Travel by Rail in Switzerland

Plan your travel in Switzerland using the Swiss Travel System to get the most panoramic views of the country and easy city-to-city access. The Swiss are known for their chocolates and watches but many may not know that they have a superb rail system for travelers.  Those who have experienced it would say it is the best in Europe and traveling second class is like first class in other European countries (they also have a first class service).  

The Swiss travel passes are very economical when you compare them to the cost of renting a car, fuel, parking fees and road fees.  The longer you stay the better the economics with a 15-day flex pass (use it in one month) priced at $505 US at the time of this article.   The passes provide unlimited travel by rail, road(bus) and waterways, including most panorama routes and public transport in 75 towns and cities. You also get free admission to more than 490 museums on the selected days of validity and other discounts around the country. So let's explore some of the most popular train travel routes around Switzerland and start dreaming about doing it someday.

The Grand Tour Swiss Rail Route 

This route is a great way to see most of Switzerland and see many areas that you can only see by train. Covering a total of 1,280 km of panoramic railways, the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland is a must journey for those looking for the best rail adventures in the world. The route itself is not fixed and is just a suggested itinerary for travel through the country to see the best of the rail system.  You can travel all of the suggested rail routes or just part of it. The major city destinations are Zurich, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Montreaux, Zermatt, Chur, St. Moritz, Interlaken, and Lugano.  Your best option for starting this tour is to arrive by air or train in Zurich.  Some portions of the trip are on special panoramic routes and require reservations. 

If you are trying to decide on the perfect honeymoon trip that blends opportunities for culture, city exploring, nature and the romantic excitement of rail travel, the Grand Tour is worth considering for those reasons and a variety of other ones. The first is that you are letting someone else do the driving. You only need to get yourself to the station everyday that you decide to travel. Second, a honeymoon trip should be a time to relax and leave the stress of having planned a wedding behind you. Train travel is relaxing and the Swiss make it that much easier because they have an excellent record for being on time.  Third, you can be at the top of Europe one day and then exploring the Mediterranean-style atmosphere of the city of Chur another day. Spend as much time as you want at a stop with a flex pass. A perfect trip is to start your marriage by turning what was once "someday" to "my someday honeymoon" in Switzerland.

Can you resist the allure of traveling by train through the Alps?  We will get your dreams started with a travel video highlighting some of the best of the Grand Train Tour through Switzerland.

The Glacier Express 

The world famous Glacier Express is one of the best ways to explore the southern region of Switzerland while sneaking through the Alps.  The train begins and ends in either Zermatt or St. Moritz and takes approximently 8 hours. The word express and the distance traveled on this route do not correlate, primarily because you are traveling through narrow valleys, tight curves, 91 tunnels, and across 291 bridges.  The route is spectacular and a panoramic pleasure for the whole family.  Dream of taking a train from Zurich to Zermatt and spending some time skiing or hiking in the Alps with the Matterhorn in view.  After a few days of that, take a relaxing but sensory overload experience on the Glacier Express train. You have now arrived in St. Moritz famous for being a birthplace for Alpine winter holidays and the location of two winter Olympics, as well as a place for more great skiing or hiking and a city with great restaurants. 

There is no best time to travel on the Glacier Express, but many travelers say that April to June is amazing with snow-capped peaks and green valleys with spring flowers.  This train is a special train on a regular route but you can follow the same route using regular trains without the panoramic windows.  In our 5 days in Switzerland article we are taking the route from Brig to Zermatt.

If you are a train enthusiast this trip is a no-brainer to add to your Switzerand vacation plans.  You can start dreaming today and plan for that someday trip by watching the Glacier Express travel video now, save it to your dream cloud and come back to see it again and again.  Why not take that coffee break and be whisked away to the Alps on a famous train.  Remember our motto at SomedayTrips is "Dream it, Plan it, Do it"℠.  Don't you think you should be dreaming about a trip on the Glacier Express someday?

Bernina Express 

When traveling to Switzerland you will experience French influences in the west and Italian in the south.  Therefore it is no surprise that a popular 4-hour train trip can take you from Switzerland to Italy and deliver you amazing views along the way. The Bernina Express, starts in Chur which is the oldest city in Switzerland and takes you on a 7,122 km trip through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges and viaducts. You can also start the trip in Davos or St. Moritz.  Your final destination will be Tirano Italy. The trip from Switzerland is free with a Swiss travel pass but you will need to pay for your return trip to Switzerland. 

This is a perfect day trip to escape to Italy for lunch, tour Tirano and return for a late dinner in Switzerland. Not sure what to do while in Tirano?  Take a quick peak at what a 30 minute tour of Tirano would look like.  But let us be honest with ourselves, we are here for the ride and scenic views that the Bernina Express provides. Trains are romantic, exciting and take us places that you just can't see with a car. So let's get back on board and watch a travel video that highlights the experience of the Bernina Express. Watch out for clear skies to soon be filled with dream clouds for a future someday trip.

Jungfrau Train

Taking the Jungfrau train is known as the journey to the top of Europe.  It is the highest railroad station in Europe and ranks 7th in the world. Unlike the other routes featured in this article, this train ride is vertical with the only purpose being to make it to the top.  Most planning this trip will arrive by Swiss Rail to the train station in Interlaken.  From here you will take a Bernese Oberland Railway train from this popular lakeside town to higher elevations.  There are two routes and we suggest you take one up and the other on the way back down.  From Interlaken take the train to Grindelwald Grund Station and transfer to the Kleine Scheidegg station.  Alternatively, you can travel from Interlaken to Wenge and transfer to Kleine-Scheidegg.  From here you will make the one-way trip to the top on a cog railway, originally opened in 1912.  The total time from Interlaken is approximetly 2.5 hours.

The trip from Kleine-Scheidegg is 9 km of railway with 7 km of it in tunnels carved out of the rock of the Eiger and Mönch. The train will  stop for a brief 5 minutes at two intermediate stations, the Eigerwand (Eiger Wall) and Eismeer (Sea of Ice), for passengers to explore and view the fascinating mountains through large panoramic windows.  Once you are at the top you will have spectacluar views including the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Aletsch Glacier.  This is the largest alpine glacier in Eurasia covering 81 square kilometres. There are numerous other activites as well, including the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven, which is free of charge, the Ice Palace and of course winter sports because there is snow and ice here all year.  Take a further look at the journey and the views from the top in our featured Jungfrau travel video.

 

 Swiss Rail Photo Gallery

Photo Credits: Switzerland Tourism

Additional Info

  • GeoNames:
  • GeoQuality: accurate
  • Credits:
 

Join Our Newsletter

Your front row seat to the best travel videos on the planet!

Fresh travel tips, free travel images, giveaways and more...

Free Photo Edits by our Creative Director