If you are looking for breathtaking views and stunning scenery, taking a trip around Europe is probably the perfect itinerary for you. This is exactly what we did during our recent adventure and one particular day trip that we took was stereotypical of why many people consider Europe to have the most beautiful scenery anywhere in the world. The Golden Pass in Switzerland typifies the natural beauty we all associate with Europe.
As you pass through the Swiss Alps all the way from Montreux to Lucerne, you will certainly have a much greater appreciation of nature and landscape forms. Whether you are traveling along this route in summer or the heart of winter as we did, the beauty here is unmistaken. We want to share our journey along the Golden Pass and hopefully entice you to take the trip for yourselves.
Golden Pass Route
Based in Zurich for our adventures around Switzerland, we made an early start by using our Eurail pass and taking a trip from Zurich to Montreux. Essentially this journey takes you from the north east corner of Switzerland to the south west corner by Lake Geneva. Passing through the cities of Bern and Lausanne, the scenery along this route is scenic and an eye-opening experience, but this is nothing compared to the route you take leaving Montreux.
If you are holders of a Eurail Pass as we were, you can simply hop on the Golden Pass train and enjoy the scenery without having to worry about additional costs with reservations. The route is essentially broken down into three main legs, though depending on how many times you decide to explore Swiss villages along the way, it could be several more.
- Montreux to Zweisimmen
- Zweisimmen to Interlaken (Either Interlaken Ost or West)
- Interlaken to Lucerne
I would highly recommend using the Eurail Rail Planner app to organize your itinerary and determine the best schedules that fit your needs. Please be aware that if you are wanting to take the Golden Pass Scenic railway, this train only departs at certain times so planning ahead is critical if you want to board for example the panoramic train.
Scenery in the Swiss Alps
After boarding the Golden Pass Scenic Train in Montreux we made the journey through the Swiss Alps to the town of Zweisimmen.
Passing through idyllic Swiss villages along the way and climbing higher and higher through the Alps, it is near impossible to use words to describe the scenery you pass by. Unfortunately taking pictures out of a train window is not easy, especially when the sun is shining brightly and reflecting against the snow packed landscape. But we wouldn’t have had this any other way because traveling through the heart of the Swiss Alps with sunshine and snow is a perfect combination.
From Montreux to Zweisimmen, the journey starts passing by Lake Geneva and then begins to weave into the Swiss Alps through the vineyards and to the town of Gstaad. Depending on how long you plan to spend along the Golden Pass will determine whether you decide to get out and explore the Swiss villages of Gstaad, Zweisimmen et al.
Given that we wanted to complete the Golden Pass route in just one day, we bypassed exploring these towns but definitely look forward to heading back in the future to find some hidden gems in the heart of Switzerland.
Interlaken to the Top of Europe
Leaving Zweisimmen we made our way to Interlaken where we were finally able to leave the train for a few hours and have a true Swiss Alps experience. Passing through the Alps before heading by the Lake Thun shoreline is an exhilarating experience as you peer through the windows of the Golden Pass scenic train. I never realized just how interesting a train journey could be before we visited Europe on this trip. Every journey offers a unique variation but the Golden Pass certainly offers something very different to anything else we encountered.
Arriving in Interlaken, just like many of the other towns in the Swiss Alps, it is a popular tourist spot for skiers wanting to test their skills on some of Europe’s most infamous slopes. Although on this trip we didn’t get to experience Jungfraujoch, we would both love to head back there to head to the well-acclaimed ‘Top of Europe’ attraction.
Interlaken is certainly a town worth spending a day or two exploring, especially if you want to enhance your skills or even try skiing for the first time.
Final Leg of the Golden Pass
Our time in Interlaken was cut short as we embarked on our final leg of the journey to Bern. Yes, that’s right we decided to rearrange our itinerary so that we could spend the evening wandering around the city of Bern rather than taking the ‘official’ final part of the Golden Pass from Interlaken to Lucerne.
This decision was primarily because of the lack of daylight and we figured this part of the scenic journey would be better saved for a return trip to Switzerland. Heading across the Brünig Pass and passing by the numerous lakes and mountain top regions is yet another reason why dividing the Golden Pass into multiple days is a highly recommended choice.
The journey from Interlaken to Bern allowed us to regroup and reminisce on the amazing day we encountered throughout the Golden Pass. Perhaps taking this trip from Montreux all the way to Lucerne is feasible during the summer when there is more daylight, but trying to do all of this in one day in winter is a really tough ask especially if you want to spend some quality time in Interlaken as we did.
Switzerland is a nation that I am sure many other countries are envious of, not only because of their historical position as a ‘neutral’ nation but due to the abundance of natural beauty everywhere you look. The Golden Pass through the heart of Switzerland passes through the Swiss Alps and is stereotypical of this beauty at any time of the year. Whether you are an avid skier or a rambling backpacker, heading through this part of Switzerland is mouthwatering and a must-see for everyone.
This was one hell of a day trip and I would encourage all of you to experience this if you visit Switzerland. Thanks to Eurail for including this within their pass because it undoubtedly provides a unique and memorable representation of the whole country.
Disclaimer – We would like to thank Eurail for providing us with complimentary passes for our adventures around Europe which included the Golden Pass journey. The content of this post are solely our personal opinions/experiences and we were not financially compensated for this post.