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Self-guided Grand Tour: Mürren, Zermatt, Pontresina
(Village-based luxury tour)
hiking near Chamonix with Mont Blanc in background
Length: 8 days
Hike Rating: Moderate - Strenuous
Dates:   June-October
8-day Tour Cost:  $3990 per person
$500 single supplement
11-day Tour Cost:  $5190 per person
$700 single supplement

Swiss tour reservation

When tourists first started coming to the Alps in the 1700 and 1800's, their travels, known as "The Grand Tour", were always first class and included stops in Europe's most well-known destinations. We've recreated that experience here with visits to three of the most classic alpine destinations. In Grand Tour style, you'll stay in absolute comfort in distinctive, luxurious hotels, including the stunning 5-star Riffelalp Resort - the best accomodations each area has to offer - and travel by 1st class rail along the Glacier Express between Zermatt and Pontresina. World-class hotels, scenic train rides, and memorable villages make this tour a great choice for non-hiking spouses and friends who would prefer to spend time relaxing while others hike.

Your tour starts in Mürren, a gorgeous car-free village perched dramatically atop a cliff overlooking the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. You then continue on to Zermatt, a hiker's paradise, nestled beneath the incomparable Matterhorn. Finally, the famous Glacier Express train takes you on a scenic cross-country journey to Pontresina, the serene jewel of the St. Moritz lakes region. All three areas contain numerous unforgettable hikes and vistas that make this tour grand in every sense! Our 8-day tour includes 3 nights in Murren, 2 in Zermatta and 2 in Pontresin, while the 11-day tour stays 4 nights in Murren, 3 in Zermatt and 3 in Pontresina.

Your typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at your hotel - a feast of freshly baked bread and croissants, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs made to order, coffee and freshly squeezed juice - which gives you the energy needed for the day ahead. Before setting out on your hike, visit a bakery and market for lunch supplies, or bring some money for a stop in one of the alpine restaurants along your route. Soon, you'll be out on the trail for the day, with longer and shorter hiking options to choose from, and some of the world's greatest scenery to explore. ride the Glacier Express train from Zermatt to Pontresina

You should finish your hike around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax at the hotel, visit the pool and spa, or perhaps do a bit of shopping in town. All of our hotels on this tour have great views and gorgeous pool and spa areas, so you should look forward to having time each day to enjoy those. Later, enjoy dinner at your hotel's restaurant. These are true gourmet, multi-course feasts, sometimes centered on local specialties, prepared by some of the finest chefs in the Alps. Our hotels all serve fabulous food, and our dinners will be exquisite, memorable affairs. Typically we leave one dinner in Zermatt free, so you will have a chance to explore on your own.

You'll have many hikes to choose from, but here are some of our favorites:

Day 1 The Grand Tour starts with arrival in Zürich and a train ride to Mürren, our home away from home in Switzerland. The trip takes just over 3 hours. Mürren is an idyllic, car-free village, perched atop a sheer 3000-foot cliff above the waterfall-filled Lauterbrunnen valley (picture Yosemite with a Swiss village on top). Take some time to explore the village and enjoy the views and fresh air before settling in to your welcome dinner at the elegant 4-star Hotel Eiger. (Hotel Eiger)
Day 2 One of our favorite hikes starts in town, and gently meanders up the hills to the pastoral fields and alp barns at Spielboden. Here you cross the Schiltbach stream and start a steep and invigorating ascent to the local peak of Bryndli, where you can take your lunch enjoying birds-eye views of Mürren and the Lauterbrunnen valley, perhaps with a soaring golden eagle for company. From here the trail levels off, and becomes a relaxing stroll through flowery meadows to a quiet alpine hut at Bogangen. The trail back leads over a small ridge for more great views, before dropping back down to Mürren. (Hotel Eiger)
Day 3 The Upper Lauterbrunnen valley curls back beneath the white-capped Breithorn - considered by many to be the most perfect mountain in the region. It's also a nature preserve, and contains many wonderful hiking trails. One of our favorites takes you to the small farm at Obersteinberg, where the proprietors keep cows and make cheese by the same simple methods that have been used for centuries. This part of the valley also contains some of the area's prettiest waterfalls. (relax at the outdoor pool at the Riffelalp above Zermatt Hotel Eiger)
Day 4 Take the train in the morning, 3.5 hrs to Zermatt. Once in Zermatt, you'll transfer by historic cogwheel train to Riffelalp. You'll have time to check out the village, or go straight up to the hotel enjoy the pool and spa and wonderful views of the Matterhorn before settling in for dinner at the luxurious 5-star Riffelalp Resort. (Riffelalp Resort)
Day 5 Taking quiet trails through fields and forest, you have a range of choices up to the wide ridge of Gornergrat, past marmots and small glacial lakes, to what has to be one of the finest viewpoints in Europe. The jumbled mass of the Gorner glacier stretches out before us, and behind that, Monte Rosa, Lyskamm, the Breithorn, and the Matterhorn form a spectacular backdrop. (Riffelalp Resort)
Day 6 After breakfast, you'll say good-bye to the Matterhorn and board the famous Glacier Express train for Pontresina, a mellow and pretty resort town on the eastern edge of Switzerland. The hiking here is amazingly varied, and there are numerous hikes to choose from. Our home in Pontresina is the friendly and classy Hotel Kronenhof, with a great pool and spa and wonderful food. Enjoy a short walk through the village or relax at the pool and extensive hotel spa. This evening is left free to explore on your own. (Grand Hotel Kronenhof)
Day 7 From Pontresina, one of our favorite hikes anywhere is the panoramic Muragl traverse above Pontresina. Ascending through a quiet back valley, you'll hike up to the gorgeous views from Segantini hut. Traversing from here, pass small alpine lakes on a scenic descent back to Pontresina. Boasting quiet wooded stretches, abundant wildlife, and surprising views of the giant Piz Bernina and the paternoster lakes of St. Moritz, this hike provides a wonderful farewell to the Engadine region. Return to the hotel for a final gourmet dinner. (Grand Hotel Kronenhof)
Day 8 After breakfast at our hotel, say good-bye to the Engadine region and depart for your post-trip destinations. lunch break during a hike near Murren

Arrive: Plan to arrive the day your trip starts at the latest (flights from the US would depart the day before). The closest airport for Murren is Zurich. There is a train station at the Zurich airport that will take you to Murren. Geneva works as well.
Depart: Plan departure for the day after your tour ends at the earliest. The closest airport to Pontresina is also Zurich. Plan on one night at a hotel in Zurich or possibly Lucerne at the end of the tour (we can set this up for you if you like).

Swiss tour reservation

Prefer a guided tour? Check out our guided Grand Tour, or ask about a private guide for your family or group.

Self-guided Grand Tour, details:

luxurious alpine style at the Riffelalp Our self-guided prices are per person, based on two people sharing a standard double room, and include:
8-day tour: 3 nights prepaid 4-star hotel Murren, 2 nights 5-star Riffelalp Resort Zermatt, 2 nights 5-star hotel Pontresina, 7 breakfasts, 6 dinners, 1st class 4-day Swiss Flexipass rail pass for 4 free days of rail travel plus 50% discounts on most other trains and cablecars, prepaid Glacier Express reservations, and luggage transfers between villages.
11-day tour: 4 nights prepaid 4-star hotel Murren, 3 nights 5-star Riffelalp Resort Zermatt, 3 nights 5-star hotel Pontresina, 10 breakfasts, 7 dinners, 1st class 4-day Swiss Flexipass rail pass, Glacier Express reservations, and luggage transfers between villages.

All self-guided tours include hiking maps, detailed route descriptions (including longer, shorter, and rainy day options), train schedules, sightseeing suggestions, and lots of useful information to help ensure a successful trip. You'll also have a local contact to call if you have any questions or problems during your trip.

Not included are lunches, drinks with dinners, extras (such as laundry, phone calls from the room, etc), travel to and from trailheads, and transportation outside of the itinerary.

Although this is designed as a luxury travel experience, we can also arrange this tour on our standard tour basis with nice 3-star hotels and/or 2nd class railpass for a more modest vacation. If you'd like to lengthen or shorten this tour, add destinations, or create a customized tour of Switzerland from scratch, let us know. We have extensive experience all over Switzerland, and will be happy to work with you to build the hiking vacation that best suits your needs.

Learn more about custom and self-guided tours

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For info on our Grand Tour and the rest of Switzerland,
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