Enjoy the highlights of Swiss and Italian scenery in style on this 10-day journey by rail that carries you from the peaks of the Alps to the island-dotted waters of Lake Maggiore. Board your first train in Zürich for a picturesque ascent to the dramatic Matterhorn Glacier Paradise for unparalleled views of the surrounding mountain ranges. From Zermatt, journey east to Pontresina on the iconic Glacier Express. Spend several days here in the canton of Graubünden, venturing out to the towns of St. Moritz and Tirano, just across the border in Italy. Continue south to Bellinzona, and come to rest along the shores of Lake Maggiore in Stresa. The final days of the trip are spent enjoying lakeside Locarno and the charming Borromean Islands. Swiss hospitality and Italian dolce vita come together in this unforgettable trip.
Aug 12-21, 2019
Take in the views of some of Switzerland's most dramatic peaks as you explore the mountain town of Zermatt and the towering Matterhorn Glacier Paradise — the highest cable car station in Europe — and see the tallest peaks in Switzerland, France and Italy.
Savor Switzerland's picture-perfect landscapes in style on iconic trains including the Glacier Express and Bernina Express.
Spend several days drinking in the atmosphere of Lake Maggiore, exploring the jewel-like Borromean Islands of Isla Bella and Isola Madre.
Board the Centovalli Express, traveling one of Italy's most picturesque routes, to go from Domodossola to the lakeside Swiss city of Locarno through the "hundred valleys" for which the train is named.
Arrive at Zürich Airport. Meet with fellow passengers, and board your first Swiss train for a ride to Zermatt, in the canton of Valais. This mountain town was nearly unknown until the mid-1800s, when adventurous climbers seeking to conquer the peak of the Matterhorn made it a popular destination. Arrive in Zermatt and check in to your hotel. Enjoy a welcome reception this evening, followed by dinner. (R, D)
Begin today with a walking tour of Zermatt. This car-free town is a bustling ski destination in winter but in summer attracts hikers and those seeking the unrivaled views the mountain peaks offer. Board one of Zermatt's iconic red cable cars and ascend to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, at 12,740 feet Europe's highest cable car station. Ride back down the mountain to Schwarzsee for a leisurely hike, then continue by cable car back to Zermatt. (B)
Return to the peaks today. Board a train on the Gornergrat Bahn, Europe's second-highest railway. At the end of the line, take in a picturesque view of the Matterhorn in the distance. Descend again to Riffelberg for a short hike and views of more than a dozen nearby peaks. Back in town, pay a visit to the Matterhorn Museum, which recounts the history of the first dramatic attempts to conquer the mountain. Dinner will be at leisure. (B)
Rise early today to catch one of Switzerland's most famous trains, the Glacier Express. Its eight-hour journey offers spectacular views as you pass through three cantons (Valais, Uri and Graubünden). Enjoy an onboard three-course lunch, accompanied by wine. Arrive at the end of the line in St. Moritz, then make a short transfer to your hotel in the mountain village of Pontresina — renowned for its Belle Epoque hotels. Check in to the Sporthotel Pontresina, and have dinner as a group. (B, L, D)
Stroll through Pontresina on a walking tour this morning, then visit a local museum on a private guided tour. Your stay includes a pass that provides access to all public transportation in the area — the afternoon is yours to explore. (B)
Today includes another iconic Swiss train, the Bernina Express. This sightseeing train runs along the Rhaetian Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Travel to the town of Tirano, just over the border in Italy. Explore Tirano on a guided walking tour before returning to Pontresina for the evening. (B)
Depart Pontresina this morning by private coach to head south toward Italy's lake region. Stop in Bellinzona for lunch, then explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Castelgrande. This site of Castelgrande has been fortified for more than 2,000 years, although the human presence there dates back to Neolithic. Continue to the town of Stresa, bordering Lake Maggiore, and check in to your hotel. (B, L)
Take the Centovalli Express today. Board the train in Domodossola, and pass through the Centovalli — whose name means "the hundred valleys" — to picturesque Locarno. Along the way, you'll pass by waterfalls and over steep viaducts on the narrow-gauge railway. In Locarno, a guide will lead the group on a walking tour of the city's highlights. Although Locarno is part of the Swiss canton of Ticino, Italian is the primary language, and Italy's influence is apparent. At the end of your visit, board a local ferry for a boat ride back to Stresa. (B)
Today is dedicated to two of Lake Maggiore's famous Borromean Islands — Isola Bella and Isola Madre. Board the boat bound for Isola Bella, which is just a few hundred meters from shore. Until the 17th century, only a small fishing village occupied the island. Then members of the House of Borromeo — which still owns many of the Borromean Islands — began constructing summer palaces there. Visit the elegant palace and gardens, then continue to Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromean Islands, to stroll its lush botanical gardens. Return to Stresa for a farewell reception and dinner. (B, R, D)
Depart the hotel early this morning by private coach to transfer to Milan-Malpensa airport for your flights home. (B)