Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The breathtaking alps, rolling meadows, warm and kind people…it doesn’t get much better. Ideally, I’d love to visit Switzerland again and stay for weeks! But when the time is limited and the budget is tight, the Golden Pass Rail saves the day.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Golden Pass Railway is a scenic train that runs between the Swiss towns of Lucerne to Montreux. However, it’s not a direct route, so if you are looking to get from Lucerne to Montroux on the fastest route than the Golden Pass Railway is not the answer. The Golden Pass Railway offers two types of trains; the Golden Pass Classic and the Golden Pass Panoramic. The Classic has a more historic, vintage-esq atmosphere while the Panoramic trains boast beautiful panoramic windows in their cars to give you the best views as it takes you through the landscape of Switzerland. Cassie and I chose the panoramic windows and I would do the same thing again! Plus, you can get great photos on the way.
The entire trip takes only 5.5 hours with a stop in Interlaken and Zweissimmen to switch trains (this will change in December 2018). In those few hours, you wind through the alps, passing small villages and beautiful towns. If you only have a day, you can certainly do the whole trip at once, straight through or stopping for lunch in one of the towns. Here are the timetables for the railway so you can plan out which train you can catch. That being said, if you have a little more time I’d sincerely recommend spending a night or two at one of the towns along the way to really take in Switzerland’s beauty and culture.
Tickets for the entire route from Lucerne to Montreux run about $80, however there are numerous discounts available if you have different rail passes. You can check out the discounts and purchase tickets here. Cassie and I had the Eurail Select Pass and it was FREE for us, same goes for Eurail Global Pass holders.
Since Cassie and I had about 4 days available to spend in Switzerland, we took our time with the Golden Pass Railway, stopping along the way. We first arrived in Zurich, as we had taken a train up from Florence that afternoon. We arrive pretty late at night and had a rather difficult time finding our hostel in the dark not knowing the city, but that’s a story for another time. The next morning, we took a train from Zurich to Lucerne, only about a 45 minute ride. Lucerne was absolutely gorgeous, and we spent the morning and early afternoon roaming the streets, enjoying the little shops, walking along the Reuss River, and munching on soft pretzels.
(Please be advised, many of these photos were taken with my iPhone, so they aren’t the best quality.)
Lucerne → Interlaken
In the afternoon, we caught the Golden Pass Railway to Interlaken, a stunning trip past Lake Brienz taking a little under 2 hours. Side note: unfortunately, we did not have time to stop in Brienz, but it looked so peaceful that I made a mental note to return there one day. We got to Interlaken OST (East) and walked into town. I remember walking through some quaint neighborhoods on the way and wondering what it would be like to live there.
Interlaken was picture perfect. It’s a smaller town, green with long soft grass surrounded by snowcapped alps. The common language here is German, though most everyone knows English. There was a large green park in the middle of town, the main street was lined with little shops (including chocolate shops!!), a small food market, a couple beautiful hotels, and several kiosks offering hang gliding tours. For our meals, Cassie and would pick up a few items at the market and have picnics in the park where all of the hang gliders would land. It’s such a vivid, cherished memory.
Interlaken → Montreux
The ride was about an hour to Zweissimen, where we switched trains. From there we headed on toward Montreux, which was almost 2 hours. It is this leg of the trip that really takes your breath away with its beauty. You don’t have to make reservations for the Golden Pass Railway, but if you are going to, do it for this leg as its the busiest one.
In Montreux our hostel was only a 5 min walk from the station and located directly on Lake Geneva. We actually arrived before the hostel opened so we took some time to relax and dip our feet in the lake. Sometimes it’s hard to believe there are places this beautiful. Montreux is a slightly larger town than Interlaken, and the language spoken here is French.
After getting settled into our room, Cassie and I walked along Lake Geneva to the center of town where there was a market. Side note: markets in Europe are so fun to roam through! After purchasing different items for our dinner, we had a picnic on Lake Geneva (picnics were kind of our thing in Europe) and enjoyed God’s creation. The next morning, we grabbed a Swiss train to the Geneva airport, its only about 45min and it takes you right to the airport. Here we flew to Leeds, England to visit some friends.
Cassie and I only had a few days to spend in Switzerland and the Golden Pass Railway helped us take advantage of every minute. I sincerely recommend it and would do it again in a heart beat!
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