Switzerland is a country celebrated for its trains, and its most famous rail route is the Glacier Express between St. Moritz and Zermatt. “Express” may be not be quite the right word, since the train averages less than 19 mph over its mountainous, 7.5 hour, 291-bridge, roller-coaster route. Trains runs year-round.

First-class cars feature high, wide, panoramic windows, and trains sometimes make full circles as they spiral up the precipitous slopes. Wine glasses even have a tilted base to keep from spilling on the steep gradients. Lunch in the Edwardian dining car is popular but, even without beverages, not inexpensive.

As many as five daily trains each way in summer are officially tagged with the “Glacier Express” title, and they attract about 250,000 riders annually. For those who plan to be in that number, here are a few suggestions:

Glacier Express Tickets & Passes

You can buy a one-way, second- or first-class ticket plus a mandatory charge for a seat reservation, but a better deal is one of the Swiss Passes such as the Swiss Saverpass, good for four consecutive days of unlimited, second-class travel throughout the country, or the Swiss Saver Flexipass which offers unlimited travel on any three days in a one-month period. Saver passes require two or more persons traveling together. Additional travel days are available. Swiss Passes are accepted for travel on the Glacier Express—but a seat reservation is required.

First or Second Class on the Glacier Express

Air-conditioned, panorama viewing cars are first-class only. Regular first-class cars and second-class cars are not air-conditioned, though windows can be opened. Seating in panorama cars and second-class cars is club-style, pairs facing, with a small table between. Regular first-class configuration is two seats facing on one side of the aisle and pairs facing on the opposite side.

Lunch on the Glacier Express

Reserve well in advance of travel through Catering Company Elvetino in Chur, tel. +41/81/252 1425, fax 250 0151.

A Glacier Express Alternative

The route of the Glacier Express—St. Moritz/Davos–Chur–Disentis–Andermatt–Brig–Zermatt, or the reverse—is served by other trains that require no seat reservation and will not be nearly as full. Telephone: +41 (0)848 642 442