Glacier ExpressGlacier Express
From Zermatt to St. Moritz
The journey in what has been dubbed the world’s slowest express train takes travellers across the Alps within roughly eight hours, passing through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges.
Glacier Express the slowest express train in the world.
To travel by the Glacier Express is pure seduction of the senses. Acclaimed for its many scenic splendours and engineering of excellence, this remarkable train route links the Alpine resorts of St. Moritz and Zermatt.
It takes some eight hours for the cosy crimson and white train to cross the Alpine chain, travel through 91 tunnels and cross no fewer than 291 bridges. With its roof-high panoramic windows, Glacier Express opens vistas of unique landscapes – for example, the Engadine with its traditional Sgraffiti-decorated dwellings, the Reichenau-Tamins confluence of the upper and lower Rhine rivers, and the Domleschg valley with its 13th century Schloss Ortenstein and other countless castles. Other scenic highlights include the glorious Goms region, Disentis with its beautiful Benedictine monastery, the 400-metre deep Rhine Gorge and the 2033-metre high Oberalp Pass. And of course the mighty Matterhorn.
All in a spectacular setting of rugged rock faces, crystal-clear mountain lakes and quaint unspoilt villages.
Glacier Express History
It was in the Roaring Twenties – as that decade of the 20th century was known – that the travel-happy upper class from throughout the world discovered the delights of the Swiss Alps. The railways exploited this touristic potential by opening the first rail link between the cantons of Graubünden in the east and the Valais in the west under the name of the Glacier Express. The first journey from St. Moritz and Zermatt was made on 25 June 1930 at a time when 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class travel was on offer. Although other railways were already operating the most modern electric locomotives, the Glacier Express was still a steam-operated route – namely, ''the slowest express train in the world''. The early 1940s saw the route converted to electricity, reducing travel time from 11 to 8 hours. In 1982 the Glacier Express was able to change from summer-only to year-round operation, with the opening of the Furka Basis Tunnel between Oberwald and Realp.
The Glacier Express offers a journey for the senses – from Engadine right to the Matterhorn. On its relaxing drive from dazzling St. Moritz to equally sophisticated Zermatt, the Glacier Express delights travellers with scenic attractions and technical state-of-the-art achievements.
With its overhight panoramic windows, the Glacier Express opens up unobstructed views of unique landscapes.
Glacier Express Facts
Glacier Express Food & Beverages
Glacier Express Timetable
Glacier Express Ticket
This route is fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass (Flex) and GA travelcard. Book Swiss Travel System tickets
Glacier Express Reservation
Apart from a valid ticket, a seat reservation is required (max. 90 days in advance)
In addition, the train is subject to surcharge:
Surcharge summer: CHF 33
Surcharge winter: CHF 13
Glacier Express Facts & Figures
Route *Zermatt – Brig – Chur – St. Moritz
*St. Moritz – Chur – Brig – Zermatt
Swiss Travel Pass
Swiss Travel Pass Flex
Swiss Travel Pass Youth
Swiss Half Fare Card
CHF 74.50 2nd class
CHF 131.00 1st class
Children aged 6 –16 with Swiss Family Card
free of charge
CHF 149 2nd class
CHF 262 1st class
CHF 65.25 2nd class
CHF 114.75 1st class
(Route St. Moritz – Disentis included)
50% Discount only with a Youth Interrail Pass
(Route St. Moritz – Disentis included)
Glacier Express Route Highlights
En route from Zermatt to St. Moritz the Glacier Express comprises the following highlights and excursion attractions:
The Matter Valley between Zermatt and Stalden spans some 35 kilometres and offers a remarkable range of scenic splendours – eternal ice, deep ravines and rugged rockfaces; 29 4000-metre peaks and flowering Alpine meadows; the highest-altitude vineyards in Europe and superb ski runs. Running through the valley is the wild and foaming River Matter Vispa, which converges with the Saaser Vispa at Stalden before joining the Rhone at Visp.
The Bies Glacier to the east of the Weisshorn massif is the only glacier still
visible from the Glacier Express train. In the spring of 1991, millions of cubic
tonnes of rock thundered to the valley floor from the opposite side of the
valley, changing the landscape forever. The glacier tongue is currently located
at 2000 metres above sea level. The ice stream flows into the valley with a
downhill gradient of up to 60 %
Close to Kalpetran, the Glacier Express continues through the wild and romantic Kipfen Gorge
along one of the route’s most scenic sections. The train line and the River Vispa run parallel at close quarters, and in the past flooding and avalanches have caused considerable damage. The flow of the Vispa is now regulated and the railway track protected by masonry to avoid further damage.
The Saas and Matter Valleys meet at Stalden, also known as the «village of bridges». Stalden’s many bridges date from different eras, all pointing to the village’s past as a major hub for transporting goods. Shortly before the village entrance is the steepest section of the Glacier Express line; here the trains have to climb a challenging 12.5 % ascent requiring peak power performance.
The Kinbrücke is an arched stone bridge dating back to the 16th century. It was built by Ulrich Ruffiner – «the father of architecture in Canton Valais» – and crosses the River Matter Vispa. Until 1934 all traffic between Stalden and the Saas Valley crossed the Kinbrücke. Today, this historic and picturesque structure is a protected monument.
The people of Brig in Canton Valais are proud of their Palace. It dates from the 17th century and was built by Kaspar Stockalper («King of the Simplon»), an eminent silk merchant, banker and politician. The cellars, arcades, halls and rose garden are open to visitors, and the Palace offers fine views of Brig’s beautiful old town, monastery and Jesuit Church. The Palace halls feature fine tapestries and silk paintings, designed in Paris in the 18th century.
The Goms Valley is a popular hiking region in summer – and a cross-country skiing paradise in
winter. This uppermost valley of the Rhone River features traditional timbered dwellings raised on wooden piles. It enjoys a spectacular setting amid 3000-metre peaks and the eternal ice of the Rhone Glacier. The Goms was the birthplace of the legendary César Ritz (1850-1918) the peasant’s son who founded the renowned Ritz-Carlton Hotels. He is buried in the village of Niederwald.
Andermatt is located at the foot of the 2033-metre Oberalp Pass in the canton
of Uri, along the 144-kilometre network of the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn.
From here trains depart for Disentis, Göschenen and Zermatt. An ambitious
construction project (already partially completed and open for business)
is currently under way to develop Andermatt as a modern holiday resort.
The Oberalp Pass links Disentis/Mustér in Canton Graubünden with
Andermatt in Canton Uri. At 2033 metres, it is the highest point on the
route of the Glacier Express. Located even higher to the south is Lake
Toma (2345 metres), recognized as the source of the River Rhine
Disentis is dominated by the oldest Benedictine monastery in Switzerland, built in the late
17th century. In 1799 the monastery church was burned and plundered by Napoleon’s army.
Extensive restoration work was undertaken in the late 19th century. Today it houses a school.
Rhine Gorge – the “Swiss Grand Canyon”.
It began 10,000 years ago as the famous Flims landslide – now it is a unique natural backdrop. Over many centuries the River Rhine has carved a path through the bedrock. The result is a ravine renowned as the Swiss Grand Canyon, and one of Switzerland’s most impressive natural spectacles. The Rhine Gorge is a popular attraction for hikers, bikers and river-rafters – and can even be toured by train.
The Domleschg is a region renowned for its countless castles, due mainly to its strategic position on the route to three main Alpine passes – the Splügen, San Bernadino and Julier. Fortresses were built to control this ancient route, making the Domleschg one of the regions in Europe richest in castles. The largest is Schloss Ortenstein, which is located on a 120-metre rock overhang high above Tomils.
In ancient Roman times, according to legend, Saint George escaped his pursuers by making a
mighty leap over the Albula River on horseback. The modern form of gorge-crossing is also
mighty in its own way. The Solis Viaduct, built in 1902, rises to 89 metres and spans 42 metres – making it not only the highest bridge of the Rhaetian Railway but also the widest span of
any along the Albula line.
The Landwasser Viaduct is the most spectacular construction on the 63-kilometre Albula stretch between Thusis and St. Moritz – and the most photographed feature of the entire Rhaetian Railway. It comes into view on the right shortly before the village of Filisur, is 142 metres long and rises impressively to a height of 65 metres. The natural stone viaduct extends in a curve over the rugged Landwasser Valley directly into a tunnel entrance on a vertical rock wall.
Bergün and Preda.
The direct distance between Bergün and Preda is only six kilometres. But the Rhaetian Railway has to travel more than twice that distance to make the maximum gradient climb of 3.5 percent between the two. To cover the 418-metre difference in altitude, trains have to pass through five loop tunnels, cross four valleys and negotiate many smaller tunnels, viaducts and dams.
Between Bever and Celerina in the Engadine, the traditional farmhouses of the region never fail to fascinate travellers. These mainly three-floor dwellings are characterised by strong stone walls and deep funnel-shaped windows – but most of all their stylish Sgraffiti (special facade decoration). The word is derived from the Italian ''sgraffiare'' (to scratch) and refers to the technique of this traditional craft.