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Swiss travel pass in Italy?

I plan to use my Swiss travel pass to take the Bernina express toward the end of my trip and spend a couple of days at Lago Maggiore and probably stay in Stressa. Then fly out of Milan.
How far will my pass get me? Is it good on the boat from Locarno to Stressa? Or the train?
Also where would you prefer to spend a couple of nights? Locarno or Lugano?
We are both in our 70s , like walks but not hikes. Thanks

Posted by
17752 posts

The Swiss Travel Pass map shows the pass works as far as Tirano. It won't get you all the way to Stresa, but fares on Italian regional trains and buses are very low, so it's just a matter of buying inexpensive tickets to cover the trips within Italy. I don't know whether there's a lake boat going all the way from Locarno to Stresa. There may be, but it seems as if that would be a long ride. I rather think there are Swiss boats serving the Swiss part of the lake and going as far south as Brissago and Italian boats working in the southern portion. However, there's a very worthwhile rail option; see below.

I have stayed in Lugano two or three times but have only passed through Locarno. All my visits were more than 20 years ago, but at that time I preferred the liveliness of Lugano. Locarno felt more like a staid, old-line resort town. However, there are a couple of really great day-trips from Locarno. They're manageable even if you're staying in Lugano, but they'd be more convenient from a base in Locarno. I am speaking of the Centovalli rail trip between Locarno and Domodossola, Italy, and the Postbus run up the Valle Verzasca in Switzerland. Both trips are covered by the Swiss Travel Pass.

I see there's an Italian rail link between Domodossola and Stresa, so you could take the very scenic Centovalli train (free with the STP) as far as Domodossola, then pick up a cheap Italian train for the rest of the trip. Italian rail schedules can be found at https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html. The Domodossola-Stresa trip takes about half an hour, and the service is fairly frequent, at least on weekdays; I didn't look at the weekend days.

The Centovalli schedule can be found on the Swiss SBB website: https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html. There are six direct trains each weekday taking about 2 hours. Again, I didn't look at the schedules for Saturday and Sunday.

Posted by
802 posts

My daughter is currently attending university in Lugano. We were just there for a month and did not run out of things to do, places to walk, boat trips to take. I can't comment on Locarno because we never made it over there. We did take day trips out of Lugano; we liked Bellinzona and Como a lot.

I've been to Lake Maggiore several times, including Stresa, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Sounds like a great plan.

Posted by
73 posts

Wow!! What a wonderful map. Thank you so much for enlightening me. You guys are so full of wonderful information to help me research. I'm sure ill have many more questions.
Trying to figure out my route and how many days to spend where. Trying to run out my 15 days in Switzerland and end up in Italy without adding too much more transportation money.
Again, thanks so much

Posted by
15690 posts

Italian Regional trains are very inexpensive, especially compared to Swiss trains. Tirano to Milano Centrale is only 11.50 EUR and there is a train just about every hour and it takes 2 1/2 hours running along the length of the east shore of Lake Como.