Travel blog on one-of-a-kind travel experiences

By Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt

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By Railtour’s invitation, we rode the rails in the world’s most famous train… and what a thrill it was!

The tendency is to keep postponing a ride on the Glacier Express for far too long into the future: after all, it’s right there, practically on your doorstep; it’s doable “anytime”…
But really, don’t keep putting off a trip on the “Gelati Express” (as our train conductor called it) – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thrill!

Glacier Express bar and observation cars

Glacier Express bar and observation cars

There are indeed a number of trains with such evocative names. Just say them slowly and let their romantic promise sink in: “Orient Express” or “Rovos Rail” and “Blue Train” for Southern Africa. In the Canadian Rockies, there is the no less spectacular sounding “Rocky Mountaineer” luxury train. And then there is indeed the famous “Glacier Express” with its legendary observation cars and the highly fashionable departure and destination points of St. Moritz and Zermatt…

The Glacier Express is titled the “the world’s slowest express train”: Normally, the trip takes you from St. Moritz via Chur, Disentis, Andermatt and Brig to Zermatt in about eight-hours. Or vice versa. It is a day trip that ranges over 291 bridges and 91 tunnels, past breathtaking mountain backdrops and quaint mountain villages, over chasms and wonderful valleys.

Not wanting to shoot our bolt all in on one day (or sit in the train for that long), we broke the trip in Andermatt, where we overnighted in the much-commented “The Chedi Andermatt“. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

The legendary Glacier Express

Riding the Glacier Express is the classic among scenic journeys through Switzerland. One highlight chases the next here! They’ll tell you all you need to know over headphones (in six languages; you don’t need to speak all of them) about what lies along the route that cuts right through the Alps. Here is just a selection of highlights:

  • Albula/Bernina – the UNESCO World Heritage route: Between Preda and Bergüng lies the most spectacular part of the route, with six high viaducts, three spiral and two loop-back tunnels making the climb up a 400 meter grade differential possible. It’s enough to give you vertigo…but it doesn’t; it’s not a Pendolino tilting train, after all.
  • Swiss Rhine Gorge – Switzerland’s Grand Canyon. The rockslides that took place after the end of the Ice Age formed today’s unique canyon landscape.
  • Oberalp Pass – the engine goes into cogwheel mode to work its way up to 2,033 meters above sea level, the highest point in the pass and on the Glacier Express route.
  • The Rhone Glacier – a nine-kilometer long natural wonder in the canton of Wallis.
  • Zermatt and the legendary Matterhorn. Naturally, here too the clever cogwheel system is engaged.

Although the majority of tourists prefer to ride the Glacier Express during the warm seasons, we deliberately chose winter for our trip, because we are simply enthralled by snowy landscapes.

Castle and church in snowy Graubünden

Ortenstein castle and church of Tumegl/Tomils in snowy Graubünden

Snowy landscape in Graubünden

Snowy landscape in Graubünden

Village in wintry magic

Samedan’s church in wintry magic

Kudos to our Japanese friends from the “Swiss Fan Club“. Thanks to them I found out which castle and churches we actually photographed ;-)

The weather was favorably inclined toward us – at least on the first route segment from St. Moritz to Andermatt. On the first day of our journey, the panorama offered itself to us like a Swiss winter’s fairy tale. The landscape covered with deep snow glistened everywhere like a fantastic winter wonderland!

On the second leg, from Andermatt to Zermatt, on the other hand, we were not so lucky. But even with blowing snow and uncounted snowflakes whirling, the route still had its charm. In any case, we thought the trip was fantastic start to finish!

On the way to Zermatt near Täsc

On the way to Zermatt near Täsc

Service on the Glacier Express

Just to complete the adventure with a bit of Swissness, you get entertained with Swiss music on channels 7 and 8. While on channel 7 they delight you with traditional Swiss music (Ländler, i.e. folk dance music), those less rooted in the local soil can avail themselves of channel 8, where Swiss singers like Bligg, Büne Huber and others will treat you to songs of Switzerland.

Glacier Express seats

Glacier Express seats

To keep passengers from starving en route, scrumptious local delicacies are offered as well as a complete menu of the day. And they serve you right at your observation car seat! Drinks and snacks are also available in the Panorama Bar. It doesn’t get any better!

Walter waving from the Glacier Express

Walter waving from the Glacier Express

You can find all the details, such as trip information and schedules, on the Glacier Express website.

Our thanks go to…

Many thanks to Railtour for the generous invitation! Besides the Glacier Express journey, Railtour also offers other terrific adventures by train .

With Railtour on Glacier Express expedition

With Railtour on Glacier Express expedition

Ah! Lest I forget, the Chedi Andermatt is awesome! Here is the review to tell that story

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About Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog travelmemo.com. In his day job Walter is an online marketing manager based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

2 Comments

    • Yes, the beauty of nature is mindblowing indeed and how mankind adjusted it to fit our needs is quite something, too…

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