When you think of Switzerland, you think of green Alpine meadows, cows with bells, wooden clad houses and snowy Alpine peaks. When you travel from Montreux to Lucerne on the Golden Pass train through Switzerland, this is exactly what you’ll get.
It doesn’t get more Swiss than this. From cheese invested Montreux on the Lake of Geneva to central Lucerne, you’ll pass mountain lakes, through Alpine peaks and meadows. Our journey on the Golden Pass Line was surprisingly interesting. I share with you what it is like.
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Our Golden Pass Train route
After almost 2 weeks of traveling through Switzerland by train, the Golden Pass Line was the last of the scenic train journeys we’d take. We already saw amazing scenery, like the Pre-Alpine Express and the Gotthard Panorama Express, followed by superb highlights on the Bernina Express and the Glacier Express. We took the steepest cogwheel train in the world up Mt. Pilatus and looked down on Lake Geneva from Roche-de-Naye.
After so many epic railway journeys, I didn’t think anything could top it or even match the previous amazing train journeys. Turned out, the Golden Pass Panoramic Train was equally exciting, amazing and shows you the essence of Switzerland, and confirms all stereotypes. I loved it and wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world.
We traveled in September from Montreux to Zweisimmen, changed for a train to Interlaken. After a night up in Wengen to visit the Jungfraujoch, we continued from Interlaken to Lucerne. Of course, you can do it all in 1 day or the other way around.
Golden Pass route from Montreux to Zweisimmen
The Golden Pass Route can be taken in both directions, but we departed from Montreux, so for convenience, I’ll follow the route West to East.
This posh little town on the shores of Lake Geneva is easily overlooked because people flock to bigger Geneva. We spent 3 days in Montreux. Mainly to depart on the Golden Pass train but we discovered the town of Montreux has a lot more to offer. We walked along the shores of Lake Geneva, visited Chillon Castle and climbed to the top of Rochers de Naya.
Golden Pass Railway
In the morning, we set out to Montreux’s train station and the train was already waiting for us. We settled into our luxurious coupe, with big bright panoramic windows. I took a sneak peek in the front, where you can sit for an extra fee and get the view of the train conductor. As the actual train conductor sits above the first carriage, there is nothing obstructing your view! 180 degrees view of the landscape around you! Wow.
Montreux to Zweisimmen
As we departed Montreux, we left the shores of Lake Geneva below us and started climbing. It took us a few twists and turns as we meandered up the steep hills, covered in ripe grapes, ready to be harvested. After we passed some tunnels, the lake was out of view and nothing but green hills surrounded us. We crossed a broad valley and the wood clad houses and pointy church towers greeted us in every village.
We saw Gstaad in the distance. I’ve never been there before but I instantly recognized it. This felt like the ultimate winter village with the big apartment blocks with chunky overhanging wooden balconies. Everything in Gstaad oozes winter and winter sports. I’d love to go back in winter and make a short stop in Gstaad.
Golden Pass Train route from Zweisimmen to Interlaken
Soon after Gstaad, we arrived in Zweisimmen. It looked like any industrialized city and after all those cute little villages, not very appealing. But truth be told, we only changed trains on the platform and didn’t see much else of the city. As the next Golden Pass train to Interlaken was already waiting for us, we gathered our belongings and boarded the next train.
Golden Pass Panoramic train to Interlaken
The next stretch of the Golden Pass route to Interlaken was all about the great lake of Thun. It took about an hour to reach it and then we spent another hour riding along it. We had fun to see if the train was faster than the cars, as the railway is next to the motorway. The big Lake Thun is impressive with the towering mountains around it and small little white houses with dark timbered windows filling the gaps between the trees.
If you travel the Golden Pass Line from Montreux to Lucerne, you’ll first reach Interlaken West. This might be confusing, as you need to switch trains in Interlaken, but only at the (much bigger) Interlaken East train station. Luckily, I was prepared, so I didn’t panic, but quite some other travelers in our carriage did. But no worries, Interlaken East is your next stop.
Golden Pass Line from Interlaken to Lucerne
We got off the train at Interlaken and took a little detour to visit the Jungfraujoch. Interlaken is the perfect base to visit the region and trains go from Interlaken to Wengen and Grindelwald, from where you can visit the highest railway station in Europe. It was a true adventure, read the story here.
After we got back from our visit to the Jungfraujoch the next day, we continued to travel on the Golden Pass train to Lucerne.
As we left Interlaken, we traveled in one of the more common train carriages. Still with bright windows, but things didn’t feel as special as the previous Golden Pass trains. We did pass some spectacular scenery on the way, so we were entertained for the whole ride.
The weather was playing up a bit, turning the water of the Brienzersee into a turquoise blue or green. Together with the dark looming clouds and red holiday style homes along the lake’s shore, this made for a pretty picture.
We passed numerous villages, through woods and hills. We didn’t see any heavy traffic and it felt like we took the back door to Lucerne. But after the Sarnersee, the landscape slowly opened up and things started to look familiar as we’ve been to Lucerne before.
Arrive in Lucerne
After almost 5.5 hours on the Golden Pass train, we arrived in Lucerne. We crossed Switzerland, from Montreux at the Lake Geneva, via classy Gstaad to the lakes in the Bernese Oberland to finish in central Lucerne.
Golden Pass Train Montreux to Lucerne
I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the Golden Pass route through Switzerland. You’ll not see the highest mountains, but you do see typical Swiss landscapes and lovely views. I’m happy we included this scenic train journey in our itinerary.
Why you should take the Golden Pass Line
- The Golden Pass train goes right through the heart of Switzerland, giving you a good impression if you have little time to explore
- The Golden Pass train is very well connected within Switzerland and from abroad. International airports of Geneva (75 min from Montreux) and Zürich (1 hour from Lucerne) make this an accessible train journey
- The Golden Pass Line is not an express service. It consists of 3 different stretches, operated by 3 different companies. This makes it easier to break up your train journey in Switzerland and explore more of the surrounding region.
- There are numerous discount cards and options to travel on the Golden Pass Line from cheap. Of course, you can reserve a first-class seat in their Belle Epoque carriages, but you can also travel on the route via local trains. I used my Interrail card to travel for free on the Golden Pass line.
- Due to the convenient stop in Interlaken, you can include a visit to the Jungfraujoch in your journey. In only 2 days, you can travel from Montreux on the Golden Pass train to Interlaken. There you switch to explore the Jungfraujoch and take in the highest railway station of Europe before you continue to central Lucerne.
- The Golden Pass train runs year-round. I do recommend traveling in good weather as the view of the mountains and lakes are spectacular under a clear blue sky but it must look like fairy tale magic in winter too.
Have you ever traveled through Switzerland? Odds are, you might have traveled on the Golden Pass train route. What did you think of this train journey? What was your favorite stretch? Share it in the comment section below.
My boyfriend and I took the images in the post unless stated otherwise. The Pinterest image above is with special thanks to & copyright by GoldenPass – MOB/Swiss Travel System By-Line: swiss-image.ch/