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Toot toot! All aboard the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland

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Zurich Switzerland Europe
Swiss Grand Train Tour

Toot toot! All aboard the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland

story by: House of Travel

What better way to see all that Switzerland has to offer than on a Grand Train Tour? Kick back and relax as 1,200 kilometres of winding rail routes take you on an unforgettable journey along cloud-piercing alpine passes, mirror-like lakes, chic urban centres and traditional picture-perfect Swiss villages. Whether you choose to come in summer or winter, words cannot describe the sensational sights you'll see over the course of your epic voyage.

The Swiss Travel Pass

The introduction of the Swiss Travel Pass at the start of 2015 makes planning your adventure a simple pleasure. Coming in four- and eight-day variations, this pass allows you to board and disembark at any point along the Grand Train Tour. Travel in any direction you choose, and hop on and off as you desire. This is your adventure and the choice is yours.

To help you make the most of your time in this exhilarating country, have a look at the eight-day itinerary suggested by the Swiss Travel System and check out our highlights of some of the things you can expect to see. Bring extra memory cards for the camera - you're going to need them.

The culture

A deeply historical country, there are countless castles, buildings and museums to explore in the cities along the Grand Train Tour route. With a wonderful collision of ancient architecture and a hip cultural scene, Zurich is the heart of any Switzerland holiday and offers insight into the Swiss way of life, both old and new. It is also so central and easy to get many places from here.

Stretch your legs in Schaffhausen to investigate Munot, a stunning 16th-century fortress, and Allerheiligen Munster, a beautiful cathedral completed shortly after the dawn of the 12th century. 

Further south and built some time around the year 720, the Disentis Monastery, set at the foot of the Lukmanier Pass, was often the focal point of many battles and today provides insight into the country's spiritual and architectural past. In St. Gallen, the lovingly preserved 16th-century Abbey Library of St. Gall is another essential addition to your cultural itinerary.

The landscape

The country might be neutral in political matters, but Switzerland's landscapes are passionate and dramatic.

Peering out of your train window is like watching an ever-changing documentary of some of the most gorgeous and diverse scenery on the planet. From the route's highest point at the 2,253 metre high Bernina Hospiz to the sprawling Matter Valley, the lowest area in the country, The Grand Train Tour provides a cinematic reel of some of the very best panoramas in all of Switzerland.

Besides the abundance of glorious mountain ranges, another of the natural wonders you'll encounter on the Grand Train Tour is the mighty Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in all of Europe, situated between Zurich and Schaffhausen. Marvel at further aquatic sights when the train rolls past the enormous Lake Constance, which spreads into Germany and Austria, and the mountain-fringed Lake Geneva, one of the most jaw-dropping sights in the country. 

Seasonal differences

Winter is a popular time to visit Switzerland as the frosty crowns of snow settle majestically atop the mountainous landscape. The vistas are striking, and the country is transformed into the quintessential winter wonderland. The days are cold, however, with temperatures typically hovering around 0 C.

The life-giving warmth of summer thaws the country, turning into lush shades of green. Switzerland takes on the appearance of a fairytale land, with colourful chalets dotted throughout the rolling valleys. The climate is warm and pleasant, with temperatures usually around 20-25 C.

In winter, the trip between St. Moritz and Lugano can be extended by taking the Palm Express bus over the lovely Maloja Pass, along Italy's Lake Como and back into Switzerland at Lake Lugano. In the warmer months, a similar route can be taken aboard the Bernina Express Bus.

The itinerary

Day 1: Zurich - Schaffhausen - St. Gallen

Day 2: St. Gallen - Rapperswil - Lucerne

Day 3: Lucerne - Interlaken - Montreux

Day 4: Montreux - Martigny - Zermatt

Day 5: Zermatt - Chur - St-Moritz

Day 6: St. Moritz - Lugano

Day 7: Lugano - Lucerne

Day 8: Lucerne - Zurich

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