A brace of nice Swiss lakes, superb mountain views and a few of Europe’s most snug trains are all good causes to move for the Alps. It’s a area the place few trains require advance reservations, so you’ll be able to actually reap the benefits of the liberty to roam. Lake Geneva is an efficient first purpose on a one-week journey. Take the 07.31 Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris, then switch from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon for the noon Lyria prepare to Lausanne. It’s a shade over seven hours from London to the shores of Lake Geneva, the place a high lodging alternative will not be in Lausanne itself however within the small village of Grandvaux, completely positioned above the Lavaux vineyards, with superb views throughout the lake to the Alps past.

Philippe and Raymonde Delessert have introduced a contact of actual model to the Auberge de la Gare (doubles from £140 B&B) since they took over this nice auberge in 2008. It’s good for rail travellers – a stone’s throw from the station platform in Grandvaux and simply 12 minutes from Lausanne on twice-hourly native trains. Calm down on the terrace with a glass of the native chasselas white wine and dine on recent perch from the lake.
Grandvaux will not be a spot you’ll need to go away too shortly. Company obtain a journey card giving free transport on trains and buses for a day all through the Unesco-listed Lavaux vineyards and the Montreux Riviera area, so take advantage of that day. It’s a brief hop on the prepare from Grandvaux to Chexbres village (22 minutes with a change at Puidoux), from the place it’s a surprising two-hour stroll down by means of gently graded winery tracks to Saint-Saphorin.
Find time for a lightweight lunch at L’Auberge de L’Onde in Saint-Saphorin, earlier than hopping on the prepare for the 20-minute journey to Veytaux-Chillon, by the 12th-century, lakeshore Château Chillon, made well-known by Byron, whose poem The Prisoner of Chillon set the fortress on the street to stardom. From the pier adjoining to the chateau, you’ll be able to be part of the boat for the 90-minute cruise again to Lausanne.

Auberge de la Gare, Grandvaux, Switzerland. {Photograph}: regiscolombo.com
Day three, and it’s time to take to the rails once more, beginning with a brief journey alongside the lakeshore to Montreux (sit on the suitable for grand views of Lake Geneva). In Montreux, be part of the magnificent Golden Cross route which runs north-east by way of Gstaad and Interlaken to Lucerne. That is maybe the best six-hour journey within the Alps, with many rail connoisseurs ranking the route as superior to even the celebrated Glacier Specific. The great thing about this journey is in its tantalising mixture of landscapes, starting from neck-craning glimpses of snowy peaks to serene, inexperienced valleys and nonetheless lakes.
If you happen to don’t thoughts an extended day, cease off for lunch within the fashionable resort of Gstaad or for afternoon tea in Interlaken. And even select one of many (costlier) departures from Montreux that has a belle époque restaurant automotive in tow. And for a deliciously eccentric one-hour cease, it’s laborious to beat the station at Brünig-Hasliberg, which has a exceptional bric-a-brac emporium on the platform.

The Golden Cross prepare close to Montreux. {Photograph}: Alamy
A very good base for a two-night keep in Lucerne is the Lodge des Alpes (doubles from £171 B&B). For an ideal time out from Lucerne, make a journey on one of many historic paddle steamers that ply the lake (lakelucerne.ch). The spherical journey to Flüelen takes just below six hours, but it surely’s straightforward to increase the day by stopping off on the varied villages across the lake. Rütli is a agency favorite for walks, views and a dose of Swiss historical past. It was in Rütli that the Swiss Confederation was based.
It’s day 5, and an opportunity for a border-hopping prepare journey to Mittenwald. It’s a six-hour journey with adjustments of prepare at Zurich and Innsbruck. The route takes in 4 nations: Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Germany, alongside the way in which traversing the well-known Arlberg railway by means of the Austrian Tirol. The Arlberg line climbs by means of formidable Alpine surroundings to greater than 1,300 metres. The railway introduced civilisation to this distant terrain. Early guidebooks recall how, earlier than the railway, travellers perished on the Arlberg, their corpses left to rot by the facet of the trail with birds pecking at their eyes. Break your journey for a few hours at Innsbruck station (the place there are good left-luggage services) to discover the Tirolean capital.

A paddle-wheel steamer on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. {Photograph}: Olaf Protze/Alamy
Picturesque Mittenwald oozes homely Bavarian attraction and a thriving violin-making business. The Lodge Rieger (doubles from £120 B&B, hotel-rieger.de) is an efficient place to chill out for a day or two, and it’s possible you’ll need to stretch your legs within the hills simply west of the city the place there are walks to swimsuit all ranges. If you wish to enterprise greater, it’s a straightforward (although not low cost) tour from Mittenwald to the Zugspitze summit – take the native prepare to Garmisch (25 minutes) the place a rack railway climbs to the height of Germany’s highest mountain. The Zugspitze railway defies gravity to whisk travellers by means of precipitous terrain, with exceptional views throughout an excellent swathe of the Bavarian Alps. From the summit, there’s an equally exceptional view south throughout the Austrian Tirol.
From Mittenwald, it’s a longish day’s journey again to London, however it’s potential to do it in as little as 12 hours, bringing to a detailed a seven-day journey overlaying seven nations with a feast of nice surroundings alongside the way in which.
Methods to do it
Ebook one-way tickets from London to Lausanne from simply £70 per particular person on Loco2. For the opposite rail journeys on this itinerary, your greatest wager is the Interrail World Cross legitimate for any three days inside a month. These helpful “move days” must be used for journeys from Grandvaux to Lucerne, Lucerne to Mittenwald and Mittenwald to London. The great thing about the Interrail Cross is absolute flexibility. After the outward journey to Lausanne, the one prepare that should be prebooked is the Brussels to London Eurostar, the place there’s a particular passholder fare of £26.50. The move itself is £189pp, with reductions for under-28s or over-60s (and it’s free for youths underneath 12). Even if you’re not utilizing your move for rail journey, you should purchase half-price Interrail fares on the boat journeys on Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne.
Nicky Gardner is the co-author of Europe by Rail: The Definitive Information (£15.99) and co-editor of Hidden Europe journal
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