Day 1 | Zurich
Welcome to one of Europe’s great cities. Pick-up your rental car and proceed to your hotel. Surrounded by wooded hills Switzerland’s largest city sits beside the crystal clear Lake Zurich. Zurich is a major contemporary art and shopping destination, as well as having many clubs, bars, cafes and fine restaurants. The cobbled alleyways of the Old Town are great to wander around, and the Quays along the banks of the Lake are enhanced by magnificently kept gardens. Although there is no official Swiss cuisine, the cooking reflects local customs of Swiss-German, French, Italian and Romansh and throughout the country each region celebrates its passion for food and takes great pride in using only the best ingredients. Whether you dine at renowned restaurants or homely simple establishments serving unpretentious country food, your meals will be plentiful, delicious and served to perfection.
Day 2 | Zurich – Liechtenstein – St. Moritz
Leave Switzerland’s largest city for Liechtenstein – the world’s smallest German-speaking country. Governed by a monarch who lives in a Gothic castle on a hill, the country has stunning natural beauty. Measuring only 25km x 6km it is filled with lush green forests, craggy cliffs, quaint villages and friendly locals.
From Liechtenstein continue your drive through spectacular countryside to the glamorous resort of St. Moritz, where we have arranged your overnight accommodation. You will pass alpine cattle wearing large cowbells – Swiss farmers have used such bells for centuries to locate their herd as they graze in the Alpine meadows. Surrounded by the mountains and lakes of the Upper Engadine, in winter it is one of the best-known ski resorts in the world and in summertime offers sailing, tennis, a health spa and five golf courses.
Day 3 | St. Moritz – Bellinzona – Ticino -Lugano
From Romanish speaking St. Moritz you drive into Ticino, Switzerland’s Italian speaking canton. Your first stop takes you to the beautiful old town of Bellinzona, east of the Ticino River and at the foot of the Alps it stretches along the river valley. A fortress since Roman times, Bellinzona is famous for its three castles, Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro. A walk around the town is a trip back in time.
From Bellinzona continue your drive through the mountains to Lugano, where we have arranged your overnight stay. Lugano is a town of parks and flowers, villas and sacred buildings. With Mediterranean flair it offers all the advantages of a world-class city combined with the flavor of a small town. The historic town center, with its squares and arcades, is traffic-free and home to numerous Italianate Lombardy style buildings. Numerous parks invite you to laze around and enjoy the atmosphere while the lakeside promenade of the Belvedere Gardens boasts countless sub-tropical plants and modern works of art. Take a boat trip around Lugano followed by dinner of Swiss-Italian food – perhaps risotto or share a fondue – for the perfect end of the day.
Day 4 | Lugano – Stresa, Italy – Simplon Pass – Sion – Montreux
From Lugano cross the border into Italy and to Stresa, a resort town on the shores of Lake Maggiore, with spectacular views of the lake and mountains. From here your journey takes you over the Simplon Pass – a high mountain pass between the Italian Pennine Alps and the Lepontine Alps in Switzerland. It follows the natural topography of some of the most scenic landscapes in Europe. Near the summit of the pass is a hospice, first mentioned in 1235 as in the charge of the Order of St. John and now occupied by Augustinians. Should the road be closed between December and early May, automobiles are diverted onto flatbed trains to be carried through one of the longest railway tunnels in the world, the Simplon Tunnel. Pass Sion as you journey through vineyards and against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-covered Alps to the town of Montreaux, which nestles in a sheltered bay on Lake Geneva and where we have arranged your overnight stay. Take a walk along the flower-bordered lake promenade with its restaurants and piano and jazz bars. The famous Montreux Jazz Festival takes place every June/July.
Day 5 | Montreux – Lausanne – Geneva – Bern
Surrounded by vineyards with Lake Geneva at its feet, Lausanne is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful cities. It is a city of steep hills with vistas of blue water, glittering sunlight and the white capped Savoy Alps peeping between gaps in buildings. Here you will find parks, flowers and tree-lined lakefront promenades. At the heart of Lausanne is its Old Town with the cobbled Place de la Palud a perfect spot for people watching with plenty of pavement cafes. Every hour on the hour mechanical figures emerge on the wall behind the fountain for a chiming display.
Drive around the lake to Geneva, the worldwide center for diplomacy including the headquarters of the United Nations and the Red Cross. It has many art galleries, fine shopping and interesting cafes, bars and restaurants. One of the city’s most famous landmarks is the Jet d’Eau whose white plume marks the city from afar. The lake itself is a memorable sight.
Leave Geneva for one of Switzerland’s most charming cities, Bern where we have arranged your overnight stay. Bern’s quiet cobbled lanes are lined with sandstone-arcaded buildings that have barely changed over the past five hundred years and the wide main cobbled thoroughfare of the old town features many arcaded buildings. At no.49 is the Einstein House, the apartment and workplace of the famous scientist. You can find delicious local food at many of the cozy bars in this ancient city.
Day 6 | Bern – Interlaken- Lucerne
From Bern your drive takes you to Interlaken, one of Switzerland’s oldest resorts, famed for its superb views towards the Jungfrau massif which lies perfectly framed between two hills to the south of the town. Its long main street, Hoheweg, is lined with cafes and grand hotels, and bordered on one side with lawns and flowerbeds.
Your journey to Lucerne, where we have arranged your overnight stay, takes you through glorious scenery. Lucerne, with its beautiful lakeside setting boasts impressive mountain views and picturesque medieval town squares lined with fountains and historic houses. Walk Lucerne’s medieval battlements and explore cobbled alleys and hidden garden courtyards. End your day at one of Lucerne’s many restaurants and try the delicious typical Swiss dish of Roesti – a combination of fried grated crispy potatoes and gruyere cheese.
Day 7 | Lucerne – Basel – Zurich
This morning’s drive takes you to Basel, located on the River Rhine and bordering both Germany and France. The attractive old town, with its cobbled streets and fountains, has antique and craft shops, cafes, and beautiful old buildings such as the 12th century cathedral and the Barfusserkirche, now the Historical Museum. Then continue back to Zurich for your overnight stay. A popular place for nightlife is the Old Town on the left bank of the River Limmat, with many bars and cafes tucked away on the side streets. Visit a traditional beer cellar with lengthy tables that are shared as diners tuck into classic Zurich cuisine.
Day 8 | Zurich
Drop off your car at the airport for your return flight home.