The Gotthard Panorama Express and the Centovalli Railway by First Class rail
Prices starting from £1,595 per person - Daily departures from January to December
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Experience a delightful mix of Swiss and Italian cultures and two lesser known – but no less charming – rail journeys on this unique holiday. With stays in the charming lakeside town of Locarno at the northern end of Lake Maggiore and Lucerne on the shores of lovely Lake Lucerne, you will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy wonderful lake cruises and scenic railways.
The Lake Maggiore Express includes a journey on the narrow gauge Centovalli Railway from Locarno in Switzerland to the Italian border, taking you across viaducts and bridges through, as its name suggests, a hundred different valleys. You then continue by rail to the attractive town of Stresa before taking a lake cruise on Lake Maggiore back to Locarno.
The Gotthard Panorama Express, once known as the William Tell Express, is a quintessentially Swiss journey by lake-steamer and train. You travel by train from Italian speaking Locarno on Lake Maggiore to Flüelen. Here you board the Gotthard Panorama Express lake-steamer for the cruise along Lake Lucerne to German speaking Lucerne.
7 night / 8 day holiday by First Class rail, including 3 nights each in Locarno and Lucerne with an overnight stay in Montreux from £1,595 per person (based on two people travelling together)
Day 1 – By First Class rail to Lake Geneva
Your holiday by First Class rail starts at London St Pancras International station, with its famous clock and statue of Sir John Betjeman. Here you begin your adventure by rail as you board the Eurostar for your journey to Paris. A complimentary light meal and drinks will be served at your seat in Standard Premier Class (Eurostar’s 1st class for leisure travellers) as the view from your comfortable seat constantly changes. When you arrive at the Gare du Nord in Paris a private taxi transfers you to the Gare de Lyon where you board a high-speed TGV for your journey through France into Switzerland. As you get closer to your destination, your train skirts the shores of Lake Geneva with its backdrop of vineyards and mountains, before arriving in Montreux. You stay overnight at the stylish Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, which enjoys a superb position on the lake shore and only a few steps from the railway station.
Day 2 – Montreux to Locarno
This morning you have some time to enjoy the elegant lakeside town of Montreux. Then make your way back to Montreux station for the rail journey south to Visp and Göschenen and into Italian speaking Switzerland. After your attractive rail journey you arrive in the delightful town of Locarno, where warmer climes nurture more exotic plants and palm tree lined promenades on the northern shore of Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second largest lake. Your hotel for the next 3 nights is the elegant Hotel Belvedere (4 star).
Days 3 and 4 – Locarno, Lake Maggiore and the Centovalli Railway
You have two days to explore the pretty lakeside town of Locarno with its charming mix of Swiss and Italian cultures or venture further afield on Lake Maggiore and into Italy. Enjoy a truly unforgettable day as you travel by train from Locarno to Domodossola along the narrow gauge Centovalli Railway from Switzerland into Italy, across viaducts and bridges, through a hundred different valleys. From Domodossola you continue to the charming Italian resort of Stresa and return to Locarno on a ferry along Lake Maggiore. Why not visit Lake Maggiore’s stunning islands, including Isola Bella, on a relaxing lake cruise (payable locally). You might choose to visit Isola Bella and the gorgeous Borromeo Palace with its lovely Italian gardens and perhaps one of the other islands on this spectacular lake. Alternatively spend some time relaxing in around your hotel and make the most of its excellent facilities.
Day 5 – The “Gotthard Panorama Express” to Lucerne
This morning after breakfast make your way to Locarno station. Here you board the train and take your seat in the panorama carriage for the journey to Flüelen. The route of the Gotthard Panorama Express, formerly known as the William Tell Express, between Locarno and Lucerne, takes you from the warmer shores of Lake Maggiore, in the Italian-speaking Ticino region, into the snow-capped heart of the Swiss Alps. From Lake Maggiore you travel up and over the impressive Gotthard Pass and through the Gotthard Tunnel – once the longest railway tunnel in the world. You continue through horseshoe tunnels and over bridges, eventually arriving in Flüelen. Here you walk the short distance from the train station to the ferry terminal, where you board the historic William Tell Express steamer for the cruise along beautiful Lake Lucerne to Lucerne. On arrival in Lucerne make your own way the short distance to your hotel for the next 3 nights, the Cascada Swiss Quality Hotel, conveniently situated just a short walk from the lake and the old town.
Days 6 and 7 – Lucerne and Lake Lucerne
You have two full days to enjoy the scenery on stunning Lake Lucerne. So why not take a lake steamer for wonderful views of the surrounding mountain? Perhaps take the Mount Pilatus cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad to the summit of the Pilatus Kulm. When you reach the top of the world’s steepest cogwheel railway there is a magnificent panoramic view of Lucerne, its sparkling lake, and the Alps beyond. Alternatively you could travel up the delightful Rigi cog railway to Rigi-Kulm with fabulous views of Mount Rigi and Lake Lucerne. After time for lunch at the top you can descend to Lucerne by cable car and lake-steamer (all journeys payable locally).
Day 8 – Lucerne to London by First Class rail – homeward bound
This morning after breakfast, make your way to the station and continue your journey to Basel where you change trains and board the TGV to take you back to Paris. Relax in comfort as your train travels through the diverse French countryside, giving you the chance to reflect on the incredible scenery of the past 7 days. Your taxi transfer takes you to the Gare du Nord before the last part of your journey on Eurostar. Sit back and relax and enjoy your light meal and drinks as you travel in Standard Premier Class. As you reach speeds of nearly 300kph the landscape of Northern France quickly disappears as you cross the Channel into Kent for the last part of your journey by rail back to London St Pancras International.