On a mountain high

The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland
The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland

See nature’s masterpieces on the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland – up close and personalised

In partnership with Switzerland Tourism


Travelling through Switzerland by train is like being front row at a screening of an award-winning documentary. Through panoramic windows you can almost reach out and touch its glossy, majestic landscapes.

Switzerland has a rollcall of mesmerising rail journeys that embrace mountains, glaciers, lakes, bucolic fields and dramatic architecture.

Rail royalty includes the Bernina Express, the Glacier Express, the Golden Pass Express, the Gotthard Panorama Express, and the Voralpen Express, as well as the linkages that are Zürich–Luzern–Interlaken, Montreux–Visp–Zermatt, and St Gallen–Schaffhausen–Zürich.

The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland is the ultimate edit. It merges these eight lines into one unique 1280km route that encompasses, year-round, 11 large lakes and five UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Along the way, explore Zurich and Lucerne, with their charm offensive, and natural wonders such as the Rhine Falls, the Matterhorn and the Jungfraujoch. Best of all, be the master of your destiny: hop on and off wherever you please, whether in Zermatt, elegant St. Moritz or the southern canton of Ticino.

Travellers who seek out top-drawer rail journeys have a soft spot for the Premium Panoramic trains which take luxe to the max.

The Bernina Express is a UNESCO World Heritage journey, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary. Aboard its signature red carriages, expect a mind-blowing sequence of mountains, glaciers, lakes, fir trees and, yes, palm trees. Journey through 55 tunnels and over 196 bridges. Admire the Brusio Spiral Viaduct and the 65m high Landwasser Viaduct, a signature landmark of the Rhaetian Railway. Cobblestoned towns add to the postcard charm as do dozens of castles and fortresses. The train operates between Chur and St Moritz and Tirano in northern Italy. From February to November, the Bernina Express Bus runs between Tirano and pretty Lugano.

The Glacier Express is said to be world’s most leisurely (i.e. slowest) express train, taking around eight hours to travel between Zermatt in the country’s south and St. Moritz, jet-set central. It traverses 291 bridges and 91 tunnels, showcasing deep ravines, high passes, sparkling lakes and mountain villages. Its Excellence Class carriages boast the most coveted seats in Switzerland, courtesy of their elegant fit-out, guaranteed window assignment, concierge, bar, and a six-course menu with premium wines.

Aboard the GoldenPass Express, you can now journey between Montreux, Gstaad (the health resort of the rich and famous), and Interlaken without the need to change trains. Thanks to the adjustable gauge of the new GoldenPass Express, launched last December, passengers travel from the Vaud Riviera across the Pays-d’Enhaut to the majestic peaks of the Bernese Alps within three hours.

The scenic route options of the GoldenPass portfolio encompass Lake Geneva, vineyards, and impressive castles, along with signature Swiss hillscapes. The Golden Pass Panoramic journeys from Zweisimmen in the Bernese Oberland towards Montreux, the fashionable city at the shores of Lake Geneva (the pop group Queen produced six of their albums in the Mountain Studios here and there’s a statue erected in Freddie Mercury’s memory). The GoldenPass Belle Epoch is the Classic carriage option, whose cars feature carved wood, rich upholstery, brass fittings and bevelled, etched windows.

Adventurers and history buffs will appreciate the Gotthard Panorama Express. On board during the journey between Lucerne and Lugarno is a travel guide who provides detailed information about sights and landmarks and dissects the many Gotthard myths. There’s a photo carriage in the centre of the train where windows open to facilitate souvenir photos. The journey includes a history-rich boat ride, an old steamboat if you’re lucky, between Flüelen and Lucerne

In Switzerland, travel is truly as much about the journey as the destination. People-centric Swiss trains – famous for their timetable precision, cleanliness, comfort and service – are a destination unto themselves.

Tennis champion Roger Federer, born in Basel and now a Swiss Tourism ambassador, has spent many years on Swiss trains, gazing out the windows while plotting his next career moves. He calls the Grand Train Tour “the ride of a lifetime.”

“It’s a great way to discover a new city, a new country because you’ve got to think about where you’re going, you’ve got to plan a bit,” he says.

And the Swiss love planning almost as much as chocolate, hiking, skiing, and trains that run on time.

Can’t decide where to start? There are several packages that embrace the best of the routes. ‘Top Attractions’ takes you to Lucerne, Interlaken, Montreux and Zermatt. ‘Glaciers & Palm Trees’ starts in a temperate climate and climbs to an altitude of 2000m. ‘Winter Magic’ delivers frozen lakes, fluffy powder snow and majestic glaciers. The ‘Stunning Waters’ tour speaks for itself. And then you have the wildcard, ‘Hidden Treasures’ which introduces Lucerne, Interlaken, Domodossola, and Locarno.

For more information on ticket prices, packages, promotions and routing ideas, see The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. Travellers can experience rail routes individually or combined with a Swiss Travel Pass.

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