Basel / Bâle to Zermatt by train

How to take the wonderful journey from Basel to beautiful Zermatt

Despite the distance Zermatt is one of the ski resorts which can be most easily accessed from Basel by train

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Routes

From Basel SBB/Bâle CFF to Zermatt

Journey Summary

Travel Information

This optimum combination of trains involving only 1 x change of train in Visp is only available when setting off from Basel in even hours only.

The connecting tine between trains at Visp will be around 11 mins so booking end-2-end tickets for the entire journey on SBB's ticketing service is recommended.
This 11 min connection in Visp is virtually guaranteed so it should still be a comparatively stress-free transfer, particularly if you will be travelling with a rail pass, including a Saver Day Pass.

Set off from Basel in odd hours and you will have to make an additional change of trains in Bern; though do that and the journey time will be only 3hr 15mins (and it can be cheaper too).

1 x optimum connection every other hour

Change trains in: Visp

Tickets

Booking Tickets:

Tickets can be booked online for this end-to-end journey which involves taking a SBB train + the train on to Zermatt which is operated by MGB.

‘Individual tickets’ can be used on any train(s) on your travel date, but they tend to be comparatively expensive.

'Supersaver' tickets are cheaper, the portion of the journey by the SBB train can be discounted by up to 50%, but these tickets are train departure specific.
If you book a Supersaver ticket and a flight delay etc, causes you to miss a train you are booked on to, you will have to book another full-price ‘Individual Ticket(s).
You can then apply for a refund of the Supersaver ticket, but the application costs CHF 10.

Hence it’s worth comparing the ticket price of a journey with the price(s) of Saver Day Passes; they might save you money and can also allow for a less stressful journey.

Using Saver Day Passes:

Now that the Swiss Transfer tickets have been discontinued a Saver Day Pass may save you money, if you can book at least a couple of weeks ahead (usually), so that you can obtain the pass at a discounted price.

They can be cheaper than tickets for the end-to-end journey, though they are more likely to be a money saver if you will be making a day return trip between Zurich and Zermatt, even if you can book in advance.

They can be used on;

  • the trains between Basel and Visp
  • the trains between Visp and Zermatt

They are not departure specific, so can still be used in the event of a journey to Switzerland being delayed.
Though as they’re only valid for one day’s travel, the clue is the name, if you will be travelling back on another date, you’ll need to purchase another Saver Day Pass for your return journey.

They need to be booked at least a day ahead of your travel date, so won't be an option if you book tickets at the station on arrival in Switzerland.
They're also cheaper the further ahead that you book.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
SBB *

SBB Guide

SBB is the main national rail operator in Switzerland, but tickets for journeys by the other significant operators including BLS and SOB can be be booked on the SBB website.

SBB also sells tickets for journeys to many destinations which involve a combination of SBB trains and services provided by the many independent operators who serve the Alpine resort towns.
However, if you will be making a long-distance return day trip, look out for he possibility of SaverDay passes being cheaper than tickets.

Though if you download the SBB app, booking tickets on SBB's mobile services can be simper than using the website.
Also watch out for the fact that booking international tickets can be comparatively quirky.

Trainline *

Trainline Guide

Happy rail *

Happy rail Guide

Happy Rail is a Netherlands rail ticket agency which sells tickets for both national and international journeys within a range of countries including Belgium France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.

HappyRail doesn't charge booking fees in the conventional sense, but if you're not Dutch you can expect to pay additional transaction fees, which will be added to the total cost.
That's because the most common form of online payment used in The Netherlands is 'iDEAL' and HappyRail doesn't charge a transaction fee for 'iDEAL' payments, but only Dutch residents can sign up to 'iDEAL'.
Other forms of payment include Visa debit cards will incur a fee.

Journey Features

Scenic - YesLandscape (Hills / Mountains)Lake views

Good to Know

Final Destination: Brig (the IC trains), Milano (the EC trains)

These direct trains depart from Basel in even hours only.

Set off from Basel in odd hours and you will have to make a change of trains in Bern; though those connections with a change of train can be cheaper.

On most departures the train will be an IC train -  the double deck IC trains are used on this route, the brand new LD/Twindexx trains should be gradually introduced to this route during 2020.

However, in some hours an EC train heading to Milano replaces the IC train.
If possible avoid the EC trains as they're busier.

Journey description:

Now that these trains use the Lotschberg Base Tunnel this journey is not as scenic as it once was.
But from the left of the train (when facing the direction of travel) there are views over the Thunersee between Thun and Speiz.

The trains on this journey reverse direction at Bernso when boarding in Basel take a seat on the right hand side if you want to see these views of the Thunersee.

On departure from Thun station...

...and then on departure from Speiz station...

... though these videos were taken from a train travelling in the opposite direction, but they showcase how fine the views can be on a sunny day...

Then after exiting the Lotschberg Base Tunnel, the train will travel through a steep valley for the final part of the journey on to Visp and Brig.

Even on a grey day the view after Thun can be spectacular Even on a grey day the view after Thun can be spectacular
Between Thun and Spiez in better weather Between Thun and Spiez in better weather
A final view of the Thunersee leaving Spiez A final view of the Thunersee leaving Spiez
Approaching the Lotschberg Base Tunnel Approaching the Lotschberg Base Tunnel

Journey Features

Scenic - YesLandscape (Hills / Mountains)

Good to Know

In Zermatt the train from Visp will arrive at the MGB station, which is across the street from the CGB station for trains on to Gornergrat.

Heading to Zermatt after Stalden-Saas station Heading to Zermatt after Stalden-Saas station
The valley opens out after Kalpetran station The valley opens out after Kalpetran station
Near Tasch Near Tasch
Crossing the river between Tasch and Zermatt Crossing the river between Tasch and Zermatt
Heading south from Zermatt looking towards Tasch Heading south from Zermatt looking towards Tasch
The rock formations south of Kalpetran The rock formations south of Kalpetran
Sharing the gorge with the river north of Stalden Sharing the gorge with the river north of Stalden
Looking down the valley towards Visp south of Stalden Looking down the valley towards Visp south of Stalden

The best of the views switch between the left and right side of the train during the journey.

The majority of the journey follows a valley up to Zermatt and the train snakes across the valley floor,

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