The world famous Glacier Express covers 300 km across the Swiss Alps. A full day of magnificent views between Zermatt and St. Moritz.
A journey with the Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is a direct train from Zermatt to St. Moritz. The train is also referred to as the ‘slowest express train in the world’: the journey takes about 8 hours. There is a good reason for this slow pace: the train squeezes its way through the Alps, through narrow valleys, tight curves, 91 tunnels, and across 291 bridges.
You can travel from Zermatt to St. Moritz or the other way round. The route consists of four sections, each with their own unique scenery.
Traveling on board the Glacier Express is comfortable. Both 1st and 2nd class coaches have panoramic sealed windows all the way to the roof. The train is air conditioned. Information about the routes and sites along the way is provided via headphones.
The 1st class seats are more spacious as there are only three seats across versus four in 2nd class.
There is a trolley serving snacks, drinks and souvenirs at your place. Also there’s an on-board bar, and meals will be served at your seat.
If you want to splurge to have the most exclusive ride, you can book a seat in the Excellence Class coach. There are no more than 20 passengers in Excellence Class, and they all have window seats. There is a bar area, personal travel guidance, and a premium multi-course lunch.
What’s the best season?
Any season can be great if the sky is clear enough to enjoy the views. In October, the brilliantly colored trees make the trip a special experience. In Winter, the special touch is the massive amounts of snow on the Oberalp Pass and mostly in the valleys too. Our personal favorite is Spring (April to June), as that offers the perfect combination of green valleys and snowy mountains.
Regular trains versus Glacier Express
You are not required to travel with the Glacier Express if you want to enjoy the scenery of the Glacier Express route. There are regular train services on the same line as well. The regular trains do not offer the panoramic windows and the same level of comfort, but other than that you can see the landscape just as well.
The regular trains are local trains, so you would have to switch trains multiple times to cover the whole route. The Glacier Express is the only direct train from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Realistically, the Glacier Express is the best way to see the route if you plan to do it in one day. The local trains are an alternative to cover only part of the route or do it in multiple days. Also they’re a good option if you’re traveling when the Glacier Express does not operate.
Don’t have time to do the full route?
For the best experience, we recommend to spend at least one night in Zermatt, do the full Glacier Express ride, and spend at least one night in St. Moritz. However, if you’re based in another town you can still enjoy part of the route as a day trip. Some examples:
* From Interlaken: take a train to Brig and board the Glacier Express there. Get off the train in Chur. Then take a train back to Interlaken. This day trip takes 9 to 10 hours.
* From Lucerne: take a train to Chur and board the Glacier Express there. Get off the train in Brig. Then take a train back to Lucerne. This day trip takes 9 to 10 hours. If you get off the Glacier Express in Andermatt instead of Brig the trip takes 7.5 to 8.5 hours.
* From Zurich: take a train to Chur and board the Glacier Express there. Get off the train in Brig. Then take a train back to Zurich. This day trip takes 8 to 9 hours. If you get off the Glacier Express in Andermatt instead of Brig the trip takes 6.5 to 7.5 hours.
Insider tips about the Glacier Express
* Travel in Spring if you want to see the perfect combination of green valleys and lots of snow in the mountains;
* Spend a few nights in or around the start and end points of the train, Zermatt and St. Moritz. Both regions are really worth your time;
* Although the Glacier Express is very special, you can travel on the same route by regular trains too. Rail passes are valid for any train type;
* Parts of the Glacier Express and Gotthard Panorama Express can be combined in one day.