We have been incredibly fortunate to explore much of Europe by train over the last couple of years. Thanks to the amazing Eurail passes, we have traveled through various countries, each with unique characteristics and gorgeous scenery worth experiencing. But despite all of our travels, there is one train journey in particular that continues to stand out in our mind as our favorite. Lucerne to Interlaken by train is by far the most breathtaking journey we have experienced to date.
Zurich Day Trip
European train travel is in itself an amazing experience, regardless of the journey you are taking. There are many benefits to exploring Europe by train but when you have the opportunity to see spectacular panoramic scenery such as that available on the trip from Lucerne to Interlaken…well it’s an absolute no-brainer and definitely something you should consider next time you are visiting Switzerland.
To add a little more incentive to this journey, both of these Swiss towns are beautiful and offer iconic reflections on the Swiss culture.
I also want to mention that our journey from Lucerne to Interlaken was a day trip from Zurich which is yet another reason why this is an epic adventure you won’t want to miss. A short one hour train ride from Zurich saw us arrive in Lucerne by mid-morning.
Our plan was to spend a couple of hours here before heading to Interlaken. Let’s start by taking a look at Lucerne where our journey started.
Things to do in Lucerne
Arriving at Lucerne’s Central Station, we were ready to head and explore this beautiful town sitting on the edge of Lake Lucerne. If you only have a couple of hours to spend here, we recommend donning your walking boots and start exploring.
Here are some of the top attractions worth experiencing in Lucerne before heading on to your next stop:
- Explore Lake Lucerne
- Mount Pilatus
- Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge)
- Musegg Mauer
- Church of St. Leodegar
We urge you to read our post focused on the top things to do in Lucerne if you are interested in spending several hours, or even longer in this beautiful Swiss town. Even in the short time that we spent in Lucerne, we immediately noticed how this was one of the most relaxing destinations throughout Europe.
Imagine relaxing by Lake Lucerne overlooking the gorgeous harbor…it’s enough to make your heart skip a beat and know that this is a spot you will want to revisit time and time again!
The Golden Pass – Lucerne to Interlaken By Train
After spending several hours exploring the stunning views around Lucerne, you may be forgiven for thinking that your afternoon heading into the Swiss Alps couldn’t get any better. Don’t worry, it does get better… A LOT BETTER.
Welcome to the Golden Pass! They don’t call it this without good reason and as you depart Lucerne aboard the panoramic train you soon begin to realize that this is going to be a pretty special journey.
If you have more time, we strongly encourage you to take the Golden Pass line all the way from Lucerne to Interlaken and then on to Zweisimmen or Montreux.
For a little over two hours, you are taken deep into the Swiss Alps aboard a train offering panoramic cars where you can experience the breathtaking scenery from all angles. The journey takes you through steep alpine landscapes across the Brünig Pass that links Central Switzerland with the Bernese Oberland.
Using rack railways to overcome the incredibly steep gradients, the Golden Pass weaves through alpine towns such as Alpnachstad, Giswil, Meiringen and Brienz.
The beauty of this journey is that you are quickly able to experience a myriad of landscapes that typify the Swiss culture. The huge contrasts between city life in Lucerne to the small town quirkiness in the heart of the Swiss Alps is evident in the short 2 1/2 hour train journey to Interlaken.
You can’t help by marvel over the landscapes on either side of the rail car. The difficulty is picking which side to look out of, but fortunately, traveling as a couple we were able to capture the best of both worlds.
I really don’t think words or pictures can do the scenery justice, it’s just one of those journeys you have to take in order to fully appreciate how stunning Switzerland’s landscapes really are.
Passing by Lake Brienz is one of the most rewarding scenes on this journey. Take a moment to paint this picture in your mind. The perfect image of fishing boats docked at the harbor with the sunlight glistening on the surface of the lake, accompanied by the majestic Swiss peaks of Jungfrau among others providing a perfect backdrop.
As the Golden Pass line slowly weaves along the edge of Lake Brienz’s banks, you are left with lifelong memories before the train pulls into the Alpine town of Interlaken.
Things to do in Interlaken
By the time you arrive in Interlaken, you could be forgiven for being exhausted at the amount of natural beauty you have experienced throughout the day. Grab some coffee or whatever you need to boost your energy levels and get ready to explore the gorgeous town of Interlaken.
A wide variety of attractions and activities are available in the small town of Interlaken though perhaps the most famous attraction here is the challenging ski slopes that surround this mountain town. As we strolled around this beautiful town, it’s difficult to avoid visitors holding their skis getting ready to head on the slopes.
The Höheweg promenade is the heart of Interlaken, linking the urban center of Interlaken West to the less active Interlaken East. Both locations have stations and we chose to walk from one to the other to fully explore everything available here.
Here are a couple of things you should consider experiencing while in Interlaken:
- Höheweg Promenade
- Interlaken Castle
- Garden of Friendship
- Riverside Walk
- Roman Catholic Church on Schlossstrasse
- Covered Bridge across the River Aare
After exploring Interlaken, be prepared to take some time to reflect on your amazing day in Switzerland. We took a number of amazing day trips while in Europe but Zurich to Lucerne to Interlaken (and back) was certainly up there with the very best. This trip had everything from breathtaking scenery to quaint gift shops encouraging us to spend our last Swiss Francs.
The Golden Pass is an epic rail line that inspires this form of transportation. If you are hesitant about purchasing a Eurail pass, simply take a look at our pictures passing through the Swiss Alps. If these don’t convince you, then I am afraid nothing will!
Just wondering. Did you have to book your train tickets from Lucerne to Interlaken in advance? Appreciate your response.
No, we had our Eurail passes and were able to just hop on the train to Interlaken! Very few people on the train so we were able to admire the amazing scenery in peace.
Hi Chris, I’m loving reading all of your blogs.
My daughter and I are headed to Lucerne then on to Salzburg and Vienna. We have one day trip planned in Lucerne so far, Pilatus but the rest of itinerary is open 4 nights in Lucerne with day trips to bern hopefully. Do you think we should stay a night in Innsbruck since the train ride is so long from Lucerne to Salzburg. Any other suggestions is fantastic!
Hi Michelle, thanks so much for your kind comments and we are glad that you find our blog informative and interesting 🙂 Always great to hear positive feedback!
We are very envious of your upcoming trip from Lucerne to Salzburg and Vienna. You will have an amazing time! Lucerne is a great spot to be based so you can enjoy day trips around Switzerland. Our base was Zurich which isn’t too far away but Lucerne is probably even better as it is more central to the country.
We spent a day (New Year’s Eve) in Innsbruck on our first trip to Switzerland and really enjoyed our time there. If you would prefer to spend an evening here rather than take the full 7 hour (I am assuming it’s around that distance on the train from Lucerne to Salzburg via Zurich which you probably have to do) trip in one go, Innsbruck would be a great option. I will tell you that the scenery is spectacular along this train ride, so try to hop on a train early morning so that you have plenty of daylight to admire the Austrian Alps and other landscapes.
Have you considered taking a day trip to Vaduz, Liechtenstein while you are in Switzerland? It’s small, it’s quirky but it’s worth spending a few hours here even if it’s just to get another passport stamp 🙂 You can check out our post on Vaduz if you are interested in reading more about our “half-day” there.
Feel free to reach out to us with any other questions you have, we are always more than happy to help!
Would you consider Interlaken a good base for a 3 day trip to Switzerland? I’m coming from Paris and heading to Munich.
We used Zurich as our base for exploring Switzerland but I certainly think Interlaken would be an awesome choice! It’s central and you are in a gorgeous part of the country with so much breathtaking scenery surrounding you.
loved your writing, I traveled by the same route but could not take enough pictures, as I was lost in enjoying views. I really enjoyed your blog 🙂 I can relive that wonderful trip 🙂
Thanks so much for your kind comments! It’s such an awesome route right 🙂 Completely understand what you went through though, in terms of missing some opportunities to take pictures because you just get lost in the middle of such amazing natural beauty, you forget to take all the pictures you want to. We are glad that we have brought back some great memories for you 🙂
What an amazing Blog! I’m planning on a 10 day trip to Paris, Switzerland and Italy and this was incredibly helpful. I have a question, Would you consider a 5-day Eurail pass a good choice? Can I access all the trains to travel across different cities in Switzerland and Italy with this pass along with the inter-country travel? They have a 32% discount right now which is tempting.
Thanks for your kind comments and we are glad you are finding our site to be beneficial! I would strongly recommend the 5-day Eurail Pass but ultimately it’s going to be dependent on how much you intend on using it. You can “pick and choose” which days you use the pass which is a great benefit and offers flexibility. Yes, you can access any parts of Switzerland and Italy with the Eurail pass as long as you purchase a pass that covers both countries. We traveled all over Switzerland and certain parts of Italy without any issues (the only caveat being when we traveled from Rome to Milan, we had to make a reservation ahead of time to ensure we had a seat but apart from that, we had no issues!).
That discount is very tempting indeed, we may have to hop over there ourselves and take a look!!
Let me know if you have any other questions regarding the Eurail pass. Be sure to check out our other posts on the Eurail Pass for more information here: https://abritandasoutherner.com/travel-around-europe-eurail-pass/ and https://abritandasoutherner.com/travel-europe-by-train/
Hi Chris! We are planning to go to Lucerne this May and its going to be our base area. We want to purchase Golden Pass tickets to Interlaken, my question is did you have to stay the night in Interlaken? If not, then did you go back to Lucerne within the day? Hoping for your reply 🙂
Hi Tanya, great question! It’s entirely up to you. You can easily visit Interlaken on a day trip from Lucerne – the train journey is awesome. I would recommend waking up early and hopping on an early train to Interlaken though of course only when it’s daylight so you can experience the amazing views. Spend the day exploring Interlaken and experience whatever interests you and then head back to Lucerne at night. The benefit of staying in Lucerne is that you will have more hotels and accommodation options to choose from which are likely more affordable than Interlaken – remember, Switzerland is an expensive county! Either way, you are going to have a great time. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Hi there! I just stumbled across your blog. Glad I did. My husband and I also love to travel. We are in the midst of planning 12 Days in Switzerland, the second half of May. Can you tell me where else you’ve been there? Any other recommendations? Thanks so much!!
Hello! Is the Golden Pass different from the train I could book on SBB mobile app, via the Brünig Pass?
Thanks for the blog. I have spent so much time looking for the right blog because I want to go back to Switzerland and experience the Brünig Pass.
Hi, I am in the begginnings of planning our trip toSwitzerand for next june.Just came acroos your blog and was stilldeciding whether to include Luzern and which scenic rail to do. We want to revisit Lake Como which we visited briefly on an Italian tour a few years ago and that got me looking at Switzerland as we would like to take a Basel to Amsterdam river cruise.So between Lake Como and Basel so many choices! ha ha
Would you have any insight on my proposed itinerary.
Fly into Milan. Train to Lake Como.
Lake Geneva area
Monttreux to Interlaken . from your blog we can take Golden Pass panoramic train. Presume we can pick up train a few days later to Luzern?
Basel, Rhine falls
I think we will have to allow 2-3 weeks?
Thanks again for the great information.
I’m looking to visit switzerland on my way from Paris to Frankfurt from 12/27-31. I’m trying to decide whether I should stay in Zurich and take day trips to Lucerne and Basel or stay in Lucerne and take day trips from there. Any tips? Any must go places in Switzerland in December? Thanks so much! Your blog is amazing btw.
I love your blog and since we will be in Luzern in July, I am pleased that you sing the praises of Luzern to Interlaken. Some folks think that Zweisimmen to Montreaux is even more scenic. We are all about the scenery, so do you think a round trip by rail from Luzern to Montreaux in one day of at least 10 hours would be worth it and logistically possible?
Hello Chris, lovely reading your blog. We will be heading to Switzerland from Paris for a 4 day trip and then fly back home from Zurich. What would you suggest we keep the base? Interlaken or Lucerne? Or perhaps 2 days in interlaken and 2 in lucerne? We are travelling in April. Thanks heaps.
So exciting!! My adult son and I spent 5 days in Gimmelwald in 2018 and it was amazing. We are looking to go back in a couple of years and plan to stay in Gimmelwald again but we want to take a day trip from Interlaken to Lucerne – do these trains run throughout the day?