Follow Me! Real Rail Adventures: Swiss International Hubs Itinerary

Many of you may have had the chance to catch our new episode of the Real Rail Adventures series. Swiss International Hubs debuted on April 1st, and is now making the rounds of local PBS stations across the country. Check your local listings and, if you don’t see it scheduled, contact your station and ask them to air the shows as soon as possible (tell them they’re available via American Public Television‘s (APT) digital service).

The show was another one for the record books as our crew bravely criss-crossed the Alps and took on challenges like shooting a canyoning trip through Grimsel Canyon outside of Interlaken and making our own salami in Bellinzona. We even made a Swiss watch at a workshop put on by Initium in Geneva, toured rooftop beehives with the owner of Honig Kuchen in Zurich, took a leisurely float on the Rhine with something called a “Wickelfisch,” and checked out the urban street art scene from the back of a graffiti-covered Bentley (really) in Basel. All while finding plenty of time to enjoy the odd Aperol spritz.

International man of mystery, Jeff Wilson relaxes at the Sandoase Bar, overlooking Three Country Corner, Basel, Switzerland

This post will likely find you and yours holed up in some kind of home, apartment, or bunker as we ride out the COVID-19 crisis. I do hope you’re all well and weathering this in the best way possible. As we wait, I’m keeping my spirits up, in part, by planning trips for the future. As a tool for escape, I find trip-planning to be very helpful. In that spirit, here is the itinerary from our late-summer 2019 shoot for Swiss International Hubs. As in past itinerary posts, I’ll give the standard warning that this itinerary is merely an aid in planning your trip. Don’t try to mimic what we insane TV-show-producing people do, as we’re cramming as much must-see-adventure as possible into every day so that we can deliver a watchable show on time and on budget. With that caveat, here’s the itinerary:

Real Rail Adventures: Swiss International Hubs Itinerary

Day 1:   Leave U.S. for Hamburg, Germany

Day 2:   Arrive Hamburg. Overnight in Hamburg

Day 3:   Explore Hamburg. Overnight in Hamburg

Day 4:   Board ICE train to Interlaken. Explore Interlaken and overnight

Day 5:   Canyoning adventure in Grimsel Canyon with Outdoor Interlaken.  Evening funicular to Harder Kulm for Two Lakes Platform and scenic dinner. Overnight in Interlaken

Day 6:   Board ICE train to Basel. Afternoon street art tour. Relax at Sandoase Bar overlooking Three Country Corner. Overnight in Basel

Day 7:   Morning tour of Basel’s Kunstmuseum. Afternoon float in the Rhine River. Evening dinner riverside. Overnight in Basel

Day 8:   Board TVG train to Paris. Overnight in Paris

Day 9:   Explore Paris. Overnight in Paris

Day 10: Board TVG train to Geneva. Overnight in Geneva

Day 11: Tour Red Cross Red Crescent Museum, U.N. Place des Nations, and St. Pierre Cathedral. Afternoon boat ride to Jet d’Eau waterspout. Overnight in Geneva

Day 12: Morning watch-making workshop at Initium in Geneva’s Altstadt. Make your own Swiss watch as a souvenir. Afternoon train to Zurich, passing through scenic Lavaux wine-making region. Overnight in Zurich

Day 13: Morning stand-up paddling tour of Zurich. Afternoon visit to Honig Kuchen to learn about Zurich’s rooftop bees. Tour of Climeworks carbon-capture facility in Hinwil. Overnight in Zurich

Day 14: Board train to Bellinzona, passing through the 35-mile long Gotthard Base Tunnel. Explore Bellinzona and overnight

Day 15: Tour Bellinzona’s castles and Salami-making workshop. Afternoon visit to Coldesina bottling factory. Overnight in Bellinzona

Day 16: Board train to Milan. Overnight in Milan

Day 17: Explore Milan. Overnight in Milan

Day 18: Leave Milan for U.S., arrive U.S.

Does this help? What did we leave out that you’d like to see us do in the future? As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with travel questions of all kinds. My advice is free. If you’re looking for more involved trip planning, I can put you in touch with my people “on the ground” in Switzerland who know our show itineraries well and can arrange any type of adventure you can dream up.

Dream now, travel later, and take care of yourselves. We’ll be back at it in no time.

Follow Me! Real Rail Adventures: Swiss Winter Magic Itinerary

There’s something about Switzerland in winter time that makes it magical. Back home, we might despair at another snow storm in February, but the same storm transforms a Swiss village into a quaint snow-globe scene, and beckons us out for one more sled run.

When the Real Rail Adventures crew visited Switzerland during winter months, we found a cornucopia of frosty outdoor activities to try, of course. But we also availed ourselves of the requisite complementary fireside tipples and treats to keep our souls eternally willing to plunge back out into the storm. For what is a bobsled run without a proper fondue to follow? And how do you muster the courage to jump off a snow-clad mountain for a frigid paraglide without the promise of a bit of curried lamb and kirsch at the end?

Have you dreamed of visiting the winter wonderland of Switzerland? Dream no more . . . here is the itinerary that closely matches the one our Real Rail Adventures crew followed while shooting Real Rail Adventures: Swiss Winter Magic. Once again, I caution readers that, as a film crew, we are forced by time and budget to cram quite a bit into our schedules. Use this itinerary as a planning tool, but, as they say, don’t try this at home.

Haven’t seen the show? Stream it on Amazon Prime here. And send me your thoughts on the perfect winter pursuits in Switzerland.

Real Rail Adventures: Swiss Winter Magic – Itinerary

by Jeff Wilson

Day 1:   Leave U.S. for Switzerland

Day 2:   Arrive Zurich. Train to Chur. Overnight in Chur

Day 3:   Explore Chur. Overnight in Chur

Day 4:   Leave Chur aboard the Albula-Bernina line. Arrive in St Moritz. Explore St Moritz and overnight (highly recommend the Waldhaus Sils hotel, in nearby Sils)

Day 5:   Bobsledding on Olympia Bob Run morning. Snow-kiting lesson on Lake Silvaplana afternoon. Pre-dinner horse-drawn sleigh ride. Overnight in St Moritz

Day 6:   Morning horseback tour with Stella Costa farm. Daytrip on Bernina Express over snowy Lago Bianco pass. Return to St Moritz for overnight

Day 7:   Morning “Yoga on Snow” lesson and skiing, St Moritz. Afternoon trip up Muottas Moragl. Lunch at Hotel Romantik at top, then sledge-ride to bottom. Return to St Moritz for overnight

Day 8:   Board Glacier Express. Side trip to Goms region. Arrive Reckingen. Explore Reckingen and overnight (Hotel Joopi, preferred)

Day 9:   Day trip to Oberwald. Morning skate-skiing lesson. Afternoon tour ski-museum and Roggenbröt baking. Return to Reckingen for “Cholera Pie” dinner. Overnight in Reckingen

Day 10: Re-board Glacier Express. Arrive Zermatt. Explore Zermatt and Matterhorn Museum. Overnight in Zermatt

Day 11: Ski-day in Zermatt. Lunch on mountain. Après-ski at Cervo. Overnight in Zermatt

Day 12: Morning helicopter tour with Air Zermatt. Afternoon tour of Julen farm to meet their Valais Blacknose Sheep and lambs. Dinner at Schäferstube, a Julen restaurant. Overnight in Zermatt

Day 13: Leave Zermatt via train to Gstaad via the GoldenPass line. Tour Gstaad and overnight

Day 14: Morning fat-tire snow-biking tour. Afternoon day-trip to Glacier 3000 on cable car. Select winter activities, including suspension bridge peak walk. Lunch at mountain retreat, Refuge L’espace. Return to Gstaad for overnight

Day 15: Board train to Lucerne. Boat to Vitznau and cogwheel to Rigi Kaltbad Hotel. Spa experience at Rigi Kaltbad Hotel and overnight

Day 16: Morning snowshoe tour. Fondue lunch at Restaurant BärgGnuss. Afternoon paragliding tour from Rigi Kulm to Arth Goldau. Train to Zurich. Late afternoon walk and dinner at “Top of Zurich.” Overnight in Zurich

Day 17: Morning walking tour of Zurich and Aldstadt. Coffee at Café Voltaire. Afternoon walking tour of trendy West “Züri” and dinner. Overnight in Zurich

Day 18: Leave Zurich to U.S., arrive U.S.

Sound like a plan? Let me know your thoughts below. And don’t hesitate to ask for advice . . . that’s completely free. If you’re interested in custom itineraries and trip bookings through my on-the-ground partners, or trips to Switzerland led by me, that’s available, too.

Follow Me! Original Real Rail Adventures: Switzerland Itinerary

One of the most common questions I get from viewers is: How can I take the same trip you took on your TV program? Usually, I point them to the show’s website,, where they can find full show descriptions and links to regions where we’ve traveled. The question comes so often, though, that I began to wonder if I was shirking my responsibility as a host and virtual “guide.” When I decided to go back and write a useful itinerary for the original episode, Real Rail Adventures: Switzerland, I was surprised by just how difficult it was to square our production schedule with a usable travel itinerary.

After careful review of the episode and my notes from the time, I’m happy to say that I’ve put together an itinerary that viewers can use to plan their own, very similar journeys. As I look back, I’m struck by just how ambitious that original trip was – we shot over 17 days, with little down time, often shooting 4-5 experiences in a day along with specific trains, interviews, and meals. Eric, our extremely talented camera operator, was rarely able to put the camera down.

So, while I’ve included this itinerary as an academic exercise, I don’t really recommend that anyone literally follow in our footsteps. My advice? Slow down, spend at least three nights in each location, and remember that Switzerland will be there next year (and the year after that, and the year after that). Travel requires time to really absorb the landscapes, culture, food, and all of the subtle feelings that come from being exposed to something new.

That said, here’s that itinerary:

Real Rail Adventures: Switzerland – Itinerary
Jeff Wilson
Day 1: Leave U.S. for Switzerland
Day 2: Arrive Zurich. Overnight in Zurich
Day 3: Explore Zurich. Afternoon train to Chur. Explore Chur. Overnight in Chur
Day 4: Leave Chur aboard the Albula-Bernina line. Stop in Bergün to tour the Albula-Bernina Museum. Re-board train to St Moritz. Overnight in St Moritz. This route can also be done on the Glacier Express, without the Albula Museum stop
Day 5: Day trip to Piz Corvatsch to view glacier via cable car. Return to and overnight in St Moritz
Day 6: Leave St Moritz aboard Palm Express Post Bus. Arrive Lugano. Lunch and tour Lugano, train to Bellinzona. Overnight in Bellinzona
Day 7: Tour Bellinzona castles. (Side trip to San Gottardo Train Club in Mendrisio if local events allow). Overnight in Bellinzona
Day 8: Gotthard Panorama Express to Flüelen; boat in Flüelen to Lucerne. Lunch on board. Stop in Vitznau to take Rigi cogwheel train to Mt Rigi. Return to Vitznau and boat to Lucerne. Overnight in Lucerne (possible side trip to Lake Ritom via Ritom Funicular)
Day 9: Train to Alpnachstad for cogwheel ride up to Pilatus Kulm. Explore Pilatus and return to Lucerne. Overnight in Lucerne
Day 10: Train to Stans for morning Cabrio cable car to Stanserhorn. Lunch on Stanserhorn, then return to Lucerne. Explore Swiss Transportation Museum. Overnight in Lucerne
Day 11: Leave Lucerne. GoldenPass Lucerne-Interlaken Express Panoramic train to Interlaken. Explore and overnight in Interlaken.
Day 12: Board Lötschberg boat to Brienz. Day excursion on Brienzer Rothorn historic cogwheel steam train. Lunch at mountain cottage. Return to Interlaken by train and overnight in Interlaken
Day 13: Day excursion to Jungfraujoch. Overnight in Lauterbrünnen.
Day 14: Day excursion to Schilthorn via train, bus, and cable car. Tour “Bond World” and lunch in Piz Gloria Restaurant. Overnight in Lauterbrünnen
Day 15: Leave Lauterbrünnen to Montreux via GoldenPass. Explore Chateau Chillon and overnight in Montreux
Day 16: Day excursion to Gruyères and Broc aboard historic “Chocolate Train.” Tour Gruyères and Gruyères Cheese Experience. Fondue lunch. Train to Broc and tour Cailler Chocolate factory. Return to and overnight in Montreux
Day 17: Leave Montreux. Morning excursion to Rochers-de-Naye. Lunch on Rochers-de-Naye. Train to Visp. Glacier Express Panoramic train to Zermatt. Explore and overnight in Zermatt
Day 18: Day excursion on Gornergrat Railway and the Matterhorn. Overnight in Zermatt
Day 19: Leave Zermatt via train to Zurich. Overnight in Zurich
Day 20: Leave Zurich to U.S., arrive U.S.

Ready to plan your dream trip to Switzerland? I can help! With my years of experience traveling there, I can help you have a travel experience well beyond a pre-packaged tour. With my connections to folks “on the ground,” I can help you create a custom itinerary and ensure that your trip goes off without a hitch.

Let me know what you think and stay tuned – more itineraries and a raft of travel advice will be coming your way in the coming months!