Overview – As a Switzerland Hiking Tours guest you are well taken care of from the moment the tour begins in Zurich until the tour ends and the exchanging of hugs and emails begins. You will be pleasantly surprised at the camaraderie of the group. It is powerful and guests are often amazed at how time spent hiking the trails and sightseeing can really bring a group of people together. It happens every time and is the delightful result of a shared overseas experience in this magnificent country. Simply put, Switzerland Hiking Tours offers the perfect mix of everything you’d expect from a magnificent vacation. Note: Solo travelers are always welcome and we encourage you to become part of our growing Switzerland Hiking Tours family!
Arrival – The tour group meets beneath the big square clock at the Zurich main train station at 8 AM on the morning of Day 1. The same big clock that’s on your screen right now. We’ll be wearing company shirts with the Switzerland Hiking Tours logo. We’re very easy to find and no one’s missed us yet. Your luggage is dropped off and taken directly to the hotel in our first base village while the group heads off for a walking tour of Switzerland’s beloved capital, the old medieval city of Bern, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former residence of Albert Einstein during his famous Miracle Years. After our sightseeing excursion in Bern we hop onboard a First-Class train and travel to the first base village. While we settle in to our beautiful new surroundings, a local culinary chef will be busy preparing a gourmet 4 or 5 course evening meal. After dinner there will be plenty of time to relax, unwind, and enjoy the inspiring scenery surrounding the peaceful Swiss village that has become your temporary home.
Luggage Transfers – (12 DAY TOURS ONLY) From the morning of Day 1 until the tour ends your luggage is transferred from village to village as part of your Switzerland Hiking Tours package. On the morning of departure from one village to the next, simply drop your luggage off in the hotel lobby and we take care of it from there. All luggage is sent directly to our next village destination while we go exploring, sightseeing and having fun “hands free”. Note that the tour price includes transfer of one piece of luggage per person. Additional luggage can be transferred for an additional fee but is discouraged. There will be opportunities to do laundry or have laundry done along the way.
Fitness & Fun – With Switzerland Hiking Tours fitness & fun go hand in hand. Both are essential parts of a healthy, happy lifestyle and are at the core of what we hold dear as a company. We mix hiking days together with a day off here and there as well as ‘other activity’ days such as trips to a local museum, great shopping opportunities, live music, and more. On days that we hike you can expect to depart the hotel between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning and return around 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon. We typically cover between 6-9 miles with elevation changes ranging from 1,000-1,500 feet. Some days a little more, some days a little less. Most days there are options to cut the hike a little short and head back to the hotel to relax and enjoy the scenery with your feet up!
Accommodations – Included in the cost of the trip, guests of Switzerland Hiking Tours are pampered with charming 4-star Swiss hotels that offer contemporary rooms with all the modern conveniences you’ve come to expect, fashionable and relaxing lobbies, and of course, stylish dining rooms serviced by gourmet restaurants located inside the hotel. Most of our hotels also have saunas, steam rooms, and jacuzzis. A personal massage can be booked onsite for an additional fee. Please note that travelers accompanying us to the village of Kandersteg will be staying at the 3-star Hotel Victoria. It boasts a Belle Époque design, gorgeous updated rooms, and arguably has the best chef of anywhere we stay and it certainly has a great reputation with Trip Advisor. For more information about our carefully selected hotels please visit the “Villages” page on this website. Links provided for your convenience.
First Class Travel within Switzerland
Each Switzerland Hiking Tours guest is issued a First Class Swiss Pass upon arrival. This pass covers first class travel on all trains, buses, trams and boats in Switzerland (private boats notwithstanding). This First Class Swiss Pass is good for the duration of your trip, beginning with Day 1 (after we meet and issue the pass to you), and can be used on days off and to return to Zurich on your departure day. For those guests on Tours 1 & 4 the Swiss Pass also covers your first-class seat aboard the Glacier Express (pictured left), arguably the most famous train ride in the world. Note that the vast majority of our competition offers second-class travel on more crowded, less comfortable train cars, boat cabins, etc. At Switzerland Hiking Tours we believe the First Class Swiss Pass is worth the extra expense and offers our guests the comfort and standard they’ve come to expect.
Breakfast – Classic Swiss breakfast buffets are included in the price of your tour beginning with the morning of Day 2 and continue through the morning of departure. (We meet in Zurich on Day 1 and this is the only day that breakfast is not included.) The Classic Swiss breakfast typically includes fruits, a variety of freshly baked bread delivered every morning by a local baker, a variety of meats & cheeses, cereals, yogurts, juices, coffee, cappuccino & lattes, tea, milk, and of course the famous Swiss Bircher Muesli — a healthy and tasty mix of whole grain rolled oats, thinly sliced almonds, sunflower kernels, hazelnuts, fresh fruit and either plain or raspberry yogurt. When not traveling abroad, Charlie makes this at home in North Carolina and will be glad to teach you how to make it yourself. He also loves to tell the story of how Bircher Muesli first came about as a very healthy start to your day!
Lunch & Alcoholic Beverages ARE NOT INCLUDED – Lunch and alcoholic beverages are not included in our tours. On most hiking days it’s possible to stop at a trailside café or restaurant for small meals, pizza, coffee, etc. You’ll be surprised at how much warm food is available on the trails! Many of our fellow travelers opt to bring fruit, bread, cheese, and protein bars in their daypack and eat as we go. This is also a wonderful option for hiking days and it’s entirely up to you. Our hotels are located within walking distance of local grocers where you can stock up on supplies. There are two primary grocery store chains in Switzerland, Coop and Migros. Coop specializes in mostly organic, all-natural food, while Migros is more traditional. By the end of your Switzerland Hiking Tour you will be familiar with the grocery store location in each of our base villages. Everyone in town knows where the Coop is! And, while alcoholic beverages are not included, great wines and beers are available at all of our hotels/restaurants as many of our fellow travelers enjoy relaxing in the evening with their drink of choice. Upon check-in, the hotel manager will typically request a credit card for wine, beer, laundry service, etc. which is charged to your room. You can pay the balance in Swiss Francs at checkout or simply have them placed on your card.
Evening Meals – Gourmet evening meals are included in the price of your tour beginning with Day 1. Our evening meals are taken in the hotel restaurants, all of which have been carefully selected to ensure exceptional quality. Evening meals consist of either 4 or 5 courses and typically offer a choice of meat, fish, or vegetarian entrée which is always available. The Swiss are very particular about their food and you can expect a very high standard of service at all the chosen hotels and restaurants. Please see the FAQ below concerning special dietary needs.
Days Off & Other Activities – Every Switzerland Hiking Tour has built-in days off for kicking back, shopping, exploring the village, etc. We also have other activities planned which are included in the price of the tour. You are welcome to participate in these activities or you can choose to spend that time on your own. Once in Switzerland, we have ‘mini-meetings’ at the hotel to see who wants to come along. Please visit the “Tours” page on this website for specific information regarding each trip’s ‘other activities’.
Departure – The standard process for departure day is that a member of the Switzerland Hiking Tours team member escorts you back to the main train station in Zurich. From there it is a quick 12-15 minute train ride to the Zurich International Airport. Experience has taught us that many of our fellow travelers extend their trip a day or two in Zurich or head off for a quick trip to Paris, Munich, Geneva, or elsewhere. Our final base village is always close enough to Zurich to ensure you make it to the airport in time for flights back to the States or to catch a train to another European city.
1. What if I have special dietary needs?
If we know in advance nearly any dietary request can be accommodated, from gluten-free to vegetarian, vegan, or any other type of need/request you may have. The chefs at our hotels are quite creative and prepare well-rounded healthy meals suitable for almost any taste.
2. How strenuous are the hikes?
The hikes are considered moderate by Swiss standards and some days are more challenging than others. If you can manage 3-4 miles walking at a steady pace on a treadmill at home or in the gym you should be fine on your Switzerland Hiking Tour vacation.
3. How long do the hikes last?
We typically start around 9:00 or 9:30 AM. This gives us a little time to let breakfast digest (it’s yummy) and get our boots on and daypacks ready. We then hike for 5-6 hours depending on the location, weather, etc. Note that we hike at moderate pace with lots of breaks and photo stops. The scenery is simply stunning and we always slow down rather than speed up. Most trails offer opportunities to cut the hike short or go a little further depending on the individual.
4. What is the elevation change on the hikes?
The elevation change typically ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 feet depending on where we are that day. The elevation change could be up or down and on the more strenuous days there are usually connecting trails that can make it a little easier if need be.
5. What if I want to take an unplanned day off?
Of course! It’s your vacation and you’re welcome to do as you please. We are very familiar with the villages we visit and are happy to make recommendations. Also, our hotel accommodations are amazing, sometimes it’s fun to relax and just be.
6. What should I bring?
We send a ‘list of essentials’ as part of your welcome package when you sign up. Comfortable hiking boots, sunscreen, warm & cool weather clothes, etc.
7. What if we arrive in Zurich early?
We highly recommend arriving in Switzerland at least a day in advance to help adjust to the time change. There are lots of fun things to see and do in Zurich and we’re happy to help, and in some cases a group of us gets together the night before.
8. What if it rains?
Yes, it has been known to rain in Switzerland in the summer! We handle rainy days on a case by case basis and individual guests of Switzerland Hiking Tours can choose to come along or take a break. Sometimes we delay the start time of the hike or push it up to a slightly earlier time to take advantage of the sunshine. Flexibility is key to hiking the trails in Switzerland and nobody likes to be water-logged. Depending on the weather we will also switch “off days” and vice-versa from time to time.
9.What is the cancellation/refund policy?
You are entitled to a 100% refund if canceled 61 days or more prior to Day 1 of your tour start date (minus hotel deposit fees, railway fees, and any international credit/debit card fees charged to us by either Swiss or American banks, merchant services providers, etc for all refunds), 75% refund if canceled 31-60 days prior to Day 1 of your tour start date (minus hotel deposit fees, railway fees, and any international credit/debit card fees charged to us by either Swiss or American banks, merchant services providers, etc for all refunds). 50% refund if canceled 30 days or less prior to Day 1 of your tour start date (minus hotel deposit fees, railway fees, and any international credit/debit card fees charged to us by either Swiss or American banks, merchant services providers, etc for all refunds). Please note that hotels in Switzerland often require up to 50% non-refundable deposits during the peak season in July & August.
10. What is NOT included in the price of the trip?
11. How far in advance can I book a tour?
Tours can be booked and paid for up to one (1) year in advance.
12. Is a deposit required?
Deposits are not required, however, your tour reservations cannot be guaranteed until payment is made.
14. What if I have other questions?
Call Charlie at 910-512-4418 or email him at Charlie@SwitzerlandHikingTours.com Don’t be shy. He’s here to help!