The Swiss rail network is renowned for its efficiency, the mountain views are dramatic, and many destinations are accessible in a day’s travel from London ... there are many reasons why you should travel to Switzerland by rail.
The Vaudoise Alps
Reaching the Vaudoise Alps east of Lake Geneva is easy. After a reasonably early departure from London St Pancras, you arrive in Paris in the late morning, with ample time to reach the Gare de Lyon
for the direct TGV
service across Burgundy and through the mountains of the Jura which straddle the border between France and Switzerland. At Lausanne, just north of Lake Geneva, you change to a Swiss Rail
service for the final, hour-long leg into the Vaudoise Alps, the scenery becoming ever grander as you near your destination.
The Bernese Oberland
To reach the Bernese Oberland from Paris, there is a choice of three routes: via Geneva, via Lausanne or via Basel. In terms of journey times, we recommend Basel – it takes just over ten hours from London, including connection times, meaning that, by setting off from London at 7am, you can arrive in Kandersteg, for example, just in time for dinner. For the best scenery, however, we recommend Geneva, as this involves a picturesque section along the northern shore of its eponymous lake.
You can depart London St Pancras at the civilised time of 9.30am and still be in Lucerne by just after 7pm, having changed in Paris and Basel. The connections don’t work so well on the return journey, but you do have time for a leisurely lunch in Basel.
Considering that this journey entails travelling via the French capital past the vineyards of the Rhône Valley and deep into the mountains that separate Switzerland and Italy, it is quite impressive that it only takes 11 hours.
Despite its location in easternmost Switzerland, the Engadine Valley can be reached in a day from London, though it takes 12 hours and involves three changes after leaving Paris. Bearing this in mind, we recommend that you spend a night (or more – there is no restriction) in Paris
, which not only has the advantage of omitting one of the changes, but also means you can appreciate the mountain scenery of the final part of the journey in daylight.
On some local services, you may find you have a connection time of as little as two or three minutes. This is quite normal and perfectly feasible – the services are designed to connect, and we tell you from which platform your next train leaves.