Whether you're planning to try out various Swiss scenic trains, or you are just travelling through the Alps on your way to a specific destination, it's worth choosing the most scenic trains in Switzerland for your journey. Along the way, you can stop off at famous Swiss mountain towns, such as Interlaken and Zermatt.
Often spoken of as the "slowest train in the world", the Glacier Express takes six to eight hours to wind its way between the mountains, connecting Zermatt in the west of Switzerland to St Moritz in the east. There are three trains daily in the summer, and two in winter.
Once you leave Zermatt, the first majestic sight is the Matterhom, a majestic snow-peaked mountain that is one of Switzerland's famous landmarks. Over the next six to eight hours, you'll travel through 91 tunnels and across 291 bridges, passing glaciers, mountain villages, viaducts, and stunning Alpine scenery. Just make sure you've charged your phone before boarding the train – you're going to want to take a lot of photos.
The Bernina Express line is Europe's highest rail route. It's even listed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The Bernina Express train through the Swiss Alps to Italy is an unforgettable experience. The journey begins in Chur. From here, the trains climbs up to an elevation of 2,253 metres above sea level before crossing the border to Tirano, Italy. Trains from Chur to Tirano take approximately four hours. Tirano has a beautiful Old Town and provides a great starting point to explore other regions in Italy.
The Bernina Express train only runs once a day. Other trains drive through the same spectacular scenery, but they don’t have panoramic glass windows to maximise the views. Scenic trains from Switzerland to Italy will bring you past impressive sights, including the 65-meter-high Landwasser Viaduct, which crosses a beautiful gorge. Both First and Second Class compartments are available. The scenery is gorgeous either way, but the First Class seats are a bit roomier.
Many places claim to be particularly high elevation points in Switzerland, but the Jungfraujoch is the real thing. It’s actually the highest train station in Europe, at 3,400 metres above sea level! Most travellers start their journey in Interlaken, then change at either Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen. From here, you will journey on to Kleine Scheidegg, half-way up the mountain. Finally, a cogwheel train carries you up a steep incline to the very top of the mountain. The views over the valleys and mountains peaks are fantastic. Trains from Interlaken to Jungfraujoch take about two hours.
When you finally reach the "Top of Europe" at Jungfraujoch station, you walk out into a winter wonderland. You're so high up that the snow never completely melts. You can even have a snowball fight in August up here. There are also facilities for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and glacier walks on this mountain peak. If you'd prefer to take things easy, visit the indoor ice palace, a network of caverns and sculptures made of solid ice. Take some selfies and panoramic photos on the observation deck and stock up on sweet treats in the Lindt chocolate shop before heading back down the mountain.
If your time in Switzerland is limited and you only have time for one scenic train, then the Golden Pass line is the best way to see a lot of the country in a short time. This journey actually involves three separate train journeys. The first leg, from Lucerne to Interlaken, is covered by the modern SBB fleet. Interlaken is a great place to take a break from your journey and admire the mountain views or do a little souvenir shopping. The next leg of the journey takes you to the small village of Zweisimmen, along the banks of Lake Thun. Finally, make one final train transfer and head west to Montreux, one of Switzerland's most elegant lakeside resorts. Once a day, a 1930s train in Belle Epoque (western) style runs on this part of the line. Sip on champagne as you watch the idyllic vineyards, beautiful lake, and typical Swiss chalets pass by outside the windows.
Switzerland's railways are amongst the finest in Europe – and we're here to help you make the most of your Alpine adventure. The special panoramic trains are definitely the best way to see Switzerland, offering a temperate vantage point at any time of the year. There's so much more to Switzerland than cuckoo clocks, yodelling, and chocolate. Why not discover it for yourself?