Take the train to the Swiss Alps

Take the train to the Swiss Alps

7 October 2015

This ski season, take advantage of the many routes from London to Switzerland and travel to Swiss Alps by train.

Taking the train to the Swiss Alps is one of the best ways to get your skiing holiday off to a flying start. Skip airport queues, luggage fees and lengthy transfers from the airport, and instead relax on a train, watching the scenery glide by as your resort gets ever-closer.

Switzerland is hard to beat for skiing. It's home to some of the most dramatic mountain scenery, picturesque and blissfully traffic-free mountain villages, great restaurants, and some of the most varied and impressive ski runs. Although there isn’t a direct ski train from London to Switzerland, there are several options to get you to the slopes, including seasonal trains and coordinated services that make it easier to reach some of Switzerland’s best resorts by rail.

Most travellers arriving by rail from the UK will arrive first into one of Switzerland's rail hubs - Lausanne or Zurich - by high-speed TGV Lyria before joining Switerland's excellent national and local railways which fan upwards and outwards into the mountainous regions. We've highlighted the best routes by rail to these destinations and explored some of the most popular resorts in more depth.

London to Lausanne, via Paris

Travelling from London to Switzerland via Paris offers the most flexibility for Swiss ski holidays by train. Eurostar services from London to Paris are frequent and fast every day of the week and there are plenty of connecting services to stations throughout Switzerland, so it's easy to create your an itinerary to reach your preferred resort. With this flexibility comes an endless choice of Swiss ski resorts that are accessible by train.

The journey by train from London to Lausanne can take as little as 7 hrs, 20 mins. There are usually up to four departures available from London every day, connecting in Paris with a direct TGV Lyria train direct to Lausanne.

From Lausanne there are frequent onward connections, by direct Intercity trains to Aigle (30 minutes), Martigny (50 minutes), Visp (1 hr 32 mins) and Brig (1 hr 20 mins) so few of the most popular resorts in this region are out of reach.

At a glance

Route: London-Paris-Lausanne
Price: From £68.50 one-way in Standard Class.
Duration: From 7 hrs 6 mins, plus onward train.

Station
Resort
Time
Lausanne - Aigle
Villars
30 mins by regional train
Lausanne - Aigle
Morgins
30 mins by regional train
Lausanne-Le Chable
Verbiers
80 mins by regional train, via Martigny

London to Aigle, Martigny or Brig via Paris

Villars, Switzerland

The Swiss Alps © darrenwise | iStock

During the ski season (approximately December to March) the TGV Lyria, that usually travels from Paris as far as Lausanne, extends its journey on weekends to travel as far as Brig, at the foot of the Simplon Pass. Called the TGV Lyria des Neiges (snow train), this seasonal timetable change makes it easier to reach various Swiss resorts.

Once the TGV Lyria passes through Lausanne, it calls at Montreux, Aigle, Martigny, Sion, Siders, Leuk and Visp, before terminating in Brig. It leaves Paris on Saturday mornings, and Saturday afternoons the other way from Brig back to Paris. The journey from Paris to Brig takes 6 hrs 11 mins or from London to Brig by train around 8 hrs 30 mins.

At a glance

Route: London-Paris-Brig
Price: From £66.50 one-way in Standard Class.
Duration: From 8 hrs 30 mins, plus onward regional train/transfer.

Station
Resort
Time
Aigle
Champéry
1 hour by regional train
Visp
Saas-Fee
40 minutes. Other resorts around Visp, too.
Brig
Brig-Rosswald
A few minutes

Other rail routes to the best Swiss ski resorts

Though this is far from an exhaustive list, we've pulled together information about taking the train to some of Switzerland's best ski resorts via others routes, too. Your suggestions for additional destinations are welcomed in the comments below. 

Davos-Klosters Davos is one of the most famous Swiss ski resorts in Switzerland. And Klosters is just 30 mins away. Travel by national rail to Landquart (available on Loco2) and then continue by Rhaetian railway (RhB) to Davos Platz (1 hr 10 mins) or Klosters Platz (40 minutes).

St Moritz - The original Swiss ski resort, St Moritz has welcomed winter tourists for over 150 years.

Travel by national rail to Chur (available on Loco2) and pick up a local Rhaetian train (RhB) over the famous Albulapass to St Moritz (2 hours). Trains from Chur to St Moritz run hourly. St Moritz is also the starting point for the the wonderful Bernina rail route to Tirano in Italy and the celebrated Glacier Express to Zermatt (both available on Loco2). 

Arosa Lenzerheide - a relative newcomer, this region emerged when Arosa was joined with neighbouring Lenzerheide in early 2014.

Travel by national rail to Chur (available on Loco2), where you change for the Rhaetian train (RhB) to Arosa (1 hour), or the bus (30 minutes) to Lenzerheide.

Tips for how to find cheap ski train tickets

  • Tickets get snapped up quickly during the ski season, particularly over Christmas and half-term (mid-February). This is compounded by many chalets offering Saturday-Saturday accommodation, which pushes the price up further for Friday and weekend travel. if possible, avoiding these busy periods is a good way to save money on ski train tickets. 
  • It pays to travel at a less popular time of day. For example the first Eurostar of the day from London to Paris is likely to be busy with skiers meeting onward connections to the Alps. But if you opt for a later train, you’ll find it less busy and tickets less expensive.
  • Consider a late departure from London and stay overnight in Paris, continuing your journey the next day - the first departure from Paris to Switzerland is often cheaper than mid-morning trains. Or perhaps take the last train from Paris to Geneva and stay overnight, completing your onward journey the following morning.
  • With all this in mind, it makes sense to plan ahead and choose your destination and preferred travel date well in advance. Even if booking isn’t open due to the winter timetable change, we recommend running a search on your intended dates and setting an alert. We’ll let you know you when tickets go on sale so you have the best chance of securing the cheapest ticket.
  • Check out our other advice for finding cheap trains tickets.

Main image and thumbnail: Zermatt © LeeYiuTung | iStock

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