Even though the Glacier Express moves at snail’s pace through the Swiss Alps, it's impossible to feel bored for a second thanks to hypnotizing scenery every inch of the way. Passing through steep valleys, gorges, tunnels, over bridges, past snow-capped peaks, and flower-filled meadows (we recommend going in summer), it’s a seven-hour journey as the train seems to climb ever higher into the mountains.
While we may not be able to enjoy travel as usual by this summer, a little daydreaming never hurt anyone – so here are the highlights along the way, according to global travelers.*
The Matterhorn, rising over the village of Zermatt
Zermatt is one of the most renowned ski resorts in Switzerland, which provides guests with glamor alongside rural, mountain charm. In the car-free village, you’ll find weathered, wooden chalets sitting alongside high-end hotels with hot tubs and huge fireplaces. The ski season here lasts from November to April, but you can ski throughout the year on Zermatt’s glacier. While the resort’s après-ski scene is worth checking out, the main attraction is the spellbinding scenery, including the jagged, snow-capped Matterhorn mountain that dominates the Alpine landscape.
Old Town, Brig
Swiss architecture in Brig
Get off the train in Brig to check out its photogenic Old Town. With a mountainous backdrop, pink and yellow houses with blue shutters huddle around the cobbled main square. The Alpine town also has a grandiose castle, known as the Stockalper Palace, with Baroque archways and colonnades that resemble scenes from “The Sound of Music.”
A panoramic view from the Furka pass
When the snow melts, the Alpine landscape around Andermatt transforms into a hiker’s paradise. Swiss cows graze the pea-green slopes while mountain trails take you to waterfalls and wildflower meadows. One of the most popular hikes leads to Furka Pass. This staggering mountain pass sits at nearly 2,500 meters above sea level, and was also featured in James Bond’s “Goldfinger.”
City walks, Chur
The village of Chur
The oldest city in Switzerland, Chur is well-worth a stop on your journey. Walk around the winding streets in the car-free old quarter to get a sense of its rich history. Like a maze, it’s easy to lose your way but that won’t matter – the most rewarding way to experience the city is turning street corners to find massive, ancient frescoes on the sides of medieval buildings.
Scenery, St. Moritz
Lake Sils, near St. Moritz
With a fantastic average of 300 days of sunshine per year, St. Moritz is almost always picture perfect – and also for a vitamin D boost. It’s set in the southern Alps on the pristine Upper Engadine lakes. The multi-colored wings of kite-surfers gliding above Lake St. Moritz against the steep, forested slopes and snow-capped peaks forms a stunning landscape. And if you want to check things out from above, take the funicular up to the Muottas Muragl for spectacular views.
** Destinations featured were chosen as a selection of all the major destinations along the Glacier Express railway route. Then the most popular feature of each city was calculated using internal endorsement data.