Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review of the Glacier Express: Zermatt to St. Moritz

Ok, before I show you the pictures of the Glacier Express - which was AWESOME - let me explain a few things. You are on a moving train for a long time (almost 8 hours if you do the whole strek, which we did...), so a lot of the pictures are, well, let's just say blurred or blocked by things in or on the train or completely ruined due to glare if you have the fortune of a beautiful sunny day, which we did. So I will be the first to say that the photos are crap but please do not let that persuade you from partaking in the Glacier Express yourself, because it was a pure pleasure... ok... I am glad I got that off my chest. Now let's look at the best of the bunch of crappy photos as I tell you why you need to make reservations for this scenic train experience for 2010 right now.

We boarded the panorama train in Zermatt and reserved tickets for the full journey to St. Moritz - but you can get off and on at any of the stops inbetween. The full journey is about 8 hours - which in hindsight was probably a bit too long and we could have happily gotten off in Chur.

In addition to a normal ticket for the journey, you have to make an additional reservation for the Glacier Express. Don't forget this step! It is CHF 30 per person for this special reservation. We did the journey on a day pass, my family on the Swiss pass, and then we all reserved seats and lunch. So in the end it really wasn't very expensive to take this scenic trip across the lower half of Switzerland.

The ride is very comfortable and you have a great view due to the huge picture windows to the ceiling and in the ceiling - although it can make it a bit dizzying at times!

You also get ear phones in order to hear the commentary along the way and a nice bell chimes to let you know when the next commentary will be on. So you not only see a lot but also you learn a lot as well.

I also booked us a reservation for lunch on the train, which was somewhat expensive but very good. We got the daily menu which they served at your seat and even offered seconds! Jace got a huge steak and probably put his vegetarian neighbors into a bit of a panic - sitting on a long train, cows in the hills and on your table... haha - but it was delicious. If you have a bit left in the budget, I recommend eating on the train despite all the reviews on TripAdvisor that say the service is poor - it was still fun.

The best part of the ride naturally is the gorgeous scenery.... lots of mountains, valleys, gorges, canyons, green pastures, ski areas and more! I really enjoyed the trip for the diversity of landscape that you were able to see from the comfort of the train. Not great for photography lovers, as I mentioned above as it is not the best location to takes shots of the stunning scenery. This can be painful sometimes as you just want to take a picture of the amazing site before you - but alas - your shot turns out like this:

Regardless, we were able to get a few nice shots to prove the ride is worth it! Beautiful Switzerland unfolding around you...

The Glacier Express runs from the end of May to the end of October. I would recommend booking in advance, lunch too, especially if you are traveling in the summer months. You can also get some great rail and hotel packages, too.

Make sure you include the Glacier Express in your travel plans - it was a great adventure and means of seeing some of the most beauftiful Swiss country on offer!

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juanitatortilla said...

I will be booking the Glacier Express for October, this year. Let's hope there's space left!

vasile cotovanu said...

Or even better, go with a normal train on Glacier Express route, where you can slide the windows and you don't have to pay any extra tax.

From my experience, all Glacier Trains were full of people but the normal trains.

DRosie said...

Sad to hear it is so hard to get good pictures. Couple of questions. Did you sit in the panoramic cars? And, when you say you can get off and on the train, how much time do you have at each stop? How does that work?

Jessica said...

Juanita - you will love it! Let me know how it goes.

Vasile - that is a good idea, too, but as I wanted to go the whole route in comfort and also have the audio and a nice meal, we splurged for the Glacier Express. But, Rosie, if you really want to get off and on, perhaps Vasile's suggestion is best as if you get off, I do not know how easy it is to get back on a Glacier Express Train. I think they all leave around 10 am from Zermatt, and there are no others throughout the day.

The Glacier Express is all panorama cars - like in the picture of Jace where he is sitting. The picture of me is in the bar car and even then the picture windows were huge.

If you did want to get off and on the Glacier Train, you would probably have to stay a night over somewhere and catch the Glacier again the next day.

DRosie said...

So helpful. I think we will still do this even if it is tough getting good pictures, but wait til the spring. Thanks for the post.

Expat Traveler said...

I never took this trip, but it looks amazing! Yeah I'd love to do a September end of the month trip.. I clearly remember Switzerland being an awesome weather time then...

Great pics!

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