A scenic journey by regional train from the Bernese Oberland to the Valais
The RegioExpress Lötschberger trains travel between Bern in the north, and Brig on the southern side of the Alps. They even continue to Domodossola in Italy. The impressively engineered route uses tunnels and spiral loops to cross the Alps.
Details about the RegioExpress Lötschberger route.
The forum allows you to post your questions and discuss your plans.
A journey with the RegioExpress Lötschberger
If you’re looking for a scenic train journey crossing the Swiss Alps and connecting major northern and southern tourist hubs, the RegioExpress Lötschberger is an excellent choice. The route is often used by travelers making transfers between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. If you’re based in Interlaken or Lucerne, you can board the Lötschberger trains in Spiez.
These hourly regional trains take you from the capital town of Bern in the north to Brig on the southern side of the Alps (or the other way around). On your way, you’ll pass several towns and villages where you can get off to enjoy local activities or hiking. You’ll see the shores of Lake Thun, pass tunnels and spiral loops through the mountains, and enjoy the views over the Rhone valley as you descend towards Brig. You can extend your journey as far as Domodossola in northern Italy.
About 'Lötschberg' and the company BLS
The RegioExpress Lötschberger is run by the company BLS, which is short for Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon. Lötschberg refers to the alpine area that’s crossed when traveling between the northern and southern parts Switzerland on this route. Simplon refers to the pass that connects Brig in the Valais to the Italian town of Domodossola. BLS services train, bus and boat routes in several Swiss areas. Those include boats on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, and the regional railway line between Bern and Lucerne via Entlebuch.
The RegioExpress trains
The RegioExpress trains on this route are regular regional trains. They don’t have large panoramic windows, like the Glacier Express or Bernina Express. You can simply board the RegioExpress with any valid ticket or pass, without making reservations. The trains are comfortable and offer great views of the scenery. They feature toilets, low-floor access and the option to transport bikes without prior reservation (a bike ticket is required). Conductors can answer your questions about the the areas you pass. You can also buy tickets from the conductors, but mind that an additional service charge applies. It’s better to arrange for your tickets or rail pass before boarding.
RegioExpress Lötschberger trains versus Lötschberg base tunnel connections
The RegioExpres Lötschberger trains aren’t the only way to travel between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. An alternative is the Lötschberg base tunnel between Spiez and Brig, opened in 2007. The 34,6 km long tunnel is used by both freight and passenger trains. It reduced traveling times and provided significant improvement to the international corridor between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Genoa in Italy. Many train travelers between Bern and Brig opt for the quicker base tunnel connection, bypassing the longer mountain route still in use by the RegioExpress trains.
The RegioExpress trains also cross several tunnels, including the Lötschberg tunnel between Kandersteg and Goppenstein, but this one shouldn’t be confused with the much longer Lötschberg base tunnel.
Here’s how to choose between both options:
- if a quick transfer is your main goal, and if you’d like to experience the longer tunnel ride, the faster trains that use the base tunnel are an excellent choice. A ride from Bern to Brig takes about 1h05 when using the base tunnel;
- if you don’t mind a longer ride, greatly enjoy alpine scenery, or rather avoid long tunnel stretches, the hourly RegioExpress Lötschberger via Kandersteg is the better alternative. Bern-Brig takes about 1h40 with the RegioExpress trains.
Combine the RegioExpress Lötschberger journey with other activities
A trip from Bern to Brig by regional train only takes 1h40, meaning there’s plenty of time to expand your train ride with other day trips. Consider these options, for example:
- start or end your ride with a visit to Bern;
- get off in the lakeside towns of Thun or Spiez and enjoy a boat ride over Lake Thun;
- get out in Spiez and enjoy the mountain panorama from the top of the Niesen;
- make a side trip to Interlaken and the Jungfrau region;
- get out in Frutigen for a visit to the famous lake and nature park of Blausee;
- take the gondola up to Oeschinensee from Kandersteg;
- visit the Stockalper palace in Brig;
- once you’ve reached Brig, travel to Zermatt or admire the Aletsch glacier from Bettmerhorn or Eggishorn;
- enjoy part of the route on foot, by hiking the northern or southern section of the Lötschberg rail theme trail.
You can also turn this trip into an extended scenic round trip, combining several panoramic train routes. Please find suggestions here.
What’s the best season?
The Lötschberger route is available all year long, and views are impressive in any season. If we had to choose, we’d pick spring or fall for the best variety of lush nature on the northern side of the Alps, snow-capped mountain peaks and the summer-like scenery of the Rhone valley in the Valais.