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Grand Tour of Switzerland by train

Posted by Holly Tuppen at 08:23 on Wednesday 03 August 2011

The Gornergat train down to Zermatt, with the Matterhorn in the distance. Photo Richard HammondThe Gornergat train down to Zermatt, with the Matterhorn in the distance. Photo Richard HammondThanks to all those that sent us tips for Richard Hammond's Grand Tour of Switzerland via twitter (hashtag #agrandtour), greentraveller's facebook page, or via the 'add a comment' facility on this blog.

The winner, Anthony Lambert, was given 2 x First Class 4-day Swiss Passes that cover unlimited travel on consecutive days throughout the rail, bus and boat Swiss Travel System network that Richard used.

You can read the rolling blog of Richard's trip below as well our Greentraveller's Guide to Zermatt and Greentraveller's Guide to Lucerne.

This trip was organised with the cooperation of Inntravel and Swiss Tourism. Greentraveller retained all independent editorial control over the work, which has been written by Richard Hammond in his own words based on his own experience of the trip.

For Richard's trip schedule, see Inntravel's full itinerary: Grand Tour of Switzerland

Watch the Video of Greentraveller's Grand Tour of Switzerland:


Here are Richard's updates from the trip (nb. all timings are local):

Day 7: Sunday 2 August

8.15pm Arrived London St Pancras International. That's it! The end of our Grand Tour of Switzerland. Thanks to everyone who sent in tips on where to visit, we're have some terrific recommendations and it's been a fantastic week, topped off by the celebrations in Lucerne for Swiss National Day. Thanks also to Rebecca Bruce at Inntravel who expertly organised our itinerary and to Heidi Reisz and Julie Melet at Swiss Tourism for their help with our train tickets. The entire trip was filmed and the video will be posted up on greentraveller in the next few weeks.

12.53pm Arrived Geneva, lunch at the station cafe (just outside the station) then caught the 13.41. to Paris Gare de Lyon, arrived 16.53 and crossed by metro (RER D) to Gare de Nord to catch the 1843 to London. For more information about crossing metro stations in Paris, see our guide to How to transfer between train stations in Paris.

The boat back to Lucerne to spend our final night celebrating Swiss National Day. Photo Richard HammondThe boat back to Lucerne to spend our final night celebrating Swiss National Day. Photo Richard Hammond

>> Read our Greentraveller Guide to Lucerne

8am Breakfast at Hotel Wilden Mannm, then caught the 10am train to Geneva.

Lucerne Lido on Swiss National Day. Photo Richard Hammond.Lucerne Lido on Swiss National Day. Photo Richard Hammond.Day 6: Monday 1 August (Swiss National Day)

8pm Dinner at Scala Restaurant in the Art Deco Hotel Montana, high up in the hills overlooking Lake Lucerne

16.10 Boarded the boat back to Lucerne and headed for the Lucerne Lido.

Taking the boat across Lake Lucerne. Photo Richard HammondTaking the boat across Lake Lucerne. Photo Richard Hammond12.09 Arrived Vitznauand caught the first ever mountain railway to Mt. Rigi Kulm, 1800m above sea level. Then walked down to Rigi Kaltbad and had lunch at Rigis Berggenuss then caught the cable car down to Weggis.

9am-11am Walked around the old quarter of Lucerne, then caught the 11.12 boat (from just outside the main train station) to Vitzau.

8am Breakfast at Hotel Wilden Mann.

Snow-trekkers departing from the Jungrau Railway Station. Photo Richard HammondSnow-trekkers departing from the Jungrau Railway Station. Photo Richard HammondInside the Jungfrau's Ice Palace. Photo Richard Hammond.Inside the Jungfrau's Ice Palace. Photo Richard Hammond.




Day 5 : Sunday 31 July

18.30 Arrived Lucerne and checked in to Hotel Wilden Mann.

4pm Train back to to Meirangan to catch the train to Lucerne.

11am Train to Interlaken then Meirangan to catch the local train to the Aareschlucht Gorge - as suggested by Anthony Lambert (see comment at the foot of this page). 

8am Breakfast at Hotel Alpenrose then took the cable car up to Mannlichen to see the mountain trio of the Eiger, Monch and the Jungfrau. 

Day 4: Saturday 30 July

8am Breakfast at Hotel Alpenrose then caught the 09.12 train up to Kleine Scheidegg to catch the Jungrau railway up towards the Jungfrau - the highest railway in Europe.

Day 3: Friday 29 July

20.00 Dinner at Hotel Alpenrose.

14.00 Train to Wengen via Lauterbrunnen. Arrived and transfer by eletric taxi to Hotel Alpenrose, one of the oldest hotels in the town. It's in a fabulous setting - setting high up in the mountains overlooking icy peaks of the Breithorm and Tschingelhorn, and the lush Lauterbrunnen valley.

>> Read our Greentraveller Guide to Zermatt.

9am-12pm: Train up to Gornergratt. We were given access to the driver's cabin, so watch out for the 'driver's view' of the Gornergratt in the video we produced. The journey up to Gornergratt departs from the centre of Zermatt (at the foot of the town's main thoroughfare) and winds its way through the town then climbs uphill providing magnificent views of the Matterhorn (Monte Cervino, in Italian) above Zermatt.

The view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley on the train from Wengen. Photo Richard HammondThe view of the Lauterbrunnen Valley on the train from Wengen. Photo Richard HammondThe route goes via Riffelalp and Rotenboden then arrives at Gornergratt. after about 40 minutes; here's map of the Gornergratt route. We passed through some clouds, but as we arrived at the top, there was a break in the swirling mist and the majestic sight of the Matterhorn came into view, in all its glory.

Breakfast at Hotel Ginabelle then we're taking the famous Gornergrat train up to 3089m for hopefully some stellar views of the Matterhorn...

On the way up to the Gornergrat, the mist cleared to reveal the Matterhorn, in all its glory. Photo Richard HammondOn the way up to the Gornergrat, the mist cleared to reveal the Matterhorn, in all its glory. Photo Richard HammondDay 2: Thursday 28 July

1752 Arrived Zermatt and took an electric taxi 5 mnins to Hotel Ginabelle. Zermatt is car-free so there are only electric vehicles in the town. Had dinner at the hotel then walked into town to Cafe du Pont, as recommended on twitter @mattewteller.

The famous Glacier Express goes from St Moritz to Zermatt.The famous Glacier Express goes from St Moritz to Zermatt.0800 Breakfast at Hotel Engiadina then caught the 0956 train to Samedan  (arr 10.11) to board the 10.17 Glacier Express to Zermatt. The train actually starts at St Moritz so there were already quite a few passengers on board. The journey lasts just over 7 hours and passed through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Swiss Alps via the Landwasser viaduct, Chur (the oldest town in Switzerland), the Rhine gorge, Disentis, the Oberalppass -the highest point of the journey (here the engine pulls the train up to 2,033 metres above sea level with the help of a cog wheel), Andermatt, Brig (the centre of German-speaking Valais) and finally it passes through wild larch woods along a valley to Zermatt.

Day 1: Wednesday 27 July

23.26 Arrived Zuoz and a short (2-min taxi ride) up a steep hill into Zuoz and checked in to Hotel Engiadina. That's quite a slog by train in a day, but the idea is that tomorrow we can board the world-famous Glacier Express to Zermatt.

19.00 Arrived Zurich and caught the 19.37 train to Klosters and Sagliains. 

14.26 Caught the high speed TGV to Zurich.

12.47 Arrived Paris Gare du Nord, walked about 5 mins to Gare de l'Est and had lunch at the wonderful Brasserie Flo. For tips on how to cross Paris, see our guide to How to transfer between train stations in Paris.

09.22 Departed London St Pancras to the sound of the tannoy announcing it is one year exactly until the start of the London Olympics. 

En route to the Swiss Alps:En route to the Swiss Alps:


Grand Tour of Switzerland

Since you're staying in Wengen tomorrow night, you'll have plenty of time for a great walk on the way back from Jungfraujoch. Get off the train at Kleine Scheidegg and take the spectacular ridge walk to the Männlichen from where you can take the cablecar down to Wengen. Have a look at the lovely English church as you walk back to your hotel. If you're not staying at the Hotel Falken, have a drink there tomorrow night; it's a wonderfully atmospheric hotel. You will undoubtedly be travelling on a Swiss Pass so you can break the journey to Lucerne at Meiringen. Catch the 09.11 from Wengen which will get you to Meiringen for 10.35. At 10.42 take a train to Innertkirchen and get off at one of the world's most extraordinary stations, Aareschlucht Ost, which is in a rock cavern. An automatic sliding door opens on to a suspension bridge across the Aare river and the amazingly narrow gorge. After exploring the footpath through the gorge, catch a train back to Meiringen at 12.04 for lunch at the Victoria Hotel (almost opposite the station) which has 14 GaultMillau points. If you're a fan of Sherlock Holmes, the museum with a re-creation of his Baker Street study opens at 13.30. There are hourly trains on to Lucerne at XX.46. If the Rigi Royal excursion is by boat to Vitznau for the rack railway up Rigi (or Weggis for the cablecar up Rigi), get off at the Transport Museum pier on the way back for one of the world's best transport museum – being a green traveller you will obviously head for the railway section, which has an excellent section taking you on a tour of the Gotthard Tunnel workings. On one evening in Lucerne eat at the stübli at the Wilden Mann (Bahnhofstrasse 30); it's one of Lucerne's oldest restaurants and has great food. If you like jazz and Art Deco, head for the Montana Hotel; it has its own funicular and there are great views over the lake and city. Don't miss the KKL building by Jean Nouvel and a walk along the lakeside promenade in the evening; the tree-lined walk in Lucerne beside the water even gave Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata its name. See Brewer's Curious Titles if you doubt it!

Grand Tour of Switzerland Tips

Anthony, many thanks for your tips. I took you up on the one to Aareschlucht Ost - what a fantastic tip! I featured it in the video of the trip and here are pics of the bridge and river... Best wishes, Richard

swiss competition

cable car to mannlichen from wengen, then walk the panorama route across to Kliene Scheidegg. Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau in constant view. Views down into Grindelwald valley too. Spectacular.

Tip for our Grand Tour of Switzerland

Hi Adrian, many thanks for your suggestion to take the cable car from Wengen to Mannlichen...  featured it in the video and here are a few pics. Best wishes, Richard


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