How To Ride the GoldenPass Express | Swiss Panoramic Train

how to ride the goldenpass express prestige class aplins in the alps travel switzerland

Join us on the journey from mountains and glaciers to lakes and palm trees on the GoldenPass Express!

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GoldenPass Express Stops

This direct, scenic train ride between Interlaken and Montreux takes 3 hours and 15 minutes. It runs through 3 different Swiss cantons and links the French and German speaking regions of Switzerland.

It also has 12 stops along the way (starting from Interlaken Ost): Interlaken West, Spiez, Wimmis, Oey-Diemtigen, Erlenbach, Boltigen, Zweisimmen, Saanenmöser, Schönried, Gstaad, Château-d’Oex, and Montbovon.

What’s special about the GoldenPass Express?

What’s so special about the GoldenPass Express? Well, besides the obvious panoramic views and splurge-worthy Prestige Class, it’s the first train in the world to change gauge widths!

That probably doesn’t sound very interesting at first, but we’ll tell you more about that later, and I’m sure it will make you even more impressed by Swiss engineering!

How To Ride the GoldenPass Express

Today we’re departing from Interlaken, but you can also take this same ride in reverse starting in Montreux. Of course you can look at the screens in the station to tell you which platform you’re departing from…or you could just look at the actual trains! The GoldenPass Express is a deep blue color with gold accents and nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. And since the name is painted on the side, it’ll be hard to miss!

goldenpass express train in switzerland

GoldenPass Express Prestige Class Seat Tour

This is our third time riding the GoldenPass Express, and today we’re in Prestige Class. This is the highest tier Class with only 18 seats (9 per compartment) in a 1-2 seat configuration.

The staff can swivel your seats so that you’re always facing the direction of travel. But any videos seeming to suggest you can turn them at whatever angle you want are pretty misleading. They either have to face directly forward or directly backward. And you’re supposed to ask the staff to swivel your seats for you.

And you really are gonna want to spend the entire 3 hours and 15 minutes gazing out these massive windows. Prestige Class is elevated by 40 centimeters (16 inches) so you get an even higher view of the passing landscapes.

Each individual seat is heated and can be manually adjusted to recline, offer more back support, and even to kick your feet up. Of course there’s a spacious tray table and reading lamp as well.

And there are even built-in EU, Swiss, and USB plugs on every chair. We’re always grateful for these outlets since we take so many pictures and videos along the way!

There are coat hooks and some space around the seats for small bags, but there are no luggage racks inside the Prestige Class area and no overhead bins so they don’t block the view. So if you have large bags, you can put them in the other part of the carriage on the luggage racks near the doors.

luggage racks in first class and prestige class goldenpass express panoramic train

Another thing that the Prestige Class doesn’t offer is its own bathroom. I was a bit disappointed about it the first time we rode in Prestige Class. Truthfully it’s not that big of a deal, but as someone with a small bladder who will use the bathroom at least twice during this journey, it could have been a really nice amenity upgrade!

GoldenPass Express Classes

The GoldenPass Express also has First Class and Second Class carriages. First Class has the same 1-2 seat configuration and a spacious cabin, while Second Class has the standard 2-2 and more people squeezed into one carriage.

For context, each complete GoldenPass Express train has 18 Prestige Class seats, 48 First Class seats, and up to 133 Second Class seats. So really the biggest difference between First and Second class is the space, and the difference between First Class and Prestige Class is — well — why we made this video and blog!

The bathrooms are pretty comparable throughout all the Classes though — always clean, true to Swiss standards.

How the GoldenPass Express Train Changes Gauges

Zweisimmen is where the train changes gauges in 8 minutes flat.

The tracks between Interlaken and Zweisimmen are standard, which means they’re 1.435 meters. But the tracks between Zweisimmen and Montreux are metric, which means the gauge is 1 meter.

See the problem? Instead of changing all of the tracks to be the same gauge, the Swiss invented the first train with variable gauges.

That means this train travels along one track and then adjusts its width and height to continue along the rest of the journey.

Sure, that’s pretty cool…but what’s that mean for travelers like you and me? It just means that, unlike passengers who traveled this route prior to 2022, we don’t have to change trains in Zweisimmen anymore.

Interestingly enough, the train also changes locomotives here! That’s because it’s pushed from Interlaken to Zweisimmen and then pulled the rest of the way to Montreux!

GoldenPass Express Food Service

We love tasting local food. And even though we’ve lived in Switzerland for almost a year now, it’s still fun to see how the food tastes different from region to region.

goldenpass express food breakfast basket

We pre-ordered our food today, so when we first boarded the train we both enjoyed a breakfast basket with a fresh croissant, jam, butter, coffee, juice, and tea. And for brunch/lunch, we both enjoyed an apero meat and cheese platter with a Swiss wine (from the Lavaux).

By the way, all Classes have dining options. Prestige Class and First Class and Second Class all have in-seat food service, where an attendant comes around to take your orders, serve your food, and take your payment.

How To Book GoldenPass Express Seat Reservations

If you’ve seen our other resources, then you know that our goal is to help you travel Switzerland with confidence! And we want to help you plan a ride on the GoldenPass Express for yourself!

Seat reservations are optional for First and Second Class on the GoldenPass Express, but they are required for Prestige Class. They cost 49 CHF per person in Prestige Class or 20 CHF in either of the other classes, and can be purchased as far in advance as mid-December on the GoldenPass Express website.

GoldenPass Express Best Seats

Both sides of the train offer stunningly scenic views, and honestly they kinda switch back and forth depending on the section of the journey. But if we absolutely had to choose one side, we’d pick the right side on the way from Interlaken to Montreux or the left side coming from Montreux to Interlaken. This puts you right next to Lake Thun near Interlaken and gives you the best look as you loop around the Château du Châtelard before entering Montreux.

We highly recommend getting your seat reservations once your travel dates are locked in, especially for Prestige Class. But once you have your seat reservations, you technically don’t need to have your tickets until the day you travel.

GoldenPass Express Tickets

In 2024, full price tickets for the GoldenPass Express between Interlaken and Montreux cost 56 CHF in Second Class, or 96 CHF in First Class or Prestige Class.

With the Swiss Half Fare Card those get cut by 50%, and the ride is fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, as well as the Eurail or Interrail Pass.

But you don’t actually have to have a First Class pass to ride in First Class or Prestige Class. If you’re traveling with a Second Class Swiss Travel Pass, for example, you can buy a Point-To-Point Class Upgrade for 40 CHF (or 20 CHF with a Half Fare Card or Swiss Travel Pass), which is equal to the difference in price between a First Class and Second Class ticket.

But you can also look to see if a Saver Day Pass will save you any money, especially if you have plans to ride beyond Interlaken or Montreux on the same day.

Finally, you might be wondering if the Berner Oberland Pass covers any of this route, and you would be correct! You can ride for free between Interlaken and Saanen, and you can buy a ticket from Saanen to Montreux at 50% off thanks to the Berner Oberland Pass — even without a Half Fare Card! That means you’d pay just 13.50 CHF in Second Class or 23 CHF in First Class for the whole GoldenPass Express route with a Berner Oberland Pass.

Just keep in mind that you’ll also need a Class Upgrade if you have a Second Class pass but want to ride in First or Prestige Class.

Tickets, Class Upgrades, and Saver Day Passes can be purchased on the SBB Mobile App up to 6 months in advance.

We demystify Swiss train passes, train tickets, the SBB app, and lots of other confusing things in our Ultimate Guide to Swiss Transportation. So be sure to check that out after this video if you need more help!

Buy the Ultimate Guide to Swiss Transportation bundle by Aplins in the Alps

Other Variations and Options for the GoldenPass

While the GoldenPass Express is an amazing experience, it’s not your only option for this journey!

First, between Interlaken and Zweisimmen, you could ride the exact same route on “normal” trains. It takes about 15 minutes longer, and you’ll have to change trains in Spiez, and again in Zweisimmen. And since the ticket price for either train is exactly the same, the only reason to choose a normal train is if you don’t want to wait for one of the GoldenPass Express’ 4 daily departures.

Second, if you’re looking for something fancy, ride the elegant GoldenPass Express Belle Epoque train on the route between Zweisimmen and Montreux. It runs 2 times daily in both directions, and it won’t cost you any extra to ride in luxury, just like they did in the early 1900s. And by luxury we mean net shelves, fancy coat hooks, foldable tables, wood paneled ceilings, elaborate head rests, and even modern power outlets! Seat reservations cost 10 CHF per person in either First Class or Second Class, but they’re not required and usually not necessary.

Third, you could ride the GoldenPass Panorama, which also runs between Zweisimmen and Montreux, with departures pretty much hourly from about 8:00am to 6:00pm. Basically, if you don’t ride the GoldenPass Express or Belle Epoque train on this route, you’ll be on the GoldenPass Panorama.

Fourth, how do you feel about being a VIP? Some GoldenPass Panorama trains, but not all, have this really cool VIP section of only 8 seats where you’re literally on the end of the train. It’s such a unique view! But the thing is that you cannot reserve these seats in advance, and unfortunately there’s no way of knowing which trains have a VIP section available. But if you do see it on the train, you can simply pay the staff an extra fee to ride. It’s equivalent to a First Class ticket or seat upgrade plus the VIP supplement.

Fifth, you can actually connect your GoldenPass Express journey to Lucerne via the Luzern-Interlaken Express. This is currently a separate scenic train ride, but one day they hope to equip these same trains with a cogwheel so that it can travel the entire route between Montreux and Lucerne. That’s pretty cool because then there would be a metric gauge, standard gauge, and cogwheel network all on one train! And as a tourist it would just be nice to ride on one train the whole way between Montruex and Lucerne without any changes.

FAQ About The GoldenPass Express Switzerland

How do I fit the GoldenPass Express into my Swiss itinerary?

An ideal Swiss vacation would include a few days In Lucerne, about a week in the Jungfrau Region, and a few days along Lake Geneva. And you can reach all of these destinations with the GoldenPass train lines!

Do I need a seat reservation to ride on the GoldenPass Express?

Seat reservations are optional for First and Second Class on the GoldenPass Express, but they are required for Prestige Class. They cost 49 CHF per person in Prestige Class or 20 CHF in either of the other classes, and can be purchased as far in advance as mid-December on the GoldenPass Express website.

What is the GoldenPass Express route?

The GoldenPass Express route runs between Montreux and Interlaken, Switzerland, and can be extended all the way to Lucerne with the Luzern-Interlaken Express.

How long is the GoldenPass train line?

This route between Montreux and Interlaken takes approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. You can extend your journey an additional 2 hours by riding the Luzern-Interlaken Express between Interlaken and Lucerne.

Where can I find the GoldenPass Express timetable?

There are 4 daily departures in both directions. Find the official GoldenPass Express timetable here.

What’s the difference between the GoldenPass Express vs Belle Epoque?

The GoldenPass Express is the panoramic train that runs directly between Montreux and Interlaken. The GoldenPass Belle Epoque is a historic train that runs between Montreux and Zweisimmen. If you ride the Belle Epoque train, you can change trains in Zweisimmen to continue to Interlaken (or your final destination).

What’s the difference between then GoldenPass Express vs GoldenPass Panoramic?

The GoldenPass Express is the panoramic train with Prestige Class that runs between Interlaken and Montreux. The GoldenPass Panoramic is the “normal” train on this route. Note: The GoldenPass Panoramic is also the train that may include the VIP section!

Is the GoldenPass Express free with the Swiss Travel Pass?

Maybe! The ticket for the GoldenPass Express ride is completely covered by the Swiss Travel Pass. It is also fully covered by the Eurail and Interrail Passes as well.

But your seat reservation (required for Prestige Class and optional for First Class and Second Class), is an additional cost that is not covered by any of those passes.

Before you visit Switzerland…

But before you visit Switzerland, don’t overlook these 50+ things to know, and get help planning your itinerary with our Swiss Travel Guides.

Enjoy your ride on the GoldenPass Express, and we’ll see ya in Switzerland!


Jana is an SEO copywriter and content editor plus travel YouTuber. She loves all things gelato, sunshine, and words. Her perfect day? Tossing on sunglasses to read a book and catch some rays, then dinner with her husband and friends. In her free time, Jana disciples teen girls and cooks from scratch (like homemade pasta). Jana lives in Switzerland with her husband, Brett.

2 thoughts on “How To Ride the GoldenPass Express | Swiss Panoramic Train

  1. Hi Jana and Brett,

    I love your videos and tip.
    I have Savers day pass and reserved golden pass express from interlaken to montreux. Can we hop out from the golden pass train in Zweisimmen to do a Belle Epoque train?

    Thank you,


    1. Hi Karen, you sure can! You won’t have a seat reservation for the Belle Epoque, but honestly it’s pretty unnecessary. Hope you enjoy your train rides!

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