The Glacier-Express - Full Steam Ahead to Happiness
Of course, there are faster ways to travel across Switzerland. But it‘s guaranteed that not one of them is as beautiful as the ride on the Glacier Express.
The train runs between St. Moritz and Zermatt and takes about eight hours to cover the 291-kilometer route. At an average speed of 40 kilometers per hour, this isn‘t any record-breaking time, but that‘s not what the world‘s
slowest express train is all about. The passenger cars clatter along on their day‘s journey through three cantons, crossing seven valleys and rolling over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels. And the entire time a superb nature film is running before the panorama windows, showing spectacular views that simply make you happy. The red-and-white train passes by deep blue mountain lakes, meanders through high alpine valleys, crosses passes and gorges and offers grand new pictures with every kilometer of track.
If you have some time to spare, you can travel the route in stages with overnight stays. Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland with its history of settlement for over 5,000 years, is recommended as your first stopover. The Episcopal Quarter („Hof“) with its 800-year-old cathedral is enthroned above the fantastically preserved, carfree Old Town. It is one of the most important cultural monuments in Switzerland.
In Tschiertschen, just seven kilometers away and lying 1,350 meters high, traditional wooden houses characterize the Old Town center.
Flims, 20 kilometers west of Chur, offers visitors a unique landscape – the Ruinaulta gorge, also known as the „Swiss Grand Canyon“. Hiking trails along the Rhine River lead to craggy rocks, forests and broad meadows. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy thrilling rafting tours or bike trips, and you can take wonderful selfies from the viewing platforms with the gorge in the background.
The Glacier Express reaches its final destination at the mountain village of Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn (4,478 m) with its 400 kilometers of hiking trails. A cogwheel railway ascends to the 3,089 meter high Gornergrat with its breathtaking view of the Matterhorn and the world of Alpine summits.
The train, whose fame is definitely comparable to the legendary Orient Express, is one of the narrow-gauge railways and has a gauge of just one meter. As a result, it can take very narrow bends, can keep changing direction in spiral tunnels and turn along serpentines or switchbacks to the snow-capped peaks. All this is done with a sovereign serenity, so that the travelers on this dream route have plenty of time to enjoy all the breathtaking natural wonders at their ease.
Another highlight: the gastronomy on board. Dishes are freshly prepared on board daily using locally sourced products and served at your seat. Traveling, marveling, being pampered. Many travelers could happily spend even more time on the slowest express train in the world.
Picture © by Glacier Express