Booking reservations on the William Tell Express for travel with a Swiss Pass

I'm wanting to travel on the Wilhelm Tell Express, in early May, but I don't have the Swiss Pass yet. At this point, I can't get it in time by mail, so I'll have to buy the pass in Switzerland. Will it be too late to reserve a spot? Is it less crowded in early May?
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) April 29, 2014 16:53

    If need be, you can purchase reservations before purchasing your actual rail pass. Due to high demand, the scenic routes in Switzerland can sell out very quickly, so I would recommend purchasing your reservations as soon as possible, prior to departing for Europe.

    The William Tell route consists of a boat across Lake Lucerne from Lucerne to Fluelen and a train from Fluelen to Bellinzona. . If you wish, you can continue on to Lugano. The trains from Bellinzona to Lugano don't accept reservations, so the rail pass is all you would need to board.

    If you'll be traveling with the Swiss Pass, you would purchase reservations for the part of the William Tell Express between Lucerne and Bellinzona by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on the homepage of our website,

    When you go to book your reservations for the William Tell Express, you would enter 'Lucerne-Boat Wmtell' (instead of just 'Lucerne') as your departure city and 'Bellinzona' as your arrival city. This would cover reservations for the boat across Lake Lucerne and the train from Fluelen to Bellinzona.

    For planning purposes, you can just check schedules for the trains from Bellinzona to Lugano by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage, instead of 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations'.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 14, 2017 19:34

      As of 2017, the ‘William Tell Express’ scenic route is now known as the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ scenic route.

      The actual route is still the same, following the rail line between Flüelen and Bellinzona/Lugano that goes through the old Gotthard Tunnel.

      Also still considered part of this experience is the steamboat on Lake Lucerne, connecting Lucerne and Flüelen.

      From April 14th to July 2nd of 2017, the actual 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains only operate on weekends and will not run all the way to Lugano. Therefore, during this time frame, the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' will only run between Flüelen and Bellinzona. In Bellinzona, passengers can connect to another train that will take them the short distance to Lugano.

      From July 3rd to October 22nd of 2017, the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains run daily between Flüelen, Bellinzona, and Lugano.

      For taking in the scenery, 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains have panoramic windows in 1st class.

      For passengers traveling with a rail pass, the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ trains do require reservations, which would also be inclusive of the steamboat. When booking reservations for the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express', you would have to type 'Lucerne-Boat Gotthard' (instead of just 'Lucerne') in the field for the departure city or arrival city, with either ‘Bellinzona’ or ‘Lugano’ in the opposite field.

      If you'll be traveling on a day when the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains don’t run (i.e. a weekday between April 14th and July 2nd, 2017), you would instead take a series of regional trains that follows the same route. While you would still be following the same route and enjoying the same scenery, the regional trains do not have panoramic windows, like the actual ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ trains do. The regional trains on the ‘Gotthard Panorama Express' route are:


      The regional trains do not accept reservations. Therefore, any passenger traveling with a rail pass would only need to show the rail pass to board.

      Other notable changes with the new ‘Gotthard Panorama Express’ route are:

      - Now offered in 2nd class but with no panoramic windows

      - Eurail Passes no longer cover the Lake Lucerne steamboat but do provide for a 50% discount (Swiss Travel Passes, on the other hand, are still valid to cover the Lake Lucerne steamboat in full)

      - A meal is no longer included on the steamboat
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  • Gotthard express doesnt run on Dec 26th. But when i did a search for Fluelen to Lugano, the Gotthard express still showed up for me to make a reservation. Is this just wrong data being displayed? Or is there actually a gotthard express running on Dec 2th?
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    • Yeah I understand what u are saying. That is why I was confused when the search returned gotthard express. Should I just ignore the search results?
    • Jeff (Official Rep) November 16, 2017 17:24
      Ok, I'm finally able to see what you're seeing. I was only able to replicate your search by specifying '2 pm' as the preferred departure time when doing my search (if you stick with the default preferred departure time of '8 am' and then keep clicking 'Later Trains' until you get to that time, it will not appear at all.)

      In any case, since the actual 'Gotthard Panorama Express' does not even operate that day, you would need to just disregard that particular option. We're sorry for any confusion.

      For the same route as the 'Gotthard Panorama Express' trains, you can choose any of the options that show a train change in Erstfeld along the way.
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