The Swiss Travel Pass gives passengers first-class access to the best of Switzerland via its scenic and efficient railway network, as Gina Baksa discovers.
Travelling by train is the most romantic way to travel. Especially across a country like Switzerland with its majestic mountain and lakeside landscapes. The Swiss national rail company SBB has superb first class compartments boasting wider seats, greater legroom, Wi-Fi and power outlets. As well as separate quiet and business class compartments. And the new Glacier Express Excellence Class is pure luxury, as I discovered on my recent Grand Train Tour across Switzerland, with hotel stays in Lucerne, Grindelwald, Montreux and Chur.
Switzerland Grand Train Tour
The Grand Train Tour of Switzerland covers 1,280km (795 miles) on eight different legs across the country, including all panoramic trains such as the famous Glacier Express Zermatt to St Moritz track and the GoldenPass Line between Interlaken and Montreux. You can begin your Grand Train Tour at any station en route but like me, most travellers begin at Zurich airport.
We landed here via a superb flight with SWISS which connects Zurich and Geneva with more than 100 destinations worldwide. Download the handy Swiss Travel Guide app (@swisstravelsystem on Android and iPhone) and plan your journey as well as follow your progress.
Swiss Travel Pass
I’m travelling first class using my Swiss Travel Pass. Buy your pass online at the Swiss Federal Railways official website: www.myswitzerland.com rail and choose from either 3, 4, 8 or 15 day’s unlimited travel on Switzerland’s trains, buses and boats. The Pass also includes discounts on mountain excursions and free entrance to more than 500 museums across Switzerland.
Alternatively, buy your ticket at the train station or visit the SBB Travel Centre at Zurich airport. Negotiating Zurich airport is easy. The rail station is only a short walk from arrivals on Level -2 next to the main shopping area. Direct trains to Lucerne leave Zurich Airport every hour and take 62 minutes. Other trains involve a change at Zurich Hauptbahnhof and take five minutes longer.
An additional luxury of travelling by train is that SBB can arrange to have your luggage transferred separately. No lugging it up and down steep steps – let SBB take the strain. Visit www.sbb.ch/luggage for more information.
Lucerne and The Wilden Mann Hotel
This is my second visit to Lucerne – last year I stayed at the heavenly Bürgenstock resort high above Lake Lucerne. Tonight’s stay is in the charming 500-year-old Wilden Mann hotel, located in Lucerne’s old town – just 10 minutes’ walk from the train station.
All rooms are non-smoking and spread over seven townhouses. Expect a warm welcome, an eclectic and very retro design theme: carved wood, antique furniture, creaky floorboards, and great food from its two restaurants: gourmet French offerings at Sauvage and home-style cooking in the adjacent Burgerstube. We enjoy a superb guinea fowl accompanied by a Terraços Do Tejo white from Lisbon.