Exploring Zermatt and Western Switzerland
At a glance
Alpine villages nestled in the shade of mighty mountain peaks, serene lakes, and wooden chalets toppling down the hillsides – this is south west Switzerland.
Your eight-day adventure starts in the world-famous mountain resort, Zermatt. Spend two days exploring this fairy tale alpine setting before hopping aboard the Gornergrat train and winding your way through epic scenery, past sweeping valleys and glaciers.
It’s then onto the picture-perfect lakeside town of Montreux, surrounded by vineyards and snowy peaks. Explore Chillon Castle nestled on the shore of the lake and enjoy a day trip to Saint Maurice, home to the world’s oldest abbey, and small town of Martigny.
You’ll then spend three days in Neuchatel, exploring its cobbled streets and venturing out to the Creux du Van, a hugely impressive natural rock arena where there’s the chance to head underground into the caves.
Switzerland is famous for its exceptional watches and you’ll enjoy visiting a workshop and learning all the ins and outs of this intricate art.
Example Trip Itinerary
Meet and greet at Geneva airport
Private transfer to your hotel in Zermatt
Accommodation in Zermatt
- 41 rooms
- Bar and cafe
- Use of spa at neighboring sister hotel
Hotel Monte Rose is found in the centre of picturesque Zermatt. There are 41 rooms, with or without a balcony, with a view of the Matterhorn or over Zermatt and its mountain landscape, romantic or modern – but always comfortable and welcoming. Edward’s Bar Café, named in honour of the first mountaineer to climb the Matterhorn, is ideal for food, a cocktail to set the mood for a night out in town or a nightcap. The hotel participates in Zermatt’s Dine Around concept, meaning that half-board guests can dine in a different local restaurant every evening. Guests at the Monte Rosa also have access to the spa at the Mont Cervin Palace, a sister hotel just a few steps down the street, as well as its pool, gym and sauna.
Zermatt is a fairy tale village in every sense. Traditional alpine architecture abounds with wooden shutters adorning windows and pine lodges stretching up the valley side. With a ban of combustion engines in town, horse-drawn carriages can be seen trotting along the avenues while others choose to hop on bicycles to make their way around. Dominating the valley is the Matterhorn its emblematic, triangular peak composed of four sheer sides facing north, south, east and west. The mountain is solitary in its great size, dominating the distant skyline long before the first summit in 1865. For those who are not experts at scaling these great heights, there are a couple of railway and cable car facilities that travel part way up the 4,478m (14,692 foot) ascent.
The pyramid of the Matterhorn dominates the center of Zermatt, situated in the Nikolaital Valley. The mountain has strongly influenced the development of this old mountain village, "discovered" a century ago by the British and launched as a resort in 1855 by the Seiler, a family of hotel-keepers. Zermatt is renowned as an important mountaineering center, with a dozen peaks over 4000m within easy access of the resort. It is popular with visitors of all nationalities. The resort is traffic-free, with the exception of small electric vehicles and horse-drawn carriages and sleighs.
The steep Gornergrat railway is the highest open-air railway in Europe, offering fantastic sweeping views of Zermatt. After the Riffelberg stop, where there is a very good view of the Matterhorn, you can see Monte Rosa and its glacier. Enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the numerous tongues of ice and the Valais. The excursion can be rounded off by the ascent first to Hohtälli, then to Stockhorn in two successive cable-cars. If you don't suffer from vertigo, wald from Gornergrat to Hohtälli, following a narrow mountain path for truly breathtaking views.
Private transfer to Visp train station
Train from Visp to Montreux
Private transfer to your hotel
Accommodation in Montreux
- 155 rooms
Located in the heart of Montreux, The Grand Hotel Suisse-Majestic is the ideal place to relax and enjoy all the region has to offer. Built in 1870 in a belle epoque style, the hotel was completely renovated in 2010. Soft hues and luxurious textures make the 155 rooms tranquil spaces to unwind. Sunlight pours in through stained glass windows in the stairwells, and carefully chosen furniture and fittings in the rooms add an extra touch of class. Lap up the panoramic views at the restaurant 45 which is known for its culinary refinement and its unique blend of tradition and modernity. Or, relive the best moments of your day over drinks at 45 Bis, on the terrace or in the winter garden.
Nestled in a sheltered bay on Lake Geneva and surrounded by vineyards and the snow-covered Alps, Montreux is an incredibly picturesque town. Embark on walks along the flower-adorned promenades, taking in the waters which have inspired musicians such as Deep Purple and Freddie Mercury. Explore Crêtes Castle, standing resolute on the banks, as well as the tower fort of Châtelard Castle and the 12th-century Chillon Castle.
Whilst here, you could also visit Chaplins World - the mansion and 14-hectare park with unobstructed views of the lake provide an insight into the everyday life of the Chaplins. There is also the Nest, where you can learn all about Nestle's 150-year history.
Saint Maurice is home to what is thought to be the oldest abbey in the world. You'll learn about the history and how the abbey is still important today, after 1500 years. Continue on to the small town of Martigny, located on the Rhone elbow in the Lower Valais. It is the hub of routes across the Simplon, Great St. Bernard and Forclaz. Its cultural and historical heritage, Mediterranean flair and tasty gastronomy are its winning features.
Martigny's history stretches back 2,000 years and Celtic tribes, the Romans and Napoleon's troupes have left their traces. Admire the restored amphitheatre, Roman thermal baths and temples as well as the Pierre Gianadda Foundation, the most important cultural attraction in Martigny. The Gallo-Roman Museum houses a car museum and every year there are two top exhibitions focussing on world-famous artists. The building was constructed around the remains of a former Roman temple.
Private transfer to Lausanne station
Train from Lausanne to Neuchatel
Private transfer to your hotel in Neuchatel
Accommodation in Neuchatel
- 66 rooms and suites
- Lakeside lounge
- Spa and fitness centre
A short walk from the historic centre of Neuchatel on the shores of the lake, sits the elegant Beau-Rivage hotel. The 66 rooms and suites are contemporary and chic, many with views of Lake Neuchatel and the Alps or of the esplanade of Mont Blanc. Some feature private balconies or terraces from where you can drink in the views. At the Restaurant O’Terroirs, the focus is on sustaining Switzerland’s culinary heritage and showcasing the fantastic local produce. Dishes creatively blend the old and new and are beaytifully presented. The Verandah Bar is the perfect spot for light bites and in the evening guests can enjoy live piano music while sipping on champagne. When the Swiss sun is shining, there are few places more idyllic to relax and watch the world go by than at the Lakeside Lounge. When you simply want to drift away, head to the spa and indulge in a treatment, or for those with energy to burn there is a fitness centre.
Neuchatel enjoys a charming slocation between its lake and Chaumont Hill. The pleasant, attractive town stands in the middle of vineyards; its pale ochre houses prompted Alexandre Dumas to say it was carved out of a pat of butter. The silhouettes of the collegiate church and the castle dominate the scene. Neuchatel Lake is the largest wholly Swiss lake, being nearly 38km long and 8km wide. Canals used by pleasure boatslink it to Lake Biel and Lake Murten. Its iridescent waters and hilly, vine-clad shores are favorite subjects for painters and writers.
The attractive town of Neuchâtel stands in the middle of vineyards, and its pale ochre houses prompted Alexandre Dumas to say it was carved out of a pat of butter. The silhouettes of the collegiate church and the castle dominate the scene. Neuchâtel Lake is the largest wholly Swiss lake, being nearly 38km long and 8km wide. Canals used by pleasure boats join it with Lake Biel and Lake Murten. Its iridescent waters and hilly, vine-clad shores are favorite subjects for painters and writers.
You'll explore this pretty town, taking in its impressive collegiate church and the castle. Your tour can be tailored to suit your interests, so you get the very best out of it.
Creux du Van is a natural rock arena of immense proportions, located at the border of the cantons of Neuenburg and Vaud. Impressive 160m high rock faces surround the valley basin, which itself is 4km long and over 1km wide. First glaciers and then brooks have shaped the rocks which are 200 million years old.
You'll have the chance to go underground as you enter the 'grotte de la cascade', the cascade cave. After exploring the cave, enjoy a delicious Swiss raclette.
The watchmaking centres of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle have been awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO because of their unique architecture. La Chaux-de-Fonds, the birthplace of Le Corbusier, was the capital of the watchmaking industry for over 100 years. The first house designed by the world-famous architect and the International Watch Museum are located here.
Visit a watchmaking workshop and see what it takes to be a genuine watchmaker. Wearing a white smock and a loupe headband, you can take your turn at the workbench to execute one of the stages in assembling a watch. All the steps are explained, from inserting the hands to affixing the wrist band.
Explore this famous watchmaking town, taking in its sights on a city walking tour that is tailored to suit your interests.
Private transfer to Geneva airport
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Exploring Zermatt and Western Switzerland
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