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The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland
One of the sheer pleasures of Switzerland is how easy it is to get around—especially by train
The Swiss rail system is a masterpiece of engineering, designed to transport you throughout the breathtaking panoramic countryside in a truly relaxed atmosphere.
For a journey you’ll treasure for a lifetime, grab your camera and hop aboard for the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. The Grand Train Tour combines the most scenic panorama routes into a unique travel experience.
The year-round tour combines eight different segments and you can join at any point along the journey—for instance in Zurich, Switzerland’s most multicultural metropolis. Each segment highlights magnificent scenic vistas, attractions and opportunities for exploration, so you can experience the country in all its splendid diversity. You can choose an eight-day or four-day tour—and best of all, you only need one ticket—the Swiss Travel Pass.
An Epic Journey with Eight Legs
Zurich – St. Gallen
While you can board at any point along the route, if you start in Zurich, the train ride through eastern Switzerland passes the renowned Rhine Fall and the city of Schaffhausen with its landmark, the Munot fortress. Soon Lake Constance, Central Europe’s third largest lake, comes into view. The ride continues along its lovely shores towards St. Gallen. This city, founded in the 7th century, is the cultural and economic centre of eastern Switzerland. A popular attraction is the Abbey District with the Abbey Library, which houses some 17,000 books and manuscripts.
St. Gallen – Lucerne (Voralpen-Express)
Leaving St. Gallen behind, the Voralpen-Express crosses into Appenzell, arguably the one Swiss region that is more than any other steeped in tradition. The route offers magnificent views of the Alpstein massif with the Säntis summit, and the Churfirsten mountain range—harbingers of the Alps. Passing through Rapperswil, the “City of Roses,” and across the impressive Rothenthurmer upland moor, the train finally turns towards Lucerne, “City of Lights” on the shores of lovely Lake Lucerne.
Lucerne – Montreux (GoldenPass Line)
The modern Premium panoramic train Lucerne–Interlaken Express of the Zentralbahn first takes you over the 1,008 metres-high Brünig pass to Meiringen and on to Brienz and Interlaken. After changing to one of the comfortable BLS trains, the journey continues along Lake Thunersee and through the scenic Simmental Valley with its many traditional farmhouses to Zweisimmen. From here, the GoldenPass Panoramic train dominates the third and last stage of the journey. The Premium panoramic train passes through the fashionable holiday resort Gstaad and glides across the Pays d’Enhaut with its peaceful Château-d’Oex. Along the vineyards of Lake Geneva, the train heads for Montreux.
Montreux – Zermatt
From the shores of lovely Lake Geneva, it’s just a short distance to Martigny—gateway to the Great St. Bernhard and Forclaz passes. The town looks back on some 2,000 years of history. Through the Rhone Valley the journey continues to Brig with its historic Stockalper Palace. The “Alpine town 2008” is located at the foot of the Simplon pass and is an ideal point of departure for many attractive local excursions. The train continues through the Nikolaital, the deepest-incised Swiss valley, and finally approaches Zermatt with the famous Matterhorn—the most photographed mountain in the world.
Zermatt – St. Moritz (Glacier Express)
Zermatt is the departure and destination point of one of the most famous trains in the world. The Glacier Express attracts thousands of travellers every year. From the Matterhorn, the train heads first for the idyllic Goms region and then for the holiday resort of Andermatt at the foot of the 2,044-metre Oberalp pass, connecting the cantons of Uri and Grisons. On the other side, highlights include Disentis with its beautiful Benedictine monastery, the Rhine Gorge, the Domleschg region with its many castles, and the Albula line of the Rhaetian Railway—a UNESCO World Heritage site.
St. Moritz – Lugano (Bernina Express / Palm Express)
Among many other things, the glamorous Alpine resort of St. Moritz is famous for the Bernina Express, which connects the cool north with the sunny south and takes you over the highest railway route of the Alps. The Albula and Bernina stretch between Thusis (Grisons) and Tirano (Italy) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers spectacular views of great scenic splendour. The route reaches its highest point at the Bernina Hospiz (2,253 metres above sea level).
In summer, the trip can be extended with the Bernina Express Bus from Tirano to Lugano. The journey leads through the Valtellina Valley and along Lake Como with its picturesque fishing villages. During winter, visitors travel from St. Moritz to Lugano in the yellow PostBus of the Palm Express. This route takes you through the Engadine, over the Maloja pass down through the Val Bregaglia, along the shoreline of Lake Como (Italy), and back to Switzerland at Gandria located on Lake Lugano.
Lugano – Luzern (Gotthard Panorama Express)
The Gotthard Panorama Express combines the best of travel by boat and train. You’ll first discover the ancient Gotthard route with its many myths and legends, as well as the rugged Reuss Valley. In Flüelen, climb aboard a historic paddle steamer, enjoying the cruise on Lake Lucerne while passing by legendary landmarks such as Tell’s Chapel, the Rütli Meadow and the Schiller Stone. Shortly before reaching the city of Lucerne, fantastic views of familiar summits such as Rigi, Bürgenstock, Titlis and Pilatus unfold.
Luzern – Zürich
Beautiful Lucerne is the departure point for the last stage of the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland. The “lakes route” takes you along the shoreline of Lake Lucerne to Lake Rotsee at Ebikon. Scenic Lake Zug, the country’s tenth largest lake, comes into view before the journey draws to its close at Lake Zurich with its quaint villages, lovely vineyards and, finally, the proud city of Zurich.
Want to learn about things to do along the route? Check out the activities and attractions to explore during your tour.
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