Our original plan for Switzerland was to take the GoldenPass Line from Zürich to Montreux, passing through Luzern and Interlaken. The GoldenPass Line website bills the train ride as one of the most picturesque in Switzerland and I’d have to agree with that statement.
I think the ideal way to experience the GoldenPass Line ride is to take an early train and stop at one of the towns for lunch. If you can’t, as we couldn’t because of our schedule, the next best option is to spend the night in one of the towns so you have more time to take in the beauty and majesty of the Alps. For us, we were trying to make an overnight rain out of Montreux to Italy, our next destination, so we rode the train ride through. Regardless of what you do, it’s a beautiful ride.
Our stay in Switzerland was brief and would’ve been briefer had the overnight train from Montreux, Switzerland to Vernazza, Italy wasn’t completely booked. In the span of about 6 hours, we would travel from Zurich to Luzern, at the base of the Alps, to Interlaken, then Zweisimmen to Montreux. This events of this post, which covers the train ride from Luzern to Interlaken, took place on the 4th of August.
GoldenPass Line Train
The train ride, which started at 2PM out of Zurich, and would end at 8PM in Montreux, took us through part of the Swiss Alps. We were fortunate, especially given the overcast weather in Germany, to be treated with an abundance of sunshine during our train ride. Without it, I bet the countryside and its lakes would’ve been slightly less majestic.
Here’s a map of our journey, taken from our seat’s little table. We started at the bottom of the map, in Luzern, and left at the top, Interlaken Ost.
We started in the lower left, obscured by the sunlight, and went all the way to Interlaken OST at the upper right. Here’s another view of the entire trip from the GoldenPass Line website. The elevation increases as you go from Luzern to Interlaken and then decreases as you go from Interlaken down to Montreux, which sits on Lake Geneva.
Along the way, we were treated to fantastic views of huge lakes, even huger mountains, and vast expanses of farmlands complete with little canals/rivers snaking their way through. The views were amazing and we took a ton of photographs. The train we were on is known as a Panorama train because of its large windows that you could open. What was even nicer was that the windows were clean enough to take photos through anyway but we opened them for a taste of that fresh Swiss air.
One funny thing that happened during our trip was that the prevailing language changed from German to French, as we moved west through the country. While we intuitively understood this, it was still funny to hear. Instead of saying “danke schön” (thank you in German), we started saying “merci” (thank you in French).
Here’s a short video of what we saw out the window as we passed Sarnersee, one of the lakes along the way (the audio has been muted because all you hear are train sounds):
Here’s another video of Lungernsee, the next lake on the journey (again, without audio):
Finally, the largest of the lakes (not counting Vierwaldstattersee, at the base) is Brienzersee (Mute your speakers before you watch this, I forgot to mute this video):
After we arrived in Interlaken, we jumped on another train to finish our trip to Montreux. The second half of our journey gave us another look at Brienzersee and then moved onto another enormous lake, Thunersee. By now, I’m sure the lakes are starting to look pretty much the same (so I’ll spare you the video for Thunersee) and a little tiring. I assure you though, the lakes looked magnificent in person. None of the trains on this pass were air conditioned so it got a little stuffy at times even with the windows open. At a few points, we really really wanted to jump into the lakes.
It was fun to see all the homes next to the lakes, with their boats and their spring boards right into the water. 🙂