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Hands down! 10 Most scenic train rides in Switzerland

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One of the amazing ways to soak in mountain views is not to get distracted with the driving and focus on the road. These 10 handpicked scenic train rides in Switzerland will show you how easy it is to travel, and share (or reduce) the carbon footprint.

European countries boast of a reliable train network and in certain destinations, it just takes travel to the next level – where you can drool at the mountains, lakes, and fairy-tale towns in the comfort of your seat. And in many ways, this is the best way to explore Swiss towns and their countryside. 

10 Most scenic train rides in Switzerland to take your breath away

Scenes from Most Scenic train rides in Switzerland
Most Scenic train rides in Switzerland

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This is a collaborative post curated with the help of travelers/bloggers from across the globe – names and links can be found under each scenic train ride. 

How to plan and enjoy a scenic train ride in Switzerland

Switzerland is located in central Europe and it is surrounded by 5 countries – Austria and Liechtenstein to the east, France to the west, Italy to the south, and Germany to the north.

The capital of Switzerland is Bern. Click to read about the beautiful places to visit in Switzerland 

To prepare for your trip to Switzerland, here are some important tips. 

  • Travel Documents and Schengen Visa: Switzerland doesn’t belong to the European Union, but it follows the Schengen agreement, which means if you require a visa to visit the Schengen list of countries then you will also need one for Switzerland. EU nationals are visa-exempt. Citizens of the US and Canada can stay up to 90 days without a visa. However, after 2022, an online authorization called eTIAS is required. 
  • Currency: Swiss Francs are the official currency in Switzerland. Euros are rarely accepted but if they do change will be returned in Swiss Francs.  Credit cards are widely used. 
  • Universal Travel Adaptor: Don’t forget to pack your universal adaptor 
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes are a MUST for your trip. Click here to buy my favorite pair from KEEN
Looking outside the window enjoying the Best train rides in Switzerland
Best train rides in Switzerland

Recommended Small Group tour: Best Train rides in Switzerland 

If you are traveling solo or don’t wish to plan and manage bookings, consider booking a guided multi-day with G Adventures or Intrepid Travel (via TourRadar). G Adventures has many small group tours on offer. These tours are conducted with 10-15 like-minded people and it includes transportation and accommodation, with some paid meals.

Sometimes heading on a group tour for solo travelers is much more convenient, safer, and also cheaper if you are on your own. Here is a small group tour to Switzerland, with other countries via the Glacier Express Train. 

TourRadar runs sales on their site for various tour packages. 

Swiss Travel Rail Pass

Throughout the article, you will notice that we mention a Swiss Travel Pass, this is a savings card that will help you save on train rides throughout Switzerland. You can purchase the pass online and download it on your phone, prior to your trip. You can choose a card, based on your length of stay in Switzerland. And of course enjoy unlimited rides during this time, including scenic panoramic train rides. 

Two other travel savings card, worth considering are the Swiss Half and Eurail/Interrail Travel Pass

  • Swiss Half Fare Card: This is another transport savings card for exploring Switzerland in a budget-friendly way, for long term stays. It provides a 50% discount on unlimited tickets to regular and premium trains, buses, and boats. Open ticket, and valid for one month. Click to view prices on the Swiss Half Fare Travel Card.
  • Eurail/Interrail Global Travel Pass: This open ticket rail pass is great for exploring Europe. It provides unlimited train rides for consecutive or flexible days to visit over 40,000 destinations across 33 countries in Europe, including Switzerland. You can read all about this travel pass here
Scenic rides in Switzerland
Scenic rides in Switzerland

The Glacier Express

Glacier Express > Starts in St Moritz > Landwasser Viaduct > Rhine Gorge > Oberalppass > Zermatt/Matterhorn

Duration: 8 hours

The Glacier Express, the ‘slowest fast train in the world’, is not only one of the most scenic train rides in Switzerland but is also one of the great railway journeys of the world. 

The scenery over the course of its 300km, the eight-hour journey is spectacular. Staring in St Moritz, in Eastern Switzerland, it takes in the Landwasser Viaduct, with its six graceful stone arches, and the dramatic Rhine Gorge,  before reaching the Oberalppass, which is the highest part of the journey at 2033 m.  

Views from the Glacier Express - one of the most scenic train rides in Switzerland
Contributed by Bridget at The Flashpacker

The Glacier Express’s final approach to Zermatt takes you through larch woods and the vineyards of the Valais region, with tantalizing glimpses of the mighty Matterhorn.

As with other Swiss trains, this is not a cheap ride: current ticket prices are 152 CHF for second class, 268 CHF for a first-class ticket. In addition to these ticket prices, there is a compulsory seat reservation fee from 33 – 43 CHF depending on the season.

The seat reservation fee for the recently introduced Excellence Class is an eye-watering 420 CHF.

However, the good news is the Glacier Express is included in the Swiss Travel Pass and the Interrail / Eurail pass, subject to payment of the seat reservation fee. 

Whilst on-board, take advantage of the at-table dining service. For 45 CHF you can feast on a three-course lunch as you journey past epic landscapes, which is train travel at its very best.

Note
Glacier Express is open all year round. 

Current ticket prices are 152 CHF for second class, 268 CHF for a first-class ticket. In addition to these ticket prices, there is a compulsory seat reservation fee from 33 – 43 CHF depending on the season. Save with the Swiss Travel Pass

Places on this train ride include

  • Saint Moritz: Known for hosting the Winter Olympics twice, Saint Moritz is known for its world-class ski resorts. 
  • Landwasser Viaduct: A popular symbol of Swiss scenic railways, the Landwasser Viaduct is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a single-track, 6-arched railway viaduct. 
  • Rhine Gorge: Often referred to as the Swiss Grand Canyon, the Rhine Gorge has one of the most stunning landscapes in Switzerland. 
  • Zermatt and Matterhorn: Located in southern Switzerland, Zermatt is the gateway to the iconic Matterhorn. 
Glacier Express
Glacier Express

 


Bernina Express

Bernina Express > Chur (or St Moritz) > Tirano, Italy 

Duration: 4 hours

The Bernina Express is a railway route that connects the town of Chur in eastern Switzerland, with the town of Tirano, in the Province of Sondrio, Italy, via the Bernina Pass.

The Bernina Express train journey is an experience like no other, with stunning huge windows, you can admire the stunning landscape and appreciate its variations from high alpine scenery on the Bernina Pass to a Mediterranean atmosphere, palm trees, and snow!

Bernina Express most scenic train rides in Switzerland
Bernina Express

And all within a couple of hours – the entire train journey takes about 4 hours and touches the 2 countries – Switzerland and Italy. The train also runs along the World Heritage Site known as the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina.

Considered as a scenic sightseeing train, Bernina Express is very popular all year round, hence reservation is required. Both 1st and 2nd class coaches have large panoramic sealed windows all the way to the roof.

Other amenities on the train include free wifi and snacks. The train route is not escorted by a tour guide, you are on your own and you would be able to get off at any of the stops along the route. However, keep in mind that the Bernina Express trains require reservations, so you would have to book your tickets accordingly.  

Note
Tickets start at 30 CHF. A reservation fee –  CHF14 in summer (CHF10 in winter) is required. Learn more about the Bernina Express Tour

Places on this train ride include

  • Saint Moritz: One of the starting points of the Bernina Express, it is known for hosting the Winter Olympics twice. It is also home to some of the popular ski resorts in Switzerland.
  • Chur: Chur is a stunning Alpine city, which is known for its pretty car-free old town. The Brambrüesch aerial cableway in the city opens up to panoramic views and winter ski slopes. From Chur, the Bernina Express train crosses the Alps into Italy.
  • Tirano: Tirano is located near the Switzerland-Italy boundary. With pristine views of the Alps on the Red Train, Tirano is now a known name in the scenic train rides list! 

Brienz Rothorn Bahn

Brienz Rothorn Railway > Starts in Brienz (near Interlaken) > all the way to the summit of the Brienzer Rothorn

Duration: 1 hour

The Brienz Rothorn Bahn is one of the most scenic train rides in Switzerland. Starting in the picturesque town of Brienz, not far from Interlaken, the historic steam railway chugs its way up the Rothorn mountain to the summit at 2,350 meters above sea level.

Not only is the Brienz Rothorn Bahn a steam-driven rack railway, but it is also unique in that the engine pushes the carriages rather than pull them!

Contributed by Carolyn of Holidays to Switzerland

The Brienz Rothorn Bahn has been operating for more than 100 years and whilst today’s passengers travel in a little more comfort than they probably did a century ago, the carriages still provide the same stunning views.

As the train ascends the mountain, passengers can enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Brienz, the Bernese Alps and pretty alpine pastures from the train’s panoramic, fully-opening windows.  The entire journey, which covers 4.7 miles, takes just under an hour.

At the summit, there are a couple of restaurants to choose from and a number of hiking trails, if you fancy a bit of exercise.  Or just sit and breathe in the fresh alpine air and admire the incredible vistas.

Note
The Brienz Rothorn Bahn operates between early June and late October each year. 

Regular round trip adult fares are CHF 92 but Swiss Travel Pass and Swiss Half Fare Card holders travel for half price.

Click to buy

Places on this train ride include

  • Lake Brienz: Lake Brienz is a scenic lake, located north of the Alps. The popular Swiss town of Interlaken is situated between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. 
  • Views of the Bernese Alps and Interlaken

Schynige Platte Railway

Schynige Platte RailwayWilderswil (near Interlaken) > views of Lakes Thun and Brienz

Duration: <1 hour

Located in Switzerland’s scenic Jungfrau region, a journey on the Schynige Platte Railway takes you back in time as well as through some of the country’s most stunning landscapes. 

The route runs from Wilderswil, close to Interlaken, to the Schynige Platte viewpoint at 1420 meters above sea level. This traditional cogwheel railway is the oldest in the region, and passengers were originally carried by steam train when it opened in 1893. 

Schynige-Platte - most scenic train rides in Switzerland
Contributed by Lucy from On the Luce

In 1914 they were changed to electric locomotives, and those same trains are still used on the line today, complete with vintage wooden bench seats and conductors in 19th-century-style uniforms.

At just 7.3 kilometers and under an hour in duration, it might be one of the shorter Swiss scenic train rides, but it packs a lot in along the way. The steep 25% incline means it slowly zig-zags its way uphill, giving you plenty of time to soak up the scenery, with dense forests, flower-filled Alpine meadows, mountain peaks, and panoramas of Lakes Thun and Brienz below. 

Make sure to sit on the right of the train on the way up for the best views. And once you reach the top there’s a network of hiking routes to get out and explore the mountains.

Note
The Schynige Platte Railway runs from the end of May until the end of October, with departures around every 40 minutes from Wilderswil.

A return ticket costs CHF 64, with a 50% discount for Swiss Travel Pass holders or 25% off with an Interrail/Eurail pass.

Places on this train ride include

  • Wilderswil: The village of Wilderswil is located just 5 minutes from Interlaken. It is a quintessential Swiss resort town, just like its neighbor Interlaken; and offers amazing views, outdoor recreation options, and convenient connections to many of central Switzerland’s top attractions. 
  • Views of Interlaken, Lake Thun, and Lake Brienz

Mount Rigi Cogwheel Train 

Mount Rigi cogwheel train > Starts in Vitznau (45 minute train ride from Lucerne) > Rigi Kulm 

Duration: 30 minutes

Switzerland is home to innumerable charming train rides in the mountains, but did you know which was the first of these magical trains? Head on to Mount Rigi to travel on Europe’s oldest mountain railway!

The cogwheel train that takes you on a steep ride up to the Queen of the Mountains is a trip we recommend to everyone visiting Switzerland – it’s just so beautiful!

Contributed by Smita from My Faulty Compass

As you head up the mountain in the train, you see the expanse of Lake Lucerne stretched out below you – so breathtakingly spectacular that no pictures could ever do it justice. You cross lush green, flower-covered pastures with cows grazing over them, with only the sound of tinkling cowbells around you.

During the winter season, this is replaced by incredible views of untouched snow. Further up, you can see more lakes and mountains – it almost feels like you’re in an aircraft flying low above the ground!

The Mount Rigi cogwheel train is a relatively short ride – about 30 minutes, but every minute is very photogenic!

The train starts from Vitznau and goes all the way up to Rigi Kulm, the peak of this mountain. Vitznau is located very close to Lucerne and you could take a train (~45 minutes) or a ferry (~1 hour) to get there. The ferry is hands down the best way to get to Vitznau – you get to enjoy the spectacular Lake Lucerne from up close!

Note
The return ticket on this train costs 36 CHF but do you know what the best part is? It’s FREE with the Swiss Pass! The entire journey from Lucerne, including the ferry and the cogwheel train, is completely covered with the Swiss Pass!

Places on this train ride include

  • Views of Lake Lucerne: One of the scenic lakes in central Switzerland and also the fourth largest in the country.
  • Vitznau: Vitznau lies at the foot of Mount Rigi, and is located in the Canton of Lucerne. It is known as an idyllic resort town, with close access to Lake Lucerne. 
  • Mount Rigi: Mount Rigi is also located in central Switzerland, and it is surrounded by the waters Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug, and Lake Lauerz, making it ever so pretty and picturesque.

Europe’s Highest Open-air Cog Railway to see Matterhorn

Zermatt > Gornergrat 

Duration: 33 minutes 

Wish to see the iconic Matterhorn? From Montreux or Zurich, it is an easy train ride to Zermatt, where you have to go to see the famous Matterhorn. 

From Zermatt, which is a pretty ski town, with all that entails, there’s a “cog” train that chugs up the mountain to Gornergrat, where you get an up-close and straight view of the famous Matterhorn

The train is Europe’s highest open-air cog railway and brings passengers from Zermatt station (1,620 m) to the summit of the Gornergrat, 365 days a year. The ride takes 33 minutes and involves a vertical climb of 1,469 meters. There are stops at four ski areas on the way up.

Matterhorn-zermatt train
Contributed by Tom from Travelpast50

That train leaves from the station right across the street from the main Zermatt station. The line is not part of the Swiss rail system, so neither the Eurail nor the Swiss Pass works for the return fare, although with a Swiss Pass you get a 50 percent discount. The non-discounted fares from Zermatt to Gornergrat vary by season from 80 to 118 Swiss Francs (82 to 121 USD.)

The Matterhorn is one of the last great mountains to be climbed. The first recorded ascent of its sheer sides was by the famed English mountaineer Edward Whymper in 1865. Whymper was also responsible for the first ascents of many peaks of the Andes.

A little known fact: the south face of the mountain is actually in Italy.

Note
The regular train fares from Zermatt to Gornergrat vary by season from 80 to 118 Swiss Francs (82 to 121 USD). The line is not part of the Swiss rail system, so neither the Eurail nor the Swiss Pass works for the return fare, although with a Swiss Pass you get a 50 percent discount.

Places on this train ride include

  • Zermatt and Matterhorn: Zermatt is located in southern Switzerland, and is known as a ski resort town. The iconic Matterhorn can be seen from the lanes of Zermatt.  
Zermatt in 7 days in Switzerland Itinerary
Zermatt Switzerland

Interlaken to Jungfraujoch Scenic Train Ride in Switzerland

Interlaken > Bernese Oberland Railway to Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald > Wengernalp rack railway > Kleine Scheidegg > Jungfrau Railway to the Jungfraujoch > Top of Europe

Duration: Varies

In the Bernese Alps, the Jungfraujoch is a glacial saddle on the Aletsch Glacier that connects the Jungfrau and Mönch mountains (both are peaks of over 4000 m high). The Jungfraujoch itself is 3,466 m (11,371 ft) above sea level. This stunning region is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area and located on the boundary between Bern and Valais.

Visitors have been accessing the Jungfraujoch by train since 1912 by traveling to the Jungfraujoch railway station, which at 3,454 meters (11,332 ft) is the highest railway station in Europe. The station sits below the Sphinx Observatory, which is one of the world’s highest astronomical observatories with a viewing platform where you can gaze at the Aletsch Glacier.

The Top of Europe building has restaurants and cafes with panoramic views. There are tunnels leading to the Ice Palace, with sculptures, and outdoors onto the glacier, where you can do activities like skiing and hiking.

You can get to the Jungfrau via Interlaken. Travel from Interlaken Ost station on the Bernese Oberland Railway to Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald then change trains to the Wengernalp rack railway and go to Kleine Scheidegg.

From Kleine Scheidegg, board the Jungfrau Railway to the Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe. The train stops at Eigerwand (Eiger Wall) and Eismeer (Sea of Ice) Stations, where the views are amazing.

Note
The journey from Interlaken-Ost takes about two hours. Ticket prices from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch cost CHF210.

Places on this train ride include

  • Interlaken: Interlaken is known as the town of two lakes – Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, both of which oozes emerald colors. It is located in central Switzerland in the mountainous Bernese Oberland region. 
  • Lauterbrunnen: Lauterbrunnen is a gorgeous Swiss village, located just an hour away from the capital city of Bern. It is one of those fairytale-like towns in Switzerland with pretty houses, surrounded by waterfalls. Lauterbrunnen is also known as the valley of 72 waterfalls. It is convenient to access the Bernese Alps – the Jungfrau from Lauterbrunnen.  
  • Grindelwald: Grindelwald is another idyllic Swiss village, which is a popular getaway to the Bernese Alps, and the Jungfrau Region. 
  • Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe: Jungfraujoch is home to the highest train station in Europe “top of Europe”, and it connects the glacial pass and mountain peaks of the Jungfrau and the Mönch mountains. 

Arosa Line – Rhaetian Railway – An alternative to the Bernina Express

Chur, Switzerland’s oldest city > Resort town of Arosa (similar to the Bernina Express, but the trip starts and ends in Switzerland). 

Duration: 1 hour

Switzerland is famous for its amazing mountain landscapes and the best way to take them all in is by taking a scenic train ride. You must have heard of Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Gornergrat Railways, etc. Well, all of these are fabulous rides, but here is a little secret – they are not the best that Switzerland has to offer.

As a Swiss local, let me tell you there’s a little red train that very few people know about – similar to the Bernina Express – that offers similar views but for a fraction of the cost and time and without the crowds? The train line is the Arosa Line, which is part of the Rhaetian Railway.

Arosa Line - Most Scenic train rides in Switzerland
Contributed by Augusta from Mini Me Explorer

This journey starts from Chur, Switzerland’s oldest city, and takes exactly an hour, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the mountain resort of Arosa

In this hour you will gain 1000 meters of elevation and you will be gazing in awe at conifer forests, pristine mountain lakes and snow-capped mountains, and many tiny traditional villages.

Keep your camera ready, as you will be able to take pictures of the train crossing impressive viaducts.

If you are traveling with children, there’s a special bear-themed family carriage with books and cards to take part in a scavenger hunt. 

In five spots along the Arosa Line, you will also see statues of wooden bears, each holding a letter of the alphabet. Write them down and unscramble them to answer the question “what do bears eat?” (it’s in German, HONIG is the answer).

Once you get to Arosa, enjoy some relaxing time at the amazing mountain resort. 

Take the cable car behind the station to reach the new Arosa bear sanctuary and see bears in their habitat, from a viewing platform. From there, another cable car ride will take you to the top of the Weisshorn mountain (2653 m) for 360 degrees views. 

If bears don’t interest you, you can enjoy a stroll around the village lake (it’s right outside the station) and go paddle-boarding or else hike the Squirrel Trail, which is easily accessible with strollers, too. Bring some nuts, as you will be able to feed squirrely directly from your hand.

Note
The return journey from Chur (adults) only costs CHF 30.40 return.


The Golden Pass: Best train rides in Switzerland and beyond

The Golden Pass is another popular scenic train ride in Switzerland. This route starts in Lucerne and connects to Montreux. The train route is an easy one and PERFECT for those short on time.

Lucerne is one hour away from Zurich and Montreaux is 75 minutes away, making it easy for transportation. The entire route can be done in 5.50 hours to a day. There 3 sections of the train – Lucerne to Interlaken Ost to Zweisimmen and Zweisimmen to Montreux.

We hope you enjoyed our selection of the scenic train rides in Switzerland and found our tips useful! 

P.S: Please join my new awesome Facebook group where we discuss all things travel, culture, and trip planning. Let’s build a tribe together ✈️ Join Here. 

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Pin: 10 Swiss Scenic trains to take this year 

Guide to the most scenic train rides in Switzerland
the most scenic train rides in Switzerland

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