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Vacations by rail in Switzerland with ECHO Rails

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Vacations by rail in Switzerland with ECHO Rails

Vacations by rail in Switzerland are often on top of many people’s wishlist. And no wonder! Switzerland’ renowned rail network is a gateway to unforgettable adventures and breathtaking landscapes. 

While the Glacier Express and Bernina Express are iconic routes that often steal the spotlight, Switzerland also has lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers.

This blog post explores lesser-known Swiss rail journeys that offer unique perspectives on the country’s scenic beauty and cultural heritage.

Join us on a journey beyond the tourist trail. Prepare to discover Switzerland’s hidden treasures and embark on an unforgettable rail adventure.

brief history of rigi cogwheel train

Pilatus, Rigi and Rothorn Cogwheel Trains

Central Switzerland is home to several well-known and lesser-known railway lines that climb famous peaks. Your vacations by rail in Switzerland wouldn’t be complete without a trip on at least one of these mountain cogwheel trains.

From the oldest cogwheel train in Switzerland (and Europe), a Rigi cogwheel train, to the steepest cogwheel train line in the world on Mt. Pilatus, to the thrilling ride on the Brienz Rothorn Steam Line, travelling by train in Central Switzerland will provide you with unforgettable adventures.

Rigi Cogwheel Line

  • Route: Vitznau to Rigi Kulm
  • Travel time: 34 minutes
  • Included in the Swiss Pass: yes
  • Operation period: All year round
  • Attractions: Rigi Kaltbad wellness hotel, Rigi Kulm panoramic terrace, views of Lake Lucerne and surrounding peaks

Pilatus Cogwheel Train:

  • Route: Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm
  • Travel time: 27 minutes
  • Included in the Swiss Pass: no
  • Operation period: May till November 
  • Attractions: Steepest cogwheel train in the world, views of Lake Lucerne, Pilatus Kulmhotel, Esel peak experience, Dragon path, and much more

Brienz Rothorn Steam Line

  • Route: Brienz – Rothorn Kulm
  • Travel time: 1 hour
  • Included in the Swiss Pass: no
  • Operation period: June to October
  • Attractions: line operating fully with steam locomotives, amazing views of Lake Brienz, Lake Thun and surrounding peaks, Rothorn Kulm experience
how pilatus cogwheel train works

Furka Railway: Steam Line Between Mountain Passes

Furka steam line is a true gem of a train line hidden between mighty peaks. Opened in 1925 as a part of Glacier Express Route, the line was closed in 1982 after the Gotthard Tunnel was built. 

Brought back to life by a group of steam engine passionates, Furka line now runs four times a week during summer months. It’s fully operated by an original 1926 steam engine and a set of old-timer cars. A two-hour ride from Real to Oberwald is a true ride back in time and a certain highlight of your vacations by rail in Switzerland. 

  • Route: Realp-Oberwald
  • Travel time: 1 h 35 min
  • Included in the Swiss Pass: no
  • Operation period: June till September
  • Attractions: steam engine locomotive, several amazing bridges and viaducts, old-timer cars, excellence class with a gastronomic offer 
panoramic trains in Switzerland

Rhaetian Railway from Chur to Arosa

Rhaetian railways are quite well-known for their panoramic lines, such as Bernina Express or Albula Pass. However, there’s another shorter but equally picturesque line operated by the same railway. It connects the capital of canton Graubunden, Chur, with a small but picturesque alpine resort of Arosa.

If you don’t have time for linger rides, this one will be perfect to get a taste of vacation by rail in Switzerland.

Arosa line was opened in 1914 to to answer the rising demand of winter and summer tourism in Graubunden. It starts in the center of Chur and as a tramway makes its way throughout the city. Then, in a nearly impossible feat of railroad engineering, it climbs over 1000 meters (3000 ft) up over a distance of only 16 miles. The route is breathtaking with several beautiful viaducts and bucolic villages scattered along the way. 

Arosa is a perfect summer and winter holiday destination with over 225 km (150 miles) of pistes across Arosa and Lenzerheide, and 200 km (120 milles) of walking trails showcasing pristine nature of eastern Switzerland. 

  • Route: Chur-Arosa
  • Travel time: 1 hour
  • Included in the Swiss Pass: yes
  • Operation period: all year round
  • Attractions: a ride through the city of Chur, Langwies Viaduct, 1000 meter climb, summits of eastern Switzerland such as Weisshorn
swiss gotthard military bunker

Custom Vacations by Rail in Switzerland

ECHO Rails travel concierge services offer planning support for an unforgettable holiday by rail.

Whether you’re coming here for your honeymoon, a family holiday or a friend’s trip, let us help you turn a regular vacation into a trip of a lifetime.

Our insider knowledge and expertise make us stand out among other tour operators. Based in the lovely city of Lucerne, we have hands-on experience in travelling and guiding people in Switzerland. 

How does it work?

Simply fill out our “Design your tour” form. Once we get your request, we will proceed either with asking you for more details or proceeding directly with creating a custom itinerary. Expect a call from our lovely agent Monika, who will go above and beyond to make your trip seamless, enjoyable and filled with adventures.

Are you curious to learn more about your benefits? Visit our custom Switzerland train tours page.

Guided Vacations by Rail in Switzerland

Are you interested in guided vacations by rail in Switzerland?
Our 8 and 12-day Grand Train Tours of Switzerland provide you with authentic Swiss experience at a leisurely pace.
Benefit from:
  • flexible itineraries
  • 7 amazing locations
  • 11 panoramic trains
  • optional easy guided hikes and walks
  • dedicated luggage transfer included in the price
  • detailed activity levels, including compulsory and optional distances
  • Swiss dining experience at local restaurants and bars
  • mixed activities, including historical, natural, and engineering wonders

Let us take care of the organization and the logistics of your vacations by rail in Switzerland while you simply enjoy the rail adventure of a lifetime.

Discover vacations by rail in Switzerland with ECHO Railsils

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