Don't Miss the Swiss
Is there a better way to experience the beauty of Europe’s Alps than to visit stunning Switzerland in the heart of winter? My friend and I joined Albatross Tours’ Swiss New Year Break to find out what we’d been missing out on, and the trip surpassed our expectations in so many ways.
The Swiss New Year Break Tour
This itinerary is different to Albatross’s other Christmas tours in that it isn’t escorted. Instead, use your included 8-day Swiss Tour Rail Pass to travel from anywhere in Switzerland to one of two idyllic Alpine villages – Wilderswil or Lauterbrunnen. At Wilderswil, you’ll spend seven nights at the historic Hotel Alpenblick, or at Lauterbrunnen, the Hotel Oberland. You’ll enjoy warm Swiss hospitality and have the freedom to indulge in the winter sports the region is famous for, or perhaps use your rail pass to explore beyond your village.
Highlights and Surprises
We couldn’t wait for our week in the snow and to try skiing for the first time. To call the experience fun would be an understatement, although nothing prepared us for how uncomfortable ski boots can be!
The Swiss Rail Pass made it so easy for us to explore the region, and we were surprised at how simple the rail system was to use. The Rail Pass covers the train journey to places such as Wengen and Grindelwald; from there, you can access the Jungfraujoch railway up to Jungfraujoch. While the train fare to Jungfraujoch can be expensive, you will receive a discount when you use your Swiss Rail Pass and the spectacular views are absolutely worth it when the weather is fine.
James Bond fans won't want to miss the mountain of Schilthorn, which is reached by cable car from Lauterbrunnen via Murren. Up at the Schiltorn, there is a café, a gift shop and an interactive James Bond Museum, not to mention the stunning vistas best sampled on a sunny day.
Finally, it would be a crime not to mention the wonderful hospitality shown by owners Ursula and Mark and their staff at the Oberland Hotel. They made our stay all the more memorable.
Bircher and Baker
Our seven-night package included breakfast and dinner at the hotel. The breakfast buffet featured a sumptuous selection of continental meat, cheese, cereal, Bircher muesli to die for, croissants and the most delicious selection of breads from the local baker. You must try the Swiss milk bread rolls too!
Dinner was an awesome four-course feast that varied each evening. The culinary highlight was the incredible New Year’s Eve dinner: an antipasti buffet with an amazing selection made by the chef and Mark, followed by two more courses and a dessert buffet. Superb!
The Alpine scenery will keep your camera clicking, but the best photo was the one we didn’t take – me running into a snowboarder on my toboggan and going backwards down the toboggan run for 50 metres before throwing myself off, just before I veered off over the edge of the run!
Our Travelling Companions
The ages of other people travelling on the tour varied. There were families with teenage children, couples in their 50s and 60s and single travellers in their early 70s.
It was a really lovely group of people staying at the Oberland. A genuine buzz grew at breakfast each morning as everyone chatted about their plans for the day; stories and recommendations were then shared over dinner. The atmosphere was very friendly and we honestly felt like we were staying in a friend’s chalet, not a hotel.
This tour is perfect for anyone who prefers to take things at their own pace. The next enchanting Swiss New Year Break tour starts at your preferred hotel on December 28.
For more information or to request a brochure, please contact our friendly reservations team.