The Glacier Express

Spectacular Alpine views between Zermatt and St. Moritz aboard the world's slowest express train

The Glacier Express panorama train through the Swiss Alps

The Glacier Express has been plying the Alpine hinterlands between Zermatt and St. Moritz since 1930.

It soars over drop-dead vistas across 291 bridges, plunges through mountain tunnels 91 times, climbs over passes as high as 6,700-feet, and generally insures that everyone gets a very sore neck from continuously whipping their heads around to take in the endless procession of postcard-perfect panoramas through picture windows so big that they continue onto the ceilings.

(Though it's really a matter of personal preference, the conventional wisdom is that you should snag a seat on the right, or south, side of the train to guarantee the best views.)

How long does the Glacier Express ride take?

A second class car on the Glacier Express
A second class car on the Glacier Express.
Though it's called an "express," the train's average speed is a mere 22 m.p.h., taking a leisurely 7.5 to 8 hours to wend along the 196 miles of its route.

But this is one time when you want the train to crawl along—the journey, not the destination, really is the point.

Is there a dining car on the Glacier express?

The service is impeccable.

If you don't want to elbow your way along swaying carriages to the antique ambiance of the wood-and-brass dining car (where single plates cost 30CHF/$31, three-course lunches are 43CHF/$45), just wait for the roving minibar to trundle down the aisle with drinks and snacks.

Both dining car and minibar are pricey, so if your wallet is still smarting over the ticket price (detailed below), play it smart by stocking up on snacks before you board. You can replenish your supplies in towns en route; the train stops longest in Brig and Chur.

How much does the Glacier Express cost?

The Glacier ExpressA one-way ticket costs CHF169 ($177) in second class, CHF265 ($278) if you want first class seats.

(If those prices look different from what you see on other websites, it's because I included the obligatory seat reservation that you have to pay anwyay, though at the summer rates; for winter, knock CHF 20 off those totals).

Savings alert! You can book Glacier Express tickets online for about $10 less per ticket through our partner RailEurope, either as individual tickets, or as part of a Glacier Express Tour package that includes two nights' hotel stay—one on either end in St. Mortiz and in Zermatt.

When does the Glacier Express leave?

From Zermatt, there are four departures daily between 8 and 10am in summer (mid–May 12 to late October), just one a day in winter.

Note that the first departure of the day from Zermatt stops short of St. Moritz in Davos Platz (and the last departure from the other end leaves not from St. Mortitz but, again, from Davos Platz).

How do I get back?

To get back, book the Glacier "Express" the other way for the next morning, or ride the same rails on a series of regular trains.

You have to change trains three, four, or five times, and the whole trip takes an extra hour, but in second class you pay half the price of the Glacier Express.


Tours Under $995 G Adventures

Related Articles



This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in December 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

about | contact | faq

Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.