Tailormade tour By rail to the Valais holiday Switzerland

7 nights/8 days

Valais • Zermatt

Travel by train and stay in Zermatt in the Swiss Valais region for seven nights. A region of stunning contrasts, Valais is simultaneously home to Switzerland’s most famous mountain, the Matterhorn, which dominates the mountain resort of Zermatt where you stay, and vast plains of flourishing vineyards in the south.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,685 per person.

Luxury holiday to Zermatt and the Swiss Valais region by train stayin in Zermatt for seven nights

Highlights

Zurich • Lausanne • Visp • Zermatt • Matterhorn • Gornergrat railway

Day by day

Travel from London to Zermatt by rail on your first day; or fly into Geneva and travel the rest of the journey by rail. The Eurostar leaves about 07.00 hrs for Paris, where you change to a TGV train headed to Lausanne. Here, change trains to travel along Lake Geneva to Visp in Valais. Finally, change for a direct train, narrow gauge and single track, to your destination, Zermatt, arriving in the early evening.

Spend seven nights enjoying the highlights of the Valais, making the most of your eight-day rail pass to explore the mountains, the glaciers, and the hidden towns and villages. Under the imposing stare of the Matterhorn, Zermatt is a charming Alpine resort immersed in Switzerland’s most stoic and sublime landscape. At over 1,600m above sea level, Zermatt offers excellent access to Valais’ 8000km of hiking and walking paths, which weave between mountains, through valleys, and around crystal clear lakes and white glaciers. Zermatt is now a haven for elite sports visitors and the glamourous who want to experience the luxury hotels and excellent restaurants. The town centre is car-free, so retains a real sense of peace and serenity, without sacrificing its sophisticated, exclusive feel. Nature lovers will also find themselves at home here, with exceptional examples of Alpine flora, fauna, and panoramas in abundance. Places of interest in Valais: • Matterhorn – Zermatt’s main attraction; hike or take the cable car up to visit the glacier • Matterhorn Museum – on the slopes of the Matterhorn, this museum is divided into 14 huts that mimic the style of the original mountain villages • Gornergratbahn – a cogwheel railway that takes you up to Gornergrat at 3100m, from where you can walk to the Gorner Glacier and take in the views across 38 mountains • Gornergrat – the village itself holds a great deal of historic significance, with a Parish Church containing intriguing murals, a collection of very old timber houses, a cemetery that is the final resting place of many mountaineers, and the Alpine Museum • Parrotspitze – on the Monte Rosa Massif, this almost perfectly-conical summit looks particularly beautiful when its summit emerges through the layer of clouds • Findel Glacier – the east of Zermatt, this glacier is reportedly gaining mass • Trockener Steg Mountain Station – accessible by cable car, you can then walk to a nearby glacier and collection of shallow pools • Schwarzsee – the Black Lake is a small expanse of water not far from Zermatt that offers sublime views, and is named after the colour of its water when reflecting the dark surrounding rocks; it is accessible via cable car • Stausee Mattmark – a large lake with easy walk and trickling waterfalls • Lac de Moiry – contained by the Barrage de Moiry, the waters of this lake are incredibly blue • Glacier Paradise Cable Car – takes you up to Europe’s highest viewing platform • Hornlihutte – the restaurant and inn where climbers have stayed for decades before advancing up the Matterhorn • Alpine Folklore Parade – held on 15th August each year, and involving over 1200 participants • Ice Pavilion, Saas Fee – and underground museum that informs visitors of the importance of glaciers and how they are formed; above ground is a revolving restaurant • Aletsch Glacier – a river of ice; the longest glacier in the Alps, and reaching from the Jungfrau to the Rhone River; to the south is the Aletschwald, one of the highest pine forests in Europe and an excellent location for summer hikes • Riederalp – home to an Alpine dairy and an Alpine museum • Brig – further north in Valais is the city of Brig, home to the 17th century Stockalper Castle, built out of granite and volcanic rock and recognisable for its onion domes; it is the emblem of Valais • Brigerbad – this town has the most open-air thermal baths in Switzerland, suited to those seeking the curative properties as well as more leisurely visitors Local sports suggestions: • Hiking – hikers may wish to tackle the challenges of the Matterhorn, the Hohtalli, the Unterrorthorn, the Breithorn, the Theodul Pass, the Riffelhorn, and the Gornergrat • Golf at Crans-Montana and Verbier • Summer skiing on the Matterhorn – the Klein Matterhorn has the highest cable station in Europe, at 3820m. The abundance of available activities, from exploring picturesque historic towns and villages to scenic walks and hiking, will ensure that each of your days in Valais is unique and memorable. This seven night rail holiday allows you to make the most of this variety and get to know the region in-depth.

On your eighth day, board a morning train from Zermatt back to Visp and Lausanne. Take the TGV back to Paris to meet the Eurostar here and cross the Channel, arriving in London in the early evening.

Holiday price guide From about £1,685 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for second class rail travel. First class and standard premier supplement about £420 per person.

Holiday Code CHBR16

Luxury holiday to Zermatt and the Swiss Valais region by train stayin in Zermatt for seven nights

Holiday price guide From about £1,685 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for second class rail travel. First class and standard premier supplement about £420 per person.

Holiday Code CHBR16

Our prices include ● Rail travel London to Switzerland via Paris in standard class (first class can be booked at a supplement) return
● 8-day Swiss rail pass
● 7 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at the Hotel Butterfly, Zermatt
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Swiss Francs 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in Paris
● Travel by air from UK to Switzerland

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour

Holiday price guide From about £1,685 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for second class rail travel. First class and standard premier supplement about £420 per person.

Holiday Code CHBR16

Luxury holiday to Zermatt and the Swiss Valais region by train stayin in Zermatt for seven nights

Highlights of Valais

During your stay in Valais, you will see lush meadows, rivers, and 4000m high mountain peaks topped with all-year ski slopes. Between these peaks, creaking, radiant-white glaciers mould to the gradients of the slopes and filter into the craggy valleys. The most famous mountain in Valais, and possibly the whole of Switzerland, is undoubtedly the Matterhorn. Its distinctive silhouette can be appreciated from miles around, but perhaps best from Zermatt. Take the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise cable car from Zermatt up to 3883m, making it the highest cable car in Europe, to the Panoramic Platform to look out across the other neighbouring 4000m high mountains and glaciers. Before returning to ground level, admire the mesmerising ice sculptures hidden within the Glacier Palace, a series of stunningly carved ice tunnels. Zermatt is an Alpine village known for its winter sports, being as it is one of the most popular skiing destinations in Switzerland. In the summer, when some of the snow has melted, Zermatt is a peaceful community of chic bars and cafes and quaint and characterful chalets. It comes highly recommended to those who enjoy hiking, walking, or simply the sight of those dramatic Alpine panoramas outside your hotel window. Those looking to experience the undisrupted beauty of the landscape but without the strenuous exercise of the hiking routes may wish to take advantage of the excellent local railways and connections. The Gornergratbahn, for example, is Europe's highest cogwheel railway, and its characteristic red carriages take visitors up to stunning Gornergrat. From Zermatt you can also board the Glacier Express to St Moritz in Grisons, which is a continually popular and iconic route. In the north of the Canton of Valais is the Aletsch Glacier, the longest in the European Alps and with the greatest volume. Reaching from the Bernese Oberland to the Rhone River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a vast expanse of twisted, mottled ice which navigates sharp spikes of rock and thick clusters of pine forest. Between Bettmeralp and Riederalp, to the southeast of the Aletsch Glacier, is the Aletschji-Grunsee Suspension Bridge. Over 124m of thrilling high-altitude metal bridge hovers above the Massa Gorge, affording the brave and adventurous among us phenomenal, unparalleled views of the glacier. Northwest of Zermatt, towards Martigny, is Verbier, a luxurious ski resort known for attracting very elite clients. If you have the chance, it is worth spending a night here so as to take the first Medran cable car up to the summit of Mont Fort at 3329m to see the sun rise over the mountaintops. At Saas Fee, the Mittelallin funicular railway climbs underground to 3500m, where a revolving restaurant looks out across the Allalin Glacier and others that sit at 4000m.

Cultural highlights of Valais

Sion, in the northern half of Valais, is home to chateaux and palaces galore. Chateau de Tourbillon has a magnificent hilltop position looking down over the Rhone Valley. After a fire in the 18th century, mainly the brooding exterior walls remain, though the site offers a breath-taking, intriguing place for a walk. Opposite the Chateau de Tourbillon, on an equally majestic hill, is the Chateau de Valere. Originally started in the 11th century, the castle was built around an ancient basilica. Today, the castle church holds carved stalls, an apse with beautiful frescoes, and the oldest playable organ in the world, which dates from 1440. While visiting, take a tour around the castle museum, and, in the summer, enjoy one of the concerts held here. Another small castle in Sion houses the Musee d'Art, exhibiting works by artists such as Oskar Kokoschka, Caspar Wolf, and Ernest Bieler. For even more prestigious art collections, visit the Fondation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny, which houses works by the likes of Van Gogh and Picasso, and the Fondation Pierre Arnaud, which is a strikingly modern building with a mirrored exterior and a dramatic mountainous location in Crans Montana.

Festivals in Valais

Popular destinations and cultural cities lend themselves to high profile celebrations and festivals, which crop up around Valais at various points in the year. In Sierre, the Marche des Cepages in early September sees residents and visitors walk through the vineyards around the town, while drinking the produce and socialising with the winegrowers themselves. From the middle of August to the middle of September, the Festival de Sion sees international classical artists perform at many local stages, violinists compete, and many smaller free-entry stages pop up. Two weeks at the end of July see Verbier truly live up to its sophisticated reputation with a classical music festival. During the summer months at the Chateau de Valere in Sion, in the evening the castle walls are lit up with colour as part of the fascinating sound-and-light show. Something more unique is the Foire au Lard in Martigny, otherwise known as the Bacon Fair. Held in December, this festival has been around since 1801. In Riederalp, an unusual but very traditional festival takes place, the Chuefladefascht. Local residents throughout history would smash up cow pats and spread it as fertiliser across their fields; now, the game is to strike as many with your weapon of choice as possible and pluck out tombola prizes written down on paper and hidden inside.

Gastronomy in Valais

Valais the largest wine-making region in Switzerland, with plenty of wineries and vineyards open for tastings and tours. Other speciality ingredients include the huge range of savoury spices that grow here, including saffron. These local spices ensure that every dish in Valais' many gourmet restaurants will be seasoned and spiced to perfection. As with much of Switzerland, a very popular dish is the raclette, made using the best Alpine cheeses. For a heartier, homelier meal, seek out a dish that utilises the rich flavour of the local chestnuts, or choose to begin your meal with some fresh rye bread.

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