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Ideas & Inspiration Holiday in Lausanne by train
How to take a rail based holiday in Lausanne

Holiday in Lausanne by train

How to use Lausanne as a location for exploring the best of western Switzerland by train

| Last Updated: 3 months ago
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Lausanne is a great base city for exploring by train on easy and wonderful day trips, because the Geneve ↔ Visp railway, which happens to be one of the most scenic routes taken by fast Swiss trains, passes through the city.

The journey by train between Geneve and Lausanne takes 35 - 40 mins, so this time is saved if you opt to stay in Lausanne over Geneve and want to explore the mountain railways to the east.
Because the route to and from Visp is akin to a necklace strung with jewels of scenic railways, which connect with it at multiple stations.

Most of these mountain railways are within a 50 minute train ride from Lausanne.
So the city is a great base for a holiday for those who want to experience multiple beautiful locations, without travelling long-distances.

Also the route to and from Visp, which provides the access to multiple scenic railways, doesn't have direct trains from Basel or Zurich - so it's easier to explore western Switzerland from Lausanne.

to Lausanne by train

Lausanne has up to three trains per hour from the station at Geneve-Aeroport and one or two trains per hour from Zurich airport.
The city also has direct international trains from Milan and from Paris.

Though a Basel to Lausanne journey requires a change of train in Biel/Bienne, so journeys from Germany to Lausanne by train are more complicated than travelling from Germany to the likes of Chur or Interlaken or Lucerne.

to the scenic railways along the Lausanne to Brig route:

Looking down the valley after Gstaad Looking down the valley after Gstaad
Ascending from Montreux Ascending from Montreux
A view from a Panoramic train operated by the MOB A view from a Panoramic train operated by the MOB
Travelling on the Mont Blanc Express route from Switzerland to France Travelling on the Mont Blanc Express route from Switzerland to France
The interior of one of the newer MGB trains. that have windows set into the roof The interior of one of the newer MGB trains. that have windows set into the roof
Gornergrat summit is Europe's highest open air station Gornergrat summit is Europe's highest open air station

From west to east the following connections are available by direct trains from Lausanne which depart once or twice per hour.

At Nyon - 26 mins from Lausanne

The Nyon St Cerque Morez Railway goes up to the popular resort at St-Cerque

At Morges - 10 mins from Lausanne

There is a branch line operated by BAM between the main line station at Morges and the village of Apples.
At Apples connections are available to another BAM line which operates to the village of L’isle-Mont-La-Ville

At Montreux - 20 mins from Lausanne

The mainline trains share the station in Montreux with two other railways, the MOB and the MVR.

The MOB - Montreux Oberland Bernois Railway operates it's 'Golden Pass' route as far as Zweisimmen, which is included on the list of Switzerland's most beautiful rail journeys.

It provides multiple train services from Montreux including 'The Chocolate Train' and the new Golden Pass Express service which is direct between Montreux and Interlaken.

Three different types of train are used on its regular hourly service including Belle-Epoque trains, which resemble miniature versions of the Orient Express and the Panoramic trains, pictured above.

The MVR trains from Monteux travel up to the mountain summit at Rochers-De-Naye.

At Aigle - 32 mins from Lausanne

TPC operates trains on three routes from the station in Aigle to:

  • Champery
  • Les Diablerets
  • Leysin.
    All of them offer stunning scenery, which has presumably little changed since this video was captured in the 1960s!

The journeys to the end of each line take less than an hour so all three of them can be explored on a memorable day trip from Lausanne - this is top of SMTJ's wish list on our return to Switzerland!

At Martigny - 49 mins from Lausanne

TMR operates two routes from the station at Martigny:
1, The St Bernard Express route, which provides the access to Verbier/4 Vallées
2. The route of 'The Mont Blanc Express' to Vallorcine in France; with connections on to Chamonix and St Gervais - the Swiss border station is the stop before Vallorcine at Le Châtelard-Frontière.

Taking this route on from Martigny also gives easy access to the two Alpine mountain railways in France:
1 - the Chemin_de_fer_du_Montenvers / Montenvers Railway in Chamonix
2. - the Mont Blanc Tramway in St Gervais

At Visp - 1hr 32 mins from Lausanne

Connect for MGB trains to Zermatt, where you can transfer to the GornergratBahn.

At Brig - 1hr 39 mins from Lausanne

Connect for the MGB trains to Andermatt and for the Lotschberger trains to Speiz via Kandersteg.

To Gruyères

Gruyères on a day trip from Lausanne by train Gruyères on a day trip from Lausanne by train

Gruyères/La Gruyère has a station served by trains operated by tpf.

Gruyères old town is on top of a hill, which is a 15 to 30 min walk up a fairly steep path from the station, but bus route/line 260 links the station with the car park towards the top of the hill, at least hourly.

Two trains per hour typically operate between Palézieux station and Gruyères and there are two or three local trains per hour between Lausanne and Palézieux - which also offer an amazing view of Lake Geneva.

So the easy end-to end journey by train between Lausanne and Gruyères typically takes between 1hr 20mins and 1hr 30mins.

Gruyères also has hourly trains which travel to and from Montbovon, which is also served by hourly trains, operated by MOB, on its Montreux - Gstaad - Zweisimmen route.
So an easy and beautiful round trip is Lausanne → Palézieux → Gruyères → Montbovon → Montreux → Lausanne

to Luzern / Lucerne

Lausanne typically has hourly direct trains to Luzern / Lucerne which have a journey time of 2hr 15mins.
So they open up the possibility of exploring the mountain railways in the Luzern area, the Rigi Bahn and /or the Pilatus Bahn, on a day trip from Lausanne.

Those fast trains also enable a journey along full extent of the Golden Pass route on a day trip from Lausanne.
If you connect in Montreux for the Golden Pass Express, you can travel on from its destination at Interlaken to Luzern and then head back to Lausanne.
Or if the timings or price of the Golden Pass Express don't suit, the simple connections are Lausanne → Montreux → Zweisimmen → Spiez → Interlaken Ost → Luzern → Lausanne; depart Lausanne before 13:30.

Day trips to France

Riding the Mont Blanc Express to Vallorcine Riding the Mont Blanc Express to Vallorcine
the Montenvers Railway at Mer de Glace the Montenvers Railway at Mer de Glace
the Mont Blanc Tramway by Florian Pépellin and downloaded from Wikimedia Commons the Mont Blanc Tramway by Florian Pépellin and downloaded from Wikimedia Commons
beautiful Annecy can be easily reached from Lausanne beautiful Annecy can be easily reached from Lausanne

Lausanne has direct trains over the border to Annemasse in France and the trains which typically depart at 09:21 and 11:21 offer good connections on to charming Annecy.
The end to end journey will take around three hours and trains with good connections back to Lausanne typically depart from Annecy hourly between around 15:44 and 19:44.

To the Mont Blanc Tramway

The Mont Blanc Tramway is the highest railway in the French Alps and it's an easy journey from Lausanne, though it's a good idea to buy your ticket(s) in advance, to ensure that you have a place(s) on the trains with the good connections.

The route is:
(1) Depart Lausanne for Martigny, typically at 09:50 or 10:50.
(2) At Martigny board 'Mont Blanc Express trains' to Vallorcine.

(3 At Vallorcine simple as can be connections will be available into a train on to St Gervais.
(4) These trains arrive in St Gervais at the same station that the Mont Blanc Tramway will depart from.

On the return trip an idea is to stop over in Chamonix to ride the
Chemin_de_fer_du_Montenvers / Montenvers Railway to its scenic stop at Mer De Glace.

Save by using rail passes

The Léman - Alpes Pass covers a network of rail and bus routes in north-west Switzerland
The primary rail routes included are;

  • Geneve - Nyon - Morges - Lausanne - Vevey - Montreux - Villeneuve - Aigle - Bex - St Maurice
  • the routes between Lausanne and Gruyères
  • Montreux <> Rochers-De-Naye, operated by MVR
  • the Montreux - Montbovon - Gstaad - Zweisimmen - Lenk route, operated by MOB
  • the trains on the three separate routes between Aigle and the resorts of Champery, Les Diablerets and Leysin. operated by TPC
  • the BVB railway route between Bex and Bretaye via Villars-sur-Ollon, also operated by TPC.
    Also included are all the boat routes on Lake Geneva.

What's unusual about this pass is that with a 5 day pass you get 2 days of unlimited free travel, but on the other 3 days you pay 50% of the ticket prices.
Similarly with a 7 day pass, you get 3 days of free travel, but on the other 4 days you pay 50% of the ticket prices.

Travelling further with other rail passes

If while in Lausanne, you'll want to take multiple journeys beyond the area covered by the Léman - Alpes Pass, you can use other rail passes.
Both Swiss Travel Passes and InterRail Passes cover;

  • the full 'Golden Pass route' from Montreux and beyond Zweisimmen to Interlaken and Luzern; an idea is to travel to Luzern via Interlaken and then return to Lausanne on a fast train.
  • a return journey to Zermatt, or Andermatt
  • those three TPC routes from Aigle and the route from Bex
  • the routes to and from Gruyères
  • the mountain railways from Morges and Nyon
  • the Mont Blanc Express route as far as the border station at Le Châtelard-Frontière.

Though if you don't want to take advantage of the Swiss Museum Pass benefits included with the Swiss Travel Pass and meet the InterRail criteria, the balance tips towards the InterRail pass for Switzerland.
Particularly as the Montreux <> Rochers-De-Naye route is fully covered by InterRail, but Swiss Travel Passes only give a 50% discount on this line

Lausanne also makes for a great stopover location, while on a multi-country, Eurail or InterRail itinerary with a Global Pass.
All of the routes covered by the InterRail Pass for Switzerland will be available, plus the suggested journeys on to Annecy and St Gervais in France - though you'll need to book tickets to ride the Mont Blanc Tramway.

Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.

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