Switzerland is no stranger to rail travel, and some of their railway routes rank as the most scenic in the world. Whether they’re short sojourns or long journeys, these trains take you past both Switzerland’s breathtaking scenery and its engineering marvels. Visit www.swisstravelsystem.com for more.
Located at the convergence of both the Voralpen Express and the Wilhelm Tell Express, you can take advantage of Lucerne’s easy access to 2 nearby mountains: Mt. Titlis and Mt. Stanserhorn. You can board the world’s first revolving cable car – TITLIS ROTAIR – as it whisks you up to the perennially snowcapped Mt. Titlis (3,020m). Up here, a walk through the Glacier cave leads to the vertigo-inducing Titlis Cliff Walk (at 500m off the ground), ending at the Ice Flyer glacier chairlift.
Another alternative is to take the world’s first double decker cable car – the CabriO – up to Mt. Stanserhorn (1,900m). The top level is an open deck, offering you breezy views of the surrounding mountains as you climb. Complementing this modern marvel is an old-fashioned funicular ride (built in 1893) from the village of Stans to the CabriO cable car station, the first of the two-stage trip up to Stanserhorn.
A number of mountain trails are accessible from the top stations; walks range from 30 minutes to 4 hours (Mt. Stanserhorn) and 7 hours (Mt. Titlis). The former also has a marmot enclosure where you can see these furry critters up close.
VORALPEN (PRE-ALPINE) EXPRESS
Route: St. Gallen – Lucerne
Duration: just over 2 hours
Unlike the stereotypical snowcapped mountain scenery that most Swiss panoramic trails feature, this route is all about gentle undulating hills, idyllic villages and rolling farmland.
This journey is a ‘slow road’ that takes you from St. Gallen (home of the UNESCO-listed St. Gallen Abbey Precinct with its magnificent cathedral) through the canton of Appenzell, where rolling hills and colourful villages are set against the Alpstein massif. You’ll cross the 99m-high Sitter viaduct (the highest railway bridge in Switzerland) and pass countless lakes and pastoral villages along the way before reaching the bustling lakeside city of Lucerne, where you can explore its old town and historic Chapel Bridge on
WILHELM TELL EXPRESS
Route: Lucerne – Flüelen – Locarno/Lugano
Duration: just over 5 hours
This scenic, luxury rail journey takes you from the German- speaking city of Lucerne to the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. From Lucerne, journey starts with a 3-hour historic paddle steamer ride on Lake Lucerne (where you’ll have an inclusive lunch onboard), taking you past charming lakeside
villages and Tell’s Chapel (named after the route’s namesake, William Tell). At Flüelen, you’ll board the train bound for the canton of Ticino, winding its way from 470m to 1,100m via the 15km-long Gotthard Tunnel (which dates from the 19th century). The 2-hour journey then takes you through the sun-kissed southern side of the Alps, offering views of magnificent viaducts juxtaposed against the natural beauty of mountains and rivers.