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By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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Switzerland has long captured the imagination of travelers with its stunning landscapes, charming mountain villages, and rich cultural heritage.

While there are many ways to explore this breathtaking country, few methods are as scenic and exciting as embarking on a Swiss train tour.

Switzerland’s extensive rail system covers an impressive 3,241 miles, making it the densest train network in Europe. This means you have many routes to choose from, whether you want to explore the bustling Swiss cities or venture into the serene countryside.

From modern high-speed trains to nostalgic old-world carriages, the Swiss rail network offers a range of options to suit every taste and budget. This guide will provide all the necessary information and tips to plan your train tour of Switzerland.

So, prepare your travel gear, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

Swiss Train in the Alps, Switzerland

When Is the Best Time for a Switzerland Train Tour?

If you want to enjoy scenic train rides in Switzerland, don’t let the weather stop you. Clear skies are all you need to make the ride worth it. Snowfall and sleet during winter might obstruct your views, so make sure you check the weather in advance.

With pleasant weather, blue skies, and stunning scenery, the summer months (June to August) are an ideal time to embark on an epic train tour of Switzerland.

Springtime is also an enchanting time to ride the rails. You can simultaneously see the green valleys and snow-capped mountain peaks in April and May, giving you the best of both worlds.

If you want an extra bit of magic, September and October are perfect for admiring the colorful fall foliage.

From December to February, the snow-covered Alps and surrounding valleys create an enchanting winter wonderland.

Whenever you choose to go, check out the train timetables beforehand. Some railways aimed at tourists are closed in specific months, and others might periodically close due to heavy snowfall.

Train in snowy Switzerland's Alps

Top Tips for Switzerland Train Travel

Switzerland has one of the best railway systems in the world, making it easy to explore this fascinating country by train. Here are some tips and information to make the most of your train tour of Switzerland:

  • If you plan to travel extensively by train, consider purchasing a Swiss travel pass. It gives you unlimited travel on trains, buses, and boats throughout the country. You can choose a pass valid for specific days, ensuring that it suits your travel plans and budget.
  • Switzerland has a vast network of train routes, so planning your route is essential to ensure you don’t miss any highlights. Research the scenic routes and attractions you want to see and plan your itinerary accordingly.
Busy Train Station in Zurich
  • You can easily plan your train trips using the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) website or app. The timetable is reliable and punctual, even in more remote areas. The trains run like clockwork, so be sure to arrive at the station in time for departure.
  • Most Swiss trains have overhead storage racks and luggage compartments. Packing light is the way to go to make your journey as convenient as possible. However, if you have large bags or ski equipment, you must reserve extra space in advance or organize luggage transport.
  • There are various tour options spanning different numbers of days available. You can also tailor your tour to include all the top sights and attractions you would like to see when you visit Switzerland.
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Train on a bridge in Switzerland's Alps

Swiss Train Tour Options

With such a wide array of choices, deciding which trains and routes to take can be daunting. To help make your decision easier, here is an overview of some of the best scenic tours and routes that are definitely worth considering:

The Grand Train Tour

Do you want to experience nearly 800 miles of breathtaking scenery in one seamless journey? A Grand Train Tour combines the country’s most picturesque panoramic trains into one unforgettable route.

The route is laid out so that you can hop on and off as you please, and visit the towns and attractions of your choice.

Various tour options are available, so you can choose a grand train tour that suits your plans and preferences. These options range between six and fourteen days. Book an 8-day Grand Train Tour to make the most of the railways and explore everything this beautiful country offers.

On a Grand Train Tour, you can take trips on the most scenic panoramic trains in Switzerland. This includes the Glacier Express, the Bernina Express, the GoldenPass Line, and the train journey to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station.

Jungfraujoch, Switzerland

The Grand Train Tour has no fixed directions or time limits; you can hop off and re-board at any point. You can tailor it to your preferences, ensuring you see all the Swiss Alps’ highlights like Lake Lucerne, Interlaken, Zermatt, St. Moritz, Lake Zurich, and Lugano.

All the places you will pass on the Grand Train Tour offer a wide range of activities, including hiking, skiing, sightseeing, and shopping. You can also stay overnight at the different stops along the way, allowing you to explore even more of the country at your own pace.

Best Scenic Routes in Switzerland

Switzerland boasts many awe-inspiring scenic train rides that belong on every traveler’s bucket list. Each one comes with its own top sights, attractions, and charm, and all are guaranteed to leave you in wonder. 

No matter which route you choose, or if you choose to combine them all in a grand train tour, you will have a unique and unforgettable journey.

Here are some of Switzerland’s most famous panoramic trains you should consider for your trip.

White Snowy Alps, Switzerland

The Glacier Express

The Glacier Express is undoubtedly one of Switzerland’s most well-known scenic trains. This panoramic train boasts large windows that provide uninterrupted views of the breathtaking surroundings. It connects the luxurious resort towns of Zermatt and St. Moritz.

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This journey takes approximately eight hours and covers 181 miles, making it the slowest express train in the world. This leisurely pace lets you take in the fantastic views of the snowy mountains, valleys, and glaciers that make up the Swiss Alps.

If you board your ride on the cogwheel train in Zermatt, the journey will start with a scenic tour through the Rhone Valley, where you’ll pass by charming villages and vineyards.

From there, the train climbs and curves across the Oberalp Pass at dizzying heights up to 6,670 feet above sea level.

As the train descends from the pass into the town of Disentis, it passes through Rhine Gorge, also known as the Swiss Grand Canyon. The journey continues through the Engadine Valley, passing through Chur and ending at St. Moritz.

Throughout the journey, the train passes through over 90 tunnels and crosses over 291 bridges, offering unique and unforgettable experiences.

The Glacier Express also forms part of the Grand Train Tour. So, whichever tour option you choose, you won’t miss out on all the highlights this exciting journey offers.

Train in beautiful Swiss landscape

The Bernina Express

If you want to make the most of your train tour and see more of Europe, the Bernina Express is a great option. This scenic route runs from Switzerland to Italy and back. It allows you to experience both countries’ natural beauty, culture, and atmosphere.

The cogwheel train ride takes approximately four hours and covers a distance of around 90 miles, passing through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges.

It features large panoramic windows and an open-air observation platform where you can step out and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Alps.

If you are starting your journey in Switzerland, you will depart from historic Chur, the oldest Swiss city. It is widely considered the most beautiful Old Town in the country and has charming architecture dating back over 800 years.

From Chur, the scenic route passes through rolling hills, deep valleys, and lush countryside. It then crosses the Bernina Pass, which reaches a height of 7,391 feet above sea level, offering spectacular views of the Swiss and Italian Alps.

After crossing the border into Italy, the journey ends in Tirano, a charming town in the Valtellini Valley. It is known for its historic churches, traditional architecture, and delicious cuisine, making it well worth exploring.

If you are visiting Italy, you can book a round-trip from Milan to experience all the amazing sights this panoramic train offers.

Gotthard Panorama, Switzerland

The Gotthard Panorama Express

The Gotthard Panorama Express is a scenic route that runs between Lucerne and Lugano. The journey takes approximately five and a half hours, passing through the picturesque Swiss countryside and showcasing the Alps.

The journey includes travel by train and lake, with a cruise on a vintage paddle boat across Lake Lucerne to reach the railway station. From here, you will board the Gotthard Panorama Express with the train making stops in Flüelen, St. Gotthard, Bellinzona, and finally, Lugano.

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During the journey, you can expect to see a range of natural wonders, including majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and quaint villages. You will also pass through the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest railway tunnel.

The train only operates on Tuesdays and Sundays, from April to October. Outside these times, you can still enjoy the beautiful route on a standard train, with a change at Erstfeld. The lake section will be aboard a modern lake boat during the off-season.

GoldenPass Line, Switzerland

The Goldenpass Line

The GoldenPass Line is a scenic train connecting Central Switzerland to the Bernese Oberland and Lake Geneva region. The train features huge, awe-inspiring windows that provide a 360-degree view of the stunning Alpine vistas.

There are a variety of routes and options available on the GoldenPass Line. A good option is to book a 3-day round trip from Geneva, allowing you to explore the distinct regions. It also offers ample time to visit some of the top attractions you will pass on the journey.

A highlight of the journey is passing through the Lavaux vineyards, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its wineries and intricate terraces stretching 19 miles.

You will also pass the Swiss Riviera, sparkling frozen lakes, and the towering peaks of the French Alps.

The Swiss Alps above the clouds

The Jungfraujoch Train

A day trip to Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station, is an unmissable train journey on your Swiss adventure. It is considered one of the most scenic trains in the world.

The guided tour starts in Interlaken, where you will take a cable car from the Grindelwald Terminal to Eiger Glacier. Here, you will board a cogwheel train that will take you to the peak of Jungfraujoch.

It takes about two hours to reach Jungfraujoch, often called “The Top of Europe.” It is located at a staggering altitude of 11,332 feet and offers sweeping views of the Alps, including the famous Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau peaks.

At the top, you will have ample time to experience the breathtaking scenery and explore the fascinating Ice Palace.

There is also a lovely café and Swiss chocolate shop at the peak, where you can enjoy a sweet treat or a bite while immersing yourself in the surrounding natural splendor.

Small village in the Alps in Switzerland

Final Thoughts About Taking a Train Tour of Switzerland

Switzerland has a world-renowned, extensive train network that connects almost every town in the country. Trains are frequent, punctual, and reliable, making it a convenient way to explore the country.

With the wide variety of options available, you will surely find the perfect train adventure to suit your preferences.

Regardless of your railway, tour, or route, it will undoubtedly be an unforgettable way to experience Switzerland’s spectacular valleys, mountains, meadows, and picturesque villages.

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your travel backpack, grab your camera, and get ready to ride the rails and experience Switzerland at its best.

Tour Switzerland by Train | Explore the Swiss Railways
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2 Comments

  1. Hello,

    We are wanting to travel to Switzerland in 2025 for our 50th wedding anniversary. We may be a group of 8 adults. Would like to experience Swiss scenic rails and stay in hotels for a 10-12 day vacation from USA. Can you please sent info for the group with anticipated prices for summer of 2025. Thank you. Annette Haverly

    1. Hi Annette – I appreciate you reading the blog, but I’m not a travel agent. I suggest going to Booking.com to check the best hotel deals in Switzerland, and Trainline or Klook to get the train tickets or travel pass. Having said that, you’re too early to plan for this trip. Hotel prices won’t come up until about a year ahead of your trip, and train tickets are put on sale from several months to about a year before the travel date. I recommend waiting until 2024 to plan this trip. Hope you have a fun anniversary in Switzerland!