Lötschberg Mountain Railway: the must-knows

  • This is a scenic ride over the spectacular Lötschberg mountain route between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais.
  • There are also quicker trains that use the Lötschberg Base Tunnel instead.
  • Can’t choose between a stay in Zermatt or Interlaken? Simply use the Lötschberg Mountain Railway for a day trip to the other town.
  • Book a ride in the driver’s cab for a special train experience.
  • The mountain route is free with a Swiss Travel Pass and Berner Oberland Pass.
Min. time required: 2:00
Season: all year
Recommended season: early January to late February and early April to late October
Max. altitude: 1216 m (3990 ft)

What is the Lötschberg Mountain Railway? Copy link to clipboard

The Lötschberg Mountain Railway is a scenic regional train route between Bern (in northern Switzerland) and Brig (in the Valais). In a 1h40 journey, the train passes the beautiful mountains between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. You can continue to Domodossola in Italy.

It's a perfect option to transfer between Interlaken and Zermatt, and of course between other towns in the Bernese Oberland and the Valais.

Price, ticket, and reservation info Copy link to clipboard

Lötschberg Mountain Railway ticket prices in 2024

If you don't have a rail pass, a single journey Bern-Brig via the Lötschberg mountain line costs CHF 56 in 2nd class.

Depending on your plans, it can be cheaper to get a Saver Day Pass instead of normal tickets.

The journey is discounted or even free with several rail passes, such as the Swiss Travel Pass and the Berner Oberland Pass. Find a complete overview of rail pass discounts here.

Where to buy tickets

You can get your tickets for the Lötschberg mountain trains online and at Swiss rail stations. With a rail pass that grants free traveling, you don't need tickets.

Reservations

Reservations are not required and mostly not even possible for the Lötschberg mountain trains. You can make reservations for the IC trains crossing the Lötschberg Base Tunnel though.

Find tickets and tours for the Lötschberg Mountain Railway Copy link to clipboard

If you don't have a rail pass allowing free traveling, you need tickets.

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Get discounts with your rail pass Copy link to clipboard

PassDiscount
Adventure Card Free:
  • Kandersteg to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Bern to Spiez: no discount. Spiez to Kandersteg: 50% discount. Seat reservations: no discount.

Berner Oberland Pass Free:
  • Bern to Brig (train, only via Kandersteg)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

Day Pass Free:
  • Bern to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

Eurail Global Pass Free:
  • Bern to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

Interrail Switzerland Pass Free:
  • Bern to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

Saver Day Pass Free:
  • Bern to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

Swiss Half Fare Card Discount 50%:
  • Bern to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

Swiss Travel Pass Free:
  • Bern to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

Swiss Travel Pass Flex Free:
  • Bern to Brig (train)
  • Brig to Domodossola (train)
More information:

Seat reservations: no discount.

The Lötschberg mountain route in detail, with map  Copy link to clipboard

The Lötschberger mountain trains cross the Alps between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. Of course you can travel in both directions.

The route can be divided into 4 main sections.

Section 1: Bern-Spiez

The train starts in Bern. After leaving the city, you’ll head for Thun in western Bernese Oberland. If the weather is clear, you can see the snow-capped Bernese Alps on your left.

Between the scenic lakeside towns Thun and Spiez, you’ll have the shores of Lake Thun on your left side as well.

Section 2: Spiez-Goppenstein

The train bends south after Spiez and enters the pretty Kander Valley, passing the towns Frutigen and Kandersteg.

This is where the entrance to the long Lötschberg Base Tunnel can be found, but the mountain trains don’t use it. Instead, they start to gain height after Frutigen with the aid of spiral loops and viaducts. It’s an impressive piece of engineering. Beautiful views on both sides await you.

The Lötschberg tunnel between Kandersteg and Goppenstein concludes this part of the ride. Car trains use this tunnel too.

Section 3: Goppenstein-Brig

You’ll leave the Lötschberg tunnel near Goppenstein, which is on the southern side of the Alps.

Another impressive mountain section gets you to Raron, where you’ll see the wide Rhone Valley appear far below. A gradual descent over several high viaducts follows, with the Rhone Valley at your right hand.

Section 4: Brig-Domodossola

You can continue into Italy through the Simplon Pass. There’s a mountain road for cars and buses, but the trains use the Simplon Tunnel to Iselle di Trasquera in Italy. Car trains use this tunnel as well. Shortly after, you’ll reach the destination Domodossola.

The best section of the route

There are many towns along the route where you can hop on and off, so you can choose any part of the route that suits your plans.

If we had to choose, we’d pick Spiez-Goppenstein-Brig as the highlight of this trip. You'll experience impressive railway engineering and great views of the mountains here.

Map of the Lötschberg Mountain Railway: Bern-Spiez-Kandersteg-Brig

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Map

Operation dates, schedules and timetable Copy link to clipboard

Lötschberg Mountain Railway operation dates

The trains operate all days of the year.

Planning your journey with the timetable

If you plan your Lötschberger journey with the Swiss timetable, you'll see several connections between north and south:

  • The ones labeled "IC" ('InterCity') use the Lötschberg Base Tunnel. These are not the trains passing the Lötschberg mountain route.
  • The ones labeled '"RE" ("RegioExpress") are the Lötschberg mountain trains. Those are the ones you need. If you check the connection details, you'll see a list of intermediate stops plus the German addition "Lötschberg-Bergstrecke" ("Lötschberg mountain route") between the stations of Kandersteg and Frutigen.

If you want the timetable to show connections for the Lötschberg mountain route only, you can enter "Kandersteg" or "Goppenstein" as a via-station.

Best seasons Copy link to clipboard

We prefer the Lötschberg Mountain Railway in early January to late February and early April to late October.

  • April-June is beautiful for the combination of blossoming nature and snowy mountain tops.
  • August-September makes for a beautiful summer ride.
  • In October you can see the first autumn colors in the valleys and there may be fresh snow on the peaks.
  • January-February provides the best chance of snow along the higher sections of the route.

We feel that November, December and March are least interesting. Nature along this route can be a bit dull in these months.

Weather tips and forecasts Copy link to clipboard

You can ride the Lötschberg mountain trains in any type of weather. Of course, sunny skies are best. But as long as there's no heavy rain, fog, or snow you'll be able to enjoy views of the scenery.

Sometimes there are significant differences in weather between regions north and south of the Swiss Alps. So the Lötschberg mountain ride can be a great day trip to the other side of the Alps if the weather is better over there.

Since you don't have to reserve seats, you can check forecasts shortly before and then decide whether or not to make the ride.

Short-term forecasts for Goppenstein on the Lötschberg mountain route

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What to expect from the trains

The trains on the Lötschberg mountain route are comfortable regional trains of the so-called ‘MIKA’ type. These trains feature air conditioning, large windows, low-floor access, plenty of space for your luggage, bistro zones with vending machines for snacks and beverages, improved WiFi reception, power sockets, and a passenger information system.

A special feature is the option to book a ride in the driver’s cab.

The best side to sit on

If there are enough empty seats and you can move around a bit, we suggest this:

  • Section 1, Bern-Spiez: sit on the left side for a better view of Lake Thun.
  • Section 2, Spiez-Goppenstein: there’s no major difference between the right or left side.
  • Section 3, Goppenstein-Brig: sit at the right for the descent to the Rhone Valley.
  • Section 4, Brig-Domossola: the right and left sides are equally fine.

The Lötschberg mountain route versus the Lötschberg Base Tunnel

The Lötschberg mountain trains aren’t the only way to travel between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. An alternative is the Lötschberg Base Tunnel between Spiez and Brig. This 34,6 km long tunnel is used by freight trains and passenger trains.

The Lötschberg mountain trains cross several tunnels, including the Lötschberg Tunnel between Kandersteg and Goppenstein. This tunnel shouldn’t be confused with the much longer Lötschberg Base Tunnel.

Both routes are equally expensive, so costs don’t have to be the deciding factor. Here’s how to choose:

  • If a quick transfer is your main goal, and if you’d like to experience the longer tunnel ride, the faster trains that use the base tunnel are an excellent choice. A ride from Bern to Brig takes about 1h05.
  • If you don’t mind a longer ride, enjoy alpine scenery, or don’t like long tunnel stretches, the mountain route is the better alternative. Bern-Brig takes about 1h40.

Other excursions to plan on the same day

A trip from Bern to Brig via the mountain route takes less than 2 hours. So there’s plenty of time to expand your train ride with other day trips:

  • Start or end your ride with a visit to Bern.
  • Get off in the lakeside towns Thun or Spiez and enjoy a boat ride over Lake Thun.
  • Get out in Spiez and enjoy the mountain panorama from the Niesen.
  • Make a side trip to Interlaken.
  • Get out in Frutigen for a visit to the beautiful lake and nature park of Blausee.
  • Take the gondola to Oeschinensee from Kandersteg.
  • Visit the Stockalper Palace in Brig.
  • Once you’ve reached Brig, travel to Zermatt or watch the Aletsch glacier from Bettmerhorn or Eggishorn.
  • Enjoy part of the route on foot, by hiking the northern or southern section of the Lötschberg railway theme trail.

How to combine the Lötschberg Mountain Railway with other scenic trains

Combining the Lötschberg Mountain Railway and the GoldenPass train

We suggest these combined round trips:

  • From Bern: board the Lötschberg train in Bern and travel to Brig. Switch for the regional train to Montreux. Board the GoldenPass train to Spiez or Interlaken, where you can take a train back to Bern. For even more variety, include a boat trip from Spiez or Interlaken to Thun.
  • From Lucerne: board the Luzern-Interlaken Express that’s part of the GoldenPass route. Switch to regional trains to Spiez and get on the Lötschberg mountain train to Brig. In Brig, get on the regional train to Montreux and board the GoldenPass train to Spiez/Interlaken. Continue to Lucerne on the GoldenPass. Or travel back via Bern and the romantic Emmen Valley with its pretty villages such as Langnau and Entlebuch.

Combining the Lötschberg Mountain Railway, the Glacier Express and the Gotthard Panorama Express

Ride the Lötschberg mountain train from Bern to Brig and then head for Andermatt. You can do so by regular trains or by Glacier Express, if that happens to fit your schedule. In Andermatt, switch to the cogwheel train to Göschenen and pick up the Gotthard Panorama Express route to Flüelen and Lucerne. Then get back to Bern.

Combining the Lötschberg Mountain Railway and the Centovalli Railway

Travel the entire Lötschberg mountain route from Bern to Domodossola in Italy. In Domodossola, get on the Centovalli train to Locarno. From Locarno, you can either take a regular train back to Bern, or board the Gotthard Panorama Express to Lucerne.

Other websites of interest

  • www.bls.ch: seat reservations (only possible for trains that use the Lötschberg Base Tunnel instead of the mountain route)
  • www.bls.ch: ride in the driver's cab

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Arno
Page author: ArnoI have visited Switzerland countless times since 1997. I've explored most of the country, but find myself staying in the Bernese Oberland and Graubünden most frequently. The alps and the rail network remain very impressive, even after all these years.