Great Swiss Train Rides


The Swiss have the world’s best railroad
system, as we demonstrate here, taking you on the great train rides of Switzerland. Some other countries have faster and newer
trains, but no place can match the Swiss for efficiency and for the beautiful sights that
you will see from the trains. Come along as we ride the most spectacular
routes through this mountainous country and provide you with lots of train travel tips. The Swiss train system reaches all of the
major destinations, so there really is no need to rent a car when you’re in Switzerland,
and the distances are relatively short because Switzerland is a small country. Plus, you always have scenery to die for out
the windows: snowcapped mountains, majestic rivers, rolling pastures with cows and sheep,
and small villages as you roll along. Switzerland has the most-dense railroad network
of any country, sometimes reaching high up into the mountains with small cogwheel trains
that will bring you up to remote villages, with frequent train service and comfortable
well-maintained vehicles for that pleasant ride experience. In this program we will be taking you from
one end of the country to the other, east and west, north and south, along the major
rail routes between the big cities, and up some mountains on the small private tracks. It’s going to be a scenic journey and also
a practical guide to help you plan your own vacation. We’re starting our rail adventure by entering
Switzerland from the south, from Italy, traveling past the typical entry point along Lake Como,
a route that’s been used by travelers for thousands of years. And for the past hundred and fifty years it’s
been possible to do it by train. We’re traveling north to Lucerne one of Switzerland’s
most popular and beautiful cities surrounded by mountains and the majestic Lake Lucerne. We’re traveling along from the southern
part of the country on the main train line, passing through Lugano and heading north to
Lucerne. On this route were enjoying a typical range
of great scenery with the mountains, a little snow on the tops of the peaks, small villages,
isolated farmhouses, there is the beautiful lakes and the forested hillside, and many
families have backyard vineyard for growing grapes and pressing their own wine, especially
in the southern part of the country with that Italian influence. In this southern part of Switzerland they
speak Italian. When we get up to Lucerne, they speak Swiss
German. Sometimes there’s a dining car. You can sit down for a hot meal, other times
it’s a simple sandwich snack. You’ll find the train personnel are generally
quite friendly. More often on modern trains, the sit-down
dining cars been replaced by a standup snack bar. The spectacular scenic vistas are probably
Switzerland’s most valuable natural resource because that’s what’s brings in the tourists
and keep the economy going. And people come here to see the mountains,
the forests, the waterfalls, the streams, the cute little towns and villages, so the
Swiss do everything they can to keep it looking perfect. However, there is a universal conflict between
preserving what’s best of current conditions while moving into the future with improved
efficiency and better technologies. This is dramatically illustrated by the new
Gotthard Base Tunnel, which has shortened the train journey by forty-five minutes but
eliminated some of the scenery. It took nearly 20 years to build this 35-mile-long
tunnel, which is the first flat, low-level route through the Alps. It’s going to triple the capacity of the rail
line and enable trucks to ride on trains rather than drive through the country on a highway,
thus reducing pollution and traffic congestion. You’re still going to find lots of wonderful
scenery along this line, for example, Lake Lucerne, which is the second largest lake
within Switzerland. And the train line continues along the shores
of the lake for nearly 1/2 an hour giving you some splendid vistas across the water
with the mountains in the distance, some homes in the foreground and various marinas as you
glide by. And we’re just getting started with our journey
across this picturesque land. There are so many wonderful sites coming up. We will be approaching Lucerne in just a moment
and as we get there, just a note about the program itself. It’s primarily about the train rides between
the cities rather than in-depth look at the cities themselves. We’ll show you a few highlights of a place
in order to give you a feeling for it, and then we get back on the train and move along
to our next destination. We have many other detailed movies in our
series about each place visited in this program. For example, with Lucerne, we have several
other movies about the town and the surroundings of Mount Titlis and Rigi, so be sure to look
for those in our series. And as we enter the Lucerne train station,
we are going to hop off the train with you. The station is located right in the center
of town and it’s very easy to walk through it with the escalators in the underground
shopping mall. And you’ll come up on the streets that are
probably very close to your hotel so you don’t have to take a taxi. You can just walk from the station dragging
your bags right over to your hotel and take a little walk around town. We’ll spend a few minutes showing you some
of the highlights of this beautiful city. And also take you on brief excursions by train
to some of the nearby sites that you want to see when you’re visiting Lucerne. The historic center of Lucerne is a large
pedestrian zone with well-preserved buildings and many shops and restaurants for you to
explore. It’s right on the water and you could enjoy
some boat rides while you’re here. You could explore the vibrant new side of
town and do some hiking up along the medieval wall that surrounds the back of the city,
but probably the most exciting option is to take a one-hour train ride, passing through
more of that rural Swiss scenery with cows out in the pastures and snowcapped mountains
in the distance, up to Engleberg and then go up the mountain by cable car to the top
of Mount Titlis where you’ll find a glacier, covered with snow all year round. Go on outside to the open-air terrace. On a clear day you’ll see all the way to the
Jungfrau, the Munch and the Eiger, places we will soon be visiting in the program when
we travel from Lucerne over to Interlaken. You would really enjoy day trips to Mount
Pilatus, Mount Rigi and up to Burgenstock. Let’s have a quick look at all three starting
with Rigi. Were just staying up at the top for a little
while to enjoy the view and take some pictures, but you could go visit the restaurant and
have a meal. At the top you can wander around, enjoy the
views then take a rack railway back down to Vitznau, and finally catch the next boat for
a return journey back to Lucerne. Another lovely excursion is to the top of
Mount Pilatus, where you travel by the steepest rack railway in the country. At the summit, you’ll find the typical Swiss
amenities with a hotel, a restaurant, excellent viewing platforms and you can go back down
by cable car. Another easy day trip from Lucerne is up to
Burgenstock Mountain. You travel up on Switzerland’s oldest funicular. And then there are some hiking trails up at
the top where you can walk along the face of a cliff and get nice views looking over
Lake Lucerne. In our four-part series on Lucerne we will
go into a great detail about all of these excursions and about the town itself. And here comes another excellent day-trip
you can make from Lucerne by train. We’re taking the train from Lucerne to Zürich
for just a half-day excursion. It’s a very easy side trip when you’re staying
in Lucerne, it takes only 50 minutes to travel on a direct train route from Lucerne over
the Zürich. You can stay in Zürich for about three hours
walking around, which would be enough to see the highlights. Of course if you’d like to really see Zürich,
you’d spend the night or a couple of nights there. They have some excellent museums, fine art
galleries, many shops, great restaurants and other nearby sites. It’s on the water so you can take boat rides
from Zürich as well. We have a couple of longer shows about Zürich
in our video series, where we spend several days there really exploring the city, so be
sure to look for that. Zürich is one of the world’s great cities,
and you’d really have a good time there, but if you just want a quick day-trip from Lucerne
it’s an easy route. You can either ride in first class where you’ll
have some sofas and very comfortable seating, or second-class just about as good, much cheaper. There are many trains running every day on
this popular route. You don’t have to rush to get off the train
because it terminates here. It stops and unloads passengers, it waits
a while, and it reloads and it goes back to Lucerne. It’s usually a very long train with a huge
passenger capacity, so you’ll find a seat unless it’s rush hour. There in second-class you might be standing
up, but otherwise during the day you’ll have plenty of room. And when you get on the platform you might
have a long walk if you’re at the far end of the train, and you’ll get into the main
part of the train station soon enough. It’s a big station. Right in front of the train station, there
are lots of trams going by and the main street of the city extends right out from there,
the Bahnhofstrasse. So to get into downtown you just simply cross
the street and you’re there. We will be showing you this short summary
of Zürich, but remember we have got two long movies about the city in our series, so you
want to look for those. You could easily spend three hours walking
around, or better yet, spend three days. You’ll find the modern part of town is quite
exciting and yet you’ve probably come to see more of the Old Town, something special. You’ll find the Old Town to be quite convivial:
lots of sidewalk restaurants and people out strolling. It extends over both sides of the river running
right through the middle of the city. And despite the narrow pedestrian lanes it’s
easy to get around, you won’t get lost. And then why not hop on the tram and ride
down the main street and get a different view of Zürich? Then it’s time to return to Lucerne, same
evening if you’re on a day trip, arriving an hour later, and an easy walk back to your
hotel. Just shows how much you can get done in half
a day. And then we’re getting back on the train
and heading over to our next city, which is going to be Interlaken. Leaving our Lucerne hotel on foot, walking
over to the train station. Down the escalators, it’s very easy with these
Swiss stations, they generally have got a nice escalator for you, instead of climbing
up stairs. And we easily find our way to the correct
train platform and figure out which car we’re getting into. We’ve got reserve seats and it’s going to
be another scenic Swiss rail journey. Today were traveling to Interlaken where will
spend several days enjoying the grand mountains of the Jungfrau, the Schilthorn, the Munch,
the Eiger the Lauterbrunnen Valley, some of the finest scenery in the world. And it is a beautiful train ride to get there. It’s so much easier to take the train instead
of trying to drive, and especially in Switzerland, the trains are comfortable, they’ve got big
windows, it’s all very clean and quiet, and the views are always so pretty. You’ve got mountains and lakes and rivers
and forests and cows, and we will show you a good sample as we roll along. We’re heading into the Brunig Pass. It takes about two hours to travel from Lucerne
to Interlaken on this very scenic route, and it’s all pretty, you’ll probably wish it took
a little bit longer. There will be lakes, and cows, and pastures,
and old wooden barns and Swiss chalets going by. You want to keep your eyes open on this leg
of the journey. The rail route passes along the shores of
Lake Sarner and Lake Lungern, two really picture postcard, scenic Swiss Alpine legs. They are just so beautiful you want to stop
the train and get out, but we’re rolling along. And we will find more lakes at our destination
in Interlaken. At this point the train is still climbing
higher into the Brunig Pass, because the waters from these two lakes drain back down into
Lake Lucern. We will be soon reaching the watershed height
of 3300 feet in the Brunig Pass and then we will be heading back downhill on our way to
Interlaken. Dogs allowed so you might even get to pet
the friendly pooch. This route is so attractive, it’s also part
of what’s called the Golden Pass, a scenic journey from Lucerne through Interlaken all
the way to Montreux. And if you’re on one of the special Golden
Pass trains you might have the panorama windows for a bigger view but even here with the regular
train you get fabulous news. These are perhaps some of the most contented
cows in all the land – a beautiful open-air barn and lush green pastures, and perhaps
they’re enjoying the view as well. There are several places along this part of
the route where the train can stop, drop passengers off, because there is a network of hiking
trails, of course, in this area as well. The Brienzer Rothorn is one of the great destinations. The rail route is fairly steep with a general
gradient of about 3% and there is one section that gets very steep at 12% angle, and here
it goes on the rack, so there’s a rack system that helps pull the train up. Otherwise it’s regular adhesion, steel on
steel. This is not one of those high-speed European
trains clicking along at 186 miles an hour. No, it’s quite the opposite. But that’s fine. The slower the better, really. It takes almost two hours to go the 46 miles,
so you can see we’ re just poking along in some places and that’s ideal for our picture-taking
and just enjoying the scenery. Passing through the Meringen station, which
is a regional hub with two major rail lines connecting here. As we come down from the mountain pass, we
reached the valley of the Aare River and the train rolls along side of the channelized
Aare for a little while. And there’s some waterfalls out the window
and other nice scenery as we soon come to Lake Brienz. We’ve gone over the Bruning Pass on our way
to Interlaken, and now we’ve arrived at the beautiful shores of Lake Brienz, the Brienersee. The word Interlaken means between the lakes. Two large lakes, Brienz and Thun, each with
numerous recreational and sightseeing opportunities, flank the town of Interlaken. Lake Brienz, or as the Swiss call it the Brienersee,
can be explored with a combination of boats and trains and hiking, depending on how ambitious
you feel. We are just passing through this pleasant
lakeside town of Brienz on our way to Interlaken but you might want to come back to explore
its 18th-century woodcarved buildings and it’s open-air museum. While in Interlaken you could visit here by
boat. That voyage just takes seventy minutes and
it’s one of several various scenic boat rides you can find on Lake Brienz and Lake Thun,
on both sides of Interlaken. The train ride from Brienz along the shores
of the lake to Interlaken just takes about thirty minutes and there’s more eye-popping
scenery, of course. Upon arrival at the Interlaken Ost train station,
that’s the east station, we kick into our normal routine of helping each other get the
suitcases off the train. A lot of the video that you’re watching was
photographed during our regular tours of Switzerland by train. For now, we’re just taking a quick look
at Interlaken town, which makes a great home base for exploring the nearby mountains. We have a separate detailed movie about Interlaken
you can find in our series. And of course we have very detailed excursions
into the nearby mountains and our other movies, but we will give you a quick preview here,
of the highlights. From Interlaken the train brings you into
Lauterbrunnen Valley and from there up towards Grindelwald and around, up the mountain, heading
to the Jungfrau. The train tunnels inside the mountain and
finally reaches the highest train station in Europe, from which you get spectacular
views looking out over the glacier. And at the top of the Jungfrau there are some
theaters and other interesting entertainments for you including historic exhibits and restaurants. You’ll enjoy awesome views from the train
looking down into Lauterbrunnen Valley. And there are train rides on the other side
that will bring you over towards the Schilthorn Mountain as well. As usual you’ll find the trains are very easy
to use. They run on a prompt schedule, and you’ll
connect easily with the cable cars. After riding the narrow-gauge trains a few
days in the Interlaken area, it’s time to get back on the big train, and continue another
intercity journey, this time heading deep into the southern part of Switzerland to Zermatt,
most famous for the Matterhorn Mountain and it’s surrounded by dozens of other high peaks. And the real journey getting there is another
scenic triumph. Interlaken has two train stations, East and
West, and you can catch the train from either one of them. And you will be changing trains twice. There’s three different train legs, and the
total journey is just under 2 1/2 hours all the way to Zermatt. Not bad. The map shows you those three different legs
first from Interlaken to Spiez. You get off and change trains. You carry on to Brig. Get off again and change trains for the final
leg to Zermatt, easy change of trains. We will show you each step as we roll along. First, passing beautiful Lake Thun and arriving
at the town of Spiez. While rolling along for the next few minutes,
let me tell you all about train tickets, and share some tips on rail travel. There is a wide variety of kinds of train
tickets that you can travel on in Switzerland. There’s first-class and second-class to begin
with, and the difference is that first-class is more comfortable, you generally have air
conditioning, sometimes there is panoramic windows. It’s less crowded. You have a much better chance of having a
seat, and it costs about 50% more than second-class. However, second-class is also very comfortable. If you’re not traveling in peak season, you’ll
probably find plenty of seats. Sometimes the windows slide down, which can
be great for taking pictures and getting some fresh air, and it gets you there at the same
time at about 50% cheaper. So it’s up to you. Most of the train interiors we’re showing
you in this movie are in first-class. In addition to deciding between first and
second class, there are different kinds of tickets to choose from. The Swiss Travel Pass is the most comprehensive
way to go, and it can be good for unlimited travel for a set period of time, either three
days, four days for example, eight days, or fifteen days. And it’s good on all of the local transportation
as well as the main trains. You do pay an additional fare supplement on
certain private mountain trains. A less-expensive version of that is called
the Flex Travel Pass, which gives you the same benefits for a set number of days within
a month. So you could use it for example during four
days within a one month period for unlimited travel. Another advantage of the Travel Pass is you
get free admission to over 500 museums and you do have free mountain excursions to Pilatus
and Rigi and Schynige Platte, three of the very popular rack rail systems. The pass also provides free travel on certain
premium panorama train such as the Glacier Express but you have to purchase seat reservations
there. On the regular train rides no seat reservations
are necessary. The Travel Pass is also good for free boat
rides on all of the lakes, which is a great bonus. Discounts to the mountaintops vary. For example, if are going up Mount Tillis
you’ll get a 50% discount, but up to the Jungfrau, you’ll get a 25% discount. The actual price of these passes varies so
much, and there are sometimes bargains and discounts, that it’s just not possible to
go into details right here. You can search online and find all the information
that you’ll need. But to really determine your best choice,
you need to have a very good idea of your itinerary: total length of the trip and the
number of days within that trip that you’ll actually be traveling. Another great advantage of having the Travel
Pass, whether it’s the flex or the all-day, every day is that you don’t have to wait on
line to buy tickets. You can just hop on the train and go. So you’re really saving time, which is a precious
commodity when you’re traveling through Switzerland. In the face of this bewildering variety of
ticket choices, my personal favorite is just go for the gold, get the fifteen day first-class
Travel Pass, it’s going to cost you less than $800 and that’ll give you peace of mind and
unlimited travel through this incredible country. We’ve arrived in Zermatt. Many of the hotels have porter service who
will meet you at the station with small electric trucks that will carry you and your baggage
directly to the hotel and bring the luggage right to your room. Before heading right up to the hills you’ll
want to take a walk around in Zermatt village. Zermatt, Switzerland has more tall mountains
around it than any other town in the Alps. We are taking the corner Gornergrat mountain
railroad. This is a narrow-gauge rack railroad that’s
going to take us up past some stunning views of the Matterhorn – that’s the signature
sight of Zermatt. This train is the second highest railroad
in Europe just behind the train that goes up to the Jungfrau, and it’s actually the
highest train that’s primarily not inside tunnels. The train station at the top is at 3090 meters
above sea level. You can see 29 peaks that are 4000 meters
or more in height, which is practically every tall mountain in Switzerland from one spot. That’s our quick look at Zermatt. We’ve made several movies of the mountains
around this town you can find in our Swiss collection. We are going to take you on an epic train
ride through the Alps from Zermatt down south to Locarno riding on four different trains
during this day’s journey to get you there. It’s really quite easy to load the suitcases
on to the train. We help each other out. We have plenty of time, and there’s lots of
room on board the train. It travels in the same car that were sitting
in, in a little baggage area at the end. A final glimpse of the main pedestrian lane
of town lined with shops and restaurants and little hotels. What a beautiful village this is. We really enjoyed our stay here in Zermatt
we’ve been here for three days and seen a lot, hope you’ve checked our other episodes
on our visit to Zermatt, going up all those different mountains and doing some hiking,
riding the rack rails. Now it’s time to move along. The map shows our route, taking three different
trains to get from Zermatt to Locarno, and then a fourth train on down to Lugano. Later in the program we will bring you from
Zermatt on the Glacier Express on a different route across the country to St Moritz and
then down to Tirano. The first part of today’s train ride is along
the same tracks that we took coming up into Zermatt, but things always look different
when you’re going in the other direction, and with such a fine route, it’s nice to see
some sights again. We’ll be enjoying another glorious train
ride through beautiful mountains and valleys along the river heading down to the town of
Visp. This first leg is actually part of the world-famous
Glacier Express one of the premier sightseeing rail lines of the world. And then we’ll be changing trains and going
south, heading through the Alps and coming out the other side into what’s called the
Ticino that’s the southern part of Switzerland with the Italian language and cuisine and
that Italian influence, but it’s thoroughly Swiss. We’ll be heading down to Locarno and visiting
Lugano. For now were just enjoying this beautiful
train ride. Here and there you’ll notice landslides and
signs of past avalanches showing you how raw these mountains are. They are still growing and being formed. And we’ll be spotting some animals along
the way. There’ll be cows and sheep and horses and
goats out in the yards and pastures, all part of the scenery. Now and then you’ll get classic views of
the waterfalls spilling down the mountains. The Swiss take advantage of many of the mountain
streams to generate electricity through hydropower. You’ll notice this valley is rather sparsely
populated but it’s lovely to come across the little hamlets with their chalet style
homes, and slate tile roofs, and wooden construction. It’s nice that the windows slide down on many
of these little Swiss trains, even in first class, especially when you have that opportunity,
go ahead, slide the window down, stick your head out, be careful it doesn’t get lopped
off by a pole, but nah, you will be quite safe. And that’s how you get some of these really
spectacular views of the rivers curving around and the mountain valleys and peaks beyond. Occasionally a train will have some cars with
windows that open and other cars where the windows do not open typically in first class. And if you’re in one of those cars where the
window doesn’t open and you really want to stick your head out and get a view and take
a picture, well just get up and move. Move to a different car and take a different
seat, there’s usually enough available space on the train, there you have that flexibility. If you are taking pictures through a closed
window, watch out for the reflection that can ruin a shot. So just get the right camera angle and you
should be fine. Hillsides covered with grapes. This is for the limited wine production of
Switzerland. They do make red wine and white wine and it’s
usually quite good, but not much of it is ever exported about 95% is consumed in-country. You’ll be spotting other kinds of economic
activity as the train rolls along, passing a major rock quarry, all these hard rocks
of the mountains, some of them are put to good use for building materials, so you will
see quarries. You’ll see lumber yards. There are certainly some selective trimming
of the trees and lumbering going on in Switzerland; power station for that electrical generation. Keep your eyes open and you’ll spot some
beautiful bridges. With all of the deep valleys and high mountains
and rail lines of road Switzerland has lots of bridges, some of them old stone. Our train made a brief stop in the town of
Visp, and there was some kind of celebration going on, not quite sure, costume soldiers
and then the priest with the religious canopy. So maybe it was some kind of a holy day, a
local saint perhaps. But we don’t have time to get off the train. It’s only about a five-minute stop and we
are continuing on to the terminus of this line, the next town down at Brig. The train we’ve been writing on is a narrow-gauge
private train line, just 43 km in length between Zermatt and Brig, where we get off the train. And we take our suitcases with us as usual. So most of the big train lines in Switzerland
are owned by the national government, but there are a number of these smaller private
lines. And we find we’re in the middle of the street. We have to unload our baggage and then we
walk across the main street into the major train station to get on the international
train that will take us down the south below the Alps. The station at brig is quite large because
this is an international train junction; several rail lines intersect here. Our destination is the Swiss city of Locarno,
but to get there we have to go through Italy. Through the Alps, through the Simplon Tunnel. It’s quite a rail route. And on the south side of the Alps we will
be arriving in the Italian city of Domodossola, and there we get off this train and get on
another train, continue our journey. We’ve come out the other side of the Simplon
Tunnel, so now we are in Italy having gone through a 12-mile-long tunnel. When it opened in the 1920s, it was the longest
railway tunnel in the world. And notice all these tracks and switches here
at Domodossola. Most trucks get loaded on trains to go through
Switzerland. They don’t like the diesel pollution so they
put them on trains. This time we have a small challenge on the
transfer. Okay, let’s go get your bags. We have to walk down the stairs. We don’t have a lot of time and we’re going
to have to deal with some staircases. So we get the bags off, we help each other
out, walk through a tunnel, up on another platform, walk along roll our bags, down another
staircase, and we’re not quite there yet. We keep going and through another tunnel and
we make it to the train on time. Domodossola, where we just changed is in Italy,
and that’s an example of the difference between the Swiss rail provisions and some Italian
rail stations in the smaller areas. Well now were happy to be settled in and enjoying
our scenic ride, already crossing the big rivers and the conductor comes along. We’ll be enjoying a lot of views out the
train windows because this is the Centovalli line, which means a hundred valleys are in
the region that the train is traveling through. No dining car on this simple train, but a
very friendly gal running the snack cart. “We have coffee, beer, wine, red, white,
we have Coca-Cola, we have soda, espresso, Italian, yes.” “This one thank you, okay” [chatter] Anything
you’ve got. [Laughter]
We are in the middle of fairly long day on all these trains and never did get a chance
to sit down for a real lunch, so a little snack will get us through. It’s about a two-hour train ride to get from
Domodossola over to our end destination of Locarno. We do manage to spot some hill-towns in the
distance. With all these valleys the area is noted for
the little villages on the hills. And we see quite a few rivers passing under
our viaduct, beautiful houses and some narrow gorges. So we thought we are doing pretty good here,
getting comfortable in the train and shooting pictures out the window, and then we slow
down. There are a number of stations along this
little line, there’s twenty-two stations. It doesn’t stop everywhere, but oops, we
came to a halt. And we were told to change trains, so we had
to get off of one train, and fortunately the other train was right there at the same small
platform, so it was really the easiest possible transfer, but for some reason our train was
stopping, even though it was supposed to go all the away and we got on the other train
that will indeed take us off to Locarno. This train route is 52 km long, of which about
65% is in Italy. The scenery was wonderful all the way, even
on a day like this, which is fairly cloudy, it was not raining out there, so our view
was not obliterated. On a sunny day it would probably be nicer,
but on a light, cloudy day like this i oh t’s very pleasant. The length of this Centovalli trip is only
about 32 miles and yet it takes nearly 2 hours, so the train does go very slowly. It gives you a good chance to enjoy the view. With this graffiti you might think we’re
still in Italy, but no we have arrived in Switzerland, and we are about to reach our
destination. As you can see we have now arrived. We have arrived in Locarno. And there is an event that escalator to take
us up. Welcome back to Switzerland. And then we’re going find it’s a very short
walk to get to our hotel, which is only two blocks away from the station. So that is really convenient, great location,
right on the waterfront facing Lake Maggiore. Add a good base for exploring the Ticino,
the southern part of Switzerland. And we’re going to go down to the city of
Lugano, a beautiful lakeside town on Lake Lugano. Today were starting off on another Swiss adventure. We’re leaving our hotel in Locarno on a
day-trip, we will be back the same night. Boarding our very nice comfortable Swiss local
train. We’ll be spending most of this day down
visiting Lugano, another wonderful city in the south of Switzerland, easy to get there
by train. Just a few miles from Italy but the journey’s
entirely within Switzerland. Of course we enjoy some lovely scenery along
the way, passing the lakes and the farms, and of course some mountains off in the distance. It’s a one-hour journey from Locarno to Lugano,
and you do change trains once along the way. It’s all very highly coordinated so you don’t
have to rush when you’re changing. And this train service is very frequent. There are two trains every hour between Locarno
and Lugano, so it makes it really easy to get around. When you arrive at the Lugano station you
are not yet in the town. The station is up above the town on the hillside,
so you go down via a funicular. It’s called the Funiculare a Lugano Cita
Stazione, and it’s a short line that connects the railway station down to the city center. Right away, you discover some special features
about Lugano and the historic center of town. Especially these arcades: they go for many
blocks lining both sides of the street with covered sidewalk areas. It’s really a calm and sheltered environment,
protect you from the rain and from the sun. Kind of looks like a medieval cloister, but
this was typical of various Swiss towns. Well now we’re entering the home stretch
of our Swiss rail adventure. We’ll see perhaps the most famous train route,
the Glacier Express. And first will take you up to Basel and over
to Lake Lausanne. A typical route to leave Switzerland when
you’re heading north to France is traveling via Basel, which is a great international
city right on the border, and while you’re changing trains, perhaps you’ll have enough
time to take a look at the city of Basel. In our case we only had a hour and a half
between trains, but you can leave your luggage of the station, hop in a taxi and head right
into downtown Basel which is very close to the train station, of course. Our driver dropped us off at Claraplatz; only
took about ten minutes to get here from the station. And this is part of the new town. You see it’s a lovely little square and flowers
and benches and shops around it, and the tram line. Lots of trams running through Basel. Trams make an ideal way to travel for visitors
with little time, because the service is frequent so we figured okay, let’s hop on the tram
and head into the Old Town, crossing the river Rhine. You’ll find that you can see the highlights
of Basel in just about one hour, and if you’re really pressed for time, head straight for
the main square of the Old Town, the Marktplatz, the marketplace, and you’ll find there’s food
stands, lots of people, cheese and flowers for sale, and maybe you can get a quick lunch
at the sausage stand. And don’t worry about the schedule, because
this market is open every day of the week. The town hall has a magnificent delicately
carved front with a fine clock, a belfry pointed like an arrow, fresco paintings and a heralded
arms in splendid plume bearing the coat of arms of Basel. Its iron gate is like a great window blind
embroidered in open ironwork. All over the courtyard there are statues and
doors of carved wood. A stone staircase leads from the court to
the vestibule on the first floor, and it’s all freely open to the public. Of course, you could spend several days enjoying
Basel and its surroundings, there is so much to see here. For example, you could visit forty different
museums and soak up the multicultural ambience of the city with that international location
at the border of Switzerland, France and Germany. And with it all, they claim a Mediterranean
flair, with 300 days of sunshine a year and a fair temperate climate. Basel is generally counted among the cities
with the highest standard of living in the world, so you could really enjoy an extended
stay here. However, in our case we’re just changing trains
so we’re giving you a quick look. There are ten different tram lines that run
through the center of the city and at the marketplace there are two lines that will
take you directly back to the train station. It only takes about five or ten minutes to
make that quick little journey. It’s a scenic ride. You’ll see more of the city along the way,
and you’ll notice there are very few automobiles or buses in the center. They rely more on the trams and bicycles and
walking. And you’ll soon be back at the Bahnhof ready
to resume your journey. As mentioned, we only had an hour and a half
between trains and we managed to see this much of Basel in just one hour. That was an hour very well spent and gave
us lots of reasons to come back again in the future and spend more time in this great city. The large train station straddles the border
of Switzerland and France but you’d never know it because there’s no passport control
between these two friendly countries. We are here to catch the high-speed TGV that
will speed us on our way into France. Another main Switzerland to France travel
route is in the west side of the country, for example from Bern to Lausanne. You’ll find the Bern train station is quite
large and modern and easy to navigate, so you will quickly find your platform. And once you’re on the train, you’ll be zipping
through some more beautiful Swiss countryside in the western part of Switzerland, and you’ll
notice even the architecture of the homes bears a certain resemblance to France as well
as Switzerland. We’re entering the French-speaking part
of the nation. You know, there’s the German side that we’ve
been in. We’re heading now to the French side in the
west part of the country. And then of course in the south they speak
the Italian as we saw coming through from Ticino. And a little bit of the original Romansch
language, maybe 3% of the population, similar to a Latin language. And that linguistic divide has been there
for thousands of years, even archaeologically, when they look at the artifacts of the early
prehistoric days. There’s a difference in cultures between East
and West in Switzerland. We’ve left that steep alpine terrain for the
rolling hills and pasture lands. The journey can be done in as little as one
hour and six minutes. No connections necessary, it’s a direct shot. Well, the scenery is quite lovely especially
on a sunny day like this, but it is kind of standard, it’s the usual nice view you’ll
get out the window, until you reach the shores of Lake Geneva, and then something very special
happens. You’re entering a UNESCO World Heritage
Site, the Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, which is the largest vineyard region in all of Switzerland. It stretches for about 30 km along the northern
shores of Lake Geneva, from the Castle of Chillon to the eastern outskirts of Lausanne. It’s a beautiful sight to see, and it’s also
a very productive land, growing the Chasselas grape which is used in the production of white
wine, a dry and fruity popular wine here in Switzerland. And these vineyards are an outstanding ecological
example of a thousand-year interaction between people and their environment in which the
local resources were optimized to produce this highly-valued wine. These wine terraces have been in continuous
use and cultivation ever since the eleventh century when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries
controlled the area and began the farming. It’s believed the wine cultivation here actually
goes further back to the Roman days. It demonstrates how with proper control and
protection a sensitive environmental area can continue to be productive for thousands
of years. However, in recent times, there has been some
threat in the face of fast-growing urban settlements of Lausanne and this vulnerability has prompted
protection measures strongly supported by local communities and reinforced by the UNESCO
World Heritage designation. It truly is one of the most beautiful stretches
of vineyards that you’ll ever see from a train, especially when you get to look at it for
about 5 to 10 minutes as you’re rolling along. So this is not a place to be taking a nap
on the train. You want to be glued to the window, taking
your pictures and soaking up the vista. Soon enough you’ll be arriving at the main
train station of Lausanne, and here you generally get off and connect with the TGV that will
take you on directly north into France. But if you have enough time between your train
connections, it’s worth having a quick look at Lausanne. You can hop on the Metro in the train station
and it quickly brings you down to the lakeshore, a delightful spot for a brief walk. “Seven minutes from Lausanne train station
down to Ouchy, we cross over.” On such a warm sunny day with lush flowers
and foliage in the park it almost seems like you’re on the shores of the Mediterranean. But we’re on the Swiss shores of Lake Geneva,
also called Lac Leman by the French, who own the southern shore. In the nineteenth century Ouchy was a separate
fishing village and then became incorporated as the harbor of Lausanne, and now it’s purely
a pleasure center. If you had time for a few days, there are
some deluxe hotels here: the Beau Rivage Palace and the Angleterre, and the deluxe four-star
Chateau d’Ouchy, along with some impressive gourmet restaurants. The Tourist Information Office by the waterfront
can fix you up with a place to stay or give you some free brochures and maps with information
about the area. Or just walk around on your own and soak up
the sights. “Now I’m going back, thirty minutes later. The trains going to leave about 12:30, get
us back up there at 12:35.” Yeah, that was a quick look, just half an
hour to browse around quickly in the waterfront and skipping the entire Old Town of Lausanne. So this really was a little bit painful to
be here for such a short while, but instead of just waiting around in the train station
for the next train, why not do what you can, have a look around and prepare maybe for a
future visit to this very attractive region. After all, our main purpose in traveling through
Lausanne was to connect with the TGV that’s going to take us up into France. While the Swiss rail system is certainly one
of the world’s best, there are no high-speed Swiss trains. They are planning some, but they don’t really
need him because the distances are so short, and they compensate with outstanding scenery
and great service. Our grand finale. The most famous train ride in Switzerland. You are going to experience now two of the
world’s great train rides. We’re going through Switzerland on the Glacier
Express and then you’ll take the Bernina Express, traveling from one end of the country to the
other. “We’re riding on the Glacier Express from
Zermatt to St Moritz. It’s one of the most spectacular and scenic
rail routes you can find any place in the world. It goes through something like a hundred tunnels,
over three hundred little bridges, and mostly it’s this wild natural scenery with great
mountains all around us and mountain streams, glaciers in the tops of the mountains. And it’s a very comfortable ride on this Swiss
train. You can’t get much better than this. It takes about eight hours to get from Zermatt
to St Moritz. You’re crossing almost the entire country
of Switzerland, and it’s eight of the prettiest hours that you’ll ever enjoy while traveling
through Europe. You see behind us the valley that has the
town of Andermatt way back there. We’re kind of at the crossroads of the eastern
part of Switzerland and the western part. The Gotthard Tunnel runs through this particular
region and there are spectacular mountains all around us. We are riding along on the Glacier Express
from one end of Switzerland to the other. We got on in Zermatt in the morning and will
be riding all day through some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe, right through
the heart of the Alps on our way to St Moritz. The Glacier Express is one of the most famous
train rides in the world and we’re finding out why today. There are beautiful mountains towering above
us, we’re passing various river valleys, the Rhône River Valley runs along much of
the course. You can’t get hungry on this trip because
they feed you very well, and plenty of your favorite beverages to go along with it. Real food cooked in their onboard kitchen
and served to you right at your table. They dish it out family-style with those big
platters of food just coming out time after time in, and giving you as much as you want
to eat. It’s really quite a feast and made that much
more delicious with that beautiful scenery gliding by. Notice the tall viaduct holding up tracks
that lead into the tunnel. One of the most famous sites along the Glacier
Express. The hours flew by quickly and this leg of
the journey has come to an end. Now we are ending up in St Moritz. We will take the Bernina Express today, and
everybody had a good time over there? Yeah [cheers]
Let’s get back on the train. Now we’ve got a change going, we’ve go
to catch the train. “We are on the Bernina Express in Switzerland. This goes from St Moritz to Tirano in Italy. Just on the southeastern tip of the country,
enjoying some very spectacular scenery: mountain peaks and beautiful valley bottoms. We’ve seen some sheep and we’ve seen hikers
out there. Beautiful pine forests all the way along. And it’s a very smooth ride, even though it’s
pretty curvy. The trip involves going up to 7000 feet elevation. And it’s quite a spectacular train ride. There’s beautiful pine forests, snow-covered
mountain peaks. We have some misty fog now and then, and green
valley bottoms, little streams, there’s hikers out there walking around enjoying the scenery,
and all in all it’s a wonderful two-hour ride So we are in the very southeastern part of
Switzerland right now, and while it is Switzerland, they speak Italian here, and the architecture
is Italian, and the cuisine is Italian. It’s similar to the Ticino which is a large
part of Switzerland by Lugano that’s in the Italian cultural area, even though it’s within
the country of Switzerland. And were entering some very sharp curves here
because were descending from Switzerland’s highest mountain pass into the lower valley,
and the scenery is getting prettier and prettier. We’re getting more Italian with each mile
that we travel, and this ride is still very smooth. It’s the steepest train ride in the world
that does not use a cog railway system. It’s what they call adhesion, where it’s
just steel wheel on steel tracks. And so to make up for the gradient there is
a lot of curves. In fact, the train itself travels twice as
far as it would have to if it went in a straight line because of all the curves that we are
going through. And the curves are kind of nice, they give
you all the different angles on the scenery. One moment the valley is out on this side
of the train and the next moment it’s off on the other side of the train. You go into a tunnel and spiral around and
come out the other way, and it’s all a little bit confusing but the at same time keeps things
quite interesting and exciting. We’ve been traveling through the Alps: Lucerne
into Interlaken, enjoying the Bernise Oberland and the Jungfrau. And from there we traveled to Zermatt where
we enjoyed the Matterhorn. And then we crossed Switzerland on the Glacier
Express to St Moritz and today is our final leg, the Bernina Express from St Moritz down
to Tirano. We’ve come in a big circle all way around
through the country enjoying a lot of Alpine highlights. I’d like to also tell you just a little bit
about Switzerland. It is such a wonderful place, and such a culturally
rich place. Now, the Swiss economy is pretty strong. It used to be much stronger, but Europe in
general is been going through a bit of hard times in the last ten years. Switzerland’s a little bit better off than
that because it’s a strong mixed economy. They do manufacturing of pharmaceuticals,
of machine tools, precision tools, and of course banking is critical, and export electricity. They have a lot of hydroelectric power here
in Switzerland, so much so they can export nearly half of it to the adjacent countries,
and as you realize, hydroelectric is a perfect source of energy, no pollution. And to the point where the Swiss are fed up
with all these trucks rumbling through the country that come from the north to Italy. And they’re building more tracks for trains,
tunneling through the country, through the Alps. And they’re going to want these trucks eventually
to get on a train, a big flatbed freight train, and pay a fee and be brought through their
country on a train, and then they can get off the train and pollute Italy if they want. But they’re so clean here. You noticed very little graffiti. The streets are clean. Such an efficient country and friendly people. Quite nice here and they speak English for
the most part, certainly in the shops, I’m sure you had no problem getting by there. Education levels are very high. They learn English in school from a very young
age. Maybe they learn French as well, since it’s
really made a bilingual country primarily. And the education is free all the way through
university, it’s free education. Teachers here, with some seniority, let’s
say ten years into the career, in the public school are paid about a hundred thousand dollars. It’s really quite amazing how they value education. And social services obviously come with that,
too, welfare, medical, some housing benefits if you’re having a problem. So we don’t see many poor people here, and
yet, there’s a lot of rich people in Switzerland. There’s just a lot of money here. Zürich is one of the richest per capita cities
in the world. And so, in general the Swiss have a high standard
of living, in terms of just the comfort of life. All the indicators of well-being in a society. But in Switzerland they have declined to join
the EU and one of the main reasons for that is that out in the countryside, they’re conservative. In the valleys, in the little villages, the
little towns, they don’t want to change, no matter what. The people in the big cities want to be part
of the EU, the business, the corporations, the politicians want to join the EU in general. But they have direct democracy here, which
means that villages can vote. Cantons can veto any membership in the EU. That’s what happened. They might eventually join, but as of now,
uh-uh, and they’re happy with that, with her own currency. Their economy is strong enough. It’s a great place. We have a big series of movies about Switzerland
taking you to most of the great places. We will bring you to Lucerne and up to Mount
Titlis, Mount Rigi, over to Interlaken, up to the Jungfrau. We will see the Shilthorn, Lauterbrunnen Valley,
Trummelbach Falls, Grindelwald, Bern, then on to Zermatt, the Matterhorn, yes we will
have a look at the Gornergrat, up the Sunnegga, do some hiking, show you the village then
on down to Lugano and Locarno in the southern part of Switzerland, the Ticino we also take
you to the great city of Zürich. Look for them in our Swiss collection.

100 thoughts on “Great Swiss Train Rides

  1. Thank you, Dennis, for such a professional tour guide's pleasant narration and informative and relaxing style in which you've made your excellent movie (not just a video – but exactly a quality movie format) with many precise details and dense useful information that makes one think of making a sudden unplanned trip there! 🙌🙌🙌

  2. Lovely video. There are many travel videos on YT, but this stands out because of the very informative and continuous commentary.

  3. Mr. Callan, this is the best composite film I have ever seen on any country, hands down! I learned more about Switzerland in this short hour than I ever have, school years included! A very beautifully done, professional quality video. Thank you. Subscribed!

  4. My family heritage is Swiss, my great-great grandparents came from there to Wisconsin – so I have always wanted to go, NOW I really want to go! Just beautiful! Thank you so much for this video your others about Switzerland!

  5. Wow Dennis, such a wonderful video. If the video itself is so "scenic", it's anyone's guess as to how scenic Switzerland itself (and also the towns of Germany, France and Italy bordering Switzerland themselves) must be!!! Thanks a ton for taking me through this breath-taking experience!!!

  6. Fantastic Zurich, fantastic Switzerland. At 10:20 I recognized the street as one my dad took a snap of in 1948 while studying there. Truly the Swiss have mastered the art of retaining the best of the old while integrating newer elements into their lives (like the new UG rail line to the south)

  7. I am sorry to indicate that, If you utter Lugano, the best place is to visit Melide for suisse miniature. Even if you pronounce Are or meiringen, you have to say about gorges of Are(not by rail but walking)

  8. i have been geneve… le warwick hotel ..just for visit one week so lovelly this country ..then i goto by farry to france so lovely am now in greece again i wont come to see i wish to again .my dream country switzerland..love you swiss…!!!!..beutifull country

  9. The rack railway up to the top of the Pilatus is actually not only the steepest in Switzerland but also the steepest of the world.

  10. This series is the most informative and yet down to earth report on train travel. If this doesn't want to make you go to Switzerland nothing will. I rate you a TEN!

  11. I absolutely loved your video! I've always been fond of trains and hope one day to do a train tour of Switzerland. I'd love to see some more train rides, if you've done more.

  12. Hi Mr Callan, to get such beautiful views whilst avoiding the super-peak crowd, which season would be ideal for me to travel to Switz please. I would like not to miss going up to PizGloria. Thank you

  13. Absolutely wonderful. Your enthusiasm, voice and professionalism really suits introducing the beautiful country of Switzerland. I lived in Switzerland and it is every bit as beautiful as you present it.

  14. politicians that are sold to Jewish money want to join EU. zionist pigs! Good luck, christian Switzerland! Stay strong!

  15. Dear all my dream is very high to visit Switzerland one day, but many times i saw the view in movies , its really really very beautiful , hope for good & all depend on god grace. at present seeing the touropia & by mentally reached Switzerland

  16. Nice video Challan 👍.. We r goinh to Switzerland in July,2019.. Can u tel me which train/bus pass we should buy for 5 day trip . So that i can cover few mountains as well. Plz guide. Will b vry grateful. Which wil b best way to buy tickts ..

  17. Excellent video expecially the professional commentary, thoroughly enjoyed it from start to end (compared to the many vain younger YouTubers who record more of themselves than the sceneries) 2 thumbs up 👍👍

  18. Great video !. explaining stuffs which i couldn't find online otherwise. Wish more people will make videos like you. I'm planning a trip to Switzerland your video helps me alot in planning my iternary.

  19. I really can’t think of anything I would like too do more than ride every single train 🚂 in Switzerland the scenery is epic like a Thomas Kincaid Portrait

  20. This is absolutely the best and most comprehensive travel Video I've ever seen, thank you so much this is going to be so helpful for us on our first trip to Zurich

  21. Next to Visp you past by the highest wine mountain in Europe wich white wine was signed out for "best white wine" in London 2016

  22. Places you may want to include for your visit in Switzerland.
    If you're interested in the history of Switzerland, visit the Swiss Natinal Museum in Zurich next to the main station.
    If you want to see how life was in the years of about 1300 to 1800, visit the Museum of Ballenberg next to Meiringen in the canton of Berne. There are older Houses from all over Switzerland and buildings like a mill, an bakery.
    And if you don't have enough time to visit ecery region, in Melide un the canton of Tessin/Ticino you can visit the Suisse Miniature, where you can see many models of buildings, monuments, etc.

  23. Outstanding video presentation! Well done! Thoroughly enjoyable and informative! Thank you, from Victoria Australia

  24. STOP STOP ….. please , I'm a Swiss living in Australia having emigrated 38 years ago . You are making me home sick. Great show showing all across the country…. Travelers take your time if you travel, it's safe and beautiful . It's worth it…every day. Thank you for that great show and you deserve gratitude in every way. Please make some more subjective travel accounts of other countries I surely would love them.

  25. Haven't heard about any french who would like to spend holidays in Switzerland , even though it's next door…

  26. When you were at Claraplatz in Basel you were already in the old town. The city center is on both sides of the Rhine-River.

  27. Lausanne: the cog-railway down to the seashore is transformed to a tire-wheeled Metroline,the steepest in the world…these are old pictures…

  28. All that money but no porters to help and it didn't look very comfortable 😪 (At least the Porter didn't come and just stand there watching you struggle as they do in London – that's more embarrasing esp when you trip over and they still don't raise a finger to help you! I am a senior citizen too.) And the lunch was just trolley service mmmm was that first class? Then the indignity of changing trains. It just seems so stressful. I'd be petrified to miss the connection so maybe its not for me. We will just do a short journey to the mountains and back. That's it. (Gosh Dubai trains were a lot cheaper than that!) WELL PRESENTED EDITED AND PRODUCED "MOVIE" THOUGH. Thanks for the upload.

  29. Sorry but I came to see the high country, and I pulled the train through with the curser, and that's all I saw, looking for 100 – 200 foot giants! found a few! and a stone wolf!! got pics!! Thank you for the high places!!!

  30. Are you really KIDDING ME???? Switzerland has the world's BEST railroad system???? gosssh… i guess you have not touched Japan's soil.

  31. Mesmo sem tradução deu para viajar pela Suiça acompanhando os roteiros pelos mapas explicativos.Ótimo video,Grata por compartilhar,,RS/BRASIL

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