The Golden Pass route is one of the five main scenic train rides you can take in Switzerland. Ben and I opted for this one because the panoramic windows on the train sounded really cool. Plus, the route started in Lucerne, and ended in Montreux, two of the cities we were staying in. All of the Swiss travel sites will tell you that the route is from Lucerne to Montreux. But what they fail to mention is that it’s actually two regular trains: Lucerne to Interlaken (1 hr, 50 min), and Interlaken to Zweisimmen (1 hr, 10 min), and the panoramic train isn’t until the final leg, Zweisimmen to Montreux (1 hr, 50 min).
That last leg is where you have to worry about reservations. For an extra 15 CHF on top of your first class ticket price (125 CHF full price, or cheaper with a Swiss Travel pass), you can reserve one of eight VIP seats. These VIP seats are at the very front of the train where you get an unobstructed view while riding to Montreux. In my opinion, there are really only four true VIP seats since the second row is technically obstructed by the first row. So if you can’t get one of the front four, then don’t bother paying extra for the second row. It goes without saying, but you must book these seats far in advance. There are only a certain number of panoramic trains per day. We didn’t get the time slot that we wanted but since we really wanted to experience it, we decided to book a time where we would have to wait around for about an hour and a half in Zweisimmen. It wasn’t so bad. We got to have a quick lunch and explore the small town. The bad thing was that our train from Zweisimmen to Montreux was during peak sun hours, when the sun was beating down on us through the front glass window. So try to get the earlier time slot if you can, but if you end up with this 12:25 to 2:13 time slot, just be sure to bring plenty of water. Trust me, the views were worth the sun damage. It was worth all of the trouble of traveling from town to town, and waiting around. Being on the train ride almost felt like how it feels to be on the front row of a rollercoaster. You see everything in front of you and the beauty is just unreal. Check out this sped up video of just 10 minutes of the trip.
One day, I’ll be back for that 8-hour long Glacier Express. It’s a long ride but I’m sure it’ll be worth it.