The Glacier Express is a classic when it comes to Swiss panoramic trips. From Zermatt and the Matterhorn, the trip leads over 291 bridges and through 91 tunnels over and through the Swiss Alps to St. Moritz in the Engadin lakeland. Of course there are faster ways to travel – but certainly none that are as attractive. With ease and the help of rack-and-pinion technology, the Glacier Express climbs to the highest point of the route on the Oberalp Pass, 2,033 metres above sea level. It winds its way past idyllic mountain villages and rugged rock faces, offering an unrestricted view of the deep gorges, remote valleys, glaciers and the Rhine Gorge, also known as the “Swiss Grand Canyon”.
A further highlight is the 142 metre long and 65 metre high Landwasser Viaduct, the impressive structure on five masoned pillars which leads directly into the Landwasser Tunnel. A must for all railway fans – beauty and daring united. From Thusis the Glacier Express climbs up the Albula Valley through helical tunnels and over viaducts towards St. Moritz. Harmoniously embedded in the landscape, the line is a monument to the pioneering days of railway-building and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscapes”.
And there are plenty of culinary delights to be enjoyed on the way. With an unrestricted view of the countryside thanks to the large panoramic windows, enjoy a three-course meal or a range of à la carte variations – freshly prepared in the on-board kitchen – at your seat.
The new Excellence Class – the most sought-after seats in Switzerland
From 2 March 2019, the panoramic trip through the Swiss Alps will be even more spectacular. The new Excellence Class sets standards that are as high as the mountain peaks along the legendary route. Passengers enjoy the highest level of comfort, the best views and culinary highlights. They journey with a guaranteed window seat and panoramic view, including personal service, great comfort, thanks to ultra comfortable lounge chairs, and a bar in the carriage. The Excellence Class exclusively offers a concierge service, a special on-board entertainment system as well as a five-course gourmet menu including accompanying wines served at your window seat. Amuse-bouche and champagne taste twice as good looking out towards the Piz Bernina and the Matterhorn. The best place to enjoy an aperitif is the exclusive Glacier Bar. Thanks to the golden compass on the ceiling, passengers won’t miss a single change of direction as they drink exquisite wine or a freshly mixed drink. Without a doubt, even experienced gourmets will be amazed at the standard of the Excellence Class. The journey in the new Excellence Class is a feast for the senses and thus one of the most exclusive tourist highlights in Switzerland.
The route of the Glacier Express.
Zermatt – Brig
The steep Matter Valley offers an incredibly varied landscape: perpetual ice, deep gorges, jagged rock faces, blooming Alpine meadows, historical bridges, the highest vineyard and the highest football field in Europe. The Bies glacier is just outside the village of Randa. In 1991, millions of cubic tonnes of rock thundered to the valley floor from the opposite side of the valley, changing the landscape forever. The town of Brig is well known for the impressive Stockalper Palace dating back to the 17th century. Apart from that, Brig is also the starting point for some magnificent hikes into the area of the massive Aletsch Glacier which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001.
Brig – Andermatt
The Goms is very popular for hiking in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter. The traditional wooden houses on wooden stilts form the perfect background. The legendary hotel pioneer César Ritz (1850-1918) was born and buried in the village of Niederwald. Andermatt was founded in the 12th century by the Walser and is the starting point of various Alpine passes. Numerous celebrities have taken a break here on their travels between the north and south of Europe. Andermatt is currently being made into an all-year destination. The Andermatt Swiss Alps resort is being created right next to the existing village.
Andermatt – Chur
The Oberalp Pass at 2,033 metres above sea level is the highest point of the journey. It is a border in several respects: a watershed between the rivers Rhône and Rhine as well as a division between the cantons of Wallis, Uri and Graubünden. As it crosses the valley, the Glacier Express travels past the village of Disentis. Disentis is the largest Romansh-speaking community in Switzerland. The villagescape is dominated by the monumental abbey.
Before the Glacier Express reaches Chur, the oldest town in Switzerland, it travels along the Rhine Gorge, also known as Switzerland’s very own Grand Canyon. Ten thousand years ago, in the Ice Age, the Rhine forced its way through the rocks and created this unique gorge with its bizarre rock formations.
Chur – St. Moritz
There are lots of castles and fortifications to be seen in the Domleschg. These fortifications were built in ancient times to control the Alpine passes. In the Albula Valley, you go through the UNESCO World Heritage site “Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscapes”: masterpieces of railway engineering were required to overcome the 418 metres difference in altitude. The most spectacular constructions are the Solis Viaduct (89 m high, 42 m long) and the famous Landwasser Viaduct (65 m high, 142 m long) as well as the helical tunnel between Bergün and Preda where currently the new Albula Tunnel is being built. After almost 8 hours, the Glacier Express reaches the Engadin with its stylish sgraffiti houses and the elegant holiday resort St. Moritz