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Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

Sydney, Australia
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31 posts
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Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

Hi guys,

I'm going to be in Italy for 3 weeks at the end of September going through to October.

Planning to vist Rome and Florence but I want to also see the Swiss alps (via rail) without going too much into Switzerland. I'm kind of confused with the scenic routes from italy (the centovalli or the bernina express) and what trains to catch at which stations. The websites I've been researching aren't very clear, especially with the different kinds of trains to catch and the type of connections. So basically, I just need to know how to see the swiss alps from Milan (or another train station nearby) in either a day trip or an overnight stay in the alps and coming back to Italy maybe via a different route? Also which trains to catch and whether a eurorail pass would be valid. Also, I'm reading great things about Lake Como. Would it be better to see Lake Como as a separate day trip?



Imperia, Italy
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for Italian Riviera
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1. Re: Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

There are two main train lines from Milan into Switzerland,. One is to Geneva and Basel, with nearer places including Brig (change for Zermatt) and Montreux. The other, shorter and quicker, is to Zurich - with Lugano being the nearest major place in Switzerland that you can access, only one hour away. There is also a much slower line to Tirano (2.5 hours, still in Italy) where you connect with trains on Bernina Express route to St Moritz etc.

The Centovalli line starts in Italy at Domodossola (direct trains from Milan, and finishes in Switzerland at Locarno, from where you can reach Milan by train (change at Lugano, or by boat down Lake Maggiore than train from Stresa. This website shows the route clearly lagomaggioreexpress.com/Inglese/orari.html

For train times from Milan into Switzerland the most reliable website is http://www.sbb.ch/en/index.htm - but the Italian train site http://trenitalia.it/homepage_en.html will show you the price of fares bought in Milan for most direct trains that you might want. Some train times after the timetable change on June 12 are not yet available, but will be soon, so you might want to use an earlier date for planning now.

You would need a two-country Eurail pass for it to be valid (and I don't think it's valid on the Centovalli at all), but it is unlikely to be better value than point-to-point tickets as fast trains in Italy and cross-border trains all need separate seat reservations at extra cost.

Lake Como would certainly be better as a separate day trip.

Rome, Italy
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2. Re: Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

From Milan you can get the train to Tirano, then from there the Bernina Express to St. Moritz, I would advise an overnight stay in St Moritz as it is a long journey.

Bunbury, Western...
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3. Re: Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

I'm staying in Arona on Lake Maggiore later this year for a few days and wanted to do a train journey into the alps. The Bernina Express from Arona is just too big a journey to do in one day. The trip from Arona to Tirano takes a long time.

So is the train from Domodossola to Brig or Zermatt a trip worth doing and is it comparable to the Bernina Express route?

I could do the Maggiore Express but Locarno seems to be in the lower parts of the alps and maybe not so scenic, is this correct?


Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

Thanks for your advice. So I looked into all the options. Just wanted your advice to see if my rail itinerary sounds ok now?

Day 1:

• Catch the train from Milan to Domodossola

• Domodossola to Locarno (centovalli express, scenic route)

(using my Italy eurail pass for the first 2 legs)

• Locano to Luzern (scenic route through the alps, 3hours)

• Check in to hotel in Luzern

• Explore Luzern ‘old town’ (including Picaso’s Museum)

Day 2:

• Lake luzern

• Mt Pilatus

• Mt Rigi

(not sure if will get time to cover all these)

Day 3:

• return to Milan via Interlaken

• Luzern to Domodossola via interlaken, Speiz and Brig

• Domodossola to Milan

Does this sound ok. Will I get enough scenery and alps doing it this way?

Sydney, Australia
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31 posts
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5. Re: Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

Forgot to ask, should I buy a swiss pass to cover the swiss sections, or point to point tickets?

6. Re: Want to see the swiss alps from Italy

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