Is the Glacier Express worth it? A review!

by Kelly

Wondering if the scenic Swiss train journey, The Glacier Express, is worth it? Looking for an epic experience in Switzerland? The Glacier Express Panorama Train is the most incredible train journey through stunning environments and absolutely worth it!

This blog was in collaboration with Switzerland Tourism and Swiss Travel System. All opinions are our own, we are excited to show you this incredible country!

Where is the Glacier Express Train Switzerland?

The Glacier Express begins in Zermatt and ends in St Moritz! It is an 8 hour, 291km journey if you take the whole trip. You can also choose to get on or off at stops along the way so you do not have to do the whole 8 hours.

How many stops are there on the Glacier Express?

There are approximately 8 stops on the Glacier Express train journey but it does depend on which train you are catching. Below is the time table for 2023

How much does the Glacier Express cost?

We took The Glacier Express from Brig to St Mortiz. We had Swiss Travel Passes and the Glacier Express train is included in them we only had to pay the seat reservation which was 39CHF ($66 AUD) each. Glacier Express seat reservations are mandatory. The price will depend on whether you are on the train for what is considered a long journey like ours or a short journey and the time of year.

Having our Swiss Travel Pass really was fantastic for this trip! The Swiss Travel Pass cost 365 CHF ($626 AUD) for 6 days travel in second class or 580 CHF ($983 AUD) for 6 days travel in first class.

The Glacier Express tickets if travelling from Zermatt to St Moritz would cost 152 CHF ($257 AUD) for second class or 268 CHF ($453AUD) for first class. As the Glacier Express tickets were included in our Swiss Travel Passes we had already paid this amount and also gave us great value for our money! We used our Swiss Travel Passes so much that it really added up to great savings and convenience.

views along the way on the Glacier Express

What formats are the seats in?

The seat format varies depending if you are in first or second class.

In second class the seats are in a 4 x 4 format. This means there are 2 bench seats facing a table on each side of the carriage. First class has a 4 x 2 format. A four seat as above and on the other side of the carriage are 2 single seats facing a smaller table. This is where we chose to sit.

How early do you need to book the Glacier Express?

We only booked a week in advance and it was almost sold out on the day we wanted to go. We really wanted to sit in the 2 person seated tables in first class but they were all booked out. Luckily we had some flexibility and booked the last of these type of seats for the following day.

Do you need to purchase food?

There is a food car which has panorama windows if you are looking for a snack. You can purchase a single meal or a 3 course meal which will all be served at your seat.

TRAVEL TIP – we found out that you could take your own food onboard and made ourselves a picnic! More about this below.

Regardless of what you do, you do not have to purchase food if you don’t want it. If you do purchase is at the time of buying the ticket or seat reservation.

What is Excellence Class on the Glacier Express?

The Excellence Class is the best class available on the Glacier Express. It’s a private carriage with 2 x 2 format, only available for the full trip, Zermatt to St Moritz.

The ticket cost (included if you have the Swiss Travel Pass) is 287 CHF. However the mandatory reservation fee for the Excellence Class is much higher at CHF 470 ($794 AUD). This does include some pretty great complementary services such as:

  • Lounge seating with guaranteed window seat
  • Exclusive access to the Glacier Bar
  • Tablet with Board infotainment
  • Concierge as host in the Excellence Class
  • Welcome-Desk & personal check-in on the platform
  • Luggage transport in dedicated lockable sections aboard
  • Coffee, juice, soft drinks
  • Starter plate with Champagne
  • A 5-course regional menu, accompanied by a glass of wine per course
  • Tea Time in the afternoon with goodies
  • Snacks throughout the day available

I really want to do this trip again in Excellence Class! The menu included sounds incredible and I love how each meal is paired with a glass of wine. A meal coming out each hour of the trip is my idea of heaven. Although the seat reservation is more expensive it has gained a place on my bucket list!

Is the Glacier Express worth it?

Yes! The Glacier Express Panorama Train is really really worth it! Although I have heard the point of view-it is expensive, too long and you can just take regular trains. I really don’t agree with this. I mean of course you can…but that isn’t really what it is about.

It is about the experience….

What is the Glacier Express really like?

From the moment the Glacier Express pulls up at the station it feels different, the train itself commands attention. The shiny red exterior with huge panoramic glass windows…you can tell it is not your regular train.

We caught the Glacier Express in Brig and although our tickets were for first class we sat in second class. Then we moved to first class in Andermatt as this is where our preferred 2 seat option was available. We were excited to get to see both the second class and first class experience so we could compare!

What is second class like on the Glacier Express?

Second class was great! The carriage was beautiful, with wood panelling and large glass panoramic windows. The seats were comfortable 2 seater bench seats. There was a very upbeat and excited atmosphere. Everyone was chatting happily and taking loads of photos. Meals were delivered, the standard of the service was excellent! Others were opening snacks and food they had brought with them. It was obvious everyone was having a very good time and really enjoying the experience.

What is first class like on the Glacier Express?

At Andermatt we changed to our first class carriage. We could immediately tell the difference. We boarded the first class carriage as lunch was being served. The same level of excellent service that we had seen in second class. Waiters were bringing meals out and serving at the tables in a polite and professional manner. The carriage was as beautiful as the second class. The wooden interior and huge glass windows were the same. The seats were much more comfortable and felt larger. The atmosphere was quite different though. It was quieter and more subdue with only quiet chatter amongst guests.

To picnic or not to picnic on the Glacier Express!

We sat down and were a little unsure if we had made the right move. Speaking with Swiss Railway we were told it was acceptable to bring our own food onboard. After walking in to the first class carriage we really didn’t feel the same upbeat atmosphere. No one was eating their own food and we did second guess if we should.

Well, sometimes you just have to stick to your plan! We sat down and pulled out our cheeses, proscuitto and wine and settled in for a delicious and fun lunch. A very kind staff member asked if she could help us. We said we were fine we weren’t asked again…I think they could tell we had everything we needed! The staff weren’t worried at all about our picnic, I am so glad we went ahead!

We had our bottle of Australian Penfolds wine, our breads (or gluten free crackers!), cheeses, meats in absolute heaven. A few of the other guests had a little look and honestly I think they were a bit jealous! We had such a great time toasting to the stunning views.

The changing landscapes of the Glacier Express journey

As the Glacier Express travelled along its route we saw beautiful and diverse landscapes from the comfort of our carriage. The journey goes over 219 bridges, 91 tunnels and through everything from lush mountain towns to deep snowy fields.

Of particular note were the Albula Line, the most scenic part of the trip. There are six viaducts, three spiral tunnels and two helical tunnels climbing 400m. Spectacular Landwasser Viaduct, iconic of the Glacier Express, and the Oberalppass climbing to a height of 2033m above sea level!

There are headphones for your use and interesting facts, exciting stories and history are all provided as you pass the locations.

Arriving in St Moritz feels like an achievement! You really do become immersed in the journey and it is sad when it is over.

Would you recommend the Glacier Express Panorama Train/

Yes, we absolutely recommend taking the Glacier Express Train! It is one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. It lives up to its reputation easily. If you need any help or have any questions please leave a comment, we are happy to help!

Where to next:

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How to visit Murren and Grimmelwald

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Why Swiss Travel Pass is the best way to travel Switzerland

How to travel Switzerland on a budget

Why you should visit Lucerne

Lake Brienz boat cruise

Is Glacier Express worth it? A Review

Prettiest Lake in Interlaken

What to do in Lake Thun Interlaken

How to spend a morning in Interlaken

3 day itinerary for Interlaken

What to do in Interlaken when it rains

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1 comment

Rabbit February 1, 2024 - 8:48 am

To me, the perfect Day in Switzerland is to take a glacier express, do a great hiking and relax afterwards in a nice pool in a nice Boutique Hotel or Park Hotel. Switzerland has everything one needs.


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