Glacier Express - Best Section ?

Apr 7th, 2006, 01:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Glacier Express - Best Section ?


We are planning a visit to Switzerland this summer and are interested in taking a ride on the Glacier Express. However, the entire duration of the ride appears too long for us, and we'd like to take a shortcut by only going on part of the ride. We are planning this as a day trip from our base in Lauterbrunnen.

What segment would you consider the best (i.e. the most scenic - mountains, lakes, etc) on this route ? We were considering the Brig-Disentis segment (around 2hrs30mins) - but are not sure if this would be considered the "best section" on this train.

Would love to hear everyone's thoughts on this !
carlposter05 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Well the best section of that route from Lauterbrunnen would be between Spiez and Brig - on the main Lotschberg route - for several miles a thrilling ledge-side descent to Brig simulates flying in an airplane - sit on the right side when going to Brig for best views.
Brig-Disentis is not nearly as spectacular as Brig-Zermatt, a true mountain train otherwise Brig-disentis pleasant river valley but new tunnel (well new years ago) tunnels under the Furka Pass - which the old Glacier Express used to climb over, getting its name Glacier Express from the glaciers it used to pass by there.
If you take the Glacier Express to disentis, this is in the middle of nowhere rail connection wise - from either Furka or Andermatt you could coordinate with Swiss postal buses that take you back to the Interlaken area at Meiringen, changing to Interlaken trains there. Maybe better to bus from Meiringen to Furka or Andermatt and hop Glacier Express there.
Personally i think Glacier Express is one of most overhyped over marketed trains around and can think of many in Switzerland that are as or much more scenic (Bernina Express for once) - though portions of Glacier route - near St Moritz and to Zermatt are very scenic. You certainly should look into Swiss pass that, unlike Eurail, covers postal buses and all the Glacier Express route - passes are sold in Switzerland but are currently cheaper in the U.S. I always recommend BETS ( for passes and are Swiss train experts - their free European Planning & Rail Guide has lots of Swiss trains, including the Glacier Express. www.ricksteves also has good info on Swiss trains. Glacier Express trains can be hard to get on on the spot as many groups book them so reserve at any Swiss station in advance. Reservations are apparently not needed on the Brig-Zermatt Glacier Express portion. Regular non Glacier Express trains also ply these routes regularly but do not offer through service so makes a much longer journey.
PalQ is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 02:09 PM
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I agree with Pal about the descent into Brig and that means sitting on the right-hand side as you face forward.

There are some spectacular sections on the GE between Brig and Disentis and my vote would be the ascent above Andermatt as you go in and out of the spiral tunnels and back and forth along the switchbacks.

BUT if you are pressed for time I would also agree that the trip up from Brig to Zermatt is also memorable as many sections of this route are rack-assisted and the entire trip up only takes 1 hr 20 minutes.

If you had time you could cross the street and take the Gornergrat RR up for better views of the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa Massif as well.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2006, 02:15 PM
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I'd agree that of those mentioned, the Brig to Zermatt is by far the most breathtaking. That's what I'd try to do.

The next most breathtaking one to me is the route between Chur and St. Moritz, but that's really going some distance for you to do.
Apr 7th, 2006, 03:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 142
Thanks all .. I think we will pick either Brig-Zermatt or Brig-Andermatt and for either one of these we will pass through Spiez-Brig, so that should be nice.

And thanks for the tip on seat selection while going to Brig ! I will add it to my notes.

I have a question about this, or rather about reservations in general - if we make a reservation on the train, do they assign specific seats to us or can we pick any empty seat ? The reason I ask is - if they assign specific seat numbers, then how can one request "a seat on the right hand side, while facing forward" ?

Thanks again.
carlposter05 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2006, 08:39 AM
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Seat reservations are for a specific seat - on the Spiez-Brig trains may not even take reservations and after riding it many times i've rarely seen full trains so you pick where you want to sit. If you reserve the reservee should know which seats on are on the right side of the train. If you reserve and there are empty seats you'd rather be in then you can sit in them as long as they are not marked reserved - and you can then sit in them until the station arrives where the folks who have the seat reservations board. Swiss trains will have info posted above each seat as to whether it's reserved down the line somewhere - again most seats will not be reserved unless it's some train going onto Italy, but there are plenty of local trains on that route that don't even take reservations - ditto for the Glacier Express route. Official Glacier Expresses need reservations - the hourly locals on the same route with the same scenery do not even take them i believe.
PalQ is offline  
Apr 10th, 2006, 08:48 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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On your ride into Brig you may not even be able to get/need seat reservations. On some train trips which occur wholly within Switzerland, seat reservations are not available.

Even if you do get reserved seats for this segment I kinda doubt that all the seats will be full and I suspect you can sit on that right-hand side if you want to.
Intrepid1 is offline  

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