Mountain Magic: The Most Scenic Train Routes in Switzerland

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter

Arguably the best way to experience the splendor of this magnificent country is by train. Known for their impeccable punctuality, vast network, cleanliness and reliability, train routes in Switzerland are quite unlike those anywhere else. With over 5300 km of railway lines, the Swiss rail network is the densest in the world with the Swiss traveling more by train than any other nation at an average of 2400 km per person per year. With over 70 rail companies, Swiss trains are eco-friendly, safe and offer high quality service. 

Picture perfect landscapes, snow-capped mountains, lush green meadows, quaint villages, charming cities, cheese, and of course, chocolate.  What is there not to love about Switzerland? One of the most beautiful countries in the world, Switzerland has always been a favorite with travelers in both its freezing winters or pleasant summers. One of the happiest countries around the globe, a visit to Switzerland is sure to provide scenic beauty, ease of commuting, eclectic sights and diverse experiences. Here is a look at some of the most popular and scenic train routes you can hop on for a breathtaking view of Switzerland.

The Glacier Express

Often dubbed as the slowest train in the world, the Glacier express is definitely one of the most scenic, connecting the mountain resort town of Zermatt to St Moritz in the Swiss Alps. Passing through dramatic and shifting landscapes, the train starts under the shadow of the Matterhorn from the car-free village of Zermatt. The train then reaches the rocky terrain of Visp with rock walls as high as 4000 m. Both sides of the train offer views of the highest peaks in the Swiss Alps. This scenic train route then passes by the sparkling Rhone river, its narrow valley, and the Oberalp pass. There is also a long descent along the Rhine Valley where you can view dramatic gorges. This region is often called the Swiss Grand Canyon. The final section passes through the epic Landwasser viaduct. It is also possible to do this route in parts depending on where you are based.

train passing over viaduct with mountain in background
The Landwasser Viaduct with Zermatt in the background. Photographer: Perry Graham.

Bernina Express

An unmissable experience, the Bernina express is a direct train from Chur to Tirano in Italy. The Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina landscapes in Switzerland has a UNESCO World Heritage designation for all the right reasons. The Albula Line from Thusis to St. Moritz and the Bernina Line from St. Moritz to Tirano is a 122 km track that allows you to soak in the beautiful natural vistas of Switzerland. The bright red colored Bernina Express has large windows that allow you to see the great outdoors uninterrupted. The century-old Bernina line passes over a whopping 52 bridges, 13 tunnels and cuttings as well as the Landwasser Viaduct. This masterpiece is 466 feet long, 213 feet high, and leads straight into a tunnel. 

The Bernina Pass. Photographer: Alessandro Prato.

The views from the top with mountains surrounding the lakes of Upper Engadine are breath-taking. Stop at Pontresina, a quiet mountain village home to a large population of Ibex, or take a trip to Alp Languard where great chair lifts help you soak in the views. Alp Grüm, the highest point of the Bernina railway at 6800 feet above sea level, is a good place to enjoy sweeping views of the landscape. The beautiful village of Poschavio is another stop on the train where you can admire local homes that have colorful gardens. 

Jungfrau Railway Line to Jungfrau Mountain

An unforgettable journey to the top of Europe, the Jungfrau mountain peak can be accessed multiple ways. The most popular starting point is Interlaken via Lauterbrunnen, which passes by some glorious valleys, splendid waterfalls and quaint villages. There are intriguing tunnels from Kleine Scheidegg all the way up to Jungfraujoch station. Another alternative route is via the alluring Grindelwald, along the Eiger Express. The last section is accessed via a cogwheel train all the way up to the summit. 

The Jungfrau Bahn. Photographer: Janita Top.

Gornergrat Cog Railway

One of the best ways to view the enigmatic Matterhorn and other peaks, Gornergrat is accessible from Zermatt by a cogwheel train ride that lasts about half an hour. Passing by some spectacular views that include forests and majestic alpine landscapes, the’s train routes have multiple stations that are all starting points for some of the most popular hikes in Switzerland. At over 10,000 feet, the Gornergrat ridge offers dramatic and compelling views from a restaurant, quaint little chapel, and spectacular viewing platform.  On clear days you can also view the Dufourspitze peak, which at 15,000 feet is the highest peak in Switzerland. The entire railway line is the work of an engineering genius and the way the train chugs up what seems an impregnable yet resplendent landscape is simply amazing.  

Gornergrat. Photographer: Wolfgang Hasselmann.

Myriad options

Apart from this, there are umpteen rail options that visitors can take to soak in the unparalleled beauty of Switzerland. The Golden Pass Line connects some of the most popular places in the country like Lucerne, Interlaken, and Montreux, passing by some picturesque sights like Lake Lungern and Brünig Pass as well as Lake Thun and Spiez. The cogwheel railway to Mount Pilatus which traverses at a mindboggling gradient of 35% is yet another journey you would not want to miss.

The Voralpen Express is another key train route between St.Gallen and Lucerne passing through some of the most iconic landscapes in Switzerland: Lake Zurich, Lake Zug and Lake Lucerne. Do take a stop at the Toggenburg area and the town of Rapperswil to experience beauty that is straight out of a fairy tale. The Gotthard Panorama Express covers the heritage Gotthard route across south Switzerland.

Trending Stories

Explore By Map