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travel from Lausanne, Switzerland to Varenna, Italy

I have a Swiss rail 15 day travel pass. I am trying to figure out the connections to travel from Lausanne, Switzerland to Varenna, Italy. I would like to take the Glacier Express from Brig to Andermatt and then transfer somehow at Goschenen (?) to the William Tell express to Lugano. At Lugano I would take the bus to Varenna. Can I do this and is there anyway I can do it in 1 day? I think my travel pass will cover all the costs except for reservations on the 2 express trains.

Posted by
8889 posts

Complicated route.
You first problem is that there is no bus from Lugano to Varenna. Lake Como is in between! You need to take a bus from Lugano to Menaggio, then a ferry across the lake to Varenna.
And restricting yourself to the "Glacier Express" and the "William Tell Express" is causing problems. These are extra tourist trains that run 1-2 times per day. A lot easier to just use the regular hourly trains on that route, and also you then don't need reservations.

Train route: Lausanne -Brig - Andermatt - Göschenen - Lugano
Go to the SBB website:
Enter: From: Lausanne, to: Lugano, date and time, and add: Via Andermatt. If you don't specify "via Andermatt" it will show the faster route via Luzern and the long Gotthard base tunnel.
This should give you lots of options through the day. If you click on each one it will expand and show the trains involved.

Bus Lugano to Menaggio
This is often discussed on this site. Details here:
Half way down it mentions the bus C12 from Lugano. Timetable here:

Ferry Menaggio to Varenna. Times here:

You Swiss Pass only covers you on Swiss transport, you will have to pay for the (Italian) bus and ferry.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you Chris. You are a great help. I have it figured out how to get it done. However, when I tried to book my route and pay a reservation fee for the Glacier Express it would not let me input my swiss travel pass flex. Therefore, it wanted to charge me as a 1/2 fare card holder. There was a message that showed up for a second that they were having problems with their site. Hopefully they will fix that before my time for the Glacier Express fills up. Do you have any suggestions? I tried to send messages, but couldn't find the right source.

Posted by
8889 posts

mweichers, as I said, don't get hung up on going by the actual Glacier Express. There are regular trains on that route (and every other train line in Switzerland) once per hour, and you see the same mountains out of the window. Just pick a train at a suitable time.
The regular trains don't have reservations.

If you want to reserve seats on the branded Glacier Express, try looking for the "GA"option. The GA is an annual pass sold to residents, with the same coverage as a tourist Swiss Pass. The same issue applies to GA holders, getting a reservation when they already have a ticket.