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Great Swiss Lakes

Through the heart of Switzerland by rail
Holiday information
Nights: 7
Accommodation: one three-star hotel; two four-star hotels
Meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 dinners
Extend your stay
Add a three-night stay in the beautiful, Italianate town of Locarno for relaxation and sightseeing on and around the shoreline of Lake Maggiore. 
Starting point:

You begin with two nights in Montreux at the Hotel Suisse Majestic, which enjoys views over the glittering waters of Lake Geneva to the French Alps beyond.

Day 1

There’s a wide variety of things to see and do from this lakeside location: take one of the historic side-wheel paddle steamers on the lake; enjoy some Swiss wines in the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Lavaux vineyards which line the lakeshore; step back in time with a visit to the Château de Chillon, whose dramatic medieval towers inspired Lord Byron's poem, The Prisoner of Chillon ; or follow in Charlie Chaplin’s footsteps with a visit to his former home, Manoir de Ban, now a museum to his life and work, complete with the sets from his greatest films.

Day 2

Today you board the Golden Pass panoramic train for a scenic journey as it climbs away from the lakeside, passing through chic Gstaad and into the mountains of the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland’s central massif, home to countless peaks such as the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. After reaching Interlaken, it is a short train ride along the northern shore of turquoise Lake Brienz to the village of Meiringen, and the nearby Reichenbach Falls where Conan Doyle set the infamous struggle between his hero Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty. Here you stay at the Hotel Victoria for three nights.

Days 3 & 4

You are now right in the heart of the Swiss mountains, with time to explore the sublime Alpine scenery. A short walk from the centre of Meiringen is the 200-metre-deep Aare Gorge, whose narrow twisting length you can follow on easy walkways. Alternatively, take the cable car and gondola to the 2,250-metre-high Alpen Tower restaurant at the top of the Meiringen ski domain, for views and food to take your breath away. To the west, near Lake Brienz, is the outstanding open-air museum of Ballenberg, where you can step back in time as you explore the extensive collection of Swiss vernacular architecture (complete with authentic cottage gardens) set in magnificent parkland. On the lakeshore beyond is the pretty town of Brienz, the departure point for boats to the Grandhotel Giessbach, with its own funicular and waterfalls – a perfect spot for lunch; or the 1892 steam-driven cog railway to near the summit of the Rothorn, from where you can count 693 peaks on a clear day. (Or so they say!)

Day 5

The last leg of your journey takes you over the Brünig Pass to reach Lucerne and the Hotel Wilden Mann, your base for your final two nights.

Day 6

Spend your time exploring the atmospheric, compact city with our self-guided walking tour which follows the historic city walls and crosses the covered, flower-bedecked bridges for which Lucerne is famous. Or take to the mountains for one last Alpine panorama from either Mount Rigi or Mount Pilatus – both easily accessible from the town, with vintage cog railways to take the strain out of the climb.

Extend your holiday in Locarno

From Lucerne, take a boat across the lake, then a train over the Gotthard Pass, to reach Locarno, a beautiful Italianate town on the shores of Lake Maggiore, famous for its lakeside promenade and Piazza Grande, where film and music festivals are sometimes held. With three nights at the Hotel Rinascente, you can take a ride into Italy on the Centovalli Railway, or enjoy a boat trip to the Brissago Islands’ exotic botanical gardens. You could also pay a visit to Bellinzona, the UNESCO-protected capital of Ticino; and follow our self-guided town trail before riding the funicular to the Madonna del Sasso for spectacular views over Locarno and Lake Maggiore.

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