Complete Guide To Riding the Belle Epoque Train in Switzerland
The Belle Epoque is part of the Golden Pass route in Switzerland. It is a specialized train that takes you on the part of the journey from Montreux to Zweisimmen. While this route is covered by normal Golden Pass trains, if you are going to ride this section, we recommend the Belle Epoque. It is a train like no other and will make you feel like you are on an old grand Orient Express rail journey.
The Belle Epoque Route
The Belle Epoque travels from Zweisimmen to Montreux in 2 hours and 9 minutes. Trains leave every hour but only 2 trains per day are the Belle Epoque version, the rest are standard Golden Pass Panorama trains.
The easiest way to see which of the trains will be the Belle Epoque version is to pull up the SBB app on your phone and enter the 2 stations into the timetable. You’ll see a list of all the trains. Clicking on the individual trains will show you which train it will be.
Belle Epoque Train Tickets
Belle Epoque tickets cost CHF 58 for 1st class and CHF 33 for 2nd class. This ride is also included in the Swiss Pass, if you have purchased it. We recommend buying the Swiss Pass if you’ll be doing a fair number of trains in Switzerland. Your Swiss Pass is good for the class you purchased, but you can upgrade from 2nd class to 1st class in the app for CHF 25, which is worth it.
Tickets are available in the app or at the station before you get on the train. You should get your tickets in the app ahead of time though, as your connecting train might arrive just minutes before you need to get on the Belle Epoque.
Seat reservations are not needed on the Belle Epoque. We tried to make them before getting on the train, but it wasn’t possible. When we arrived at the station we asked if they would be needed, and they kind of laughed and said, “No, you can just walk on.” As it turns out, since we were there in February, the train was almost empty the whole way.
Belle Epoque 1st Class vs 2nd Class
The upgrade to 1st class is worth the price on the Belle Epoque Golden Pass route. At only CHF 25, you’ll get a chance to ride in a train that is unlike any other you’ve been in before. While 2nd class is also nice, this is a good spot to make a small upgrade if you haven’t gotten the 1st class Swiss Pass.
In 1st class on the Belle Epoque, the seats are wider and more luxurious, and there are 3 seats in a row instead of the 4 seats in 2nd class. Both classes will have great views out of the windows.
In addition to having a bigger seat, the other advantage to 1st class for a couple is they can sit in a private section of 2 with a table on one side of the train.
Which side of the Belle Epoque should you sit
Traveling from Zweisimmen to Montreux, you should sit on the right side of the Golden Pass Belle Epoque train. Views are great out of both sides, and you can switch sides if your train isn’t busy as it is open seating.
Which section of the Golden Pass train is the best
The section from Zweisimmen to Montreux is the best part of the Golden Pass train route in Switzerland. This section features the Belle Epoque and the VIP Panorama cars to enjoy the ride. These two types of trains are so unique, you might consider doing this route both ways to enjoy both the Belle Epoque and the VIP Panorama seats on the Golden Pass.
Belle Epoque Train Stations
The Belle Epoque calls Zweisimmen and Montreux as it’s end stations. Both are smaller stations that are easy to navigate and quick to get around.
The Montreux station has a cafe that serves food, and is a nice place to wait for your train indoors. If you’d like to explore the city, it is easily reachable on foot.
The station in Zweisimmen is staffed, but smaller, and is also located directly in town. There isn’t as much to see in Zweisimmen, so if you get there early you might end up just waiting at the station.
In your rush to get on the train and see the glorious interior, don’t run by the outside and miss the understated but regal look of the carriage. This train is stunning both inside and out. We love the blue and yellow color scheme that adorns the outside of the train.
Details of the Belle Epoque Train
The fine details of the train interior on the Belle Epoque will amaze most train travelers. We loved the entire look of the coach. There are nets to hold items behind each seat as well as overhead net shelfs and hooks for bags and coats. The wooden tables fold up to provide either more space, or an extended surface.
The seats have very pretty numbers on the headrests, and we could spend all day looking at the wood paneling on the ceiling of the train.
A train that looks this old doesn’t have to act old, and so, surprisingly, there are power outlets on the Belle Epoque. Outlets where you can charge your phone or other devices are located under the overhead shelf. They are in somewhat of an odd place, but most passengers are just happy to have them if need be.
The Belle Epoque might be the most surprising train in Switzerland, or all of Europe. The low price makes you think it might not be a special experience, but once on board you’ll quickly realize you are in for a treat. Not only is the train spectacular to ride, the views are amazing on the route.
Belle Epoque Best Views
The best views on the Belle Epoque are descending into Montreux. While you descend on a series of switchbacks you’ll have uninterrupted views of Lake Geneva.