The Golden Pass train line, Switzerland

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Switzerland is known for its stunningly scenic train rides – the perfect combination of superbly efficient & clean trains and incredible natural beauty! The Golden Pass train line is one of the best of these routes – covering 3 mountain passes, 8 lakes, 6 cantons and 2 language regions!

You experience lush, green fields with cows grazing over them, chalet houses along the rolling hills framed against the backdrop of the Alps and beautiful lakes as you move from the German-speaking side of Switzerland to the French-speaking one. I have been on this train 4 times already and every visit has been incredible!

Planning a trip to Switzerland? Click here for a detailed travel guide to Switzerland – including the best time to visit, itinerary options (for 3, 5, 7 or 10 days), visa, transportation in Switzerland (including Swiss Pass), accommodation options and more!

Here are more ideas for your trip to Switzerland: 25 best places to visit in Switzerland!

What is the Golden Pass route

The line from Lucerne to Montreux via Interlaken and Zweisimmen is known as the Golden Pass route. It winds its way through several lakes, the stunning Swiss Alps and the beautiful Swiss countryside. You can do this route in either direction (or in parts), depending on the rest of your itinerary.

There are 3 distinct sections of this route:

Lucerne to Interlaken

You enjoy beautiful views as the train moves along Lake Lucerne, the Sarnersee and the Lungernsee and starts the climb towards Brünig Pass. The Swiss countryside rolls by on both sides, lush green during the summers and snowy white during the winters. The train then descends to Meiringen before reaching the stunningly blue Lake Brienz. Moving along the lake (giving you plenty of photo opportunities!) the train reaches Interlaken OST.

Swiss countryside; Golden Pass Train Line
The Swiss countryside is postcard-perfect, isn’t it?!
Brienzersee; Golden Pass Train Line
Brienzersee – the bluest of lakes you’ll ever see

Interlaken to Zweisemmen

This route winds through the heart of the Bernese Oberland region. The train moves along Lake Thun into the town of Spiez and then through the Simmental region.

This section is among the least scenic of the 3 sections – though still beautiful, it’s Switzerland after all!

Golden Pass Train line

Zweisemmen to Montreux

This section is the most beautiful part of this entire route, made even better by the giant panoramic windows since the Golden Panoramic coaches operate on this route.

Golden Pass panoramic train
The Golden Pass Panoramic train
Golden Pass panoramic train interior 2
The Golden Pass Panoramic train – see those giant windows!

The trains winds through the stunning countryside into the famous resort town of Gstaad – you’ll be able to spot luxury stores and hotels!

The luxurious Gstaad; Golden Pass Train
The luxurious Gstaad

You’ll also cross the tiny town of Saanen – this is where some of the iconic scenes from the movie ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ were shot.

Saanen
The tiny village of Saanen

The train soon enters the French-speaking region and begins its descent into Montreux. The glistening Lake Geneva is visible throughout this descent, as are multitudes of vineyards – you will be able to spot the change in scenery from the Swiss Alps to a more Mediterranean flair.

Montreux vineyards; Golden Pass train
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva

Once in Montreux, head down to the lake promenade (5 min walk down from the train station) and take a stroll. Lined with flowers, beautiful (and sometimes odd!) sculptures, restaurant and cafes, the promenade is a great place to spend the afternoon. There are also cruises that run along the lake that you can take.

Montreux lake promenade
Montreux lake promenade is laden with flowers and absolutely stunning
Montreux lake promenade
Golden Pass
Sculptures abound along the lake promenade

When is the best time to travel on the Golden Pass train line?

This route is operational year-round so come when you can! 


How to plan the Golden Pass train journey?

There isn’t one single train that takes you along this route, instead, you’ll have to change trains a few times. So take note of the logistics.

ONWARD

Since there isn’t one train that you can board for this entire route, you need to be familiar with the stops where trains need to be changed.

Use the SBB website or the SBB app to check for connections. In the search options, add the following,

From: Lucerne

To: Montreux

Via: Interlaken OST, Zweisimmen

OR vice-versa if you are travelling from Montreux.

You will get a list of connections (some may require 1-2 extra train changes). Pick one that is most suitable for you. Make sure that the train type for the last leg (Zweisimmen to Montreux) is specified as Panoramic. The type of train on the rest of the route does not matter.

Golden Pass train route
The Golden Pass train route on the SBB app


Lucerne – Interlaken: You will easily get a direct train. The train takes a total of 1 hr 45 minutes to reach from Lucerne to Interlaken OST. 

Interlaken – Zweisimmen: Depending on the time, you could get a direct train, or you may have to change trains at Spiez. The train takes ~1 hr 15 minutes to reach from Interlaken OST to Zweisemmen.

Zweisimmen – Montreux: Make sure to take the direct ‘panoramic’ train on this route to best enjoy the views. The train takes ~1 hr 45 minutes to reach from Zweisemmen to Montreux.


RETURN

From Montreux, there are multiple train connections to all over Switzerland. Once you have finished strolling along Montreux, take the train back to Lucerne (or another stop as per your itinerary). Use the SBB website or the SBB app to check for connections.

Tickets for the Golden Pass train line

If you have a Swiss Travel Pass or a Eurail pass, you do not need to purchase any tickets. If not, pick up tickets for the entire route from one of the kiosks or the ticket counter or on the SBB app.

A reservation of seats is often recommended for the Zweisimmen – Montreux leg of the route, however, it is not necessary. I have travelled on this route at different times of the year and have always found it quite empty.

Which side of the train to sit on?

For the route from Lucerne to Montreux,

Lucerne – Interlaken: Sit on the right in the direction of travel (and don’t change sides when the train reverses direction at Meiringen)

Interlaken – Zweisimmen: Sit on the right in the direction of travel

Zweisimmen – Montreux: Sit on the right in the direction of travel till Gstaad then move to the left

Practical tips

  • Try not to travel with luggage. Although there are luggage racks in all trains, it could get a bit difficult to move around with lots of luggage since there are a few train changes to be made.
  • Get down at one of the intermediate villages such as Saanen or Gstaad to explore. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful cobblestoned streets lined with resplendent wooden chalets and gorgeous views all around. To continue on your trip, simply take the next train from that village onwards. There are trains usually every 1-1.5 hours.
  • If you have a stopover at Spiez, head outside the station for a beautiful view of the town of Spiez over Lake Thun. You will have enough time to take a picture and get back in time for your train!
  • There are no power sockets on most of the trains on this route so carry along a power bank. Since you will not be able to stop clicking pictures, your phone’s battery is bound to run down!

Have you travelled this route? What has been your favourite part?

Are you planning to travel this route? What part are you looking forward to the most? 

Let me know if you have any questions, happy to help!

Check out this complete Switzerland travel guide to make your travel planning easier – includes details on the best time to visit, itinerary options (for 3, 5, 7 or 10 days), visa, transportation in Switzerland (including Swiss Pass), accommodation options and more!

If you found this useful, please share and spread the love!

Ciao!

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TRAVEL RESOURCES

Planning a trip? Here are some of my go-to travel resources to make it more efficient for you, while staying within budget!

ACCOMMODATIONBooking.com is my favourite platform for hotel or apartment bookings. I love their map interface (I prefer to stay within walking distance of major attractions!) and they have an excellent customer service

FLIGHTS – I prefer to use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. I often use their monthly view of prices to decide my travel dates!

TOURS & ACTIVITIESGet Your Guide is my go-to choice for fun tours and activities. They have a wide range of options and a great interface.

TRAVEL INSURANCE – Travel insurance is absolutely essential for all your international travels. I’ve been saved by it a few times when I fell sick while travelling and I swear by it since then! World Nomads is an excellent choice for travel insurance.

23 Comments

  1. Lyosha

    how beautiful! I have had my share of Swiss trains (even if my rides were very short) the views are so special!

    Reply
  2. Daphne Takahashi

    What a wonderful post to discover! I had never heard of this Golden Pass line but I definitely have to visit because your pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this with details and all!

    Reply
  3. Erica (The Prepping Wife)

    I knew Switzerland was beautiful, but not nearly this gorgeous until I started reading your blog! The train journey sounds amazing because you can just relax and be a passenger to take in all the beauty Switzerland has to offer. I would say that should be at the top of every traveler’s to-do list, to take a train ride through the scenery.

    Reply
    • Smita

      Absolutely – Switzerland’s scenic train rides are definitely the way to travel the country!

      Reply
  4. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia

    It is one of my dreams to take a ride through the Swiss Alps and admire the rolling mountains and beautiful lakes! These photos are breathtaking!! I love the giant panoramic windows of the Golden Pass train line! A train ride through Switzerland looks like a dream!

    Reply
  5. Melanie williams

    This is AMAZING! Your piccys are stunning and I would deffo love to go on the Golden train for sure – beautiful x

    Reply
  6. Lene

    Breathtaking! That country is one postcard after another. Love the idea of travelling by train – no need to worry about all the car-related hassles, but just sit back and be transported to beautiful places.

    Reply
  7. Luna S

    I love that you get to get off the train and check out each of the areas you stop along the way, this train ride looks like a fantastic way to explore on vacation.

    Reply
  8. Kelly Martin

    The Golden Pass train line is so spectacular! The views are amazing and everything is so green and pretty.

    Reply
  9. Lindsay Brown

    The Golden Pass train journey looks like a dream! I seriously cannot believe the scenery in Switzerland – you’re right it is right off of a postcard! I really hope that one day I will be able to visit this beautiful place!

    Reply
    • Smita

      Hope you are able to visit Switzerland soon – a lot of it looks straight out of a postcard!

      Reply
  10. Aryanne Padilha

    Absolutely gorgeous, I LOVE the town of Gstaad. The colors are so beautiful and everything so luxurious. I’m hoping to go to Switzerland this year, will for sure save this post.

    Reply
    • Smita

      Hope you have a great time in Switzerland!

      Reply
  11. Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women

    As someone who loves the beauty of nature, I can’t wait to visit and experience Switzerland. Trains are without doubt one of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the land and the Golden Pass line looks to be just gorgeous from the photos you have shared here. I recently enjoyed a similar trip in Norway and just loved it, so will be planning to visit Switzerland for a similar experience. Love the detail you have included here, especially the logistics of changing trains and tips on which side to sit for each leg of the journey.

    Reply
    • Smita

      We love nature too, and Switzerland is perfect for that! I’m sure Norway must have been stunning too.

      Reply
  12. Despite Pain

    This looks such a wonderful journey. The scenery is spectacular. I’ve always wanted to visit Switzerland. If I ever do, I will travel on the Golden Pass train.

    Reply
    • Smita

      It really is spectacular!

      Reply
  13. Ann Pape

    Wow, your pictures are beautiful! I’ve visited Switzerland once and it wasn’t enough. Will definitely have to Golden Pass Route next time I go.

    Reply
    • Smita

      Thanks!

      Reply
  14. Subhashish Roy

    One of the reasons why we wish to go back to Switzerland is because we missed these awesome train journeys last time. And thank you for these very helpful details which I studied thoroughly.

    Reply
    • Smita

      Do check out the train rides the next time!

      Reply
  15. Scott DeNicola

    Breathtaking views on The Golden Pass train line across Switzerland. Prior to reading this post, I would have never given thought to travel by train but after seeing the breathtaking sights it seems the only way to go! As usual, this is a very descriptive post with everything you need to know if booking a trip and traveling via train through Switzerland.

    Reply
    • Smita

      Trains are really the way to go in Switzerland – even regular train rides are quite scenic!

      Reply

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About me

Gruezi! My name is Smita, a part time traveller and a novice travel writer, currently living in Switzerland. So far I’ve been what you might call a serendipitous traveller! I got a chance to visit several amazing places more by chance than by design. I would love to put all my extensive travel planning to good use by sharing it with you and hope that these inspire you to visit all those famous, and not-so-famous locations! Read More

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