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Best panoramic trains in Switzerland

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Best panoramic trains in Switzerland

A train ride in Switzerland is an adventure in and of itself. Panoramic trains in Switzerland make the journey even more enticing. Admire the sweeping vistas of sky-high peaks, lush meadows and turquoise blue lakes through the huge glass panes, completely unobstructed.

And what are the best panoramic trains in Switzerland? 

Let’s find out together.  

bernina express day trip

What is a panoramic train?

Most of us have probably heard of panoramic trains at some point. But what exactly does this term mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ‘panoramic’ means ‘showing a full or wide view’ as well as ‘comprehensive in scope or range of coverage’. Panoramic trains are those that offer wide, unobstructed views.

Previously, the term used to describe Swiss trains traversing the hills and valleys of the Swiss Alps was ‘scenic’, meaning offering views of natural scenery. However, new railway technologies and modernized cars have transformed train journeys from being merely ‘scenic’ to ‘panoramic’.

The walls of the carriages now feature huge glass panes and high ceilings, offering unobstructed views of the natural wonders along the railroads.

grand train tour of switzerland

Traveling with a panoramic train - worth it?

Travelling with panoramic trains in Switzerland is not a cheap business. You may be wondering whether it is worth spending several hundred dollars to travel on a special panoramic train in Switzerland.

As Swiss train aficionados, we answer – yes, it’s absolutely worth it.

Here is why.

1. Breathtaking scenery

Panoramic trains in Switzerland offer stunning views and unparalleled experience of the Swiss natural scenery. These trains often traverse picturesque routes unavailable or very difficult to reach by cars and hikers.

2. Great amenities

These trains often offer better amenities and a higher level of comfort than regular trains. For instance, GoldenPass Express cars feature a so-called Prestige Class equipped with rotating heated leather chairs and more legroom. The Glacier Express offers an audio guide to explain to passengers what they’re looking at. Other trains offer dining cars, lounges, or vintage rail experiences in well-preserved 19th-century cars.

3. Leisurely journey

Travelling with a panoramic train in Switzerland is an adventure in itself. Mostly because such journeys take much longer than the usual commute. Such trains travel at a leisurely pace because the point of the journey is to enjoy the views at a relaxing pace and not just get from point A to B.

4. Engineering marvels

Panoramic trains in Switzerland are a delight for train enthusiasts. Many have been built by true geniuses of railway engineering, who have literally made the impossible – possible. Especially the Bernina Express is famous for its tunnels and helical viaducts, making the steep climb to Ospizio Bernina, the highest station, possible.

5. Family-friendly adventure

Last but not least, traveling with panoramic trains in Switzerland is a great family-friendly adventure. Long journeys foster connections through conversation and shared experience. Fellow passengers can become your friends once you’ve shared over an 8-hour journey with them, too.

brief history of gornergrat railways

The best panoramic trains in Switzerland

Switzerland is known for its stunning scenery and a hubspot of skilled railroad engineers. It makes it *the* destination for those longing for picturesque journeys by rail.

Here is our selection of panoramic trains in Switzerland.

Glacier Express

  • Route: St. Moritz-Zermatt
  • Highlights: Rhine Gorge, Sedrun, Disentis, Rhone Glacier, Matterhorn.

A no-brainer and probably the most well-known among panoramic trains in Switzerland. An 8-hour train journey will take you across three cantons, through the heart of the Swiss Alps, in areas unavailable to regular travelers. Scenic views through panoramic windows, incredible amenities, and comfort make this journey a true adventure. Don’t miss out on the dining experience – Glacier Express is one of the few trains in Switzerland where you can still savor dishes prepared on board.

Bernina Express

  • Route: Chur-Tirano
  • Highlights: Landvasser and Brusio Viaducts, Ospizio Bernina, 55 tunnels.

And engineering feat, this train will leave you speechless. It’s hard to choose which part of the journey is more stunning. Is it the stretch from Chur to St. Moritz with its tunnels, viaducts and helical ascents? Or maybe the ascent to Ospizio Bernina when the train snakes along the stunning Pontresina valley? Or maybe the slow roll down through the circular Brusio viaduct? One thing is certain – you will never be bored on board.

Rigi cogwheel train

  • Route: Vitznau-Rigi Kulm or Arth-Golday-Rigi Kulm
  • Highlights: oldest cogwheel train in Switzerland, Lake Lucerne, Pilatus

This may come as a surprise to some, as the journey to the peak of Rigi is not nearly as long as the two previous ones. Still, it’s one of the most picturesque train rides in Switzerland! As the cogwheel train climbs up, passengers can admire a widening landscape of Lake Lucerne and peaks emerging in the distance. There are several routes up the Rigi: one can start in Arth-Goldau or Vitznau, but both routes are equally stunning.

GoldenPass Line

  • Route: Montreux-Zweisimmen-Interlaken
  • Highlights: Lake Geneva, vineyards, Gstaad, Zweisimmen, Berner Oberland

This is probably the most luxurious panoramic train in Switzerland. Apart from first class, the operator offers Prestige Class with such amenities as VIP ‘grand view’ seats (elevated, rotating leather chairs), salon and bar cars, and a dining car. The train journey on the GoldenPass Line takes the passengers through the most scenic areas of canton Vaud and Bern, showing the peaks, lush meadows and hills of Berner Oberland. Enjoy spotting the cows on the pastures!

Gotthard Panorama Express

  • Route: Lucerne to Lugano
  • Highlights: Lake Lucerne, Gotthard Base Tunnel, Bellinzona, vineyards, mediterranean landscapes

Less known than the other four, the Gotthard Panorama Express is a fantastic ride that connects two different regions of Switzerland: Alpine and Mediterranean. The train passes through the historic Gotthard Base Tunnel, which was opened in 1982, and emerges on the other side of the Alps, basking in the southern sun. The ride is very convenient and offers such amenities as snack and drink machines, and is fully wheelchair accessible.

switzerland rail tour 3 days

The scenic journey of a lifetime

Switzerland is arguably one of the best countries to visit by train. With panoramic trains in Switzerland, the breathtaking scenery is at a hands’ reach. Travelling on such a train exceeds the usual comfortable commute. This is an all-inclusive adventure featuring not only wonderful vistas but also luxurious seating, dining, and lounging options.

Variety, beauty, and accessibility of panoramic trains in Switzerland make them a staple on your Swiss holiday itinerary.

the best of swiss goldenpass line

Join Escorted Rail Tours In Switzerland

Escorted rail tours in Switzerland are your gateway to the new and exciting world. Comfort, flexibility, and cultural immersion are the main hallmarks of this adventure.

Traveling by rail in Switzerland allows you to get to know the country from a different perspective, bond with its people, and discover hidden gems tucked along the railway lines.

Having an experienced local guide by your side makes your journey completely stress-free – forget about missing the connections and getting lost at train stations. Transfer effortlessly and on time.

ECHO Rails & Trails 12-Day Grand Train Tour of Switzerland ticks all the boxes for a perfect escorted rail tour in Switzerland.

  • Explore this magnificent country from a first-class window seat on one of the world’s most famous panoramic trains.
  • Enjoy the assistance of a local English-speaking guide who will share their knowledge of history, nature, and culture to help you immerse yourself in your Swiss voyage.
  • Travel light with dedicated luggage transfers (included in the price) and enjoy a slower pace of travel with two nights in each location.
  • And let’s not forget about the food – complimentary breakfasts and dinners will let you try the best of Swiss cuisine with its hearty soups, pies, and seasonal vegetables.

Prepare for an adventure of a lifetime with ECHO Rails & Trails.

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