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What Train to get from Zurich to Varenna Lake Como

We have planned a 4 day trip to Varenna Lake Como on October 6th 2021. We will fly into Zurich and want to take the train as we have read it is a beautiful train ride (we love trains) I was told to check the train schedule on www.sbb.com but I couldn't find anything for Wednesday 6th it said this might have something to do with Covid or off season train schedule? I also checked with a company OMIO and they had a train leaving Zurich at 8:30 am getting into Varenna at 1:30 pm
But not knowing anything about the railroad system and if this is legit I wanted to reach out on here to get some HELP!! I really appreciate any info at all. Thanks a lot Mary Rose

Posted by
16055 posts

I had no trouble finding trains on Oct 6 from Zurich to Varenna via the Bernina Pass, but I had use a couple tricks to get the specific route you want. Using the SBB site, use Zurich HB as start and Varenna-Esino as endpoint. Then put in via "Filisur", then click on "Advanced Search" and add "Tirano" for the second "via" block.

I see IC 3 dep Zurich HB at 9:38 connecting at 10:58 at Chur to IR to St Moritz connecting to Bernina Express train to Tirano at 1:17 pm, connecting to Italian Regionale at 4:08 pm to Varenna, arriving at 5:34 pm.

Pay attention to the Italian entry requirements due to Covid. Website noted in Italian, but use google translate to get it in English. Looks like entry requirements are getting stricter beginning Sept 1.

Posted by
42 posts

I did this same trip in Oct 2018. The train traveling through the Alps to Varenna is called the Bernina Express. We took a local train from Zurich to Chur to board the Bernina Express that took us to Tirano, Italy and than another local train to Verenna.
I found the web site "the man in Seat 61" extremely helpful in planning this trip.
Our train in Zurich left at 7:07 am arrived in Chur at 8:22am, than caught the Bernina Express at 8;32 am arrived in Tirano, Italy at 12:29PM
The train to Chur and connection to Bernina Express was easy, just the next track. However, don't dilly dally in Tirano as that train
for Varenna almost left immediately. Maybe it was because we needed to buy our ticket there? I just know we were very rushed.
If I were to do this again, I might consider spending the night before in Char. We stayed at an Air Bnb in Zurich where we had to take the tram to the train station than navigate the Zurich train station to catch the train the Churand since all of this took place during rush hour it was hectic, but doable.
Enjoy!!

Posted by
16055 posts

The daily Chur-Tirano Bernina Express departs Chur at 8:32, so you would have to depart Zurich at 7:07 at the latest to make it. Note that there are regular trains plying the route from Chur to Tirano every hour. Same tracks, same mountains, same scenery, but no reservation fee required, although you will have to change trains at least once.

The Swiss trains enter Tirano literally on the streets. You have to walk across the piazza to get to the Italian train station. Those trains run pretty much every hour, so if you miss it, just wait an hour. Chance to grab a bite to eat at one of the several pizzerias on the piazza.

Posted by
1353 posts

FYI-
Just making sure you're not flying thru Heathrow on the way to Zurich? If so, check the current quarantine status for travelers transiting thru the UK to Italy.
Have a great trip!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you everyone for the great info, very helpful indeed!! It appears we have some figuring out to do and hope it won't be too difficult for us old folks to figure it out especially not reading or speaking the language! This has been on our Bucket List for years. We will be flying straight from Dublin Ireland (I'm from there but live near San Diego) we will check all Covid restrictions before we leave Dublin. Thanks again for all your help!

Posted by
2279 posts

A little note about OMIO: they are legit, but they are just a third-party ticket agent, with fees. Best to stick with the railway company websites for train tickets: SBB for Switzerland.
Also check out the "Man in Seat 61" website (www.seat61.com) for LOTS of useful, reliable info on how to buy tickets and take the train anywhere in Europe and the world.

Posted by
4 posts

Quick question to Dona Thanks for the great info. Is the train ride from Zurich to Chur a scenic ride? We get to Zurich airport at 6:30 pm and was wondering if we should stay in Zurich or go stay in Chur that night? Thanks again for the great info 👍

Posted by
25738 posts

It will be getting dark as you get off the plane. Sunset that day in Zürich is at 6:55pm. So the whole ride would be in the dark.

As far as scenic - please don't take this the wrong way, but all Swiss train routes are scenic to one degree or another. If you are used to the mountain trains in Switzerland - and the one from Chur down into Italy is a real corker - then the route from the airport through the suburbs and farmland to Chur will be fairly plain.

You'll fill your jug the next day.

Where will you be arriving from? Overseas? After a few minutes on the gently swaying train (probably double decker) you'll not see much anyway if you're off an overseas plane. What time will it be by the time you left?

I hope this helps...

Posted by
25738 posts

ah, Dublin. You won't too tired then? But maybe you will still have had a long day.

Will you be doing the named train Bernina Express as far as Samadan or the local? What time train do you want to catch to Samadan?