Day 1: Zurich - Lucerne. Arrive Zurich airport. Travel by train to Lucerne, a scenic one-hour trip. Check into hotel and spend the afternoon at the Swiss Museum of Transport, with its impressive collection of locomotives, cars, airplanes and more. Overnight Lucerne.
Day 2: Mt. Rigi. Take the regular train from Lucerne to Goldau, where you’ll board the Mt. Rigi cogwheel train for an exhilarating round trip to the summit for unparalleled views (weather permitting). Trip possible by steam Saturdays and Sundays, July-September. Visit to Rigi train depot also possible by request. Afternoon in Lucerne at your leisure to stroll across the Chapel Bridge and explore Old Town’s delightful squares.
Day 3: Mt. Pilatus. Depart for leisurely cruise on Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad for a trip on Mt. Pilatus, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway (48% incline). Enjoy a fabulous meal (on your own, highly recommended is the Restaurant Taverne in the Hotel Bellevue) with stunning backdrop of the many mountains visible from the summit. Descend the mountain via gondola and cable car. Visit to the Pilatus shops and ride in the cab possible, upon request.
Day 4: Furka Steam train. Travel on part of the Gotthard Railway south from Lucerne by regular train. Arrive Realp, where you’ll board the Furka Steam Railway for the two-hour trip to Gletsch. (Short guided tour of Furka Steam depot possible). Travel behind the 80-year-old steam engine along the rack railway—over bridges, along rushing waters of the Furkareuss and finally, down the valley with views of the Rhone Glacier. Upon arrival, board postal bus to Meiringen and change for train to Interlaken.
Day 5: Interlaken. Spend the day at leisure in Interlaken, or opt for a train excursion (at additional cost). The Brienzer Rothorn steam train covers 4.6 miles, passing through six tunnels and rich alpine flora. Optional tour of Brienzer Rothorn train depot. If you want a full “behind the scenes” rail experience then opt for the Brienz Rothorn “Stoker Course” or “Engineer for the Day”. Or you may venture to the highest railway station in Europe on the Jungfraujoch. Travel the world-famous Jungfrau Railway to the 11,398-foot station for views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.
Day 6: Centovalli Train. Travel Interlaken to Domodossola via Spiez by regular train. Change to a Centovalli Railway train for the scenic ride through Italy to Locarno. Pass through centovalli - “a hundred valleys” - with views of spectacular waterfalls, vineyards and palm tree-lined lakes below. Continue to Italian-influenced Lugano, where you can stroll along the lakefront and wander the pedestrian-only historic city center.
Day 7: Lugano. Day at leisure in Lugano. Suggested excursion: Mt. Generoso cogwheel railway for views of the whole Canton Ticino below (steam train available on select Sundays), stop off at Melide and visit the Swiss Miniatur, where 127 miniature Swiss buildings are on display, along with over two miles of railway track and model trains, funiculars and cable railways (all built on site). Model railroaders will also want to visit the Baumgartner Model Railway Gallery in Mendrisio, displaying thousands of model trains from all over the world.
Day 8: Bernina Express. Return to Zurich for flight home if taking Part I only. Travel to Tirano via postal bus winding along lakes and through small Italian villages. Board Bernina Express, celebrating its 100th anniversary and now an UNESCO World Heritage site, for an unforgettable trip to Chur. Along the four-hour trip, you’ll cross 196 bridges and travel through 55 tunnels. In addition to the spectacular glacier and forest scenery, highlights include the famed Circular Viaduct of Brusio and Landwasser Viaduct. Overnight Chur.
Day 9: Chur. Free day in Chur. Suggested rail trips: Chur-Arosa Railway, a one-hour trip along picturesque country villages, including a run over the Langwieser viaduct (200 feet high), or travel Davos-Filisur—a line is with multiple hairpin curves, tunnels and viaducts. Get off the train in Wiesen to see and photograph the impressive Wiesen Viaduct (289 feet high).
Day 10: Glacier Express. Enjoy a full day on the Glacier Express on its entire routing, Chur to Zermatt. Sit back and relax in your comfy seat, taking in the Alpine scenery from the large picture windows and enjoying a delicious lunch served at your seat. Overnight Zermatt.
Day 11: Gornergrat. Excursion to the Gornergrat - experience the breathtaking circular panorama over 29 of Switzerland’s 12,000-foot mountains within a radius of more than nine miles, from an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level. Admire the powerful majesty of rock faces, the glitter of eternal snow, and the sheen of ice falls and glaciers—and naturally the king of the mountains, the Matterhorn, with its crown princes the Monte Rosa and Weisshorn. Visit to the Gorgergrat depot in Zermatt possible upon request.
Day 12: Zermatt - Martigny. Regular train Zermatt to Martigny. Options from Martigny: Mt. Blanc Express running carefully along a daring route of mountain precipices to Chamonix, France, or the St. Bernard Express, a combination train/postal bus excursion to the 8,054-foot St. Bernard pass, where you can visit the famous St. Bernard kennels.
Day 13: Golden Pass Line. Regular train to Montreux where you’ll board the panoramic coaches of the Golden Pass train, which takes you through the Lake Geneva region past mountain torrents, blooming alpine meadows, small mountain villages and vineyards, over the Golden Pass to Gstaad. Overnight Gstaad - a village of lovely traditional Swiss chalets.
Day 14: Golden Pass Line. Continue your Golden Pass journey to Zweisimmen, where you’ll change trains to Interlaken, one more train change to Zurich. This is an extremely scenic day, running along six lakes, over the Brünig Pass, through picturesque villages, vineyards and gardens. Sit back and enjoy the spectacular ride—a fitting finale!
Day 15: Zurich. Take one of the many trains from Zurich to the airport for flight home.
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Europe Switzerland Local Culture Railway Trips Cultural Journey