Switzerland by Interrail train

We went Interrailing from England through France to Switzerland and back in 7 days. Here’s our cost breakdown, experience and tips for the trains, and hopefully some inspiration for you to go!

Our route

We started near home at Buxted then on to London-Paris-Bellgarde-sur-Valserine-Zermatt-St Moritz-Bergün-Zurich-Interlaken-Mulhouse-Paris-London and back to Buxted.

We took the Eurostar to Paris and walked from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon, but sadly the route was a bit dicey and not picturesque until you get to the river, and there it was lined with tents of people living along the river, so it wasn’t the most relaxing walk. Plus the walk was SO long with our big heavy backpacks on, so next time I’d definitely just get the Metro!

We stayed in Bellegarde-sur-Valserine for the first night, which is in France just outside Geneva, just to break the journey up. We didn’t even see daylight there!

Then we got the train to Zermatt (while it was still dark out, to maximise time in Zermatt!) – this train journey was JAW-DROPPING. It just got better and better out the window.

When we got to Zermatt we took the Gornergrat Express up the mountain where you’re supposed to get great Matterhorn views – if you can see past the clouds!

We only stayed one night in Zermatt, then got the Glacier Express to St Moritz. More on this later! We didn’t hang about in St Moritiz – we arrived about 5pm but stayed at the station to catch the next train out of town as it’s a bit fancy for us! We stayed 45 mins away in Bergün / Bravuogn – a gorgeous little village in a valley at an epic hotel that like the hotel in The Shining, called Kurhaus Bergün. It’s super old and has an outdoor hot tub that could fit about 30 people and is surrounded by pine trees. Definitely recommend!

Then we went to Interlaken, changing trains at Zurich and stopping to get a train to the Lindt museum 11 mins train ride away from the main Zurich station. The Lindt museum was sadly overrated. The Lindt shops in train stations have the same selection of chocs and much better hot chocolate! Then back to Zurich main station for a train to Interlaken where we stayed for two nights to do sledding and winter kayaking. More on this below!

Then to Mulhouse in France just to stopover on the way home – Mulhouse was not worth spending any time in. Then to Paris where we had 3 hours to kill, so walked part way from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord via a lovely botanical garden and got the Metro.

Interrailing with a Pass

We bought a 30-day pass with 7 travel days. If you’re in the UK you have to buy the Interrail pass; if you’re in the EU you get the Eurrail pass. The pass makes train travel free for most trains – even the Eurostar and Glacier Express – however you do need to pay for seat reservations on these, and some other, trains. Seat reservations vary in price but it’s still cheaper to get the Pass.

Get a 1st Class Interrail ticket – it’s usually empty and a much nicer carriage.

Using the Interrail app and booking seat reservations

When you get your pass, get the app and plan your journey with correct dates – activating these journeys makes the ticket valid for that day. You get 7 days on the Pass we used, so every travel day we had to add a journey and activate that day of travel. It’s extra handy because the app will tell you which journeys are not included on the Pass and require a ticket, and also which trains require a seat reservation. It will usually link to a website to buy these. We had to reserve four train seats in total and book separate tickets entirely for three parts of the trip. We’d have been screwed if we hadn’t got tickets in advance (not tons in advance, possibly even right before departure depending on how busy it is, although one train we wanted was actually fully booked).

When you get the interrail pass, get the app and add all your journeys to the planner. It tells you which trains need separate tickets or seat reservations. The app will tell you which trains need tickets!

Train stations – top tips

The train stations will have a matrix board that tells you where you are on the platform in relation to where the 1st and 2nd-class carriages will be. We didn’t work this out till the last day! Sector A, B, C, D will display along a graphic of the carriage. Also, infuriatingly, it doesn’t say what station you’re at very clearly. At one point we jumped off a train and asked EVERY person also getting off which station it was, and they ALL ignored me! How are there not signs?!

Cost of the trip

We ate out for many meals, but sometimes we just had snacks we’d brought, or had a “hotel picnic” to save costs. We never ate out anywhere fancy, except for lunch on the Glacier Express. Cost for 7 days, two people, including train tickets, seat reservations, activities and all food: £3000

Food: It’s expensive in Switzerland – a supermarket nice salad bowl is just under £10, a burger in a pub £21.

Activities we did in Switzerland

Sledding (10/10):

Sledding through alpine forests with a group and a guide was epic. The best experience of our whole time in Switzerland! We were lucky to have both snow and sun, it was a cold snap right before and after warmer weather, so it’s not always going to look as awesome as the photo below! This was just outside Interlaken and they pick you up from town and take you up there to Isenfluh and back. https://outdoor.ch/en/outdoor-activities/day-sledding/

Winter Kayaking (10/10):

They give you fluffy socks and a drysuit so you’re cosy, and the water is so calm and peaceful. It was a highlight of our trip! In summer they have a terrace bar as well, and a few swimming pools, or you can swim in the lake. https://hightide.ch/en/experience/winter-kayak-activity-interlaken/

Lindt museum (3/10):

The cafe was a bit rubbish and expensive, the museum was boring (although the liquid chocolate tasters made it worthwhile), and you only see a mini version of a factory line through a glass window from a corridor. Boo. The shop is big but there’s nothing new there. The walk from the station along the lakeside is nice though!

Gornergrat train (9/10):

This is in Zermatt up the Gornergrat. The reason for knocking a point off this otherwise EPIC train up the mountain was the fact that the top few stations were just a LOT of skiers and no trees, and the air was so thin I almost passed out! We also went on a cloudy day so we couldn’t see any of the epic views you’d normally go up there for. Lower down though you can get off and wander in the forest a bit. The journey itself though was eye-poppingly gorgeous and the carriage is full of people looking out the window in awe. You have to buy a ticket (it has its own station opposite the main Zermatt station), but it’s cheaper if you go after midday.

Glacier Express (8/10):

The 8 points are for the views and ease of travel and general coolness. However there are local trains you can get for the same views, but you’d have to keep changing trains. It was worth booking 1st class (not much more expensive) because while 2nd class looked more fun, it was packed and rowdy and people had chucked food on the floor.

Our main issues with the Glacier Express were the fanciness and being waited on – we’re not fancy people and the local trains had the same big windows and views but more freedom to move around and jump on and off. Also, the best way I can describe the feeling of the GE after 8 hours (which FLEW by) is a capsule of everyone’s collective breath. The GE did however have a massive saving grace, which not many people used or noticed: some windows open! They’re between carriages and closed off by doors. It’s so much fun to stick your head out like a dog and get the alpine air in your lungs. After I discovered these windows, I spent all my time there.

We did have an issue on the GE at the beginning though – someone else was in our seats! We got shuffled off to spare 2nd class seats (it was empty for the first leg so it was brilliant) while they sorted it out, but we missed what turned out to be the most scenic part of the journey because the train manager was faffing with our tickets while we stood in the aisle. Turns out the other people had cancelled their tickets so were thrown off at the next station.

We also had an issue right at the end, paying for the food and drinks – we chose to pay in GPB on the card machine and the man got quite angry at us as if he wasn’t going to get the money now thanks to us. It didn’t feel like a premium or fancy experience when this happened! Bit weird.

However the whole experience was brilliant – the views were epic almost all the time, the train was comfy and it was a cool and easy way to travel.

Eiger Express – Grindelwald-Eiger gondola (10/10):

Not really an “activity” but worth mentioning! The gondola goes over pine forests, as well as over sledders and skiers (you can sled down to Grindelwald too!). It’s only 15 mins and at Grindelwald Terminal you have to get another train to town. (We discovered we weren’t in town when we hunted around the station for a good 20 minutes trying to find an exit and there literally wasn’t one!!). Then the train was delayed so we got the gondola back up and jumped on a train down, which took the same route as the gondola, except ended at the town’s station.

Jungfrau region:

We were surprised that the whole Jungfrau train network was private and therefore not covered by the Interrail Pass. The Jungfrau train pass covers skiing, hiking, gondolas, trains etc in the region. I can’t find the same price on the internet now, it looks way higher, but we bought a ticket at Lauterbrunnen station and it was just over £50 each. But not the final stint up to Jungfraujoch itself – that’s an extra £100+! We bought our pass at the train station after a sledding activity, being dropped off by our guide in a van, but you can get there from Interlaken too. Beware if you’re getting the train back to town in a ski region at the end of the day, it’s going to be more packed than a commuter train from London at rush hour.

Switzerland Interrail train trip packing list

  • Phone
  • Charger
  • Toothbrush 
  • Mobile roaming pass (voxi)
  • Interrail ticket
  • Kindle
  • Tea flask
  • Water bottle
  • Power bank
  • Cables to charge it
  • Plug adapter 
  • Passports 
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Sunnies
  • Sunscreen 
  • Sunscreen lip balm 
  • Earphones
  • Wet wipes
  • First defence
  • Towel
  • Buff
  • Snacks
  • Hand gel
  • Spork
  • Plug adapter
  • Wallet


  • 2 x Leggings
  • Jeans
  • Thermal top
  • fleece 
  • Coat
  • Heated gilet
  • sweater x2
  • 3 T-shirts
  • Pyjamas 
  • Underwear 
  • Hat
  • Earmuffs
  • Gloves
  • scarf
  • Bum bag
  • Walking boots
  • Trainers

Switzerland by train: Gallery



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