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Hi- Four of us are traveling in October from Zurich, where we land, straight to Lauterbrunnen. How long should we give ourselves from landing time of the plane, to get through customs and hop on a train? What is the easiest/fastest way to get there by train and should we buy tickets in advance? We plan to ebike in Interlaken one day (any good recommendations of who to book through?) and go to Jungfrau another day (again, any thoughts on who to book through?). We have another day in Lauterbrunnen if there are any good thoughts on what to do that day. We are then going to train over to Fluelen and hop on the Gotthard Express down to Bellinzona. We have an Airbnb in Ascona for a few nights and then need to get to Milan to fly to Naples. Any and all thoughts are appreciated on best travel routes, train passes, hired drivers, short bus rides or other great things to do.
Thanks in advance-Adrienne

Posted by
6879 posts

Can't say much about time to disembark and pass through immigration in Zürich, but it does not matter much, because you do not need to book trains in Switzerland - except some special named express trains.
So, you can just hop on the next train to Bern, and change there for Interlaken Ost (sometimes another change is needed in Spiez), where you catch a local train to Lauterbrunnen.
Full fares are high: you will need some sort of rail card; have a look at the Swiss Travel Pass for maximum convenience (you won't need to buy train tickets from town to town!), or at the Half Fare Card for usually slightly larger savings, but less convenience. Use the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) journey planner to look at routes, and remember that prices shown will assume that you have a Half-Fare card because most swiss residents have such a yearly card (so double them to get an idea of full fares!).

Regarding your activities in Lauterbrunnen:

  • There is not much to see in Interlaken so I do not see the point of e-biking there, unless it is actually a mountain biking tour?

  • Jungfrau is highly weather-dependent and it is very expensive. You can reserve seats at but I would not, because of the weather risks. Check webcams before you go!

  • Schilthorn is much cheaper than Jungfrau and less massified. Most people here prefer it to Jungfrau...and you get to see the Jungfrau range! No snow or ice up there in a usual October, though (unlinke Jungfrau).

  • other ideas include Männlichen, the waterfalls in the Lauterbunnen valley, the hike from First to Bachalpsee (or Faulhorn if you're fit) above Grindelwald... Tons of options.

To get from Lauterbrunnen to Ascona, you will need to do the following:

  • train back to Interlaken Ost

  • "Luzern-Interlaken Express" to Luzern

  • "Treno Gottardo" from Luzern to Locarno (sometimes there is a change in Arth-Goldau, and specify "via Goeschenen" when you do the search on SBB, otherwise you will be routed through the faster but boring base tunnel instead of the scenic Gotthard Railway)

  • bus to Ascona, a very short ride

From Ascona to Naples, I would not fly. Reaching a Milan airport (Malpensa or Linate) will take almost 3 hours, and you need a buffer to account for possible train delays (rare in Switzerland, less rare in Italy) and/or bus delays (if you go to Linate), so should leave Ascona at the very least 5 hours before your flight. Then it's a one-hour flight, and you need to disembark and get to the city center.
Yet you could just take the bus to Locarno then train from Locarno to Naples (change in Milan) in 7.5 hours.

Posted by
2661 posts

Just adding some airport info. I’ve flown into Zurich twice in the last year and have been super impressed with the Swiss efficiency. My trip last month I was off the plane, short stop at passport control, collected my suitcase, grabbed a sandwich at Brezelkonig and was on my train in less than half an hour. It was that quick both times.

If you decide to get a Swiss Travel Pass, as I had, you don’t even have to stop to buy a ticket. Just check the time on the SBB app and hop on any train you want. Look for the journeys with the least amount of train changes. The app will give you that info. And if you do need to buy a ticket for the train, there are super helpful train employees wandering near the ticket machines to offer assistance if needed.

Switzerland is super easy to travel around in and people are friendly if you need help.

Have a great trip!!

Posted by
16178 posts

Just to expand upon Balso’s suggestions on getting to Ascona:

Your stated plan is to take the train from Luzern down to Flüelen to catch the Gotthard Panorama Express train. This goes over the Alps (mostly) on the old Gotthard Pass route, instead of using the Gotthard Basistunnel like the fast trains. Good idea. But the Gotthard Panorama Express train goes to Lugano, so you plan to get off at Bellinzona and to Ascona from there. There is a much simpler way get to Ascona, which is basically a suburb of Locarno. The Treno Gottardo connects Luzern and Locarno directly, with no changes on the way. (this is only in German or Italian).

This is a regional train which makes all the stops along the way and takes 3 hours to cover the distance between Luzern and Locarno. There are departures from Luzern at 9:18, 11:18, 13:18, etc. it is listed on the SBB webpage as IR 26. You can touch the dark line between Luzern and Locarno ( with no dots showing change points) to open the route, and touch the “+” sign to see all the stops, to be sure that it does not go through the tunnel. The even-hour departures at 00:18, such as 10:@8, 12:18, etc., are EC (Eurocity) trains that do go through the tunnel, so watch out.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi and thanks everyone!! Great info so far.
Two of us backpacked through Europe in 1980 and spent some time in Spitz. We thought an ebike day around the two lakes, stopping along the way, would be nice-
Welcome your thoughts….

Posted by
16178 posts

Sounds like fun. I would bike around Brienzersee first, stopping at Giessbach to see the waterfall and maybe have lunch on the deck there.

Then complete the loop around that lake at Interlaken and ride to Spiez, or other sights around Thunersee you wish to re-visit.

Posted by
483 posts

Bike rental link:

My husband and I often ride around the lake of Thun on our e-bikes on a Sunday morning. We bring a picnic breakfast and stop at one of the many benches and enjoy the view. Haven’t yet done this on the Lake of Brienz but I am sure it would be equally as enjoyable.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all! Such helpful information. We appreciate you taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi! We’re traveling around Switzerland for eight days and wondering if better to buy second class Swiss travel pass and upgrade for
Luzern- interlaken express and treno gottardo.
Those are our two long train routes.
Any other insights in to travel is appreciated. We are landing in Zurich and heading straight to lauterbrunnen, staying for four nights, then going to ascona for two nights.
Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

Posted by
4385 posts

I'm surprised no one suggested not trying to do a straight Zurich-Lauterbrunnen run after a long transatlantic flight. Depending on the time, perhaps you want to crash at an airport hotel or in Zurich?

Posted by
768 posts

Booking the Jungfrau: You can do it right at the Lauterbrunnen train station, avoiding any commissions. I would highly recommend deciding to buy it the morning OF that day, because you can look up to the mountain that morning and see if it is clouding over. If it is, try another day for that, or do something else like lower hikes or Trummelbach Falls.

Posted by
17 posts

Zurich customs: when we landed in Zurich this past July, it took us around 45 minutes to get through Passport Control. But it will probably be much less time for you in October. You can check the SBB app for timetables and connections, but I think it would take about 2 hours from the Zurich airport to Interlaken, or 3 to Murren. There are several trains per day going in that direction so just take the next train once you get to the station (across the street from the airport in the hotel/food court). No need to book train tickets in advance, and I'd recommend 2nd class. Depending on how many days you'll be in Switzerland it may be cost-effective and less time-consuming to buy a travel pass. .I don't think taking trains after a long flight is a problem; we took trains after landing to Appenzell (opposite direction from Interlaken) and got there in less than 2 hours -- not a problem.

As for the Jungfraujoch, be sure to check the webcams in the morning before deciding to go. Many hotels in the Lauterbrunnen area have a webcam TV channel or you can look it up on the Jungfraujoch's website.