It’s safe to say that Switzerland is one of the most attractive countries. It’s so gorgeous that people stress over the fear of not getting to see everything this Alpine country offers. They can go for a car ride, a bus tour, a hike, a skiing holiday, and still be nowhere near ‘seeing it all.’
Worry not; we’ve got just the solution for your adventurous soul – train rides. While on a train, you’ll have a comfortable seat, a table in front of you, a large window to your side, and nothing else to do but feast your eyes on the beauty of Switzerland.
10 Best Swiss Scenic Trains
Railway transport is one of the most used forms of transportation in Switzerland. Up to 2019, the country had around 4,055 kilometers of railway lines so extensive that you can travel anywhere. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over some of the most scenic train rides in Switzerland, the sights you need to see, and the ticket prices.
The Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is considered the slowest train ride in the world. Its route connects the mountain of St. Moritz with Zermatt, crossing three different cantons, multiple bridges, and tunnels, lasting approximately eight hours.
As the train crosses the cantons of Valais, Uri, and Graubunden, passengers see some of the most breathtaking parts of Switzerland. Along the route, the Glacier Express will go through St. Moritz, the village of Zermatt, the Albula Line, the Rhine Gorge, and the Oberalp Pass.
Reservations for the Glacier Express are mandatory since it’s a huge tourist attraction and the seats are usually packed. A ticket for one person in 2nd class costs CHF 152, and CHF 268 in 1st class. As for the Excellence class, a passenger has to pay the CHF 420 reservation fee and the 1st class ticket. For more information on ticket prices, visit the official page of the Glacier Express.
The Bernina Expres
One of the most remarkable ways to cross the Swiss Alps is by boarding the Bernina Express. This train’s route goes from the town of Chur, through the Alps, and into Italy, lasting around four hours. After reaching the Italian city Tirano, you can opt for another 3 hours of bus touring and then return to Switzerland.
Passengers in this train get to experience the astonishing views of Ospizio Bernina, the highest point of the ride, lakes such as Valposchiavo and Lake Como, the Brusio Circular Viaduct, and the city of Lugano. Some of the train rides in between are almost the same as the Glacier Express, but it’s still an exceptional experience.
The Bernina Express is active from May to November, and reservations are mandatory due to the sheer popularity of this route. Without the reservation fee, a ticket for one person in the 2nd class is CHF 63, and CHF 111 in the 1st class. For more ticket information, visit the Bernina Express website.
Jungfrau Railway to Jungfrau Mountain
Jungfrau railway is known as the Top of Europe and is the highest railway in the world. Standing at 3,454 meters, the Jungfrau railway can be reached through Interlaken, Grindelwald, Grindelwald Terminal WAB, or from Lauterbrunnen. The Interlaken option is the longest one, and the route lasts from five to six hours.
The almost vertical and slow Jungfrau train ride is full of bewildering sights. Depending on which path you choose, you’ll have the chance to see Wengen, Eidgernordwand, Eismeer and lots and lots of snow. You’ll also go through ice palaces, check out souvenir shops, and see crowds of people.
Jungfrau has year-round activities, and the railway is active 365 days a year. It’s recommended to make a reservation to board the Jungfrau train due to high tourist concentrations. According to your path, ticket prices range from CHF 95 to CHF 210. For information on Jungfrau tickets, visit the official website of the railway.
The Golden Pass Line travels from the center of Switzerland to the shores of Lake Geneva. Traveling from Lucerne to Montreux, the ride consists of three separate trains and lasts about 6 hours. The trains run eight times a day on the 191km tracks throughout the year.
During the trip, passengers can see spectacular sights from the beautiful city of Lucerne to the blue waters of Lungern, Thun, and Spiez lakes. Before reaching Montreux, the train passes through Bernese Oberland, where the mountains will take your breath away, and the cute small villages will make for great photographs.
Because the trains frequently run throughout the day, you won’t need a reservation before boarding it. To complete the entire route, you’ll have to use all three trains, each with different ticket prices and reservation fees. For more information on enjoying the whole experience, head to the official Golden Pass schedule.
Luzern Interlaken Express
As the name suggests, this train route allows passengers to visit two of the most touristic cities in Switzerland, Luzern, and Interlaken. This segment also appears on the Golden Pass Line, lasting about two hours through the 98-kilometer tracks.
As you travel through the beautiful scenery, you’ll see plenty of mountains, valleys, and lakes from the train’s panoramic windows. The route goes through the Brunig Pass and goes past the mountains of Rigi, Stanserhorn, and Schilthorn. As you travel up and down, your eyes will have to be adjusted from the greens of the valleys to the whites of the mountain tops, although we suspect you’ll be looking out of your camera’s lens most of the time.
The Luzern Interlaken Express is active all year long, and you don’t have to make a reservation since it’s a regular train. According to the Swiss Federal Railway website, a ticket from Luzern to Interlaken begins from CHF 16 and upwards.
Gotthard Panorama Express
This experience is divided into two parts: the first is a boat ride from Lucerne to Fluelen, and the second is the train ride from Fluelen to Lugano. The Gotthard Panorama Express ride will take you back and forth from Lucerne to Lugano. The whole 221km route will last approximately five hours.
The staggering experience of the Gotthard Line will offer passengers the chance to see Lucerne, its lake, Bellinzona, Ospizio Bernina, and the city of Lugano. Throughout every segment of this trip, there are hundreds of sites and historical places to see and photograph, so make sure you’ve got enough storage in your camera.
This train route operates from April to October and travels once a day from Tuesday to Sunday. You’ll have to make a reservation which will cost you CHF 16, and ticket prices for the Gotthard Express range from CHF 153 if you choose first-class seats both on the train and the boat, and CHF 129 for a second class on the ship.
Cogwheel Railway to Mount Pilatus
The Cogwheel Railway in Switzerland is officially the steepest in the world as it goes up the mountain Pilatus from the village of Alpnach. The length of the trip is approximately half an hour through the 4,618-meter tracks.
Although the ride is relatively short, there’s plenty to experience both on the cogwheel and once you reach the top of the mountain. Plenty of activities await on Mount Pilatus, from having fun in the snow and skywatching on clear winter nights to camping and hiking during the summer.
The operating period for the Cogwheel Railway is from May to November. A complete trip to the top costs CHF 72 for an individual; however, you can choose where you begin your journey. For more information, visit the prices table of the railway.
Grand Train Tour of Switzerland
The Grand Train Tour is a combination of multiple train routes that go from city to city, traversing the mesmerizing country of Switzerland. With an approximate track length of 1,280 kilometers, you’ll be traveling from Zurich to Interlaken, through the Golden Pass and then from Montreux to Zermatt, jumping onto the Bernina, Glacier, Gotthard, and Voralpen expresses. For an overview of the whole journey and its length, visit here.
The Grand Train Tour encompasses many of the other routes mentioned in this article, bringing them all together for a journey through Switzerland, where you’ll see everything that makes the country so pretty. As the trains go from one city to another, you’ll have the chance to stop anywhere you want and have the time of your life.
Because the whole tour is divided into multiple train routes, ticket prices will differ for each trip segment. You can find helpful information on prices and discounts at the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn website, a railway company in Switzerland.
Gornergrat Cog Railway
The Gornergrat Cog Railway is not only a tongue twister but also a beautiful ride. The Gornergrat Railway is approximately 9 kilometers in length. From the village of Zermatt, which stands 1,603 meters above sea level, up to the top of the mountain 3,089 meters above sea level in about 30 minutes,
Although it seems like a short trip, the 30-minute ride is full of sights for sore eyes, as you’ll be seeing the Monte Rosa, the Gorner Glacier, the Matterhorn, and 29 other mountains. It’s one of the most outstanding panoramas in the world.
The train runs every day of the year. Depending on the season, individual tickets for adults cost up to CHF 88, with kids younger than 16 getting discounts. For more information on this experience, visit the official website of the railway.
Mont Blanc Express
The Mont Blanc Express connects the city of Martigny with the town of Chamonix. In the 1364m ascend, you’ll definitely see spectacular sights and spend a fantastic hour and a half simply healing your eyes.
During the trip, passengers have the chance to see vineyards through their window, the Rhone Valley where the train begins to climb until it reaches the Trient Gorge, and through multiple exciting bridges, catch a glimpse of Mont Blanc and make it to the Chamonix valley.
The train is operative all year long. According to the Swiss Federal Railway website, individual ticket prices begin from CHF 30.
For those who like the sound of railways and the choo-choos of engines, Switzerland is a great country to live out your dreams. From Switzerland’s mountain trains to the network of railways that connect cities, it’s always lovely to look at the beautiful Alpine scenery. So, reserve your seat, grab some chocolate, and ride a train into the sunset.