As it slowly rolls into the platform, Voralpen Express Switzerland resembles a golden arrow. This slender, modern, single-decker train painted gold is sure to leave an impression. Stadler FLIRT3 “Traverso” has been in operation since 2019 and runs as Voralpen Express, connecting Lucerne and St. Gallen, and as Treno Gottardo, connecting Basel with Lugano.
Let’s have a look at what Voralpen Express Switzerland has to offer.
Lucerne and St. Gallen with Voralpen Express
Lucerne and St. Gallen are two medium-sized cities located in central and eastern Switzerland. Both are known for their historical significance and rich cultural offerings. St. Gallen has been an important cultural center since the early Middle Ages. The settlement of St. Gall Abbey in 747 changed the social, political, and cultural landscape of this region forever. St. Gallen grew to become one of the most powerful Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It ruled over wide areas of what is today eastern Switzerland and wielded religious and political power for more than 1000 years. Lucerne, an old medieval city located where river Reuss flows into the Lake Of Four Cantons, was allegedly founded around the same time. Its quick development was prompted by another Benedictine monastery connected to the church of St. Leodegar.
Two cultural centres
Both cities boast rich cultural offerings. Besides multiple museums and art galleries, Lucerne is a Swiss center of classical music. KKL (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern), whose prominent silhouette tower over the lakeside right next to the train station, has a world-class concert hall with almost perfect acoustics. St. Gallen Abbey, on the other hand, is famous for its magnificent library with one of the world’s richest collections of precious manuscripts. Its opulent rococo interior was designed in the mid-18th century. A trip on Voralpen Express would then be perfect for everyone with a zest for a bit of historical exploration.
Rail tour across the Prealps
During the ECHO Rail 12-day Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, we explore both cities. In Lucerne, we take a stroll around the old town, visiting the medieval Chapel Bridge, the church of St. Leodegar, as well as later sites such as the Lion Monument commemorating Napoleonic wars and the Museum of Transport. In St. Gallen, we visit the abbey and the library. Here, we can admire a fantastic collection of old manuscripts and literary treasures, for instance a manuscript of the Gospel of St. John from 800 AD.
The Highlights of Voralpen Express Rail Tour
The trip with Voralpen Express Switzerland is an exhilarating one. Voralpen translates literally to Prealps, the area stretching north of the Lake of Four Cantons marking the border of the alpine terrains. Starting from Lucerne, one can admire the contrast between the gently rolling hills in the foreground and the famous rugged peaks of the Schwyzer Mythen in the backdrop. One passes by multiple lakes and medieval towns, such as Zug, and then the cozy area of Toggeburg, with its charming villages, farms, and cows grazing peacefully in the distance.
Which section of the Voralpen Express route is best?
While the entire route is very scenic, we think the section between Lucerne and Arth-Goldau is the prettiest if you’re looking for lakes and mountain scenery. On the other hand, if you want a change of scenery after spending time in the mountainous regions of Switzerland, the lowlands around Rapperswil and Lake Zurich, along with the viaducts close to St. Gallen, can’t be beaten.
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