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Switzerland's Sensational Scenery: A Rail Journey on the Glacier Express

Thanks to Instagram I knew something about the Glacier Express that most people seemingly miss.


Switzerland's Sensational Scenery: A Rail Journey on the Glacier Express

Switzerland is breathtaking, both in beauty and price.

And the Glacier Express, one of its fantastic scenic rail journeys is no exception. As soon as I started looking into the train, social media algorithms started to feed me reels and short videos. This both fuelled my interest and provided me with some great cost-cutting tips which ultimately led me to stop uhm-ing and ah-ing and debating whether the cost of the rail journey was worth it.

(It is! Especially with these cost saving tips.)

Glacier Express Travel Tips

Saving on the Ticket

I didn't know where to start so I looked into booking one of the Glacier Express packages that included hotels and most meals. While the team at Switzerland Travel Centre were very helpful and responsive, the quote provided was out of my budget so I started looking to see if I could do it myself. Pre-planned trips are great in many ways - they take much of the stress out of planning and organising the trip, but they tend to be more expensive as they only work with specific hotels.

I realised that there were places in Zermatt, where the Glacier Express journey culminates, that were cheaper to stay in and while starting my journey in St Moritz was out of the question due to hotel prices, catching the Glacier Express from Chur would reduce the overall price of the rail journey. After a quick search, I found that accommodation in Chur was cheaper too.

First Class vs Second Class

With my start and end points decided, I now needed to secure my ticket and decide between First and Second Class. After watching a few more Instagram Reels, and doing my own research online, I found that there wasn't a massive difference between First and Second Class. The views, ultimately the reason one would go one of these epic rail journeys, are the same with the only difference being the direction you face, the side you sit on and the direction the train is travelling in. The main difference, I found, was the cost and slightly more space in First Class than Second Class.

Using a EuroRail pass will also significantly reduce the cost of the rail journey. Knowing that I'd be purchasing one, I booked my Glacier Express ticket first, making sure to select the EuroRail discount. A few days later, I purchased my EuroRail pass and follow the steps to load both my EuroRail Pass and my Glacier Express ticket into the rail app I was using. And on the day of my journey, I came ready with both the app ticket and a printed ticket and had no issues.

Glacier Express Meals

I opted to include a main meal when booking my ticket. Options include one-, two- or three-course meals, with vegetarian and vegan options available. The veggie dish on my day was a delightful curry. It was flavourful and filling. They also have a menu you can peruse and pick some snacks and beverages to enjoy. I decided not to purchase anything as the onboard menu is quite expensive, even for a bottle of water.

When booking your ticket, opt for one- or two-courses and bring your own snacks and water with you. You can purchase affordable snacks in most supermarkets around Switzerland and save on the cost of eating out. The service was quick, friendly and attentive. They even brought out cookies for passengers to enjoy towards the end of the journey. They also provided helpful information and were happy to answer questions.

Taking Photographs

The night before the trip, I checked the weather forecast and to my dismay, rain was predicted. I quickly checked the weather in Zermatt, compared to Chur, and found clear skies and a nice high of 4 degrees awaiting me. Confident that if there was rain, it would only be for the start of the journey, I went to bed that night counting down the seconds. (Roughly 47,326 seconds).

Shortly after boarding the iconic red and white train, the drops started to fall. They didn't last long though and the sun soon came out to try up all the spots. The windows were clear, wide and offered stunning views of Switzerland's stunning scenery. I watched in awe as the landscaped changed from urban farmlands and hills covered in forests with mist rolling between the trees to impossibly tall, snow-covered peaks and picturesque villages with charming wooden cabins. And shortly before Andermatt, we stopped and were allowed to disembark to spend a few minutes in the snow and snap additional photographs.

Shortly after booking the trip, and considering my well-known love of photography, a few people asked me if the reflections on the wide windows wouldn't cause an issue. Thanks, once again, to Instagram I knew something that most people seemingly miss. In between the Glacier Express carriages, there's a window that opens letting in the fresh (read ice-cold) air and provides plenty of opportunities to capture the amazing vistas that Switzerland has become so famous for.

And if you're not sure where to find this magical window to world of absolute wonder, ask the onboard staff. They'll happily point you in the right direction. Just don't hog the window as others will surely want a turn to. During my journey, I spent most of my time in front of it, snapping away and enjoy the extra air flow. There were only a handful of times when other passengers came to snap photos of their own, and I always made sure to give them space.

All in all, the six-hour journey is one that I'll never forget.