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Going from Lake Como area to Zurich

We would like to take a scenic tour to see Switzerland from the Lake Como area to Zurich in late October, Anyone have any suggestions on how to do that and see some of Switzerland ?

Posted by
535 posts

Take the Bernina Express!

From Lecco, Varenna or Bellano, take Trenord (local Italian train, no reservation required) to Tiranno.

At Tiranno, walk across the city square from the Italian train station to the Swiss station.

From Tiranno, take the Bernina Express to Chur (reservation required). Scenic route through the Alps, with panoramic-window cars. Around the Brusio Spiral, over the Landwasser Viaduct, past Alp Grum and down into lovely Chur.

If I were you, I would stay overnight in Chur. But from Chur, there are regular trains to Zurich.

See this for more info:

Posted by
17751 posts

Switzerland has many extraordinarily scenic rail routes, but the Bernina Express may be the best of them all. It's definitely on my list for the next time I get to Switzerland.

The Seat61 website explains how to snag Bernina Express tickets at a bargain price:

For other trips you may take, there may be options involving more or fewer tunnels, so it's worth checking on that. Tunnel-heavy routes are likely to be less scenic.

Posted by
8988 posts

How much time do you have? If more than a few days, I would suggest the following:

Lake Como (stay in Varenna and use the ferry to get around.) Regional train to Tirano. Bernina Express to Chur. Glaciar Express to Zermatt. Then head north and pick up the Golden Pass Railway that will take you through the Bernese Oberland and to Lucerne. From Lucerne it's only about an hour by train to Zurich.

I did this a couple of years ago but in reverse. It was wonderful. With 2-3 night stops in Zermatt, Bernese Oberland and Lucerne. Chur is just an overnight to change trains. Be aware....the Bernina Express, Glacier Express and Golden Pass need reservations made well ahead of time.

Posted by
567 posts

Yes, take the Bernina Express. We did this back in 2017. We had an overnight stay in Varenna on Lake Como (too short, I need to go back) took the local train to Tirano, and then walked across the platform to take a train on the Bernina Express route. We did not actually ride the Bernina Express scenic train. Instead, we used our swiss pass to take one of the regional trains that run on the same track (you see the same scenery) and ended up in Zurich ready for our flight home. It is unbelievably beautiful. A trip of a lifetime!


Posted by
4 posts

If we are staying in the city of Como, how easy is it to get to Varenna where it appears you can catch the train to Tirano where there you can catch the Bernina Express ?

Posted by
17751 posts

It appears that you could do that by train, changing in Monza. You would not need to change again at Varenna, just stay on the Monza-Tirano train.

Is there a reason why you are planning to stay in Como? It's my impression that most people here prefer to stay in the mid-lake area (Varenna, Bellagio, etc.). That would appear to be a better location for a variety of day-trips, as opposed to Como down at the far southern tip of the lake. And in this case, since you plan to go on to Tirano, staying in Varenna would make the next travel leg easier.

Note that I have never been to Varenna and have only spent one night in Como (in transit), so I really have no personal experience that allows me to state a preference between the two towns.

The entire train trip from Como to Tirano takes (per current schedule) about 3-1/4 to 3-1/2 hours; that connection runs every 1 to 2 hours. Como has multiple rail stations. You would begin you trip at Como S. Giovanni. The trip just from Varenna to Tirano takes only about 1-1/2 hours.

Posted by
4 posts

We're completing a Avalon River Cruise on the Rhine and have a Lake Como extension and that is where they have you staying.

Posted by
15690 posts

You can also get from Como to Varenna by taking a scheduled lake boat.