery and degust the regional seafood. In the evening, we take a 30 minutes’ direct train (IR) to Lausanne.
Day 7 – Neuchâtel, Yverdon-les Bains, Genève
We arrive early in the morning at the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station) and take a 50 minutes’ direct train (IC) to Neuchâtel. We walk 15 minutes from the Gare de Neuchâtel (Neuchâtel Railway Station) to the Place des Halles in the Old Town of Neuchâtel. We explore the 12th century Collegiate Church and take a guided tour of the Château de Neuchâtel. We have an early lunch, then walk to the Neuchâtel Railway Station to take a 20 minutes’ direct train (IC) to Yverdon-les-Bains. A few minutes’ walk to the Old Town of Yverdon-les-Bains reveals an inviting square and the 13th century Château d’Yverdon. After the visit, we take a 1-hour direct train (IC) to the Genève-Cornavin Railway Station. We take a few minutes’ taxi to Genève’s waterfront and its symbol of the Jet d’ Eau Fountain. We visit the nearby Jardin Anglais (English Garden), the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, the Place du Bourg-de-Four and the tree-lined pathways of the Parc de Bastions. We have dinner, then take a taxi to the Genève-Cornavin Railway Station and take a 45 minutes’ direct train (IR) to Lausanne.
Day 8 – Lausanne, Switzerland Departure, Transfer to Genève, Switzerland
We enjoy our breakfast and the views of Lake Geneva. At noon, we take a 5 minutes’ taxi to the Gare de Lausanne (Lausanne Railway Station). We take a 50 minutes’ direct train (IR) to the Genève Airport and take our international flight home.
Switzerland – Switzerland, a country in the heart of Europe, borders France to the west, Germany to the north, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east and Italy to the south. The diverse topography of Switzerland comprises the Swiss Alps in the south-central part, the Central Plateau and the Jura Mountains in the west of the country. Switzerland is a federal state divided into 26 multi-cultural cantons. The multiple languages and numerous dialects are spoken across distinct regions. The German language is spoken in the eastern, northern and central part of Switzerland. The French language is spoken in the western part and the Italian language is spoken in the southern part of Switzerland. Switzerland’s multi-national character is deeply embedded in its culture, architecture and cuisine. The cultural landscape of the country comprises historic Old Towns, medieval castles, Alpine villages, Lavaux Vineyard Terraces and the legendary Via Alpina, the long distance high-altitude hiking trails. The high peaks of the Alps are a magnet for skiers, trekkers and nature lovers. The Swiss Railway Network is an excellent transport system and an incredibly efficient way to explore the country. Visitors to Switzerland shall purchase a Swiss Pass, a best value for unlimited travel and free or discounted museum tickets. The Swiss Rail (sbb.ch/en/home.html) streamlines the travel plans and offers an unforgettable scenery of the Swiss Alps and the countryside. The Swiss cultural diversity is expressed through its unique Alpine folklore and its traditional wooden chalets nestled in the Alpine meadows. The culinary landscape of Switzerland mirrors its regional diversity and the cuisines of the surrounding countries. The Swiss gastronomy is famous for its distinct regional specialties, world-class cheese and dairy products and high quality chocolate. Our Alps & Regions, Switzerland Travel Itinerary explores famed cultural regions, breathtaking natural wonders and celebrated culinary destinations.
Lucerne, Bern, Thun – In the heart of Switzerland, the Canton of Lucerne is a uniquely beautiful region. Lucerne, the regional capital city, boasts panoramic mountain views, the picturesque Lake Lucerne and an ancient wooden bridge crossing the River Reuss. The Chapel Bridge across the River Reuss is the 14th century medieval symbol of the Old Town of Lucerne. A maze of cobblestone streets in the Old Town lead to the Weinmarkt square, lined with houses painted with beautiful frescoes. In the heart of the Old Town, the Rathaus (Town Hall) is a beautiful symbol of the Italian Renaissance style. Situated in the Kapellplatz square is the 18th century Peterskapelle (Saint Peter’s Chapel), showcasing works of art on the outer wall and overlooking the River Reuss. Animated conversations take place on the terraces of restaurants set along the river. We depart Lucerne and journey to the Bern-Mittelland Region situated in the Canton of Bern. The region boasts the majestic Alps, beautiful countryside and Switzerland’s capital city of Bern. Bern’s Altstadt (Old Town) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes an impressive architecture and six kilometers of medieval covered arcades. A walk to the Bärenplatz Square reveals the impressive Bundenshaus (Parliament Building) and an animated city life filled with restaurants and cafés. The Bundenshaus, seat of the Swiss government, showcases a turquoise dome and chambers decorated with frescoes. A guided tour of the Bundenshaus educates the visitors about the history of Bern, Switzerland’s federal city. The walk through the cobblestoned streets of Marktgasse shows the Bern’s medieval landmark of Zytglogge (Clock Tower). The maze of streets lead to the majestic Berner Münster, the Bern Cathedral of St. Vincent, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The Rathaus, the Town Hall of Bern, dates back to the 15th century and is the political center of the canton and city of Bern. Beautifying the Old Town of Bern is the River Aare, offering panoramic views of the red-tiled roofs of the old houses and the Bärenpark, a nature reserve for bears situated along the river banks. The Bernese Oberland Region in the Canton of Bern is defined by its mountainous topography, tranquil villages and picturesque towns. The idyllic town of Thun is set along the River Aare that flows to the beautiful Lake Thun. The wooden bridge decorated with potted flowers crosses the river and overlooks the pretty riverside houses. The Town Hall Square is the historic center of Thun and the location of the 16th century Town Hall. The 12th century Thun Castle serves as a museum and is listed as a Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance in Switzerland. The Thun Castle is an imposing structure with white exteriors, four corner turrets and magnificent red rooftops. Central Switzerland is a fascinating union of beautiful nature and historical heritage.
St. Gallen, Zürich – In the northeast of Switzerland, the Canton of St. Gallen is defined by its Alpine pastures, meadowlands, vineyards and the historic town of St. Gallen. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Gallen boasts stunning half-timbered houses, the inviting square of Marktplatz and the historic St. Gallen Cathedral and Monastery, established by an Irish monk called Gallus. The Stiftsbibliothek (Abbey Library of St. Gall), the 16th century rococo library, has sublime ceiling frescoes and a collection of ancient rare books and manuscripts. A stroll through the historic town leads to the Kirche St. Laurenzen (St. Lawrence Church), a Protestant church with a beautiful multi-colored tiled rooftop and original interiors showing painted frescoes. St. Gallen is a tranquil and exceptionally beautiful town. In the north-central part of Switzerland, the Canton of Zürich includes the picturesque Lake Zürich, river valleys and the lively city of Zürich. The medieval Old Town of Zürich is on display along the banks of Limmat River. The Grossmünster, the Evangelical Protestant Church, is the city’s landmark with its iconic twin towers built in the neo-Gothic style. Overlooking the Münsterhof square, the Fraumünster is a blue-spired church with beautiful stained glass windows, designed by the famous painter Marc Chagall. St Peter Kirche (St. Peter’s Church) has a large clock and stunning interiors designed in the Baroque and Romanesque styles. A walk through the Old Town of Zürich reveals the 15th century Rathaus (Town Hall) and the charming cobblestone street of Niederdorfstrasse lined with boutiques. Lively restaurants are situated along the Limmat River. A walk to the Lindenhof Hill, a historic square set above the Limmat River, offers panoramic city views. Zürich is an amazing city with an impressive Old Town and an exclusive shopping avenue of Bahnhofstrasse.
Lausanne, Château de Chillon, Saint-Saphorin – The Canton of Vaud in western Switzerland overlooks the spectacular scenery of Lake Geneva, the Jura Mountains, the Alpine peaks and vineyard terraces. Lausanne, set on the shores of Lake Geneva, has a historic Old Town and a gorgeous lakeside district of Ouchy. At the center of Old Town, the Place del la Palud showcases a Renaissance style fountain (Fontaine de la Justice), historic buildings with colorful window shutters and the 17th century Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall). A pathway up the hill leads to the magnificent landmark of Cathedral Notre-Dame de Lausanne, a Gothic Cathedral dating back to the 12th and the 13th centuries. The nearby Château Saint-Maire is a 15th century castle and the seat of the government of Canton of Vaud. Situated at the Place de La Riponne, the 19th century Palais de Rumine showcases a magnificent Renaissance architecture and houses several museums. A stroll through Lausanne passes near the spiritual symbol of L’Église St Laurent and leads to the tranquil park of the Esplanade de Montbenon, situated near the Casino de Montbenon and the Palais de Justice de Montbenon. The metro route connects the Old Town of Lausanne to the Ouchy Harbour, a lovely waterfront lined with sailboats and private yachts. The promenade around Lake Geneva overlooks the stately buildings and the 12th century Château d’Ouchy, presently a hotel. A 40 minutes’ train or car journey from Lausanne leads to the lakeside Château de Chillon, a 11th century medieval castle and fortress constructed for the Dukes of Savoy. During the times of Savoie, the region of Chillon served as the profitable trade route between Lombardy (north of Italy) and France. The Château de Chillon, set along Lake Geneva, offers magnificent views. The further exploration of the Canton of Vaud leads to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Lavaux Region, the protected vineyard terraces cultivated along Lake Geneva. The winemaking village of Saint-Saphorin enchants us with its historic stone houses, the Church of Saint-Symphorien, its narrow cobblestone streets and picturesque vineyard terraces.
Village of Gruyères, Montreux – In western Switzerland, the Canton of Fribourg is blessed with beautiful rivers, lakes, farmlands, historic towns and awe-inspiring villages. The beautiful village of Gruyères enchants us with its medieval history, spectacular architecture and traditional Swiss cuisine. A beautiful cobblestone street runs through the village and leads to the historic Château de Gruyères (Gruyères Castle). The 13th century castle has a central courtyard, impressive chambers and French style gardens. Atop the medieval ramparts, we enjoy panoramic views of the Saane Valley, the mountainous terrain and the village of Gruyères. A stroll through the village reveals historic buildings, souvenir boutiques and charming restaurants. The Restaurant Le Chalet de Gruyères is a Swiss style wooden chalet that serves traditional regional cuisine. We sample a delicious fondue for lunch, prepared with the famous locally produced Gruyère cheese. We depart the village of Gruyères and travel to the Canton of Vaud. The Swiss Riviera is known for its scenic vineyard terraces, palatial architecture and beautiful nature along the Lake Geneva. The lively resort town of Montreux has a quaint Old Town and the remarkable structure of the Montreux Palace Hotel. The Montreux Lakeside Promenade is a picturesque walkway on the banks of Lake Geneva. The town attracts many visitors during the annual Montreux Jazz Festival. The beautiful lakeside setting, the Mediterranean climate and a fascinating culture contribute to the popularity and charm of Montreux.
Neuchâtel, Yverdon-les Bains, Genève – In western Switzerland, the Canton of Neuchâtel boasts beautiful lakes, mountains, valleys and rivers. Nestled along the Neuchâtel Lake, the university town of Neuchâtel boasts yellow limestone buildings and an impressive Gothic architecture. The Old Town of Neuchâtel has a remarkable Place des Halles (Market Square) with lively restaurants and cafes. We walk toward the Fountain du Griffon, then climb up the steep stairway to the 12th century Collegiate Church and the Château de Neuchâtel. The Collegiate Church is a magnificent structure with two towers and beautiful interiors decorated with stained glass windows. Upon entering the grounds of the Château de Neuchâtel, we observe a beautiful courtyard. Perched atop the hill, the castle houses the legislative offices of the Canton de Neuchâtel. The guided tour explores the castle’s historic rooms, the cloisters and the ramparts that overlook the city and the Lake Neuchâtel. Our journey along Lake Neuchâtel leads to the town of Yverdon-les-Bains, a charming town and a Thermal Spa since the Roman times. The Old Town has pretty avenues, an inviting square and the 13th century Château d’Yverdon. We continue the journey to the southwest of Switzerland, the Canton of Genève that borders France. Genève is the capital city of Switzerland and the Canton of Genève, and serves as the European headquarters for the United Nations. This cosmopolitan city boasts a multitude of art galleries and museums. Genève’s waterfront of La Rade showcases the Jet d’ Eau Fountain, a 140 meter water jet in the middle of La Rade and a symbol of Genève. The nearby Jardin Anglais (English Garden) is an inviting space with scenic walking trails and the impressive L'Horloge Fleurie (Flower Clock) made of diverse blooming flowers throughout the year. A saunter through Genève’s Vieille Ville (Old Town) reveals charming alleyways, the 12th century Cathédrale Saint-Pierre and the town square of Place du Bourg-de-Four. The cultural center of Place de Neuve features the Musee Rath and the Grand Theatre de Genève. A walk through the Parc de Bastions shows the Reformation Wall monument and the tree-lined pathways. Cruise excursions depart Genève and the nearby towns to explore the beautiful estates and natural scenery of the Lake Geneva.
Swiss Alps – The south-west region of Switzerland is a natural paradise with snow covered mountains, river valleys, gorgeous villages and posh ski resorts. The glacial Rhône Valley, the Old Town of Sion, the enchanting wooden chalets of Grimentz village, the majestic Alps and the fashionable ski resort of Zermatt define the Canton of Valais. The Glacier Express Train connects the quaint towns of Brig and Visp to Zermatt. The train route passes through winding valleys, green pastures, mountain tunnels and charming villages. The iconic snow covered summit of Matterhorn peeks through the clouds. A stroll from the Zermatt Railway Station follows the Bahnhofstrasse, a pretty street lined with wooden architecture, boutique hotels, quaint shops and restaurants. The Hinterdorf district, the oldest part of Zermatt, was built between the 15th and the 19th centuries. Hinterdorf can be reached by following the Hinterdorfstrasse, a narrow street lined with old wooden chalets and storage barns decorated with potted flowers. The Bahnhofstrasse changes to the Oberdorfstrasse that connects to the hiking trail leading to the Gornergorge (Gorner Gorge). The Swiss Alps may be explored in a multiple ways. Visitors enjoy a funicular ride from the Sunnegga-Rothorn Valley Station to Sunnegga Point at 2,288 meters above the sea level and to the nearby Leisse Lake. The Gornergrat Bahn (GGB), the Gornergrat Cogwheel Railway, offers a thrilling 30 minutes’ journey from Zermatt GGB Railway Station to the Gornergrat Summit Station at 3,089 meters above the sea level. The observation platform at the Gornergrat Summit offers unforgettable views of the summit of Matterhorn and the surrounding mountain peaks. The Matterhorn-Express offers a gondola ride from the Zermatt Station at Schluhmattstrasse, via Furi Station to the Zermatt Schwarzsee Station at 2,583 meters above the sea level. The Zermatt Bergbahnen AG offers a 40 minutes’ cableway journey from Zermatt Schwarzsee (connecting at Trockener Steg Summit Station) to the Klein Matterhorn Summit Station (also known as Matterhorn Glacier Paradise) at 3,883 meters above the sea level. The summit offers glorious view of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. The world’s highest 3S cableway was inaugurated in 2018 and connects the Trockener Steg to the Klein Matterhorn. The Swiss Alps and the ski resort of Zermatt are popular destinations at every season, enchanting its visitors with challenging ski trails, scenic hiking routes and charming Alpine villages.
Fondue – Cows grazing in the alpine pastures is a classic postcard picture of Switzerland. The idyllic countryside and fertile valleys contribute to long-established Swiss Cheese-making traditions. Switzerland produces a wide variety of high-quality cheeses, including the acclaimed Gruyère and Vacherin cheeses. The medieval village of Gruyères offers awe-inspiring mountainous scenery and a superb cuisine. In the village of Gruyères, the Fondue is made with locally produced cheeses of Gruyere and Vacherin, combined with fresh garlic and white wine. The fondue is a delicious union of flavors. The Restaurant Le Chalet de Gruyères is a Swiss style wooden chalet that serves traditional local specialties, including a delicious fondue served with boiled potatoes and slices of bread. Le Chalet de Gruyères is a symbol of Swiss hospitality, rustic décor and traditional regional cuisine.
Raclette – Switzerland’s cheese-making traditions date back to ancient times. The Alpine pastures are a major source of forage to the grazing livestock. The unpasteurized milk from the Swiss cows is used to create the Raclette, a delicious semi-hard cheese. The Raclette is also a classic Swiss dish. The traditional cooking technique require an open fire to heat the cheese and scrape the melted cheese onto the plate. The Restaurant Le Chalet de Gruyères serves a Raclette in a small electric grill that melts the cheese from the top. The cheese can easily be scraped (“racler” means to scrape in French language) onto the plate. Raclette may be served with bread, boiled potatoes, cornichons, pickled onions and at times cured meats.
Beau-Rivage Palace, Lausanne – In the morning, a pale fog covers the beautiful Lake Geneva and blankets the majestic Alps. The Beau-Rivage Palace is a luxury hotel situated on the banks of Lake Geneva in the town of Lausanne. The grand structure epitomizes the European style, elegance and charm. The Beau-Rivage Palace boasts expansive gardens and a relaxing space around an outdoor swimming pool. The hotel has a collection of Rooms and Suites with Lake Geneva Views that overlook the picturesque lake and historic Château d'Ouchy. A gourmet breakfast buffet at the La Terrasse Restaurant includes a wide selection of fresh breads, cured meats, Swiss cheeses, fruits and desserts. Lausanne’s historic Old Town and the Gare de Lausanne are situated a short distance from the hotel, accessible by a short taxi ride or the metro. The Beau-Rivage Palace is a peaceful lakeside destination and the perfect base to discover the beauty of Switzerland.
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