Which is the Most Scenic Train Ride in Switzerland?
On average the Swiss travel by train more than anyone else in the world, and is home to both the world’s largest rail tunnel and the highest railway station in Europe (which sits at a spine-chilling height of 3,454 metres). With all these tracks to keep track of, how do you decide which of the many stunning train rides through Switzerland are worth your time? The answer is simple - you read this blog.
Why travel by train in Switzerland?
Train is the method of transport that really allows visitors to take in the sights of Switzerland the way they’re meant to be viewed - at a comfortable pace, and with the freedom to disembark in any enchanting location you happen upon. Few people would pass down the opportunity to cruise through snowy mountains and alpine villages that look like they’ve been pulled straight from a storybook. But Swiss train journeys aren’t only famed for the views - Swiss trains are well-maintained and comfortable, and present an eco-friendly alternative to travelling the country by car (not that cars can get you very far in the mountains).
From the luxurious and modern GoldenPass Express, to the historic Jungfrau Railway, if you’re wondering which is the best scenic train ride for Switzerland-bound travellers, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our shortlist.
Our contenders for the best train ride in Switzerland
The Jungfrau Railway may be more than 100 years old, but its appeal is ageless and evergreen. Taking visitors to the highest European train station and back, it utilises hybrid technology to generate and store power as it brakes when travelling downhill. This means that with every four trains that go down enough power is produced to send one back up.
Despite literally travelling through the mountains via tunnels (80% of the journey is spent in tunnels), there’s still the opportunity to take in the sights - in fact, viewing windows have been carved into the mountside for travellers to enjoy as they pass through. And, at the top, there’s a glass viewing platform and observation hall to be enjoyed - so long as you don’t have vertigo.
The Bernina Express
On its way from Chur (Switzerland) to Tirano (Italy), the Bernina Express passes through an incredible 55 tunnels and crosses a staggering 196 bridges. The Bernina line was declared a World Heritage Site in 2008 and is one of the most popular train journeys in the country - which means a lot in a country where train travel is so beloved.
Travelling the Bernina line takes just over four hours, and while there isn’t a dining car there are lots of opportunities for good meals at either end of your trip. It runs from May to December, and reservations are mandatory.
The Golden Pass Line
A relatively new Swiss railway journey, the Golden Pass Line will see you from Lucerne to Montreaux in five to six hours. Included as part of a Swiss Travel Pass, this luxury line splits the journey into three distinct sections and is already being heralded as a must-do activity for anyone travelling to Switzerland.
You don’t technically need to reserve a seat for the Golden Pass Line, but it is recommended during peak times in the busier seasons. With a Swiss Travel Pass you can disembark and resume your journey in any of the locations you pass through, which is great for sightseeing - though if you book a spot on the VIP Panoramic Car you’ll see plenty from your seat.
Gotthard Panorama Express
At 57km, the Gotthard Tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the world, and the Gotthard Panorama Express will take you on this unmissable journey. It starts by steamboat in Lucerne, crossing the water to Flüelen before boarding the train that will take you to the sunkissed south of Switzerland.
Complete with a deliciously stocked dining car and an audio guide to give background details on the sights you’re seeing, this is a truly immersive and luxurious travel experience. Less about snowy terrain, and more for lovers of historical landmarks and buildings, this journey passes the same church three times thanks to the winding tracks.
The Glacier Express
Connecting the picturesque alpine town of Zermatt to St. Moritz, the Glacier Express may move at what some consider to be a glacial pace, but the sights along the way are more than worth it. Huge windows, many of which open, provide the chance for breathtaking views and the perfect picture. On this journey you’ll see the incredible Oberalp Pass, the Rhône river, and cross the impressive Landwasser Viaduct.
Reservations need to be made in advance for the Glacier Express even with a travel pass, and it’s recommended that you stay onboard for the entire seven and a half hours instead of hopping off and on. It’s definitely a journey taken for enjoyment, and not one to opt for if you’re in a rush to get anywhere.
It’s a tough decision to make, but if we have to provide an answer to what is the best train ride in Switzerland we would opt for the Glacier Express - a true example of slow and steady winning the race. This train ride is all about taking your time and taking in the sights in comfort and at leisure - and the surroundings could not be more picturesque. Zermatt is known for its mountains, both for climbing and skiing, but there are few ways to enjoy the landscape as relaxing as a ride aboard the Glacier Express.
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Do you agree with our list? Maybe you want to try some of these trips for yourself the next time you book a ski holiday. If you’re a frequent visitor to the Alps and are thinking about investing in a home away from home, we have a wide range of chalets and apartments in some of the most desirable locations this region has to offer. To find out more about how our alpine real estate experts can help you to set up base in the place of your dreams, get in touch with our team today.