Glacier ExpressSwitzerland Trains

12 Things You Need To Know Before Riding The Glacier Express

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The Glacier Express is the most iconic train ride in Switzerland. It travels from Zermatt to St. Moritz over 8 hours and gives incredible views of snow capped mountains and lush valleys. It is one of the most scenic train rides in the world and a bucket list experience.

Best Seats On The Glacier Express

The best seats on the Glacier Express are the single seats that face each other in first class. While the group of 4 seats in first class provide a little more room than second class, they don’t give the same freedom of movement and views to each person. If you were going to sit it a group of 4 in first class, there wouldn’t be much difference between first and second class.

Both 1st and 2nd class on the Glacier Express have the same beautiful windows to look through, so you won’t find a bad view on the whole train.

Glacier Express 1st class seats
Our first class single seats on the right

The second class seats are in groups of 4 on both sides, with a little less room per seat.

Glacier Express 2nd class seats
2nd Class on the Glacier Express

Does The Glacier Express Make Stops

The Glacier Express does make stops along its route to pick up and drop off passengers. You do not have to book a ticket to ride the entire route at once, and could do it over several days, or only do a certain section.

Our Glacier Express route guide will show you which parts of the route are the most scenic. Some passengers like to start or end before Zermatt and St. Moritz as they are expensive remote ski villages that aren’t perfect for an overnight. On our trip we did the whole route, but ended up doubling back to Chur on a regional train after arriving in St. Moritz for more affordable accommodations.

The Glacier Express stops in Zermatt, Brig, Andermatt, Chur, St. Moritz, Filisur, Samedan, and Tiefencastel.

Does the Glacier Express Have WiFi

Yes, the Glacier Express has WiFi. The WiFi is free and provides enough quality to handle most tasks while on the train. We didn’t notice any slow speeds or dropouts while we were on board.

Is the Glacier Express Good In Winter

The Glacier Express runs year round including the winter months and is especially pretty in December, January and February after the snow has fallen. In addition to the beauty, you’ll save CHF 10 on the price of a seat reservation in winter. There is a more limited schedule though, so you’ll still want to make your winter seat reservations early.

Glacier Express in Winter
Glacier Express in February

Which side of the Glacier Express is Better for Views

The right side of the Glacier Express is the best side for views along most of the route in the direction of Zermatt to St. Moritz. Note that the train will change directions in Chur so your side will switch. The Zermatt to St. Moritz direction is also best for views of the Landwasser Viaduct as you’ll be going in the direction you are entering the viaduct instead of leaving it. If your only purpose was to see the Landwasser Viaduct you should be on the right side when leaving south from Chur for the best view.

It is best to plan to catch the viaduct on another train if you are on the wrong side here as the Bernina Express and many regional trains also go through it. By the time we had left Switzerland we had been through it many times.

Landwasser Viaduct from the Glacier Express
Views of the Landwasser Viaduct out the right side

How Long Does The Glacier Express Take

The Glacier Express takes just under 8 hours to follow its entire route from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Winding through 91 tunnels and 291 bridges while doing so. The train does not ever travel fast, instead taking its name from the fact that you’ll have the same seat the entire journey and it doesn’t make as many stops as a normal train would along that distance.

What is the Best Time of Year To Ride the Glacier Express

The best time of year to ride the Glacier Express is February. The landscape will be stunning over almost all of the route, with snow covering the foreground and the mountains. In addition to amazing scenery, you’ll have less people to deal with and the prices will be cheaper. February also makes you more flexible on your dates, as you can lock them in later as seat reservations don’t fill up so quickly.

Glacier Express in Winter

What is the Most Scenic Part of the Glacier Express

The most scenic part of the Glacier Express is from Andermatt to Disentis through the Oberlap pass. If you are lucky enough to go in winter you’ll see more snow than you can imagine. As you approach Chur you’ll be treated to a wonderful view of the Rhine Gorge. If you can only ride one section of the Glacier Express it should be the Andermatt to Chur section.

Andermatt from the Glacier Express
Andermatt, Switzerland from the Glacier Express

Can You Bring Your Own Food On the Glacier Express

Yes, you can bring your own food on the Glacier Express. We recommend bringing some food even if you are going to purchase a meal. The ride is almost 8 hours long, and the food service can come at unpredictable times. We saw one table get their food and the next table over didn’t get food until an hour later.

We brought our own food and purchased one meal to share, which seemed like a wise choice after the ride. The dish we purchased was CHF 28 and was very good. Our meal was served just before noon, and we were ready to eat again before we got to St. Moritz so we were glad we had snacks.

Glacier Express food
Lunch on the Glacier Express

Can You Take Luggage On The Glacier Express

You can take your luggage with you on the Glacier Express. The train has luggage racks in each car and a section under your seat to store bags and backpacks. You won’t have any problem storing you luggage on the train.

1st Class Luggage Racks

My backpack is quite large, but it fit between the seats easily.

Is There Commentary on the Train

When you board the train you’ll be given a set of headphones that can plug into the seat. When you hear a bell on the train it is a cue to put your headphones in to listen to a few brief minutes of explanation of what you are seeing. It happens periodically throughout the trip. Commentary was available in several different languages.

We wished we had brought our own more comfortable wired headphones, but the ones they provided were fine. We had wireless ones with us, but they could not connect to the system.

This was a nice touch that we did not expect!

Audio Console on the Glacier Express

Can the Swiss Travel Pass Be Used on the Glacier Express

The Swiss Travel Pass can be used as your ticket on the Glacier Express and is good for whichever class of the pass you have booked. If you’ve booked a 1st class Swiss Travel Pass you’ll be able to ride in 1st Class on the Glacier Express.

In addition to your Swiss Travel pass you’ll need to make a seat reservation, which costs CHF 39 in winter and CHF 49 in summer.

The addition of the Glacier Express to the Swiss Travel Pass makes it an incredible value.

Robert Marmion
Rob is married to Allie and together they have been traveling the world for the past 2 years. Rob is one of the most published photographers in the world, having published over 750,000 images in the last 15 years. He enjoys doing landscape and astrophotography while on the road.