Three Must-Do Train Trips in Switzerland
Switzerland is a beautiful country on its own, but exploring the pristine landscape by rail is unique and worthwhile experience. Here are three rail adventures from one of Avanti's Rail Experts:
The GoldenPass Scenic Route Between Lucerne and Montreux:
Connecting three individual train lines and offering breathtaking views with frequent departures in each direction, this rail trip is one-of-a-kind. Starting the first leg, Lucerne to Interlaken, you travel alongside the beautiful glacial waters of Lake Brienz and the smaller lakes of Lungern, Sarnen and Alpnach. Extended panoramic windows onboard this train provide unrestricted vistas of rolling alpine pastures and happy cows grazing on the hillsides. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of the famous Jungfrau, Monch, or Eiger mountain peaks. The second leg, Interlaken to Zweisimmen, continues along Lake Thun and through the heart of the Bernese Oberland region. Calming mountain scenery surrounds you with traditional Swiss chalets and small churches dotting the countryside. For the final leg of the GoldenPass scenic route, Zweisimmen to Montreux, passengers have the option of traveling in standard coaches with panoramic windows, or taking a Belle Epoque vintage coach with retro-styled ambiance and an onboard wine cellar offering selections from the region. Passing from the German region of Switzerland into the French region, you exit the Jaman tunnel and have your first glimpse of breathtaking Lake Geneva. Just a few more to twists and turns along these mountain tracks and you arrive at your final destination: Montreux.
Alongside the numerous scenic train journeys, a variety of Mountain-top excursions are also available in Switzerland. These tickets provide self-guided roundtrip travel to the tops of Switzerland’s most famous peaks. My favorite is Stanserhorn, easily accessible from the village of Stans, which is only 20 minutes from Lucerne by train. You start your ascent to Stanserhorn in a vintage wooden funicular that slowly climbs the hillside, passing by gently grazing cows with their bells echoing out across the valley. Lake Lucerne comes into view as you change into the CabriO cableway – the world’s first open air double-decker cable car – and as your journey continues up Stanserhorn, the entire Obwalden region comes into view. Looking down, the valley of Engleberg surrounds you with Swiss peaks as far as the eye can see, and 360-degree panoramic viewing platforms are waiting as your CabriO reaches the top. The friendly locals, unending Alpine views, and hiking trails for all skill levels are what put Stanserhorn high atop my personal list.
Top of Europe is undoubtedly the most famous of all the Swiss Mountain-Tops, and with good reason. Your 2-hour journey up the mountain begins in Interlaken where you board the Bernese Oberland Railway and ascend alongside glacial streams to the village of Grindelwald. Here you switch to a rack railway and continue the climb into Kleine Scheidegg as peaks grow taller and the air gets colder. Once in Kleine Scheidegg, you board the historic Jungfrau Railway and enter a series of tunnels that will take you to the highest railway station in Europe: Jungfraujoch. Once atop the largest glacier in Europe, you can explore the massive Ice Palace, take in the views from the Sphinx Observation Deck, play in the Snow Fun Park, and even enjoy a special treat from the Lindt Swiss Chocolate Heaven. At over 11,000 feet, views from Jungfraujoch simply cannot be beat – on a clear day, you can see all the way to the Black Forest in Germany – and this is certainly a must-do for anyone exploring Switzerland by train.