I'm looking at booking a trip on the Golden Pass in June and all the early trains have no availability in the front (VIP) seats. The 18:25 train does have availability. I've not been to Switzerland before, so I'm curious if you will be able to see as much (sunset/fog/etc) on the late train, or if I should book a non VIP seat on an earlier train. The time I arrive in Montreux doesn't really matter as I would rather have a better viewing experience on the train.
In June then sun won't set until around 9pm so you should have the same views as the earlier trains. The VIP seats are of most use at the very end of the journey when the train arrives on top of the hill over Montreux. You get commanding views of Lake Geneva, the train then zig zags it's way down to the lake shore; the vip seats enhance the experience. Go for it!
Thanks for the info Michael! I see on the Golden Pass website that it's $15 to reserve the VIP seats. When I do this online, it doesn't prompt me to purchase the actual tickets. Do you know how I do this? I read somewhere you buy the actual tickets in Switzerland, but that doesn't make much sense to me if I'm already paying to reserve the seat?
You're welcome. If you are going to be using one of the transit passes (most travelers will be using them), you just purchase the seat reservation, as the train ride it's self is covered by the pass. If you're not using a pass then go ahead and purchase the seat reservation on the site. You can purchase the ticket for the journey at any train station once you arrive in Switzerland.
After 27 years in Switzerland I've been over the Golden Pass route many times on both fast trains with VIP seating and regional trains. And I have to say given the choice of an 18:25 departure and a region train I'd take the regional train... in fact I'd take the regional train in any case!
On the regional trains there is usually plenty of space to spread yourself out, swap sides when the views change, let down the window when you want to take a picture etc... and of course no reservations needed.
Something else to consider Rachel is the "classic" train the Golden pass operates to Montreux. They use restored vintage pullman cars. The 1st class carriages are stunning, right out of a Agatha Christie novel!
Hi, Michael. I'm intrigued by what you've written. I heard great things about the Golden Pass on one of Rick's recent programs and I would love to do it with my husband and daughter. The regional train you describe sounds much more elegant than the high-speed option. Can I book in advance on-line or do I have to take my chances when I arrive in Switzerland? if there's an on-line option for the local train service, what's the site? How long does the trip take?
The Classic train runs on the Zweisimmen to Montreux segment. During the summer there are two classic trains per day: 11:05am & 4:25pm, journey time just over 2 hours. If you are using one of the Swiss transit passes the ride is covered by the pass, but it is strongly recommended that you purchase a separate seat reservation during the summer for a small fee via this site: http://tinyurl.com/mvq5qfp
If you are not using a pass then simply purchase the seat reservation via the site, and the purchase a ticket for the journey at any train station when you arrive in Switzerland.
Also on the classic train it's best to ride in the first class vintage cars, if you are using a second class pass you will have to purchase an upgrade at any train station when you arrive in country.
there is no "high speed" option on the route to Montreux, they all go the same speed. They just differ in marketing and packaging. I was on one of the marked "Golden Pass" trains but just had a regular seat and trust me, the windows are plenty big and you'll see more scenery than your camera can handle!
One tip for photogs, whether the window will open or not, you'll get the best shots if you shut off your flash and use the "sport" option on your camera or whatever they call the higher shutter speed program. Even though you're not going that fast, you are in motion so you need that motion setting.
Also note that halfway through the trip the track gauge changes so you'll need to change trains. Which literally means stepping off your train and walking 10 steps to the waiting train. Just make proper time allowances if you'll be dragging luggage.
The zig-zag down the hill into Montreux is quite pretty, unlike the city itself or its train station.
I find Montreux to be stunningly beautiful.
didn't work at all for me or the wife, and we rarely agree on anything!