GLACIER EXPRESS TRAIN GUIDE 2024: Tips for Planning a Magical Journey

GLACIER EXPRESS TRAIN GUIDE 2024: Tips for Planning a Magical Journey

The Glacier Express is an iconic and world-renowned train journey that takes passengers on a breathtaking ride through the magnificent Swiss Alps. Operating in Switzerland, this panoramic train route is known for its stunning landscapes, engineering marvels, and exceptional onboard experiences.

The Glacier Express connects two picturesque mountain resorts, Zermatt and St. Moritz, covering a distance of approximately 290 kilometers (180 miles). The entire journey takes around 8 hours, providing ample time to soak in the awe-inspiring scenery and enjoy the luxurious amenities onboard.

This extraordinary train ride is often referred to as the “slowest express train in the world” due to its leisurely pace, which allows passengers to fully appreciate the natural wonders of the Swiss Alps. The route passes through some of the most iconic mountain regions in Switzerland, including the Matterhorn, the Rhine Gorge, and the Albula and Bernina Passes, all of which have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

One of the highlights of the Glacier Express is its panoramic windows, which offer unobstructed views of the breathtaking landscapes along the way. Whether it’s the towering peaks covered in glistening snow, the lush green valleys dotted with charming alpine villages, or the crystal-clear mountain streams, every moment on this journey is a feast for the eyes.

The train itself is spacious, and well-appointed carriages provide a cozy atmosphere for passengers to relax and enjoy the ride.

I recently had the pleasure of embarking on a mesmerizing journey aboard the Glacier Express, traversing the stunning route from Andermatt to Chur in the heart of the Swiss Alps. This iconic panoramic train ride exceeded all my expectations, offering a truly unforgettable experience that showcased the mesmerizing beauty of Switzerland’s mountainous landscapes.

Throughout the journey, the train passes through numerous iconic landmarks, including the Oberalp Pass, the highest point of the trip at an elevation of 2,033 meters (6,670 feet). The train slows down at key vantage points, allowing passengers ample time to capture the perfect photographs or simply bask in the splendor of the scenery. The knowledgeable and friendly onboard staff also provides informative commentary, enriching the experience with fascinating insights into the history, culture, and geography of the region.

The staff also gives away free Kambly biscuits. This is one of my favorite Swiss snacks!

When booking the Glacier Express, here are some of the common mistakes made by travelers:

– Seat reservations get booked fast! You need to secure your seats ASAP especially if you’re traveling as a group, and it’s separate from the ticket itself. You can book online on their website www.glacierexpress.ch

– Booking the entire Zermatt to St. Moritz without getting an overnight stay at either end points. The entire Zermatt <> St. Moritz journey takes roughly 8 hours. If you don’t have much time (like me), I recommend starting the journey from: Andermatt, Brig, or Chur. In my case, I chose from Andermatt to Chur, as I still have other activities planned in my itinerary at Chur. It was a good 4-hour journey that allowed me to take photos of breathtaking views and still relish riding a luxury train.

– Not bringing food or ordering on the spot. I recommend booking your meals in advance (especially if you’re getting the Excellence Class.) Meals are not guaranteed onboard, as Glacier Express prioritizes those who have made food bookings online. You can do that during the checkout process.

If the staff is too busy, then they’re likely to ignore your order! But keep in mind that the dishes can be quite expensive onboard Glacier Express. Set courses costs between 38-50 CHF, and entrees around 28 CHF. I would recommend checking the onboard menu for your dietary preferences.

Alternatively, you can pack a sandwich or salad from Coop the day before your train journey.

– Thinking that you can take stunning videography inside the train. Don’t believe those reels; they’re edited post production, with HDR enabled. While the Glacier Express is panoramic, you’ll most likely get reflections instead.

– Not getting a discounted fare! It’s not true that only Swiss citizens get discounts. I recommend getting a Swiss travel pass that you can use for other attractions such as Jungfraujoch Top of Europe. Remember to select the discount during the checkout process! And the conductor will surely check which Swiss travel pass you’re carrying so bring that during your Glacier Express journey.

Which side to sit on the Glacier Express?

The best side to sit onboard the Glacier Express would depend on your preferences! Would you like to see more of the Swiss Alps or the Rhine Gorge? It also depends on the direction where you are traveling. Are you coming from Zermatt or St. Moritz?

When coming from Zermatt, staying on the right side of the train gives 80% better views, especially when you arrive in Andermatt. The right side of train may have less snow-capped mountains, but as you get closer to Disentis, you’ll have picturesque farms and the adorable farm animals too.

Approaching Chur, you’ll get breathtaking views of the Rheinschlucht, the canyon-like gorge in the Rhine Anterior Valley that shows you how crystal clear the waters are in Switzerland.

After Chur, you’ll be able to catch the iconic Landwasser Viaduct. It is better to view these from the right side!

Knowing the information above, you need to book your seats ASAP, even earlier than your actual tickets. Seats fill out fast especially if you’re opting for Excellence Class.

How to book the correct seats on the Glacier Express

When you are booking seats online, the diagrams don’t really show you the front or end car of the trains. In my case, I booked seats on the lower row (e.g. Seat #11, #12, #21, #22), and these are the right side of the train. Sitting on this direction gave me views of the Rhine Gorge during my Glacier Express Journey!

Booking tickets on the Glacier Express

If it’s too early for your journey (x months ahead), the Glacier Express website can only allow you to book seats and the tickets separately. Once you have booked seat reservations, you can book tickets on the Rhaetian Railway website or SBB website. Make sure to keep an eye on which kind of train. There are two types: the R train via Disentis/Muster, and PE which is the Glacier Express / Panoramic Express. Don’t make a mistake here; Pick the PE of course!

Rhaetian Railway Example

SBB example

Of course if you manage to book everything through the Glacier Express website, then you don’t need to book tickets separately.

These are just some of the tips when riding the Glacier Express for this year 2024. For more quick travel guides and tips, follow me on Instagram and TikTok @candidcuisine!

Glacier Express
Route: Zermatt <> St. Moritz
Official Website: www.glacierexpress.ch
Ticket Prices and Seat Reservations
Email: info@glacierexpress.ch

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