The Glacier Express: All Aboard Switzerland's Most Iconic Train
Think of an express train. What do you picture? A race from A to B? Snatches of scenery blurred through the window? The Glacier Express proves that travel isn’t simply a means to an end. Aboard Switzerland’s most fabled train, “express” doesn’t mean speed but “special delivery”.
08 November, 2021
In partnership withSwitzerland Tourism
Think of an express train. What do you picture? A race from A to B? Snatches of scenery blurred through the window? The Glacier Express proves that travel isn't simply a means to an end. Aboard Switzerland's most fabled train - and indeed, the slowest in the world - "express" doesn't mean speed but "special delivery".
Winding between the snow-sports havens of Zermatt and St Moritz, this eighthour, Unesco-protected Alpine route is a destination in itself - and not merely considered so among binocular-toting railway enthusiasts. Some might say you don't "do" the Glacier Express, but experience it. Take a panoramic pew in Excellence Class where floor-to-ceiling windows frame mountains scored by ribbon-like streams and a clued-up concierge will keep you entertained with expert insights into the rip-roaring valleys beyond.
For more than 90 years, the Glacier Express has invited guests to glide through Valais, Uri and Graubünden, skimming over 291 bridges and needling through 91 tunnels as they go. Bookended by the Matterhorn and Piz Bernina, it passes through world-class scenery: the Rhône Glacier, the vertiginous Oberalp Pass, the curvaceous Landwasser Viaduct and the Rhine Gorge - the "Grand Canyon of Switzerland".
This eight hour, Unesco-protected Alpine route is a destination in itself - and not merely considered so among binocular-toting railway enthusiasts
Of course, the Alps taste as good as they look. As a guest in Excellence Class, expect a culinary journey in itself - one speckled with flutes of champagne and fragrant cocktails. As you soar through the icy diorama, you'll indulge in five courses of crag-to-carriage bounty conjured from the foothills while clinking glasses of wine from some of Europe's most exclusive vineyards. Meals on wheels? If you say so.
It's only right that time spent discovering the Alps by train should be flanked by days skiing across those perfectly powdered pistes. St Moritz and Zermatt might draw a coterie of A-listers, but they aren't merely refuges for winter-sports lovers. Spiked with gabled chalet hotels, these are destinations for gastronomes with a local-first mentality.
Before hitting the hills, we're acclimatising at design-led hotels in Zurich and Geneva, two squeaky-clean cities where crystalline lakes lap against the thrum of busy urban life and the promise of Alpine adventure hovers tantalisingly in the near distance.
The best way to get from city to mountain and back again? Snag one of the Switzerland Travel Centre's all-in-one Swiss Travel Passes and take your pick of any bus, boat or train. It's what the locals do.
This is A to B, with a whole lot of see.
The Glacier Express
For more on the Glacier Express, visit glacierexpress.ch. Information about the "all-in-one" Swiss Travel Pass can be found at switzerlandtravelcentre.com. Discover Switzerland's Snow Sports, Design and Lifestyle Hotels, as well as Swiss Deluxe Hotels.