This roundtrip tour from Zurich heads straight into the mountains on a journey to Europe's highest peak: the Matterhorn. On the way you will experience the spectacular mountain landscapes of Andermatt and Davos before stopping at Switzerland's idyllic lakes: Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne.
Rental car pick-up
Type: Opel Corsa or similar
Pick-up location: Zürich Airport
The hotel on Lake Zurich has a proud 350-year tradition. The tower containing the quaint bar is even older, having been dated to around the 14th century. From the large terrace in front of the inn guests can enjoy splendid views of the lake and, on clear days, the snow-capped peaks of the Alps beyond. In most of the bedrooms the thick wooden support beams have been left visible, thus creating a marked contrast to the modern paintings and furniture. The restaurant serves meals on the panoramic terrace in nice weather and is known in Zurich for its excellent and varied cuisine.
The city at the northern end of Lake Zurich began as a Roman settlement called Turicum. Zurich didn't become a free city until the 13th century, and shortly after that joined the newly established Swiss Confederation. The town's rise to prominence began during the era of Protestant reformer Ulrich Zwingli, who lived in Zurich from 1484 to 1531 and laid the foundation for the emergence of a Puritan-capitalistic culture. Today Zurich is one of the world's richest cities in terms of per capita income and its citizens enjoy the best quality of life in the world according to a survey conducted in 2007. Millionaires and billionaires from around the globe have established a residence in the city because of Swiss bank privacy laws and the country's low tax rate. Yet Zurich has much more to offer than secret bank accounts and low taxes: an attractive old town with chic cafés and bars, over 40 museums, and the famous Bahnhofsstrasse, one of the most elegant shopping avenues in Europe.
The grand hotel on the Schatzalp is surely one of Switzerland's most spectacular hotels. It is located 300 m above Davos on a sunny terrace at the tree line. The hotel, built in art-nouveau style, is reached by a short ride from the center of Davos on a private funicular train. The Alpinum Schatzalp located around the hotel is a beautiful botanical garden with 3,500 different species of Alpine plants. The Schatzalp is known from the novel "Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann.
The old-style rooms a have a historical charm and are very comfortable. A breakfast buffet and four course dinner are served in the hotel's dining room. There is also the rustic restaurant Schatzalp, which is located just a few steps from the hotel and enjoys lovely views over Davos. A small indoor swimming pool and sauna are availabe in addition to a charming bar and lounge with an open fireplace. Guests have free use of the Schatzalp funicular train.
Located at an elevation of 5,118 feet, Davos is the highest city in Europe. The community with just 10,000 inhabitants registers over 2.1 million visitors a year. The valley was only inhabited in 1280 - late for European standards - and the area was mainly used to graze cattle. The fortunes of the city began to rise in the 1850's when the mountain air was deemed to be good for tuberculosis sufferers. A sanatorium for lung patients in Davos is the setting of Thomas Mann's famous novel "Magic Mountain". The role of the city as a resort for winter sports began when a toboggan race was held there in 1883. During the summer months, however, Davos is a much quieter place and an excellent base for hiking and sightseeing trips to the surrounding peaks and valleys.
The hotel is situated near the historical Devil's Bridge on what for centuries was the main trading route across the Alps. Since completion of the Gotthard Road Tunnel in 1980, however, it has grown nearly as quiet in these parts as it was when Goethe stayed in Andermatt on his way to Italy over 200 years ago. The wood-panelled bedrooms in the friendly Swiss hotel are bright and comfortable. Regional specialities such as Urner Rösti are served in the in-house restaurant. After a fire destroyed much of the property a few years ago, it was rebuilt in the traditional Swiss style.
For many centuries Andermatt was situated at the premier crossroads for both north-south and east-west traffic across the Alps. The ancient Swiss town lies at the center of four key Alpine passes: the Gotthard Pass to southern Switzerland, the Göscheneralp Pass to north-central Switzerland, the stunning Furka Pass to the Rhone Valley in the west, and the Oberalp Pass to the Rhine Valley. Many gorgeous Alpine drives of various length and difficulty can be taken from Andermatt. A relatively unchallenging yet scenic excursion is the three-passes panoramic drive around the Rhone Glacier, either in your own car or in one of the canary-yellow Post buses. A truly unforgettable experience is a ride on the Furka Steam Train from Realp to Oberwald.
The villa in a large park overlooking Lago Maggiore is an island of tranquility. Situated about 30 minutes from Ascona, the hotel stands on the Italian side of the border, which is less frequented by tourists. Each of the 18 bedrooms is uniquely and individually decorated. The restaurant specializes in dishes made of fresh local products. Weather permitting, meals are served on the seaview terrace. A swimming pool is available during the warmer months.
In a part of Switzerland renowned for its warmth and Mediterranean light, Lake Maggiore has been attracting visitors for over 100 years. While its northern tip is part of the Swiss Ticino, it reaches as far south as the Po Valley. The walks above the lake offer views which remind one of the Côte d'Azur near the heart of Europe, with the Alps as a backdrop. There is everything here: unspoiled nature, spectacular scenery, the best climate in Switzerland, major cultural events, beaches, lakeshores, an early spring, a golden autumn, wine and food specialties, and an infinite number of possibilities for excursions and every kind of leisure activity, from golf to extreme sports like canyoning.
Through the Centovalli
Distance: 150 km Travel time: 3:30 h
Red and zebra is the surprisingly attractive colour combination that greets guests to this tastefully decorated hotel, in which every room is different, and every room features a carefully coordinated colour scheme. As guests will happily discover, the entire property has been thoughtfully designed to please the body and soul, from the gourmet restaurant in the warm, wood-panelled dining room to the full three levels of swimming pool and spa facilities. The extraordinary hotel endeavours to make a stay there an instrinsic part of the Zermatt experience. And it succeeds.
The town at the end of the Mattertal has around 5,000 inhabitants and is situated at 1,600 m (5,250 ft.) above sea level. Zermatt's world-wide renown stems from its proximity to the Matterhorn, the mountain of mountains and most famous landmark in the Alps. Anyone who has ever stood before the mighty peak knows that even the most enthusiastic description will fail to capture its true majesty. The mountain was first scaled by a party of Brits using local guides in 1865. In their rush to beat another party to the top one of the climbers slipped and caused three others to fall to their deaths. The trio are buried in the churchyard next to an English chapel in Zermatt set aside for them and the numerous other Brits who subsequently died attempting to scale the mountain. Climbs to the peak of the Matterhorn are almost a matter of course today. About 3,000 mountaineers attempt the ascent each year, sometimes even leading to overcrowding on the main routes. The Gorner Valley south-east of Zermatt boasts the highest cog railway in Europe. The higher you go the more incredible the views of the Matterhorn become.
The town of Zermatt is closed to private vehicles. Visitors must leave their cars at the free car park and take the train to the city.
The castle-like mansion stands directly on the shore of Lake Geneva. The oldest part of the building, the tower, was built in 1170 by the Bishop of Lausanne. Over the centuries the fortified residence housed a succession of bishops before eventually falling into disrepair in the 17th century after being damaged by a fire. Today the expertly restored chateau is a small luxury hotel that combines first-class service with a first-class location. Guests can relax in the private swimming pool, the sauna, the Mediterranean restaurant or the lake-view terrace.
French lifestyle, international culture and an unsurpassed beautiful location on the lake with the same name makes Geneva one of the most livable cities in Switzerland - but also one of the most expensive! World history was written in Geneva during the Reformation, when the reformer Calvin introduced a harsh and strict church discipline in the city. While dancing, drinking and singing were banned, Calvin allowed an interest-based economy, which was forbidden to Christians in Catholic surroundings at that time. As a result Geneva became an important trade- and bank-bench center. Today, 200 international organizations have their headquarters in Geneva. More than 40% of the inhabitants are foreign nationals. Landmarks in Geneva are the lakefront and the Rhone, on whose bank the three-towered cathedral is located.
Distance: 100 km Travel time: 1:30 h
The hotel is located on St. PeterIsle in Lake Biel-Bienne, approx. 25 km west of Bern. The structure built in 1127 was originally a Cluniac monastery before being converted into a guesthouse. An impressive array of notables have stayed at the hotel throughout its long history, including Rousseau, Goethe, Josephine Bonaparte and numerous Prussian, Swedish and Bavarian kings. Today the island is connected to the shore by a strip of land and is a conservation area. The carefully restored property combines 21st century comfort with ancient traditions, and a stay at the historical guesthouse with its unique island setting is an unforgettable experience. The restaurant is known for its selection of wines - some of which are pressed on site - and excellent fish dishes.
The 15 kilometers long and 74 meters deep lake is one of the three large Jura lakes in Switzerland. The name Jura derives from the Celtic language and means forest which still dominates the landscape of this less fertile and sparsely populated region. On the sunny slopes of the lake shore between Biel and Le Landeron grows a fruity white wine, which is served in the taprooms with Treberwurst, a local specialty. Since the Franco-German language border runs through the lakes, most places have bilingual names.
Via Solothurn, Zofingen
Distance: 100 km Travel time: 1:30 h
The unique hotel was constructed of seven carefully restored buildings in the medieval old town of Lucerne. Every room in the inn has a character of its own, which makes guests feel as if they were staying in a private home rather than a hotel. The restaurant specializes in French cuisine, and during the summer months meals are served on the rooftop terrace overlooking the irregular medieval townscape of Lucerne and the lake beyond.
Located in the heart of old Switzerland, Lake Lucerne borders on and is surrounded by the three original Swiss cantons: Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. The area around the lake played an important role in the national and political myths and legends, among others those of the Swiss national hero Wilhelm Tell. Due to the reflection of the Alpine mountains in the water, Lake Lucerne is widely regarded as the most beautiful lake in Switzerland. The best way to experience the cross-shaped lake, originally formed by a glacier, is by taking a ride on one of the paddle steamers or cruise boats that connect Lucerne, Brunnen and Flüelen. A number of marked hiking paths of varying length and difficulty are located on the southern side of the lake at the foot of the Alps. Highly recommend are the cable car or cogwheel railway to one of the viewpoints on the summits of Mount Pilatus, Rigi or Stanserhorn.
Via Lake Zug and Lake Zurich
Distance: 80 km Travel time: 1:00 h
Rental car drop off
Drop off location: Zürich Airport
Rental car company: AVIS (Schweiz)
Type: Opel Corsa or similar (Group A)
Equipment: ABS, air-conditioning, power steering, radio/CD player
max excess: CHF 1000.00