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The Legend of William Tell – Two Centre Swiss Tour

  • Chapel Bridge, Lake Lucerne ©Luzern Tourismus

    Switzerland, Swiss Alps, Chapel Bridge, Lake Lucerne ©Luzern Tourismus
  • Brusino Arsizio at Lake Lugano, Switzerland ©Photo swiss image ch / Roland Gerth

    Brusino Arsizio at Lake Lugano, Switzerland ©Photo-swiss-image-ch / Roland Gerth
  • Lake Maggiore

    Lake Maggiore
  • Lake Lucerne

    Switzerland, Lake Lucerne. swiss alps NCN
8 day tour
Prices available on request

Discover the tales of the founding father of Switzerland and see the beautiful lakes of Switzlerand

Ask any Swiss who William Tell is and they are likely to inform you that he’s the hero of Swiss independence. A symbol of resistance against tyranny, Tales of Tell’s  antics are folklore and on this tour we follow the William Tell route exploring the myth of the man, as well as seeing two of the most picturesque and famous lakes in Switzerland.

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The Habsburg hater and legendary Archer of Switzerland

According to legend, In the Uri Canton region, a territory covering the valley of the Reuss between the St. Gotthard Pass and Lake Lucerne famously, lived a man of incredible strength, boldness resisted the Habsburg Empire and their tyrannical bailiff Albrecht Gessler. It is said that Gessler demanded that all under him greeted his hat, which he placed atop a long pole in the town of Altdorf. After refusing to bow to Gessler or his hat, the Austrian devised a cunning punishment for Tell, ordering the marksman to shoot an apple from the top of his son’s head, only if he succeeded would both their lives be spared. Of course, succeeding as did, Gessler noticed Tell picked 2 crossbow bolts and asked what the other is for and Tell replied ‘for killing you’ and thus started William Tell’s route to the dungeon of the castle at the town of Küssnacht before being tossed onto a boat across Lake Lucerne. Tell resisted his captors and sought revenge.

Tell is said to have met with other men from the three other Swiss cantons who had defied the Austrian rule. The men swore a solemn oath in the forest (known as the oath of Rütli) to work together and fight off the Austrians creating the founding of the confederation of Switzerland, celebrated today with a national holiday on the 1st August.

The William Tell Express becomes the Gotthard Panorama Express

In 2017, the William (Wilhelm) Tell Express became the Gotthard Panorama Express, with the arrival of new panoramic window train cars on the portion from Fluelen to Locarno. The paddle steamer portion of the route on the lake remains the same, but large window rail coaches allow a more scenic view over and through the Gotthard Pass. Despite the new name, the new train follows the same old route through the old Gotthard Tunnel. It is considered most unique of the Swiss Scenic tour routes which come in a package. The route takes you from the docks of the city of Lucerne to Italian speaking Switzerland south of the Alps, ending in the city of Lugano.

Discover the ancient tales of Switzerland’s most celebrated myth and discover the beautiful scenery that accompanies you along the way. For another spectacular rail journey across Switzerland, check out our Glacier Express and Alpine Highlights.


Dates throughout 2022

Suggested itinerary

Days 1-2

Depart the UK

Travel to either Dover (ferry) or Folkestone (Eurotunnel) for the crossing to Calais, then onto the Reims/Metz area for an overnight stop before driving next day through France and your resort in the Lake Lucerne area for the next 2 nights. (530 miles).

Day 3

Lucerne Sightseeing

Lucerne has a vast number of attractions. Stroll through the narrow lanes of the city and discover your own favourites including the famous wooden Chapel Bridge and Water Tower, the Lion Monument carved into the rock face, the baroque Jesuit Church, stylish shops and old city walls. Visit the nearby Swiss Transport Museum or take a mountain excursion to the summits of Mount Pilatus or Rigi. Optional guided tours available.

Day 4

Along the William Tell Route

The highlight of this tour is the lake cruise and railway journey linking Lake Lucerne and Lake Lugano. The journey starts from Lucerne as you board a nostalgic paddle steamer or a salon motorvessel for a relaxing cruise to Flüelen. On arrival and only a few steps away from the pier, board the train to take you along the William Tell route, a journey through deep ravines, over breathtaking cantilevered bridges and past charming villages and through the famous Gotthard tunnel in panoramic first class coaches. On arrival in Lugano, transfer by coach to your hotel in the Lake Lugano area for the next three nights. (110 miles).

Day 5

Lugano Sightseeing

Lugano lies in a bay on the northern side of the lake and surrounded by numerous mountains offering splendid viewpoints. It has a traffic-free historic town centre with Mediterranean style squares, arcades and parks with sub-tropical plants and a beautiful lakeside promenade. Thanks to its mild climate, Lugano is a popular destination in the spring when the camellias are in bloom. Monte Bre, Lugano’s closest mountain, can be reached by funicular railway from Cassarate on the outskirts of Lugano and offers a wonderful panorama of the town, lake and mountains, stretching right over the border into Italy.

Day 6

Locarno and Lake Maggiore

An excursion by coach to Locarno, the main resort on Lake Maggiore, a delightful town situated on a wide bay. It boasts splendid gardens and parks and a beautiful palm-fringed lakeside promenade. There are many narrow streets and piazzas to wander around in the Old Town. It is recommended to take the funicular to view the town and the lake. There are cable-cars and chairlifts to take you even further up for more spectacular views. Just outside of Locarno there is the Verzasca Dam which was used in the opening scenes of the James Bond film ‘Goldeneye‘. Continue to Ascona, a picturesque resort with many shops, art galleries and museums. (60 miles).

Days 7-8

Return to the UK

Depart for the homeward journey via the Black Forest/Alsace region for an overnight stop in the Metz area before continuing towards Calais for the ferry or Eurotunnel crossing to the UK.

Suggested hotels

Hotel International au Lac, Lugano ***

The Hotel International au Lac in located right on the shore of Lake Lugano and the Old Town of Lugano, featuring several restaurants, bars and shops, is just a short walk away. The  rooms offer free Wi-Fi and TVs and some have balconies with lake and mountain views. Suites add sitting areas and “starry sky” bathroom lighting. The elegant bar features a balcony with lake views. There’s also a seasonal outdoor pool, children’s play area and games room.

You may also be interested in:

Lake Lucerne and the Swiss Alps

Highlights of Switzerland

Spring Camellias on Lake Maggiore

8 days
2022 dates prices available on request
All prices are per person based on sharing a double or twin room and with one free place in a single room, based on a minimum 25 full fare paying passengers. Prices do not include UK coach hire or travel insurance. Dates are subject to availability. Smaller groups can be quoted for on request. Greatdays Holidays Limited is a member of ABTA (Y0380) which means you have the benefit of ABTA's assistance and Code of Conduct. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. Greatdays Holidays Limited has an ATOL licence (4279) and all of our air package tours are protected under this licence. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the Civil Aviation Authority will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any monies you have paid to us for an advance booking. All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this tour are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: Our website policy is to use only copyright free images or images which have been authorised to us for free use by the owner. If you consider an image to be unauthorised or to be your property, please contact us immediately and if invalid we will have the image removed. If your image requires crediting or is missing a copyright statement then we will be pleased to add this to the webpage, contact us at

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