The scenic train travel from Venice to Paris via the most scenic routes of Switzerland is a new, absolute dream route that links the two top destinations of Venice (Italy) and Paris (France). You travel through South Tyrol to the Swiss National Park, to St. Moritz and via also world famous Zermatt further on to Interlaken. This is certainly the best way to connect your Italian and French destinations. Instead of the hassle at the airports, you will get to experience the most beautiful scenery on your way from one to the other European highlight. Also, you will travel through different cultural regions and experience 4 different language zones as well. Indeed the best way to travel from Venice to Paris.
The highlights of the tour are the train trip with the Glacier Express, Zermatt and the ride up to the Gornergrat with the best view of the Matterhorn as well as 29 other 4,000 m peaks, the excursion up to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe, the Mediterranean/Austrian atmosphere in Bolzano and the world-famous resorts St. Moritz and Interlaken.
After you check out of your Venice hotel (your own arrangement) the start of this journey is right in the heart of Venice, at Santa Lucia station on the island. In most cases a direct EuroCity train will take you in about 3 hours from Venice to Bolzano/Bozen, dining car available.
Visiting Bolzano is discovering the peculiarities of the fusion between the Mediterranean and central Europe. In its medieval historic town center the Nordic and Mediterranean accents visibly melt. The autonomous region of South Tyrol, of which Bolzano/Bozen (Bolzano is the Italian and Bozen the German name of the city) is the capital, now belongs to Italy after Austria lost it after the World War I. Therefore the original language spoken here is German. However, you will experience that both, Italian and German, is spoken by all inhabitants and also the signs are posted bilingual.
If you have time, visit the Museum of Archeology with the famous “Otzi” the 5,000 year old mummified body found in the glacier in 1991. Alternatively a cable car ride towards Renon/Ritten, a sunny alp approximately 1,000 meters above Bolzano/Bozen, is a great way to view the Dolomite mountains! The ride only takes 12 minutes.
Overnight in Bolzano/Bozen
Today you will travel by train and postal bus. No worries, because all the transfers are extremely easy and at the Mals station, the walk to the bus may take less than 10 meters (30 feet)!
By local train you travel from Bolzano to Merano and further on to Mals, through the Vinschgau valley with its numerous fortresses and castles. This is also “apple country” as you will travel through endless apple orchards. It will become clear that more than 10 % of all apples in Europe grow here due to the mild climate.
At the final station in Mals, the yellow Swiss post bus is waiting for you. It will travel to Muestair after having not only passed the Italian-Swiss border, but also the extremely narrow town gate of Glurns. Will the bus fit?
After Mustair the bus crosses the Ofen Pass at 2,149 metres and drive through the Swiss National Park to Zernez, the final stop. Zernez is a small town located in the Engadin valley where Rhaeto-romanic is spoken. This is an old language similar to Latin. Zernez is also the site of the headquarters of the aforementioned Swiss National Park. The Rhaetian railway then takes you to St. Moritz through the beautiful Engadin valley with its typical stone houses with thick walls (because of the cold temperatures in winter). A truly exiting leg of your journey ends here.
Upon arrival at St. Moritz there is some time to explore the town. You will notice the many boutique shops with beautiful cloths, accessories and watches. Also, a stroll to the lake is a good choice, so you will enjoy the high alpine air.
Overnight in St. Moritz
St. Moritz hardly needs an introduction. This “capital of light” at an altitude of 1,815 m level hosted two Olympic winter games. It also has the worlds only bobsleigh run with natural ice. In summer, the area with the upper Engadin lakes and surrounding mountains is a paradise for hikers and landscape lovers.
Winter tourism – the result of a legendary bet
In the autumn of 1864, the story goes, Johannes Badrutt sat by the fire in Kulm Hotel in St. Moritz with four English holiday guests. He enthused about the St. Moritz winter idyll – a snow-blanketed landscape basking in sunshine with mild temperatures during the day, “a paradise on earth.” The Englishmen did not believe him since they knew the dark, cold English winters all too well. This conversation led to the legendary bet: Badrutt suggested that the four should return in December, and if they did not enjoy their stay, he would reimburse the travel expenses. The Englishmen returned – and stayed until Easter. Badrutt won his bet and winter tourism was launched.
Today you can enjoy the choice of several excursions in all directions. Whether you backtrack towards the Bernina Pass and ride the Diavolezza cable car for a view of the “Festival hall of the Alps”, or the even higher Piz Corvatsch, these excursions are all included (only in summer). Our recommendation is to safe the ride up to the Muottas Muragl for the evening. Reserve your table in advance and enjoy dinner at sunset!
Overnight in St. Moritz
After the Swiss breakfast buffet (included with all overnights), you will experience the train trip in the world famous Glacier Express to Zermatt.
From St. Moritz via Chur, the panoramic trip leads over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels over the Swiss Alps to Zermatt and the Matterhorn. The Glacier Express winds its way through remote valleys, past sheer rock faces, idyllic mountain villages, over the Landwasser viaduct and through the Rhine gorge, the Grand Canyon of Switzerland. It scales the highest point of its journey at the Oberalp Pass with ease at 2,033 m. Thanks to the large panoramic windows, a clear view of numerous summits, deep gorges and the UNESCO World Heritage sites “Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch” and “Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina landscapes” is guaranteed. The menus are prepared freshly in the on-board kitchen and served to you at your seat.
Zermatt is a car free village. All transport within the village is done by electric cars or sometimes even horse carriages. Zermatt is famous because of the Matterhorn, which was climbed for the first time in 1865. The first climb, however, was overshadowed by the tragedy on the descent when 4 of the 7 climbers died because one of them slipped. The Matterhorn museum shows the broken rope…
Enjoy the evening in the cozy town and a great choice of fine restaurants of all kinds.
Overnight in Zermatt
It is well worth to set your alarm about 30 minutes before sunrise and see the Matterhorn illuminated in all kinds of orange light. The light changes practically every minute!
In the morning you will take the cog railway to the Gornergrat (3,089 m). This magnificent viewpoint, not only has one of the best views of the Matterhorn, but also shows you the greatest collection of the highest glacier covered peaks of Switzerland. 29 4,000 m peaks are visible and you will discover that also the other mountains have their distinctive character.
In the afternoon, it is time to say farewell to the Matterhorn. Via the 34 km long newly built Loetschberg base tunnel you will reach Interlaken in the heart of the Bernese Oberland. After check-in at your hotel you can explore Interlaken with its famous “Hoeheweg” (promenade) facing the Jungfrau mountain. Another possibility is a ride with the Harder funicular to the viewpoint above Interlaken. You can get a good overview of Interlaken and see why it is called this way. Interlaken is Latin for „between the lakes“.
Overnight in Interlaken
Today’s full day excursion takes you up to a unique, high alpine glacier world. Aboard the legendary Jungfrau Railway you reach Europe’s highest altitude railway station (3,454 m). This mountain railway was built back in the late 19th century and opened on August 1st 1912. Originally the goal was the summit of the Jungfrau (4,158 m), but in 1912 the financials did not permit to go on with the construction and then World War I put an end to the project. Now the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe is the highest railway station and the highlight of every tour through Switzerland.
The new Eiger Express, between Grindelwald Terminal and the Eigergletscher station, at the entrance of the Jungfrau railway tunnel, permits breathtaking views to the Eiger North Face. This very steep wall is one of the most difficult climbs in the Alps. It was the greatest climbing challenge in the 1930’s. Numerous stories about these climbs and fatal accidents can be told.
At the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe you can see the longest glacier of the Alps, the Aletsch Glacier, 22 km long! You can hike over the glacier to the nearby Moenchsjoch hut. At the Ice Palace you can go inside the glacier and see the ice sculptures. Don’t miss the view from the Sphinx Terrace, you can reach it by one of the fastest elevators in Switzerland.
Overnight in Interlaken
Today when entering France we will pass the last “language border”. However, the first few kilometers within France is the Alsace region, where German was spoken originally, and still many, mostly elderly inhabitants, still speak German.
After your last Swiss breakfast, the InterCity train takes you in about 2 hours directly to Basle/Basel at the Swiss-French border. Here the TGV (high speed train) starts for the final lap to Paris. The current world speed record for a commercial train on steel wheels is held by the French TGV at 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph), achieved on April 3, 2007 on this line! You will be impressed even by the regular travel speed of over 300 km/h (188 mph).
The arrival is at the Paris Est station. Finally, the scenic train ride through Switzerland ends and the beginning of your Paris experience starts. Au revoir!
Venice-Bolzano-St. Moritz-Zermatt-Interlaken-Paris or vice versa.
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