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Italy to Lucerne by train or plane

Wanting to get to Lucerne from Italy. Either from Bologna, Venice or Monterosso in Cinque Terre. Would like the quickest and easiest route. WE could fly into Zurich and take a train directly there OR try to figure out how to get there on all trains. What do you suggest?

Posted by
11294 posts

There is no clear winner. Trains will take a while and require changes, but getting to and from the airports on each end is also time-consuming.

To look at flights, use Skyscanner. The closest airports to Monterosso are Pisa and Genoa; Bologna and Venice have their own airports. Note that some flights from "Venice" on Ryanair actually use Treviso airport, further away.

To look at train schedules and options, use the Bahn (German Rail) website http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en, following Rick's tutorial: http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/online-schedules

Posted by
11485 posts

I would take the train because I dislike the airport hassle so very much. The train drops you in the center of town. These are long-ish trips, but when you consider transportation to the departing airport, wait time, security, and transportation at the distant end, it may come out about the same.

I like using CaptainTrain.com for these comparisons between SW and IT. Great booking service and they include both Italian train companies, Italo and Trenitalia.

Posted by
32265 posts

st,

I'd suggest using the train as it will most likely be both faster and cheaper (the length of the trip will depend on which of the three places you're departing from). I also like to avoid the usual airport hassles whenever possible. With air travel you'd have to consider time to & from airports, check-in, security, waiting, boarding & deplaning, etc. Overall that usually takes longer (sometime much longer) than going by train, especially if there are flight delays for whatever reason, and you're stuck on the tarmac for awhile.

It's difficult to give you a definite answer without knowing which of the three places you're departing from. One of the quickest and easiest trip appears to be a departure from Bologna Centrale at 08:38, arriving Lucerne at 13:41 (time 5H:03M, 1 change at Milano Centrale). The first segment is via high speed Freccia and the second via EuroCity. It doesn't get any easier than that, and it will be a a pleasant and relaxing trip (compared to cramped airline seating, restrictive baggage rules with extra costs and the usual "dog & pony show" of air travel these days).

Posted by
58 posts

Ken
Where can I find those train times you are referring to? The one Bologna to Lucerne. Seems the Swiss rail site won't show it. Do you know when Sept routes will show?

Posted by
8889 posts

stlevine "Where can I find those train times you are referring to? The one Bologna to Lucerne" - these times are on the Swiss Railways site, they have been available for some time. Swiss times up to December have been available since last December, and Italian times for a few weeks now.
Just go to www.sbb.ch and enter Bologna Centrale to Luzern, and a date and time:

Bologna Centrale depart 08:38 ES 9504, Milano Centrale arrive 09:42
Milano Centrale depart 09:55 EC 310, Luzern arrive 13:41

Posted by
32265 posts

st,

I used the Bahn.de (German Rail) website to research trips from each of the cities you mentioned. That website can be used to research rail trips for most of Europe.

If you want to buy advance tickets for rail trips in Italy (or Germany, France and Spain), I'd recommend www.captaintrain.com and for trips in Switzerland use the sbb.ch website (Captain Train doesn't yet handle Swiss rail transactions).

Posted by
11485 posts

Ken,

Captain Train does allow one to book trips between Switzerland and Italy (and other countries for that matter). You just cannot book on SBB in Switzerland.

Posted by
32265 posts

Laurel,

Thanks, I forgot to mention that. Depending on the destination in Switzerland, it may be possible to book a trip from Italy into Switzerland (or other countries) using Captain Train.

I got a good view of the limitations of Captain Train last year on a trip from Bologna to Salzburg. I couldn't book the entire trip with them, since they don't yet handle trains in Austria. I booked the segment from Bologna to Verona on Captain Train, and then booked the next segment using the ÖBB website. It worked very well.