The Golden Pass: Embark on this train adventure and take in the breath taking views of Switzerland

ByAndrea Thompson

April 23, 2024

The Golden Pass route is not one direct train like the Glacier Express or the Bernina Express. It’s serviced by several specialty trains.  Taking around 5.5 hours from Lucerne to Montreux.

The trip is  broken into 3 journeys where you can discover the breath taking views of the Central Alps, shimmering glacial lakes and Swiss landscapes.  The stations are small and transfers with luggage very easy.

Luzern-Interlaken Express:

  • Departs from Lucerne and takes about 2 hours to reach Interlaken.
  • Air-conditioned train with large panoramic windows.
  • As you pass through the Sarnersee and Lungernsee lakes, you’ll ascend the stunning Brünig Pass, reaching an altitude of 1008 meters (3307 feet). Here, you’ll be treated to views of glistening blue lakes, cascading waterfalls, and snow-dusted peaks.
  • The train descends 413 meters (1,355 feet) to arrive at Meiringen, situated on the valley floor. Here, it engages the cogwheel track for the descent. Upon reaching Meiringen, the train reverses direction, traverses a level passage through the Hasli Valley, and proceeds to Brienz, skirting the shores of Lake Brienz.

Interlaken to Zweisimmen:

  • Transfer to an ordinary train, very comfortable and takes less than 5 hours to Zweisimmen.
  • Passing through picturesque regions like Gstaad and Château-d’Oex.
  • The train journey will take you across Interlaken, tracing the scenic Aare River, and through the charming town of Spiez by Lake Thun. Here, you can admire the pyramid-shaped Mount Niesen. Following this, the route continues into the Simmen Valley, a quintessential Swiss valley dotted with small villages, farms, and alpine forests, all nestled amidst towering mountains.

Zweisimmen to Montreux (Golden Pass Express):

  • The journey takes approximately two hours. The Golden Pass Panoramic train features expansive panoramic windows, and the Belle Epoque cars offer a blend of comfort, elegance, and romance—a setting reminiscent of the Orient Express, exuding luxury and historical charm. The panoramic trains boast a select number of first-class VIP seats at the front, providing passengers with the same view as the driver.
  • The adventure starts by ascending to the highest point of the route at 1,279 meters (4,196 feet). It continues through Gstaad, known for its upscale boutiques and luxurious hotels, before transitioning from the German-speaking region of Switzerland to the French-speaking sector.
  • As the Golden Pass scenic train snakes through the valley, its path becomes quite narrow in certain areas. Upon exiting the valley, it enters a tunnel that emerges in Les Avants, a quaint village within the Canton of Vaud. Despite being only 3 km from Montreux as the crow flies, the train must navigate a descent of 578 meters (1896 feet). Utilizing a cogwheel track, it manages to reach Montreux in just 20 minutes, offering passengers a breath taking panorama of Lake Geneva along the way.

The Golden Pass Express is a Swiss marvel that connects regions previously deemed unreachable. It offers railway enthusiasts and lovers of scenic beauty alike an unforgettable journey across Switzerland.