Traveling by train is one of the best ways to experience Switzerland’s magnificent landscapes, and some amazing railway journeys will take your breath away.
From thrilling mountain passes to picturesque valleys, these scenic train rides in Switzerland will make a truly unforgettable journey. From the Glacier Express to the Mount Rigi Cogwheel Railway, each railroad route offers a unique insight into the beauty of this country and its varied geography.
The Glacier Express is the world’s slowest express train, but it offers incredible views as it travels through Switzerland. From start to finish, you can expect a journey that lasts about eight hours, with plenty of stops along the way.
Meandering through the picturesque Swiss Alps, the Glacier Express offers breathtaking views between St. Moritz in the east to Zermatt in the west. It passes through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges.
You can use your Swiss travel pass to travel on Glacier Express for free. Along the way, you’ll see spectacular landscapes full of snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers filled with waterfalls, and lush green meadows dotted with wildflowers in bloom.
You can also expect to pass through many traditional Swiss villages where you can stop for lunch or take some time to explore further. Don’t forget your camera – each part of the trip provides an opportunity for breathtaking photographs!
Bernina Express is a scenic train ride that travels through Switzerland and Italy. The journey begins in Chur or St. Moritz in Switzerland and ends at its final destination, Tirano, Italy. You can take in some of Europe’s most stunning scenery along the way.
Bernina Express is approximately 4 to 4.5 hours long and runs through an impressive 55 tunnels and 196 bridges. The trip also passes by lush green valleys boasting breathtaking views of glaciers and snow-capped peaks.
Tips: You can use a Swiss travel pass to travel on Bernina Express without extra cost. The pass also covers the public transport system in Switzerland, including buses, trains, and boats.
You will have plenty to keep you entertained as you travel past quaint villages such as Poschiavo Valley or St Moritz ski resort, to name a few. This offers abundant opportunities to explore more of Switzerland’s nature.
Notably, one of the main highlights is the crossing over the iconic Landwasser Viaduct bridge of the Rhaetian Railway, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
Golden Pass Line
The Golden Pass Line is a scenic train ride that takes passengers through the picturesque Swiss countryside. With its stunning alpine vistas and picturesque villages, this journey offers some of Switzerland’s most breathtaking views. It includes two premium panoramic trains: Luzern Interlaken Express and GoldenPass Express.
The entire route spans approximately 190km (118 miles). It can take about 5 hours to complete, depending on the number of stops.
The line starts in Lucerne, a charming lakeside city embraced by snow-dusted mountains. It also passes by several historical towns, such as Interlaken and Gstaad, before ending in Lake Geneva’s Montreux.
- Luzern to Interlaken – 2 hours
- Interlaken to Montreux – 3 hours 15 minutes
Tips: The best part of the route is between Zweisimmen and Montreux. Start in Interlaken (or in Bern—changing trains in Spiez) if you want to experience this section of the route alone.
Along the way, you will have plenty of opportunities to admire postcard-perfect views. For example, you can see scenic beauty, such as rolling hills dotted with wildflowers. You’ll also see quaint chalets tucked away in lush green valleys and beautiful lakes framed by towering mountain peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau on the way.
Gotthard Panorama Express
The Gotthard Panorama Express takes you through some of Switzerland’s most beautiful and dramatic scenery, with views of mountains, lakes, and old towns. The journey is half by boat and half by train, from Lucerne to Lugano in Italy.
- Slow Boat from lake Luzern to Flüelen: 3 hours.
- Train from Flüelen to Lugano: 2.5 hours.
The boat-train trip takes about 5.5 hours and covers around 200 miles. Along the way, you can enjoy picturesque views of Lake Lucerne and charming villages like Bellinzona with its fortress walls. You’ll also see the church of Wassen and pass by the famous Gotthard tunnel built in 1882. The train stops briefly at Fluelen, Wassen, Airolo, and Bellinzona.
You will also see stunning alpine landscapes as they travel along the shoreline of Lake Uri before arriving in Flüelen. From there, it’s a 2-hour ride across Ticino up to Locarno.
The Jungfrau Railway is an iconic Swiss train journey through the Bernese Alps. The exciting six-mile trip takes you from the picturesque town of Kleine Scheidegg to the highest railway station in Europe at 3454 m (11,332 feet) above sea level. You can take in breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, and alpine valleys along the way.
The journey begins at Kleine Scheidegg and takes just 35 minutes to reach its final destination at Jungfraujoch – The top of Europe. During this time, you will pass through two tunnels carved out of solid rock and make several stops along the way with unbeatable vistas.
Mount Rigi Cogwheel Railway
Mount Rigi Cogwheel Railway is one of Switzerland’s most famous scenic train rides, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps. It’s the oldest cogwheel train in Europe, operating since 1871.
It’s a journey that takes you from Vitznau on Lake Lucerne to Rigi Kulm, the summit of Mount Rigi, taking around an hour.
The Swiss Travel Pass allows you to use this railway and other public transport services throughout Switzerland. Boarding the train, you will see a stunning panoramic view as they travel through alpine meadows, forests, and villages up to the peak of Mount Rigi at 1,800 meters above sea level.
Cogwheel railway to Mount Pilatus
Mount Pilatus is a beautiful mountain in Switzerland and home to the world’s steepest cogwheel railway. This wonderful railway, known as the Cogwheel Railway, was created over 100 years ago and allowed you to reach the summit of Mount Pilatus. The journey is breathtaking as you experience some of Switzerland’s most beautiful scenery.
The Cogwheel Railway has an incredible journey that starts from Alpnachstad through Kriens and all the way up to Fräkmuntegg. The trip lasts around 30 minutes for ascending and 40 minutes for descending. This train can travel at speeds up to 12 km/h while climbing gradients of 48%.
Along the way, you can witness stunning views such as lush green valleys, glacial lakes, alpine meadows, snow-covered peaks, and more!
Frequently asked questions about Swiss trains.
Is it better to drive or travel by train in Switzerland?
Train rides in Switzerland offer a unique experience you can’t get from driving or any other form of transportation. You can enjoy scenic views, including lush meadows, snow-capped mountains, and crystal-clear lakes, while relaxing in comfortable seats with plenty of legroom.
Plus, traveling by train eliminates the need for car rental fees, gas costs, and the hassle of navigating unfamiliar roads, making it an excellent option for tourists on a budget.
With its convenient timetables and reliable service, traveling by train offers a safer and more enjoyable way to explore this beautiful country than driving does.
How much does a train ride in Switzerland cost?
Prices range from 19 CHF for a short ride to more than 500 CHF for long-distance trips across multiple regions. You can also get Swiss Travel Pass if you plan to travel extensively by train during your visit. These passes allow travelers to save money while enjoying unlimited access to all public transportation in Switzerland, including buses, trams, boats, and trains.
How fast do trains travel in Switzerland?
Trains in Switzerland travel at varying speeds, depending on the type of train and its route. Intercity express trains can reach up to 200 km/h (124 mph). Regional trains, which take you through more rural areas, have a top speed of about 100 km/h (62 mph). Scenic routes like those found along Lake Geneva or the Swiss Alps may travel at even lower speeds for optimal viewing opportunities.
Can you take a train around Switzerland?
Yes, you can take a train around Switzerland! All aboard for some of the most scenic train rides in the world. Switzerland is known for its picturesque landscapes, and by taking a train tour around the country, you can experience all of this beauty at your fingertips.
The country’s extensive railway network has been designed to make exploring easy. From mountain railways to glacier express routes and scenic journeys, plenty of options are available when planning your trip.
How to buy cheap train tickets in Switzerland?
The Swiss Travel System (STS) offers discounted train tickets that can be used throughout Switzerland, making it an ideal choice for anyone looking for affordable transportation options. STS offers various types of tickets—from single-use numbers to multi-ride passes—so travelers have plenty of options.
When purchasing STS tickets, you should look into advance purchase discounts or special deals offered by the Swiss Railways. Purchasing online is also recommended as it saves time and money compared to buying at the station. Additionally, group discounts are often available when traveling in a group. I highly recommend buying Swiss Travel Pass for a pleasant trip in Switzerland.