Staff Review

Rail tour of Switzerland


6 Sep 2016

by The Kirker Team

Kirker Holidays

Switzerland has long been on my list of 'must-visit' destinations and I jumped at the chance to travel there earlier this month on what was a fascinating tour, including one of the many scenic rail journeys available in the country.

My first day was spent in Zurich, and although most of us never really consider the city as more than a business destination that is used as a gateway to more beautiful areas, I was pleasantly surprised. Zurich is an attractive city with plenty to offer for a short break on its own. A bustling shopping area, a trip on the lake and a fascinating former industrial area in Zurich West which is now home to many pop-up independent shops and eateries. It is highly recommended that you organise a private guide with the Kirker Concierge as it is otherwise too easy to miss hidden gems such as the ornate guild houses and an astounding 1,224 decorative drinking-water fountains dotted around the city. I can only imagine the atmosphere at Christmas time with many markets selling local, traditional products and I definitely plan on returning.

The next day, armed with my Swiss Pass giving unlimited journeys on the Swiss transport network (we can include this for you at the time of booking), we set off onwards, into the heart of the Bernese Oberland, and upwards, (thanks to four cable cars) to the Schilthorn. Made famous as the setting for the James Bond film, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service', the Schilthorn and its rotating restaurant offer 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. The closer we got to the summit the cloudier it became but after a short wait the clouds lifted and we were rewarded with a jaw-dropping vista.

Descending by cable car to the resort of Muerren (which cannot be accessed by car) I spent the night at the idyllic hotel Alpenruh which was everything you would expect from an Alpine mountain setting. There was nothing better after a long day than sitting on the terrace with a hot chocolate soaking up the peaceful environment. Oh, and of course that view!

By 10am the next day I had travelled on one funicular, two cable cars and three trains - all on time, of course. How refreshing that the idea of having to change a train does not fill you with dread and it isn't necessary to leave an extra hour 'just in case'. We then boarded the Glacier Express which is billed as 'Europe's Slowest Express'. It travels from Zermatt to St. Moritz taking 7.25 hours to cover just over 180 miles and you won't mind a bit! Whether winter or summer, magnificent Swiss mountain scenery unfolds through the panoramic windows and skylights while you enjoy a three course lunch served to your table with a refreshingly crisp Swiss white wine. Particular highlights, accompanied by a personal headset to guide you, include the Oberalp Pass - the highest point on the line at 2,033 metres above sea level; the Rhine Gorge - the train passes through the 'Swiss Grand Canyon' snaking along the dramatic rapid-filled river beneath steep valley sides; the Landwasser Viaduct - the most photographed section of the line constructed of five walled pillars which lead directly into the Landwasser tunnel; and lastly, and in my opinion the most picturesque section, the Albula line - made up of six towering viaducts, three spiral tunnels and two helical tunnels it is hard to keep track of where you are as you twist and turn through the changing landscape.

Arriving in glamorous St. Moritz we transferred to the quaint lake side village of Sils Maria. Staying at the family-run hotel Waldhaus is a delightful experience - a hotel with so much history and some charming rooms you can imagine the regulars who come every year for a month to indulge in the fresh air and relaxation! After arriving in the dark it was a treat to wake up to such a wonderful view.

After seeing some fantastic landscapes I wasn't sure that anything could top it but the unassuming Muottas Muragl mountain, accessed by funicular, was not to be underestimated. As we ascended, the sun shining, I was blown away by the view that was waiting for us. I am not exaggerating when I say that I could not look away - snow-capped mountains in the distance, lush, green countryside, low-hanging, drifting white clouds, lakes and picturesque little towns all made for the perfect picture postcard.

This really was the perfect way to finish off my whistle-stop tour of Switzerland and looking at the map I was surprised to see the ground that we had covered in such a short amount of time. The Swiss really understand rail travel and I believe that a journey on one of the scenic journeys needs to be added to everyone's wish list!

If you are considering your own Swiss adventure, we would be delighted to offer advice on the best rail journeys, favourite hotels and the most hassle-free itinerary to take in the highlights of this beautiful little country.

Speak to an expert - 020 7593 2288

Our expert reservations team regularly travel to a wide range of destinations to explore new cities, visit hotels and to research museums, galleries and restaurants so that we can offer the most up-to-date advice and recommendations.


Join our mailing list to receive the latest updates and travel inspiration.