The Glacier Express
The world famous Glacier Express covers 300 km across the Swiss Alps. It's a full day of magnificent views between Zermatt and St. Moritz.
The Glacier Express route in detail.
The forum allows you to post your questions and discuss your plans.
A journey with the Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is a direct train from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The train is also referred to as the 'slowest express train in the world': the journey takes about 8 hours.
There is a good reason for this slow pace: the train squeezes its way through the Alps, through narrow valleys, tight curves, 91 tunnels, and across 291 bridges.
You can travel from Zermatt to St. Moritz or the other way around. The route consists of four sections, each with their own unique scenery.
Traveling on board the Glacier Express is comfortable. Both 1st and 2nd class coaches have panoramic sealed windows all the way to the roof. The train is air conditioned. Free power sockets and wifi are available and you'll have access to the infotainment system using your smartphone or tablet. It provides information about the route.
The 1st class seats are more spacious as there are only three seats across, versus four in 2nd class.
Food and drinks will be served at your seat.
If you want to splurge to have the most exclusive ride, you can book a seat in the Excellence Class coach. There are no more than 20 passengers in Excellence Class, and they all have window seats. There is a bar area, personal travel guidance, and a premium 7-course lunch.
What's the best season?
Any season can be great if the sky is clear enough to enjoy the views. In October, the brilliantly colored trees make the trip a special experience.
In winter, the special touch is the snow on the Oberalp Pass and mostly in the valleys too.
Our personal favorite is spring (April to June), as that offers the perfect combination of green valleys and snowy mountains.
Regular trains versus Glacier Express
You are not required to travel with the Glacier Express if you want to enjoy the scenery of the Glacier Express route. There are regular train services on the same line as well. The regular trains do not offer panoramic windows and don't have the same level of comfort, but other than that you can see the landscape just as well.
Mind the following before deciding to travel by normal trains:
- You will have to switch trains multiple times to cover the whole route: at least twice, but mostly three times or more. This depends on the connection you choose. The Glacier Express is the only direct train from Zermatt to St. Moritz.
- These regional trains too can be busy in high season, as more travelers who didn't secure a seat on the Glacier Express opt for this alternative.
- Regional trains are less suitable if you have quite some luggage. In high season, the regional trains can be pretty full with not only travelers, but their luggage too. If you have larger pieces of baggage, we recommend using one of the luggage transport services.
Realistically, the Glacier Express is the best way to see the route if you plan to do it in one day. The local trains are an alternative to cover only part of the route or do it in multiple days. Also they're a good option if you're traveling when the Glacier Express does not operate.
Don't have time to do the full route?
For the best experience, we recommend to do the full Glacier Express ride and spend at least one night in both Zermatt and St. Moritz. However, if you're based in another town you can still enjoy part of the route as a day trip. Some examples:
- From Interlaken: take a train to Brig and board the Glacier Express there. Get off the train in Chur. Then take a train back to Interlaken. This day trip takes 9 to 10 hours.
- From Lucerne: take a train to Chur and board the Glacier Express there. Get off the train in Brig. Then take a train back to Lucerne. This day trip takes 9 to 10 hours. If you get off the Glacier Express in Andermatt instead of Brig the trip takes 7.5 to 8.5 hours.
- From Zurich: take a train to Chur and board the Glacier Express there. Get off the train in Brig. Then take a train back to Zurich. This day trip takes 8 to 9 hours. If you get off the Glacier Express in Andermatt instead of Brig, the trip takes 6.5 to 7.5 hours.
Combine the Glacier Express and the Gotthard Panorama Express
It's possible to combine parts of the Glacier Express and Gotthard Panorama Express (or alternatively: the Treno Gottardo) in one day. The Glacier Express stops in Andermatt. From there, a short ride in a cogwheel train gets you to Göschenen, which is a stop of the Gotthard Panorama Express.
The below routes can be done in one day. Check the timetable when planning: you may need to leave early to catch the panoramic trains, and in low season options may be limited.
- Zermatt to Lucerne: Zermatt - Andermatt (Glacier Express), Andermatt - Göschenen (cogwheel train), Göschenen - Lucerne (Gotthard Panorama Express);
- St. Moritz to Lugano: St. Moritz - Andermatt (Glacier Express), Andermatt - Göschenen (cogwheel train), Göschenen - Lugano (Gotthard Panorama Express);
- Lugano to Zermatt: Lugano - Göschenen (Gotthard Panorama Express), Göschenen - Andermatt (cogwheel train), Andermatt - Zermatt (Glacier Express);
- Lucerne to Zermatt: Lucerne - Göschenen (Gotthard Panorama Express), Göschenen - Andermatt (cogwheel train), Andermatt - Zermatt (Glacier Express).
Combine the Glacier Express and other scenic trains
You can switch between the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express, for example in St. Moritz or Chur. It's best to take at least 2 days for such a combination.
Switching between the Glacier Express and the RegioExpress Lötschberger is possible in Brig.