Travel consultants are fortunate to learn about the world through the lense of Familiarization (FAM) Trips.
In turn, they pass this knowledge on to you.
Travel Experience: Switzerland
Lindsay’s FAM Trip provided by Swiss Tours
Switzerland is a picturesque country any time of year, but especially in the winter. Lindsay was lucky enough to experience Zurich, St. Gallen, Grindelwald, and Basel during December! She took lots of amazing notes for recommendations, travel trips, and highlights just for you.
Already having the Swiss Rail pass after my flight made getting to city center a breeze. The central train station was ready for Christmas. There was a huge tree decorated with Swarovski crystals surrounded by a Christmas market selling mulled wine, crepes, trinkets and more food.
(Photo: Zurich, Switzerland)
It was a quick 10 minute walk up the hill to Leoneck Swiss hotel. It’s the smallest hotel of the Swiss alpine club, sitting just across the river with a tram stop right in front of it. My room was located on the top floor. The room was small, but perfect for one traveler. It had a wonderful rain shower, mini fridge, and complementary instant coffee and tea.
Early Monday morning our group headed to St. Gallen by train. Then seamlessly caught our bus to the hotel Santispark, which conveniently, the bus stops directly in front of. After checking into our rooms, we headed to Stein for our tour of the creamery and a fondue tasting. The creamery makes a specific type of cheese called Appenzeller, which is sadly near impossible to find in the States.
Back in the city, the Einstein hotel is on a quiet cobblestone street with a bar that I highly recommend. It’s decorated in rich tones, the chandelier hung over the bottom of the stairwell, and a white room with a simple Christmas tree wrapped in lights. Every cocktail we tried was fresh and well balanced. If you don’t stay a night, then I would highly recommend going by for a cocktail.
Hotel Romantik is tucked away from the train station, the only 5-star hotel in the Jungfrau region. Inside, you’re immediately comforted by the sound of soft jazz, a warm fireplace, and a grand piano in the entryway. It definitely sets the tone for romance. After a wonderful dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, everyone was anxious to get back to their spacious suites to relax.
(Photo: Grindelwald, Switzerland)
The bathrooms were nice because the toilet was separate from the tub and there was a walk in shower. I had a balcony that walked out to a shared walkway where the moonlit mountains surrounded us.
The next morning we woke up to meet our Jungfrau guide, Sandra. She’s a former art conservationist, has been guiding for over 25 years, and was such a joy to be around!
We trained to the top of Jungfraujoch, the tallest mountain peak in the area, standing over 13,000 feet. At the top we went on a tour of ice caves that were carved out in the early 1900’s. Then we learned about the science station there that focuses on human health and climate change.
Wengen is one of the towns that doesn’t have any cars and no roads leading to it. It’s high in the mountains over 4,000 feet above sea level, the best way to reach it is by rail.
Below, you can see the valley where the small town of Lauterbraun is located. It’s known to stay dark all day at certain times of year due to the tall mountains surrounding it. Skiing is a big part of the community, especially because it’s easy to take a gondola up, then ski back down to town.
(Photo: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland)
The next morning we headed up to First Mountain by taking the gondola. At the time it opened, there was a line filling the entry way and riders were excited to be first up. There’s a restaurant at the top that would be perfect meeting space for drinks and lunch.
Half of us gathered our courage to test out the First Flyer (zip-lining) and/or the Glider (paragliding). I did both! It was so much fun and not at all scary like I anticipated.
Back down the mountain we boarded our next train and made it to Interlaken by lunch time. Lots of antique buildings have been remade into hotels and shops. There’s plenty of crafts and unique trinkets to select as gifts. It’s a quiet town surrounded by mountains and a peaceful river passing through that is filled with locals in the summertime. A great central location for those that want to have a variety of day trip options.
We took another train ride, this time past lakes, to Basel. When we arrived we had to cross over to where the trams are. This turned out to be a bit tricky because there was a lot of traffic and no crosswalks. But we made it, and our tram dropped us off practically right next to the Swiss hotel. A modern hotel with spacious rooms and an excellent location.
(Photo: Basel, Switzerland)
The next morning we started with a city tour. We learned about the history of the area, including how they were able to avoid being destroyed during World War II. Then, ended the day with a magical evening at Hotel Les Troi, a beautiful hotel located on the Rhine.
The rooms are lined with silk fabric, marble bathrooms with TVs in front of the tub, and beautiful views of the river. The entryway had a welcoming bar and a bright Christmas tree in the center while a pianist entertained the room.
Everything in Switzerland is beautiful. Mountains are everywhere you look, along with lakes, pastures, and tiny little villages spread across the hills. I highly recommend traveling to Switzerland. There’s so much to see and do!
- Trains are the way to travel. Lots of the stations have food, as well as on the trains for longer distances. Most also have lockers where you can store your luggage for a few hours.
- It’s pretty pricey, a meal at McDonald’s was about $25 for one person. Which was about the average price of a meal throughout the country.
- Anytime is the best time of year to visit. Skiing options are endless in the winters and hiking can be done from almost anywhere. Some of the towns, like St. Gallen, even have signs that will point out trail heads.
Photo: Matterhorn. Zermatt, Switzerland
Don’t forget to request Lindsay on our Contact Page if you’d like to work with her specifically!