Day 1 – Montreux | Lakeshore Stroll to Chillon Castle | City Tour
Upon arrival in Zurich, you will use your provided 1st Class train ticket to board the train that will take you on a picturesque 3-hour ride along the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) and arrive in the lakeside city of Montreux. After checking into your hotel, a tranquil 45-minute walk along the lakeshore promenade guides you to the stunning and well-preserved 12th-century Chillon Castle. This impressive citadel with its exceptional natural setting on the lake was immortalized by Lord Byron. Before dinner, a short city-walk will be in order, so you can observe some of the highlights of what Montreux has to offer in this French speaking region of Switzerland. (D)
Distance: 2-4 miles | Walking Time: 1-2 hours
Day 2 – Gruyère Cheese Factory | Bean to Bar | Fondue Academy
This morning, relax and enjoy breakfast with breathtaking views across Lake Geneva to the peaks of the French and Swiss Alps. The hotel serves a full international buffet breakfast to energize you for the adventure ahead. Savor fresh fruits, yogurts, breads and pastries, as well as cooked items. After breakfast, you can enjoy some time on your own to explore Montreux.
After a lunch on your own in Montreux, you will be taken by taxi to the Gruyère Cheese Factory, where you will use all five of your sense to explore the world of cheese making. Cherry the cow will explain to you, in her own words, the secrets of making cheese from start to finish.
Just up the hill from the cheese factory is the walled medieval village of Gruyères, with its picture-perfect setting on a hill overlooking rolling pre-alpine farmlands. The cows that graze the lush grass, in the peaceful valley of the River Sarine, produce the milk for both the Gruyère cheese and Switzerland’s finest milk chocolate. You will set out on a guided walk of this historic village and it’s 13th-century castle, home to the Counts of Gruyères.
While in the village, you will get to observe a demonstration from Switzerland’s smallest “bean-to-bar” chocolatier. You will feel and taste the cocoa plant in its raw form and be walked through the process of how we end up with the creamy Swiss milk chocolate. To top off the day, you’ll explore the history and tradition of cheese fondue—made with the finest Gruyère cheese, of course—then carefully prepare this classic Swiss comfort food to savor for your evening dinner. (BD)
Day 3 – Lavaux Vineyards Walk | Läderach Chocolate Workshop
After another relaxing breakfast, you'll head off to explore the sun-kissed terraced vineyards of the Lavaux UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will wind yourself through the vineyards and end up in Rivaz to join in the vinorama, which includes an explaination of wine making, followed by a wine tasting. You’ll walk through the vineyards, comprised of 14 wine villages, nestled among the vines and reflecting the region’s 1000-year winemaking heritage. You will understand the cultural traditions of the region and the complexity and terroir of the wine. The vineyards are daringly constructed on steep hills, so a glass of Chasselas makes the trail to the vinorama twice as much fun.
From the vineyards, you will travel the short distance to Vevey. In Vevey you will be exclusive guests at the Läderach chocolate studios and shop. Läderach chocolate represents the highest levels in chocolate design, quality and taste, and you will learn the art and techniques for making chocolate treats from a master chocolatier.
After some free time in the later afternoon, you’ll conclude a perfect day with a multi-course dinner where you’ll relax and gaze out over the Alps. (BD)
Distance: 2.75-3.75 miles | Walking Time: 1-2 hours | Mostly walking down hill or on flat terrain
Day 4 – Goldenpass Line | Grindelwald | Jungfrau | First
After your final breakfast in Montreux, you’ll board the panoramic GoldenPass line that will take you through the beautiful pre-alp villages of Gstaad and Chateau d’Oex to arrive in the town of Interlaken, gateway to the German speaking, Jungfrau region. You will then continue to your hotel in the charming village of Grindelwald.
After lunch on your own in Grindelwald, you will take off on a cable car ride to the summit of “First.” From First, you will take a 4-mile roundtrip hike to Bachalpsee lake, where you will have a panoramic view over the mountains to the south, including the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau. You might even be adventurous enough to take a stroll onto First’s cliff walk, a walkway that protrudes 45 meters into the void! A cable car will be waiting for you, to take you back down to Grindelwald, after your hike. However, you are welcome to find your own way back by mountain cart or trottibike scooter! (BD)
Distance: 4.4 miles, loop | Waking Time: 2-3 hours | Hike on dirt road, moderate incline
Day 5 – Jungfraujoch | Interpretive Trail Hike | Ice Palace
A morning departure takes you into the heart of the Jungfrau on the classic railway excursion to the Jungfraujoch. also known as the "Top of Europe." On a modern cogwheel train, you will ascend steeply above the tree line to arrive at Kleine Scheidegg. Then you’ll tunnel through the Eiger mountain with two stops at observation galleries to first overlook the North Face of the Eiger, and then view the Eismeer Glacier. You arrive at the Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe that overlooks the longest glacier in the Alps. Attractions at the top include the Ice Palace, where you’ll explore the inside of a glacier, and Lindt Heaven, where you’ll sample the newest flavors of Lindt’s famous Lindor Truffles—including some creations not yet available to the public. On your way back to Grindelwald, you will stop at the Eigergletscher station for an easy hike on the interpretive trail, back down to Kleine Scheidegg. (BD)
Distance: 1.5 miles | Walking Time: up to 1 hour | Easy hike downhill
Day 6 – Cheesemaking | Lugano | Lake Cruise | Grotto Dinner
This morning, you'll experience first-hand the art of making cheese in the Alps, and the time-honored traditions of being an Alpine farmer and cheesemaker. The mountainside farm is in the high meadows above Grindelwald where you can gaze out over the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, while watching cheese being made in a cauldron over an open fire. There, you will have a traditional farm-fresh breakfast.
After breakfast, you will travel as a group by rail to the Italian speaking region of Ticino. Once you arrive in the pre-alp city of Lugano, and settle into your lakeshore hotel, you will set out on a Lake Lugano cruise and end up at a charming grotto or quaint lakeside village for dinner. (BD)
Day 7 – Farmers Market | Bellinzona Castle | Free time
You can’t come to Switzerland without experiencing one of their famous Saturday markets! The Bellinzona market has vendors from all over the region bringing their locally produced foods and artisan wares. Cheese, bread, sausage, preserves, and fresh produce make up a colorful marketplace. Then it’s up to the iconic castle of Bellinzona which comprises yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the afternoon, you will have some free time to explore on your own before we have our final dinner in the Ticino region. (BD)
Day 8 – Zurich | Home of Chocolate | Bahnhofstrasse
After your final breakfast in the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, you head back to the German speaking city of Zurich. After a relaxing train ride, you will get to visit the new Lindt Chocolate Factory and experience the "Home of Chocolate." The rest of the day you will have time to explore Zurich on your own. The hotel you will be staying in is on the famous Bahnhofstrasse, home to one of the most exclusive shopping avenues in the world. You will also be within walking distance of Old-town Zurich, which you will be free to discover!
This evening, you will gather with your new friends, for a farewell dinner in a 500-year-old building that was once an armory and housed William Tell’s crossbow. (BD)
Day 9 – Final Breakfast | Onward Travel
After your final breakfast, we will provide you with a train ticket to the airport, so you are free to leave for your onward departure from Zurich. We recommend that you don't have any flights that leave before 10:00am, on this day. (B)