There are many noteworthy train journeys in this country that could be mistaken as a miniature railroad display.
Covering big names like the Bernina Express and hidden gems like the Châtelard Line, find inspiration for your next rail adventure in our guide.
We recommend traveling in Switzerland on the Swiss Travel Pass, an all-inclusive pass covering most trains, buses, and boats. The Swiss Travel Pass was born as a tourist travel and museum pass.
For over a decade, enjoying unlimited travel and access to hundreds of museums has proven extremely popular. And it remains an affordable VIP pass to access some of the most jaw-dropping train lines in Switzerland.
Bucket-list train journeys in Switzerland:
Gotthard Panorama Express Line
Combines a boat ride and a panoramic train journey
In December 2016, the Gotthard Base Tunnel opened to rail traffic, taking you from Zürich to Lugano before you had time to say "Chuchichäschtli."
But despite the time-saving tunnel, a train continues to cross the Gotthard on the historic line. The Gotthard Panorama Express connects Lucerne and Lugano by boat and train. From Flüelen to Lugano, a panoramic train offers breathtaking vistas of highlights along the way.
This includes the famous Church of Wassen. To navigate the difference in elevation, the train line has to make several loops inside tunnels. This church appears from a different vantage point whenever the train exits a tunnel.
The Gotthard Panorama Express runs from mid-April to mid-October, Tuesdays through Sundays, with hourly departures from Basel, Lucerne, Zürich, Lugano, and Locarno.
It's Elementary, my dear Watson!
Here is a train line that connects two major touristic spots in Switzerland: Lucerne and Interlaken. This train line runs hourly throughout the year and requires no seat reservations.
After departing Lucerne, you will soon approach the stunning Lake Lungern with its turquoise waters. This is the site of a famous scene from the Netflix show Crash Landing On You. Get off at Kaiserstuhl for a quick walk to the chalet, then hop back onto the train an hour later.
You will then notice how the train activates the cogwheels to climb the Brünig Pass at 1008 meters above the sea. As it slows down, you will have plenty of time to see the spectacular views over both valleys.
A stop in Meiringen will take you back to the story of Sherlock Holmes and the tragic episode of the Reichenbach falls. The entire town has a Sherlockian touch and is definitely worth a stop over lunchtime. From there, it is all downhill to Brienz and, finally, Interlaken.
Hourly departures from Lucerne (LU) or Interlaken Ost (BE).
The Châtelard Line
Crossing borders from Valais (Switzerland) to Chamonix (France)
For the border crossers who wish to explore that vicinity of the Alps, the rack railway between Martigny (VS) and Chamonix (France) has it all: unique views, narrow tunnels, an international border, and a majestic arrival facing Mont Blanc and the glaciers.
Hourly departures from Martigny (VS).
The CJ Line
Train Adventure on the Jura Plateau
The Franches-Montagnes is an underrated part of Western Switzerland. This vast plateau, more than 1000 meters high, has a strong identity, friendly people, and exciting traditions.
The "petit train rouge" is an element of pride for the population as it connects the entire region, from the watchmaking town of La-Chaux-de-Fonds to the Canton of Jura. The small company CJ (Chemins de fer du Jura) even organizes scooter and ski hires for more variety.
Hourly departures from La-Chaux-de-Fonds (NE) or Glovelier (JU).
BLS RegioExpress Lötschberger
Off the beaten track (and off the base tunnel)
Those traveling from Bern to the Valais will board the popular InterCity trains crossing the Lötschberg base tunnel.
However, the mountain railway across the Lötschberg is still in use, with regional services running across it. The line offers impressive panoramic sweeps over the Rhône valley. (There are also a few dark sections in the Bernese Oberland.)
Hourly departures from Bern (BE), Thun (BE), Spiez (BE), and Brig (VS).
One last thing: Once you have enjoyed these trips, do not forget to return six months later. These five Swiss train itineraries are amazing all year round!
You forgot the most jaw-dropping train journey of them all: the Albula & Bernina with RhB
Thanks for your comment! I’ve never been on it unfortunately, but it’s most definitely been on the bucket list for years! I wanted to insist on these lines as most of them do link big towns together albeit through less express itineraries.