Gorgeous Gardens of Switzerland with Helen Yemm - Telegraph Exclusive

Prices from £1,959


4 May 2019 - 11 May 2019
Duration: 8 days
Ref: REGGS0819


Prices from £1,959
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With soaring peaks, thundering waterfalls and green grassed meadows, Switzerland is renowned for its natural beauty. Join us on our eight day tour as we explore cultural and horticultural highlights, with gardening columnist Helen Yemm. First stop is Bern, Switzerland’s capital city with an abundance of gardens to explore. Visit some of the most beautiful gardens in Lugano and Ticino - the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, including the wonderful Botanical Garden on the Islands of Brissago and Parco delle Camelie, home to over 1,000 varieties of camellia. You will also have the chance to enjoy a relaxing cruise along Lake Maggiore, wander the winding Sentiero dell’Olivo olive trail and savour the tastes of Italy during a private risotto making experience.


  • Return Eurostar from London to Paris
  • Connecting rail journeys
  • Two nights’ bed and breakfast in Bern
  • Five nights’ bed and breakfast in Lugano
  • One lunch and three evening meals
  • Exclusive talks and garden visits with expert guide Helen Yemm
  • Bern Ticket giving you free transport in the city
  • Ticino Ticket giving you access to free trains and buses within the region
  • Luggage transfer from hotel in Bern to Lugano
  • Services of our experienced Tour Manager
  • Plus the following excursions:

  • Guided walking tour of Bern with a difference
  • Visits to beautiful Rosengarten and Bern Botanical Gardens
  • Journey on the iconic Gotthard Panoramic Express
  • Risotto making workshop at Grotto San Rocco and a visit of Parco Scherrer
  • Guided visit of Lugano and to Parco Ciani
  • Explore the Brissago Botanical Park and Parco delle Camelie
  • Visits to Monte San Salvatore and Parco San Grato

Helen Yemm

The author or The Telegraph’s weekly gardening column, Thorny Problems, Helen is a passionate hands-on gardener. She has written several books about gardening including Gardening in Your Nightie, and is a lecturer, teacher and broadcaster whose credits include the BBC’s Gardening from Scratch and Gardening Week. A frequent guest on our Exclusive Tours, we are delighted that she will be joining us on this exciting new Swiss gardens rail itinerary.

Day 1: London – Bern

We journey by Eurostar from London to Paris and continue to Bern, our base for the next two nights and check into Hotel Bristol. This evening dinner is served in a local restaurant.

Day 2: Bern

After breakfast, you will be met by our expert horticultural guide and we begin our tour with a difference. Our first stop is the beautiful Rosengarten, home to 223 rose, 200 iris and 28 rhododendron varieties, as well as an enchanting water lily pond, it also has gorgeous views of the city. In the afternoon, we discover the Botanical Gardens of Bern, located in the heart of the city. Here we discover 6,000 flourishing plant species growing outside and in 6 large glass green houses. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Why not use your Bern ticket which gives you access to free transport in the city.

Day 3: Gotthard Panorama Express

Today we embark on one of Switzerland’s most beautiful journeys – the Gotthard Panorama Express to Lugano. Your luggage will be transported to your hotel in Lugano. We take the train to Lucerne from where we take a steamboat on Lake Lucerne past bays and beautiful Swiss landscape. You will pass countless locations steeped in Swiss history – most notably the Rütli meadow, where Switzerland was founded in 1291, as well as Tell’s Chapel. On arrival in Flüelen, the panoramic train will take us along the historical Gotthard route. We will pass through the Gotthard tunnel between Göschenen and Airolo, and continue south to the Ticino region, where the Mediterranean landscape awaits! On arrival in Lugano, we take a short walk to our hotel, situated on the lake. Dinner is included this evening at the hotel.

Day 4: Parco Scherrer

Journey to Castagnola and walk along Sentiero dell’Olivo, the Olive Trail which winds through groves of young olive trees, verdant countryside and impressive panoramas. Upon arrival in Gandria we travel by boat to San Rocco and the Grotto San Rocco, a traditional Ticinese restaurant. We learn how to make a traditional risotto before enjoying the fruits of your labour for lunch. After lunch we travel by boat to Lugano and then onto Parco Scherrer for guided visits of this park of two halves - one Mediterranean, with Renaissance and Baroque style gardens, the other Asian, with a landscape of bamboo forests. After our visit we take the bus to Morcote, for some free time before we continue back to our hotel.

Day 5: Lugano – Parco Ciani

This morning we set off on our introductory walking tour of the picturesque lakeside resort of Lugano, this includes a visit to Parco Ciani, a senrene park on the shores of the lake. The rest of the day you are free to explore at your leisure and your Ticino Ticket will grant you free access to most public transport within the region, whilst boats, cable cars and attractions can be purchased at a reduced price. Lugano has a wonderful promenade which hugs the crystal waters of Lake Lugano and has an array of restaurants serving both Italian and Swiss specialities. This evening Helen Yemm will join us and will provide a talk and Q&A session at the hotel.

Day 6: Brissago, Parco delle Camelie & Ascona

After breakfast we travel to Lake Maggiore and enjoy a cruise to the beautiful island of Brissago. Here we visit the botanical park which features numerous exotic and subtropical plants and hear Helen’s insights as we explore. Afterwards, return to Locarno for free time before we are taken to the Parco delle Camelie, home to more than 1,000 varieties of camellia, where visitors can admire all year round. After our visit we travel back to our hotel. This evening, join Helen for a fun and informative live version of her popular column, Thorny Problems.

Day 7: Monte San Salvatore – Parco San Grato

After breakfast we board the Funicular to Monte San Salvatore, ascending 912m in just a few minutes for 360° views over the lake and environs. Together, we will travel onwards to Parco San Grato, which offers panoramic views over the surrounding Alpine peaks. We return to our hotel and enjoy an included dinner at the hotel this evening.

Day 8: Lugano – London

We depart after breakfast, from Lugano station we board the train to Paris where our Eurostar connection returns us to London.


    Outward Journey

      Departs London 09.24
      Arrives Bern 18.56

    Return Journey

      Departs Lugano 08.42
      Arrives London 19.39

Hotel Bristol, Bern

This 4 start hotel is located in the centre of Bern and close to all amenities. The modern bedrooms all have a en-suite bedroom, mini-bar, safety deposit box, television, air conditioning, hairdryer and ironing facilities. The hotel also has a bar and a restaurant.

Hotel International Au Lac

Stay at the centrally located 3 star hotel in Lugano, situated at the beginning of the pedestrian area and in the heart of the shopping district and overlooks the lake. Relax in the hotels gardens or in the outdoor pool after a day of exploring. Rooms have a TV, air conditioning, safety deposit box, hair dryer, and free Wi-Fi.