12 days Rails & Trails Itinerary

12 Days Guided Swiss Rails & Trails Tour – Itinerary

Swiss Alps by Rails and Trails – Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in Lucerne

Today everyone arrives in Lucerne. We will stay at the Continental Park.

Your guide will meet you in the Hotel Lobby and he/she will review the trip and answer all your questions. Also you have the chance to meet your new friends joining the tour.  Trip briefing followed by a leisurely informative walk around the old town to the historic Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument, St. Ledger’s Church, through the old town squares and much more. 

The tour includes a visit with “Lucerne Ecological Expert” from the world’s first and only Glacier Garden. Learn about Lucerne’s ice age past.

Dinner will be in a local authentic Lucerne Restaurant.  

Steam Engine going up Mt Pilatus

Day 2 – Full day excursion to Lucerne’s two home mountains: Mt. Pilatus & Mt. Rigi, with scenic Alpine views 

Today you experience the scenic Central Alps views from Lucerne’s two “Home” mountains, Mt. Rigi (6,000ft) and Mt. Pilatus (7,000ft).

Today you’ll experience various the of public transportation and see first-hand how Switzerland’s travel system is all coordinated and in synch with another.

The Mt. Rigi Railway was the first European cogwheel train in 1871 to take visitors to the top of the mountain. You’ll enjoy the 360-degree views of the surrounding alps. This is where Thomas Cook in 1863 brought the first packaged tour and started the tourism industry. This was the place to be during the “Belle-Epoque” period pre WWI.
Click here for more information on Mt. Rigi Railway

Click Here to view a Zoom conference on the Rigi Railway system

In the afternoon we ride up to Mt. Pilatus on another cogwheel system.

The Pilatus Rail, first commissioned in 1889, uses a system with two horizontally rotating cogwheels to cope with a 48% gradient. It is still the steepest cogwheel train in the world.

Click here for more information on Mt. Pilatus Railway

Dinner will be in a local authentic Lucerne Restaurant.


View of the Glacier Express


Day 3 – Abbey Library in St. Gallen – Glacier Express to St. Moritz

Depart on the Voralpen Express train from Lucerne. Travel through scenic rolling landscapes typical of Eastern Switzerland to arrive at St Gallen. 

The Abbey Library in St. Gallen is one of the oldest libraries in the world – with manuscript collections from the Carolingian and Ottonian period from 8th to the 11th century.

In the afternoon continue via train to Chur, Graubuenden’s, 5000 year old capital city and transfer to the Glacier Express train.

Enjoy viewing the Landwasser viaduct, a single track six-arched curved limestone railway viaduct, designed in 1901. A signature structure of the World Heritage-listed Albula Railway. The Landwasser Viaduct has six arch spans 20 meters (66ft) in width, resting on five high pillars. The railway line near the viaduct has a slope of 2 percent, and in plan a circular arc with a radius of 100 metres (330ft).

The Albula railway is a single track metre gauge railway line forming part of the so-called core network of the Rhaetian Railway, in the Canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. It links Thusis on the Hinterrhein (697 meters / 2,287ft above sea level) with the spa resort of St. Moritz in Engadine (1,774 meters / 5,820ft above sea level).

Construction of the Albula Railway was begun in September 1898. On 7 July 2008, the Albula Railway and the Bernina Railway, which also forms part of the RhB, were jointly recorded in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, under the name Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes.

Arrive in St Moritz .at the Hauser Hotel.

We take a short orientation walk through the town before reaching the centrally-located family-run hotel. 

Dinner will be in our Hotel.

Day 4 – All day in the St. Moritz-Engadine Valley area to visit scenic Alpine highlights with optional Panorama hike.

Experience the highest railway across the alps with the Bernina Express train to Alp Grüm and enjoy the awesome Bernina mountain peaks, glaciers and waterfalls. At the highest point on the RhB, 2,253 metres / 6760 ft above sea level, you will see the Ospizio Bernina summit. Here you can delight in the cultural and natural surroundings. Enjoy the Alps at their most impressive.

We take a cable car ride up to the Diavellezza at 2979 m / 8937 ft. At the base of the fabulous backdrop of the Bernina massif and the Piz Palü, 4000m / 12,000 ft. mountain peak.

We also take a cable car ride up to the Corvatsch 3300 meters / 11000ft where you understand the rationale for St. Moritz’s “Top of the World” branding as you see mountain peak after mountain peak.

In the afternoon we offer a Panorama hike for those who prefer to experience these Bernina mountains and green pastures first hand. The actual walking & hiking time and distance: 3 ½ to 4 hours, 5 ½ miles / 9 km. Elevation change: 400ft / 130m down. Hiking terrain: relatively flat, natural dirt & stone path, public sign posted trails.

Dinner will be in a local authentic Engadin Restaurant.

Day 5 – From St. Moritz by Glacier Express to Andermatt in the infamous Gotthard region of the Central Swiss Alps

Experience the highlights of the Glacier Express route – described by the UK’s Telegraph newspaper as one of the world’s best train journeys.

This trip includes a second view of the Albula line and Landwasser Viaduct from the South-to-North direction. Continuing on alongside the Rhine Gorge or Switzerland’s ‘Grand Canyon’ as you travel up to the Oberalp Pass at 2033 m / 6000 ft.

Witness one of the few trains that still serves hot meals at your seat as you ascend 1000 m / 3000 ft from Disentis to Oberalp.

Arrive at Andermatt in the afternoon at the Crown Hotel.

This is the area known as the watershed of Europe for it is here that Europe’s mighty rivers, the Rhine and the Rhône, as well as many other small ones, arise.

In the afternoon we enjoy a 2 hour ride in the Furka Steam Train cog engine – restored to its original condition. We cross mountainous countryside including the Rhone and Mutt glaciers.

The Furka Cogwheel Steam Train operates a partially rack and pinion-operated line across the Furka Pass, between Realp in Uri and Oberwald in Valais. Culminating at 2,160 metres (7,087 ft), above sea level, it is an old mountainous section of the Furka Oberalp Bahn (FO) that was abandoned after the construction of the Furka Tunnel.

It has been gradually brought back into service by the Verein Furka-Bergstrecke with the use of only steam locomotives, with the entire line completed in 2010. The Furka Railway is the second highest rail crossing in Europe, after the Bernina Railway.

Click here for more information on the Furka Railway

Click her for a map of the Furka Railway

We transfer back via train to Andermatt.

Day 6 – All day in the Andermatt / Gotthard region with an excursion to a Military Fortress.

In the morning ride up to the Gotthard Pass summit and get a sense of Switzerland’s defence system during the World War II period.

Take a guided walk through the former top-secret Elsasso Gothardo military bunker. A Swiss World Ware II Specialist will guide us through the 1942 military bunker deep in the Gotthard mountains.

The fortress was built inside the mountain during World War II to protect Switzerland’s southern flank and designed to be self-contained for 420 man and 73 artillery pieces for a minimum of 6 months.

Click here for more on Gotthard Military Fortress

There are trails and lots of beautiful mountain scenery to explore.

After our return to Andermatt pamper yourself with a drink in the world famous Chedi Hotel.

Gotthard Tunnel Rail Pass

Day 7 – From Andermatt to Zermatt

Ride through the old Gotthard Tunnel from the German-speaking region to the Ticino, the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland.

The Gotthard Tunnel (German: Gotthardtunnel, Italian: Galleria del San Gottardo) is a 15.003-kilometre-long (9.322 mi) railway tunnel and forms the summit of the Gotthard Railway in Switzerland. It connects Göschenen with Airolo and was the first tunnel through the Saint-Gotthard Massif in order to bypass the St Gotthard Pass. It is built as one double-track, standard gauge tunnel. When opened in 1882, the Gotthard Tunnel was the longest tunnel in the world.

We arrive at Locarno. This has an interesting main area with covered walkways & piazzas to hear the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Lots of shops and places to have lunch on one’s own.

In the afternoon we will travel on the Centovalli Railway. This is a metre-gauge railway that connects the Gotthard and Simplon lines, linking Ticino with the Valle d’Ossola in Italy and with the Canton of Valais via Simplon on the shortest possible route.

The railway is not just a means of transportation. It is also an excursion train, that takes visitors through the magnificent landscapes of Centovalli and Valle Vigezzo. We view the Mediterranean climate & culture of Switzerland and experience the Alps from this most Southern perspective.

Take a leisurely walk through Zermatt with visits to the centre of town and to see the Matterhorn. There’s time to enjoy the wellness services in our hotel, LaGinabelle.

Gornergrat Railway and Matterhorn

Day 8 – Excursions from Zermatt on the Gornergrat Railway with time for Day Trips

Breathtaking views of Mt. Matterhorn.

  • Experience amazing views of the Matterhorn and the Alps in a combination of cogwheel train ride and easy to moderate day hike
  • Ride Europe’s second highest railway and the highest open-air railway of the continent – the Gornergrat cog wheel train – up to the 10,134 ft / 3089 meter Gornergrat with incredible views of the Matterhorn accompanying you most of the way.
  • Walk up to the 360 degree platform area where you see over 29 of the 79 alpine peaks higher than 4000 meters/13,123 ft, including the massive Matterhorn.
  • Enjoy a 1-2 hour guided hike along signposted trails through an alpine nature reserve with stunning Matterhorn views mirrored in pristine alpine lakes.

Learn about the origins of Zermatt and the people of the canton of Valais (French name) or Wallis (German name).

Day 9 – From Zermatt to Grindelwald via the Goldenpass Line with 2 hour stop in Gruyère

Travel through the French speaking Canton of Valais – know as the fruit basket of Switzerland. Voews pf terraced vineyards and fruit trees.
Golden Pass Rail LineThis segment is branded as the Goldenpass Line with either a Classic train car or the Panorama Car with big panorama windows.

Experience what it was like during the Belle-Epoque, Golden Age period when the rich and famous where the only ones traveling on such trains.

In Gruyères time to walk around this most picturesque square in all of Switzerland. There’s a castle at the top of the square, fun shops to poke into such as special chocolate shop. A great place to for lunch.

A ten minute walk down to the Gruyères cheese dairy-museum-restaurant is a great way to learn all about cheese making, and check out all the cheese related souvenirs.

We continue on the GoldenPass Line through the Préalps of the canton of Fribourg and through the beautiful Simmental Valley known for the sturdy brown and white cows and the world famous resort town of Gstaad, home to many Hollywood stars.

View Alpine valleys and rolling hills, green pastures and grazing cows, wooden chalets and picturesque villages as we journey to the Jungfrau region – one of Switzerland’s oldest and most popular resorts in the UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau region.

We check into Hotel Alpina in Grindelwald.

Day 10 – Grindelwald – Top of Jungfraujoch – Lunch at Eigergletchser Restaurant – Lauterbrunnen and Trümmelbach Falls

Today caps one of the trips highlights with a train ride up to the top of the 3,400m / 13371 ft Jungfraujoch, the 1914 built complex between the Mönch & Jungfrau mountains. Experience Europe’s largest Aletsch glacier.

View mountains, snow, and ice as far as you can see.

There’s time to walk outside on the hard packed snow glacier and be part of the scenery.
Sit in on one of the free standing deck chairs or go tubing and enjoy Europe’s highest man made splendor.

In the afternoon we take the train to Lauterbrunnen and transfer to a postal bus with a visit to the Trümmelbach falls.The Trümmelbach Falls are the world’s only glacier waterfalls that are accessible underground by lift, galleries, tunnels, paths and platforms. Experience a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls inside the mountain made accessible by a tunnel-funicular, built 1913, stairs, and illumination.

The falls carry the melt water from the glaciers – going from the Jungfrau down to the valley – up to 20,000 liters of water per second. The water carries with it over 20,000 tons of boulders. This causes the entire mountain to shudder and make a thundering noise.

Day 11 – Grindelwald – Brienzer Rotbahn Steam Railway – UNESCO Biosphere – Zürich Airport

We catch the Lake Brienz steamer in Interlaken.

In Brienz we board the unique Swiss steam train that has been operational since 1892.

We climb up to 7,700 ft. while seeing wonderful green Alpine pastures, houses on farms.
On top the local restaurant offers great views of the Bernese mountains.

Afterward we board a cable car that takes us down into the Entlebuch valley to view pre-Alpine moorland and landscapes – designated by UNESCO as Switzerland’s first biosphere reserve.

The local bus takes us to the Schupfheim train station with transfers through Bern to the Zürich airport. We stay at the Radison Blu.

Day 12 – Zürich

Departure to your onward destination.