Switzerland is a country with amazing nature and a rich history. A panoramic train is a great way to see all this splendor.
The Bernina Express is perhaps one of the most iconic panoramic trains in Switzerland. Officially, the Bernina Express runs from Kula to Lugano. The first panoramic train will travel over 100 kilometers from Kula to Tirano (Italy) in 4 hours. Then transfer to a bus that reaches Lugano in 3 hours.
Why is this train so famous? Between Kula and Tirano, the Bernina Express rises to an altitude of 2253 meters above sea level, crossing about 55 tunnels and 196 bridges. One of the most famous bridges is the Landvasser Viaduct. On this bridge, the speed of the Bernina Express is significantly reduced, allowing you to fully enjoy the scenery.
Bernina Express fare: A trip from Kula to Tirano will cost 131 Swiss francs in first class and 83 Swiss francs with second class, including seat reservation.
However, the Bernina Express runs on the same route as regular regional trains. The number of Bernina Express trains per day is limited (depending on the season). The rest of the "classic" trains follow the same route, but with "standard" windows. Reservations for classic trains are not required. As a rule, a reservation fee of 20 Swiss francs is a kind of "premium" for large panoramic windows. It's up to you whether you want to use the large window and pay the 20 CHF extra or just take a "regular" train.
The Glacier Express runs between Zermatt in the canton of Valais and St. Moritz in the canton of Gleason and the two famous ski resorts. It has won the title of the slowest train in the world.
The highlight of this route is the crossing of the upper alpine pass known as the upper Rhine, at an altitude of approximately 2000 meters above sea level. From Kura, the Glacier Express follows the same route as the Bernin Express.This means that you can also go through the Landwasser Viaduct and all the other incredible viaducts.
As with the Bernin, it is quite possible to travel the same route on a "classic" train, but it should be noted that this will require 4-6 changes, depending on the schedule. In short, if you plan to stop halfway (especially in Fischer, Andermatt or Kura), the "regular" train is a very good option, but if you want to do the whole trip at once, the Glacier Express is the best option in winter, with 1 change per day (in each direction), and 2 in summer. There are additional connections, but they do not cover the entire route (from Zermatt to Kula or from St. Moritz to Brig).
Fare: Like the Bernina Express, the Glacier Express is a train that requires a reservation (from 39 to 49 Swiss francs depending on the season). The trip itself is paid for with a GA or Swiss Travel Pass. In the absence of a season pass, the standard price for the entire trip (from Zermatt to St. Moritz or vice versa) is 152 Swiss francs for second class and 268 for first class. By purchasing a half-fare pass, you can get a 50% discount on this price.
Here we leave the world of "official" panoramic trains and move on to the "standard" line. A train heading east from Lausanne through the Lavaux vineyards (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
In fact, there are two railway lines that run through this incredible landscape. The first is the route from Lausanne to Bern. Here, the tracks run along the top of the vineyard, offering a stunning panoramic view of the lake against the backdrop of the Alps. The view is incredible, but the pleasure is relatively short-lived. In Puidou, the train departs for Bern, passes through a tunnel and then enters the countryside of the Fribourg region.
The second line from Lausanne to Villeneuve (and Valais) runs along the shores of the lake. In some places, the route runs right by the water's edge, offering a front-row view of the Alps.
Regardless of which train you choose, you will definitely have an unforgettable experience traveling in Switzerland.