Scenic options from Munich to Zermatt & Zermatt to Zurich with a Eurail Global Pass

We will be traveling in May with a 10 day, 4 country Eurail Global Pass, and one leg of the journey is Munich to Zermatt. After that, we'll travel to Zurich, so we'd like to take a different and more scenic route from Munich to Zermatt, rather than via Zurich and back. What do you suggest?
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) April 05, 2017 21:23
    Hi Andrea,

    Munich to Zermatt (via the 'Mittenwald Railway' and the 'Arlberg Railway')

    On your way from Munich to Zermatt, you will pass through Zurich, but you definitely do not have to worry about the route not being scenic. I'll have you covered.

    The most feasible and direct way to travel from Munich to Zurich is actually by bus (covered by the rail pass). The bus itself is scenic; however, the rail lines in that area are some of the most scenic in the world. If you route yourself down through Austria, you can get the best of Tyrol and the best of Bavaria. And that's before you even get to Switzerland.

    Rather than taking the direct bus, you could head down in the direction of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck before cutting west to Zurich. This option would have you following along the scenic 'Mittenwald Railway' and renowned 'Arlberg Railway' on your way from Munich to Zurich. Because you will have already gone out of your way a little to take a more scenic route between Munich and Zurich, I'll fast-track you from Zurich to Zermatt (then when you head back to Zurich, you can take the more scenic route for that part of the trip).

    In its entirety, this option takes just over 10.5 hours in duration and involves 3 train changes along the way; once in Innsbruck, once in Zurich, and then once in Visp.

    Trains from Munich to Innsbruck are either 'Brennero' EC (EuroCity) trains or regional (Regionalbahn) trains. However, the 'Brennero' EC trains do not follow the path of the 'Mittenwald Railway'. To follow along the 'Mittenwald Railway' you would have to take one of the Regionalbahn trains for the segment from Munich to Innsbruck. If you have an extra day, the village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen would be a great place to stop along the way before you continue on down to Innsbruck. The Regionalbahn trains from Munich to Innsbruck do not accept reservations, so the Eurail Global Pass is all you would need to board.

    Trains from Innsbruck to Zurich are Railjet or EC (EuroCity) trains on which reservations would be highly recommended as a supplement to the rail pass. As you depart out of Innsbruck, you would be following along the famously scenic 'Arlberg Railway'. This stretch of railway runs west out of Innsbruck and goes as far as Bludenz, right before you cross the border into Switzerland.

    For travel with a rail pass, you would purchase reservations from Innsbruck to Zurich by clicking the 'Seat Reservations' tab on our homepage (www.raileurope.com), entering the route, and indicating the type of rail pass with which you'll be traveling (i.e. a 'Eurail Global Pass').

    Schedules for the Regionalbahn trains from Munich to Innsbruck are currently not able to be viewed on our website. When you search Munich-Innsbruck on our site, the results would only display the 'Brennero' EC trains, which follow another route. If you'd like to inquire about schedules for the Regionalbahn trains over the 'Mittenwald Railway', then you would have to call us. We can be reached at 1-800-622-8600. Our current hours are 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM CT Monday to Friday and 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM CT on Saturdays.

    The fast options from Zurich to Zermatt take just over 3 hours in duration and involve changing trains once in Visp along the way. On the trains from Zurich to Visp and Visp to Zermatt, reservations are not necessary at all. Therefore, the Eurail Global Pass is all you would need to board for these segments. The segment from Visp to Zermatt does follow along part of the famous 'Glacier Express' scenic route.

    For planning purposes, you can view schedules from Zurich to Zermatt (via Visp) by doing a search right on our homepage.

    Zermatt to Zurich (via the 'Glacier Express' and the 'Gotthard Panorama Express')

    For your trip from Zermatt back over to Zurich, I'll have you taking the more scenic route than what I advised for your inbound trip from Munich, which basically just has you traveling a longer distance on the 'Glacier Express' scenic line and then switching to the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' scenic route in the direction of Lucerne and Zurich.

    Reservations are required on the 'Glacier Express' from Zermatt to Andermatt, as a supplement to the rail pass. Generally, passholder reservations are able to be purchased through our website. However, due to an error, it is currently not possible for the 'Glacier Express' trains from Zermatt to Andermatt. Until this is resolved, you would have to purchase these particular reservations and inquire about their costs by calling us. We can be reached at 1-800-622-8600. Our current hours are 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM CT Monday to Friday and 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM CT on Saturdays.

    From Andermatt, you would connect to the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' scenic route by taking a short train to Goeschenen. Trains from Goeschenen to Andermatt depart twice every hour throughout the day, and the ride only takes 15 minutes.

    Heading north toward Zurich, the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' scenic route would consist of trains from Goeschenen to Flüelen and a steamboat across Lake Lucerne from Flüelen to Lucerne. From Lucerne, you would take a direct train up to Zurich.

    In May of this year, the actual 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains, which would run direct from Goeschenen to Flüelen and feature panoramic windows, only operate on weekends (this is the case for dates from April 14th to July 2nd of 2017).

    If you'll be traveling on a weekend and taking the actual 'Gotthard Panorama Express' train direct from Goeschenen to Flüelen, then it would require reservations as a supplement to the rail pass. To purchase reservations for the actual 'Gotthard Panorama Express' journey, you would click the 'Seat Reservations' tab on our homepage (www.raileurope.com) and you would type 'Lucerne-Boat Gotthard' (instead of just 'Lucerne') in the field for the arrival city. Therefore, your search would be from 'Goeschenen' to 'Lucerne-Boat Gotthard'. Reservations for this happen to be inclusive of the steamboat as well. There may be an error preventing this from being able to be booked on our website. If nothing displays when you do your search, then you would have to call us in order to book these reservations.

    For the steamboat, actual tickets would still be needed, but the Eurail Global Pass would enable you to receive a 50% discount. Tickets for the steamboat can only be purchased locally; just be sure to mention that you have the Eurail Global Pass.

    If your travel falls on a weekday, you can still follow the same route and enjoy the scenery; you would just have to take a connection comprised of regional trains (instead of the direct 'Gotthard Panorama Express'), and these trains would not have the panoramic windows. From Goeschenen to Flüelen, such a connection would just involve changing trains once in Ersfeld along the way. You would take a regional train from Goeschenen to Erstfeld and then another regional train from Erstfeld to Flüelen, where you would catch the steamboat to Lucerne.

    The regional trains from Goeschenen to Erstfeld and Ersfeld to Flüelen do not accept reservations, so the Eurail Global Pass is all you would need to board in this case. Once again, you would still need a ticket to take the steamboat, for which you'd be able to receive a 50% discount with the Eurail Global Pass.

    Schedules for the regional trains from Goeschenen to Erstfeld and Erstfeld to Flüelen are not able to be viewed on our website, but these connections depart once every hour throughout the day, and the trip only takes about 40 minutes. The steamboat from Flüelen to Lucerne takes about 2.5 hours.

    Trains from Lucerne to Zurich do not accept reservations, so the Eurail Global Pass is all you would need to board. Schedules for trains from Lucerne to Zurich can be viewed from a search on our website. They depart twice every hour throughout the day, and the ride only takes about 45-50 minutes.
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    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 06, 2017 15:59
      In Zermatt, one of the main draws is the observation deck at Gornergrat, which offeres spectacular views of the Matterhorn. To reach Gornergrat, you would take the 'Gornergratbahn' cogwheel train. To be covered for this trip, you would purchase the 'Zermatt to Gornergrat Full Fare Ticket' option of a pass called the 'Gornergrat Mountain Peak'. You would purchase this pass here: https://www.raileurope.com/activities/gornergrat/index.html.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 06, 2017 16:30
      For time spent in Munich, you can view various city passes and tours offered by clicking here: https://www.raileurope.com/en/activities/germany/munich/.

      City passes and tours for a stay in Zurich can be found here: https://www.raileurope.com/en/activities/switzerland/zurich/.
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  • Thank you very much for this thorough and informative reply, as well as the three others that followed! It appears that a phone call will be necessary for booking several legs of the trip, but before I make that call, I'd like to check to see if I've distilled the critical information for the various parts of the journey, and ask one question. First, here's my distillation; please tell me if I've gleaned correctly the important information for making the trip from Munich to Zermatt, and then from Zermatt to Zurich:

    Munich to Zermatt on Thursday, May 25
    - Munich to Innsbruck: Regionalbahn train along "Mittenwald" railway. No reservations necessary, covered by Global Pass.
    - Innsbruck to Zurich: Railjet/EC Euro train along "Alberg" railway. Reservations recommended.
    - Zurich to Zermatt, via Visp: No reservations necessary, 3 hour trip.

    Zermatt to Zurich on Sunday, May 28
    - Zermatt to Andermatt: Along "Glacier Express," reservations necessary, 3 hours, 45 minutes.
    - Andermatt to Groschenen: No reservation needed, 2 trains every hour, 15 minutes.
    - Groschenen to Erstfeld to Flugelen: Along "Gotthard Panorama Express," reservations necessary, specify "Lucerne-Boat Gottard."
    - Fluelen to Lucerne: Steamboat, ticketed separately, discounted 50% for Global Pass holders.
    - Lucerne to Zurich: No reservation necessary, 2 trains every hour, 45-50 minutes.

    A question we have regards the travel into Innsbruck and change of trains there. Our Eurail pass is a 10 day, 4 country Global Pass, and crossing into Austria would technically add a 5th country to our journey, even though we'd only change trains there. What is the implication of this four our trip and/or the use of our Global Pass?

    Once you are able to confirm that I have these various connects correctly planned, and answer the question about Austria, I will phone the number you've provided to book the necessary reservations for the trip. Thanks again for your excellent help in planning this part of our European adventure!
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    • Jeff, I had thought our Eurail pass limited our travel to 4 countries (Benelux, Germany, Check Republic, and Switzerland), but looking at the pass itself, I see it says EURAIL GLOBAL PASS. Does this mean there is not a 4 country limitation? If that's true, then I believe I'll be ready to phone in and book the parts of the trip that require reservations, and we'll be ready to travel! I'll be eager to hear from you about this, and I do thank you for all your help!
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 11, 2017 19:12
      If it is a Eurail Global Pass, then you would definitely not just be limited to 4 countries. The Eurail Global Pass covers travel in 28 different European countries. It is the only pass that covers travel in that many countries. The countries included are Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey. Also included are Liechtenstein and Monaco, which are considered part of Austria and France respectively (for the purpose of rail passes).

      Your pass would be a Eurail Select Pass if it says 'Eurail Select Pass' on it and specifically lists Benelux, Germany, Czech Republic, and Switzerland as the only countries.
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  • Hello, again -- I've found that the trip from Munich to Zurich would have to be ticketed separately from the Global Pass, because it crosses into Austria to travel via Innsbruck. The cost of that is such that I'd appreciate your suggestions to route our trip from Munich to Zermatt via Zurich WITHOUT traveling through Austria, but instead remaining within Germany and Switzerland. I'm very grateful for your help!
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