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8 days “Scenic winter trains in Switzerland”


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Landwasser viaduct in winter

Winter view of the Landwasser viaduct, which is part of the Glacier Express and Bernina Express train routes.

About winter trains in Switzerland

Most trains are operational during Swiss winters. This goes for regular trains and for most special panoramic trains. Train routes at high altitude are most attractive. That’s where you can see snow scenery!

Some mountain trains and funiculars operate in summer only. Always check timetables.

About the 8-day “Scenic winter trains in Switzerland” itinerary

This 8-day itinerary contains Switzerland’s most beautiful snow train rides, including the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express.

It starts and ends in Zurich. You can add a night in Zurich before and after the itinerary. This way, you can enjoy the full route on the first and last day without feeling rushed.

The best time of the year for this winter itinerary is January to mid-March. That’s when all proposed trains are operational and chances of snow are best. This route can also be traveled from mid-December. Note that it can still be dark in the early morning and from the late afternoon. From early January, there will gradually be more daylight.

This 8-day tour is fully customizable. You can skip sections, or add extra nights in the towns along the route. You can also find accommodation in a nearby town if that’s what you prefer. Adding nights is recommended: each base town has lots of options for beautiful side trips.

Always check schedules for your specific travel dates.

Shopping list

This is what you need for this 8-day winter train tour:

  1. 8-day Swiss Travel Pass. This covers nearly all train transfers. If you extend your stay, consider a 15-day Swiss Travel Pass, or get Saver Day Passes for the remaining days.

  2. Glacier Express seat reservations.

  3. Bernina Express seat reservations.

  4. Discounted tickets between Wengen, Kleine Scheidegg and Grindelwald.

  5. Optionally: discounted tickets for additional mountain visits.

  6. Hotel in Chur.

  7. Hotel in or near St. Moritz.

  8. Hotel in or near Zermatt.

  9. Hotel in Wengen.

  10. Hotel in Lucerne.

  11. Optionally: hotel in Zurich or close to Zurich Airport before and after this itinerary.

Day 1: Zurich to Chur via Arosa

You’ll depart from Zurich to Chur. This is a 1h5 train ride. It includes a beautiful stretch along lake Walen.

From Chur, you’ll make a scenic train journey 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. Head for St. Moritz in the Upper Engadine via 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.
  • Travel to Scuol-Tarasp with its famous castle from Susch. This too adds 1 hour, excluding time spent in Scuol-Tarasp.
  • If you arrive in St. Moritz early, visit a mountain top. Muottas Muragl, Piz Nair or Corvatsch are great for views of the Engadine mountains.

Day 3: the Bernina Express from St. Moritz

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

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

Another option for your return ride is the local train from Tirano to Chiavenna in Italy. You’ll take the bus from Chiavenna to Maloja and St. Moritz. This is a ride through the beautiful Bregaglia 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.

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

Today’s journey is the famous Glacier Express from St. Moritz all the way to Zermatt. The stretches at high altitude will be full of snow. Examples are the Oberalp pass, the Upper Rhone valley and the upper part of the Matter valley. That’s where your destination of 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 not a long 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 RegioExpress Lötschberger

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 “RegioExpress Lötschberger”. It travels via Goppenstein, Kandersteg and Spiez. Then head for Wengen via Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen.

Today’s journey takes 4h00 to 4h30. If you want, you can visit a mountain top during or after the ride:

  • Visit lake Oeschinen from Kandersteg.
  • 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. 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 large cable car up to Männlichen and the smaller 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. 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.

Snowy terrace at Rochers-de-Naye

WINTER INFORMATION

All you need to know for a winter trip to Switzerland.

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Regional train near Punt Muragl

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