The trains that crisscross this alpine countryside are as ambitious an undertaking as any engineering feat in post-industrial times. The renown of their punctuality and reliability are no exaggeration, and the country is as well-connected as anywhere in the world, a model for public transportation efficiency. While on a holiday, rail passes are a fantastic way to get around, and there is a flexible plan for any duration or budget.
Truly awe-inspiring are the alpine trains, accessing altitudes unheard of for trains until proven by the Swiss. Using cog-rail technology, they climb steeper than normal trains could manage, opening up the mountains for tourism over a century ago.
The Jungfraujoch rises high above the Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald valleys, pierces the mighty Eiger for over 30 minutes, and arrives at the top station, Europe’s highest gare at 3454m. Just as impressive is the Gornergrat, built 120 years ago, taking passengers high above Zermatt up to 3000m, for a view of the Monte Rosa and Matterhorn. Or the venerable Glacier Express train, which runs between Zermatt and St. Moritz, crossing the Oberalp Pass, with incredible views from its panoramic view glass cars.
Even steeper are the funicular trains like the Harder Kulm in Interlaken, the Pilatus in Lucerne, or the Schatzalpbahn in Davos, where you can sled down a dedicated luge-piste afterward. Or for a nostalgic ride, the historic Brienzerbahn and Furka Pass steam trains offer a glimpse into the golden age of rail travel.