Top Ten Train Journeys in Switzerland

Top 10 Train Journeys in Switzerland

Switzerland, a country renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, offers some of the most picturesque train journeys in the world. These train rides are not just a means of transportation but a gateway to experiencing the heart and soul of Swiss beauty, culture, and engineering. Whether you’re an avid traveller, a nature lover, or someone looking for a unique adventure, these train journeys promise to leave you with memories that last a lifetime. Let’s embark on a journey to explore the top train rides in Switzerland, each with its own charm and allure.

A panoramic journey through beautiful Switzerland across green valleys, picturesque towns, crystal clear lakes, vineyards and eternal glaciers from the comfort of a Swiss train is one of the most relaxing travel experiences in the world. The Swiss train system is one of the world’s best. The punctuality, cleanliness and service of Swiss trains are unparalleled.

These trains pass through beautiful scenery, slow down at picturesque places and yet run on regular routes and can be travelled with a regular ticket, perhaps because overwhelming natural beauty is a regular thing in Switzerland.

Here is a list of the ten best scenic train journeys in Switzerland. 

1) Glacier Express

This is the slowest express train in the world and yet the most famous of all train journeys. Glacier Express is the best train journey not only in Switzerland but also in the whole of Europe. It connects Zermatt, the famous little car-free village, with the glamorous resort of St. Moritz.

Glacier Express - Route

The journey begins at the Matter valley at the foot of Matterhorn and goes through the Rhone valley to Brig. It then crosses the Furka basis tunnel and continues towards Andermatt. This meter gauge train reaches the highest point of its journey at the Oberalp Pass at 2033 meters and then goes downhill. It touches the deepest Switzerland at the Gotthard Pass, where you can view the Rhine Gorge.

The Glacier Express passes through 291 bridges and 91 tunnels in its extraordinary journey. The train has large panoramic windows in both first and second class, and even the skylight is made of glass. In winter only one train runs per day while in summer there are four trains every day.

Insider Tip: Swiss rail passes are valid on the route, though booking a seat is mandatory. The winter train gives you the real feeling of passing through glaciers. The wine and food are really good but costly. If you want to travel cheaply, you can bring your own food.

2) Golden Pass Panoramic

This is not one but a set of three trains that will take you from the Swiss Riviera in the Canton Vaud to Lucerne in Central Switzerland, the birthplace of Switzerland.

The first train takes you from Montreux, the “pearl of Swiss Riviera”, to Zweissmen in the Saanenland. The train climbs above the palm tree-lined shores of Lake Geneva, enters a tunnel and comes out in the middle of an alpine forest, passing past mountain springs and picturesque villages. The view of the lake from the train is spectacular.

The second train takes you through the Simmental region, where the valley is narrower and the forest darker. The train follows the river Simme until it reaches Lake Thun in Bernese Oberland. You reach Interlaken. From here, the third train takes you by the shore of the emerald-coloured Lake Brienz.

The scene widens here, and you go past some fairytale towns before you reach Lucerne. By this time, you have already passed through the heart of Switzerland. The interior of these golden trains is very beautiful. There is a meal service and bar.

Insider tip: The best part of the journey is the Montreux- Zweissmen line. You can make the journey in parts. Only in high season do you have to reserve a seat in second class. The wooden interior of Golden Pass Classic makes it really worth a ride.

3)Bernina Express

This is another excellent journey in a narrow gauge train, which takes you from Chur or St. Moritz to Tirano just across the Italian border.

In four hours (from Chur), it takes you from a land of eternal snow to a land of palm trees. This winding mountain train crosses the Alps without the use of any toothed wheel. It passes 55 tunnels and 196 bridges and reaches 2253 meters above sea level.

The section between Thusis and Tirano has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highlight of the journey is the passing of the Landwasser viaduct. The Graubünden scenery that this train passes through is completely different from that experienced in the Golden Pass journey.

Though less famous, this train journey is no less beautiful than the famous Glacier Express route.

Insider Tip: Be prepared with your documents while entering Italy. You can take the bus from Tirano to Lugano to complete this journey. The bus ride is also unforgettable.

4) The Jungfrau Railway

This cogwheel train takes you from Klein Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch (3454 meters), Top of Europe. Seven of the nine-kilometer journey is through the inside of the mountain.

It climbs up the mountain through a tunnel in the mountain’s belly and covers a height difference of 1400 meters in 50 minutes. There are two stops for five minutes at Eigerwand (Eiger wall) and Eismeer (Sea of Ice). Here, you can peek out of the windows, have a view of the spectacular outside mountain world, and feel the unique experience of standing inside a mountain.

Then, suddenly, you leave the dark interior and take birth into a world of eternal ice at the Jungfraujoch. The last sudden change of scene is the most beautiful part of this journey.

Insider tip: The train ride is not covered through most Swiss passes, but pass holders will get a 25% discount. From Interlaken, one train takes you to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen, on which Swiss passes are valid. From there, you get a 50% discount on the train to Klein Scheidegg. There is an early morning discount offer for the first connection from Interlaken to Jungfrau. It is also better to take the first train to avoid the rush.

5) Centovalli Express

This little train runs in a completely different part of Switzerland, the Ticino, which is the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. It starts from the beautiful town of Locarno, passes through the Centovalli region (hundreds of valleys), and reaches Domodossola, Italy, in just two hours.

The train passes through 52 km of fascinating landscapes and beautiful Italian-influenced towns, turning and twisting on the narrow gauge track, the smallest curve radius being 50 meters. Centovalli is home to the wild Melezza River. There are many densely forested virgin valleys in the region.

The train passes through dizzying heights of viaducts, thundering waterfalls, steep wooded valleys, stone-built hamlets and forests of chestnut trees.

Insider Tip: Get down on one of the quaint, picturesque villages like Intragna or Verscio.

6) Swiss Chocolate Train

This train is a joint venture of Golden Pass Services and Cailler-Nestle. It takes you from Montreux to the medieval town of Gruyeres, where there is a chocolate factory. Once in the country of chocolates, this is a must-ride.

The package includes coffee and croissants on the train, bus transfers, a visit to the Medieval Gruyeres castle, and a visit to the Gruyeres cheese dairy and the chocolate factory.

Insider Tip: The first part of the journey gives the same beautiful views as the first train in the Golden Pass Panoramic route. The Belle époque coaches recreate the luxury of a past era.

7) Aqualino Express

This scenic train takes us from the little town of Landquart to Scuol in the easternmost part of Switzerland.

The train takes you through the charming Prattigau valley and passes the 19 km-long Vereina tunnel just after Klosters. Then, it arrives in the sun-flooded Engadin and turns left. This is a rather secluded part of Switzerland, not touched by many tourists’ fingers. The people here speak the fourth language of Switzerland, Romantsch.

Scoul boasts of a mineral Spa, the virgin beauty of a Swiss National forest and mineral water fountains. The village has beautiful art and sculpture done on many of its houses.

Insider Tip: Once you are in Scuol, don’t forget to go to its Turkish baths.

8)Wine Train

These Little yellow trains travel through the natural vineyards of the Lavaux region. These terraced vineyards are UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a ten-minute train ride from Vevey to Puidoux-Chexbres. Yet, the ride is one of the most beautiful and romantic train rides in Switzerland.

From the train, you can see the vineyards stretching on both sides and the sparkling water of Lake Geneva lying below. On a clear day, you can see the mountain ranges on the other side of the lake. The view is overwhelming.

From Chexbres, hikers can take many paths along the vineyards. There is also a train on rubber tyres from Chexbres called the Lavaux panoramic, which takes visitors through narrower paths up the vineyards.

Insider Tip: Keep your cameras and handy cams ready. The whole path is extremely photogenic. Take the left side seats for a better view.

9) Gornergrat Bahn

This is Europe’s highest open-air cogwheel railway. It departs from Zermatt and takes you to Gornergrat at 3089 meters. From there, you can climb up a few stairs to a sunny observation deck, which remains open throughout the year. There, you can have a 360-degree panoramic view of 29 four-thousand-meter peaks, including the glorious Matterhorn and the Gorner glacier, the third-largest glacier in the Alps.

The train starts its steep rise through the idyllic village of Zermatt, and then it passes through bridges, galleries, and tunnels, always keeping the Matterhorn in view. You almost feel like you can touch it.

Insider Tip: Come to Zermatt in the Matterhorn Gotthardbahn from Brig. That is the first part of the Glacier Express journey. The Gornergrat Bahn station is just close to Zermatt station.

10)Wilhelm Tell Express

The first part of this journey is on a Steamer on Lake Lucerne. It will take you to Fluelen, from where the train journey begins. The train takes you to Ticino.

It passed the awesome Reuss valley and blew round and round to gain an elevation of 1100 meters before it entered the Gotthard tunnel. On the other side of this 15 km long tunnel is the sunny Ticino region of Switzerland with its Mediterranean feel.

Here, in the Levantine Valley, the train crosses cantilevered bridges and lovely towns and reaches Bellinzona.

Insider tip: Seat reservation is mandatory. The journey is available all year round, but the winter brings out the striking contrast in the scenery while coming out of the tunnel.

Switzerland’s Train Journeys, a Must-Experience Adventure

Switzerland’s top train journeys are more than just routes connecting different parts of the country; they are experiences that capture the essence of Swiss beauty, culture, and innovation. Each journey, whether it’s the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express, or the GoldenPass Line, offers a unique perspective on the country’s diverse landscapes and engineering marvels. These train rides invite you to sit back, relax, and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of Switzerland.

As you plan your next adventure, consider including one or more of these spectacular train journeys in your itinerary. They promise not only to transport you from one destination to another but also to take you on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Switzerland’s natural wonders. Remember, these train rides are not just about the destinations they connect but about the journey itself, the memories you’ll create, and the stories you’ll have to share. So, pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready for an incredible ride through the Swiss Alps.

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