The GoldenPass route can be traveld in both directions. It runs between the German-speaking Lucerne in Central Switzerland and the French-speaking Montreux in the Lake Geneva area. Towns along the way are Meiringen, Interlaken, Spiez, Zweisimmen and Gstaad.
The route consists of 3 main sections. If you travel by GoldenPass Express, a change in Zweisimmen is not necessary.
Section 1: Lucerne to Interlaken Ost
The train departs from Lucerne and passes the foot of the Pilatus mountain. You can see Lake Lucerne every now and then, but you will soon leave it behind you.
You'll pass two more lakes, the Sarnersee and the Lungernsee, before the train starts climbing the Brünig Pass. The pass has an altitude of 1008 m, which isn't very high for Swiss standards. Next, the train has to descend 413 m to reach Meiringen at 595 m on the valley floor, and it uses the cogwheel track to do so.
The train changes direction in Meiringen. A flat stretch through the Hasli valley follows before the train reaches Brienz along beautiful Lake Brienz. About 20 minutes later the train arrives in Interlaken Ost (East), which is the gateway to the Jungfrau region.
Sit on the right side of the train for the best view of the lakes and the view while descending from the pass down to Meiringen.
Section 2: Interlaken Ost to Zweisimmen
First the train runs along the river Aare to the other side of Interlaken. It continues its way to Spiez, a town at a scenic location along Lake Thun. You can easily see the pyramid shaped Mount Niesen from here.
The GoldenPass line proceeds into the Simmen valley: a typically Swiss green valley with farms, small villages, forests and surrounded by mountains.
You can best sit on the right side for the view on Lake Thun, but this is only a short section.
Section 3: Zweisimmen to Montreux
First the train climbs to the highest point of the entire GoldenPass line, near Saanenmöser, at 1279 m. Next up is the upper-class town of Gstaad, with luxurious shops and hotels. Soon after you will leave the German speaking part of Switzerland and enter the French speaking part.
The train winds its way through the valley, which is quite narrow in some places. The valley ends in a tunnel that leads to Les Avants. From there, Montreux is just 3 km as the crow flies, but there are still 578 metres left to descend. Cogwheel track and many curves are required to complete the last 20 minutes of the journey, and you will have a wonderful view of Lake Geneva along the way.
It does not matter that much on which side of the train you sit. We think the right side provides a slightly better view.
What's the best leg of the route?
All sections are worth your time. If we had to choose one it would be section 3: Zweisimmen-Montreux. This is where the line is at its narrowest, tram-like sometimes, and the descent to, or ascent from, Montreux with the view of Lake Geneva is beautiful.
If you don't have time to do the complete GoldenPass route, just pick the section that is closest to your base town.
Dates of operation
The trains operate all year round.
The GoldenPass Express train is available as follows:
- There's 1 daily ride in each direction until June 10 2023.
- This daily schedule is as follows: Montreux-Interlaken from 09:35 to 12:50, Interlaken-Montreux from 09:08 to 12:20.
- There are 4 daily rides in each direction from June 11 2023.
To be sure to travel via the GoldenPass line, enter the via-stations Meiringen and Zweisimmen. All trains are labeled 'PE', except for the normal regional trains between Interlaken and Zweisimmen. If you click on a connection, you'll see the official train names: 'Luzern-Interlaken Express', 'GoldenPass Belle Époque', 'GoldenPass Panoramic' or 'GoldenPass Express'.
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