Golden Pass is a non-direct train route in Switzerland which makes traveling the area so easy. The Golden Pass lets you travel from German speaking Lucerne to French speaking Montreux (or, Montreux to Lucerne). With several stops along the way it really is the most convenient way for American travelers to explore Switzerland.
What to Expect
Your experience mainly depends on the season in which you visit. You can experience everything from the green valley and beautiful flowers in the spring but yet, see the snow covered mountain tops as well. Summer is the best time to see the lakes and fall gives you beautiful views of the changing colors. Winter will give you a wonderland of snowy fields and mountain peaks.
About the Route
The Golden Pass is meant for a scenic trip rather than a direct ride. It is currently broken into three sections. Due to each section being operated by different companies, each section hosts a different type of train. You can choose to take any of them or all of them. Whichever best fits into your travel plans. Each section of the route offers its own unique beauty to see and places to explore. The trip from Lucerne to Montreux (or vise versa) will take you somewhere around five and a half hours.
On this route, regular trains run as well so be sure to check the time tables to make sure you are catching the Golden Pass Trains.
Section 1: Lucerne to Interlaken Ost
In this section of the trip you will go by the base of Pilatus Mountain and catch a few glimpses of Lake Lucerne. After seeing both Sarnersee and Lungernsee lakes, you will climb the Brunig Pass. Then, descend down to Meiringen which is in the valley floor. In Meiringen, the train will change direction and head through Hasli Valley. You will see Lake Brienz which is where Brienz is located just 20 minutes East of Interlaken Ost (the gateway to the Jungfrau Region).
Section 2: Interlaken Ost to Zweisimmen
This section of the train starts along the Aare River. It takes you to the other side of Interlaken. You will continue to Lake Thun where you will pass Spiez. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for Mount Niesen in this area. From here, you will head towards Simmen Valley. If you are on the right side of the train, you will get a very short glimpse of Lake Thun.
Section 3: Zweisimmen to Montreux
This section of the Golden Pass ride takes you to to the highest point in the entire ride. Which is somewhere around Saanenmoser. Your next stop is Gstaad (an upper class town with shops and hotels). Not too far down the line you will enter the French speaking area of Switzerland. After winding through the sometimes very narrow valley you will find yourself at the end of a tunnel. This tunnel ends at Les Avants. From here, about 20 minutes later, you will find yourself in Montreux. Just before Montreux you will get an awesome view of Lake Geneva.
What if Time is Limited
If time is limited for you, you can easily chose to just ride one or two sections. It would be best to choose the section nearest to your base town but, any of the sections you feel would interest you the most are a great option.
Themed Train Rides
From Montreux to Chateau-d’OEx traveling in First Class you stop at Restaurant Le Chalet. Here you will watch a demonstration of traditional cheese making and the skills it takes (you may even be able to help!). At the end of the demonstration, you will be able to eat the fondue they created. Plus, you can visit Musée Du Pays-D’Enhaut where you can see traditional art and learn about the armaillis and their trek up the mountain pastures. You will also be able to see the Espace Ballon exhibit and learn about everything from the first trips to more recent ones.
This first class trip is one of a kind. Your first stop is at Maison du Gruyere where you can finally answer the mysteries behind how Swiss Cheese is made. In Gruyere you will enjoy the medieval town and have a possibility of visiting a castle. After much anticipation you will finally arrive at Maison Cailler where you will be let in on the secrets of swiss chocolate and enjoy an amazing sampling of chocolates.
If you are planning on traveling anywhere within Switzerland (on any form of transportation), it his highly recommended that you get the Swiss Travel Pass. Getting this pass is beneficial because it will save you on having to stand in line for tickets or, trying to figure out all of the different conversions. This pass covers the adult passengers all the way down to the little ones (with children under 15 years of age and under riding free with paid adult). Plus, discounts may be offered for people ages 16 to 25. Grabbing one of these passes will surely make your trip much smoother.
Grab your Swiss Travel Pass and explore as much of Switzerland as you can. No matter what time of year you go, you are going to have a great time and see so many wonderful sites. Plus, you get the chance to experience things that may only happen once in a lifetime and so different to what you would experience here in the States.