One of the most common questions I get from viewers is: How can I make the same trip you took on your TV program? Usually, I point them to the show’s website, www.RealRailTV.com, where they can find full show descriptions and links to regions where we’ve traveled. The question comes so often, though, that I began to wonder if I was shirking my responsibility as a host and virtual “guide.” When I decided to go back and write a useful itinerary for the original episode, Real Rail Adventures: Switzerland, I was surprised by just how difficult it was to square our production schedule with a usable travel itinerary.
After a careful review of the episode and my notes from the time, I’m happy to say that I’ve put together an itinerary that viewers can use to plan their own, very similar journeys. As I look back, I’m struck by just how ambitious that original trip was – we shot over 17 days, with little downtime, often shooting 4-5 experiences in a day along with specific trains, interviews, and meals. Eric, our extremely talented camera operator, was rarely able to put the camera down.
So, while I’ve included this itinerary as an academic exercise, I don’t really recommend that anyone literally follow in our footsteps. My advice? Slow down, spend at least three nights in each location, and remember that Switzerland will be there next year (and the year after that, and the year after that). Travel requires the time to really absorb the landscapes, culture, food, and all of the subtle feelings that come from being exposed to something new.
With that disclaimer, here’s that itinerary:
Day 1: Leave U.S. for Switzerland
Day 2: Arrive Zürich. Overnight in Zürich
Day 3: Explore Zürich. Afternoon train to Chur. Explore Chur. Overnight in Chur
Day 4: Leave Chur aboard the Albula-Bernina line. Stop in Bergün to tour the Albula-Bernina Museum. Re-board train to St Moritz. Overnight in St Moritz. This route can also be done on the Glacier Express, without the Albula Museum stop
Day 5: Day trip to Piz Corvatsch to view glacier via cable car. Return to and overnight in St Moritz
Day 6: Leave St Moritz aboard Palm Express Post Bus. Arrive Lugano. Lunch and tour Lugano, train to Bellinzona. Overnight in Bellinzona
Day 7: Tour Bellinzona castles. (Side trip to San Gottardo Train Club in Mendrisio if local events allow). Overnight in Bellinzona
Day 8: Gotthard Panorama Express to Flüelen; boat in Flüelen to Lucerne. Lunch on board. Stop in Vitznau to take Rigi cogwheel train to Mt Rigi. Return to Vitznau and boat to Lucerne. Overnight in Lucerne (possible side trip to Lake Ritom via Ritom Funicular)
Day 9: Train to Alpnachstad for cogwheel ride up to Pilatus Kulm. Explore Pilatus and return to Lucerne. Overnight in Lucerne
Day 10: Train to Stans for morning Cabrio cable car to Stanserhorn. Lunch on Stanserhorn, then return to Lucerne. Explore Swiss Transportation Museum. Overnight in Lucerne
Day 11: Leave Lucerne. GoldenPass Lucerne-Interlaken Express Panoramic train to Interlaken. Explore and overnight in Interlaken
Day 12: Board Lötschberg boat to Brienz. Day excursion on Brienzer Rothorn historic cogwheel steam train. Lunch at mountain cottage. Return to Interlaken by train and overnight in Interlaken
Day 13: Day excursion to Jungfraujoch. Overnight in Lauterbrünnen
Day 14: Day excursion to Schilthorn via train, bus, and cable car. Tour “Bond World” and lunch in Piz Gloria Restaurant. Overnight in Lauterbrünnen
Day 15: Leave Lauterbrünnen to Montreux via GoldenPass. Explore Chateau Chillon and overnight in Montreux
Day 16: Day excursion to Gruyères and Broc aboard the historic “Chocolate Train.” Tour Gruyères and Gruyères Cheese Experience. Fondue lunch. Train to Broc and tour the Cailler Chocolate factory. Return to and overnight in Montreux
Day 17: Leave Montreux. Morning excursion to Rochers-de-Naye. Lunch on Rochers-de-Naye. Train to Visp. Glacier Express Panoramic train to Zermatt. Explore and overnight in Zermatt
Day 18: Day excursion on Gornergrat Railway and the Matterhorn. Overnight in Zermatt
Day 19: Leave Zermatt via train to Zürich. Overnight in Zürich
Day 20: Leave Zürich to U.S., arrive U.S.
Ready to plan your dream trip to Switzerland? I can help! With my years of experience traveling there, I can help you have a travel experience well beyond a pre-packaged tour. With my connections to folks “on the ground,” I can help you create a custom itinerary and ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch.
Let me know what you think and stay tuned – more itineraries and a raft of travel advice are coming your way soon!