If there is one thing Switzerland is most famous for, aside from cheese and chocolate it’s definitely the pristine mountain scenery of the Swiss alps. Since 1993 Rhätische Bahn, the dominating swiss railroad company in the alps, is employing panoramic trains with large glass windows and glass ceiling so their passengers can enjoy the beautiful scenery as much as possible.
But even before that, trains have been running on the scenic route between St. Moritz and Zermatt. The first line was opened in 1889 and ran from Landquart to Klosters while the first connection between St. Moritz and Zermatt was established on June 25th 1930, the Furka-Basistunnel was opened over 50 years later in 1982 and enabled the trains to run throughout the year.
Since I love mountains and beautiful views I decided to do a trip from the tourist hot spots of St. Moritz to Zermatt and it all started off with a drive to St. Moritz via the beautiful Julierpass. Having been to St. Moritz a couple of times, I knew that it would not be as busy as during the winter, however I was still looking forward much, especially to my hotel in St. Moritz.
Upon arrival I checked in at Badrutt’s Palace and was happy that PR manager Yvonne Geiling quickly showed me around the ultra luxurious hotel which is a famous landmark in St. Moritz. Please read my review to find out more about Badrutt’s Palace.
The next morning I treated myself to an extensive breakfast before I checked out and was shuttled to the train station subsequently. Of course in typical GTspirit Lifestyle the shuttle was the hotel’s Rolls Royce Phantom!
15 Minutes later Glacier Express was rolling towards Zermatt and the 8 hour journey began.
Leaving the cosmopolitan city of St. Moritz the first two hours of “the worlds slowest express train”, as they like to call it, led me through one of the most spectacular sections of the Glacier Express right away.
The Albula line runs over six towering viaducts, three spiral tunnels and two helical tunnels which enable the train to scale the 400-meter height difference. The largest of the viaducts – Landwasser viaduct – has become one of, if not the most photographed image of the Glacier Express. At a height of 65m and length of 142m the impressive construction on five walled pillars leads directly into the Landwasser tunnel.
Next the train halts for a quick stop in Switzerland’s oldest town Chur, which is approximately 5000 years old, to enable passengers to get on or off the train or just walk a few steps.
Heading further west the line runs through the Rhine gorge, which is often referred to as the “Swiss Grand Canyon”. Spectacular views going down a few hundred meters into the valley where turqoise water fresh from the mountains is flowing await the passengers here. It was really spectacular being so close to the abyss and watching the breathtaking scenery from the safe train window.
About half way into the trip a delicious three course meal is being served directly at one’s seat. Those who don’t want to eat the full three course menu can also choose a-la-carte. However I can highly recommend the menu. In the middle of the train there is the Panorama bar where drinks and snacks are served.
Another few hours later the Glacier Express reaches the famous Oberalppass where the engine pulls the train to an elevation of 2033 meters with the help of a cog wheel. This being the highest point of the trip and with funny weather we had in July 2016 I was able to witness fresh snow which had just come down a few hours ago on top of Oberalppass.
Passing famous tourist destinations such as Andermatt and Brig, the last stretch of the train ride took me through wild and romantic larch woods, through avalanche protection structures and tunnels all the way to world-renowned car-free city of Zermatt. Just before arrival and if the view is clear, Switzerland’s highest mountain the Matterhorn (4478 meters) looms up majestically before one’s eyes.
After the 8-hours trip I got off the train at Zermatt’s main station and many hotel shuttles were already waiting outside for the passengers. Since Zermatt is car-free, only electric vehicles and shuttles are allowed.
I had booked a room at CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort for the night and since it was already evening I decided to have an early dinner and then head for the Spa – area which they gladly left open for me until 10 pm instead of closing at 8:30 pm. After a relaxing stay at the sauna and Jacuzzi afterwards I was totally relaxed and reflected on a great day with lots of beautiful pictures in my head and camera.
Please read my Cervo Review too and make sure to book your ride in the Glacier Express here when you come to Switzerland next time as it is a truly unique experience not to be missed! Check out their Facebook too!