Geography School Trips to Switzerland
Whilst it may be known for its dramatic mountains, with Jura in the north and the world-renowned Alps in the south, Switzerland is home to a number of expansive glaciers, cascading waterfalls, open plains and large lakes to both study and admire.
Situated in the heart of the spectacular Alps, the village of Les Mosses and the town of Leysin make excellent bases for a school Geography Trip. Students will have the chance to further their understanding of the physical environment with river landscapes and glaciated landscapes, as well as human geography through contrasting industries, farming, settlement, globalisation and tourism.
“I've run the trip for 3 years and it has been running with Rayburn for a number of years before that - the confidence this provides is crucial in us continuing to use Rayburn and run the trip.”
“A magical experience in a unique environment.”
“Outstanding exam support in perfect outdoor classroom”
“Once again Switzerland did the trick in getting our youngsters out of their comfort zones, gob-smacking them with stupendous scenery and cultural experiences.”
4.8 out of 5 was the average tour experience rating from teachers who travelled to Switzerland on their Geography Trip with Rayburn Tours. Miss R Maclean from Forrester High School summed it up when she said, “our tour to Switzerland with Rayburn Tours was once again a unique opportunity to sample the exciting geography of a stunningly beautiful country which will provide memories for our students for a lifetime.”
100% of geography teachers said they would recommend it to a fellow geographer, so why not give it a go?
Did you know?
In the past 150 years the Swiss population has tripled.
Our quick, online quote form allows our specialists to provide you with a bespoke quotation for a trip tailor-made to your group’s individual requirements.
Switzerland Fact File
KS4 and KS5 (or equivalent)
Flight or coach
Flight duration from UK:
Approx. 1 hour 40 minutes – 2 hours
Time by coach from Calais:
11 hours 30 minutes
Best time to visit:
Between April and September
Ecosystems & Biodiversity
Glacial Systems & Landscapes
Globalisation & Global Systems
Resources & Their Management
Rocks, Weathering & Soil
Weather & Climate
Switzerland Geography Recommended Visits
Switzerland’s diverse geographical landscapes make it the ideal destination to enhance your student’s understanding of a range of topics on the Geography syllabus. Here you can discover just some of the geographical excursions we can build into your bespoke school trip itinerary.
The Chamonix Area
The Chamonix area has a wide range of superb glaciers to visit. The famous and outstanding Mer de Glace overlook is reached by funicular train and, if wished, the glacier itself can be entered by taking cable cars through the exquisite blue glacial ice tunnel. Alternatively, the Glacier du Trient and the Bossons Glaciers can be visited on foot; a bit of a walk but both offer excellent encounters with glacial landscapes, process and forms (as well as observing evidence for climate change).
To really get above it all, a trip by telecabine to the Aiguille du Midi provides a startling aerial view across a wide expanse of the Alpine range, including the Dents du Midi and an almost face-on view of Mont Blanc.
Geography Study Handbooks
Glacial Studies: Mer de Glace
The study unit provides the context for the visit as well as some pre-visit revision of glacial processes (erosional and depositional). A map and diagrams/tables are used to cover topics such as methods of erosion, corrie basin and U-Valley development as well as the nature and location of the various types of moraine. For use on-site, an A4 sized prepared fieldsketch is provided for observation, identification, recording and annotation.
This is a particularly special glacial option, involving a walk of a few kilometres to be amongst a fantastic set of glacial landforms. Walking first up through Alpine meadows, soon the grassland and forests give way to open land and clear sight to the glacier’s snout. Students will be able to see all the features of classic valley glaciation by walking over the moraines towards, but not to, the face of the glacier. They will gain an understanding of the glacial processes and appreciate the meaning of vegetation succession in an area of glacial retreat.
Geography Study Handbooks
Glacial Studies: Langgletscher
The study unit begins with an introduction to glacial terms as well as the idea of climate changes (interglacials/glacials) in the past (giving context to climatic change presently being experienced). Then, as with the Mer de Glace Study Unit, this study unit provides the context for the visit as well as some pre-visit revision of glacial processes (erosional and depositional). A map and diagrams/tables are used to cover topics such as methods of erosion, corrie basin and U-Valley development as well as the nature and location of the various types of moraine. On-site activities include the recognition of glacial landforms (with a table on which to record them). A prepared fieldsketch is provided for use when at the glacier, to observe, identify, record and annotate features encountered. The study unit also encourages a study of the demographics of the people using the area for recreation as well as providing the opportunity to undertake a study of vegetation succession on approaching the glacier’s snout from the car park. The study unit encourages an analysis of the moraines as well. Frameworks are provided for plotting some of the gathered data on return to your accommodation centre.
The causes, types and principles of avalanches are explored by looking into Les Diablerets’ avalanche history. Students can then view and fully appreciate the geographical factors behind the area’s susceptibility to avalanches, the old avalanche routes and the many aspects of avalanche control, both near to the mountain peaks and in the building styles seen in the area. By taking a gentle stroll up the U-valley side, the need for understanding, monitoring and mitigating against avalanches becomes very apparent.
Geography Study Handbooks
The aim of this study unit is to explain what an avalanche is (their several types) and what their causes are. The study unit provides information on avalanches of the past in and around Les Diablerets through the provision of information about a case study of a major avalanche that happened in the Les Diablerets valley in 1984. With this background, pupils then visit an avalanche protected area above Les Diablerets to visit the case study area and to see where the avalanche “routes” and “departure points” were/are. Pupils see the various protections put in place to lessen the possible damage to land and buildings whilst walking on the valley sides. An appreciation of what protections can be built to lessen the chances of avalanches occurring and the theory behind them allows pupils to appreciate the need for and the benefits of the management of a natural hazard such as this. Within the study unit there are spaces for on-site noting/recording. A map shows the route of the walk whereby avalanche protection methods can be seen.
River Ramble (Grande Eau)
Students can appreciate the processes and forms of erosion, transportation and deposition seen in a part of the river course of the Grande Eau. Sourced from a melting glacier, activities include the study of the Grande Eau’s drainage basin, the construction of a river hydrograph, as well as practical river measurements and observations whilst out-in-the field.
The area of river studied is between its upper and middle course and is thus of an ideal size to grasp the workings of river processes and the forms created. Flash floods are not unknown here and the factors promoting this natural hazard can be studied (as well as the flood protection measures built after the 2005 flash flood).
The river ramble takes the group through a beautiful forested valley floor beneath spectacular, towering Swiss peaks.
Geography Study Handbooks
This study unit first looks at the wider topic of rivers, looking at the River Rhône, before considering the Grande Eau, the smaller river that runs through Les Diablerets. Data is provided to plot their contrasting flow amounts and seasonality. Groups will then focus on the Grande Eau, pre-visit task before undertaking the on-site activities. The changing nature of the river’s valley from the upper to middle course is considered by looking at the changing long sections (with actual gradient calculations being possible with the tables provided). There then follows a section on river erosion and depositional processes (diagrammatic). Information is then given on the Grande Eau’s 1995 flash flood, considering the nature of the environment and weather conditions at the time that led to this destructive event. Pupils are well guided through the on-site tasks, using location maps and a series of varied questions that encourage the pupils to look and evaluate; this occupies the bulk of the study unit. Measurements can also be taken of widths, depths, flows, discharges, etc., using the provided tables and instructions (NOTE: Rayburn Tours Field equipment is available for use; ask in advance of its use).
Berneuse Cable Car and Glacier 3000
While the Swiss Alps are breath-taking from all viewpoints, nothing will impress your students more than a visit to a mountain’s summit where they can take in stunning 360° panoramic views. On clear days the Matterhorn can be spotted to the south and the Dents du Midi and Mont Blanc to the west.
Whether you choose to take the Berneuse cable car above Leysin or the telecabin to the Glacier 3000 mountain station above Les Diablerets, students will see evidence of the mountain rocks’ marine origins, forces of plate tectonics and continental drift. This will deepen their understanding of the immense scale of the Alpine fold mountain range and the process involved in the uplift of the rock and the resulting formations, including different strata, bedding planes, simple folds, overfolds and nappes.
From the summit of La Berneuse, students will see the contrasting land use below in the upper Rhône valley and be able to view attempts to manage and control the flow of the river.
At an altitude of 3,000 metres, the Glacier 3000 mountain station offers students the opportunity to get up close to the glacier. For the more adventurous, embark on a glacier walk or venture across the impressive ‘Peak Walk’ suspension bridge.
Geography Study Handbooks
Firstly, diagrams and a table allow pupils to gain an understanding of how sedimentary rocks form (with several named examples). Similarly, a series of diagrams provides the theory on mountain building due to converging crustal plates (and includes names and heights of significant Alpine peaks to emphasise the scale of this geological process). All of this pre-visit information sets the context for what will be seen on this day. At site one of the day, at Col de la Croix, tasks are provided to recognise and record various geological features e.g. bedding planes, strata and folds. In addition, some questions are set to encourage the pupils to look and see features of the gypsum deposits, evidence of this rock’s marine origin. A map is provided to show the location of the second visit of the day, showing the route that can be taken whilst on top of Scex Rouge. A photograph and two prepared fieldsketches are provided for observation, recording and annotation (sometimes prompted). When walking around the summit area of Scex Rouge, a series of prepared fieldsketches and photographs are provided for further observation, recording and annotation. A post-visit activity consists of a series of summation questions (that could be used as an evening quiz).
Bex Salt Mine
The only working salt mines in Switzerland, named Le Bouillet, are found in Bex. A 50km network of galleries burrow beneath the mountains with salt still being produced for domestic consumption today. A small train first takes you through a network of tunnels to arrive deep underground for an audio-visual presentation about salt, its formation, its importance and its extraction. Afterwards, an easy walk is taken through the deep galleries.
A guided tour is available in English and helps students relive over three centuries of the history of the mines and salt.
Geography Study Handbooks
Mines de Sel, The Bex Salt Mines
The uses of salt are first described before a series of diagrams and text explains the extraction of salt (from the original to present day methods). This all provides a bit of context and background to this “underworld” experience.
The ‘Lac Lioson Loop’
Having perhaps been to an active glacial landscape on a previous day, this option (above Les Mosses) allows an appreciation of a landscape once the ice has gone. First passing through grazing meadows and then through shading Alpine forest (with the option of visiting a traditional cheese making farm), this walk brings you out into an open area of upland and a classic example of a corrie/cirque basin complete with tarn.
To realise that this landscape is the result of previous glaciation is a great ‘light bulb moment’ for students, connecting classroom theory to the real world. Soil creep and scree slopes are also encountered – as is a little café by the tarn’s side, offering ice of a different and most welcoming kind!
Geography Study Handbooks
The ‘Lac Lioson Loop’: Post-Glacial Landscapes
A map sets the scene of the destination around Lac Liosin before some information on glacial processes (erosional and depositional) is provided (with illustrative diagrams). A detailed contour map is then provided showing the route of the walk towards Lac Liosin. On this map, several points of interest are marked, points at which there are tasks to complete e.g. on the nature of traditional Swiss architecture and its reflection of the Alpine environment, a prepared fieldsketch on which to record (and annotate, if wished) landforms of glaciation and a table on which to discuss then record aspects of the Alpine environment that offer challenges to an Alpine farmer. Once at Lac Liosin, a circular walk is shown on a map and points of interest indicated at which stops can be made. At each of these stops, observation tasks can be completed and recorded on to prepared fieldsketches/photographs e.g. corrie basin formation, soil creep and frost heave and scree formation.
World Cooperation: United Nations Visit in Geneva
A visit here is well worth considering as a great contrast to the rest of your tour’s ‘in-the-field’ geography. A guided tour opens your students’ eyes and minds to the impressive scale and depth of the workings of the United Nations, making it an incredibly powerful visit.
The tour includes an introduction to the many organisations working under the umbrella of the UN with questions always encouraged. A viewing is made into the huge debating chambers and, if a major debate is in session, there could well be some very well-known faces to be seen in the corridors.
Geography Study Handbooks
World Cooperation: United Nations Visit
This study unit has a map to show the location of Geneva, at the west end of Lake Geneva. After a little background text, pupils should be encouraged to engage with their UN guide whilst on-site. The bulk of this study unit, however, is post-visit work (with a series of questions, tasks, opinions being sought to allow pupils to reflect on what they have gained from the visit); pupils should be made aware of these tasks in advance (and may well be able to complete some whilst on-site). Also, a selection of logos is provided of several UN organisations which the pupils have to match to their titles.
Lavey-Les-Bains, Thermal Baths
These hottest springs in Switzerland, sourced 600m below ground with water at temperatures between 62°C and 70°C, offer a calm and tranquil atmosphere with hot tubs, saunas and both indoor and outdoor thermal pools. Rich in minerals, the waters are therapeutic for both muscles and skin. Massage jets, waterfalls and underwater massage water jet beds all promote a feeling of relaxation and wellness.
Aquaparc, Le Bouveret
Take a journey of adventure into one of the three worlds in the water park. Encounter pirate ships and spray water cannons in Captain’s Land, relax in saunas and hot-tubs in Paradise Land or get maximum excitement from six giant flume slides, including the breathtaking Devil’s Fall in Jungle Land.
Bowling in Château-d’Oex
A popular evening choice with our groups is ten pin bowling. The modern bowling alley housed in the complex provides a lively and competitive evening’s entertainment.
Labyrinthe Aventure is the largest maze in the world at 3kms in length. In the maze you will have to participate in a number of activities, overcome obstacles and face challenges to make it all the way through! There are also “helter skelter” slide rides, falling 30m. A trampoline, a climbing wall and a mini-golf course.
Ice Skating, Leysin
This open-air ice rink provides an excellent evening’s entertainment. Located only a short walk away from your Leysin hotel, skates can be hired. The on-site facilities include a snack bar/café where the group can relax after the skating session.
Treasure Hunts (Leysin and Les Mosses)
This is an ideal evening activity. A few questions and a few items to collect. You may, of course, wish to add a few more tasks for your pupils, so, buy a few prizes, organise the teams and away they go!
Bespoke Geography Trip Student and Teacher Resources
One of the first study handbooks to be launched by Rayburn Tours, and regularly augmented, the Switzerland study handbooks and teacher guides form a pivotal part of any Geography Trip to this amazing country.
How does it work?
Your Study Handbooks will be custom-made to match your itinerary which has been agreed with the team at Rayburn Tours. It will contain a selection of the study units listed below
Switzerland Study Handbook Ratings
Usefulness of Teacher Resource:
Usefulness of Student Guide:
Study Units available:
- Glacial Studies: Mer de Glace
- Glacial Studies: Gorge du Trient
- Glacial Studies: Langgletscher
- Glacial Studies: Bossons Glacier
- Lac Lioson Loop: Post Glacial Landscapes
- Aspects of Swiss Tourism: Leysin
- Aspects of Swiss Tourism: Les Diablerets
- Avalanche Amble
- Mountain Building: The Berneuse
- Mountain Building: Scex Rouge
- Industrial Study: Choc ‘N’ Cheese
- A Settlement Study: Leysin
- A Settlement Study: Les Diablerets
- A Settlement Study: Les Mosses
- River Ramble: The Grande Eau
- Terraced Slopes and Alluvial Plains
- Traditional Cheese Making: Leysin
- Traditional Cheese Making: Lioson d’en Bas
- World Cooperation: United Nations Visit
- A Treasure Hunt: Leysin
- A Treasure Hunt: Les Mosses
- The Pyramids Of Euseigne
- Farming In Alpine Valleys
- Mines De Sel: The Bex Salt Mines
Sample PagesGet in Touch
Switzerland Sample Itineraries
Your bespoke itinerary will include the appropriate balance of educational visits and leisure excursions to fill your chosen duration and meet your aims and objectives. Your dedicated School Tour Coordinator will offer advice and recommendations with the sole aim of creating the perfect itinerary for your group, but just to get you inspired, we have outlined the itineraries created for two of our clients below.
Dates: 18th – 22nd May
Board Basis: Full Board
Overview of visits: Berneuse Cable Car, la Maison de Gruyéres Factory, Nestlés Chocolate Factory, Leysin, Château-d’Oex Bowling, Langgletscher Glacier, Fafleralp, Thermal Baths, Les Diablerets, Aquaparc.
After a morning flight, the group arrived at Geneva Airport where they met their coach and made the transfer to Leysin. The group had the remainder of the day to relax and explore their new home at their leisure. Some chose to take the Berneuse Cable Car up the mountain for their first spectacular glimpse of the Alps, before walking back down the mountain in time for their evening meal.View the full day-by-day itinerary
The first visit of the day was the Maison de Gruyères Factory. Here the group got to view the manufacturing processes and taste the various styles of cheese before taking advantage of the shop.
Moving on from cheese to chocolate, the next visit was the Nestlé Chocolate Factory. Students were able to walk through various parts of the factory and observe the various activities and stages involved in the manufacture of the chocolate. They then enjoyed a video of the history of chocolate before sampling some of types of chocolate and buying their own in the shop.
On returning to Leysin, the group had free time to explore the town before hitting the Château-d’Oex bowling alley.
The group made their way by coach for the Langgletscher Glacier and the Fafleralp. On arriving at the Fafleralp, they walked to the edge of the Langgletscher glacier, stopping for lunch en route. From here they travelled to the Thermal Baths in Saillon where they spent the afternoon relaxing in one of the four thermal pools, the sauna and steam rooms.
Departing for Les Diablerets, the students discussed the importance and impact that tourism has on the local and national economy and environment. They carried out a questionnaire looking for evidence of tourism and were then able to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of tourism upon a landscape and a community.
The students also completed a study looking at the situation, site and functions of the settlement. After lunch the group headed to the Aquaparc for some fun on the water slides and rapids.
The group boarded their flight home.
Dates: 8th – 14th July
Accommodation: Central-Résidence, Leysin
Board Basis: Full Board
Overview of visits: Mer de Glace, Lavey-les-Bains Thermal Baths, Bex Salt Mines, United Nations Building, Nestlé Chocolate Factory and la Maison de Gruyères Factory.
The group left for Dover via coach to catch a night ferry over to France.View the full day-by-day itinerary
Arriving in France early morning, the group continued their journey arriving in Leysin just after lunchtime. Here the group spent the remainder of the day at leisure exploring Leysin and relaxing.
Today the group set off by coach for Chamonix and a visit to the Mer de Glace to experience all the glacial features of an active glacier. Arriving at the Le Montenvers railway station, the group took the cable car down to the viewing platform to observe the glacier. They then made their way under the glacier into an ice cave before taking the cable car up to another viewing area for spectacular views over the Alps and the famous Mont Blanc.
Next was Lavey-les-Bains Thermal Baths, where the students took some time out to relax in the heated pools and soak in the ‘healing’ properties of the thermal waters.
The first visit of the day was the Bex Salt Mines where the group were able to explore the labyrinth of caverns, galleries and shafts created as a result of the extraction of salt over many centuries. It began with a walk along an old gallery to a vast cavern where they were presented with an audio-visual show. They then travelled deeper into the mountain where they learnt how the salt was extracted and the skills and techniques have changed before returning to daylight on the train.
The afternoon was spent at the Gruyère Factory – a much smaller workforce and production scale in comparison to the morning visit. They were able to view the manufacturing processes and taste the various styles of cheese before again hitting the shop for souvenirs.
The first visit of the day was the Nestlé Chocolate Factory in Broc. Here the students were able to observe the various activities and stages involved in the manufacture of the chocolate. Next the students viewed a video of the history of chocolate before they finally got to sample some of the many types of chocolate and purchase their favourites in the shop. After lunch the afternoon was spent at the Gruyère Factory. Much smaller in comparison to the morning visit, the factory has a small workforce and small scale production using locally produced materials. Here the group got to view the manufacturing processes and taste the various styles of cheese before again hitting the shop for souvenirs. On returning back to the hotel the group had the remainder of the evening at leisure before dinner.
Day 6 and 7:
As the final day, the group spent their time at leisure exploring Leysin, enjoying some last minute souvenir shopping and sampling some traditional Swiss cuisine. Some chose to take the Berneuse Cable Car up the mountain to take in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the spectacular views over the valley.
The group caught the ferry in the early hours of the morning and arrived back in the UK mid-morning.
The village of Les Mosses or the town of Leysin make the perfect bases for a Geography Trip so we have selected a number of hotels in and around these resorts which are perfectly suited to school groups. Here are just a few of our favourites:
The Hotel Central-Résidence is ideally located in the heart of Leysin at the foot of the numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. The hotel is beautifully framed by alpine greenery and enjoys stunning views of the mountains and nearby glaciers can be enjoyed.
“Fantastic manager and staff. Fully equipped for school groups and ready for our arrival. Excellent food, cannot fault a thing!”
The hotel benefits from an indoor swimming pool and games area with table football, ping pong and pinball. There are 85 south facing rooms which all come with balconies, TV, telephone and hair dryer. Different room configurations are available according to your needs.
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