Please sign in to post.

Rail travel from Lucerne to Milan in a day

We need to travel from Lucerne to Milan in one day by rail on September 17th. We are happy to dedicate the entire day to this adventure and want to incorporate the Bernina Express route in the trip. We want to be sure to see that section in particular during daylight hours. We'd like to arrive in Milan by 8:30 PM if possible. What is the prettiest route to travel between these 2 points and how many hours do you think it will take? ( I seem to be incapable of navigating the sbb.ch website effectively.) Are there any towns along the route that are 'Must Sees'? Thanks so much!

Posted by
16878 posts

To see most of the Bernina Express route, you'd request a schedule from Luzern to Tirano from SBB or DB but specify a "stopover" in Chur, to help define the route, which takes about 7 hours; routes with 3 connections depart about 6:30, 7:30, 8:30. For direct trains from Tirano to Milan Centrale station (2.5 hours, depart hourly, runs along Lake Como), see regional train schedules at Trenitalia.com or www.trenord.it/EN. For instance, if you leave Luzern at 8:30 and arrive at Tirano at 16:20, you could depart Tirano at 17:00 and arrive Milan at 19:40. This timing doesn't allow time to stop and see a town, it's just a drive-by, but you could gain a few hours by leaving earlier.

Posted by
31325 posts

Shirley,

There only appears to be one departure south on the Bernina Express per day, departing at 08:32 from Chur. It is possible to connect with that, but it will mean a very early departure from Lucerne. I believe this is the route that Laura was referring to, as listed on the bahn.de website.....

  • Depart Lucerne at 06:10, arriving Zürich Hb at 06:56 via IR-2308
  • Depart Zürich Hb at 07:07, arriving Chur at 08:22 via IC-10759
  • Depart Chur at 08:32, arriving Tirano at 12:36 via D-951 (reservations compulsory)

Although there's only a 10 minute connecting time to the Bernina Express when you arrive in Chur, I doubt that will be a problem (although no guarantees). The Swiss are very precise, and the trains will probably be right on time. When you arrive in Tirano, you'll be running on the streets through town, which is kind of unusual.

From Tirano, there's a departure to Milano Centrale at 13:10, arriving at 15:40 (time 2H:30M). That will be a Regionale, so DON'T forget to validate your tickets prior to boarding the train or you'll face hefty fines which will be collected on the spot! That's a good time to arrive in a new city, as your hotel room should be ready and you'll have time for a brief walkabout before dinner.

On the Bernina Express, as I recall the best views will be seated on the right side (when facing the front). With the Panorama cars, it's sometimes difficult to get good photos due to the glare from the glass (if you have a DSLR, a polarizing filter sometimes helps).

Also on the train from Tirano to Milan, I'd suggest sitting on the right side (when facing the front), as that will provide the best views of Lago di Como. You'll pass Varenna when you're about an hour out of Milan. There are no seat reservations on Regionale trains, so the choice of seats will be "first come, first served".

Buon Viaggio!

Posted by
86 posts

Thank you, Ken! I am thinking we will attempt to take a train from Chur on that goes on the Bernina Express route but isn't necessarily the official Bernina Express train. I'm hoping there are some leaving later in the day!!

Posted by
31325 posts

Shirley,

You're very welcome! Check the sbb.ch or bahn.de websites for the specific departure times. If you can make it to Chur by 10:58, that's probably the one I'd use (arriving Tirano at 16:21). The latest departure you could use from Lucerne would be 08:35.

That train from Chur to Tirano has a 47 minute layover in St. Moritz, so provides time for a short lunch and brief look at a posh town.