Christmas and New Year in the Swiss Alps

Sunday 22nd December 2019 to Thursday 2nd January 2020
12 - Days


Prices from: £2100


Make 2019 a Christmas and New Year’s Eve to remember as you spend the holiday in a genuine Winter Wonderland, surrounded by the mighty snow-capped Swiss Alps.


Departure Date: 22-Dec-2019
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Based for the duration of your holiday in a centrally located, 4-star hotel in the World Heritage city of Bern, you are just steps from the main station, Houses of Parliament and near all the famous attractions. Your tour price includes an 8-Day First-Class Swiss Travel Pass with 4 days of freedom to individually explore the exhilarating Swiss railway network, which includes some of the most panoramic railways in the world. Tour highlights include a magical paddle steamer cruise with festive 5-course dinner on Christmas Day along Lake Lucerne, with further paddle steamer cruises on Lake Thun and Lake Geneva. There’ll be private charter trains with vintage heritage trains on wonderfully scenic narrow-gauge railways around Bern, Solothurn and the Jura mountains to enjoy too. There’s a trip on the exclusive Gornergrat rack railway to the Summit of the Matterhorn scheduled, before a private charter dinner cruise on Lake Neuchatel makes for a fitting celebration of the last day of the year, and a crowning highlight of your memorable Swiss holiday.

Sunday 22nd December
London to Bern by high speed rail
You travel from London to Bern via Paris on Eurostar and TGV services. On arrival you check in to the 4-star Bristol Hotel, centrally located near the station and in the heart of the Old Town, within easy walking distance of all the major sights and trams. A welcome dinner will be served at a local restaurant this evening. (D)

Monday 23rd December
Bern Christmas Market; Heritage train through the scenic Worb Valley
After breakfast and a lie-in this morning you have some free time to look around Bern and get familiar with its outstanding Christmas Market. Alternately there’s a chance to explore the local tram network with your complimentary travel ticket. In the afternoon you enjoy your first exclusive private charter trip in an ornate vintage railcar from 1916. This scenic journey, complete with photo stops, takes you on the picturesque narrow-gauge line through the Worb Valley, past pastoral farm fields and through rolling hills. (B)

Tuesday 24th December
Freedom of Switzerland with your First-Class Swiss Travel Pass
Today is the first day of validity for your 8-Day First Class Swiss Travel Pass. This lets you travel anywhere in Switzerland on the extensive national network of standard gauge and narrow-gauge railways, and includes travel on buses, trams, ferries and some mountain railways. The choice of where to go is entirely yours, with highlights ranging from world-famous panoramic railways to attractive ‘best kept secrets’ in the hinterland. Discover for yourself why Switzerland is so much fun to explore by public transport, with frequent, clockwork connections and easy, seamless interchange at all stations. (B)

Wednesday 25th December
To Lucerne in Swiss Express comfort; Belle Epoque paddle-steamer cruise
A real treat awaits you on Christmas Day as you travel from Bern to Luzern via the particularly idyllic Emmental and Entlebuch route. This line still features First Class Swiss Express coaches with cushioned armchairs and rolling stock dating from the 1970s. The highlight of the day is a festive lunch cruise on the 1901 paddle steamer ‘Uri’. This ornate Belle Epoque ship, with its lavish Italian Rococo-style interior and massive Sulzer 2-cylinder steam engine, is a magical venue for an unforgettable Christmas. A festive 5-course Christmas meal will be served on board as you cruise over stunning Lake Lucerne with landmark mountains such as Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi in full view. After the steamboat cruise, you’ll have free time in Lucerne to explore this world-famous city. Alternately, you could use your Swiss Pass to travel back to Bern on the route of your choice, choosing either the Brünig Pass or one of the scenic bylines through Burgdorf. (B L)

Thursday 26th December and Friday 27th December
Freedom of Switzerland with First Class Swiss Travel Pass
For the next two days you once again have total freedom to discover all that Switzerland has to offer. Aside from obvious attractions like the Bernese Oberland, you might want to explore the superb yet less-famous railway lines in the serene Gruyere or Jura regions, all offering iconic ‘little trains’, towering viaducts and amazing mountain views. Grand excursions to the Centovalli or Rhaetian Railways are also possible. Alternately, you could go to one of Switzerland’s other elegant cities, like Zurich, Basel or Geneva and see the cultural sights there. In each city, your Swiss Travel Pass includes the local tram network while giving discounted access to museums and galleries. (B)

Saturday 28th December
Mountain magnificence in Zermatt; Rack railway to Gornergrat
Today you reconvene for a group excursion to the resort town of Zermatt, travelling over the Glacier Express route from Visp to Zermatt, before changing onto the rack railway to the Gornergrat summit, 3,090 metres (10,135 feet) above sea level. From the top there are breath-taking views of the adjacent glaciers and the mighty Matterhorn. On your return from the Gornergrat summit, you’ll have time to look around the car-free town of Zermatt, lined with wooden chalets. You then return to Bern at your own convenience using your rover pass, with the option of travelling back over the spectacular Lötschberg pass. (B)

Sunday 29th December
Paddle steamer cruise on Lake Geneva
After your journey on Lake Lucerne, another paddle steamer cruise is on the menu for today, as on this seasonal Sunday one of the vintage paddlers ‘Vevey’ or ‘Italie’, from 1907 and 1908 respectively, will be in service. These beautiful side-wheelers have been restored offering ornate saloons and immaculate lounges. On their spacious free decks and glass-enclosed upper deck, you get unrivalled views of the Swiss and French Alps from Western Europe’s largest lake. You’ll enjoy a late morning cruise on Lake Geneva and, thanks to the flexibility of your Swiss Pass, you can again plan your day your way. You could take a prolonged afternoon cruise or travel on some of the nearby scenic railways, such as the ‘Train des Vignes’. You might travel through the UNESCO-designated Lavaux vineyards, take the Rochers de Naye rack railway to the highest point above the Lake, or venture out on the panoramic dome cars over the famed Golden Pass route for the return to Bern via Zwesimmen and Spiez. (B)

Monday 30th December
Paddle steamer cruise on Lake Thun
The highlight today is a cruise on Lake Thun’s flagship vessel, the legendary paddle steamer ‘Blümlisalp’ from 1906. Watch the compound engine turn the mighty red paddle wheels or simply relax in the ornate saloon as you sail from Thun to Interlaken, passing such iconic mountains as the pyramid-shaped Niesen or the sharply-pointed Stockhorn. On arrival at Interlaken you might wish to extend your individual programme on the Bernese Oberland narrow-gauge railways to include the famous mountain villages Grindelwald, Wengen or Mürren. (B)

Tuesday 31st December
Heritage train along the Jura Mountains; Mountain magnificence at the Chaumont Funicular, Festive Lake Neuchatel charter cruise
Today you enjoy another private charter on the narrow-gauge railway from Langenthal to Solothurn. This idyllic rural railway passes through the heart of the Swiss Midlands and ventures along the foothills of the Jura Mountains, before crossing over the River Aare to the city of Solothurn. Your private charter will be formed of a vintage electric railcar from the early 20th century, pausing at the most scenic locations for photos. On arrival there’s time to have a look around Solothurn and enjoy some refreshments before continuing by SBB express train to Neuchatel. Rolling further along the foothills of the Jura mountains on the standard gauge main line, you then pass the vineyards along Lake Biel and Lake Neuchatel. Here you’ll transfer from the station by classic trolleybus to the Chaumont mountain railway. This 2 km long funicular leads to one of the highest points in the Jura Mountains. From the impressive observation platform at the top there are sweeping views of the three Jura Lakes, the entire Swiss Midlands and also the Alps. It’s one of the best views in Switzerland. After returning from Mount Chaumont, there’s time to take the trolleybus into the very heart of Neuchatel before enjoying a private charter dinner cruise on Lake Neuchatel for a celebration of the last day of the year. Your boat will be the vintage vessel MS Cygne, from 1939. You return to Bern by 10 pm, giving you time for a nightcap before the local fireworks display over the mighty cathedral. (B D)

Wednesday 1st January 2020
At leisure in Bern; Worb tramway and Gurten funicular
After an active week of discovery and excitement, you welcome the New Year with a leisurely lie in. Today you have free time to relax in Bern, visit the city’s world-famous art museums or use your complimentary local public transport ticket to travel by tram on the overland light rail route to Muri, Gümligen and Worb. You can also travel with your free ticket by funicular to the top of Mount Gurten, the city’s ‘house mountain’ from where there are grand views of the rooftops of the Old Town and the whole range of the Bernese Alps. The 1 km long Gurten funicular is easily reached by tram from the main railway station and takes you to an elevation of 839 metres above sea level. (B)

Thursday 2nd January 2020
Return to London
After your exhilarating Christmas holiday you return to London via Paris by TGV and Eurostar services. (B)


Details

Price

  • First Class £2395
  • Standard Class £2245
  • Single supplement £395
  • Ground only (Bern – Bern) £2100

All prices shown are per person.

Price Includes

  • First or Standard Class rail travel from London St. Pancras International to Bern and Return by Eurostar and French Services
  • 11 Nights accommodation with breakfast at Hotel Bristol, Bern
  • 2 Dinners and 1 Lunch
  • All seat reservations and transfers
  • All train and boat travel as detailed in the itinerary
  • 8 Day First Class Swiss Travel Rail Pass
  • Rack Railway to Gornergrat
  • The services of a tour manager

Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner

 

Map feature coming soon!