Transalpin Panorama Train: taking the scenic route from Innsbruck to Zurich
Updated: Jul 30
After an exciting morning spent at the "Top of Innsbruck," we made our way back to Innsbruck Hbf to start the next phase of our Interrail trip. Of all the train journeys we had planned on our trip, the train from Innsbruck to Zurich was the one we were looking forward to most. It was the reason we were traveling to Switzerland and one of the main reasons we had chosen to upgrade our Interrail passes to First Class.
Why were we so excited? Not only because the EuroCity Transalpin train to Zurich would take us through the Alps, but because we'd be experiencing the impressive views from the First Class panorama car.
The seats were spacious and comfortable, but the main reason we'd chosen this route (and this particular train), was the extra-large windows that curved up towards the train's ceiling. With our first class Interrail passes, it had cost only €3 extra per person to reserve a seat in this unique panoramic car. It was our first time traveling in a panorama train car in Europe, and damn, were we impressed!
As we left Innsbruck, the rain made it difficult to see out of the windows, however, it soon cleared up enough to watch as we wound through the Austrian countryside. Cloud-covered mountains rose up on either side of the train, the mist giving an almost mythical quality to the landscape.
As the train began to empty, Brett and I moved so we could both sit in window seats – ideal for taking in the beautiful views! We snacked on dried fruit and vegan sweets as we passed through charming alpine villages nestled in the valleys. I felt very classy drinking a small bottle of wine that we'd purchased at the train station in Innsbruck. Making the most of that first class life!
As we continued heading west, we left the storm behind and the weather began to improve. The clouds cleared and the views got more dramatic as we could finally see the tops of the mountains towering above us. The landscape reminded us of Yosemite Valley – with lush green meadows giving way to steep rocky cliffs.
After passing through the tiny country of Liechtenstein, we finally crossed the border into Switzerland. By this point, the sun was out and the views were unreal. We passed the Walensee and were amazed at the turquoise colour of the lake.
Three and a half hours after departing Innsbruck, we pulled into Zurich. We got off the train, all still slightly awestruck at what we had just experienced – I don't think any of us were ready for the train trip to end!
For me, this train journey really highlights the beauty and comfort that can come with slow travel. We crossed into another country with no queues at security, no passport control and a significantly lower carbon footprint than if we had flown. For three and a half hours, we were spellbound by magnificent views that you can't get when you're flying high above the clouds. Everything about this trip was magical and I hope to experience more of Europe's beauty from the panoramic cars of other trains in the future.
From Zurich, we caught another two trains to our Airbnb outside of Lucerne, where we'd be spending two nights. While we all agreed that Switzerland was stunning, the extortionate prices meant we were glad we only spent a limited time in Lucerne before moving on to Italy.
Despite all of the beautiful things we saw throughout our two-week Interrail trip, the train journey from Innsbruck to Zurich was definitely one of the highlights. If you are planning a trip in Switzerland or Austria, we would highly recommend checking out the different scenic train routes – and if possible, book your seat in a panorama car!
Other panorama train journeys in Switzerland: https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/trains-trips/rail-travel-specialtrains/panoramareisen.html