OK everyone, get your Instagram filters ready: we’ve gathered seven of the most epic views you can see while you’re traveling by train through Switzerland.
As far as epic views from train windows are concerned, Switzerland basically can’t stop and won’t stop.
1. That Bernina Express turn.
This is the stuff Swiss train dreams are made of, right? You’ll get this view traveling on the Bernina Express train as you cross the Brusio Circular Viaduct. The Bernina Express route covers cities like Lugano, St. Moritz, and Chur to Tirano, and you’ll pass through landscapes as diverse as ice-age glaciers and palm trees. So basically, this epic viaduct view is not the only epic window view you’ll experience on this route.
2. Sunrise ride down Mount Pilatus on cogwheel train.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience this ride firsthand! There are a few different ways to get up/down Mount Pilatus: we took the gondola ride up, which was really fun and had amazing views (even for someone who is scared of heights like myself).
On the way back down, we took the cogwheel train at sunrise, and that was even more fun (we had the whole train to ourselves, so we could take photos from every window and spread out with blankets across the seats).
Obviously you don’t have to take this train at sunrise, but you have to admit, it’s pretty cool to descend a mountain through the clouds while everyone else in their little mountain village houses are still asleep and the sun is rising in the distance. There is nothing like it.
You can also walk up and down the mountain — I have a friend who walked down it — but when I asked him if he’d recommend that to others, he politely declined to comment.
3. Epic views of “space” from the Glacier Express.
OK so, to be fair, this isn’t a view of space. But doesn’t it look like it could be? This is another view I’ve been lucky enough to experience firsthand: we were up in the mountains and the snow was perfectly white and untouched as far as we could see — no animal footprints, no human footprints, nothing. It was very surreal and definitely felt to me like we were on another planet.
Also, a fun fact: another thing you’ll see if you ride the Glacier Express’s entire route between St Moritz/Chur/Davos (choose one!) and Zermatt: you’ll see the 91 tunnels and 291 bridges that the train passes through during its 7.5 hour journey. Dare you to try to count them all.
4. View of anything, really, from the Glacier Express.
The Glacier Express is a long ride — 7.5 hours, between the eastern Alps and the western Alps — so you pass through a variety of landscapes & get your fill of epic views throughout that time. We traveled during January, so the scenery was mostly snowy and quite festive, but the train also operates during the summertime. And year round, the train’s first class travelers can enjoy the panoramic windows pictured above, so you won’t miss any of those Instagrammable moments.
5. Intimate look into Swiss village life.
On the GoldenPass Line, you’ll pass straight through little villages and towns. On the day we traveled this route, it was around the time school must have been getting out, because we saw a ton of families walking home together, all bundled up in winter gear. There were also plenty of skiiers waiting in the train stations to head up into the mountains for an afternoon ride.
We could see the snow-covered boots left on front porches and the laundry hanging from the open windows (even in the cold!). Even though the epic landscape views from the Bernina Express and Glacier Express are absolutely breath-taking, it was actually nice to have a break from those views for a second to get a close-up view of small town Swiss life.
6. View of Switzerland from Europe’s tallest mountain peak.
Jungfraujoch is nicknamed the “Top of Europe” and is home to the highest railway station in Europe: Eiger station. It’s one of the most popular stops in Switzerland, and for good reason!
To get there, you leave from Interlaken, Grindelwald or Wengen and take a unique, modern cogwheel railway to Kleine Scheidegg, 6762 feet up. From there, the Jungfrau railway climbs to the Eiger Glacier station, well known for its mountain restaurant and polar dog kennels. Then continue through the Eiger tunnel, only stopping to enjoy spectacular vistas on the way to the highest railway station in Europe at 11,000 feet.
No really, listen to this: “This fantastic location looks and feels so close to heaven, astronomers have often used it to study the stars.” Is that not one of the most romantic things you’ve ever heard?
It’s Gornergrat peak, which you can reach via the Gornergratbahn mountain rack railway from Zermatt. From the viewing platform over 10,285 feet up, you’ll see stunning views of 29 peaks, some rising over 13,000 feet. In operation since 1898, this 33-minute trip on Europe’s highest open-air cog railway is unparalleled for its breathtaking vistas and dramatic views of the Matterhorn.
Swiss Rail Pass options:
- Swiss Travel Pass
- Consecutive Pass: if you choose this option (for example, the 4 day Consecutive Pass), you have to use all 4 travel days in a row. You can take as many trains, buses, or boats as you want per day.
- Flexi Pass: if you choose this option (for example, 4 days in 1 month Flexi Pass), you can use those 4 travel days whenever you want, consecutive or not, within that 1 month period.
- Swiss Travel E-Pass
- Same deal as the Swiss Travel Pass we described above, but with two important details: 1. This pass is issued in a convenient electronic format, and 2. This pass is only available for consecutive travel days. You can get 3, 4, 8, or 15 consecutive days of travel with this e-pass.
Reservations. If you want to take some of those epic Scenic train rides we mentioned (Glacier Express, Bernina Express, etc) and you’re traveling with a rail pass, make sure to remember to also book a seat reservation for a particular train and time. The rail pass covers the ticket price of any train you want to take in Switzerland, but for these special scenic routes which are really popular and fill up fast, seat reservation supplements are mandatory.
Grand Train Tour itineraries. If you can’t decide which routes you want to travel in Switzerland, or if you need some help keeping them all straight (we get it, there’s a lot of them and after a while all the names start to sound the same), you can check out this handy guide to the best scenic train routes to make sure that you really do have a Grand Train Tour of Switzerland experience.
Did you like this post? Which epic views from trains have you seen? Which epic views are on your list? Keep it safe! Pin it to one of your European travel Pinterest boards.