A Day Trip On The Gotthard Panorama Express
Have you ever been on the The Gotthard Panorama Express? It’s a great way of experiencing some of the most beautiful scenery in Switzerland by train and by boat. From Zurich it can easily be done in one day, but if you fancy you may wish to break your trip and stay overnight.
Carmen and I left Zurich bright and early one weekday morning and took the train from Zurich to Bellinzona. In Bellinzona we changed trains and it’s there that we boarded the Gotthard Panorama Express. With its beautiful panorama windows and comfortable and spacious seating, the route took us from Bellinzona all the way to Flüelen.
Along with the impressive views you get a commentary from your guide in a number of languages about the key sights along the route, like the Wassen Church above. As you travel through the Flüelen–Bellinzona section of the track you learn all about the history and the engineering challenges involved in making this extraordinary tunnel. The Gotthard Tunnel represented a huge breakthrough as it linked the railway networks on both sides of the Alps with one direct railway line. The 15 kilometre tunnel took from 1872 till 1882 to be completed and was at the time the longest tunnel in the world, with an altitude difference measuring up to 1,000 metres in places.
For more infromation there is also an App called the “Gotthard Guide” as well as the “Gotthard-Panorama-Express – Travel Guide” which give you detailed information about all the sights along the way.
In addition to the Panorama wagons there is also a dedicated photo carriage with windows you can point your camera out of avoiding any glare or reflections on your photos.
You can also meet a wooden statue of Albert Escher, the “father of the Swiss railways”. It was Escher who pioneered the Gotthard Tunnel, a masterpiece of engineering which became the largest building site in the world at the time. Escher worked tirelessly on the tunnel but sadly never got to go through it himself as by the time it opened in 1882 he was terminally ill.
Once in Flüelen we disembarked and took the ship from the harbour in the direction of Lucerne.
We enjoyed a meal in the dining room from a selection of dining options. It was a beautiful sunny Autumn Day and because of this we decided to make an extension to our itinerary and go up Mount Rigi. In order to do this we disembarked at Vitznau and took the Rigibahn right to the top of Rigi.
The views from the top of Rigi are breathtaking and even the journey uphill on the Rigibahn train is Instagram worthy.
Once you reach the top you can either walk from where the train stops to the top or you can go through the tunnel and take the lift to the summit.
The views are so wondrous that you will be glad you took your camera or your phone – just remember to take sufficient battery back up as you are bound to take more photos than you expected. Also the terrain is quite rugged off the path, so wear good footwear and make sure you have a sweater or jacket as it can get quite blowy.
After another scenic journey back down from Rigi to Vitznau, we then took the ship back from Vitznau to Lucerne.
The boat trip along the Vierwalstättersee (otherwise known as Lake Lucerne) was as picturesque as ever and before we knew it we had arrived in Lucerne. It was then just a few minutes walk from where to boat docked to Lucerne railway station and then just over an hour or so back to Zurich main station.
An Amazingly Scenic Train and Boat Ride
In the space of one day we had seen such impressive views and enjoyed such fabulous scenery. So if you’re thinking of a great day out for all the family or for when you have friends and relatives coming to stay, this is certainly once way of giving them a true Swiss experience. The Gotthard Panorama Express is part of the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland which combines the most scenic panoramic journeys into one route.
Notes On The Route We Took
There are various options and you can also travel in the opposite direction to us, from south to north. The excursion to Mount Rigi is not included in the price of the trip but is an additional option. However, if you have a Halb Tax card you can get a discount on the rail fare up to Mount Rigi.
Gotthard Panorama Express
When: From Mid April till Mid October every year
What it includes: The price for the Gotthard Panorama Express consists of the ticket for the boat and railway journey and the mandatory “Gotthard Panorama Express” supplement.
With photos by Carmen Sirboiu
Carmen specialises in doing LinkedIn photos as well as family and pet portraits.
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