True The Ultimate Guide to Swiss Mountain Railways

The Ultimate Guide to Swiss Mountain Railways

Taking a train ride on a spectacular Swiss Tourist/Mountain Railway is one of the more accessible of those '100 Things You Must Do...' experiences.

All of the railway lines/routes/services featured below offer journeys with a wow factor.

However, the fact that so many different companies operate the Swiss Mountain Railways and that there are so many routes to choose from, can seem bewildering - hence this guide!


See the foot of the page for details of where these pictures were taken.

10 THINGS WORTH KNOWING

RAIL PASS ITINERARIES


THE MOST SCENIC TRAINS AND LINES:

Click on the name of the train or line below to access further information including - ticket booking links, using rail passes and tips for how to see the best of the views.

Special Trains:
 

1. The Bernina Express
 
2. The Glacier Express
 
3. The Gotthard Panorama Express
 
4. The Lötschberger 

Has access to the AdelbodenSaas Fee  and Saas Grund  skiing areas.
 
5. The Voralpen Express

The Lines, Routes and Networks:
 
6. AB  (Gossau - Appenzell and St Gallen - Appenzell)
Eurail & InterRail - 50% discount
Swiss Travel Pass/Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
7. BAM (Morges - Apples -  L’isle-Mont-La-Ville)
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass/Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
8. BLM (Lauterbrunnen - Mürren) 
Access to the Schilthorn winter sports area
Eurail & InterRail - 25% discount
Swiss Travel Pass/Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
9. BOB (Interlaken Ost - Wilderswill - Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen)
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass/Saver Day Pass - 25% discount
 
10. BRB (Breinz - Rothorn Kulm)
Eurail & InterRail -  no discount
Swiss Travel Pass/Saver Day Pass - 50% discount
 
11. CGB (Zermatt - Gornergrat)
Eurail & InterRail -  no discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - 50% discount
 
12. FART (Locarno - Domodossola) Route of the 'Centovali Express'
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
13. JB (Kleine Scheidegg - Jungfraujoch)
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass - 25% discount
 
14. MG (Capolago - Generoso Vetta)
Eurail & InterRail -  no discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - 50% discount
 
15. MGB (Zermatt - Täsch - Visp - Brig - Andermatt - Disentis/Muster and Göschenen) 
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel

MGB trains give access to the following skiing/winter sports areas - Aletsch Arena and Andermatt - Gemsstock - Nätschen and  Disentis  and Saas Fee  and Saas Grund .
 
16. MOB (Montreux - Zweisimmen via Gstaad and Lenk - Zweisimmen) 
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel

Access to the Lenk-Simmental  winter sports area.
 
17. MVR (Montreux - Rochers-De-Naye and Vevey -  Les Pleiades)
Eurail - no discount
InterRail -  25-50% discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
18. NTSCM  (Nyon - St-Cerque)
Eurail - free travel
InterRail - 50% discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel

19. PB (Alpnachstad - Pilatus-Kulm)
Eurail & InterRail - 50% discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
20. RB (to Rigi-Kulm station on Mt. Rigi)
Eurail & InterRail - 50% discount
Swiss Travel Pass/Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
21. RhB (multiple routes in south east Switzerland connecting Chur, Davos, Arosa, Klosters, Landquart, St Moritz and Tirano)
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel

Access to the following winter sports areas - Corviglia and Disentis and Flims Laax Falera and  Obersaxen-Mundau and  Parsenn and 
Scuol Motta Naluns.
 
22. SOB (from/to St Gallen)
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel
 
23. SPB  (Wilderswill - Schynige Platte)
Eurail - 25% discount
InterRail - no discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - 25% discount
 
24. TMR (routes of The Mont Blanc Express and The St Bernard Express) 
Eurail - free travel
InterRail -  50% discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel

Access to the Verbier/4 Vallées winter sports area.
 
25. TPC (connections from Aigle and Bex stations)
Eurail & InterRail - 50% discount
Swiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel

Acess to the ski resorts at Champery, Les Diablerets and Leysin.
 
26. WAB  (Lauterbrunnen - Kleine Scheidegg via Wengen and Grindelwald - Kleine Scheidegg)
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - 25% discount
 
27. ZB (route of the Luzern - Interlaken Express) 
Eurail; InterRailSwiss Travel Pass//Saver Day Pass - free travel

Access to these winter sports areas -  Meiringen - Hasliberg and  Engelberg Titlis

10 THINGS WORTH KNOWING:

These tips will add to your enjoyment of exploring these incredible railways.



RAIL PASS ITINERARIES:

Look at the Swiss Rail map, and the ‘Grand Tour of Switzerland' railway routes are marked and these routes are the 'must do' when exploring Switzerland by train.

A big plus of exploring Switzerland with a rail pass (Eurail, InterRail, Swiss Travel Pass or Saver Day Pass) is the easy connections between trains, but making sense of those connections and routes can be tricky (but fun).

To make your explorations as simple as possible, it can make sense to base yourself in one location, so that you can loop back to your accommodation at the end of each day.
Do that and you also won't have to cart your luggage around Switzerland.

Hence we've put together these suggested itineraries below, so that you can stay in one location while exploring Switzerland.

All of the suggested routes can be completed in a day as you shouldn't ever have to wait more than 15 mins for the next train to depart.

Journeys with red arrows are those when Eurail and InterRail pass users have to pay a reduced fee.

Journeys with green arrows are those on which all rail pass users have to pay a reduced fee.

FROM BASEL:

1: The Golden Pass route: Basel – Visp – Montreux – Zweisimmen – Spiez – Interlaken Ost – Luzern – Basel

2: The Glacier/Bernina Express  route #1: Basel – Chur – Samedan – Pontresina – Tirano – Pontresina – Samedan – Chur – Zurich – Basel

3: The Glacier Express route #2: Basel – Visp – Zermatt – Visp – Andermatt – Disentis/Muster – Chur – Zurich – Basel

4: The Centovali and The Gotthard Express route: Basel – Brig – Domodossola – Locarno – Bellinzona – Erstfeld – Basel

5: Mount Rigi and Wilhelm Tell Express route: Basel Luzern → boat to Viznau Rigi-Kulm Arth-Goldau – Fluelen boat to Luzern – Basel

6: The Bernese-Oberland: Basel – Interlaken Ost Lauterbrunnen Kleine Scheidegg Jungfaujoch Kleine Scheidegg Grindelwald Interlaken Ost – Basel

7: The Voralpen Express and Schaffhausen Falls: Basel – Zurich – Schaffhausen – St Galllen - Luzern - Basel

8: Mont Blanc  and The Lotschberger: Basel – Biel – Lausanne – Martigny – Vallorcine – Chamonix-Mont Blanc – Vallorcine – Martigny – Brig – Thun/Bern via Kandersteg - Basel


FROM ZURICH:

1: The Golden Pass route: Zurich – Visp – Montreux – Zweisimmen – Spiez – Interlaken Ost – Luzern – Zurich

2: The Glacier/Bernina Express  route #1: Zurich – Chur – Samedan – Pontresina – Tirano – Pontresina – Samedan – Chur – Zurich

3: The Glacier Express route #2: Zurich – Visp – Zermatt – Visp – Andermatt – Disentis/Muster – Chur – Zurich

4: The Centovali and The Gotthard Express route: Zurich – Brig – Domodossola – Locarno – Bellinzona – Erstfeld – Zurich

5: Mount Rigi and Wilhelm Tell Express route: Zurich – Luzern boat to Viznau Rigi-Kulm Arth-Goldau – Fluelen boat to Luzern – Zurich

6: The Bernese-Oberland: Zurich - Spiez – Interlaken Ost Lauterbrunnen Kleine Scheidegg Jungfaujoch Kleine Scheidegg Grindelwald Interlaken Ost – Bern - Zurich

7: The Voralpen Express and Schaffhausen Falls: Zurich – Schaffhausen – St Galllen - Luzern - Zurich

8: Mont Blanc  and The Lotschberger: Zurich – Lausanne – Martigny – Vallorcine – Chamonix-Mont Blanc – Vallorcine – Martigny – Brig – Thun/Bern via Kandersteg - Zurich

FROM OLTEN*:

1: The Golden Pass route: Olten – Visp – Montreux – Zweisimmen – Spiez – Interlaken Ost – Luzern – Olten

2: The Glacier/Bernina Express  route #1: Olten - Basel – Chur – Samedan – Pontresina – Tirano – Pontresina – Samedan – Chur – Zurich – Olten

3: The Glacier Express route #2: Olten – Visp – Zermatt – Visp – Andermatt – Disentis/Muster – Chur – Zurich – Olten

4: The Centovali and The Gotthard Express route: Olten – Brig – Domodossola – Locarno – Bellinzona – Erstfeld – Olten

5: Mount Rigi and Wilhelm Tell Express route: Olten – Luzern boat to Viznau Rigi-Kulm Arth-Goldau – Fluelen boat to Luzern – Olten

6: The Bernese-Oberland: Olten – Interlaken Ost Lauterbrunnen  Kleine Scheidegg  Jungfaujoch Kleine Scheidegg Grindelwald Interlaken Ost – Olten

7: The Voralpen Express and Schaffhausen Falls: Olten – Zurich – Schaffhausen – St Galllen - Luzern - Olten

8: Mont Blanc  and The Lotschberger: Olten - Visp – Martigny – Vallorcine – Chamonix-Mont Blanc – Vallorcine – Martigny – Brig – Thun/Bern via Kandersteg - Olten

*Olten is the central hub of the Swiss rail system so it makes a great base for exploring Switzerland by train and its room rates tend to much lower than staying in Basel or Zurich.
It also has a charming old town in which to have a meal/drink after your day of travels.


WHERE WERE THE PICTURES TAKEN?

Clockwise from top left:
1 - A WAB train waits to depart from Grindelwald station
2 - Looking down on Lake Geneva from a MOB train
3 - On the RhB line between Tirano and St Moritz
4 - A red VRB train on the RB at Rigi-Staffel station
5 - On the WAB line between Grindelwald and Kleine-Scheidegg
6 - From an RB train descedning to Vitzanau from Rig-Kulm.