Amid Switzerland’s emerald meadows and majestic mountains, the everyday is made extraordinary, with awe-inspiring backdrops framing nearly every scene. Take in some of the country’s most breathtaking landscapes from Gruyères to Zermatt, zip through the Alps on the legendary Glacier Express, and explore alpine villages and historic towns with a private guide. Along the way, discover a culture that runs deeper than the cheese, clocks, and chocolate for which Switzerland is so well known.
Land in Geneva and set out on a private tour of this cosmopolitan city, whose elegant buildings edge the shores of Europe’s largest alpine lake. See the most notable of Geneva’s international organizations: the world headquarters of the Red Cross and the European headquarters of the United Nations. Continue to the flourishing Flower Clock, the Basilica of Notre Dame, and the extraordinary Jet d’Eau fountain. Stroll the cobbled streets of the old town and visit its Grand Thèâtre, Reformation Wall, and St. Pierre’s Cathedral before joining a scenic boat cruise on the lake.
Embark on a private excursion to the French Alpine village of Chamonix, located at the foot of Western Europe’s tallest peak, Mont Blanc. Ascend the massif via cable car to the summit of Aiguille-du-Midi, and take in panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and the Mer de Glace glacier from the viewing terraces. Back down in Chamonix, explore this world-famous resort town before returning to Geneva.
Drive to the medieval village of Gruyères, nestled amid rolling Alpine foothills. Walk to the hilltop castle for views over these bucolic landscapes, framed by majestic peaks. Continue to La Maison du Gruyères, where generations of cheese makers have been crafting the town’s tasty export since the 12th century. Learn the secrets behind their labor of love on a tour of the fromagerie, or dairy, before traveling to the charming Alpine resort town of Gstaad.
This morning, independently board the Goldenpass Panoramic, a scenic train that winds through the spectacular mountain landscapes of western Switzerland. Through the railcar’s glass domes, take in verdant meadows dotted with turquoise mountain lakes and charming chalets. Ride below staggering snow-capped peaks to the terraced vineyards lining the shores of Lake Geneva, arriving in Montreux. From here, catch a train bound for Zermatt. Set out on a private walking tour of the town, located at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn.
Enjoy a day at leisure in glitzy Zermatt, exploring its car-free pedestrian center lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants. Consider a visit to the Matterhorn Museum to learn about early mountaineering expeditions to its namesake peak, or opt to hit the slopes for a day of skiing or hiking. For close-up views of the Matterhorn—and for a fascinating walk through the inside of a glacier—take the cable car to glacier paradise.
Climb aboard the world-famous Glacier Express for a breathtaking journey into the heart of the Swiss Alps. Ride through high-mountain peaks and over towering bridges, enjoying the elegant amenities of the train as you soak in magnificent scenery. Disembark in the town of Andermatt, and make the short trip to Sasso San Gottardo. Tour this World War II-era fortification with a private guide, learning about its use as a top-secret army base and exploring some of its more than 2 kilometers of underground tunnels. Following your visit, travel to the lakeside town of Lucerne.
Set out on a private tour of Lucerne, a charming city of waterfront promenades, covered bridges, and inviting plazas. Stroll the town’s narrow lanes, visiting the iconic Chapel Bridge, the Dying Lion monument, and the Culture and Convention Centre—an architectural gem that holds impressive concert halls and contemporary art exhibits. Spend the remainder of the day exploring the city at leisure, wandering the medieval town center or climbing the Nine Towers of the old town wall for views over the city. Opt to take a ferry ride along the cobalt waters of Lake Lucerne, or ride the world’s steepest cog train to the top of nearby Mount Pilatus (May to November).
Travel to the Zurich airport, and catch your international flight home.
This trip has an activity rating of light; travelers should be physically fit and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, navigating uneven or slippery terrain, and climbing stairs without handrails. Excursions include city walking tours, scenic train rides and lake cruises, drives on winding roads, and easy hikes, with options for more strenuous hikes.
Throughout the expedition, you’ll stay in accommodations selected for their exceptional quality, location, and character. Many of the hotels on this itinerary are heritage hotels, or historic buildings that have been refurbished and transformed into hotels. As a result, the rooms and bathrooms may be smaller than American standards. Some hotels may not have air conditioning.
Top private guides will accompany you throughout the trip, and local experts will meet with you along the way as described in the itinerary.
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. These trips are designed to fit into your schedule. You choose your desired departure date, and we’ll make all the arrangements.
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination. Single traveler prices are available upon request. Surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
This expedition is available June 15 through October.