Gotthard Panorama Express, Switzerland
The Gotthard Panorama Express isn’t just a train journey, it’s an epic adventure across the water and land by both train and boat. Known as the Wilhelm Tell Express until 2016, the route journeys from Lucerne to the lake town of Lugano in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region.
The journey takes 5 hours, 30 minutes and covers 272 kilometres, hosting guests in 1st-class only train with panorama seats and a steam or motorboat for the crossing of Lake Lucerne. With such diverse scenery crossing from central into southern Switzerland, everything from snow-capped peaks to sun-kissed palm trees can be seen on this glorious rail route.
Prices from: CHf23
Departing from: Lucerne, Switzerland
Journey length: 5 hours, 30 minutes
Gotthard Panorama Express route
The Gotthard Panorama Express’ journey is a rather exciting one, incorporating both luxury train and steamboat and traversing almost the entire length of Switzerland. Passengers embark in Lucerne, boarding a steam or motorboat and gliding over Lake Lucerne before docking in Flüelen. From Flüelen it’s all aboard the Gotthard Panorama Express, traveling along the historical Gotthard route and passing sights like the Wassen Church the Gotthard tunnel between Göschenen and Airolo (first opened in 1882). The journey then continues south to Ticino, a region of Italian language and culture and home to Lugano – where the journey ends.
Gotthard Panorama Express train
The first leg of the Gotthard Panorama Express is by a boat operated by SGV AG. Passengers can purchase either a 1st or 2nd class seat and the ship has an onboard restaurant, serving products from central Switzerland and culinary delights of Lake Lucerne. The train ride itself is also a luxurious experience, and offers 1st-class only tickets, air-conditioned carriages and food and drink served to your seat. Specialities include Pastefrolle (shortbread biscuits) from the Bedretto Valley and ‘Gottardo Premium Lager’, a beer from the San Gottardo SA brewery, based in Faido. A multi-lingua guide is on board to point out route highlights and information and you will also receive a travel book for the ride.
Why we love it
This is a Swiss train journey with a difference. Not only do you get to travel from snowy-peaked central Switzerland to the almost Med-like south but you also get to travel on both boat and train. Embracing technology, the railway also has a handy app to download before the journey, allowing you to locate your must-see sights along the way and alerting you when they approach.