Tag Archives: Alps

Glacier Express Peter Jones Pietro Place

The Glacier Express

Switzerland offers a remarkable way to sightsee your day through the beautiful terrain: the Glacier Express.

No car needed. Just a slow moving, winding train that is Switzerland’s greatest ad for Narnia.

The Glacier Express is a regular scheduled year-round train service between Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn and St. Moritz in the Engadin skiing area.

No idea why it’s called an express since it is slow.

Built on a narrow gauge train, it takes over seven hours to cover just over 290 km (180 miles), at an average of around 24 mph.  However, it’s very civilized inside and you can get a decent lunch on board in the restaurant cars. The views are breathtaking, blizzards and all, and it also offers the unique experience of climbing to 2033 meters up the incredible Oberalp Pass, the highest point on the line. It truly looks like Narnia along the way. At the end the train magically winds its way to the chic resort of St Moritz. All in a day’s work!

Prices are not that bad for Switzerland. Below are the rack rates.

Zermatt – St Moritz, basic fare:  149 CHF (€149) 2nd class, one-way

 262 CHF (€262) 1st class, one-way

Glacier Express supplement:

(this must be paid in addition to

the basic fare or railpass)

 33 CHF (€33) in summer.

13 CHF (€13) in winter.

Cost of lunch (optional):  30 CHF (€30) for Plate of the Day.

43 CHF (€43) for 3-course lunch.

Children under 6 go free; children aged 6 to 16 pay half fare but must pay the adult supplement.

The Glacier Express is run jointly by two private Swiss railways, the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (MGB) and the Rhätische Bahn (RhB), which also operate the regular hourly local trains over the same route.  There is one daily Glacier Expresses in each direction in winter, but up to three daily Glacier Expresses in the summer. It is a great experience and I highly recommend it.

You can easily buy tickets online at www.glacierexpress.ch


Geneva to the alps

Every year I get to spend a ski week with some old friends of mine from Italy and England. We have skied lots of places including the Dolomites, Vail and St Moritz but we always keep coming back to Zermatt. The link from Geneva airport to Zermatt is always a pleasure. At the airport the train is literally by the arrivals hall. A quick walk and you are on the way. The train wanders around Lake Leman passing the magnificent Montreux, famous for its jazz festival, and Lausanne, home to FIFA, the centre of soccer decision making worldwide.

On the other side of the lake is Evian(water and a famous spa town) while the alps literally wrap around the lake. At Visp you have to change trains to connect with the cog railway that takes you to Zermatt. If you drive you have to park your car at Tasch in a huge underground car park. Either way you board the pretty red cog railway and begin the ascent to Zermatt. On this particular week, the snow was amazing. 3 metres either side of the track. Zermatt is at the end of the valley. At 1800 metres it is already high enough to invite fabulous snow. At the Alex hotel, where we have stayed for years, the total package is always half board. A huge breakfast and a fabulous dinner. Swimming pool and the usual sauna, steam stuff and you are in heaven.

The town has lots of glitzy hotels but the Alex is family run, utterly charming and the rooms are perfect. The price is good too. Once in the town, you buy your ski pass for both Zermatt and Cervinia. Why restrict yourself to just the swiss side? This is a huge mountain range and it boasts the highest elevation skiable in the alps at over 4000 metres and the longest run in europe at 16 kilometres from high on the Klein Matterhorn to the Italian town of Valtournenche. In other words the snow is reliable and the trails are endless. But thats another day.

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