Is it possible to see the Swiss Alps in one day?

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Apr 20, 2018 - 5:53 PM

My husband and I will be in Basel, Switzerland for 3 days after a River Cruise; Friday - Sunday, flying out early Monday morning. We would like to spend one day touring the Swiss Alps. I think we should be able to catch an early train to another city in the morning and from there ride a train, round trip, through the alps. And then get back to Basel in the evening. I know it might be a 10 to 12 hour day, but we're okay with that. I might be completely off base and maybe this isn't possible to do in one day. Any suggestions? I'd like to book it before we get there, which will be in late June. Thanks in advance!

4582 posts
Apr 20, 2018 - 11:34 PM in reply to rjblanchard

Hello RJ and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

You can easily the Jungfrau Region in a day from Basel. See rneseoberland/activiti es for ideas.

A day trip to Lucerne is also worth considering. See cerne/activities.

Use the Swiss Train Timetable ( to plan your travel. If you are not familiar with the timetable it will pay to first read the instructions at

Last modified on Apr 20, 2018 - 11:36 PM by rockoyster
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Apr 21, 2018 - 2:18 AM in reply to rjblanchard

>> We would like to spend one day touring the Swiss Alps. I think we should be able to catch an early train to another city in the morning and from there ride a train, round trip, through the alps. And then get back to Basel in the evening.

I think rockoyster's idea of visiting the mountains in one place (Jungfrau Region or Luzern) is more feasible than doing a "round trip" through the alps.

There is a map of the panoramic routes to help you understand what is or isn't possible to do from Basel in one day. It is attached to the map showing where the Swiss Travel Pass is valid, and you can download it from the following page: isstravelpass/validity

Approximate travel times for the scenic routes (one way) are as follows:

  • Golden Pass Line (part) from Luzern to Interlaken Ost: almost 2 hours
  • Golden Pass line (part) from Interlaken Ost to Montreux: 3 hours
  • Gotthard Panorama Express (boat and train) from Luzern to Lugano: 5.5 hours (doesn't run on Mondays, but you can follow the same route on regional trains)
  • Palm Express (PostBus) from Lugano to St Moritz: almost 4 hours
  • Voralpen-Express from Luzern to St. Gallen: 2.25 hours
  • RegioExpress Lötschberger (full) from Bern to Brig: 1.75 hours
  • RegioExpress Lötschberger (part) from Spiez to Brig: Just over 1 hour
  • Centovalli Railway from Locarno to Domodossola: 1.75 hours

If you want to calculate travel time for short sectors along these routes, you can use the Swiss Timetable: metable


Last modified on Nov 1, 2018 - 4:17 PM by Arno
12087 posts
expert &
Apr 21, 2018 - 7:51 AM

Hello Rjblanchard,

Here's a suggestion: edayjungfrauregion

5527 posts
Apr 21, 2018 - 9:06 AM in reply to rjblanchard

Hi Rjblanchard -

<<"I'd like to book it before we get there, which will be in late June. Thanks in advance!">>

Many of the special panoramic trains listed by Alpenrose require seat reservations, for which there is a supplemental charge, in addition to the cost of the ticket required to ride the train. In some cases, that requirement might only be for special cars with panoramic windows, as on parts of the Golden Pass Route. Often regular ( "non-Panoramic") trains run the same routes.

However, in general, it is not necessary to reserve seats for travel on "regular" trains throughout Switzerland. In fact, on regional trains, it is not possible. It is possible on the faster Intercity trains.

Trains that are parts of international trans-European routes will have reservations available, and will require them for the parts outside Switzerland. For example, if you were to travel to Milano Centrale from Bern via the Simplon Tunnel, you would not need reservations until you reached Domodossola on the Italian side of the tunnel. And, you would require a separate ticket for the Italian part.

Since Basel is a border crossing point for trains from other European countries, even if you get on in Basel, you may find that many seats are reserved on some trains. Mostly, those are trains to Zürich. You will go via Bern if you go to the Jungfrau Region. By the way, Arno's recommendation is a very good one, and offers flexibility.

Arno has listed a variety of possibilities in his link above for a one-day journey throughout the Jungfrau Region. None of the trains or cableways that he describes require reservations, and almost certainly do not offer them. (He does not mention taking the very expensive special train up to Jungfraujoch, which requires reservations. You don't need to make that part of the trip for excellent Alpine views, and it is both expensive and time consuming). His base point is Interlaken Ost, which is a gateway to the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the Jungfrau Region.

This panoramic map may help you decipher the complex transportation network near the Jungfrau: /Public/Assets/User/fi les/Map-of-Jungfrauregion1.jpg

To get to Interlaken Ost from Basel requires approximately 2 hours. I have attached a screen grab of some morning journeys. Many do not require a change of trains.

I have also taken a screen grab from the detail obtained by clicking on one route, which does not require any changes of trains. You will note that it is an Intercity Train ("IC") not a regional train. Intercity trains permit reservations. To the right, you will see an "R." The footnote explains that the "R" means Reservations possible.

Although possible, it will not be necessary.

This useful page, as linked by Alpenrose, is quite helpful to understand the timetable: metable

Note that the fares displayed are approximately 1/2 the cost for those traveling without any sort of discount. Essentially all Swiss residents buy a "Half-Fare Card" (Halb-Tax) wich gives them a usually 50% discount on regular trains, buses, boats, cableways throughout Switzerland. You may be traveling without such a pass and will pay approximately double that price if you simply buy a normal ticket.

The timetable will let you figute out times for the various options mentioned by Arno.

In addition to the panoramic map linked above, this map is useful to get the lay of the land, and give you names of specific station stops, which can be entered into the timetable:,166720&z=32 &poi=bergbahn,zug

I have zoomed it in to zoom level 32, which makes the train lines clearly visible. Zoom out and you can see the relative location of the major cities.

In the menu, under "Points of Interest" select "Traffic" and you can turn on a layer with icons for the station stops. I turned on "Trains" and "Mountain Transport." Mouse over an icon and you get the official name for that station stop.


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