Combine scenic trips with culinary delights
Scenic trips by train, boat and mountain transportation are among the must-do’s in Switzerland. So is enjoying Swiss cuisine, and you can combine both! We’ll explain how to enjoy snacks and meals on board of trains, boats and even cable cars.
Dining on board of regular trains
Dining on board of trains is pretty common in Switzerland, and options are widely available. You can also have your own drinks and food, as long as you don’t cause inconvenience to other passengers. These are the on-board catering options for some of the major railway companies:
- SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen, operating nation-wide): many IC (Intercity) and EC (Eurocity) trains run by the SBB have a restaurant or bistro on board. In 1st class, you’ll be served at your seat if you wish. The menus include breakfast, beverages, lunch dishes, dinners and desserts. Seat reservations are optional, and special orders can be arranged for groups of 10 or more;
- Die Zentralbahn (operating in Central Switzerland mostly): travelers can order drinks, snacks, lunch and dinner at their seat in both 2nd as well as 1st class, using the BistroOrder app if they like;
- BLS (Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon Bahn, operating in the Bernese Oberland, Central Switzerland and the Valais): the BLS mainly operates regional trains, on which no gastronomy services are included. It’s no problem to bring along your own food and drinks though;
- RhB (Rhaetian Railways, operating in Graubünden): dining during your train ride is possible in panoramic trains and on many special gourmet rides (see below).
Dining on board of panoramic trains
Enjoying a ride in panoramic trains is one of Switzerland’s most popular tourist activities. Dining at your seat can add to this special experience. Please find the options below:
- Bernina Express: there’s a minibar with snacks and drinks, that can be served at your seat. If you book at least 3 days in advance, you can also arrange for cold platters with regional dishes. Apart from that, lunch or dinner is served in the panoramic car to and from Landquart. Check the timetable to find out which trains feature this dining option;
- Centovalli Railway: on most trains, there’s a trolley from which you can buy drinks and snacks;
- Glacier Express: dishes and lunch menus are served at your seat in both 2nd as well as 1st class. Prior reservations are recommended. In Excellence Class, a 5-course menu with regional dishes is served, and coffee, tea and an aperitif are all included;
- Golden Pass: the trains between Lucerne and Interlaken are operated by the railway company Die Zentralbahn. They offer breakfast, drinks, lunch and dinner served at your seat. You can order using the BistroOrder app if you like, in both 1st and 2nd class. Between Zweisimmen and Montreux, the Montreux Oberland Bahnen are the operator. They serve drinks, sandwiches and cold platters on the Classic and Panoramic trains;
- Voralpen-Express: the modern Voralpen-Express 'Traverso' trains feature two bistro zones with vending machines. You can buy hot and cold drinks and snacks here;
- Gotthard Panorama Express: snacks and beverages are served at your seat during the train ride. During the boat ride, you can enjoy cold and warm lunch dishes and desserts in the restaurant. Reservations are recommended for busier days.
Special culinary rides, trains and wagons
Some trains, train routes or wagons are enitrely dedicated to gastronomy, either on-board or at the ride’s destination. These rides allow you to dine on board:
- the fondue train from Bulle in winter, turned into a sushi train in summer;
- several gourmet rides and trains operated by the RhB (the Rhaetian Railways). You can take a ride in the Gourmino wagon between Chur and St. Moritz, enjoy a 3-course dinner in the train to Arosa, taste whisky on the Whisky Gourmet Express, enjoy local game during special rides in autumn, and more. Advance reservation is required for such journeys;
- several special nostalgic trains, that can be booked through SBB for festivities and larger travel parties.
These trains and rides don’t offer extended on-board gastronomy options, but do have culinary themes:
- the Chocolate Train from Montreux, serving chocolate bread and coffee/tea between Montreux and Montbovon. The Maison Cailler chocolate factory in Broc is its destination;
- the Cheese Train from Montreux to Chateau d’Oex, bringing you to a cheese-making demonstration and a cheese fondue;
- the Lavaux Express, which is technically a tourist car ride through the Lavaux vineyards along Lake Geneva. You can buy wine and souvenirs during several stops made on the way, and free glasses are available to taste the products while you’re on the move;
- the Wine Train, transporting passengers from Vevey to Chexbres through the Lavaux vineyards along Lake Geneva;
- the Kambly Train, which is a direct regional train from either Bern or Lucerne to the Kambly Factory in Trubschachen. Vending machines with snacks are available on board.
Dining on board of boats
Most regular boats on Swiss lakes offer a restaurant, which is often available on the upper deck to holders of a 1st class ticket or rail pass. You can enjoy coffee, tea, pastries, multi-course lunches or even complete dinners as you gently cross the lake and watch the scenery. Choose a long route to enjoy a full meal, from entrée to a delicious dessert. Reservations are usually optional, and recommended on crowded days.
Apart from the restaurants on regular boats, many boat companies arrange for special culinary cruises. These always require advance reservations.
- Lake Brienz and Lake Thun: many boats crossing these lakes have an on-board restaurant with extensive gastronomy options, ranging from breakfast to (warm) lunch dishes. These restaurants are indicated by a knife-and-fork icon in the pdf timetables, to which you’ll find links here and here. Some other boats, usually those operating in the early morning, have bistro options with hot and cold snacks. Bistros are indicated by a wine glass icon in the pdf timetable. On top of this, many themed culinary cruises are available. How about a beer boat, a brunch or breakfast ride, romantic dinner evening cruises or even a fajita cruise?
- Lake Geneva: catering is available on most boats. The upper-deck restaurants are generally accessible to 1st class ticket holders, except for boats belonging to the Belle Epoque fleet, where 2nd class passengers can dine in the upper deck restaurant too. There are numerous special gourmet cruises as well, including a fondue festival, sunset and dinner cruises, a fish-themed cruise, and so on;
- Lake Lucerne: many boats have restaurants on the upper deck. We highly recommend a dining trip at Lake Lucerne: the restaurants offer extensive menus with lots of choices, including a proper selections of beers, wines and other drinks. You can enjoy a complete multi-course dinner if you pick a long route, for example all the way from Flüelen to Weggis or Lucerne. If you consult the pdf timetable (find a link here), this is how to interpret the icons: a wineglass indicates an on-board bistro with beverages and warm and cold snacks; a knife-and-fork icon indicates a restaurant. Special culinary cruises include breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner cruises, plus many more options;
- Lake Lugano: gastronomy options differ per ride. There’s no standard fleet with on-board restaurants, but there are designated lunch, brunch and dinner tours between Lugano, Melide, Morcote and Porte Teresio. Themed dinner cruises are available too;
- Lake Zurich: on-board catering is available on many regular boats, and you can choose from lots of culinary rides with a wide range of themes. Cheese fondue, beer, barbecue and hot stone grill are just a few examples.
Meal options in cable cars
Dining during a cable car ride is a spectacular experience! There are a few options:
- have breakfast during the gondola ride to Klein Matterhorn near Zermatt, or enjoy a glass of wine in your VIP gondola. Find the options here;
- enjoy a romantic dinner for two or three, or a tablegrill dinner for a larger group, during several rides up and down to Pfingstegg near Grindelwald;
- have dinner in the cable car between Weggis and Rigi Kaltbad;
- have a multi-course dinner and enjoy musical entertainment in the gondolas to Rinderberg near Gstaad.