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Swiss Sampler 13-day (guided Switzerland sightseeing tour)

take a scenic boat tour on Switzerland's lake Lucerne Meet: Lucerne
Visit: Lucerne, Mürren, Montreux, Zermatt, St. Moritz, Lugano
Length: 13 days, 12 nights
Rating: Easy
Meals: All breakfasts (12), 6 dinners
2014 Departure:   only offered as self-guided
Tour Cost:  

From soaring mountains to gorgeous lakes, thriving cities to timeless villages, Switzerland is one great surprise after the next. Our Swiss Sampler tour is the best way to fully explore this amazing country! No busses and no hassles... just great train rides, fantastic destinations, charming hotels, and the best sights Switzerland has to offer. This tour combines stays in 3 of Switzerland's prettiest and most interesting cities - Lucerne, Lugano and Montreux - along with visits to 3 of the most incredible mountain areas anywhere - the Matterhorn region (Zermatt) and Jungfrau region (Mürren), and the Engadine (St. Moritz). We'll travel every 2nd day, a sensible pace that gives us enough time to soak in the sights at each stop.

This tour is designed with comfort in mind, staying in a mix of distinctive 4-star and top 3-star hotels, and includes a 1st class railpass for free train travel throughout your stay. Ride the Goldenpass route, Chocolate train, Glacier Express and Bernina Express - all wonderful train rides that link the German, French and Italian sections together in an itinerary that gets the most out of your time in Switzerland. Your guide will be there to ensure your trip runs seamlessly, and to present the numerous options for your time at each stop. Take a walk through flower-filled landscapes, or fly by cablecar to mountaintop viewpoints. Visit local monuments and museums, or relax on a lake steamboat.

Murren is a favorite stop on our Switzerland train tour This tour offers a refreshing blend of guided travel with plenty of freedom to follow your own bliss. 15-day 1st class Swiss Saverpasses are included in the tour price, which give you free travel to each location, free entrance to most museums, plus 50% discounts on almost all mountaintop cablecars and trains. There will be a guided excursion offered at each stop, but you are also encouraged to explore on your own if you prefer. Six group dinners are included in the tour, while the other nights will be free for individual exploration.

For those without time to join the whole tour, we've also split the Sampler tour into two halves. The Swiss Sampler Goldenpass starts in Lucerne and finishes 6 nights later in Montreux, while the Swiss Sampler Glacier Express begins in Zermatt and continues on to Lugano. See dates and prices below.

Day 1 Arrive in Zurich and travel one hour to Lucerne, perhaps Switzerland's prettiest city, where our tour will meet. We'll be right in the heart of Lucerne's historic Old Town center, with cobblestoned, car-free roads presided over by ornate buildings and ringed by ancient city wall. See the famous Chapel Bridge, the Lion of Lucerne, and local museums, or perhaps take the cablecar and cogwheel train up to the views from Mount Pilatus. 3-star hotel Lucerne, dinner included.
Day 2 A second day in Lucerne gives us a chance to further explore. Take a boat ride along Lake Luzern and visit the nearby mountain village of Engelberg, with magnificent views from the Titlis cablecar, or take a walk along the lakeside promenade to the impressive transport museum. 3-star hotel Lucerne.
Day 3 After a visit to the Lucerne farmer's market (held continuously by the river for over 800 years!), the Goldenpass train takes us on a beautiful 4 hour trip to the Bernese Oberland's Jungfrau region, where you'll stay in the car-free village of Mürren. Mürren is a fairly-tale landscape of huge mountains and waterfalls, flower-munching cows, and quaint villages. It's the perfect place to unwind and slow down. Take a short hike or ride the cablecar to Schilhorn for the region's best views. The Lion of Lucerne, one of Switzerland's well-known sights3-star hotel in Mürren, dinner included.
Day 4 A second day in Mürren gives you a chance to fully appreciate this incredible region, my favorite in Switzerland. Ride the Jungfraujoch train to the Aletsch glacier - Europe's largest, see the Yosemite-like Lauterbrunnen valley, or take a beautiful alpine walk. 3-star hotel in Mürren, dinner included.
Day 5 Continue the Goldenpass route with a train ride through the pastoral Simmen valley to Montreux, our base on the shores of lovely lake Geneva. Take a walk along the lakeside promenade, or just enjoy Montreux's ambiance in our only stop in French-speaking Switzerland. 4-star hotel in Montreux.
Day 6 Among our many options for our 2nd day in Montreux are a daytrip on the Chocolate train - a classic Pullman train that takes us on a ride through the gentle hills of the Gruyeres region to tours of both a chocolate factory and cheese dairy. Or stay in town for an intimate look at medieval life with a visit to the Chillon castle, or take a trip through the vinyards of Switzerland's wine country. 4-star hotel in Montreux.
Day 7 Today marks the end of the first part of our tour, the Sampler Goldenpass, and the beginning of the second half, Sampler Glacier Express. A morning transfer by train brings us to Zermatt, the atmospheric mountain village nestled up at the foot of the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn is Switzerland's most recognizable monument, a massive and distinctive mountain surrounded by dozens of fine, glacier-clad peaks. Ride a cablecar up to stunning viewpoints, take a memorable mountain walk, or just enjoy the ambiance of the village with great restaurants and hotels, and a lively shopping district. 3-star hotel in Zermatt, dinner included.
visit lake Geneva on our Swiss train tour Day 8 We have a second day in Zermatt to take in the sights. The historic cogwheel train ride of up the ridge at Gornergrat is a must, with gorgeous views of Monte Rosa (Switzerland's highest mountain), the Gorner glacier, Matterhorn and more. If you want to get out, there are many walks from easy strolls to challenging hikes to choose from, or check out the fine Matterhorn museum in town. 3-star hotel in Zermatt, dinner included.
Day 9 Ride the famous Glacier Express train across Switzerland to St Moritz in the Engadine region. St Moritz is a stylish and chic village in the Upper Engadine, a pretty town set on a gorgeous lake, and a great base in this region for mountain views, lakeside walks, and sightseeing trips to nearby villages. 4-star hotel in St. Moritz.
Day 10 A second day in St Moritz gives us a chance to explore this beautiful and peaceful region. There are hikes from our hotel, cablecars and cogwheel trains to speed us to great viewpoints, or quaint villages straight out of another century, such as Guarda and Soglio, to be explored throughout the valley. 4-star hotel in St. Moritz.
Day 11 The Bernina Express route is one of Switzerland's prettiest rides and brings you by train to Italy, then by bus along the shores of lake Como to Lugano, Switzerland's sun-drenched, lakeside pearl. This Italian-speaking region brings a distinctly mediterranean feel, with charming outdoor markets on narrow, cobblestoned streets. Lugano is a tidy and vibrant city, and our hotel sits just across from the lake in the pedestrian-only core of the city. 3-star hotel in Lugano.
Day 12 The options for our second day in Lugano include boat rides along the lake, walks from nearby fishing villages, or a more adventurous journey to the valleys above Locarno. Return to Lugano for a farewell dinner. 3-star hotel in Lugano, dinner included.
Day 13 We say our farewells today and head by direct train to Zurich, or other post-tour destinations.

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Arrive: Plan to arrive the day your tour begins at the latest (flights from the US would depart the day before). The closest airport is Zurich, where there is a train station at the airport that will take you to Lucerne in 1 hour.
Depart: Plan departure for the day after your tour finishes at the earliest. Plan on one night at a hotel in your departure city if you have a morning flight. Let us know if you would like us to add a final night in Zurich or Geneva to your tour. A rail pass is included with this tour.

Dates don't work? Ask about a private guide or consider the self-guided Sampler tour.

Swiss Sampler, Goldenpass and Glacier Express parts

Length: 7 days, 6 nights
Rating: Easy,   5-8 hours/day,   2500'-4500' elevation gain/loss Switzerland's mountain villages offer plenty of easy and spectacular walks

If you don't have time for the full 13-day tour, we also offer the Sampler as two 7-day tours. The first half follows the Goldenpass route, meeting in Lucerne and continuing to Murren and Montreux. The second half starts with 2 days in Zermatt, then takes the Glacier Express to St. Moritz and Bernina Express to Lugano. Both are great trips alone, with mountain and city stays, great train rides, and memorable hotels. Both are guided tours, and include 8 day railpasses, 6 nights lodging, 6 breakfasts and 3 dinners.

2011 Departure, Goldenpass: self-guided only
Tour Cost:

2011 Departure, Glacier Express: self-guided only
Tour Cost:

13-day Swiss Sampler Self-guided:
    Standard tour, modest inns & 3-star hotels, 2nd class railpass
    Standard-deluxe tour, 3 & 4-star inns, 1st class railpass
    Deluxe tour, luxurious 4 & 5-star hotels, 1st class railpass

Switzerland's cities boast quaint Old towns and are surprisingly walkable If you're an independent traveler and prefer to go at your own pace, or have travel dates that don't match up with our guided tours, you may prefer to arrange the Swiss Sampler tour as a self-guided tour. The tour prices are per person based on two people sharing a standard double room.

As always, you can count on your hotels being the best in their class - charming, family run inns with perfect locations, great food, and professional service. You'll see sights such as Lucerne's Chapel Bridge or Mount Pilatus, Jungfraujoch - Switzerland's highest train station, Lauterbrunnen's Trummelbach waterfalls, or breathtaking Gornergrat in Zermatt. Many days will include a scenic train ride between villages such as the Bernina Express and Glacier Express routes.

The tour includes prepaid hotels with breakfast each morning and 6 dinners, a Swiss Saverpass railpass for 15 free days of rail travel, free museum entrance, trail maps, detailed route descriptions for optional hikes, train schedules, Glacier Express reservations, and lots of useful information that will help your trip run smoothly. Not included are lunches, drinks with your meals, dinners in Lucerne, Lugano and Zurich, extras (such as laundry, phone calls from the room, etc), transportation not covered by your rail pass, or the reservation fees for the Glacier and Bernina Express trains.

This tour can be customized to fit your needs. If you'd like to lengthen or shorten the tour, upgrade hotels (or go rustic), or create a customized tour of Switzerland from scratch, let us know. We have extensive experience across the Alps, and will be happy to work with you to build the hiking vacation that best suits your needs.

See our self-guided 13-day Swiss Sampler tour page

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