Ezoic

Must-knows about this 8-day train tour

  • We designed this tour for winter: it only contains Swiss panoramic trains that are operational in this season.
  • It includes the famous Bernina Express and Glacier Express.
  • We also included less famous, but equally pretty routes: the rides to Arosa and through the Lower Engadine, for example.
  • The average price for all traveling and hotels of this sample route is CHF 1445 per person.
Recommended season: early January to early March and late December
Transportation: Train
Duration: 8 to 24 days
Theme: Scenic trains

Quick tour overview Copy link to clipboard

If you follow the proposed route, this is how you'll travel per day:

  1. Zurich to Chur with a side trip to Arosa
  2. Chur to St. Moritz via Klosters and the Lower Engadine
  3. St. Moritz to Tirano and back with the Bernina Express
  4. St. Moritz to Zermatt with the Glacier Express
  5. Zermatt to Gornergrat and back, with time for more activities
  6. Zermatt to Wengen by the Lötschberg Mountain Railway
  7. Wengen to Lucerne via Kleine Scheidegg, Grindelwald and the northern leg of the GoldenPass
  8. Lucerne to Zurich via Rigi

Day 1: Zurich to Chur via Arosa

You’ll depart from Zurich to Chur. This is a 1h15 train ride. It includes a beautiful stretch along the Walensee (“Lake Walen”).

From Chur, you’ll make a scenic train ride to Arosa. A single journey takes just over 1h00. Arosa is a great winter destination. There’s usually plenty of snow. If time allows, stroll around or visit the Weisshorn for a panoramic mountain view.

Head back for Chur and spend the night there.

On selected Fridays, the “Arosa Gourmet Express” operates. This is a culinary evening ride from Chur to Arosa and back. You’ll enjoy a 3-course dinner on board. Booking in advance is required. Find more options to dine on the move here.

Day 2: Chur to St. Moritz via the Lower Engadine

Today you’ll head for St. Moritz. You’ll do so via Landquart, Küblis, Klosters Platz and the Vereina tunnel to Susch.

You’re now in a stunning valley at high altitude, where snow is nearly guaranteed. It’s called the Lower Engadine. Travel to St. Moritz in the Upper Engadine via the towns of Zernez and Zuoz.

Today’s trip takes only 2h00 to 2h30. This means there’s enough of time for side trips. Examples are:

  • Visit the famous ski resort Davos from Klosters Platz. This adds about 1 hour of traveling time, not including the time you spend in Davos. You could add a trip up the Parsenn-Weissfluhgipfel.
  • Travel to Scuol-Tarasp with its famous castle from Susch. This adds 1,5 hours of traveling time, excluding time spent in Scuol-Tarasp.
  • If you arrive in St. Moritz early, visit a mountaintop. Muottas Muragl, Piz Nair and Corvatsch are great for views of the Engadine mountains.

Day 3: Bernina Express return ride from St. Moritz

The Bernina Express is a famous scenic train ride. It’s splendid in winter too, with usually lots of snow at the Bernina Pass.

You can travel to Tirano and take the same route back. This allows you to visit the mountain tops of Lagalb or Diavolezza along the way.

Another option for your return ride is the local train or bus from Tirano to Chiavenna in Italy. You’ll then take the bus from Chiavenna to Maloja and St. Moritz. This is a ride through the beautiful Bregaglia, also called the Bergell Valley. It also includes a spectacular pass road ascent to Maloja. Keep in mind:

  • The Italian train section Tirano-Chiavenna is not covered by your Swiss Travel Pass. You’ll need additional tickets.
  • The regular way back from Tirano to St. Moritz over the Bernina Pass takes 2h15 to 2h30. The alternative via Chiavenna takes about 4h45 to 5h45.

Day 4: St. Moritz to Zermatt with the Glacier Express

Today’s journey is the famous Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt. The stretches at high altitudes will likely be snow-covered. Examples are the Oberalp Pass, the Upper Rhone Valley and the upper part of the Matter Valley. That’s where your destination Zermatt can be found.

Day 5: the Gornergrat from Zermatt

Take your time in Zermatt today. Ride the cog train up to Gornergrat for iconic views of the Matterhorn. It’s a short journey, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the views or play in the snow.

Additionally, you can visit one of the other mountains surrounding Zermatt.

Day 6: Zermatt to Wengen with the Lötschberg Mountain Railway

It’s time to head for the Jungfrau Region. Your destination is the mountain village of Wengen.

Take the train to Brig. Then board the regional Lötschberg mountain train. It travels via Goppenstein, Kandersteg, and Spiez. Then change trains to Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen and Wengen.

Today’s journey takes 4h00 to 4h30. If you want, you can travel up to the Männlichen after arrival in Wengen.

Day 7: Wengen to Lucerne via Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald

You’ll first take the cog train from Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg (which is on the route to Jungfraujoch). Here you can enjoy magnificent views of the snowy Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. Travel on a cogwheel train down to Grindelwald.

From Grindelwald, take the train to Interlaken Ost (via Zweilütschinen and Wilderswil). Then board the Luzern-Interlaken Express. This is the northern leg of the GoldenPass route. Lucerne is today’s destination.

The entire journey takes 4h00 to 5h00. You can make side trips if you start early and if you don’t mind arriving in Lucerne later in the evening. Options are:

  • Visit Jungfraujoch from Kleine Scheidegg.
  • Get up to First from Grindelwald.
  • Don’t travel to Grindelwald via Kleine Scheidegg, but take the cable car up to Männlichen and the gondolas down to Grindelwald.

Day 8: Lucerne to Zurich via Rigi

The last day of this winter train journey gets you back to Zurich. But you’ll first visit the Rigi mountain by cogwheel trains.

Travel to Küssnacht and take the bus to Vitznau. Board the cog train to the top station “Rigi Kulm” there. Rigi isn’t very high, but even if there’s no snow on the top, you will have a brilliant view of higher snow-covered mountain peaks in clear weather. Once you’ve spent time at the top, travel down by train to Arth-Goldau. Then head for Zurich.

There are alternative ways to reach Rigi:

  • Simply travel up and down via Arth-Goldau. This is quicker than traveling up via Vitznau. It’s a good alternative if you’re short on time.
  • Take a boat from Lucerne to Weggis. Take the cable car to Rigi Kaltbad and then the train to Rigi Kulm. Note that winter boat schedules for Lake Lucerne are limited.

How to use and adjust this itinerary

Basic planning tips

  • Most Swiss panoramic trains are operational during winter too. But not all are. Cogwheel trains into the mountains are usually limited to the summer season as well. That’s why we created this winter itinerary: it only includes trains that are available in winter.
  • Plan each segment of your journey ahead with the Swiss timetable though. It contains up-to-date information for your travel dates.
  • This journey is possible in reverse order too.

Options to shorten the journey

This is how you can reduce the number of travel days:

  • Skip the side trip to Arosa and travel to St. Moritz on day 1.
  • Take out the Bernina Express return trip of day 3 and head for Zermatt instead.
  • Skip the Gornergrat trip in Zermatt on day 7 and travel to Wengen.
  • Combine days 7 and 8: travel directly from Wengen to Lucerne and Zurich, skipping the Kleine Scheidegg detour and possibly Rigi too.
  • If you have just a few days available for a scenic train tour in Switzerland, have a look at our 3-day Glacier Express itinerary.

How to extend this holiday

You can easily turn this 8-day tour into a longer one: book additional nights in Chur, St. Moritz, Zermatt, Wengen, Lucerne, and/or Zurich. St. Moritz, Zermatt and Wengen are especially worth it if you want to add snow activities.

Alternative train tour for other seasons

This train tour is designed for winter, but it can be made in other seasons too. If you plan to travel between spring and fall, our 7-day scenic train route across Switzerland may interest you as well.

Map of the 8-day train route

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Prices and shopping list Copy link to clipboard

Price per person

This tour costs about CHF 1445 per person. Details:

  • We assume a 2nd class 8-day Swiss Travel Pass. It covers all town-to-town transfers and the trip to Rigi. Other mountain trips are discounted.
  • We use Glacier Express and Bernina Express seat reservation fares for the winter season. Reservations are cheaper in low season.
  • Seat reservations for other side trips aren't necessary.
  • Our estimate is based on 2-person rooms in 3-star hotels in Chur, St. Moritz, Zermatt, Wengen, Lucerne, and Zurich. We assume prices in January, including breakfast.
  • Children under 16 travel for free: simply order a free Swiss Family Card when getting your Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Costs for food, drinks, souvenirs, and extra excursions that aren't fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass are not included.

Depending on the hotel and activity choices you make, and the season in which you travel, your costs may be much lower or higher than indicated here. 

Shopping list

This is what to book if you want to make the tour as described:

To bookDetails and prices
The Swiss Travel Pass includes free traveling between all towns, even by scenic trains. Mountain trips are discounted.Swiss Travel Pass
Seat reservations for the Bernina ExpressBernina Express
Seat reservations for the Glacier ExpressGlacier Express
50% discounted return tickets between Zermatt and GornergratGornergrat
25% discounted tickets Wengen-Kleine Scheidegg-GrindelwaldWengen-Kleine Scheidegg-Grindelwald, part of the route to Jungfraujoch
Hotel in ChurHotels Chur
Hotel in St. Moritz, 2 nightsHotels St. Moritz
Hotel in Zermatt, 2 nightsHotels Zermatt
Hotel in WengenHotels Wengen
Hotel in LucerneHotels Lucerne
Optionally: hotel in ZĂĽrichHotels Zurich

The best season for this winter tour Copy link to clipboard

We recommend making this journey in early January to early March and late December. This gives you the best chance of beautiful snow landscapes during your travels. Find more details about winter weather and snow here.

Note that the Glacier Express is on a winter break until mid-December.

Other travel packages Copy link to clipboard

Maybe you prefer not to book hotels and travel tickets yourself. In that case, the below complete Swiss travel packages can save you time.

Glacier Express
4-Day Glacier and Bernina Express Self-Guided Tour from Zurich
Scenic train tripIndependent multi-day tour
On the Glacier and Bernina Express you will travel across impressive viaducts, through winding and helical tunnels on a journey offering views of mountain lakes, steep cliffs and pristine forests.

Offered by Viator: www.viator.com

  • Easy, online, free cancellation in most cases
  • Lowest Price Guarantee: Viator will refund the difference if you find a better price.
  • Extra Support: if you buy here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
Glacier Express
3-Day Glacier Express Self-Guided Tour from Zurich
Scenic train tripIndependent multi-day tour
The entire Glacier Express journey takes around 8 hours and crosses 291 bridges, passes through 91 tunnels and climbs over the 2033 m high Oberalp pass – this is truly one of the most famous train journeys in the world.

Offered by Viator: www.viator.com

  • Easy, online, free cancellation in most cases
  • Lowest Price Guarantee: Viator will refund the difference if you find a better price.
  • Extra Support: if you buy here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
8-Day Independent Tour of Switzerland Train Experience
8-Day Independent Tour of Switzerland Train Experience
Christmas, Scenic train tripIndependent multi-day tour
Without the worry of hotel and train booking, you will enjoy an easy independent trip to Switzerland. In the 8 days, you will take the Glacier Express, Bernina Express, Golden Pass Line, and explore Jungfraujoch and the Alps. 

Offered by TourRadar: www.tourradar.com

  • Best Price Guarantee
  • Your payment is kept safe until your tour has started
  • 24/7 customer support
  • No booking or credit card fee
  • Extra Support: if you book here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
Glacier Express
4-Day Glacier and Bernina Express Self-Guided Tour from Geneva
Scenic train tripIndependent multi-day tour
On the Glacier and Bernina Express you will travel across impressive viaducts, through winding and helical tunnels on a journey offering views of mountain lakes, steep cliffs and pristine forests.

Offered by Viator: www.viator.com

  • Easy, online, free cancellation in most cases
  • Lowest Price Guarantee: Viator will refund the difference if you find a better price.
  • Extra Support: if you buy here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
Glacier Express
3-Day Glacier Express Self-Guided Tour from Geneva
Scenic train tripIndependent multi-day tour
The entire Glacier Express journey takes around 8 hours and crosses 291 bridges, passes through 91 tunnels and climbs over the 2033 m high Oberalp pass – this is truly one of the most famous train journeys in the world.

Offered by Viator: www.viator.com

  • Easy, online, free cancellation in most cases
  • Lowest Price Guarantee: Viator will refund the difference if you find a better price.
  • Extra Support: if you buy here, MySwissAlps can also assist if you have questions about your order.
This list includes external links to our trusted partners.

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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 GraubĂĽnden most frequently. The alps and the rail network remain very impressive, even after all these years.