Exploring the Swiss Alps by train is simply extraordinary. The best way to see the scenic sights, you can sit back and relax whilst the snow-covered mountains and glistening lakes pass you. Giving you the opportunity to see all of Switzerland’s incredible natural sights, there are several routes you can choose from.
You can even opt for the Interrail Switzerland Pass, and along the way explore dozens of Switzerland’s cities including Geneva, Bern and Zurich. Whether you opt to explore the Swiss Alps for a long weekend or a week, you’ll have an unforgettable getaway.
There are numerous options to choose from with the Interrail Switzerland Pass, including from 3 days within a month for €195 to 8 days within a month for €344. Often on people’s bucket lists, the trains throughout the Swiss Alps are some of the best in the world.
There are three main routes that people typically take when travelling through Switzerland to get to Italy, which give you a chance to see the Alps along the way. These are the Simplon, the Gotthard and the Bernina routes. Each is beautiful and unique in its own right, you can choose which route suits your travel plans.
The Simplon will take you from Geneva to Milan and give you some spectacular views of the stunning Lake Maggiore. The second, the Gotthard route, will take you from Zurich to Milan and pass through the iconic Gotthard Tunnel and along the way, you’ll see beautiful lake and mountain views. The third route, the Bernina is arguably the most scenic route of the three, venturing over the Alps. Starting in either St. Moritz or Chur and ending in Tirano, you’ll get views of Lake Como when you reach Italy.
However, there’s no denying that there is one train service and route that’s perhaps the most popular with both tourists and locals visiting the Swiss Alps – the Glacier Express. And when you read on, you’ll get a taste as to why.
The Glacier Express
The ultimate way to explore the Swiss Alps by train, the route on the Glacier Express will take you from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Throughout your journey, you’ll pass through 91 tunnels and an incredible 291 bridges and see traditional alpine villages, mountain peaks and more.
Taking 8 hours, you can sit and relax with a cup of hot chocolate in hand and spend your time admiring the picturesque views. Even though it’s not the fastest route, the sights you’ll see along the way will make the journey more than worth it.
- 152 CHF (£129) 2nd class for one-way
- 268 CHF (£228) 1st class for one-way
- Glacier Express Excellence Class – 420 CHF (£357)
- 43 CHF (£36) June – Sept, one-way
- 33 CHF (£28) Spring and Autumn
- 23 CHF (£19) Winter
The Bernina Express
Even though we have previously mentioned the Bernina above, the Bernina Express train deserves another shout-out. Traversing through the alpine landscapes, it’s no secret that this is a beloved route. It also takes you past Pontresina and ascends through the Bernina Pass, a breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Bernina Express reaches a jaw-dropping altitude of 2,253m, and has 196 bridges and 55 tunnels.
- Zurich to Tirano
- 92 CHF (£82) in 2nd class
- 161 CHF (£143) in 1st class
- January + February – 20 CHF (£17)
- March, April + May – 24 CHF (£21)
- June, July, August and September – 26 CHF (£23)
- October – 24 CHF (£21)
- November + December – 20 CHF (£17)
The GoldenPass Express
Ending or starting in Lucerne, the GoldenPass route gives you the opportunity to see the Simmern Valley, Lake Geneva and the traditional resort town of Montreux. Even though it’s not a direct train like those mentioned above (to get to Montreux you have to get a connecting train at Interlaken), the sights you’ll see along the way make it worth the effort.
If you do want to travel the entire route from Lucerne to Montreux, it will take you just over 5 hours. As it’s one of the shorter routes, it’s perfect for those wanting to see the Alps, but not staying for as long as a week or so. As you unwind on the GoldenPass, you’ll see endless views of vineyards, lush valleys and mountains that look like something out of a postcard.
It’s even fully included in an Interrail Pass, meaning you can travel on the train as part of one journey through the Swiss Alps, or as a larger journey throughout Europe. However, if you’re using your Interrail Pass, don’t forget that you have to reserve a seat!
- Lucerne to Interlaken – 33 CHF (£29) 2nd class, 58 CHF (£51) 1st class.
- Interlaken to Montreux – 53 CHF (£47) 2nd class, 93 CHF (£82) 1st class.
- 1st class: 59 CHF (£52)
- 2nd class 65 CHF (£58)
Regardless of which route or train service you take, you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable time exploring the Swiss Alps by train. There really is no better way to see this awe-inspiring part of the world! Plus it’s so much more relaxing than if you were having to jump on a plane or drive a car. You can just unwind in the comfort of a train seat and spend countless hours gazing at out-of-this-world scenery.