Swiss train trips: the best of the best
Swiss train trips: the best of the best. One of the iconic bucket-list experiences in Switzerland is taking the train. There are so many options for rail travel throughout this beautiful country that you will want to see and do everything at once! However, it is best to go slowly, like so many things in sustainable travel.
Please spend a few days exploring one particular part of the country, then enjoy everything it offers.
Lucerne offers a cogwheel train to the top of the Rigi mountain, with Pilatus above the clouds in the background.
We have compiled a list of four options that we believe are among the best train trips in Switzerland to help you narrow down your choices and decide which is best for you. All four options offer breathtaking landscapes and access to some of Europe’s best places for outdoor adventures.
The Golden Pass Line, Lucerne – Montreux
One of the most popular tourist train routes is the Golden Pass Line. It begins in Lucerne, in the middle of Switzerland, and travels through three sections to Montreux. The picturesque city of Lucerne fibs among mountains and lakes amid a fairytale landscape.
The first section winds you past the Pilatus mountain from Lucerne, providing glimpses of Lake Lucerne early on and passing by Sarnersee and Lungernsee later on. From the Brünig Pass, you descend to Meiringen on a cogwheel track. Following the Hasli Valley, you will travel along Lake Brienz to Brienz. About 20 minutes later, you’ll reach Interlaken Ost (gateway to the Jungfrau railways described below).
The next part runs beside Lake Thun to Spiez, following the Aare river. You can see the pyramid-shaped Mount Niesen from here. Finally, to get to Zweisimmen, you’ll travel through the verdant Simmen Valley.
Lastly, the route reaches its most dramatic part. As you climb to the route’s highest point, you will head to Gstaad before entering French-speaking Switzerland. After traversing a stunning valley, you will reach Les Avants via a tunnel. Finally, to reach Montreux, you descend steeply with spectacular views of Lake Geneva.
The Jungfrau Railways, To Jungfraujoch
In the south, the Jungfrau Mountain range is UNESCO listed. Interlaken is the gateway town to the Jungfrau region, including the UNESCO World Heritage site Jungfrau Mountain range. You won’t find a better part of the country to enjoy stunning mountain peaks and breathtaking scenery. Here, there are interconnected railways that each offer a unique scenic view. With these railways, you can get to several towns and resorts in the region – before exploring the soaring peaks and verdant valleys on foot.
From Interlaken Ost, you can take the train to Schynige Platte, to Grindelwald, or to Lauterbrunnen. Trains lead you up into car-free mountain valleys and to breathtaking viewpoints with glorious views of the Alps. However, if you climb up to Kleine Scheidegg, you can experience the awe-inspiring journey to Jungfraujoch – Europe’s highest point. The train station stands at the highest point in Europe.
In 2001, the Jungfrau-Aletsch Region became the first Alpine UNESCO World Heritage Site. The heart of this region vanquishes by the mighty rock massifs of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, surrounded by a stunning glacial landscape. You will pass through a tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch, stopping at Eismeer to take in the impressive ice views, and finally continuing to reach the ‘Top of Europe’.
Glacier Express, Zermatt – St Moritz
Another stunning train trip is the Glacier Express. UNESCO has inscribed the route as a world heritage site. As it winds slowly through the Alps from the Matterhorn to Piz Bernina mountains, it crosses 291 bridges and 91 tunnels, connecting two of Swiss most popular ski resorts.
Each section has its unique scenery and charm. The route from Zermatt to Visp begins with a descent through the narrow Matter Valley. The Swiss Alps have their highest peaks in this region. You reach Brig via a flat stretch of road after Visp.
You will then continue east through the Upper Rhone Valley, a very narrow region at times. Finally, you reach Oberwald via a tunnel, and then your journey continues to Andermatt via Realp.
Andermatt marks the beginning of the Oberalp Pass. By the source of the Rhine, you will arrive at 2034m, the highest point of this journey. The next leg of the journey takes you along the Rhine Valley to Chur, with dramatic stretches in the Rhine Gorge – sometimes referred to as the “Swiss Grand Canyon”.
It is worth reading on to learn more about the last stage of this route and the rest of the Bernina line that will take you into Italy.
The Bernina Line – Chur – Tirano- Italy
Taking the train from Chur to St Moritz allows you to travel across the beautiful Graubunden canton from north to south. It is a spectacular route. It reaches even more altitude than the Glacier Express as it rises over the Bernina Pass. In addition to spiral loops, 55 tunnels, and 196 bridges, the route does not rely on cogwheels.
Through the Domleschg valley, you will travel to Reichenau, then south to Thusis and Tiefencastel. This region has many historical sites. Next, you will head south through a narrow valley, cross the Landwasser Viaduct, and reach Filisur before heading to the Albula tunnel. Finally, you will pass through the tunnel on your way to the high altitude Upper Engadine Valley and the town of Pontresina.
Following Pontresina, you will begin the climb up the Bernina Pass. Finally, you will pass the Lago Bianco and then reach Ospizio Bernina, at 2253 m, the highest point on the route. Many hikes start from here.
Upon reaching the Poschiavo Valley, you will descend on a series of stunning curves to Tirano across the Italian border.
The list of fantastic train trips in Switzerland is, of course, endless. However, these are our top picks based on their sheer beauty, breathtaking views, and the opportunity for green travel and outdoor recreation. Swiss train trips: the best of the best
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