Glacier Express – A Luxury Train Ride to Switzerland

Glacier Express is one of the scenic train vacations of Switzerland. This is considered as one of the slowest trains of Europe, which takes a little more than 7.5 hours to cover just 290 km. The reason behind this speed is to allow passengers to enjoy the changing panoramic nature as the train moves from the foot of Matterhorn to the Engadin skiing region or vice versa. The entire journey would take you through the mountain beauties of Swiss. It covers varying attractions along the valleys and creeks of Switzerland including remote settlements, hilltop castle, tunnels, rivers and so on.

After the Great World War (First world war), the regions of Switzerland became a major holiday destination. With the development in railways, people were able to explore exotic routes, which were not possible earlier. In 1926, train services were introduced between Brig, St. Moritz and Chur.

In 1930, a primitive version of Glacier Express started its service, which was open only during summer. Later, after the construction of the tunnel construction in the Oberalp, the route was open throughout the year, including peak winter. In 1973, the route was extended to cover the Furka base tunnel. A few more destinations were added in 2003 and in 2006, the current route of Glacier Express came in existence.

Glacier Express

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A Journey with the Glacier Express

Glacier Express runs through 291 bridges and 91 tunnels along its route. This magnificent route would keep you awe-struck until the last second of the journey. This train provides a comfortable luxury ride with panoramic windows to give a flawless scenic beauty. The train has chair cars, which are arranged in bays of four chair with a table in the middle in second class and similar seating arrangement is available in first-class along with a row of just two chairs per table. This train journey includes luxury food services along with wine and other beverages.

Panoramic Windows of Glacier Express

Panoramic Windows of Glacier Express

Explore More: Palace on Wheels images

During tourism season, Excellence Class tickets are also open for booking. This class has two chairs facing each other with a table in the middle. The tourists in Excellence Class are served five-course meal with champagne and gourmet snacks. During winter, there is one Glacier Express route in each direction and during summer, there are three in each.

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The train route covers numerous eminent destinations along the route and exclusive sceneries.

Here are the top highlights of the journey of Glacier Express.

Zermatt

Zermatt is a stunning valley at a height of 4,477 m above sea level. Glacier express Eastbound starts at Zermatt.

Mattertal Valley

This is an astonishing valley along the side of Mattervispa River at 1,804 m above mean sea level. The train raises slowly to the altitude and you can watch the river flow by along the sides of the train.

Brig

The train interchanges to the mainland train route at the end of Mattertal Valley and at the end of Simplon Pass, another interchange is found. From Brig, the train starts its journey along the Rhone Valley, which would look similar to winter Narnia. The mountains, snow-filled fire trees, and isolated Swiss villages would be a delight to spot.

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Andermatt

Train stops for a few minutes at this station for tourists to get out and enjoy the snow. From there, the train turns towards even more freezing regions as it visits the Furka Tunnel.

Furka Tunnel

This tunnel was built in the 1980’s. Prior to the tunnel, the trains had to climb over the pass and the route would be closed during winter. Thanks to the tunnel, you can watch this scenic route even in the harshest winter.

Oberalp Pass

The train starts to access the Oberalp pass and reaches the highest point of the route. You can find raw nature here, which is untouched by commercialization. However, you can find a small community living in this height. The land is famous for its snow-filled landscape with blizzard disappearing fir trees as the train chugs its way through it.

Disentis

Train descends slowly to reach Disentis. Tourists are allowed to wander in the platform to enjoy the climate and surroundings

Rhine Gorge

Once the train leaves Disentis, it moves towards the beautiful gorge, Rhine. The best way to explain this region is, Rhine is a snow-filled version of Grand Canyon. The train runs along the rock-filled rivers and cave dotted valley sides. This is one of the most amazing regions of the route. Once you move out of the gorge, you would be a little closer to the sea level (a little more than 500m above mean sea level). Thus, you can find many settlements in this area. Look at the local architecture and enjoy the lifestyle of the region from the glasses of the luxury train.

Chur

Once you reach Chur, you can spot magnificent structures like Hilltop castle and others. From there, the train moves towards Albula Valley and stay along the side of the valley until it reaches the final destination. It crosses the Landwasser viaduct, which is famous for photography. This is a small tunnel cut along the sides of a mighty mountain. It would look like the train is penetrating into the mountain.

St. Moritz

This is the last destination, which is located a little more than 1,700 meters above average sea level. Stay back in the region for a while and enjoy the surroundings before you catch the return-back Glacier Express train.

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Train Route

As mentioned before, there is one train in each direction. The train running from Zermatt to St. Moritz is called Glacier Express Eastbound and the opposite route is called Glacier Express Westbound. There are four different trains in each of the routes namely Train 902, Train 900, Train 904 and Train 906 on the Eastbound and Train 901, 903, 905 and 907 on the Westbound. The routes are almost similar in all the trains.

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Train Route for Glacier Express Eastbound:

Station Name Kilometers traveled Train 902 (available in winter and summer) Train 900 (available in summer) Train 904(Available in summer Train 906 (Available in summer)
Zermatt 08:52 am (departure) 07:52 am (departure) 09:52 am (departure)
Brig 45 10:18 am 09:18 am 11:18 am 2:10 pm (departure)
Andermatt 113 11:54 am 10:54 am 12:54 am 3:54 pm
Disentis 142 1:11 pm 12:11 pm 2:11 pm 5:11 pm
Chur 201 2:15 pm 1:24 pm (arrival) 3:15 pm 6:24 pm
Filisur 252 3:41 pm 4:41 pm 8 pm
Davos Platz 270 4:29 pm 5:29 pm 8:29 pm
St. Moritz 290 4:38 pm (arrival) 5:38 pm (arrival) 8:58 pm (arrival)
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Train Route for Glacier Express Westbound

Station Name Train 903 (available in winter and summer) Train 901 (available in summer) Train 905(Available in summer Train 907(Available in summer)
St. Moritz 09:15 am (departure) 07:02 am (departure) 10:20 am (departure)
Davos Platz 09:31 am 07:31 am 10:31 am
Filisur 10:19 am 08:01 am 11:19 am
Chur 11:26 am 09:26am 12:26 pm 2:16 pm (departure)
Disentis 12:37 pm 10:37 am 1:37 pm 3:37 pm
Andermatt 1:54 pm 12:08 pm 3:08 pm 5:08 pm
3:40 4:29 pm 1:40 pm (arrival) 4:40 pm 6:40 pm
Zermatt 5:10 pm (arrival) 6:10 pm (arrival) 8:10 pm (arrival)

Summer trip starts on 11th May to 13th October (trains 904 and 905 start from 19th April and end by mid of October)

Winter trip starts on 15th December to 8 May

Train 902 and 903 runs throughout the year except between 15th October and 9th December

The exact date of the start of summer and winter trips might vary from year to year.

Cost

One-way basic fare – 152 CHF for second class per head and 268 CHF for first-class per head

Reservation fee (should be paid in addition to the basic fare):

  • Mid-June to mid-September – 43 CHF
  • Spring and autumn – 33 CHF
  • Winter – 23 CHF

Cost of Meal

  • Plate of the day (basic meal) -30 CHF per head
  • 3 – course lunch – 43 CHF per head

Complete cost of ticket for Excellence class – 420 CHF per head.

Cost for Children

  • Children below the age of 6 are free to travel along with a parent.
  • Children above the age of 16 are considered as adults
  • Children between 6 and 16 are charged 50% of the tariff

Check out the Palace on Wheels tariff

Facilities

  • There is no Wi-Fi or outlet in the train. The train focuses on the natural beauty along the route
  • The Glacier Express has separate platform in the departure station with heated waiting rooms and other facilities
  • Wheelchair access throughout the train
    Audio guides with earphones are provided for every traveler
  • Luxury meal, beverages and snacks
  • Ergonomic and comfortable seating with panoramic window

Also Read: Palace on Wheels facilities

Cabins

Excellence Class

  • Lounge style seating with panoramic window
  • Access to the signature facility, Glacier Bar
  • Infotainment tablets
  • Host rides along with the travelers
  • Welcome desk and personalized check-in during the departure
  • Lockable luggage area

First-class

  • Comfortable seating arranged in fours or twos facing each other
  • Large panoramic window for sightseeing
  • English and multi-linguistic audio guide along the route
  • Large table for each dining and other activities
  • Comfortable leg space

Second class

a) Chairs arranged in fours
b) Panoramic window and multi-linguistic audio guide
c) Large table

View More: Train Cabins

Dining

Excellence Class

  • Five-course meal with exclusive wine collection
  • Champagne, brioche, juice, coffee and other beverage options
  • Seasonal dishes and exotic delicacies
  • Tea with gourmet snacks in the late afternoon
  • Soft drinks, fruit juice, and snacks throughout the journey

First-Class and Second-Class

  • Pre-prepared meal with three courses
  • Drinks and simple snacks throughout the journey

Read More: Food Menu

Difference Between Glacier Express and Palace on Wheels

Difference Glacier Express Palace on Wheels
Itinerary and Route The Glacier Express tour has four different trains running slightly different itineraries. The Palace on Wheels have a signature itinerary. There is one train running the classic luxury train itinerary.
 Departure Dates The Glacier Express runs one train on each route, every day. The Palace on Wheels starts and ends every Wednesday.
Landscape While Glacier Express covers the fascinating snowcapped regions and valleys of Switzerland and the train covers snowy destination. Palace on Wheels runs through exotic regions of Rajasthan and surrounding areas in the cultural peninsular, India. The train focuses on sand dunes, desert regions, wildlife sanctuary, and others.
Timespan Glacier Express provides a single-day itinerary. The train has only chair cars because the itinerary starts early in the morning or early afternoon and ends by evening or late afternoon. Palace on Wheels is a week long tour and the tourists are provided private cabins with attached bathrooms.
Facilities Glacier Express does not focus a lot on facilities as it is just 8 hours of journey. The Palace on Wheels has a spa, souvenir shop, bar, fitness room, lounge room, indoor games and much more.
 Variety of Cuisine Glacier Express focuses on providing the top-notch meal. However, there is no choice in the meal. With Palace on Wheels, the cuisine changes at every destination and there is a lot of options to choose from.
Inclusive and Exclusive Tariff Starting from meal to even a bottle of water, every element of the trip is charged outside the tariff in Glacier Express. With Palace on Wheels, it is an all-inclusive tariff. Meals, beverages, accommodation, monument sightseeing, and others are covered in the tariff.
 City Sightseeing Glacier Express penetrates through harsh regions exposing tourists to some of the raw nature regions of the land. However, only at a couple of destinations, the tourists are allowed to get out of the train. Also, those are just platform walks to relax the legs after several hours of sitting in the same place inside the train. With Palace on Wheels, at each destination, city tours, sightseeing, and other activities are conducted. Tourists are taken in luxury road transportation to cover various destinations in each city.
 Bar and Lounge Only the Excellence Class has access to the bar inside the train. In Palace on Wheels, the bar and lounge are open to all travelers.
 Accomodations There are three types of accommodations in Glacier Express, namely the Excellence Class, First Class, and Second Class. There are two styles of accommodations in the Palace on Wheels such as Deluxe Cabins and Super Deluxe Cabins.
Availability Glacier Express runs throughout the year except between October and December. Palace on Wheels halt for operation between April and September. Glacier Express is halted during peak winter season because of the harsh climate and unsafe conditions. The Palace on Wheels is stopped during peak summer season and monsoon season due to the harsh climate.
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Know More about Palace on Wheels:

Departure Dates of Palace on Wheels

Are you planning to explore India in an exclusive way? Choose the signature itinerary of Palace on Wheels and enjoy the eminent attractions of India.

Find here Palace on Wheels departure dates

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