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Train from Zurich Airport to Lucerne--Help!!!!

First time international traveler (other than one trip arranged totally by the military 45 years ago!) and I am really struggling with trying to figure out the train connection from Zurich Airport to Lucerne on Sunday, Aug. 6. The first problem I have is what website to look at--I have been told both and When I look at the latter website, when I put in Luzern I get a whole multitude of choices that I have no idea what they mean...or where they are: Luzern Verkehrshaus, Luzern Gutsch, Luzern Wey, Luzern Bruel, Luzern Eggen, Luzern Tiefe, Luzern Europe, Luzern Gisel.... I just want to go to our hotel in the center of Luzern! Which one do I pick? When I put in Lucerne in the RailEurope it comes up with the abbreviation QLJ--is that where I am going? There seems to be no explanation on either site of what the abbreviations, etc. mean. I am so confused! Anyone out there have some counsel to give to an old, confused man? Thanks!

Posted by
1443 posts

Stick to the SBB web site. Choose the plain "Luzern" option. That's the central station. There are multiple departures per hour from the Zurich airport to Luzern. The departure boards and platforms are easy to follow. If confused, ask a SBB official. And if you miss your train, relax. Another one is leaving in 30 minutes.

Posted by
262 posts

Use the website as this is the official website. Enter Zurich Airport to Luzern and select the first one. The exit from Zurich airport to the train is well marked. There is a sign at the train station which indicates which platform your train will depart. At the platform, there is another sign which indicates the next train departing. No reservations are required, only a valid ticket in hand when you board, which you can purchase from an agent during business hours or the machines.

Posted by
4637 posts

Trains depart every half an hour. I would recommend - make it easier for yourself. Take a direct train which goes every hour. They alternate: direct train, half an hour later train which goes somewhere else and you have to change in Zurich Hauptbahnhof then half an hour later again direct train to Luzern and so on. We just did this ride in May. The only little problem we had was to buy tickets from the machine. It did not accept our credit cards. We had to withdraw cash from ATM and pay with it.

Posted by
25 posts

You can purchase the ticket via the ticket machine at Zurich airport, but there's also the SBB ticket counter/center close to the arrival area if you want to speak to an SBB customer service rep when you purchase the ticket. The only thing is you'll wait in a long line since it's peak travel season.

Posted by
8889 posts

This is simple, no advance planning needed.
There is one train every 30 minutes from Zürich Flughafen (Zurich Airport) to Luzern. One train per hour is direct (no changes), the other one requires a change at Zürich HB (Zurich main station). It takes about 70 minutes in both cases. It costs CHF 30, assuming you have no rail pass

But, you can't predict when you will get out of the airport, immigration could be fast or slow, the plane could be late or early. So there is no point in deciding on a train in advance.

When you emerge from arrivals at Zürich airport, just follow signs "Bahn/Railway", This will take you to the station. At the ticket office, ask for a ticket to Luzern, they speak English. The ticket seller will also tell you when the next train is and where to catch it - easy!

Posted by
1824 posts

I just did this in May.

A couple of things I'll add. I used the ticket office as the wait was short when I was there. I was able to use my chip and signature card there. I used the machine in Bern and it took my card too, so it's worth a try.

Here's a YouTube video of how to get to the train station from terminal 2. It's actually quite easy. When you see the Coop store you're basically there. BTW the Coop is a good place to pick up snacks and drinks for the ride.

There's a similar video for terminal 1.

Forgot to mention. There are electronic displays inside the train cars that list the next station. They are also announced on the PA.

Posted by
11294 posts

"The first problem I have is what website to look at--I have been told both and"

Unless you have a SPECIFIC reason to use Rail Europe, avoid it. It does not list all trains, and can mark up the prices of trains it does sell.

Even easier to use than Swiss Rail is the Bahn (German rail) website; however, it does not give prices for trains that do not start or end in Germany. This is the site, and here is Rick's tutorial on using it:

Posted by
33003 posts

The reason you get so many answers after Luzern is that those are bus stops. The transportation is all one integrated system in Switzerland, running like - well - a Swiss watch. Regardless of who owns and operates the trains, cable cars, buses, ships, trams, electric buses, etc., they can all be found on the SBB website. So if you knew the bus stop name nearest your hotel the system would walk you through the whole procedure, all the way from the airport to your bus stop. It will give you which platform trains are on, which bus stop to walk to, how long to walk - everything. Play around with the website, treat it like an adventure. Click on things and see what happens. Most things are clickable, one way or the other. If you click on the destination you can work your way around to seeing a three dimensional map of the station and where and what all the different stores and shops are (the station is called Luzern City for a reason, there's lots going on).

Which is your hotel, by the way?

Posted by
11 posts

Staying at the Cascada the first night and then joining the Rick Steves tour at Des Alpes the next nights. Thanks for the info!

Posted by
33003 posts

no bus needed for the first night then - adjacent to the station, 5 minutes walking from the door.

Just go out the little door on the far left (by the Burger King) (be careful, I think that there may a step or two to the outside) on Zentralstrasse and turn left.