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Great Escapes for Discerning Drivers

Seven Cs of Switzerland

Independent Tour

This Grand Tour of western Switzerland leads you on a tour of discovery through this fascinating country, one of Europe’s most beautiful. An outstanding route takes you through some of the country’s most stunning regions, with spectacular views from amazing mountain passes and scenic routes. Discover vibrant cities, charming villages, gin-clear lakes and stunning mountain views. A magnificent holiday and driving experience – and a concentration of all things Swiss.

Switzerland may be small, but it packs a lot into its land-locked, peaceful borders. The country is as famed for its independence and neutrality as it is for its chocolate and cheese, and as renowned for its astonishingly beautiful scenery as for its cleanliness, clockwork efficiency and welcoming, friendly, hospitable people. But Switzerland is, of course, synonymous too with its towering Alps and mighty glaciers. Iconic mountain slopes give way to gentler valleys with green pastures dotted with tiny chalets, where the only sound is the soft tinkling of cowbells. Water torrents plunging down to valley floors turn into winding streams that flow through rich, flower-filled meadows. Wherever you go, the scenery is truly magnificent.

The Seven Cs? Chocolate, Cheese, Chalets, Cuckoo Clocks, Cantons, Cable Cars, Cows (and many more!)

Highlights

  • Drive stunning alpine passes including the Tremola, Susten, Furkha and Grimsel passes
  • Stay in exquisite hotels – all luxurious, unique and very special
  • See the beautiful lakes of Neuchatel, Murten, Gruyères, Thunersee and Geneva/Leman, among others
  • Gaze upon the incredible Swiss Alps, including the peaks of the Matterhorn, Eiger and Mont Blanc
  • Visit the famous cheese-producing areas of Gruyères and Emmental, among others
  • Taste the perfect cheese fondue
  • Visit the fabulous Maison Cailler world of chocolate
  • Travel to Europe’s highest train station at Jungfraujoch
  • Explore the medieval hilltop village of Gruyères
  • Discover Hallwyl Castle, one of Switzerland’s most important moated castles
  • Fascinating, historic cities of Neuchâtel, Fribourg, the capital Bern, Luzern/Lucerne, and Lausanne
  • Drive through the enchanting vineyards and wine-growing villages that border Lake Geneva
  • Explore the famous alpine resorts of Gstaad, Zermatt, Crans Montana & Villars

 

Route map
Price: £250 for the Tour Book (incl UK P&P)
Duration: 12 nights
Mileage: 850 in Switzerland miles

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Itinerary

May be subject to change.

Day 1:

This tour starts in Switzerland. Arrive in Neuchatel, a town at the foot of the Jura Mountains on the French border, on the shores of its eponymous lake. Stay overnight in a fabulous hotel, which is on the very edge of the lake, and rooms are built out over the water, affording superb views of the lake and the Alps beyond, stretching from the Eiger to Mont Blanc. Enjoy a fabulous dinner in the excellent restaurant overlooking Lake Neuchatel.

Day 2: 80 miles

Leave Neuchatel after a hearty breakfast and drive across to Murten (Morat in French), a beautiful medieval town on the shores of Murtensee (Lac Morat). Enjoy a stroll around the old walls, under the decorated arcades, or a coffee by the lake.  Continue along the lake edge to Avenches, famed for its Roman Amphitheatre. Then head on to the historic small city of Fribourg, capital of the canton, for lunch.

Drive south alongside Lac de Gruyeres to Broc, where you can indulge yourself at the fabulous Maison Cailler chocolate factory, to see how chocolate is made. Then visit the beautiful medieval hilltop town of Gruyeres, which is also famed for its delicious cheese. Continue into the Alps, along the Intyamon Valley to the beautiful village of Rougemont. Stay for the next two nights in a fabulous chalet-style hotel with beautiful views down the valley. Try a traditional cheese fondue for dinner.

Day 3: 62 miles

There are two journey options today, both the same distance.

The first option is to drive back up the Intyamon Valley to Gruyeres and round to the small village of Charmey. Then traverse the Jaunpass, descend to Zweisimmen and along the valley floor to the chic mountain resort of Gstaad. This tour also offers the chance to perhaps see some of the visits from yesterday, such as the Castle at Gruyeres, the demonstration cheese dairy or the Maison Cailler.

The second option is to drive back to Chateau d’Oex and then go over Col des Mosses and descend to the town of Aigle. The route then follows the famed Ollon-Villars hill-climb up to the alpine resort of Villars. Enjoy driving the passes of Col de la Croix to Les Diablerets followed by the Col du Pillon back to Gstaad and then Rougemont.

Day 4: 93 miles

Another scenic drive to Lake Thun and the town of Interlaken – literally meaning ‘between the lakes’ as it nestles between Lakes Thun and Brienz.

From here there is an optional visit to the Lauterbrunnen Valley, hemmed in by the peaks of the Eiger, Jungfrau & Monch and ski resorts fo Murren and Wengen. Lauterbrunnen has 72 waterfalls, including Europe’s highest, that thunder over the cliffs and down to the valley floor. Visit the Schilthorn, the revolving mountain-top restaurant made famous by James Bond.

From Interlaken drive along the north shore of Lake Thun to the Swiss capital of Bern. Take the opportunity to explore this delightful small city.

It’s a short distance to the historic town of Burgdorf, which is known as the Gateway to the Emmental Valley. Emmental is the world-famous ‘cheese with holes’ and there is the chance to see how the cheese is made at the demonstration dairy. Stay overnight in a beautiful 16th-century village hotel located in the scenic Emmental valley.

Day 5: 129 miles

After breakfast drive across gently rolling countryside to visit the medieval moated castle of Hallwyl, located at the edge of its eponymous lake. Drive alongside the lake and south to the beautiful small city of Lucerne.

In Lucerne stroll along the world-famous Chapel Bridge and see the picturesque Old Town with its cafes and boutiques.

Wind around the north shore of Lake Lucern to the idyllic resort of Vitznau, on the sunny south-facing side of the lake, offering a Riviera-like atmosphere. Stay overnight in a beautiful lakeside hotel.

Day 6: 115 miles

Drive along the lake shore to the town of Brunnen, home of the famous Victorinox Swiss Army knife. Discover the Visitor Centre and see how the knives are made.

Continue to the historic town of Schwyz, home of the Swiss Confederation and the source of Switzerland’s name. Head up the Muotathal Valley to take a trip up the world’s steepest funicular railway to the alpine village of Stoos.

It’s then a scenic drive around the mountains, past alpine farms, small villages and historic towns such as Glarus. Drive over the Klausen Pass and climb up to the town of Andermatt, where you will spend the next two nights in one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. This hotel was awarded ‘5* Hotel of the Year 2017’ and benefits from an incredible spa, indoor and outdoor pools, a number of restaurants, including a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant.

Day 7: 100 miles

After an incredibly indulgent breakfast enjoy a sensational circular drive taking you over some of Switzerland’s most fabulous mountain passes. Start with the Sustenpass, which will take you over to the town of Meiringen – famed both for meringues, and also the Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes met his end.

Then head south over the Grimsel Pass to the village of Gletsch, far in the valley below, at the foot of the incredible glacier du Rhone. Drive along the Rhone Valley to Obergoms and then ascend the Nufenen Pass to the little town of Airolo.

From Airolo ascend the cobblestone-paved Tremola on the southern side of the Gotthard Pass. The Tremola takes you in hairpin turns and serpentine curves and is considered to be Switzerland’s longest historical monument. The Tremola leads into the famed Gottard Pass which then leads back to Andermatt.

Day 8: 123 miles

Leave Andermatt and descend the incredible Furka Pass, immortalised by the car chase scene from James Bond’s Goldfinger.

From Gletsch continue along the Rhone Valley, past the historic village of Ernen, and past the amazing Aletsch glacier, the longest glacier in the Alps at 23km long, and part of the first Alpine UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Continue to the town of Brig. There is an optional trip to Zermatt, to see the iconic Matterhorn. Then proceed to the beautiful and chic resort of Crans-Montana, where you will stay for two nights in a beautiful, five-star, traditional-style alpine hotel.

Day 9:

A day at leisure to spend as you wish. Either relax in the village or maybe enjoy a walk around the area. There are some wonderful hikes in the alpine meadows above the town. It’s a short drive to the historic town of Leuk, which dates back to Roman times, or sample some of the wines along the Valais wine route. Or for something different sail on Europe’s largest subterranean lake at St Leonards.

Day 10: 89 miles

Leave Crans Montana and head down the valley to the historic towns of Sion and Saillon and onto the town of Martigny. Martigny is renowned for its Gallo-Romano remains, and also the Gianadda Foundations, a cultural centre which showcases the finds back to the Roman era, ever-changing world-class art exhibitions, and a display of over 50 classic and oldtimer cars.

Continue to Bex to discover the salt mines where the train that once carried miners now takes visitors deep into the mine.

Along the valley, in Aigle, there is another classic car museum, or continue to the lakeside town of Montreux. Here you can visit the medieval Chateau de Chillon, one of Switzerland’s most photographed subjects, or explore a museum dedicated to the legendary rock band, Queen, as this is where they created a major portion of their most successful albums.

Drive alongside Lake Geneva/Lac Leman to the gorgeous town of Vevey, where comedian Charlie Chaplin spent the last 25 years of his life. Continue through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lavaux and its vineyards to Lausanne.

Stay for two nights in a sensationally luxurious lakeside hotel.

Day 11:

Enjoy a day off, exploring the lovely city of Lausanne. The town is built on a hill surrounded by vineyards, and it slopes down to the lake. On the opposite side of the French lake, are the impressive Savoy Alps.

Right next door to the hotel is the Olympic Museum, the world’s largest information centre about the Olympics. The city has also been the home of the International Olympic Committee since 1914.

The Old Town of Lausanne has imposing buildings dating back to the Middle Ages, and the beautiful Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral. Or discover the Flon district, a former industrial area and now a meeting places full of cool bars, restaurants, galleries and trendy boutiques.

Dinner is at leisure this evening as Lausanne is also known as Switzerland’s gourmet capital, so there are many great restaurants.

Day 12: 104 miles

From Lausanne drive along the lake to the pretty town of Morges, then inland to historic Aubonne with it’s beautiful buildings from 16th to 19th centuries.

The route then climbs up to the Jura Vaudois Natural Park, which is dotted with forests, jagged limestone rocks, glades, open pastures and lakes, and punctuated with gorges and mountains. The road leads to Le Sentier, which is a cradle of Swiss watch-making, especially grand complication watches. See the Clock & Watch Museum to discover this incredible craft and technology.

See Switzerland’s oldest abbey, the hauntingly beautiful Romanesque church at Romainmotier, before continuing to Yverdon-les-Bains, an important thermal spa resort at the southern end of Lake Neuchatel. See the 13th century Savoy Castle, which dominates the old town.

The town of Sainte-Croix is renowned for its exquisite musical boxes and automata, which are still produced here. The museum is dedicated to the history of mechanical music.

Pass through Motiers, which is famed for its absinthe production and continue to Travers where road enthusiasts will be delighted to learn there is an asphalt museum, on the site of the old asphalt mines! For over a century asphalt was labouriously mined underground and exported worldwide for road construction.

Continue to the Creux du Van, a natural rock arena of immense proportions, with 160-metre high vertical rock faces surrounding a 4km long and 1km wide valley basin. It’s then a short drive back to Neuchatel, where the tour started, for a final night at the amazing five-star lake-side hotel.

 

Day 13:

Depart for home after breakfast. For those heading back to the UK there will be route options for both the quick motorway journey and for a longer, more scenic route to Calais.

Accommodation

We have hand-picked some sensational, beautiful and luxurious hotels that you’re going to love. There’s a modern and funky lake-side hotel, quintessentially traditional Swiss chalet hotels, a historic 16th-century castle, grand belle-epoque palaces, and exquisite mountain retreats. Each one is individual, unique, luxurious and fantastically memorable. Most of the hotels on this tour are five-star and truly exceptional.

Suitable parking is a feature of each hotel, although it’s not always covered or garage parking, although this is reserved for you where available.

Requirements

  • All passports must be valid for six months after the end of the tour. You will also need your vehicle registration documents, driving licence (a photo-card licence or international permit is best), and international insurance cover.
  • Please check with your travel and motor insurers that you are covered for travel in the required countries.
  • You are also required to carry a warning triangle, first-aid kit, two fluorescent jackets, set of replacement bulbs and a national identification sticker.
  • Each person must have a passport (and any necessary visas for non-EU passport holders) valid for Switzerland.

 

Pricing

Tour Book is £250 (incl UK P&P)