For mountain lovers who don’t mind a scenic railway or three, our post-conference tour exploring a trio of Swiss alpine hamlets is for you. First, we travel to Zermatt to glimpse the mighty Matterhorn and ride the cogwheel train to Gornergrat, next ride in style on the Glacier Express to St Moritz. Lastly, we take the highest railway in the Alps en route to the lakeside town of Lugano. During the journey, hike through bucolic countryside studded with mountain peaks, explore quaint cobblestone streets, and wander through ancient olive groves.
Bern - Zermat
Our alpine adventure begins with a coach transfer to Täsch, where we board the train to Zermatt. Here, you’ll find a picture-postcard clutch of chalets tucked under the imposing peak of the Matterhorn. Suck in the fresh mountain air on the short walk to the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof (Zermattis car-free) and enjoy free time to explore the village.
In the afternoon, board the cogwheel train to Gornergrat, a half-hour, 1500-metre-elevation climb. Step out onto the observatory at 3,089 metres above sea level and be spellbound by one of the world’s most incredible mountain panoramas. Take in vistas of 29 mountain peaks, including the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa massif, home to Switzerland’s highest peak (Dufourspitze, 4,634 m), as well as Gorner Glacier. Return to Zermatt at your leisure.
Today you can choose your own alpine adventure. Stay in the village and explore Zermatt’s 500-year-old buildings – once barns and grain stores – and stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse, Zermatt’s main street, to peruse its bakeries, bars and boutiques. Hint: seeing the first rays of light strike the Matterhorn at dawn is unmissable.
For a more energetic day, fasten your hiking shoes and tackle one of the many walks. Take the challenging Abenteuerweg trail – a four-kilometre steep ascent – and be rewarded with views of 4000-metre peaks. For a gentler amble, choose the 4.4-kilometre return Pension Path that wends uphill towards the Gornergrat railway tracks before flattening out and disappearing into the forest.
Zermatt - St Moritz
Today, give your legs a rest and let the train do the work. And what a train it is. The World Heritage-listed Glacier Express twists and climbs 300 spectacular kilometres through the Alps to St Moritz. It’s an eight-hour journey but you’ll relish every minute. Sit back and relax as the train squeezes through 91 tunnels and chugs across 291 bridges on an epic scenic railway adventure. Enjoy first-class service and a delectable lunch with superb views.
Check in to the five-star Kulm Hotel St Moritz.
Get your hiking boots back on, we’re walking through the majestic Roseg Valley to The Hotel Restaurant Roseggletscher – an Alps institution. Amble over bridges, past bilberry bushes and through forest – keeping your eyes peeled for chamois (goat-antelope). When we arrive at the hotel after 14 kilometres of exertion, enjoy a well-earned lunch served with views of the Bernina Massif.
Return to St Moritz (it’s much faster on the way back) and enjoy free time in the afternoon to explore the glitzy resort village. A famous hangout for celebrities and the world’s skiing elite, St Moritz is also a spa town and sits on the banks of an aquamarine lake of the same name.
St Moritz - Lugano
Another day, another remarkable train journey. This time the Bernina Express – the highest railway in the Alps. Sit back in the luxurious comfort of your first-class carriage as the train snakes through mountain passes, alongside glaciers, through tunnels and over breathtaking bridges before eventually descending into Italy. Disembark in Tirano and travel by road, popping back into Switzerland and the lakeside town of Lugano, where we check in to the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola.
Enjoy free time in the afternoon to explore the city’s quaint cobblestone streets and flower-rimmed promenade.
Transport yourself to the Mediterranean – only with mountains instead of ocean – as we explore the historic olive groves clinging to the banks of Lake Lugano. Meander along the olive trail and see new groves interspersed with ancient olive trees. Enjoy a picnic lunch by the mountain-framed lake before taking to the water and cruising back to the centre of town.
In the afternoon, soak up your last day in Switzerland with free time to explore Lugano before our final farewell dinner.
Lugano - Milan - Australia
Transfer to Milan Airport for the fight back to Australia.