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Swiss Trains and Italian Lake District

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795
10 Days
Availability : Jul to Sept 2018 / Jun to Sept 2019
Zurich - Switzerland
Milan - Italy
National Geographic Expeditions

EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Journey along three of Switzerland’s most iconic railways—the Glacier ExpressGornergrat Bahn, and Bernina Express—with a National Geographic expert.
  • Board a private ferry for a scenic ride across Lake Como, and take a private tour of the Como Cathedral.
  • Meet an Italian chef for a cooking lesson in picturesque Varenna, and try your hand at preparing some of the Lombardy region’s rich specialties.
  • During a special visit to the Matterhorn Museum, hear a local mountaineer and an Alpine historian recount stories of the earliest attempts to conquer Switzerland’s most iconic peak.

A National Geographic expert will accompany each expedition to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed here are some of the experts that will be joining departures on this trip.

Teresa Fisher
Patrick Hunt
Tim Jepson
 
 
ITINERARY

Climb aboard Switzerland’s legendary trains to experience some of the most spectacular scenery in the Swiss Alps, from the twisted peak of the Matterhorn to the breathtaking vistas of the Bernina Pass. Soar high above Zermatt in a gondola, and enjoy a choice of hikes, walks, and tram rides through beautiful mountain landscapes. Then cross the Alps into Italy and cap off the trip on the shores of stunning Lake Como.

 
DAY 1: ZÜRICH, SWITZERLAND/ZERMATT

Arrive in Zürich this morning and board a train to the charming Alpine village of Zermatt, off-limits to cars. Check in to our hotel and gather for a welcome dinner tonight.

Meals Included:Dinner
Accommodations:

 Hotel National Zermatt

 
DAY 2: ZERMATT/ZMUTT VALLEY

Start the day with a walk through the village of Zermatt. This afternoon, ride the gondola up to Schwarzsee or Furi for a walk through the spectacular Zmutt Glacier Valley. Later, return to Zermatt by gondola. Ambitious hikers can also hike to Zmutt, a hamlet of weathered chalets, and continue to Zermatt on foot. Alternatively, take a gondola to Glacier Paradise for a fascinating walk through the inside of a glacier.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:

 Hotel National Zermatt

 
DAY 3: ZERMATT/GORNER GLACIER

Climb aboard the Gornergrat Bahn cogwheel railway, the highest train in Europe, and ascend to a summit far above Zermatt to experience one of the best viewpoints in the Alps. Admire a gorgeous vista that includes Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, and the Gorner Glacier. Hike down past Alpine lakes to Riffelberg, where we will catch the train back to Zermatt. Pay a visit to the Matterhorn Museum, where a local mountaineer and Alpine historian will recount stories of early attempts to conquer the Matterhorn and other climbing adventures.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:

 Hotel National Zermatt

 
DAY 4: GLACIER EXPRESS/ST. MORITZ

Take your first-class seat on the world-famous Glacier Express and set off on a breathtaking journey across three high-mountain passes, over 291 bridges, and through 91 tunnels. Enjoy the elegant atmosphere of the train as we soak up magnificent vistas of skyscraping, glacier-glazed peaks on our way to the Upper Engadin Valley. Disembark in St. Moritz and settle into our hotel for the evening.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodations:

 Crystal Hotel St. Moritz

 
DAY 5: ST. MORITZ

Set out on a walking tour of Pontresina St. Moritz to learn the local lore and history. Later this morning, travel to St. Moritz by local train, and visit the Segantini Museum, dedicated to the Alpine artist Giovanni Segantini. After lunch on your own, take the rest of the afternoon to explore the Alpine landscapes. Go for a leisurely stroll along the pristine waters of Lake St. Moritz, take a short cable car ride up to Piz Naire to admire breath-taking views of the valley below or take a funicular to the top of Muottas Muragl, another mountain offering incredible scenic vistas.

Meals Included:Breakfast
Accommodations:

Crystal Hotel St. Moritz

 
DAY 6: BERNINA PASS/POSCHIAVO

Today, ride the legendary Bernina Express, the highest mountain railway in the Alps, to the heart of Italian-speaking Switzerland. Take in extraordinary views of the Morteratsch Glacier from the train’s panoramic windows as we climb to the highest point at Ospizio Bernina, 7,578 feet above sea level. Descend to the town of Poschiavo, where we meet a local guide for a tour of its charming historic center. Return to St. Moritz via the Bernina Expresslate this afternoon.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:

 Crystal Hotel St. Moritz

 
DAY 7: ST. MORITZ/CERNOBBIO

A spectacular drive through Alpine valleys brings us into the Italian Lake District today. The countryside is dotted with villas in hues of terra-cotta, pink, ochre, and gold, and strewn with tropical vegetation and lush gardens. Our destination is the lovely village of Cernobbio, perched on the western shore of the vast and beautiful Lake Como. Settle into a historic 19th-century villa overlooking Lake Como.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:

 Villa Flori

 
DAY 8: LAKE COMO

Spend the day exploring the treasures of Lake Como. Board a private ferry for a picturesque ride across the lake to Varenna. Behold a panorama of colorful waterside villages and elegant estates, fringed by palms and pines and backed by soaring mountains. Learn secrets of Italian cooking during a lesson with a local chef, followed by a lunch of the dishes you’ve made, washed down with local wine. Visit the grand gardens of Villa Monastero, first founded in the 12th century as a Cistercian monastery.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodations:

 Villa Flori

 
DAY 9: LAKE COMO

Soak in the beauty of Lake Como’s lakeside towns. Discover Como’s historic center, its sunny piazzas, and the Como Cathedral on a private tour. Continue to the delightful town of Bellagio and explore at leisure. Later, relax on the hotel’s terrace, taking in the view before we gather to celebrate our journey with a farewell dinner in the home of a local family.

Meals Included:Breakfast, Dinner
Accommodations:

 Villa Flori

 
DAY 10: MILAN

After breakfast, transfer to Milan’s Malpensa Airport for your flight home.

Meals Included:Breakfast
 
 
WHAT TO EXPECT

This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate; travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. Excursions include daily walks in the mountains and in alpine towns, over uneven terrain with some steep ascents/descents and stairs without handrails. There will options for longer hikes on some days. For those prone to motion sickness, please note that we will be traveling by train, boat, and gondola and driving on winding mountain roads throughout the expedition. We will travel at altitudes up 10,000 feet above sea level.

Accommodations
Throughout the trip, we stay in ideally located, high-end hotels with many amenities.

Expedition Team
A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.

 
ABOUT THE TRAINS

The historic Glacier Express affords a breathtaking journey over three Alpine passes, across 291 Alpine bridges and through 91 tunnels. During our seven-hour trip from Zermatt to St. Moritz, pass through the gorges of the Valais region and into the emerald Engadine Valley, taking in spectacular views from the train’s panoramic windows. Enjoy a three-course lunch served at your seat along the way.

Board the legendary Bernina Express—the highest rail crossing between countries in the Alps—and travel from Pontresina to Poschiavo, near the Italian border. The one-hour and 23 minute trip follows a route that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008 for its engineering, architecture, and harmony with the environment. Cross sky-high passes, sparkling glaciers, and dozens of bridges and tunnels; and watch the Alpine landscapes transform as we get closer to the Mediterranean.

 
 
WHAT’S INCLUDED
  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • All gratuities
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
Via Travel & Cruising
Via Travel & Cruising
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