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Suggested Routes/4 nights /Bernina & Golden

My wife and I are going to be traveling from Paris to Switzerland in August of 2014. We have for nights available to stay in Switzerland and have several rail trips but are unsure of the best route.

We would like to experience the Bernina Express and Golden Express.

What would the best route be with four nights and returning to London on the 5th day?

I’ve considered taking the night train (heard its ruff) to Milan then up on the Bernina Express to St. Morits or Chur. I’ve also considered taking a High Speed to Geneva and then heading up the Golden. We have Global passes.

Do you have another option or route that would be better in your opinion. We want to experience as much of the Swiss culture and scenic environment as possible on such limited time. We are in our 30’s and relatively healthy.

Posted by
8889 posts

Here goes. Don't take this as the best way, It is my personal opinion and just an option for your own decision based on your own preferences.
You haven't specified how you are getting from Paris to Switzerland, or from Switzerland to London. I have assumed by train in both cases, you can amend as necessary.

Forget Milan, that is going too far.
Day 1: Train Paris --> Zürich, Zürich --> Chur. This is about as far as you can do in a comfortable day. From Zürich onwards you are in the Alps.

Day 2: Chur via Bernina pass to Tirano and back again.

Day 3: Chur to Brig and onward to Zermatt or some village in the valley leading up to Zermatt. This is the Glacier Express route, but you do not necessarilly have to take that train, any train on this route has the same view out of the window. This will top the Golden Express..

Day 4: morning in Zermatt or go up the Cornergratbahn to the Matterhorn. Afternoon to Lausanne or Geneva.

Day 5: Lausanne or Geneva (as the case may be) to Paris, Paris to London. This is do-able in a day.

Option 2: Day 2: Chur via Bernina pass to Tirano, connecting Swiss postbus to Lugano.

Day 3: Lugano to Locarno to Domodossola (Centovalli railway), onward to Brig and Zermatt valley. Continue as above.

To make sense of this, see the Swiss Railways map at: http://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/infrastruktur/trafimage/karten/karte-sts-gueltigkeit-de.pdf

Posted by
16883 posts

The Paris-Milan night train does not accept rail passes and there is much more train service direct to Switzerland. The London-Paris Eurostar train is also not covered by any pass, but the pass may help you qualify for a lower rate ($85 in 2nd class). To save time, you could also fly from Zurich to London for about $104; see www.skyscanner.com.

For TGV Lyria (direct from Paris to Basel, Geneve, Lausanne, Zurich), the pass holder reservation fee is about $35 in 2nd or $85 in 1st; you are welcome to reserve in either class with your 1st-class pass. If you can stand an extra train connection via Basel, seat reservations for the TGV between Paris and Strasbourg are only $13. Book those (and Eurostar tickets) soon at http://ricksteves.raileurope.com/us/rail/point_to_point/triprequest.htm, since TGV limits the number of places for pass holders.

If you take the Glacier Express route, note that the portion Disentis-Brig-Zermatt is just discounted 25% with a Eurail pass, so you have to buy a reduced ticket, even on the non-reserved trains.