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Modifying Rick Steves Train itinerary if starting from Milan

I will be flying in and out of Milan. I have around 14 days in first week of August and will be spending most of it in Switzerland. Family of 4 (2 kids + 2 adults).

I am starting to lean towards taking the train instead of driving. Two options I see are below

Option 1 (misses Bern)
Milan --> Lugano (1 day easy) --> Pontresina (bernina Express) --> 1 day easy at Pontresina --> Zermatt (Glacier Express) --> 1 day at Zeermatt --> Lausanne 2 days --> Interlaken (Golden Pass) --> 3 days in Jungfrau area --> Luzern (remaining Golden pass) 1 day --> Lugano (via Gotthard Panorama) + Como --> Milan 1 day --> FLy

Option 2 (1 day less at Lausanne, adds Bern and adds misses Interlaken-->Luzern golden pass )
Milan --> Lugano (1 day easy) --> Pontresina (bernina Express) --> 1 day easy at Pontresina --> Zermatt (Glacier Express) --> 1 day at Zeermatt --> Lausanne 1 day --> Interlaken (Golden Pass) --> 3 days in Jungfrau area --> Bern 1 day --> Luzern 1 day --> Lugano (via Gotthard Panorama) + Como --> Milan 1 day --> FLy

Some questions I would love to get opinions about:

  1. Which one would you recommend Option 1 or Option 2?

  2. Any modifications or side-trips you recommend? I will be spending 3 days in Jungfrau (Murren)

  3. Should I make Jungfrau 4 days (make Lausanne 1 day in Option 1 and cut off Bern)

  4. Milan to Lugano: Is this scenic or can I just do it at night to save some time? How is traveling in the Flixbus (seems cheapest option) for this part.

  5. Does Switzerland also have good local busses within the city (some AirBnbs are not next to the train station). If not, how expensive are the taxis and how do I get one?

Posted by
650 posts

Yes, I agree with the others that Switzerland is best by using the excellent and fun trains! Glad to see that you have decided to travel by train.

I recommend spending more time in the Alps and less in the Swiss cities. Try to eliminate some of those 1 night stays. We visited Bern as a day trip on our way up to Murren. We simply put our luggage in the train lockers and followed Rick's city walk. Then you can add that night to Murren for a total of 4 nights.

Perhaps you can add a night to Zermatt by dropping Lausanne altogether.

Good luck! Switzerland is amazing!

Posted by
6539 posts

I think either option gives too little time for Luzern (Pilatus or Rigli). But your itinerary looks to be mostly about the scenic train rides. I'd skip Bern - its a nice city, but its not in the mountains, which is probably what you want to see in Switzerland.

If you're staying in Mürren, go up the Schilthorn.

I think most in most Swiss cities, your hotel will provide a free local bus pass for your stay.