There is no more awe-inspiring way to take in the Swiss Alps than aboard the Glacier Express. Despite its name, it is not a speedy train at all. And you’re sure to be delighted that it takes its sweet time traversing spectacular landscapes, climbing alpine hills to dramatic passes, spiraling around mountainous slopes, and crossing the most magnificent arched bridges in the world. In short, it’s a journey that will take your breath away.
Named for the nearby Rhône Glacier, the massive ice sheet that is the source of the Rhône River, this epic engineering marvel makes its way along some of the world’s most challenging terrain. During its early years, deep winter snows at the highest elevations restricted the train’s operation to the summer months. Today, two tunnels and advanced technology allow the train to operate year-round.
The railway’s opening changed the face of Switzerland. Before the turn of the 20th century, there was limited access to the southern and secluded regions of the country. Over time, hoteliers and businessmen proposed the construction of ambitiously laid tracks that would be able to traverse the alpine terrain, delivering tourists to remote resorts more easily and moving goods among the country’s various cantons more efficiently. The men behind the railway’s design devised a system of curved tunnels, vertiginous bridges, and spiral tracks that wound around hills like threads on a screw. By its completion, 291 bridges soared over valleys and gorges and 91 mountain tunnels had been dug.
During our unforgettable journey, you will board an all-glass observation car and set off from St. Moritz. Just outside your window, ice-capped peaks pierce the sky and stone villages dot green valleys. Thrill to the spiral tunnels that bore under Albula Pass (at 7,595 feet). Cross the dizzying span of the curved Landwasser Viaduct, a six-arch limestone span 213 feet above the valley floor. Also impressive, the Schmittentobel Viaduct stretches across seven arches.
From the town of Chur, you will trace the banks of another of Europe’s great rivers: the Rhine. Ride through the stunning Ruinaulta gorge before an ascent of more than 4,000 feet to Oberlap Pass (at 6,706 feet), the source of the Rhine. This is one of the continent’s great passages, crossed by traders and adventurers for centuries. Still today, it links the eastern and western cantons of southern Switzerland, but today the journey is accomplished far more comfortably—in a rail car or an automobile.
The alpine town of Andermatt is the terminus of our journey, spectacularly set in the wide Urseren Valley overlooked by hulking peaks.
Experience one of the world’s most astonishing rail journeys with us! We look forward to seeing you on our new Swiss Alpine Jewels trip.