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Enjoy Swiss Boutique Towns, Trains, Chocolate and More

In partnership with United States Tour Operators Association

Nov 17, 2021

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Bern

Photo by Switzerland Tourism and Jan Geerk

Bern

Make your next trip one for the books when you go on an over-the-top tour of Switzerland’s charming small cities, filled with delicious dining, scenic wonder, and plenty of train travel.

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Alp horns, alpine villages, and snowcapped peaks are some of the many reasons to book a trip to Switzerland. And with all these delights easily accessible from the country’s “boutique towns,” you can have the best of both worlds by combining cosmopolitan culture with natural beauty and exhilarating train travel.

How can you make sure your journey is not just the easiest and best possible but a once-in-a-lifetime experience? By taking a guided tour, all your prearranged travel is taken care of, so you can sit back and allow the itinerary to unfold in a dynamic way—and get access to sites and activities you otherwise wouldn’t have. And while these tours by operators of the United States Tour Operators Association leave the planning to experts, they also build in more than enough time to explore on your own so that you can customize your itinerary for another win-win. Another major perk? You’ll savor delicious food wherever you go, thanks to the insider info tour operators have.

In the tours that follow here, the indulgence of Swiss chocolate and cheese while discovering the cultural melting pots of the German- and French-speaking regions are only the beginning. Visitors seeking ways to connect with the country’s natural beauty can do so during a luxury train ride with glass domed interiors; boat through placid lakes; and taste wine at biodynamic vineyards. Here are three exciting itineraries that will allow you to discover Switzerland’s bountiful hidden side.

See spectacular city vistas and quaint village life

Gruyères Castle

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There’s nothing quite like exploring a European castle and the 13th-century Gruyères Castle, which you can visit during the nine-day “Zurich to Zurich” tour, doesn’t disappoint. The Globus tour is a planned vacation that goes beyond the expected and handles all the details, allowing for effortlessly exclusive experiences like an inside look at the medieval architecture that weaves lore and history interpreted through the castle’s museum. And don’t forget to bring your stomach for lunch there with local specialties and a traditional meringue dessert or while discovering the Maison Cailler chocolate factory in the town of Broc. At this sweet spot, the tour begs you to sink your teeth into delectable local product while learning about the delicacies over tastings.

For train lovers and those who simply enjoy stunningly scenic panoramas, this trip gets interesting with an ascent to 11,000 feet on a mountain train to view and experience Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station. Make sure you also pack a few favorite clothing items for strolling the resort towns of Gstaad, Interlaken, and Grindelwald and prepare to get some postcard-worthy photos when Globus stops to check out the village life in Switzerland’s Bernese Alps.

Wines, cheese, and bonheur awaits

Lucerne, one of the boutique towns on the Tauck tour

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You’ll find loads of inspiration to yodel about during the 11-day “Europe’s Crown Jewel” journey by Tauck, which begins in Geneva and goes to Lausanne, a town located in the French-speaking region known for being the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee. One night for dinner, you gain sweeping heights during a private funicular ride up the Harder Kulm Mountain to dine among Alpine views. It’s all part of a journey all but guaranteed to elicit bonheur (happiness).

Count on many exciting adventures thanks to Tauck. The family-owned tour company’s values and vision have remained true for 96 years: always do the right thing, deliver more than what’s expected, and redefine how the world is explored together. This tour includes taking a cogwheel train to view the Matterhorn: an imposing mountain that straddles Switzerland and Italy. You’ll also have a chance to view ice sculptures while having a warm drink inside the Ice Palace. And you won’t want your trip to end once you start taking in those incredible vistas during a trip from St. Moritz to Andermatt in a domed observation car on the Glacier Express.

Take in awe-inspiring bucolic and mountain landscapes

Lake Geneva

From the vibrant city of Geneva to the staggering beauty in the lake city of Lucerne, the 14-day “Country Roads of Switzerland” trip by Insight Vacations takes travelers throughout the majestic country. Insight Vacations offers only premium guided tours, allowing you to choose your group size, ride in spacious custom coaches, and stay in highly-rated hotels, in addition to other benefits that will make your vacation distinct and stress-free—like specially designed experiences outdoors.

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If you’re into all things nature, then their Swiss tour’s stop at the summit of Mount Stanserhorn will wow when you engage with the local wildlife and flora after meeting with a Swiss Ranger. And for those curious about the country’s culinary offerings, what better way to really get a “taste” of your surroundings then with farm-to-table fare and biodynamic wines at Domaine Wannaz?

During the two weeks, you’ll want to get your camera ready for the three castles at Bellinzona where a local guide will show you around this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour also includes Zurich and must-sees including Bahnhofstrasse, the Romanesque-style church Grossmünster, River Limmat, and Frauenmünster, another major church in the city. In Geneva, you’ll also enjoy a boat cruise to check out the landmark fountain Jet d’Eau among other sights. For artists and creatives, a visit to Chillon Castle of Lord Byron's Prisoner of Chillon will be a treat. There, you’ll tour the medieval structure and its impressive collection on the shore of Lake Geneva with the head of collections.

For these and many other tours that mean expertly planned trips, access to VIP and off-the-beaten-path experiences, local and knowledgeable guides, around-the-clock service, and more, head to USTOA.

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