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William Tell Express - CLOSED
Review Highlights
Gotthard Panorama

If this is the same trip I can highly recommend it. We travelled from Lucerne to Fluelen by boat... read more

Reviewed June 22, 2017
Western Australia
A beautiful ride on a beautiful lake

We took the William Tell to Weggis and picked up the cog railway to Mt Rigi there. A great trip... read more

Reviewed May 8, 2017
Saratoga Springs, New York
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Reviewed July 21, 2016

On this trip to Switzerland, we did three of the panoramic train rides: William Tell Express, Glacier Express, and Bernia Express, and I booked the 1st class panorama window train cars on all 3. I do think there are external factors out of one’s control that can make or break the train ride. The first factor is weather and the second quantity and quality of the fellow passengers. Here is how the 3 train rides compared:

William Tell Express (from Locarno to Lucerne) was probably my favorite, due to the scenery, comfort and train attendant. This one worked a little differently than the Glacier Express and Bernia Express in that there was one 1st class Panorama train car in with the regular train where we had our reserved seats. However, other regular 1st class passengers sat in the car, although we were the only ones who had booked the “William Tell Express” in 1st class for the journey. So we had our own personal train attendant/tour guide who explained the sights along the train route. There was plenty of room to move around despite the other passengers, and the attendant would let us know which side the best upcoming view would be on. It was also very scenic (several waterfalls, tunnels, bridges) and I also thoroughly enjoyed the boat portion from Fluelen to Luzern. Although the boat started to get more crowded the closer we got to Lucerne.

The Glacier Express was the most comfortable. We were not crowded in our train car and there was a table between the 4 seats. They provide headphones and there is a little ding when there is something to listen too. My husband thought this was the best one due to the comfort and the weather.

Bernia Express probably was the most scenic; we actually saw a glacier on this one. However, we did not have as good as weather and could not see the tops of the mountains. The train was not as comfortable. There was no table between the 4 seats, just a small shelf to put a few items on. The journey we did was completely packed, so there was a stranger sitting with us in our 4 seats and a French couple right across from us who talked the whole time. There were no luggage racks at the end of the train car or overhead luggage racks, so the train aisles were packed with luggage. There were no headphones and the announcements of items of interest were made in German and then English over the speakers. There were regular train cars for the whole journey, so one could see the same scenery just without paying the Bernia Express supplement and having panorama windows.

So I think like a lot of things, it just comes down to personal preferences and luck on which train ride is the best. If there had been other "William Tell Express" passengers on the train with us, we wouldn't have received such personal attention and might have had a different experience.

Note – When the new Gotthard tunnels goes into service in December 2016, all the regular trains will use the new tunnel and no longer climb up the mountain and go thru the old tunnel built in the 1880’s. So starting in 2017, the William Tell Express will become the Gotthard Panorama Express, be its own train like the Glacier Express, and continue to go the scenic route up the mountain thru the old tunnel.

Date of experience: July 2016
14  Thank LasVegasCindy
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2016

WE took this train because we were also going to Lake Como in Italy. But having done the trip, I would have rather just taken the regular train and not the William Tell Express. However, having said that ...I would like to try one of the other two scenic trains...people say those trips are terrific.

Date of experience: August 2015
2  Thank WLifeMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 18, 2016

We had already booked regular train travel from Lucerne to Locarno, but hearing of the William Tell Express decided to upgrade. I was a little sceptical of the price premium, but in retrospect, taking into account the food vouchers for the boat and the souvenir penknife, you're not really paying too much for the panoramic coach and the commentary. The commentary not only covers the scenery, but also the great feat of 19th century engineering. I wonder about the economics of this line now that the Gotthard base tunnels are complete. Perhaps the days of the William Tell Express are numbered.
The old steamboat is another experience of bygone engineering, but if you just want to look at the scenery, the more modern ships on the route are more comfortable.

Date of experience: June 2016
1  Thank nottoogrumpy
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 16, 2016

We booked passage on the William Tell Express (in the gallery car) from Lugamo to Luzerne. It was pretty expensive, but the kind of activity you only do once in your life. We had two small girls with us (aged 3 and 11 months) and we really enjoyed the train ride. The boat was the highlight though. The food was surprisingly wonderful and it took us all the way across Lake Luzerne. Beautiful and memorable.

Date of experience: June 2016
Thank P S
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2016

After spending 3 days in Lucerne in fabulous weather our trip on the boat and train was done in pouring rain, overcast and low clouds. This obviously spoied the views of the scenery in both the boat and the train. We started at Lucerne and travelled in a restored paddle steamer to Fluelen in just under 3 hours. The first class lounge was good with meals and drinks served (not part of ticket).
The train journey to Bellinzona was just over 1 1/2 hours in a first class panorama carriage. A guide did multilingual commentaries on points of interest, but if questions were asked in another language the special views could be passed by the time she switched to your own language.
It would be unfair to make any criticism of the views since the weather was so poor but this was our least favourite trip of the three, others being the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express.
The journey finished on a local train from Bellinzona to Lugano. Still an amazing route for a train line to be constructed with all the tunnels etc. Overall probably a bit disappointing even allowing for the weather.

Date of experience: May 2016
4  Thank GordonA
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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