Hi Bill, and welcome to MySwissAlps!
>> We are two couples embarking from Basel for a Rhine River cruise next year in June. We would like to spend four nights in Switzerland ... we are limited to arrival in Zurich or Geneva ... We would like to make our way to Zermatt (if from Zurich via part of the Glacier Express) for two nights ... We need help in determine what the best arrival city for us to be
I would be inclined to fly into Geneva and go to Zermatt first, if you arrive early enough to get there on the first night.
Genève-Aéroport (Geneva Airport) to Zermatt takes almost 4 hours by train. You will spend part of this trip travelling along the beautiful shore of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and passing through the Lavaux Terrace vineyards, a UNESCO World Heritage Area.
Spend at least 2 nights in Zermatt. On the intervening day, you could visit the Gornergrat for a view of the Matterhorn, and take a stroll through the village, including the historical Hinterdorf quarter. Next day, get the Glacier Express to St Moritz (8 hours).
Spend 2 nights in St Moritz. What you can do in St Moritz on the intervening day will depend on when exactly in June you are there, as it is the tail end of the off season, and some mountain transport will not be operating until the second half of the month.
The advantage of staying 2 nights (in participating hotels, which includes budget options) is that you will get a free Mountain Railways Included pass for free access to mountain transport in the area.
After St Moritz, go to Basel via the Engadin Star route (i.e. via Zernez) and Zürich (4.0 to 4.5 hours). This is a very picturesque route and will avoid duplication of the sector you have already travelled on to get to St Moritz from Chur on the Glacier Express.
I have written a trip report on this route (with photos), which you can read in my post of Feb 28, 2017 - 4:36 AM on the following page if you are interested:
I have attached a map showing the whole route.
>> what sort of train accommodations to make (Swiss Rail) ... We would prefer to keep to public transportation.
Second-class train travel is perfectly comfortable, and shouldn't be too crowded in June.
Many people do, however, like to experience first class on the Glacier Express. If you wanted to do this, and had (for example) a second-class Swiss Travel Pass, you could buy a first-class upgrade just for the sector Zermatt to St Moritz (or whatever sector you are travelling on), which will cost half the difference between the first- and second-class fares for that sector.
You can plan your trips using the Swiss Timetable.
Reservations for the Glacier Express are compulsory and can be made 90 days in advance of your travel date on the following site:
When you get to the screen where you have to fill in the personal details for each individual traveller, there is a box with a drop-down list of reductions passengers might be entitled to. If you will have (for example) a Swiss Travel Pass when you travel (whether or not you have already bought it), select that, and the fare will reduce to the cost of the reservation only. In June, reservations will cost CHF 33 per person up until 15 June inclusive, or CHF 43 per person from 16 June until the end of the high season on 16 September.
>> hotel and restaurant recommendations