Switzerland’s Classic Trains

15 or 8-day independent Tour


The Tour

If you’ve been waiting to take some of the most scenic train trips in the world, wait no longer! This independent journey includes the Glacier Express and Bernina Express, as well as the Centovalli Railway and Golden Pass line—four of Switzerland’s most scenic routes possible by train. The Furka Steam adds a historic element, and the mountain railways are impressive engineering feats. Plus an optional trip on the Jungfrau Railway, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. You’ll never stop looking out your train window or taking photos!  Available as an 8-day or a 15-day tour.

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The Itinerary

Day 1: Zurich-Lucerne
Arrive Zurich airport; travel by train to Lucerne, a scenic one-hour trip. Check into hotel and spend the afternoon at the Swiss Museum of Transport, with its impressive collection of locomotives, cars, airplanes and more. Overnight Lucerne.

Day 2: Lucerne, Mt. Rigi
Take the regular train from Lucerne to Goldau, where you’ll board the Mt. Rigi cogwheel train for an exhilarating roundtrip to the summit for unparalleled views (weather permitting). Visit to Rigi train depot also possible by request.  Leisurely boat cruise on Lake Lucerne followed by afternoon at your leisure to stroll across the Chapel Bridge and explore Old Town’s delightful squares.

Day 3: Mt. Pilatus
Depart for leisurely cruise on Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad for a trip on Mt. Pilatus, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway (48% incline). Enjoy a fabulous meal (on your own; highly recommended is the Restaurant Taverne in the Hotel Bellevue) with stunning backdrop of the many mountains visible from the summit. Descend the mountain via gondola and cable car.

Day 4: Furka Steam train
Travel on part of the Gotthard Railway south from Lucerne by regular train. Arrive Realp, where you’ll board the Furka Steam Railway for the two-hour trip to Gletsch. (Short guided tour of Furka Steam depot possible*.) Travel behind the 80-year-old steam engine along the rack railway—over bridges, along rushing waters of the Furkareuss and finally, down the valley with views of the Rhone Glacier. Upon arrival, board postal bus to Meiringen and change for train to Interlaken.

Day 5: Interlaken
Spend the day at leisure in Interlaken, or opt for a train excursion (at additional cost). The Brienzer Rothorn steam train covers 4.6 miles, passing through six tunnels and rich alpine flora. Optional tour of Brienzer Rothorn train depot.*  Want a full “behind the scenes” rail experience? Opt for the Brienz Rothorn “Stoker Course” or “Engineer for the Day”*.

Or venture to the highest railway station in Europe on the Jungfraujoch*. Travel the world-famous Jungfrau Railway to the 11,398-foot station for views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.

Day 6: Centovalli Train
Travel Interlaken to Domodossola via Spiez by regular train. Change to a Centovalli Railway train for the scenic ride through Italy to Locarno. Pass through centovalli—“a hundred valleys”—with views of spectacular waterfalls, vineyards and palm tree-lined lakes below. Continue to Italian-influenced Lugano, where you can stroll along the lakefront and wander the pedestrian-only historic city center.

Day 7: Lugano
Day at leisure in Lugano. Suggested excursion: Mt. Generoso cogwheel railway for views of the whole Canton Ticino below (steam train available on select Sundays); stop off at Melide and visit the Swiss Miniatur—where 127 miniature Swiss buildings are on display, along with over two miles of railway track and model trains, funiculars and cable railways (all built on site). Model railroaders will also want to visit the Baumgartner Model Railway Gallery in Mendrisio, displaying thousands of model trains from all over the world.

Day 8: Bernina Express

(Return to Zurich for flight home if taking Part I only.) Travel to Tirano via postal bus winding along lakes and through small Italian villages. Board Bernina Express, celebrating its 100th anniversary and now an UNESCO World Heritage site, for an unforgettable trip to Chur. Along the four-hour trip, you’ll cross 196 bridges and travel through 55 tunnels. In addition to the spectacular glacier and forest scenery, highlights include the famed Circular Viaduct of Brusio and Landwasser Viaduct. Overnight Chur.

Day 9: Chur
Free day in Chur. Suggested rail trips: Chur-Arosa Railway, a one-hour trip along picturesque country villages, including a run over the Langwieser viaduct (200 feet high); or travel Davos-Filisur—a line with multiple hairpin curves, tunnels and viaducts. Get off the train in Wiesen to see and photograph the impressive Wiesen Viaduct (289 feet high).

Day 10: Glacier Express

Enjoy a full day on the Glacier Express on its entire routing, Chur to Zermatt. Sit back and relax in your comfy seat, taking in the Alpine scenery from the large picture windows and enjoying a delicious lunch served at your seat. Overnight Zermatt.

Day 11: Gornergrat
Excursion to the Gornergrat—experience the breathtaking circular panorama over 29 of Switzerland’s 12,000-foot mountains within a radius of more than nine miles, from an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level. Admire the powerful majesty of rock faces, the glitter of eternal snow, and the sheen of ice falls and glaciers—and naturally the king of the mountains, the Matterhorn, with its crown princes the Monte Rosa and Weisshorn. Visit to the Gorgergrat depot in Zermatt possible upon request.

Day 12: Zermatt-Martigny
Regular train Zermatt to Martigny. Options from Martigny: Mt. Blanc Express running carefully along a daring route of mountain precipices to Chamonix, France; or the St. Bernard Express, a combination train/postal bus excursion to the 8,054-foot St. Bernard pass, where you can visit the famous St. Bernard kennels.

Day 13: Golden Pass Line
Regular train to Montreux where you’ll board the panoramic coaches of the Golden Pass train, which takes you through the Lake Geneva region past mountain torrents, blooming alpine meadows, small mountain villages and vineyards, over the Golden Pass to Gstaad. Overnight Gstaad, a village of lovely traditional Swiss chalets.

Day 14: Golden Pass Line
Continue your Golden Pass journey to Zweisimmen, where you’ll change trains to Interlaken; one more train change to Zurich. This is an extremely scenic day, running along six lakes, over the Brünig Pass, through picturesque villages, vineyards and gardens. Sit back and enjoy the spectacular ride—a fitting finale!

Day 15: Zurich
Take one of the many trains from Zurich to the airport for flight home.

*These options at additional cost, subject to availability and must be booked well in advance.

2020 Dates:

Tour available in:

The Prices

Deposit Required:  30%

Pricing varies based on season and choice of hotel.  As this is a custom-arranged journey by our staff, please note a professional planning fee does apply. Please contact us for a quote and details.


NOTE: This journey is an active tour.

Tour is available with options for:

  • using four-star or five-star hotels.
  • luggage transfers between tour destinations.
  • tickets to railroad shops (not included in above itinerary).

Latest News: Click here for Track 25, our blog, for the latest news on this and other tours on our World’s Top 25 Trains™.

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The Highlights

The famed Glacier Express and Bernina
Golden Pass line, running along six lakes from Spiez to Lucerne
Mountain views from Rigi and Pilatus
Furka Steam trip behind 80-year-old locomotive, a train lovingly maintained and run by volunteers
Gornergratbahn, with amazing views from 10,000 feet above sea level
Scenic Centovalli trip into Italy
Mt. Blanc Express into France or St. Bernard Express to 8,000-foot pass
Numerous shop/depot visits available upon request for a unique “behind the scenes” experience
Optional trip on the Jungfrau Railway, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012
Bernina Express in St. Moritz station.  Photo by Angela Walker
Bernina Express in St. Moritz station. Photo by Angela Walker
Furka Steam Train.  Photo by Angela Walker
Furka Steam Train. Photo by Angela Walker
Glacier Express.   Photo by Angela Walker
Glacier Express. Photo by Angela Walker
Mt. Pilatus mountain railway.   aPhoto by Angela Walker
Mt. Pilatus mountain railway. aPhoto by Angela Walker