The Best Cities to Visit in Switzerland by Train

What could be better than visiting the incredible Swiss landscape while actually spending every minute being able to enjoy it? That’s the beauty of the train. You’ll experience complete comfort, able to watch the stunning scenery and charming landscapes without ever wondering if you’re going the right track. You’re traveling in one of the most eco-friendly ways possible in a country consumed, quite literally, with timeliness.

Well, with a Swiss Pass you have access to the best cities to visit in Switzerland by train, postal bus and boat: and not just taking you where you want to go, but traveling from one city-center to another, leaving you right in the middle of the action. It also includes the Swiss Museum Pass which provides access to over 470 museums.

Glacier Express
Glacier Express

Where every second counts, here are  top ten “Where to go, what to do in Switzerland” suggestions.  

 10 – Lausanne

Befitting the headquarters for the International Olympic Committee, Lausanne is a renowned destination for sports enthusiasts and olympic torchbearers. Just over two hours by rail from both Lucerne and Zurich, and only 40 minutes from Geneva, you’ll find the newly reopened Olympic Museum, as well as the stunning Cathedral of Lausanne.

 9 – Montreux

Montreux is famous for many things, including its famous Montreux Jazz Festival that takes place in early July every year. Just as sweet to experience? The Chocolate Train. (HEY! DID SOMEONE SAY CHOCOLATE??!) This fantastic day trip from Montreux to Broc and back takes you to the Nestle factory and the Gruyères cheese factory. It’s like enjoying a rolling, scenic fondue! Where else are you going to get an experience like this?

8 – Zermatt

Welcome to storybook Zermatt: home of the world famous Matterhorn. To visit the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, you’ll need to take the Matterhorn–Gotthard–Bahn Railway, a private railway that is covered by your Swiss Pass. Zermatt is also the beginning (or end) of the incredible Glacier Express–the “worlds slowest express train.” This 7½-hour journey on a panoramic train travels straight through the Swiss Alps, passing through 90 tunnels and over nearly 300 bridges.

Matterhorn (4478m) in the Pennine Alps from Zermatt.
Matterhorn (4478m) in the Pennine Alps from Zermatt.

7 – Lugano

Lugano offers the Swiss visitor a great variety of landscapes and different ways to enjoy it. Let’s start with the serene and sublime Wilhelm Tell Express. It begins with a lunch cruise on Lake Lucerne, followed by a train trip ending at Bellinzona in the Ticino region. You even have the option of traveling on to Locarno or Lugano. Breathtaking doesn’t even begin to describe it. Next is the Bernina Express that includes rides from Lugano, St. Moritz, and Chur to Tirano. Where else can a 2½-hour trip take you from glaciers to palm trees?

6 – The Ticino region

The Ticino region is so close to Italy, it’s Italian speaking. Which means Bellinzona, a stunning area fringed by the Swiss Alps, is also just an hour and a half from Milan. Why not plan an unforgettable lunch at the Grotto Castelgrande, overlooking Bellinzona and the Ticino valley? This beautiful restaurant offers incredible Alpine vistas and views of local castles as a built-in appetizer.

Locarno in the Ticino. Promenade along Lago Maggiore. Copyright: swiss-image-ch
Locarno in the Ticino. Promenade along Lago Maggiore. Copyright: swiss-image-ch

 5 – Interlaken

Unknown to many is that Interlaken’s summer temperatures can reach into the 70’s, making it ideal year-round for activities. Why not hike through a natural paradise? Or bike to Giessbach Waterfall? Of course, Grindelwald and Murren-Schilthorn remain two of the most popular places for skiing, hiking and snowboarding. But what must not go undone is Jungfraujoch, the highest altitude railway station on the continent.  At over 11,000 feet up, this “Top of Europe” may be Switzerland’s most expansive and breathtaking scenic experience.

 4 – Lucerne

Lucerne is popular for so many reasons. Its natural beauty, its sophisticated culture, its athleticism that includes rowing regattas, golf courses and equestrian events: not to mention an abundance of local markets. But to see more of Switzerland, there’s the GoldenPass line that travels between Lucerne and Lake Geneva. You can choose between a modern train car, and the romantic Classic Belle Epoque coaches.

3 – Bern

Bern is the capital of Switzerland and the quintessential Swiss city. From Zurich Airport, you can take the train to Bern in just 75 minutes. Once off the train, you’ll find the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, within walking distance. Enjoy the Clock Tower, a famous meeting place, as well as one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe.

Bern Old Town
Bern Old Town

2 – Zurich

Zurich’s main station, Zurich Hauptbahnhof, is one of the busiest in the world due to its central location. Yet it still welcomes you with a lower level mall that’s home to over 200 stores. Not to be outdone, above ground you’ll find the fancy-pants Bahnhofstrasse Paradeplatz. It is one of the most expensive and expansive designer streets in the world. Yes to Chanel! Oh goody, Gucci! Prada? Perfect. For more natural pleasures, take the world’s steepest cogwheel railway to the peak of Mt. Pilatus.

1 – Geneva

Home to the League of Nations. One of the most affluent cities in the world.  And just over three hours from Paris on the high-speed TGVGeneva is a city of magnificence and opulence, whether you’re referring to the shops, the architecture, or the simply awe-inspiring Alps that surround it. Once again, the train avails itself for you to make the most of the city and the country.

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva

Well, folks, that’s the best cities to visit in Switzerland, and a smattering of what to do once you get there. I hope this will provide just the push you need to get started, or finished, with your dream booking. But one thing all these cities of Switzerland have in common is how well served they are by the train, and by Rail Europe. Even with so many ways to go, we’ve made sure of one thing. You can’t go wrong.

And as you explore Switzerland, why lug to Zug or anywhere else? Fly Rail Baggage service will transport your  luggage from any North American airport to the train station of your final destination in Switzerland. And the Fast Baggage service transfers your luggage from a number of train stations within Switzerland to your destination station.  Both are ideal options for those who want to “travel light,” offering same-day baggage delivery between 45 cities and holiday destinations throughout Switzerland. You’ll just need to retrieve your luggage from your destination station.

So tell us, what did we Swiss miss? Any chocolate havens we shouldn’t overlook? What time of year did you go? What about some packing tips for such varied weather? Did you try Fly Rail Baggage or Fast Baggage? And feel free to share you pictures. We’d love to see them!

Switzerland Top 10 Cities by Train

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeff Anderson says:

    I love Geneva, Switzerland!!

  2. JudiC says:

    We are doing a cycling tour from Thonon-les-Bains this month and need to get to Thonon-les-Bains from Geneva. We would like t travel by train, and would like to know the best way to go about buying tickets. Can you give us any guidance?

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