September 29, 2018

The 5 best scenic train rides in Switzerland

40  comments

The Swiss are big on trains. I mean, Sheldon Cooper big.

Let me explain that.

Switzerland only measures 220 by 348 kilometres, which results in a very manageable landmass of roughly 41.000 square kilometres. That’s only half the size of Lake Superior in the US/Canada. Or 2.5 times the size of Beijing.

Like I said, pretty manageable. 

Yet, if you sum up all the railway tracks running across the country, you’ll end up with a total of over 5.200 kilometres

That’s a lot. 

That’s the distance from Vancouver to Halifax. Or from Ushuaia to São Paulo. Or from Cairns to Sydney. Return!

You get the idea. The Swiss are big on trains. 

So it comes as no surprise that, in a place that is often associated with amazing scenery, a handful of these 5.200-odd kilometres are quite appealing to the eye. 

In this post, I’ll introduce you to the five most scenic and popular train rides in Switzerland. Mountain railways excluded.

1. The Golden Pass Line

The Golden Pass Line connects the centre of Switzerland with the shores of Lake Geneva. This spectacular journey leads past eight lakes, rides through six different cantons (the Swiss version of states), crosses three mountain passes and connects two language regions with each other.

And it offers about an estimated gazillion photo opportunities.

Golden Pass Line map

Duration:

5 hours 8 minutes

Distance:

191 kilometres (119 miles)

Transfers:

Interlaken and Zweisimmen

Schedule:

Trains run eight times a day, all year round.

Travel passes:

Eurail*, Interrail*, Swiss Travel Pass (Flex), SBB Day Pass

Reservation required:

No, you don't necessarily need a reservation to use the Golden Pass trains. However, the Golden Pass customer service recommend booking a seat for the segment between Zweisimmen and Montreux, as it can get pretty busy during high season. Costs vary between 5 CHF and 8 CHF to make a reservation. But technically, you can do the whole trip without reserving a seat.

Getting off along the way:

You can easily interrupt your journey between Lucerne and Montreux and explore what's inbetween. The best places to stop over are probably Interlaken and Spiez. If you don't have a reservation for the whole journey, get off along the way as often as you please. 

Places of interest along the way...

Lucerne

Lucerne is where most people start their Golden Pass journey. This beautiful city by the shores of Lake Lucerne is mostly known for the Kapellbrücke – a wooden footbridge leading across the River Reuss – spectacular views over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus as well as the famous Lion’s Monument and the Glacier Garden.

Lucerne with view over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatur

View over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

The city of Lucerne

The old town of Lucerne with the Kapellbrücke

Lake Lungern and Brünig Pass

On the way from Lucerne to Interlaken, you’ll pass by Lake Lungern. This picturesque lake lies in a valley and can best be seen if you grab a seat on the right side. Coming from Interlaken, the best lake views are on the left. 

After passing the lake, the train starts climbing up to Brünig Pass, which sits at 1.008 metres (3.307 feet) above sea level. After the pass and on your way down to Interlaken, you’ll be presented with stunning views over Lake Brienz and into the Bernese Alps.

Lake Lungern

Lake Lungern

Lake Brienz

Lake Brienz, coming down from Brünig Pass

Interlaken

Interlaken is the starting point to many an adventure and most visitors to Switzerland pass through it at some point. You’re really spoiled for choice here when it comes to things to do. 

Activities include a very expensive cruise up Jungfrau (Top of Europe), a boat ride on Lake Brienz or Lake Thun, a trip to the villages of Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald, an adrenaline-packed session of skydiving, paragliding, canyoning or just a good old hike in front of the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountain trio.  

Lauterbrunnen

Lauterbrunnen

Eiger Mönch and Jungrau Mountains

The Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau trio in the Bernese Alps

Lake Thun and Spiez

Lake Thun tends to take people’s breath away. Gazing out the window on your way to Spiez, you might understand everyone’s affections for this lake. Grab a seat on the right side for better views.

Built by the shores of Lake Thun, Spiez is a wonderful little town. A one-hour stopover gives you plenty of time to head down to the shores of Lake Thun, visit the castle, walk through the pretty town with its vineyards or even go for a quick dip in the lake.

Lake Thun in Spiez

Lake Thun in Spiez

Spiez Castle

Spiez Castle

Bernese Oberland

A big chunk of the Golden Pass Line takes you through the Bernese Oberland. This area is a dream for mountain-lovers and pretty much sums up what Switzerland is about. Lakes, mountains, lush meadows with grazing cows, glaciers, tons of hiking trails, wonderful landscapes and cute little villages.

In winter, the area turns into a haven for the snow-seeking crowd. Gstaad, the counterpart to St.Moritz in the Bernese Alps, is particularly popular.

Bernese Oberland

Cruising through the beautiful Bernese Oberland

Golden Pass Train

The Golden Pass Panorama Express train

Montreux

Montreux marks the end, or the beginning, of the Golden Pass Line. This beautiful city by Lake Geneva is the gateway to many attractions in the area.

Whether you‘re visiting the Château de Chillon, the city of Vevey, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lavaux vineyards or just hanging out next to the Freddie Mercury statue in Montreux, this city will make it worth your while.

Throughout the year, several music, comedy and arts festivals take place. The Montreux Jazz Festival being the most popular one. 

The city of Montreux by Lake Geneva

The city of Montreux by Lake Geneva

Chateau Chillion

Chateau de Chillon

2. Glacier Express

The Glacier Express - also known as the world’s slowest express train – is probably the best known scenic train ride in Switzerland. It connects the two highly popular mountain destinations of St.Moritz and Zermatt. 

What makes this journey so memorable are the fantastic views you get left, right and centre throughout the whole ride. The train takes you across 291 bridges, through 91 tunnels, three cantons and two language regions.

Glacier Express map

Duration:

8 hours 3 minutes

Distance:

291 kilometres (181 miles)

Transfers:

none

Schedule:

Trains run once a day during winter and three times a day during summer. But only two out of the four summer trains complete the whole journey between St. Moritz and Zermatt.

Travel passes:

Eurail*, Interrail*, Swiss Travel Pass (Flex), SBB Day Pass

Reservation required:

Yes. Even if you have a travel pass, reservations are mandatory. Short distances cost between 13 and 33 CHF, while long distances range between 23 and 43 CHF. Depending on the season you travel in.

To add a reservation to your travel pass, head to the Glacier Express booking site. Follow the booking process all the way through to the end, select your pass just before checking out and the ticket price will be taken off your total.

​Find ​the perfect itinerary

​for your trip to Switzerland...

Penny-pincher version:

It’s possible to travel between St. Moritz and Zermatt without paying a reservation fee. For this, you’ll need to downgrade from the fancy Glacier Express trains and use regular trains instead. 

Get on in St. Moritz and transfer in Reichenau-Tamins, Disentis/Mustér, Andermatt and Visp. You’d be surprised, but even though you’ll be changing trains all the time, it’ll only take you around 20 minutes longer to reach your destination. To put together your schedule, head to the SBB website.

These regular trains travel the exact same route as the Glacier Express does. The only thing you’ll be missing out on are the panorama windows. 

In addition to saving you the reservation fee, this option also lets you travel more flexibly because trains run a lot more frequently.​​

Getting off along the way:

I don't recommend interrupting your Glacier Express journey as you need a reservation for this trip. However, if you really want to stop over, make sure you arrange your reservations accordingly. 

If you opt for the penny-pincher version, you can get off along the way as often and as long as you please.

Places of interest along the way...

St. Moritz

The mountain village of St. Moritz is a highly popular holiday destination all year round. Surrounded by towering mountains and in close proximity to Lake St. Moritz and Lake Silvaplana, the area offers something for everyone. Whether you’re into biking, hiking, stand up paddling, swimming, windsurfing, skiing, sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing or just enjoying the views, you’ll find your heart’s desire.

St. Moritz

The fancy mountain resort of St. Moritz

Lake St. Moritz

Lake St. Moritz

Albula Line (UNESCO)

The Albula Line between Preda and Bergün is going to make your head spin. Since the train loses lots of altitude in this segment, it spirals its way down across six viaducts and through three loop tunnels. If you pay attention, you’ll notice the train changing the side of the valley several times. 

Landwasser Viaduct

The Landwasser Viaduct between St. Moritz and Thusis is quite a masterpiece. This impressive construction is 142 metres (466 feet) long and 65 metres (213 feet) high. What makes it so unique is the fact that the viaduct leads straight into a tunnel. 

The Landwasser Viaduct

The impressive Landwasser Viaduct disappearing into a tunnel

Chur

Chur is the capital of the Canton of Grisons. Relatively small in size, it offers plenty of sights and a wonderful old town. It’s also the starting point to many a trip in the vicinity, like to the crystal clear Lake Gauma or the dramatic Rhine Gorge.

The city of Chur

Chur is the capital city of the Canton of Grisons


Rhine Gorge

Also known as the „Swiss Grand Canyon“, the Rhine Gorge was formed during a massive landslide around 10.000 years ago. Carved out by the river over many centuries, the Rhine Gorge is now a popular destination for hikers, bikers and river-rafters. Coming from St. Moritz, you’ll get the best views of the canyon if you sit on the left.

The Rhine Gorge

The Rhine Gorge - also known as the Swiss Grand Canyon


Oberalp Pass

At 2.033 metres (6.670 feet) above sea level, the Oberalp Pass connects Disentis/Mustér in the Canton of Grisons with Andermatt in the Canton of Uri. This pass is the highest point of the Glacier Express.

The Oberalp Pass is the highest point on the Glacier Express journey

The Glacier Express making its way across the Alps at Oberalp Pass


Zermatt

The village of Zermatt sits right in front of the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s most famous mountain. In case you don’t know what the Matterhorn looks like, have some Toblerone chocolate and study the packaging. 

The hiking, biking and photo opportunities in this area are seemingly endless. Riding up the Gornergrat with its mountain and glacier views will blow your socks off. And only 15 minutes from Zermatt lies Randa, the starting point to hiking across the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge

For more insider tips about what to do in Zermatt, read the interview I did with my local friend Gabriela. 

The village of Zermatt

The village of Zermatt


The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, Switzerland's most famous mountain


3. Bernina Express

They say the most spectacular way to cross the Alps is on board the Bernina Express. 

And they might be right. 

This train takes you from the medieval city of Chur across the Alps and all the way into sunny Italy. Between Chur and St. Moritz, the Bernina Express covers the exact same route as the Glacier Express. 

After St. Moritz, it starts climbing up to glistening glaciers before heading down to the palms of Italy. It passes through 55 tunnels and crosses 196 bridges along the way.

The train ends in the Italian city of Tirano. From there, the Bernina Express Bus takes passengers through the famous Valtellina wine region past Lake Como and back into Switzerland.

Bernina Express map

Duration:

4 hours 13 minutes (train from Chur to Tirano), 3 hours 10 minutes (bus from Tirano to Lugano)

Distance:

156 kilometres (97 miles) on the train, 90 kilometres ( 56 miles) on the bus

Transfers:

Tirano

Schedule:

The Bernina Express runs from May through November. Unfortunately, their schedule is too complicated to put in words. Please check their current timetable to put together your itinerary.

Travel passes:

Eurail*, Interrail*, Swiss Travel Pass (Flex), SBB Day Pass

Reservation required:

Yes. Even if you have a travel pass, reservations are mandatory. Between May and October, reservations for the train and bus cost 14 CHF each. In November, it’s 10 CHF. Head to the Bernina Express booking site to make your reservation.

Penny-pincher version:

The same principle that works for the Glacier Express applies to the Bernina Express. To avoid paying the reservation fee, use regular trains. Get on in Chur and transfer in St. Moritz and Poschiavo. If you add the journey from Tirano to Lugano, you’ll need to transfer in Tirano and Monza as well.

However, if you travel onwards to Lugano, your Swiss Travel Passes won’t do you any good since this part is served by the Italian Railway. For detailed ticket information, consult the Trenitalia website. 

Getting off along the way:

I don't recommend interrupting your Bernina Express journey as you need a reservation for this trip. However, if you really want to stop over, make sure you arrange your reservations accordingly. 

If you opt for the penny-pincher version, you can get off along the way as often and as long as you please.

Places of interest along the way...

Between Chur and St. Moritz, the Bernina Express covers the exact same route as the Glacier Express. Please see above for a more detailed description of Chur, the Rhine Gorge, the Albula Line, the Landwasser Viaduct and St. Moritz.

Ospizio Bernina

At 2.535 metres (8.317 feet) above sea level, Ospizio Bernina is the highest point of the Bernina Line. It’s around here that you cross the language border between the Romansh-speaking Engadine and the Italian-speaking Poschiavo Valley. 

Ospizio Bernina

The Bernina Express at Ospizo Bernina

Bernina Express

The Bernina Express making its way across the Alps

Valposchiavo

The Poschiavo Valley in the southern Alps is a fantastic place to go hiking or enjoy a walk along the lake. It’s where the Bernina Express crosses the Swiss-Italian border and takes you to Tirano, where you transfer to the Bernina Express Bus to Lugano.

Lago Bianco

Lago Bianco on the way to Valposchiavo

Lago di Poschiavo

Lago di Poschiavo

Brusio Circular Viaduct

The circular viaduct in Brusio is another spectacular construction on the Bernina Line. In order to overcome the altitude in the narrow Poschiavo Valley, the train has to take a 360-degree turn.

The Bernina Express spiralling its way down to the Valposchiavo in Brusio

The Bernina Express spiralling its way down to Valposchiavo in Brusio

Valtellina and Lake Como

On the way from Tirano to Lugano, you’ll ride through the stunning wine region of Valtellina. Before crossing the border back into Switzerland, you’ll be driving past Lake Como, the place where George Clooney and many other celebrities got married.

Berbenno in the Valtellina Valley

Berbenno in the Valtellina Valley

Lago di Como

Menaggio by Lake Como

Lugano

Lugano is the biggest city in the Canton of Ticino and the third biggest financial centre in Switzerland - right behind Zurich and Geneva. Its Mediterranean charm, the flowery parks and the stunning views from one of the many surrounding mountains make this city worth paying a visit. 

The nearby outdoor museum Swissminiatur in the village of Mendrisio is a replica of Switzerland in small. I used to love going there as a kid… I guess I owe most of my Swiss geography knowledge to that place.

Lake Lugano

Lake Lugano

The Swissminiatur in Mendrisio

The Swissminiatur in Mendrisio

4. Voralpen Express

The Voralpen Express, which literally translates to „pre-Alpine Express“, commutes between St.Gallen and Lucerne. In comparison to the other train rides in this post, the Voralpen Express is the least touristy one. 

It doesn’t come with fancy panorama windows and there’s no friendly voice pointing out what viaduct you just crossed. But that doesn’t make it any less worth riding.

Voralpen Express map

Duration:

2 hours 16 minutes

Distance:

125 kilometres (78 miles)

Transfers:

none

Schedule:

The Voralpen Express leaves St. Gallen and Lucerne every hour, all year round.

Travel passes:

Eurail*, Interrail*, Swiss Travel Pass (Flex), SBB Day Pass

Reservation required:

No.

Getting off along the way:

Since the Voralpen Express is not a panoramic tourist train like the other ones and you therefore don't need a reservation, you can get off along the way as often and as long as you want. The place I'd recommend checking out for a while is Rapperswil.

Places of interest along the way...

St. Gallen

The city of St. Gallen has a lot to offer. Places like the Abbey District, the recreational area of Drei Weieren and the free wildlife park of Peter & Paul make it easy to spend a few hours in this city. For a more detailed guide of things to do in St. Gallen, head over here.

The cathedral in St. Gallen is probably the most photographed building in the city.

The cathedral in the Abbey District of St. Gallen

The Mannenweier is the perfect place for swimming.

The recreational area of Drei Weieren

Toggenburg

The Toggenburg area is nestled between two towering mountain ranges - the Alpstein and the Churfirsten. This part of Switzerland is incredibly pretty and might make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale. At least that’s how my Australian friend described it when I took her on the Voralpen Express.

You’ll pass by green, rolling hills and traditional farmers’ houses as the train makes its way through the Appenzell and Toggenburg area towards Lake Zurich.

The Churfirsten Mountain Range in the Toggenburg

The Churfirsten mountain range in the Toggenburg

Rapperswil

This little town by Lake Zurich is one of my favourite places in Switzerland. I lived here for three years while I was studying urban planning with Gabriela, Andrea, Tobi and Yannic

If you have enough time, I recommend getting off the train for an hour and exploring the beautiful „City of Roses". The impressive Rapperswil Castle, the charming promenade, Switzerland’s longest wooden bridge leading halfway across Lake Zurich and plenty of great spots with great views will make it worth your while.

Rapperswil

The beautiful town of Rapperswil by Lake Zurich

Travelling between St. Gallen and Lucerne

Rothenthurmer Moor

Once the Voralpen Express is done climbing the hills behind Lake Zurich, it soon passes through the area of the Rothenthurmer Moor. This swampy landscape stretches across 10 kilometres (6 miles) between Biberbrugg and Rothenthurm and is the first moor to be protected in Switzerland.

Walking the moorland trail between Biberbrugg and Rothenthurm takes just over two hours and is very easy to complete. Another opportunity to break up the Voralpen Express journey…

Lakes Zurich, Zug and Lucerne

Between St. Gallen and Lucerne, the Voralpen Express passes by three lakes: Lake Zurich, Lake Zug and Lake Lucerne.

Lake Zug

On the way from Arth Goldau to Immensee

Lake Zug

Lake Zug

Lucerne

Lucerne is either the starting or finishing point for people travelling the Voralpen Express. This vibrant city by the shores of Lake Lucerne is mostly known for the Kapellbrücke – a wooden footbridge leading across the River Reuss – spectacular views over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus as well as the Lion’s Monument and the Glacier Garden.

Lucerne with view over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatur

View over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

Lion's Monument in Lucerne

The Lion's Monument in Luzern

5. Gotthard Panorama Express

If you follow the motto „the journey is the reward“, you’re going to love travelling the historic Gotthard Line from Lucerne to Lugano.

For the first leg of your trip, you travel across the lake from Lucerne to Flüelen on board a steamboat. In Flüelen, the Gotthard Panorama Express train takes you through the historic Gotthard route all the way down to the sunny south on Switzerland. 

Before the world’s longest tunnel opened in 2016, travelling this route through the Gotthard massif was the normal way to get to the Canton of Ticino by train. Today, the 57 kilometres (35 miles) long Gotthard Basistunnel saves commuters lots of time by bolting through the Alps in less than 20 minutes. 

Gotthard Panorama Express map

Duration:

2 hours 43 minutes (boat from Lucerne to Flüelen), 2 hours 28 minutes (train from Flüelen to Lugano) 

Distance:

38 kilometres (24 miles) on the steamboat, 183 kilometres (114 miles) on the train.

Transfers:

Flüelen

Schedule:

From Tuesday through Sunday, the Gotthard Panorama Express leaves once a day. Their season starts in April and ends in October. Check their current schedule here as the dates change every year.

Travel passes:

Swiss Travel Pass (Flex), SBB Day Pass 

With a Eurail* and Interrail* Pass, you get 50% off the boat ride from Lucerne to Flüelen. The train ride from Flüelen to Lugano is included.

For up to date information on which pass or ticket covers what, visit the SBB website

Reservation required:

Yes. The reservation fee costs 16 CHF.

Penny-pincher version:

You can travel the Gotthard Panorama Line without making a reservation by, you might have guessed it, using regular trains. Even though the historical Gotthard line is no longer the primary way to connect the Ticino with the rest of Switzerland, it’s still in use.

Trains run hourly between Erstfeld and Bellinzona all year round. To put together your personal itinerary, consult the SBB website

Getting off along the way:

I don't recommend interrupting your Gotthard Panorama Express journey as you need a reservation for this trip and you can only complete it in one go.

However, if you really want to stop over, make sure you arrange your reservations accordingly. There's an option to book this trip with an overnight stay.

If you opt for the penny-pincher version, you can get off along the way as often and as long as you please.

Places of interest along the way...

Lucerne

Lucerne is either the starting or finishing point of people travelling the Gotthart Panorama Express. This beautiful city by the shores of Lake Lucerne is mostly known for the Kapellbrücke – a wooden footbridge built in 1356 – spectacular views over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus as well as the Lion’s Monument and the Glacier Garden.

Lucerne with view over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatur

View over Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus

The famous Kappellbrücke in Lucerne

Lake Lucerne

On the ride across the stunning Lake Lucerne, you’ll pass by several places of importance in Swiss history. You’ll see the Rütliwiese, Switzerland's founding place, and you’ll also get a glimpse of the Tell’s Chapel. According to legend, our alleged national hero, William Tell, escaped the fangs of his enemy in this place by jumping off his boat. Read more about William Tell and the saga around his existence here.

Cruise across Lake Lucerne on a steamboat

The Tell's Chapel on the way to Flüelen

Baroque church of Wassen

This little church is iconic to the Gotthard line and every child in Switzerland knows about it. Well, if they’ve travelled to the Ticino by train before 2016, that is. 

This little church in the village of Wassen, commonly known as „Chileli vo Wasse“, sits on a hill and can be seen from three different angles on the way up to the former Gotthard tunnel. Since the train passes two turning loops in this area, it keeps riding past the Chileli from different sides, which is what makes this spot so well-known. 

There’s even a song about the Chileli vo Wasse… That’s how popular it is.

You'll pass by the Chileli vo Wasse three times on your way to the Gotthard Tunnel

Bellinzona

Bellinzona is the capital of the Ticino. It’s mainly famous for its three impressive castles Montebello, Castelgrande and Sasso Corbaro, which are part of the Swiss UNESCO World Heritage sites. They were built in the 15th century and make for an impressive, knight-like excursion. 

Piazza Independenza in Bellinzona

The Piazza Independenza in Bellinzona

UNESCO Castle in Bellinzona

One of the three castles in Bellinzona

Lugano

Lugano is the biggest city in the Canton of Ticino and the third biggest financial centre in Switzerland - right behind Zurich and Geneva. Its Mediterranean charm, the flowery parks and the stunning views from one of the many surrounding mountains make this city worth paying a visit. 

The nearby outdoor museum of Swissminiatur in the village of Mendrisio is a replica of Switzerland in small.

Ospizio Bernina

At 2.535 metres (8.317 feet) above sea level, Ospizio Bernina is the highest point of the Bernina Line. It’s around here that you cross the language border between the Romansh-speaking Engadine and the Italian-speaking Poschiavo Valley. 

view over Lugano

View over Lugano

The Swissminiatur in Mendrisio

The Swissminiatur in Mendrisio

Time to make your pick

So here you have it.

Five amazingly scenic train rides in Switzerland summed up. Of course, there are plenty more great rides you can enjoy around here. Like for instance the mountain railways up Jungfrau, Pilatus or Gornergrat. Just to name a few.

If you’d like to share any additional train rides you've been on in Switzerland, please let us know in the comments below. 

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  1. Hi Seraina,

    This post on scenic train rides is very helpful. For the Golden Pass line you were able to specify which side of the train(left, right) we should sit for best views. Is it possible for you to specify which side we should sit for the best view for the remaining scenic train rides.

    Thanks,
    Dhruw

    1. Hey Dhruw

      Thanks for reaching out 🙂 Actually, if you do any of the other scenic rides (as in the full journey or a section that’s longer than an hour) it doesn’t really matter which side you pick. You will get fantastic views on both sides. I specifically mentioned the part between Lucerne and Interlaken because I love the views you get coming down from Brünig Pass. But generally speaking, you can’t go wrong. Whichever side you choose…

      Enjoy your trip,
      Seraina

      1. I am starting to plan my trip with my husband. We are from Sydney Australia.
        The 1st thing we must do is see our son’s art installation in Lens at the end of March.
        After, in July, we wish to go by rail to see Switzerland.’If we get rail passes is it possible to ge off at different places and board the train again to complete the route or are we to stay on the train for the full length.
        As I have not booked our flight yet as I do not know where we will land, as this depends on the trains.
        Thank you for your time.

        1. Hello Helen

          Thank you for your comment. I‘m happy to hear you‘re coming to Switzerland 🙂

          As to your question, you can generally get on and off any train in Switzerland whenever, wherever and as often as you like with your travel pass.

          The only exception is if you make a seat reservation on one of the scenic trains. Then you should probably stay on until the end. But if you don‘t reserve your seat, you‘re free to hop on and off throughout the journey.

          Please note that some trains require you to make a reservation. But even then you could interrupt your journey along the way.

          I hope this answers your question. If not, feel free to shoot me another message.

          Seraina

  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the information. Its quite elaborate. I am travelling to Swiss in first month of July on a business visa. I have 5 days (2 weekends in first week and 3 weekends in last week) to spare time and explore the country. My friend shall join me and he comes all the way from France. So, he prefers to explore Geneva too in the first weekend as its near to the border. So, with 5 days in hand and the preferences are Geneva, Lucerne, one best ride among the above panoramic train rides and one or two peaks (among Titlis, Jungfraujoch, Stoos and Pilates), request you to please suggest some itinerary.

    1. Hi Ravi, thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, as I mentioned on my about and contact page, I don’t offer a personalised itinerary planning service. I’m sorry but I can’t help you with your questions. However, I did write an itinerary guide with a collection of possible 2-day itineraries. You can find it here. Maybe this will be helpful to you? Especially since you’re looking for things to do on a weekend.
      I hope you enjoy your time in Switzerland.
      Seraina

      1. Hi Seraina,

        I just purchased the ebook you have written for travel in Switzerland. I must complement you for the extensive information in it and the practical nature of the book. Saved me tons of hours – I can directly choose the routes of my choice and hop onto the transport!
        I am visiting Swiss for 4 days and entering Geneva. Just wondering which two 2-day routes to choose for a nice mini vacation with my wife.

        1. Hey Rahul,

          Thank you so much for your lovely comment. This made my day 🙂 I‘m so glad you find my ebook useful and thank you for your support. I hope you‘ll enjoy your time in Switzerland and find the right itinerary for you and your wife.

          Happy planning,
          Seraina

  3. Hi Seraina,

    Thank you for such a detailed description of each route. I and my wife are travelling to Switzerland from 4th – 7th October, 2019. We want to experience the Glacier Express. But as it takes more than 8hrs we don’t want to travel the full way. We are planning to stay at Interlaken as we also want to visit Mt. Schilthorn, Grindelwald first, Glacier 3000 etc. We will have a 4 day swiss rail pass.

    Can you suggest that which portion(s) of the Glacier Express I should select considering my preference is to see a lot of snow around.
    Also how early should I reserve my seat at Glacier express considering it is fall season.

    1. Hello Anuran

      Thanks for your comment. Your question actually isn’t an easy one to answer. But I’ll give it my best shot 🙂

      Since you want to spend a fair amount of time in Interlaken and visit all these mountains you mentioned, you should get to see lots of snow there. As for the Glacier Express, this will take you a lot of time whichever part you leave out. The two starting points in St. Moritz and Zermatt are both a long way from Interlaken. If you’d like to cut off certain parts, I suggest you either leave out St. Moritz – Chur or Visp – Zermatt. Maybe even both. That way, you can make your way to either Chur or Visp to start your trip.

      However, like I said, getting there from Interlaken will still take a while. What you could do, if you land in Zurich, is to go straight to Chur, spend a night there, take the Glacier Express the next day to Visp and go from Visp to Interlaken. This will still be a very long day with lots of train rides, but you will have seen some of the Glacier Express route. Since it’s October, I unfortunately can’t promise you a whole lot of snow along the way. But like I said, if you go up into the mountains, you should get a good amount of snow there.

      As for the reservation, I can’t tell you how busy it will be in fall. For more information on that, I suggest you contact the Glacier Express customer service directly. They have more experience with their passenger numbers.

      I hope this helped. Happy planning and enjoy your trip to Switzerland.

      Seraina

  4. Hi Seraina,
    Thank you so much for such a prompt reply. Since there won’t me much snow in the Glacier Express route, now I am considering to do a small part or may be completely removing it from my itinerary.

    I will be coming from Venice & land in Geneva on 3rd Oct – 9:30PM. My return flight to India is also from Geneva on 8th @12:40PM.

    This is what I have thought of for 4th-7th Oct. (I will have a Swiss travel pass)

    Day 1- Early morning train from Geneva to Lauterbrunnen (6AM-9:25AM). Will visit Schilthorn mountain (on the way will visit Gimmelwald, Mürren) till lunch. Post lunch will do paragliding @Interlaken. Night stay Interlaken.

    Day 2 – Early morning train to Grindelwald. Visit Grindelwald First & do 2-3 activities, visit Klein Scheidegg if I have time. At 6:00PM travel to Zermatt (6PM – 8:14PM). Night stay @Zermatt.

    Day 3 – In the morning visit Matterhorn (Glacier Paradise ride). Will come down to Brig by normal train. Catch the 2:10PM Glacier Express Train & travel to Chur (2:10PM – 6:24 PM). From Chur travel to Lucerne ( 7:16PM – 9:25PM). Night stay Lucerne.

    Day 4 – Early morning visit to lake Lucerne, Chapel Bridge, Lion monument. Then travel to Rhine Falls. leave Rhine Falls by 4:30PM. From Neuhausen Rheinfall travel to Geneva (5:01 – 8:45). Night stay @Geneva.

    In the above itinerary I am missing Glacier 3000. Which I can visit on day 4 but in that case I have to leave the Lucerne sightseeing & Rhine Falls. But as per your previous answer I have very small chance of seeing snow @Glacier 3000 which was my main aim.

    Do you think the above itinerary is possible or is it too ambitious or hectic? We both are 30-31 yrs old & moderately fit.

    All the travel mentioned here is by train. Timings are taken from http://www.sbb.ch/en
    Thank you very much for your help.

    1. Hi Anuran

      Wow, that’s quite a plan you’ve got here 🙂 I like it… And while it is very ambitious, I think you can do it. You’ve done your research with the trains as well, which is great. So I’d say go for it. You can always leave out certain things if you feel it’s too much but generally speaking, this sounds like a very good plan. And skipping Glacier3000 is probably a good idea because getting there takes a while, wherever you start from. You’d need a full day for that. So what you have planned now should work a lot better..

      Have fun here in Switzerland. You’ll be arriving in Geneva right on my birthday by the way 😉

      1. Hi Seraina,

        Thank you soooo much for your help. Your blog & comments have helped me a lot to plan my Switzerland itinerary. Can’t thank you enough 🙂

  5. Had a question regarding train visit vs by road visit. I am flying to Munich and from there i am starting my trip to southern germany, western austria, and then i am moving towards swiss area. Can you find the same amount of scenic views by road or it’s better to take train? Since i have a rental vehicle i need to find a place to park it for few days while i ride a train. Can i do round trip in 1 day ? where is the best scenic views that i could get? Money is not an object. I only have 3 days in Swiss.

    Prashant

    1. Hi Prashant

      Thanks for your comment. Actually, since you already have a car, I wouldn’t suggest just parking that somewhere for three days and catch the train instead. You can also do scenic car rides in Switzerland. Personally, if I had to choose, I would always prefer the train but that’s just me. And like I said, if you do have a vehicle, it’s very easy to visit some beautiful spots as well. To plan your route, I suggest you visit the Grand Tour of Switzerland website. It’s a fantastic resource that’ll help you plan your roadtrip through Switzerland and past some stunning places.

      I hope this helped. Enjoy your time here.
      Seraina

  6. Hello Saraina,
    I will be in Switzerland next year for holidays with friends and we will fly from Venice.
    We are interested in the Golden Pass line. Can we travel in the opposite direction from Montreux to Lucerne?
    Thanks
    Vijay

    1. Dear Vijay, thank you for your question. And yes, you can absolutely travel the Golden Pass Line from Montreux to Lucerne. It goes both ways…
      Enjoy the ride! It‘s a great one 🙂
      Seraina

      1. Hi Seraina,
        Thank you for your quick reply.
        Do we need a Eurail pass ?
        Otherwise, please send me the link for booking online and please advise on early booking.
        Thank you

        1. Hi Vijay, you’re welcome 🙂 Yes, I’d suggest you buy a Eurail Pass for this trip as it covers the whole Golden Pass Line along with tons of other train rides in Switzerland.
          To book a travel pass, you can use this link that’ll take you straight to the Eurail website. Please note that this is an affiliate link, which means that I will get a small commission from Eurail for sending you towards them. This doesn’t cost you anything extra but it will help me keep running this website 🙂 So you would be doing me a huge favour by booking your pass through my link. Thought you should know…
          If you have any other questions about your trip, please don’t hesitate to ask…

          1. Hi Seraina,
            If I buy the ’15 Days pass within 2 months’pass at a price of $ 560, can I use it without any additional cost for the Euro tunnel served by Eurostar and can I use the same pass in Europe for the routes operated by the partners?
            Regards

          2. Hey Vijay

            I just checked the Eurail website for you and it seems that you will need to pay extra and make a reservation for the Eurostar. Please go to the Eurail website and enter „Eurostar“ into the search field. You‘ll be taken to all the information you need to know about this journey.
            Regards, Seraina

  7. HI, thank you so much for your detailed description. It really helps with planning our trip. We are travelling to Switzerland from 3rd Oct to 7th Oct 2019. And we have bought the 4day pass. I would like to know if you have any recommendations on how to travel from Lugano to St. Moritz. I was trying to book the Palm Express via Maloja Pass but it only seems to go from St. Moritz to Lugano direction. Would love to get a suggestion. Thanks so much. Looking forward to visiting this beautiful country.

    1. Dear Neelam
      Thank you for your question. Actually, the best way to travel between St. Moritz and Lugano is by Bernina Express. However, the official Bernina Express including the bus between Tirano and Lugano only travels in one direction, starting in St. Moritz. But since you’re travelling the other way round, you can catch a regular bus from Lugano to Tirano and transfer to the Bernina Express train in Tirano. Please refer to the Bernina Express timetable (here’s the direct link) to find your connection. The best one I found for you leaves Lugano at 10:00 and arrives in St. Moritz at 16:11 with one transfer in Tirano.
      I hope this helps. Happy planning and enjoy your time in Switzerland
      Seraina

  8. Hello,

    Loved the way you guided the others so here’s my question and it would be great If you could suggest me something. So I’m travelling with my parents to Switzerland between 4th Dec to 7th Dec 2019. My mother was really interested in the Bernini express but unfortunately, since we are staying in Lucerne, its a completely different route. Can you please suggest any of the other scenic train rides that you feel could be covered in one day?

    Regards,
    Debduhita

    1. Hello Debudhita

      Lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your comment. Happy to help…

      So since you are based in Lucerne, either the Voralpen Express or the Golden Pass Line will work. Both are beautiful but if you‘d like to do the whole thing in one day, the Voralpen Express will probably be less intense. You could also fit in a visit in St. Gallen or Zurich on your way back to Lucerne with that one.

      Technically, you could do the Golden Pass in one day but that would be a looot of hours on the train. Especially because you have to travel back to Lucerne from Montreux. If you do fancy doing parts of the Golden Pass, I‘d suggest you only go to Spiez and travel back via Bern to Lucerne. Or even cut it short in Interlaken. You have plenty of options and are quite flexible. But if it was me, I personally wouldn‘t do the whole Golden Pass in one day.

      I hope this helps. Enjoy your trip over here 🙂

      Seraina

  9. Hi Seraina,

    This is an excellent guide for trains. Thumbs up!

    Me and fiancé will be in Zurich on 18/Dec – 22/Dec. (23/Dec-27/Dec, will be spending Christmas with friends in Friedrichshafen Germany). We intend to visit Zurich and apart from that, jump onto one of these fantastic train rides from 18/Dec-22/Dec & 28/Dec-4/Jan. Ending up in Geneva will be good as we plan to head to Florence after that.

    Would you have any suggestions?

    Thanks a lot

    ST

    1. Dear ST

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you like my guide 🙂 Awesome to hear you’re coming to Switzerland this winter, too.

      Unfortunately, I can’t give you any detailed suggestions as there are so many things you can do in Switzerland in the amount of time you have available. And putting together personalised itineraries would be very time consuming. This is why I am currently working on a series of itinerary guides. They all start in either Zurich or Geneva. I’m sure you could find some inspiration in there and the scenic train rides are also included in those chapters.
      I hope you can understand that I don’t have enough time to create personalised itineraries.
      Happy planning and have a fantastic time when you’re here.

      Take care,
      Seraina

  10. Thanks for this super helpful post. I will be going to Switzerland in mid-late April for about 7 days visiting Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Lausanne, Geneva. I have some specific questions for you:-

    1. I have checked weather forecasts, but based on your experience, how cold will it be? Our group includes 4 senior citizens (60-70 years old).

    2. I think the Golden Pass Line works well for the places I plan to visit. I see the rates in the range of ~$200-250 per person for these days. Does that sound right? I find it very expensive. Is there any other cheaper train that connects these cities?

    Thanks

    1. Hello there 🙂 Thank you for your comment. I will try to answer your questions as accurately as I can.

      1. This is a hard one as temperatures may vary. Especially in April. But generally speaking, I think temperatures during the day should range between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius in the places you mentioned. Please don’t hold me to it, though. We’ve had 0 degrees in April before and there’s a saying in Switzerland that goes: April does whatever April wants. I’m sorry I can’t give you a more precise answer.

      2. Definitely don’t pay 250.- for the Golden Pass Line. That definitely is a bit much. If I were you, I’d try to either get a national day pass or a saver day pass for your travel days. Or, if you’re using public transport in Switzerland for more than just the Golden Pass Line, grab a Eurail/Interrail or Swiss Travel Pass. I talk about those option in more depth in this post.

      I hope this helps. Happy planning and enjoy your time in Switzerland.
      Seraina

  11. Your website and suggestions are great. Thank you for your hard work. I am planning to visit Switzerland with my wife for 4-5 days. We would like to see most of the country either by regular or scenic trains. We can arrive at Geneva or Zurich or Basel. Would like to know what would be the best scenic route we can take as we don’t mind arriving at one but returning from a different airport as long as we can make most of our trip. Will be good if we can start from one end and finish at the other. What would be your suggestion about tickets and from where shall we start and end? Shall we book the hotels in advance or book when we arrive in different cities? Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Dear Mas
      Thank you for your comment and your lovely compliment. It means a lot…
      Your question is a tricky one to answer, actually. Unfortunately, I can’t give personal advice on itineraries as that is very, very time consuming. I’m really sorry and hope you can understand. But since this is a question I get quite frequently, I created a series of itinerary guides to help people plan their trip to Switzerland. Think of them as pre-built itinerary suggestions that will give you ideas and inspiration to plan your trip and what to expect in Switzerland.
      The hotel question is up to you, really. If you’d like to play it save, maybe book ahead. That way, you can research the prices as well and make sure you have a bed to sleep in. Or, if you’re adventurous and like to stay flexible, just wing it as you go. But keep in mind that this might end up being more expensive without any research.
      I hope this helps. Happy planning and enjoy your time in Switzerland.
      Seraina

  12. These five panoramic rides can be beautifully chained together. Say Zurich is your starting point, you take a regular train to St Gallen, then Voralpen, Gothaard, Bernina, Glaciers, regular train to Montreaux (or loop around to Chamonix, Geneve, Evian, Lausanne), Golden Pass and then regular train to Berne and on to Zurich. If you don’t want such a train intensive vacation you can add side trips to Constance Lake, Luzern, Interlaken, Vaduz, Ticino area / Milano or the aforementioned Lac Leman. Is this itinerary not popular? I wonder why it never gets mentioned in travel blogs.

    1. That‘s a very interesting itinerary! A little crazy but for someone that loves trains, it’s perfect.
      Thank you for the suggestion. I will include this in my itinerary ebooks 🙂

  13. Hello Seraina,
    You have amazing content. Thanks so much for sharing. Now I don’t feel as overwhelmed. Im planning a trip with my mom and aunt to Switzerland would love for it to be as relaxing as possible and enjoy the ride. I’m planning to start the journey at Lucerne. Definitely will do golden
    pass. This is for September. We are planning to do Lucerne to Montreux (reserved); stay in Montreux for 2 nights; take golden pass (not reserved) back to Lucerne this time would love to do stopovers and explore Lake Thun, Spiez, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald. Will it be possible to do these stopovers on same day journey. For these towns, do we stop at Interlaken and take other trains? Can you please suggest routes to take? Perhaps should we stay one night in interlaken? The reason why we are going back to Lucerne my aunt lives in Italy. We are Lucerne to Milan (possibly a stop over to Lugano). Any guidance will be appreciated. Would love to make it as memorable to my mom and aunt. It will be my mom’s first trip to europe.

    1. Dear Loraine

      Thank you so much for your comment. I’m happy to hear you’re feeling less overwhelmed now 🙂 That’s the whole point of my blog and hearing from you motivates me to keep going…

      As for your question, I definitely recommend breaking up your journey on your way back to Lucerne. Visiting Lake Thun, Spiez, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald while doing the whole Golden Pass Line in one day isn’t possible. You’ll have to transfer in Spiez and Interlaken anyway so you could take a break in Spiez and spend the night in Interlaken.

      Not to push anything on you, but I created a couple of itinerary guides that give people visiting Switzerland for the first time an idea of what’s possible in a certain amount of time and how I recommend breaking up the journey. Maybe this could be helpful for your planning process as well.

      I hope you’ll have a fantastic time in Switzerland. Happy planning and enjoy your trip.

      All the best,
      Seraina

  14. Hi Seraina,

    Your website’s content are very helpful thank you for sharing :). Me and my partner are planning to take a scenic route from Paris to Switzerland and we are planning to stay in Bern or Interlaken (not sure which one were supposed to pick as we are not familiar with the places) to explore the Bernese Oberland and Jungfraujoch region in 4days (is it possible for 4days?) and we are wondering how are we gonna get to do these if we are coming from Paris? Will you be able to shed some light to our trip? Thanks heaps in advance.

    Lyn

    1. Dear Lyn

      Thank you for your comment. I’m happy to hear you’re coming to Switzerland and of course I’ll try and answer your questions…

      First up, if you’re planning on exploring the Bernese Oberland, I suggest you stay in Interlaken as that’s smack-bang in the middle of all those popular destinations. You can definitely find enough to do in four days. (Btw, I talk about this in more depth in my itinerary guides) Or, alternatively, you could spend a night in Bern and then move on to Interlaken for another three nights. You’re very flexible there.

      Since you’re coming from Paris, I’m assuming you’ll enter Switzerland by train in Basel? With our dense train network, it’s very easy to reach Bern or Interlaken from any train station in Switzerland. So even if you arrive in another city, you’ll make it to Bern/Interlaken within one or two hours.

      I hope this helps and that you’ll have a fantastic trip,
      Seraina

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