Echo Rails & Trails Details – 7 Days Tour Lugano-Zürich
Swiss Alps by Rail Itinerary – 7-Day Tour #2
Day 1 – Lugano with afternoon Olive Trail walk and dinner at an outdoor Grotto
13: 00 Introduction of new participants, tour briefing and discussion of options
Option A: Relax or walk around the old town – window-shop along Via Nassa and Via Pessina offer a range of shops from famous fashion designers’ boutiques to delicatessens and bakeries; visit the nearby 15th century church with magnificent frescoes, walk along the lakeshore to the public gardens with exotic trees.
Option B: Take the local bus and then walk the Olive Trail to Gandria
A leisurely, scenic level 1 hr/1 mile long walk along the “Sentiero dell’olivo” with wonderful views over Lake Lugano. 18 information boards bring you closer to the history and scientific nature of olive tree growth and the oil harvested from olives. The little village of Gandria lies at the foot of Monte Brè, on the shores of Lake Lugano. It has a very nostalgic atmosphere having remained unchanged for over 100 years.
From Gandria take the Lake Lugano boat and ride to Lugano to join the rest of the group and continue together to the Grotto Dinner; return to Lugano by water taxi.
Day 2 – Full day in nearby Como, Italy
Como is the capital of the Lake Como region situated in Lombardy, in the north of Italy. It has the shape of an inverted Y and comprises many beautiful villages and villas to see. Our day consists of a walk through Como and the beautiful cathedral, the Duomo of Como.
beginning in Piazza Cavour in Como, board a boat with an on-board bar for a 2-hr boat ride to the lakeside town of Bellagio set on a breath-taking promontory dividing Lake Como into two legs, the Como side and the Lecco side. Enjoy the mountain vistas, sparkling water and equisite villas while relaxing in peaceful surroundings on the beautiful lake. It is one of the deepest (400 meters/1300 ft.) and certainly most beautiful lakes in Europe.
Visit towns on the lake including Bellagio, Varenna and Lenno. Stroll the cobbled sun-soaked streets that tumble down to the glistening blue lake surrounded by Alps, snow-covered in Winter and spring and lush green and wildflowers in Summer and Autumn.
For the past five hundred years many famous people, from Bellini the composer to Winston Churchill the statesman, have enjoyed residing in the beautiful villas along the sunny shores of Lake Como. Along the way, the some of the villas with their amazing gardens that touch the lake belonging to the rich and famous will be visible. Visit the Villa Balbianello, a magnificent villa with beautiful gardens and setting looking back on Bellagio from the Bay of Venus in Lenno.
Return to Como and visit its magnificent Cathedral, walk along its ancient streets and have a sundowner and or gelato before returning to Lugano for overnight.
Day 3 – From Lugano by Centovalli Railway to reach Zermatt in time for an afternoon walk to see the Matterhorn
Today’s experience is the Centovalli Railway, a metre-gauge railway that connects the Gotthard and Simplon lines linking Ticino with the Valle d’Ossola in Italy and with the Canton of Valais in switzerland by the shortest possible route.
The Centovalli (‘Hundred Valleys’) Railway is not just an excursion train that takes visitors through the magnificent landscapes of Centovalli and Valle Vigezzo where the Mediterranean climate and culture meet the the Alps, it is also a vital means of communication for the inhabitants of the isolated valleys.
Reach Zermatt in time for an orientation walk through the centre of town and to get your first views of the Matterhorn. There is also time to enjoy all the wellness services and indoor-outdoor pool at the hotel.
Day 4 – Zermatt with excursion on the Gornergrat Railway and a guided hike with breathtaking views of the Matterhorn
Experience amazing views of the Matterhorn and the Alps in a combination of cogwheel train ride and easy to moderate day hike. Ride Europe’s second highest railway and the highest open-air railway of the continent – the Gornergrat cog wheel train – up to the 10,134 ft / 3089 m Gornergrat with incredible views of the Matterhorn accompanying you most of the way.
Walk up to the 360 degree platform area where you see over 29 of the 79 alpine peaks higher than 4000 m/13,123 ft, including the massive Matterhorn.
Enjoy a 1-2 hr guided hike along signposted trails through an alpine nature reserve with stunning Matterhorn views mirrored in pristine alpine lakes. Learn about the origins of Zermatt and the people of the canton of Valais (French name) or Wallis (German name)
Day 5 – From Zermatt by GoldenPass Line to Grindelwald, with a 2 hr stop in Montreux on Lake Geneva and Chillon Castle
This segment is branded as the GoldenPass Line with a Classic train car. Experience what it was like during the Golden Age Belle-Epoque period when the rich and famous where the only ones traveling on such trains; or travel in the Panorama Car with big panorama windows.
Travel down the valley of the Rhône River past miles of vineyards to the French-speaking part of Switzerland. A 2-hr stop in the famous “Swiss Riviera” resort town of Montreux allows you to take a leisurely stroll along the flower-filled landscaped shores of Lake Geneva or visit the famous castle of Chillon.
Then its back on the GoldenPass Line through the Préalps of the canton of Fribourg and through the beautiful Simmental Valley known for the sturdy brown and white cows and the world famous resort town of Gstaad, home to many Hollywood stars. Alpine valleys and rolling hills, green pastures and grazing cows, wooden chalets and picturesque villages accompany you on the journey to Grindelwald, one of Switzerland’s oldest and most popular resorts in the UNESCO World Heritage Jungfrau region.
Day 6 – Excursion to the top of Jungfraujoch with lunch at the Eigergletscher and afternoon in the Lauterbrunnen Valley visiting the Trümmelbach Falls
Today caps one of the highlights of the tour with 3 different mountain train rides up to the top of the 3,400m / 13371 ft Jungfraujoch, a complex built in 1914 on the saddle between the Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.
You are able to experience Europe’s largest glacier, the Aletsch Glacier, and view mountains, snow, and ice as far as you can see. There is time to walk outside on the hard packed-snow on the glacier and be part of the scenery at Europe’s highest man made splendor. Sit back in a deckchair or go tubing or zip-lining and enjoy sliding through the Ice Palace filled with ice sculptures.
After lunch at the restaurant overlooking the amazing Eiger Glacier, take the train down to Lauterbrunnen and on by postal bus to visit the thundering Trümmelbach Falls, the world’s only glacier waterfalls that are accessible underground by lift, galleries, tunnels, paths and platforms.
Experience a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls inside the mountain made accessible by a tunnel-funicular, built in 1913, stairs, and illumination. The waterfall carry the melt-water of the glaciers from the Jungfrau down to the valley, up to 20,000 liters of water per second, as well as over 20,000 tons of boulders and scree per year that causes the entire mountain to shudder.
Day 7 – Grindelwald – Lake Thun – Zürich
The morning is at leisure to give you time to enjoy the Jungfrau Region mountain surroundings. Relax, find a nice walk and enjoy the area.
In the afternoon take a train to Interlaken to catch a Lake Thun steamer for a ride on the lake to Thun enjoying the surrounding mountains and views of pretty lakeside village.
In Thun catch your last train of tour to transfer you directly to the train station at Zurich, next to the airport.