Discover the best of Switzerland on three of the country's most celebrated rail journeys.
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Things to do in Switzerland range from exploring famous cities, enjoying boat trips across clear, calm lakes, and taking rail journeys through truly spectacular landscapes.
The best way to discover Switzerland is by travelling from one city to the next via the expansive railway network, and then wandering the streets by foot. Located by the shores of Europe’s largest alpine lake, Geneva offers sleek city streets, jetting fountains and excellent restaurants.
One of the world’s most liveable cities, pretty and relaxed Zurich features an ancient centre with cobbled streets and spiked church steeples. There are worthwhile museums and galleries to visit in this lesser-known artistic hub – the city was the birthplace of Dadaism, and the modern art gallery of Kunsthaus is well-worth a visit.
Wander the old town of Bern and you will easily see why it has been designated a Unesco world heritage site. Surrounded by the winding Aare Rive, the medieval town is stuffed with Renaissance fountains, and lovely churches and bridges, as well as Switzerland’s tallest cathedral – affording an amazing panorama over the red roofs below.
Beyond the main cities, Switzerland’s scenery ranges from dramatic mountain vistas, picturesque valleys to glacier lakes.
Switzerland’s most famous rail journey, the train travels from Zermatt to St Moritz via some of the most iconic attractions, including the Matterhorn. The duration of the journey is just under eight hours, through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges.
The journey on the Bernina Express incorporates one of the steepest sections of railway in the world and is considered to feature some of the best views in Switzerland – some of which are now inscribed to the Unesco world heritage list. The duration of the journey is 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Crossing Switzerland’s language frontier linking the French-speaking Montreux with the German speaking Lucerne and its lake, this train crosses six lakes, six cantons and three passes. There is the opportunity to reserve a seat at the front of the train between Montreux to Zweisimmen, while travel on the Golden Pass Classic is an alternative journey that offers luxury in the style of the legendary Orient Express. The views around Lake Brienzer are not to be missed with castles dotted around the lakeshore and traditional paddle steamers sailing serenely.
The William Tell express links central Switzerland with the canton of Ticino, which is also called the ‘Sun Parlour’. The journey starts with a boat trip on a historic paddle steamer across Lake Lucerne before joining the train to travel on the historic Gotthard route through the Reuss valley to Bellinzona, and on to Locarno or Lugano. There is the option of dining on a three-course lunch during the cruise on the lake.
Incorporating the highest railway station in Europe, the Jungfraujoch – also called the ‘Top of Europe’ at 3,454 metres – travels through the alpine regions of Switzerland; Mönch, Eiger and Jungfrau. One of the many highlights is the view of the snow-capped peaks and the Aletsch glacier from the Sphinx observation terrace. Starting from Interlaken, the journey time is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes to the Jungfraujoch.
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Before travelling to Europe, please read more about the entry requirements for each country, as well as any general health advice.
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