What is the Best Mini Train Trip in Switzerland?
How could one possibly choose?
There are just so many very, very, picturesque and stunningly scenic train trips in Switzerland. However, on a recent eleven-day winter tour of Switzerland with our Swiss Rail Passes, we traveled far and wide on the train every day and covered a lot of train miles, but one particular trip stood out.
It is only a one hour trip, but it combined all of the aspects we expected from a Swiss train ride.
*It was incredibly scenic.
*It took a feat of engineering to build.
*It was charming in that unique Swiss-style!
We discovered that some of the most scenic train routes are on the small regional lines going up into or around the mountains. If you only have a limited time in Switzerland then this is definitely the one Swiss train ride we recommend you must do!
TRAIN TO AROSA -the Arosabahn
The train route is from Chur to Arosa and was built in 1914 to connect Chur, pronounced Koor, the oldest town in Switzerland, with the spa town of Arosa. It is 26 km long and climbs 1000 meters as it goes through the Schanfigg Valley. It goes through 19 tunnels and over 52 bridges. it features a spectacular section - the Langweiser Viaduct over the Plessur River.
You board the red train on the street at the Chur train station and for the first five minutes or so the train ambles through the town roads stopping traffic as it goes, just like a local tram, and then it follows the local stream bordering the edge of town and winds through a few tunnels.
Before long it starts to climb and wind, and wind and climb, over many bridges and through the mountainous landscape with the tall snow-laden pine trees and small rural villages with the stream now far below. We even glimpsed some deer by the rail tracks near Langweis Station.
About halfway up you will start to glimpse the impressive Langweiser Viaduct and soon you will cross over it. At night it is lit up and looks quite eerie as it is surrounded by total darkness. This viaduct is 284 meters long and 62 meters high with the main arch span of 100 meters. We felt as if we were at the top of the world.
And if you happen to be in Chur on a Friday evening you can join gourmet enthusiasts on board the Arosa Gourmet Express and enjoy a delicious three-course meal and drinks while you sit back and enjoy the scenery!
We have made this trip to Arosa twice and have yet to see anything of Arosa itself! Adjoining the station is a great cafe and bar called Guterschuppen and because of time constraints, this is as far as we have ever got. It’s a very welcoming and cosy modern bar and restaurant built in a large old industrial building with comfortable sofas and chairs and a welcoming fireplace. They serve a wide range of tasty food including brunch, lunch, dinner, bar snacks and sometimes they have live music and it is very hard to leave.
Next time we do this trip we promise ourselves that we will make an effort to get past the cafe and explore the Arosa area which is a very popular ski area. There is a cable car behind the station. Just cross the bridge above the tracks and you will be at the cable car station that will take you up to the Weisshorn summit. At the middle station apparently you can visit a Bear Sanctuary for rescue bears! That sounds fascinating and totally unexpected in the middle of the Swiss Alps.
There are a couple of lakes in Arosa and Obersee Lake, the bigger one, in winter hosts special events like a horse race on snow, a winter golf tournament and a hot air balloon week. In December Arosa holds a Humour Festival.
Chur is also an interesting town to explore and makes a good central base for people who want to do the Bernina Express and Glacier Express train routes as well as the mini trip to Arosa. It is the oldest town in Switzerland and has picturesque cobbled lanes and historic streets blended into a modern car-free town center and is overlooked by the surrounding picturesque mountain peaks.
TRAVEL TIPS & GUIDELINES
WHERE WE STAYED IN CHUR
Twice we have stayed at the Central Hotel Post in Chur. It is in a great location in the pedestrian area of the old town about 10-minute walk to the station. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby and the staff are friendly and helpful. The rooms are modern and clean and the price is very competitive. We can recommend the Hotel Post.
ON THE TRAIN
Sit on the right hand side of the train in the direction of travel for the best views
The Arosa train departs from Chur every hour. The cost is about Euro 8 for a single trip
From Zurich to Chur -average time -one and a half hours. The average cost is Euro 32
From Geneva to Chur - average time four and a half to five and a half hours. Average cost Euro 50
Costs and times are approximate For timetables and prices go to -https://www.sbb.ch/en/timetable.html
THANKS to Swiss Travel System for their assistance with our trip and Hannah Goodburn for her stunning photographs!