Famous scenic trains: GoldenPass, William Tell Express, Bernina Express, & Glacier Express. Swiss Pass or Individual tickets?

The most popular Swiss routes include, of course, the famous scenic trains: the GoldenPass, the William Tell Express, the Bernina or Glacier Express smoothly snake in Swiss alpine fields, cross mountain streams on spectacular bridges, all while train travelers enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the snowy Swiss Alps.

We, 2 active Seniors, would like to do all of the routes mentioned above in October. What Pass would we need and is 8-10 days long enough to do them? Would an overnight between each leg be possible?

Thank You

Lynda
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) June 30, 2014 15:37
    Hi Lynda,

    For the requested travel, you would purchase the Swiss Pass, which would cover the ticket costs for each of the routes you mentioned. You would purchase the Swiss Pass here: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/swiss-pass/index.html.

    It is possible to make each of the requested trips within the time frame you mentioned.

    I'm sorry; however, there are no overnight trains that run between any pair of cities in Switzerland. Overnight trains only run between cities that are a more considerable distance apart from one another.

    Booking the GoldenPass:

    The GoldenPass route is between Montreux and Lucerne, and it involves changing trains twice en route; once in Zweisimmen and then once in Interlaken. On the GoldenPass route, it is really only advisable to have reservations on the trains between Montreux and Zweisimmen. Reservations aren't really necesssary on the trains between Zweisimmen and Interlaken and the trains between Interlaken and Lucerne.

    For travel with a rail pass, you would purchase reservations for the GoldenPass by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage. If you decide to purchase reservations for the entire route of the GoldenPass line, you would just break up your search once in Interlaken. Therefore, you would do one search for the segment between Montreux and Interlaken and another search for the segment between Interlaken and Lucerne. Otherwise, you can just purchase reservations for the segment between Montreux and Zweisimmen, and then the rail pass is all you would need to board the trains between Zweisimmen and Interlaken and the trains between Interlaken and Lucerne.

    Booking the William Tell Express:

    The William Tell route consists of a boat across Lake Lucerne from Lucerne to Flüelen and a train from Flüelen to Bellinzona or Locarno. Reservations are required to cover the boat and the train.

    If you wish, you can continue on to Lugano. The trains from Bellinzona or Locarno to Lugano don't accept reservations, so the rail pass is all you would need to board.

    For travel with a pass, you would purchase reservations for the part of the William Tell Express between Lucerne and Bellinzona or Locarno by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage.

    When you go to book your reservations for the William Tell Express on our website, you would enter 'Lucerne-Boat Wmtell' (instead of just 'Lucerne') for your departure city and 'Bellinzona' or 'Locarno' as your arrival city. This would cover reservations for the boat across Lake Lucerne and the train from Flüelen to Bellinzona or Locarno. When you pull up the results of your search, the departure station will be labeled 'Luzern Sgv Wm Tell'.

    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') and entering the route.

    Booking the Bernina Express:

    Reservations are required on the Bernina Express in addition to the rail pass.

    The Bernina Express starts with a bus from Lugano to Tirano. In Tirano, you would switch to a Bernina Express train to either St. Moritz or Chur (in most cases, passengers take this route to St. Moritz, as there are many more options).

    You would purchase the reservations under 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage.

    When you go to book reservations for the Bernina Express on our website, you would piece together the connection by doing a separate search for each segment. Therefore, you would do one search to access the bus from Lugano to Tirano and another search for connecting trains from Tirano to St. Moritz or Tirano to Chur.


    Booking the Glacier Express:

    The Glacier Express runs between St. Moritz and Zermatt and does require reservations in addition to the rail pass. You would purchase reservations for a Glacier Express train between St. Moritz and Zermatt under 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage.

    All of these routes can only be booked once within 90 days of an intended date of departure. Since your intended travel falls outside of this time frame, you would just enter an earlier date, within the next 90 days, to get an idea of the reservation costs and view schedules when searching the route on our site.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) April 14, 2017 19:32
      Update:

      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:

      Flüelen-Erstfeld
      Erstfeld-Bellinzona
      Bellinzona-Lugano

      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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  • I am having trouble going the opposite direction. Locarno to Lucerne on train and Willem Tell Express. It's only giving me train...no boat and/or it won't give me anything.
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  • Hello Jeff,
    Is it possible to pick up the panoramic train on the Glacier Express at Disentis? When I enter the GEX Disentis to Chur, I don't get the panoramic train as an option, only the local.
    If this is possible, how would you suggest getting from the Wilhelm Express to the GEX? Stop at Goschenen and take a bus or taxi to Disentis? It doesn't appear it's possible to transfer between the two lines at one stop.
    Thank you.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) August 21, 2015 18:30
      Hi Juliana.

      The Wilhelm Tell Express train and the Glacier Express don't share any of the same stops, but they cross paths near Göschenen/Andermatt. Göschenen is a stop of the Wilhelm Tell Express, and Andermatt is a stop of the Glacier Express. Göschenen and Andermatt are only about 4 km apart. Disentis, on the other hand, is more than 20 km from Göschenen.

      There are regular trains from Göschenen to Andermatt departing twice every hour throughout the day, and the ride only takes about 10 minutes. You could take one of these trains in order to connect from the Wilhelm Tell Express route to the Glacier Express route.

      The train portion of the Wilhelm Express route only operates between Flüelen and Bellinzona. With that said, the only way to book reservations in an actual observation coach (with panoramic windows) for the train portion would be to include the Wilhelm Tell boat in your search as well. The Wilhelm Tell boat travels across Lake Lucerne between Lucerne and Flüelen. To book this on our site, you would type 'Lucerne-Boat Wmtell' for Lucerne. Therefore, you would search 'Lucerne-Boat Wmtell' to 'Flüelen' (or vice-versa), and the reservations you're issued would include the Wilhelm Tell boat and seats in an observation coach on the train between Flüelen and Bellinzona. You can then just get off the train in Göschenen if you'd like to try and connect from there to the Glacier Express route in Andermatt.

      You then only wish to book the Glacier Express for the segment from Andermatt to Chur? Will you be traveling with the 'Swiss Travel Pass' or any other type of rail pass?

      The direct trains from Andermatt to Chur are Glacier Express trains, and all Glacier Express trains do have panoramic windows in every coach.
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