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Best way to Lake Lugano/Como lake

Three of us will be traveling beginning of Sep to Switzerland for the first time and we decided to start with Zurich.
Working our ways to Lucerne after 2 days then to Jungfrau 7th-9th of Sep. What is the best itinerary to get to Lake Lugano that will include best scenery and possibly fastest way, without going back up to Lucerne. And would it be better by train, bus or car rental?
Being from Los Angeles we don't know anything about trains, so a recommendation of which train would offer an enjoyable ride is greatly appreciated, if a train is the suggested route to Lake Lugano.
From Lugano we have to go back to zurich airport for our flight, which means of transportation would you recommend?

Thank you in advance
Wafa

Posted by
16822 posts

Its about 5 1/2 hours via Luzern and a 2 train changes. Its 5 3/4 hours via Spiez, Brig, Domodossolo, Locarno. This would be quite scenic, especially past Domodossolo. This route has a lot of changes, at least 5. For an even more scenic route and at least another hour, specify via Kandersteg and you will be routed on the Loetschberger Regional Express between Spiez and Brig. This goes up and over the mountains using the old Loetschberg Tunnel. The regular route cuts underneath the entire mountain using the new Loetschberg Base Tunnel.
Edit- Lugano to Zurich airport is a tad more than 3 hours with a minimum of one train every hour. Most just have a single connection at Zurich main station, and some have an additional connection at Arth-Goldau. First train is at 5 am, so you could go straight to the airport from Lugano to get your flight if it is a direct flight that leaves in the afternoon.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you for your reply.
Wow, that's a lot of train changes, with luggage I would imagine it would be too difficult. Any other options with less train changes?
or would it be better to drive a car?

Posted by
16822 posts

Well, the best rail connection is to go back to Luzern. If you want to do a one-way car rental, It can be done in a little over 3 hours, but if you have a car for the day, get adventurous. You will head back in the direction of Luzern along the south shore of the Brienzersee to Meiringen (where they invented meringue) and also the location of the Reichenbach Falls, where Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty fought to the death.
Further along you will go up and over the Grimsel Pass to Gletsch and hang a left and then its over the Furka Pass. Continue to Hospental, take a right and then its over the St Gotthard Pass. After that, you will merge onto the highway and it is 4 lane limited access the rest of the way to Lugano. Three high alpine passes. With some stops along the way and lots and lots of hairpin turns, It will probably take 5 or 6 hours, but scenery is spectacular if it is a nice day. If its bad weather, just stick to the viamichelin recommended route.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you again.
It seems that we're going to opt for a car rental to save time and train changes as we're hauling luggage.

Posted by
16883 posts

How long is this trip? Is it about 8 days? I suggest packing light. Is each person able to handle his or her own luggage? The connections usually go quite smoothly in Switzerland. For most destinations in Switzerland, you also have the option of paying to check luggage in at the train station before 9 a.m. and collecting it at your destination after 6 p.m.

If the trip does fit the window of 8 consecutive days, then consider the Swiss Travel Pass that matches that timeframe. Your own kids ages 6-15 travel on the free Swiss Family Card.

Posted by
3696 posts

I think you will enjoy the flexibility of having your own car. I don't remember my exact route as I have driven around here a few times, but I did love the spectacular scenery and being able to stop whenever I wanted to for picnics or photo opportunities!
I had the best asparagus risotto in Lugano at an outdoor café... I can still imagine it!

Posted by
4 posts

Our trip is 10 days (3rd - 13th Sep). I assume we'll have total of 4-5 bags for 3 of us but we don't know how much shopping we'll end up doing there. Pre-checking baggage is a good idea and the swiss travel pass is a great option thank you for the tips.
I just talked to the hotel and they said we can rent from Europcar or take a train around 4 1/2 - 5 hrs with one change according to him. He made it sound it won't be a hassle or problem. I guess we'll decide when we get there, the flexibility and time saving with the car or the less expensive a bit longer train.
Terry, I will be searching for that asparagus risotto!
Thanks every one for the assistance.