There are, of course, faster ways to cross Switzerland. But none is guaranteed to be as beautiful as the ride on the Glacier Express. The train runs between St. Moritz and Zermatt, taking around eight hours for the 291-kilometre route. With an average speed of 40 kilometres per hour, this is not a record-breaking time, but that is not the point of the world's slowest express train. On their day's journey, the wagons rattle through three cantons, cross seven valleys, roll over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels. And in front of the panorama windows, a grandiose nature film is playing the whole time, with spectacular views that simply make you happy. The red and white train passes deep blue mountain lakes, winds through alpine high valleys, crosses passes and gorges and offers new, magnificent images with every kilometre of track.
If you have some time, you can also cover the route in stages with overnight stays. The first recommended stop is Chur, Switzerland's oldest town with a settlement history of over 5,000 years. The Bishop's Court with its 800-year-old cathedral towers over the fantastically preserved, car-free old town. It is one of the most important cultural monuments in Switzerland. In Tschiertschen, just seven kilometres away at an altitude of 1350 metres, traditional wooden houses characterise the old village centre. 20 kilometres west of Chur, a unique landscape awaits visitors in Flims - the Rhine Gorge, also known as the 'Swiss Grand Canyon'. Hiking trails lead along the Rhine past rugged cliffs, forests and wide meadows. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy thrilling rafting tours or bike excursions, and wonderful selfies can be taken from the viewing platforms with the gorge in the back.
The Glacier Express reaches its terminus in the mountain village of Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn (4478 m) with 400 kilometres of hiking trails. A cogwheel railway rides up the 3089-metre Gornergrat with a breathtaking view of the Matterhorn and the peaks of the Alps.
The train, whose fame is quite comparable to the legendary Orient Express, belongs to the narrow-gauge railways and has a gauge of only one metre. This allows it to take very tight curves, to change direction again and again in helical tunnels and to curve over serpentines to snow-covered peaks. All this happens with sovereign composure, so that travellers have plenty of time to enjoy all the breathtaking natural wonders on the dream route at their leisure.
Another highlight: the gastronomy on board. The dishes are prepared fresh daily on board from regional products and served at the seat. Drive, marvel, be pampered. For many travellers, the slowest express train in the world could easily take even more time.
In addition to the Glacier Express, the classic among Swiss panoramic journeys, Switzerland offers many other spectacular railway routes.
Europe's highest train route takes you over the Alps and through the landscape of Graubünden. Chur, Davos and St. Moritz are just some of the stops. The Bernina Express passes through 55 tunnels and 196 bridges, and part of the route is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
More info: www.rhb.ch/de/panoramazuege/bernina-express
Golden Pass Line
From the vineyards above Montreux via Gstaad, Interlaken and then past Lakes Lungern, Sarner and Alpnach to Lucerne - on this train you can see Switzerland's most beautiful landscapes from comfortable panorama cars.
More info: www.goldenpassline.ch/de/
Train du Chocolat
From Montreux on Lake Geneva via Gruyères to the "chocolate town" of Broc, this train shuttles through the Swiss countryside. The real experience, however, is the train itself. In the 1st class carriages of the "Belle Epoque" Pullman type, you feel transported back to the year 1915.
The Voralpen-Express runs between central and eastern Switzerland from St. Gallen to Lucerne. The journey passes lakes, gentle valleys and rugged mountains. The literal highlight is Europe's highest railway viaduct, at around 100 m above ground, over the Stittertal valley.
More information: www.voralpen-express.ch/de
Not a train in the true sense of the word, but a mountain railway is the electrically operated Jungfrau Express cogwheel railway. The starting point is Kleine Scheidegg. The ride is short, but offers a perfect view of the Eiger Glacier and the Eigerwand. The final stop after 9.34 kilometres and 1,400 metres in altitude is the Jungfraujoch.
More info: www.jungfrau.ch
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