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Swiss Panoramic Train Route

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Oct 9th, 2016, 07:32 PM
  #1
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Swiss Panoramic Train Route

I want to travel from Lucerne back to Lucerne traveling on the Golden Pass, Glacier Express, Bernina Express and Wilhelmina Tell trains. I'll figure time in each locale later. My question is the order that you believe is best to travel. Right now I'm planning Lucerne-Interlaken-Zermatt-St.Moritz-Tirano-Lugano-Lucerne. Interested in the forum's thoughts on this or a better route.
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Oct 9th, 2016, 09:48 PM
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What time of the year? Are you an experienced train traveler? Do you know how long you can stand being cooped up on a train? It can get tedious no matter how pretty the outside world, and when you get drowsy, you're wasting the heaps of money that these "panoramic" trains cost.

Be advised that regular trains run on those very same tracks, at regular fares (still not cheap, but that's Switzerland for you).

See www.sbb.ch

The "panoramic" trains have some creature comforts that you'd have to bring along yourself on the others, like a thermos with a hot beverage and a snack. So weigh the pros and cons and the costs.

Consider doing more stops rather than fewer.
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Oct 10th, 2016, 08:14 AM
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Right now I'm planning Lucerne-Interlaken-Zermatt-St.Moritz-Tirano-Lugano-Lucerne. Interested in the forum's thoughts on this or a better route>

That is a logical routing - I could not think of a better one logistics wise and with all those trains be sure to get a Swiss Pass - for lots on Swiss trains and scenic trains check out www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Be sure to book seats early as all those official scenic trains can sell out - even in off season with tour groups.
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Oct 10th, 2016, 08:53 AM
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TIMETABLE VALLID FROM JULY 3rd UNTIL OCTOBER 20th 2017:

Day 1:
Leave Lucerne at 11.12 by historic steamboat up to Fluelen (upper end of Lake Lucerne) ar 13.55. Change to Gotthard Panorama Express dp 14.l0 via the old Gotthard line (Wassen - Airolo - Faido) to Lugano ar 16.38. Stop over at Bellinzona in order to visit the 3 medieval castles or go from Lugano by rope railway to Monte San Salvatore in order to enjoy the stunning panorama to Lakes and Alps. Sleep at Lugano.

Day 2:
Lugano dp 10.00 by Bernina Express bus along Lake Como and through Valtellina to Tirano ar 13.00. Leave Tirano 14.03 by Bernina Express to Pontresina ar 16.02. Go by rope railway to Muottas Muragl in order to enjoy the stunning panorama over lakes and mountains of Upper Engadine. Sleep at Pontresina.

Day 3:
Leave Pontresina at 8.02, change 10 min later to Glacier Express and arrive at Fiesch at 14.10. Deposit your luggage at the railway station (open until 6pm) and go by gondola to Eggishorn. Enjoy the panorama over the whole Aletsch Glacier up to Jungfrau as well as along the whole Italian border from Blinnenhorn via Monte Leone - Matterhorn up to Mont Blanc. Go back to Fiesch and by train to Zermatt (every 30 min).

Day 4:
Enjoy Zermatt-Gornergrat and the glaciers. Leave Zermatt at 15.37, change at Visp, Siez and Interlaken and arrive at Lucerne by Lucerne-Interlaken-Express (panoramic wagons and dining car) at 19.55
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Oct 10th, 2016, 12:50 PM
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You would want at least 2-3 full days in each stop except maybe Lugano or St Moritz if not into doing excursions from those places.

But Lucerne, the Jungfrau Region (Interlaken) and Zermatt really need it to appreciate these places.
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Oct 10th, 2016, 03:21 PM
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Goat - the Glacier Express is a long long haul that becomes fairly monotonous for many folks on board when I've taken it- the scenery is nice in the middle but not spectacular. You could break your journey somewhere around Andermatt - or else it's 8-9 hours Zermatt to St Moritz.

But you sound like a train nut, like me, perhaps and find every train ride scenic and a thrill.
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Oct 10th, 2016, 08:34 PM
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The route you suggest is a very good one. Swiss trains are modern, comfortable and can be a great experience. EXCEPT the Glacier Express. I got tired and bored on the 9 hour trip. We did not stay the night in St. Moritz since the train back left about 10 minutes after we arrived at the train station.

A few of the highlights:

The Matterhorn, The lake steamer part of the William Tell, the Gornegrat. Lucern is a very nice town for a walk.

My overall advice is take the regular train from the Matterhorn to St. Moritz.

Have fun. It is one of best experiences we have had.
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Oct 11th, 2016, 08:37 AM
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The Glacier Express IMO is the most over-hyped scenic train in Europe- it's great at the beginning and end parts but so so tedious for several hours in between those.

Well that's my take -plenty more scenic trains in Switzerland than the GEX.
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Oct 11th, 2016, 10:56 AM
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My overall advice is take the regular train from the Matterhorn to St. Moritz.>

As opposed to the GEX? It would only take longer I think -with one or two changes en route- same scenery but I believe would be much longer - GEX does not stop very much and goes direct.
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Oct 11th, 2016, 01:27 PM
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Oops - my mistake - checking taking regular trains Zermatt to St Moritz I found that I was dead wrong - the official GEX takes about 8.5 hours but locals do it in as quick as 6.5 hours even with four changes of trains!

so jtgarland makes a great suggestion - same scenery and no reservations required - cheaper and quicker and with four changes of trains - all well coordinated -you get to stretch your legs a bit. See www.bahn.de/en for schedules - German Railways pan-European rail schedule site that is the easiest to use I've found.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 07:05 AM
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"Oops - my mistake - checking taking regular trains Zermatt to St Moritz I found that I was dead wrong - the official GEX takes about 8.5 hours but locals do it in as quick as 6.5 hours even with four changes of trains!"

You are dead wrong indeed.

GEX Zermatt dp 7.52, 8.52, 9.52 - St. Moritz ar 15.58, 16.58, 17.58: 8 hrs 06 min

Local trains with change at Visp, Andermatt, Disentis, Reichenau-Tamins:
Zermatt dp 5.37 - Visp 6.46/7.08 - Andermatt 9.20/9.28 - Disentis 10.39/10.44 - Reichenau-Tamins 11.48/12.08 - St. Moritz ar 13.58: 8 hrs 21 min
and then every hr until Zermatt dp 14.37 - St. Moritz ar 22.58

If you travel via Bern - Zurich, it lasts 6 1/2 hrs with 3 train changes.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 08:30 AM
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thanks neckervd- did not look up routing for regular trains - locals are slightly longer than the GEX as originally thought though not by that much. anyway a long long haul for one day- all day.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 09:47 AM
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Palen, I agree with you. May be you remenber how many times I wrote in this forum that one should stop over somewhere along this long itinerary, like:

St. Moritz dp 10.02 - GEX - Andermatt ar 14.50. dp by Postbus to Sustenpass - Meiringen. Sleep there. Meiringen dp 9.25 by Postbus via Grimselpass - Nufenenpass to Airolo ar 12.57. Lunch stop. Dp 13.46 by train through old Gotthardtunnel and Schoellenen Gorge to Andermatt ar 14.24, dp by GEX 15.08 - Zermatt ar 18.10

St. Moritz dp 8.02 - Fiesch ar 14.10 (luggage in lockers), dp 14.40 by gondola to Eggishorn ar 15.05 (best view over Aletsch Glacier up to Jungfrau and to Matterhorn - Mont Blanc, etc.), dp 16.55 - Fiesch 17.17/17.56 - Zermatt ar 20.14
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Oct 12th, 2016, 09:55 AM
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BTW: the Wilhelm Tell Express trains will not run any longer. Therefore I mentioned in my post above the (more comfortable) future Gotthard-Panorama-Express which will run daily from July 1st until October 22nd as well as on weekends only from April 15th until end June 2017.
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Oct 12th, 2016, 12:49 PM
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neckervd- will the Gotthard-Panorama Express take the new tunnel route - negating many of the awesome Alpine views or the old route and will it still include the boat on Lake Lucerne - you are a font of current info and your willingness to take so much time for others is truly amazing.
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Oct 13th, 2016, 09:09 AM
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" will the Gotthard-Panorama Express take the new tunnel route?"
Of course not!

I wrote above in this thread:

"Leave Lucerne at 11.12 by historic steamboat up to Fluelen (upper end of Lake Lucerne) ar 13.55. Change to Gotthard Panorama Express dp 14.l0 via the old Gotthard line (Wassen - Airolo - Faido) to Lugano ar 16.38. Stop over at Bellinzona in order to visit the 3 medieval castles or go from Lugano by rope railway to Monte San Salvatore in order to enjoy the stunning panorama to Lakes and Alps."
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Oct 13th, 2016, 11:10 AM
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Thanks - did not notice the other post. Sounds exactly like the old William Tell Express with a new name and a wonderful alternate route than that via the long tunnel where you see nothing but tunnel. Swiss Passes are fully valid I assume but on the old William Tell Express it was first-class only on the boat and 2nd class pass holders had to pay a hefty upgrade - wonder if this is still the case?
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Oct 13th, 2016, 01:19 PM
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I'm also curious if the new Gotthard Panoramic Express boat portion includes a meal as the William Tell did - one reason for a supplement that I believe used to be levied on 2nd class ticket or passholders.
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Oct 14th, 2016, 03:06 AM
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All Wilhelm Tell Express boats and trains could be boarded with ordinary tickets or passes and without any reservation or supplement. Meals in the boat restaurant could be ordered a la carte and paid on board.
May be some travel agencies created a package.

For the Panorama Express, reservation is compulsory, however:
https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holida...a-express.html

But there will be a daily standard train (TILO, neither restaurant car nor minibar) via the old line just 6 minutes later:
Flüelen dp 14.16 - Erstfeld (change trains) 14.24/14.30 - Goeschenen 14.55 - Airolo 15.14 - Faido 15.32 - Biasca 15.54 - Bellinzona 16.14 - Lugano 16.42 - Como San Giovanni 17.12 - Seregno 17.30 - Monza 17.39 - Milano Centrale ar 17.50
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