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The most beautiful Swiss rail journeys

Switzerland is known the world over for its delicious chocolate, incredible scenery and epic rail journeys. And all of these things form an essential part of any travels in Switzerland: imagine sitting back in a comfortable carriage eating delicious chocolate while looking out at incredible mountain and lake views.

This daydream is not so out of reach... In fact, we offer a number of awesome rail journeys around this tiny but mountainous country. But with so many to choose from, what are the best rail journeys for you?

Bernina Express

The Bernina Express, along with the below Glacier Express, are probably the most famous journeys in Switzerland and rightly so. This journey takes you through some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery that Switzerland has to offer and all in just four hours! The highest altitude train journey in Europe, this route is the only one in Switzerland that crosses the alps without the use of any tunnels - meaning that it is also home to some of the steepest rail lines in Europe. But never fear, Swiss engineering is at its finest on the various train routes around the country and the Bernina Express route is no exception. This journey encompasses 196 bridges from Zurich to the high altitude peaks of Chur to the palm-fringed lake of Tirano before picking up the scenic coach to Lugano.

Highlight:

The sweeping views of inaccessible areas in the Swiss Alps, where locals speak Romansh, the little spoken fourth language of Switzerland.

You can experience this trip on...

Ultimate Swiss Rail Adventure from Lucerne to Zermatt
Bernina Express from Lugano to St Moritz
Grand Train Tour in a loop from Zurich

Glacier Express

Stretching 274km between Zermatt and St Moritz, the Glacier Express is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Over seven hours, admire primeval forests, deep gorges with rushing rivers, views of the Matterhorn and other dramatic crags soaring above until suddenly you are among them, crossing the Oberlap Pass at a staggering 2,033m above sea level. Some of the inclines on the 'world's slowest express train' are so steep that the drinking glasses on board have been tailored with a tilt to avoid any mishaps. Whether you are in first or second class, the panorama wagons with glass all the way up across the ceiling allow for sensational views that will stay with you long after your journey ends.

Highlight

Despite the 91 tunnels along the way, the Glacier Express route shows off Switzerland's nature at its finest with many 'pinch-me-is-this-real' views and some truly daring feats of engineering - whether that be some of the 291 bridges or the incredibly steep inclines taken very slowly as you near the Pass.

You can experience this trip on...

Ultimate Swiss Rail Adventure from Lucerne to Zermatt
Glacier Express from  St Moritz to Zermatt
Grand Train Tour in a loop from Zurich
Deluxe Switzerland from Sils-Maria to Bern

Golden Pass Line

The Golden Pass line spans from Lucerne to Montreux via Interlaken over 191km. It runs alongside lakes, the Brunig Pass, the Giessbach waterfalls, Lake Thun and then finally descends into the gorgeous valley near Montreux above Lake Geneva. Look out for classic Swiss chalets nestled into the verdant greenery or pristine snowy fields of the land around you.

Highlight

You can choose to embark on the Golden Pass Line in either a modern train carriage with panorama windows, or the Golden Pass Classic, a throwback to classic rail travel with Belle-Epoque era carriages.

You can experience this trip on...

Tops of Switzerland - Golden Pass Line from Interlaken to Lucerne
Grand Train Tour in a loop from Zurich
Swiss Food Trail from Lucerne to Montreux
Swiss Museum Trail from Lausanne to Bern

The Chocolate Train

Did someone say chocolate? That delicious treat, perfected by the Swiss in the 19th century. This iconic rail journey brings together the best of Swiss food - chocolate and cheese - for a deliciously fun day on the tracks. From Montreux, the train takes you to Gruyères, the home of the renowned cheese for a delicious lunch stop. Hop back on board and it's off to Broc, home of the Cailler-Nestle chocolate factory. You can choose from a modern panoramic carriage or Pullman Belle Epoque style carriage.

Highlight

Chocolate + Cheese + Romantic Rail Travel + Epic Scenery = HEAVEN.

You can experience this trip on...

Swiss Food Trail from Lucerne to Montreux

Jungfraujoch

From Lauterbrunnen Valley all the up, up, up to the highest altitude train station in Europe, this train trip truly has you feeling as though you are on top of the world. Jungfraujoch sits at 3,454m above sea level and is accessed through a long steep mountain tunnel - this one is not for those afraid of heights! There were many hardships in creating this route which is well documented at the interesting museum as you get off the train.  Incredibly, this line was opened in 1912, the Swiss once again railway pioneers.

Highlight

The views of the glaciers and mountains surrounding you are magnificent. But remember to take it slowly with deep breaths of the fresh mountain air - you are 3,454m up after all and altitude sickness can strike down anyone (there are face masks with oxygen available for purchase if necessary).

You can experience this trip on...

Tops of Switzerland - Golden Pass Line from Interlaken to Lucerne
Grand Train Tour in a loop from Zurich

Gotthard Panorama Express Route

The Gotthard Pass has been significant in Swiss history for centuries. Christened in 1236 after the Roman Catholic Saint Gotthard of Hildesheim, what was once simply a mule track in the 1200s is now an extremely windy road, an 1882 rail tunnel and a revolutionary modern base tunnel opened in 2016. The Gotthard Panorama Express route begins in Lucerne, where you board the Wilhelm Tell paddle steamer to Fluelen, where a train meets you to continue your journey through the old Gotthard Tunnel and to Ticin (Lugano). The Gotthard Tunnel was built in 1882 at the cost of at least 200 lives over the decade it took to build. But it transformed Switzerland, allowing the north and south to connect with a 15km tunnel directly through the mountain pass. What had once been a lengthy and arduous journey became a simple train ride - the most modern and technically advanced journey of its time.

Highlight

The Panorama Express earns its name with great views of the Gotthard Pass scenery that have inspired many an international and local artist, including the precarious bridges, such as Devil's Bridge.

You can experience this trip on...

Ultimate Swiss Rail Adventure from Lucerne to Zermatt
Gotthard Panorama Express from Lugano to Lucerne
Grand Train Tour in a loop from Zurich


Let's start planning your Swiss rail adventure together! Contact your Tempo Holidays agent today.