A relaxing train journey between Central and East Switzerland
The Voralpen-Express, or 'Prealps-Express' in English, is a unique train journey in Switzerland between Lucerne and St. Gallen. It’s an excellent way to travel between Central and North-Eastern Switzerland, without having to navigate the busy rail station of Zurich.
Details of the Voralpen-Express route.
The forum allows you to post your questions and discuss your plans.
A journey with the Voralpen-Express
The Voralpen-Express doesn’t have the impressive mountain views of some other famous Swiss rail journeys, like the Glacier Express or Bernina Express. Instead, it shows the rolling green hills and charming villages of Central- and North-Switzerland.
In about 2h20, you’ll travel from Lucerne to St. Gallen with the Alps (including Rigi and Säntis) as your backdrop. You’ll also pass a couple of impressive viaducts.
The Voralpen-Express train
The Voralpen-Express is a regular regional train that runs hourly in both directions. It's used by commuters and tourists.
The modern copper-coloured train is called 'Traverso'. It has 1st and 2nd class compartments, large windows and lots of comfort.
There’s a family compartment with room for pushchairs and prams, and large tables for toys. The trains also have two bistro zones where you’ll find coffee and snack machines, and even some alcoholic drinks. A digital information system and power outlets add to your comfort.
Regular trains via Zurich versus the Voralpen-Express
The mountain ranges between Central and Eastern Switzerland make direct traveling between both regions challenging. That's why most trains between these areas bypass it and travel via Zurich.
Connections from Lucerne to St. Gallen via Zurich take a bit under 2 hours, meaning they're about 25 minutes quicker than the Voralpen-Express. If you're not in a rush, we recommend the Voralpen-Express for its unique view of northern Switzerland.
What’s the best season?
The Voralpen-Express is a convenient route between Central and Eastern Switzerland at all times of the year.
We recommend late spring to early fall for the best experience of the green hills, orchards and valleys along the route. In winter, chances of snow along the route aren't high. In clear weather you'll have amazing views of the snow-capped Alps in the distance though.
Travel suggestions from Lucerne or St. Gallen
If you’re based in Lucerne or St. Gallen, you can board the train there and stay seated all the way. Then travel back to your base town, using the Voralpen-Express route again or a quicker connection via Zurich.
Travel suggestions from Zurich
If you’re based in Zurich, you can consider one of the options below:
- A nice circular route is Zurich - St. Gallen – Voralpen-Express to Lucerne - Zurich. Alternatively, you can get off the Voralpen-Express in Arth-Goldau and then head back to Zurich. This saves about 45 minutes compared to traveling via Lucerne. The section St. Gallen-Arth Goldau still contains the two impressive viaducts of the Voralpen-Express route.
- An option for an extended trip, including a mountain excursion, starts like this: Zurich - St. Gallen – Voralpen-Express to Arth-Goldau. In Arth-Goldau, you can switch to the cogwheel train to Rigi. Take a cogwheel train down to Vitznau, travel by boat to Lucerne and travel back to Zurich by train. The total traveling time is about 6 hours, not including time spent at Rigi.
Combine the Voralpen-Express with the GoldenPass or Gotthard Panorama Express
Would you like to include sections of other famous panoramic train journeys, such as the GoldenPass route or the Gotthard Panorama Express? Here are some options:
- For a combination with the GoldenPass, travel from St. Gallen to Montreux like this: St. Gallen – Voralpen-Express to Lucerne - GoldenPass route to Interlaken, Zweisimmen and Montreux.
- For a combination with the Gotthard Panorama Express, travel from St. Gallen to Lugano like this: St. Gallen – Voralpen-Express to Lucerne - boat to Flüelen - Gotthard Panorama Express train to Lugano.
Combine the Voralpen-Express with other trips
The Voralpen-Express can be combined with lots of side trips:
- Include a trip up to Rigi near Lucerne. Other activities near Lucerne can be found here.
- Visit the monastery of St. Gallen, with its beautiful cathedral and impressive library. It’s a 10-minute walk from the rail station of St. Gallen to the abbey precinct. This is an official UNESCO world heritage site.
- There’s an abbey in Einsiedeln was well, where monks have been living for over a thousand years. Einsiedeln can be reached by local trains from Biberbrugg, one of the rail stations along the Voralpen-Express route.
- Get out at Rapperswil and spend some time in this charming town, also known as the “City of Roses”. In a 10-minute walk, you can reach the Rapperswil castle, which dates back to the 12th century.
- Visit the nature park and zoo in Arth-Goldau.
- Get out in Herisau and travel to the mountain of Säntis. This is one of the main viewing points in North-Eastern Switzerland.