Travel Bureau - Blog: Just back from... Switzerland

Just back from… Switzerland

Thursday 6 December 2018

A scenic train ride through the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland is a perfect break for those who prefer a relaxing pace of travel and the splendours of nature to full-on itineraries and city crowds. Our personal travel expert, Garry recently returned from just such a trip with a whole host of tips and recommendations for your consideration. Arriving into Zurich, Garry took the train to Zermatt before beginning his railroad exploration of some of Switzerland’s most picturesque destinations.

Lying in southern Switzerland’s Valais canton at an elevation of around 1,600m, the mountain resort of Zermatt is a sought-after destination for keen skiers, climbers and hikers. The iconic pyramid-shaped peak of the Matterhorn rises above the town whose main street, Bahnhofstrasse, is lined with boutique shops, hotels and restaurants. A car-free town with a lively après-ski scene, Zermatt is also home to public outdoor rinks where visitors can take to the ice in winter for a skate or even a game of the increasingly popular sport, curling.

Matterhorn from the train, Zermatt

After an evening of fortifying fondue and a good night’s sleep, Garry took the Gornergrat Mountain Railway to the top of Gornergrat Mountain, which stands at 3,089m. The second-highest mountain railway in Europe, after the Jungfrau, it was opened in 1898 and was the first electric track in Switzerland. The journey only takes around 35 minutes and there are three stops en-route for those who wish to break the journey or walk some of the way. If you really feel like stretching your legs, the walk from top to bottom would take around four hours, or you could set off along one of the many hiking routes which start from the summit. Blessed with bright blue skies and crisp sunshine on freshly fallen snow, Garry was enchanted by the spectacular views at every turn. On a clear day 29 peaks of over 4,000m are visible from the summit, including the famous Matterhorn. Of course, it can be cold and icy at the top so wrap up warm and take care when walking around.

Garry at the top of Gornergrat Mountain with Matterhorn in the background

Moving on from Zermatt, Garry boarded a train to Brig to connect with the Glacier Express to St. Moritz. Taking just under seven hours to travel between Brig and St. Moritz, this is a train journey where you can really settle in, relax and enjoy the magnificent Swiss scenery as it rolls by your window. Speeding over no less than 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels, the train passes through three cantons – Valias, Uri & Graubunden – and highlights along the route include the Rhine Gorge, the Landwasser Viaduct and the Oberalp Pass: at 2,033m above sea level as the train climbs far above the village of Andermatt, this is the highest point of the journey. Travelling in first class, Garry thoroughly enjoyed his experience on board the Glacier Express and thought is was a truly lovely way to travel. From the comfort of his seat, Garry admired the changing view, unrestricted by full-height, panoramic windows, and was even served a delicious 3-course meal with wine before arriving in St. Moritz.

The Glacier Express, Switzerland

The glitzy hotels of St. Moritz may be an ideal choice for the glamourous traveller, but if you prefer friendly five-star service to dazzling décor, Garry highly recommends a stay at the Waldhaus Sils. Sitting in all its grandeur above the small town of Sils, about 10k from St. Moritz, this family-run property has been open since 1908 through five generations, who still maintain the tradition of personally welcoming each guest to the hotel. Well known for its spa, the hotel also boasts a small library and you’ll even find a small Catholic chapel (complete with pipe organ) next to the well-stocked wine cellar, which houses 20,000 bottles of wine and Champagne, including some from Switzerland. If that’s not enough to tempt you, Garry claims he had the best steak of his life from the Waldhaus’ kitchens. Splash out on the Tower Suite for amazing views of the lakes both to the front and the rear of the hotel.

Dinner with a view at the Waldhaus Sils

Half an hour from St. Moritz Rail Station at Bernina Diavolezza, a ten-minute cable car ride takes you up to a whopping 2,973m altitude. It’s well worth taking a moment in your day to enjoy the amazing panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and glaciers, and there’s even a restaurant where you can warm up with a hot chocolate before heading back down the mountain.

Garry’s final rail journey on his whistle-stop Swiss adventure was a trip on board the Bernina Express. Starting from Tirano in Italy, the Bernina Express takes you high up over the Engadin Alps and back into Switzerland. Holding the dizzying title of the highest railway across the Alps, the track runs along the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Rhaetian Railway, through the Albula and Bernina landscapes. Over the two-and-a-half-hour journey, you’ll travel through the most densely populated area of castle in Europe, catch a glimpse of Morteratsch Glacier as you come around the Montebello Curve and witness spectacular scenery at every turn.  

On board the Bernina Express, Italy-Switzerland

Garry found rail travel in Switzerland to be excellent on all counts: trains were clean inside and out, services unfailingly punctual, and courteous staff always wore a friendly smile. With comfortable seats in spacious carriages and plenty of room for luggage, there was nothing to detract from the spectacular landscapes outside. Garry’s trip was a whirlwind tour but, of course, you can take your time along the way, with Swiss Rail Passes available for durations of up to 15 days. 

Garry travelled to Switzerland with Classic Collection. Speak to our personal travel experts to find out more and to book your Swiss rail adventure. Call us on 0191 285 9321, email holidays@travelb.co.uk or visit our store on Gosforth High Street. Browse our blog for more great holiday ideas. 

Sign up to our instore events and holiday inspiration mailing list!   

Foreign currency now from Travel Bureau

Planning a holiday, honeymoon or trip abroad? Speak to our team about currency today.

Find out more

Latest Event

More exciting events coming in 2018

Latest News

Explore the world with Travel Bureau, where personal service is all part of the price. Here at Travel Bureau we believe that the best advice comes from people with first-hand expereince who really know the destination. Our...
COMO Hotels have 12 award-winning properties around the world in enchanting destinations all the way from North America and the Caribbean to Indonesia, Thailand and the Indian Ocean. All about experience, Como’s ethos...
It’s the season of giving and we’re feeling generous! If you’ve liked and shared our post on Facebook you’re in for a chance of winning our fantastic prize from Close House… An overnight stay for two people in a Courtyard...
Celebrity Cruises is encouraging you to "sail beyond borders" with two fantastic offers for 2019 & 2020 cruises. Keep reading to find out more... Europe, Arabian Gulf, India & Sri Lanka sailings: 2nd GUEST PAYS HALF...
In this final 2018 issue of our inspirational e-magazine 'Discover' you'll find everything you need to inspire your travels for 2019 and beyond. Get reading, get dreaming and then start planning incredible holidays with us!...

Travel Tweets

As we're all aware, there is still a great amount of uncertainty surrounding Brexit. However, in the event of a no-… https://t.co/2bOFzolMl4 8 hours 19 min ago
RT @CNTraveler: The top 10 most beautiful coastal towns in Spain https://t.co/WhrPfnO18O https://t.co/JNB3WDnN8v 13 hours 41 min ago
RT @carrierholidays: Leave the kids behind – it’s time for grown-up fun at our favourite adults-only properties… https://t.co/ccIAuSOU3u ht… 13 hours 42 min ago
RT @lonelyplanetUK: Europe’s hot springs: 20 of the best spots for a soak https://t.co/bt4qLMoYWS #travel https://t.co/PikwaDldIF 13 hours 43 min ago
RT @CNTraveler: Japan's cherry blossom forecast has officially been announced—so plan your trip now: https://t.co/xIkng7JypS https://t.co/d 13 hours 45 min ago
RT @NatGeoTravel: From the exotic to the serene, explore some of our planet's most stunning natural landscapes https://t.co/sl83lMU1lm 13 hours 45 min ago
Save up to £1,275 per couple on this amazing adults-only #Mauritius #holiday... 7 nights 4* Ambre resort ALL INCLU… https://t.co/ztNuIUdxn0 1 day 6 hours ago
RT @CNTraveler: What it's like to visit the most beautiful island in the world https://t.co/I5nRBGxFGg https://t.co/yuPdjiUcel 1 day 13 hours ago
RT @CNTraveler: These are officially the best international airlines in the world https://t.co/sG0bdWn0YT https://t.co/B3ObVFgtGF 1 day 13 hours ago
This week is your last chance to get tickets for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan! Click the link to find out how… https://t.co/XdecV87ewi 2 days 6 hours ago