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Trip report Grand Train Tour of Switzerland (1)

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310 posts
top member
Oct 3, 2018 - 5:04 PM

Hello forum folks,

Many thanks to Lucas. Arno and Myswissalps for all your help during my trip planning. I just completed a two-week trip to Switzerland and wanted to chime in with a trip report.

I purchased a 15-day Swiss Travel Pass, (through AAA Travel Agency in New York, it cost $511.00 US dollars ) and got some very good use out of it, as I traveled for two weeks. I was there just after he busy season ended, 06/ through 20/ September. Very peaceful and not as busy as the summer months. Very good choice on the Swiss Travel Pass. Highly recommended for anyone planning on a lot of independent traveling, as I did.

I wanted to complete the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, but only hit 6 of the 8 trains I wanted to ride, missing the trains from Zurich, (upon my later than expected arrival), to Schaufhausen/St. Gallen and the Voralpo Express, to Luzern, due to a 4 hour delay in my arrival from JFK in NY.

I originally planned my whole itinerary around the train routes, stopping in Luzern, Lugano, St. Moritz, Zermatt, Montreux, Wengen, and back to Luzern, before departing from Zurich. As such, I chose most of my hotels not only on pricing/budget, but a combo of that, and their vicinity in relation to train stations. It worked out very well. I had one big bag to tote around and a back-pack that went pretty much everywhere I did (for layers of clothing, etc). I kept my Swiss Travel Pass folded and tucked inside my passport. I kept my passport on me at all times, in a pocket with a zipper in my cargo shorts. I kept a rubber band around it also, so as to make it more difficult if anyone wanted to pick it. I kept my money folded and rubber banded to my credit card and license in my other pants pocket. It is said that rubber bands make it harder to get into or out of a pocket, so I usually go with it. I never encountered any problems and felt totally safe at all times, but, was still being as cautious as I could. Especially in the bigger, busier stations. Whenever I went to the WC on a train, I always did so in between stops, and I was aided by the very efficient schedule that is always posted, and presented in full view somewhere on the trains. Maybe a bit on the paranoid side, but it got me through my trip in one piece….

Day 1: Arrival in Zurich, 3 hours late, so I just hopped a train down to Luzern, (but not before going into the airport’s rail station to secure a seat reservation on the Gotthard Express, which even my travel agent wasn’t able to do back in the States. It seems a lot of people had/have problems getting seats for the Gotthard) where I hit the ground running.
After stopping in the tourist info at the train station, stopping by the ferry landing to get my bearings for the 3 hour boat ride the following morning to begin the first leg of the Gotthard Express, I made my way to my hotel in the old town. After which I walked around old town Luzern for a while remembering some sights of some 40 years ago at the Chapel bridge. After taking some photos for a while, I jumped on a train down to Stans to catch the funicular, and the Cabrio double decker cable car up to the Stanserhorn.

Being a Friday, they had later departures so folks can enjoy the sunsets during the summer months. So up I went, enjoying the cool air on the upper deck of the open-air cable car, and beautiful scenery as we ascended into the clouds. I did get to see Stans from above, but unfortunately, I was unable to see much more, as the clouds did roll in, but walked around taking some photos and enjoyed some time in the clouds. So here I had my first Swiss soup and a beer and relaxed before descending and returning to Luzern where I stopped into Mr. Pickwicks for some beverages before calling it a night.

Day 2: Up for breakfast in the Barabas hotel, which used to be a prison and opened earlier this year) and out to the ferry landing to board boat to Fluelen for the three-hour boat ride and first leg of the Gotthard Express. A wee bit hazy in spots, but otherwise sunny, a truly spectacular boat ride, stopping at many a village along the way, including Rigi. What a beautiful way to start my journey. Stunning scenery that Just never stopped….And to think, this was all free (with the STP)!! Highly recommend this to anyone who wants to see and be on the lake. At the end of the boat ride, the train was waiting to take us down to Lugano. The second part of the Gotthard Express. After about two and a half hours, and lots of amazing scenery, we arrived in the Italian section of Switzerland, Lugano. What a beautiful city!! After a short walk to my hotel, I checked in and hit the bus for the funicular up to Monte San Salvatore. This too, was in time to see the sun going down against the backdrop of the mountains. Unlike the night before at the Stanserhorn, I was able to see the sun going down here and did so as I was doing some hiking around taking in the breathtaking, fjord-like scenery below. It reminded me of the fjords in Norway. Simply beautiful. I couldn’t stop taking photos. Everywhere a photo op. I walked/hiked to the church up there, bearing the name-sake of the mountain. After spending some time up there, and enjoying a beverage, I descended back to town and made my way back to the hotel where I was torn between staying or going into town. I opted to go into town, (but not before having a wonderful meal at the hotel.)

Getting there (to town) was interesting because it was all downhill. There is a little funicular for this as well. For a franc or two (don’t remember) one can ride it down/up. I just missed it, so I just walked down about a thousand or so steps, some twists and turns all the while along some beautifully designed brick work in the streets. Simply beautiful street architecture, with a heavy Italian influence. Can’t help thinking one is in Italy. After walking around the town and the lake front I wondered up those same steps and opted to take the funicular up this time. Good choice. I finished my evening with some very nice conversation with the bar-tender in the hotel’s bar.

Day 3:

More on my journey to come: www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/trip-report-grand-train-tour-of-switzerland-ll#iqSFPaDW9mqS6v8AAFc RTQ


10495 posts
top member
Oct 4, 2018 - 6:34 AM in reply to Danielsan

Hi Danielsan and thanks for the trip report! Sounds like a good start to your trip (though flight delays are never fun).

I wonder what the difficulty you and others may have had booking seats on the Gotthard Express. Had you tried booking through our links here before you travel? www.myswissalps.com/go tthardpanoramaexpress/ packages

Next time you come, you could grab the Swiss Travel Pass online and save yourself a bit of money too: www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/price

Looking forward to the next part!

310 posts
top member
Oct 7, 2018 - 4:08 PM

Hi Lucas,

I don't know either why, but it seemed a lot of folks that I saw on this sight had trouble getting a Gotthard pass seat. Even my travel agent had trouble...No worries, an I mentioned, I went right into the rail office in the Zurich airport and got the tickets for both the Gotthard, and Bernina leg from Tirano to St. Moritz. All worked out well.


80 posts
active member
Oct 8, 2018 - 2:34 PM

Hi Danielsan,

Enjoyed reading your report and look forward to the rest of your journey. Thanks for taking the time to post here so the rest of us can follow.

Mike J


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