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Golden Pass round trip Lucerne possible in one day

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1 post
new member
Feb 25, 2019 - 12:34 AM

We are staying in Lucerne for 5 nights in early May. Is the Golden Pass round trip doable, or too long for one day? We don’t want to feel that we spent all our time on a train. Another choice is Gotthard Panoramic Express. Again, are either of those too much for one day round trip?

Rail Europe
2293 posts
top member
Feb 25, 2019 - 5:56 AM in reply to Pdtrammell81

Hello Pdtrammell81,

Welcome to MySwissAlps. We're glad you found our webpage to support you finding the perfect itinerary for your stay in Switzerland.

Regarding your questions. The Golden Pass round trip would definitely mean you spending an entire day on the train. Check this link to find out about the route, the possible sections you could consider, etc.:
- www.myswissalps.com/go ldenpass

The same is the case for the entire route of the Gotthard Panoramic Express:
- www.myswissalps.com/go tthardpanoramaexpress

However, you can do various very scenic trips from Lucerne itself in a day tour, although the trip might not be labelled as such. Use these links for inspiration:
- www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne (what to do)
- www.myswissalps.com/la kelucerne
- www.myswissalps.com/ti tlis
- www.myswissalps.com/ri gi

Otherwise I would consider just doing a section of either of the scenic trains, or then consider staying overnight in one of the destinations of the scenic trains.

Hope this helps you find the perfect scenic trip from Lucerne. Get back to us for any further input.


1 post
new member
Feb 25, 2019 - 11:42 PM

Hi-I have nver posted on this wonderful forum, just tend to lurk and read to get ideas but wanted to share some experience that we have had with your question.

You will be spending a lot of time on trains but these can both be done in a day from Luzern, as my husband and I have done in the past couple of years. We, however, love train travel (nothing like the Swiss train system!), and we did both of these trips on bad weather days in Luzern (in early May also by the way). The trick is to take a faster, albeit scenic, route in one direction and then the more scenic, slower route in the other (great advice given to me by a very knowledgeable Swiss gentleman on another forum). With day light hours lengthening in May, it is possible if you leave Luzern fairly early.

For the Golden Pass, we took a regional train to Lausanne and changed trains to Montreux. We took a "brunch" picnic on the train to save time. Scenery was lovely for the most part, and especially pretty when you are getting close to Lausanne. We arrived in Montreux to a gorgeous May day, flowers blooming everywhere (after having left rain and gloom behind in Luzern). We leisurely strolled the lakeside promenade all the way to Chateau de Chillon (about 45 minute walk but good to stretch the legs), went through the Castle at a normal pace and then took Bus 201 back to Montreux as our feet were pooped by then. We purchased some snacks for the train ride and then hopped aboard the Golden Pass train back to Luzern via Zweisimmen. Wow what a beautiful trip! We were traveling with Swiss Travel Passes and had made seat reservations at the station in Montreux when we had arrived earlier in the day. The longer day was totally worth it for us and we got away from the poor weather that was all around the Luzern region that day.

We did another longer trip in May (different trip the next year) when weather was nasty in Luzern. We just checked to see where the pretty weather was going to be, got an early start on a regional train to Bellinzona via Goschenen. We left the rain and chill behind and when the train came through the last tunnel before arriving in Bellinzona, it was sunny and mild! That was quite the train trip-lots of loops and gorgeous scenery. We went through one of the three castles in Bellinzona, had pizza at an outdoor cafe to people watch and then hopped the next train to Locarno, where we strolled along the lake , ate amazing gelato and shopped a little. We then just took the quickest route back to Luzern, arriving to rain and cold but in time for dinner. Another great day and enjoyed seeing a bit of the Italian region of Switzerland!

We will actually be back in Luzern on 1 May for 6 nights again this year so starting to get excited. Enjoy your trip planning and hope you have a wonderful time. This forum is a great source of advice!

2739 posts
top member
Feb 26, 2019 - 1:29 AM in reply to Pdtrammell81

Don't get hung up on using the 'scenic' special trains all the time and all day. It is possible to vary your journeys so that you don't feel 'stuck' on a train. One of my standard pieces of advice is that on 'all day' panoramic trains you more often than not see travellers asleep, missing the very scenery they paid to see! Also too many people ignore the decent views to be seen even from Swiss lowland Inter-City trains (most of Switzerland is scenic after all)

The best way to avoid the 'stuck' feeling is to vary your itinerary, in particular do a round trip instead of a there and back. This is possible in most of Switzerland.

In the particular case of your plan for a 'Golden Pass' (see advice below on what is and what isn't the 'Golden Pass') trip from Luzern, the best plan is to go one way 'scenic' and one way 'fast' (outbound via the scenic route is nearly always best)

As such you would go


Luzern - Interlaken - Zweisimmen - Montreux (fastest journey 5 h 7 min)


Montreux - Lausanne - Bern - Luzern (fastest journey 2h45 min)

2739 posts
top member
Feb 26, 2019 - 1:31 AM


The options on the Gotthard route are:

  • Use the new base tunnel (the longest tunnel in the world), the Intercity trains run Arth Goldau - Bellinzona non stop
  • Use the old mountain route on ordinary regional trains - for this you take a train from Luzern to Erstfeld, or a boat from Luzern to Fluelen then a train Fluelen - Erstfeld, then the regional train Erstfeld - Göschenen - old tunnel - Airolo - Bellinzona - Lugano
  • Use the Gotthard Panorama Express (GPE): any train or boat to Fleulen then the GPE. Personally I don't think it is worth the extra expense, as the regional trains have large windows

2739 posts
top member
Feb 26, 2019 - 1:33 AM

The Golden Pass rail route:

Current tourist branding can be confusing

The true Goldenpass is just the MOB railway Zweisimmen - Montreux.

The Luzern - Interlaken railway is actually the Brünig Pass line operated by Zentralbahn (ZB), which dubs the regular trains "Luzern - Interlaken Express'. It's OK but not spectacular scenery

A few facts about the Montreux - Zweisimmen railway - ie the MOB (Montreux-Oberland - Bernois):

The Golden Pass is historically only Montreux - Zweisimmen, only more recent marketing branding takes the 'Goldenpass route' east of Zweisimmen to Interlaken and beyond to Luzern.

The Golden Pass is the touristic branding for the Montreux - Oberland Bernois (MOB) railway

MOB pioneered the Panoramic coach concept on Swiss trains, starting in 1976.

There are now several versions of panoramic coaches in service, but MOB keeps changing its mind how to dub each service.

It hardly matters anyway as most modern Swiss trains have large windows, even if not officially panoramic. The key element of a ‘panoramic’ coach is ‘toplight’ windows above your head but in practice very few of the major views from panoramic trains are directly above your head, so the view through the normal side part of windows is normally fine.

You will get roughly the same scenic experience form any train on the MOB and reservation is not obligatory

Here is the timetable PDF for the MOB:

www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2019/120.pdf

It is very scenic, but the MOB route is far from being the most spectacular (although any dubbing of this nature is going to subjective and personal) in Switzerland.


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