There is no better way to experience the steep mountain passes, plummeting waterfalls, vibrantly blue glacial lakes, and rolling hills scattered with wildflowers of Switzerland than a journey via Switzerland's scenic trains. Traveling through the Alps by train is the perfect way to enjoy the otherwise hard-to-reach landscapes and balance unforgettable sightseeing in the rugged terrain with the understated luxury of Swiss culture.
Tourists can sip a glass of wine while winding through the constantly changing landscapes on the routes that make up the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. Traveling across the diverse country via train is an incredible choice for visitors who wish to experience all of Switzerland's natural wonders. Each unique train trip will take travelers through the gorgeous landscapes and architecturally diverse cities in comfort and style.
The Bernina Express
The Bernina Express train route begins in Tirano, Italy. It passes through the ever-changing landscapes until it reaches Chur, Switzerland, with plenty of stops in unforgettable towns like glamorous St. Moritz and picturesque Pontresina. From the palm trees of Italy to the glaciers of the Swiss Alps, travelers will be delighted by the beautiful landscapes during their ride on the Bernina Express.
The train runs in both directions, and the entire ride takes around 4 hours to complete. The Bernina Express will take travelers through breathtaking alpine landscapes on a terrifyingly winding track that extends upwards into some of Switzerland's most rocky and wild terrain.
The train reaches an incredible altitude of 2253 meters and includes spiral loops, 55 tunnels, and 196 bridges. The Bernina Express covers one of the steepest railways in the world. It's so incredible that in 2008 the route from Thusis to Tirano was named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.
Making seat reservations well in advance for the Bernina Express is recommended, and splurging for the first-class experience is strongly encouraged. In addition to the best seats, guests will receive personal dining service while onboard, the most delicious mountain herbal tea, and several other fun giveaways like a train-shaped tin full of Swiss chocolate.
The Glacier Express
The Glacier Express offers one of the most luxurious and incredible train rides in Europe. Stretching from the exclusive winter resort town of St. Moritz to Zermatt and the Matterhorn, it passes by some of Switzerland's most iconic sights. The thrilling ride heads straight through the cliffs of the Rhine Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Switzerland.
The panoramic cars feature floor-to-ceiling windows with glare-free glass, offering plenty of opportunities for photographers to get the perfect shot. For those who like guided tours, the Glacier Express provides an excellent audio tour in many languages, including English, Italian, German, and French, which explains the history and significance of each landmark along the way.
The entire route takes about 8 hours, so many riders choose to stop for a night or two in scenic hotels at one of the fantastic towns in Switzerland to break up the journey. For those who decide to make a day trip out of it, it's worth booking first class. The Glacier Express first-class cars come with a personal concierge and upscale dining experiences. Guests can even choose to book a delicious three, four, or five-course meal ahead of time.
The Goldenpass Line
Switzerland's Goldenpass Line features three excellent routes on three different trains. Travelers can hop on for rides from Montreux to Zweisimmen, from Zweisimmen to Interlaken Ost, and from Interlaken Ost to Lucerne. Regardless of the route, The Goldenpass Line rewards travelers with one of the best train rides of their lives with stunning views of the Alpine peaks, sparkling blue glacial lakes, and some of the most impressive examples of traditional Swiss chalets in the country.
Gotthard Panorama Express
History buffs and nature enthusiasts will love a journey on the Gotthard Panorama Express from Ticino to Lucerne. On the exciting trip, passengers will experience the Mediterranean vibes of the South and move through the heart of the country before climbing high into the Alps. Travelers will feel like they are being transported back in time as they pass through the historic Gotthard tunnel built-in 1882.
Employees on the Gotthard Panorama Express are well versed and will entertain passengers with stories about history and legends surrounding the train and the famous route. The entire journey takes about 5 hours and 30 minutes, with options to stop along the way for various excursions like Lake Lugano or the Castles of Bellinzona. Delicious meals and snacks are available for purchase throughout the journey.
For travelers who want to sit back and relax in refined luxury while taking in the breathtaking scenery of Switzerland, a trip via the scenic trains is a must. History buffs, luxury travelers, and nature enthusiasts alike will find the experience delightfully thrilling. Scheduling plenty of stops along the way ensures a well-balanced trip of sightseeing and cultural immersion. It takes about eight days to complete the entire tour, with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the beautiful cities and villages throughout the trip. Travelers who want nothing less than the adventure of a lifetime need only hop on board one of Switzerland's magnificent scenic trains!