My wife and I plan to take the train from Basel to Lucerne, spend 2-3 nights there, then take the train to the Zurich Airport to return to the USA. What could I expect to be the travel time via train from Basel to Lucerne and then Lucerne to the Zurich Airport? I would also like to book overnight accommodations in Old Town Lucerne - any suggestions?
Without even looking at the schedules at www.sbb.ch/en, it is close to 1 hour for each.
Yes, about 70-75 minutes for both legs. Multiple trains per hour, just turn up at the station and buy a ticket.
Basel SBB to Luzern = CHF 34.00
Luzern to Zürich Flughafen = CHF 30.00
We just did this exact trip last week. Tips: there are two train stations in Basel, go to the Swiss Rail one - SBB. Yes it was a bit over an hour. Look for the direct trains to Luzern (i.e., no changes) if you have luggage. The direct train from Luzern to the airport was at 10 past the hour, every hour. We stayed at the often recommended Hotel Des Alpes which was a short walk over the bridge directly in front of the rail station. Great location in the old town area. Walk out to the covered bridge.
PS your hotel will give you a local transportation card that will give you bus access to the Lion Monument, for example, but also a discount on the silver pass for the Mt Pilatus round trip (which includes a bus and rail trip). Note that the gondola down from Pilatus was shutting down for maintenance last week.