The Glacier Express is often dubbed the “world’s slowest express train,” but this moniker doesn’t do justice to the breathtaking experience it offers. This iconic train winds its way through the Swiss Alps, connecting two of Switzerland’s most picturesque mountain resorts – Zermatt and St. Moritz. Over a span of approximately 7.5 hours, passengers are treated to a visual spectacle of deep gorges, soaring bridges, pristine mountain lakes, and ancient villages.
The Glacier Express journey can be divided into four distinct sections, each providing its own unique set of visual treats. Let’s embark on a virtual journey through these sections and explore the wonders each one holds.
1. Zermatt to Brig
Starting Point: Zermatt Ending Point: Brig
The journey commences at the car-free village of Zermatt, nestled at the base of the famed Matterhorn. As the train leaves Zermatt, passengers are treated to the sight of lush green meadows and dense forests, set against a backdrop of the towering Pennine Alps. The first section is relatively short but offers captivating views of the Matter Valley. Before reaching Brig, the train weaves through several spiral tunnels and crosses over the impressive Kipfen Gorge.
2. Brig to Andermatt
Starting Point: Brig Ending Point: Andermatt
As the train departs from Brig, it embarks on one of the most exhilarating sections of the journey. The train navigates the hairpin turns of the Nufenen Pass before reaching the serene Goms Valley. The highlight of this section is the ascent towards the Oberalp Pass, the highest point on the Glacier Express route at 2,033 meters above sea level. The region is characterized by vast high-altitude moors, with grazing Swiss Brown cows dotting the landscape. The descent to Andermatt offers mesmerizing views of the Urseren Valley.
3. Andermatt to Chur
Starting Point: Andermatt Ending Point: Chur
Leaving Andermatt, the train slowly winds its way towards the Graubünden canton, known for its sprawling valleys and dense forests. This section is particularly known for the Rhine Gorge, often referred to as the “Swiss Grand Canyon.” As the train snakes its way through this gorge, passengers are treated to a visual extravaganza of white limestone walls, deep gorges, and the turquoise waters of the Rhine River below. Before reaching Chur, Switzerland’s oldest city, the train offers glimpses of ancient wooden bridges, charming hamlets, and verdant orchards.
4. Chur to St. Moritz
Starting Point: Chur Ending Point: St. Moritz
The final stretch of the Glacier Express journey is a crescendo of alpine beauty. Departing from Chur, the train ascends towards the Albula Valley, known for its spiral tunnels and lofty viaducts – feats of pioneering railway engineering. The landscapes here are dotted with glacially carved valleys, alpine lakes, and quaint villages like Filisur and Bergün. As the train approaches St. Moritz, passengers are treated to views of the shimmering Lake St. Moritz set against the rugged Engadin mountain range.
In conclusion, the Glacier Express isn’t just a train ride; it’s an exploration of Switzerland’s varied landscapes, from the shadow of the Matterhorn in Zermatt to the glitzy resort town of St. Moritz. Each section of the journey offers a unique perspective of the Swiss Alps, ensuring that passengers are always glued to the panoramic windows, eagerly awaiting the next visual delight.
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