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Travel options from Lucerne to Munich

My wife and I are scheduled to explore explore Switzerland (4 nights) and the Munich area (3 nights) following a river cruise in early July. We are both retired but very active. Neither of us have visited Munich so we decided to end the trip by flying back to the States from there. We will be traveling to Munich from Lucerne and looking for best options -- train from Lucerne to Zurich to Munich -- or is there a more manageable, scenic route that might be more enjoyable -- something like a train from Lucerne to the Appenzell area and then bus and/or train to Munch? While travel is part of the adventure we don't want to make a full day of it. Suggestions/ideas?

Posted by
20032 posts

There is an hourly train that SBB has been promoting called the Voralpen-Express, which said to be quite scenic. Luzern to St Gallen. Then pick up the EC train to Munich.

Posted by
6883 posts

You can take the direct "Voralpen Express" from Luzern to St Gallen, and change there for the train to Munich. It is still very manageable time-wise, it does not add connections, and it is much more scenic than the route via Zürich. It only adds about one hour of travel time (5.5 hours total instead of 4.5).

EDIT: well, Sam beat me to it ;)

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks Sam, this sounds like a terrific option to check out. I didn't see a train listed from St. Gallen to Munich on the map. Haven't bought a Swiss Pass or any train tickets yet so I suppose it is time to get with it.

Posted by
6883 posts

The "EuroCity" (abbr. EC) train from Zürich to Munich makes a stop in St. Gallen.

Posted by
20032 posts

To see this route on the SBB journey planner, put "Uznach" in the Via box. SBB will always show the quickest way, so you have to tweak it by showing an intermediate station on the route you want.

Posted by
19092 posts

Depending on how much time you have, you might consider taking the train from St Galen to Rohrschach, then the boat across Bodensee to Lindau, and a train from there to Munich.

Posted by
6347 posts

If you are willing to take a bit of a detour, the route via Innsbruck is a very scenic option.

Posted by
5 posts

I appreciate all of the suggestions. Sam, you are clearly an expert on SBB booking++. If you don't mind a quick question, when I went to book fare for the route you highlighted I don't see an option for booking with a Swiss Pass discount. Is there one? I need a 5 day continuous Swiss Pass, although my options seem either 4 day or 6 day continuous pass. If there is nothing to gain with a Swiss Pass for the Luzern to Munich routing via St. Gallen then the best option seems to be a 4 day Swiss Pass and just purchase the Luzern to Munich as a direct trip. Is that your read as well? Thanks, Jim

Posted by
20032 posts

How much exploring of Switzerland are you planning on in 4 days? Specifically what are your plans? We know you start in Basel on day 1 and end up in Luzern on day 4.

To get the price from Luzern to Munich with a Swiss Travel Pass, when you proceed to purchase, it will ask for pass info for Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Under Switzerland, from the drop down menu, click on GA 2nd class (assume you are getting a 2nd class pass).

Posted by
5 posts

Day 1: Basel to Murren day 1 arriving early afternoon.
Day 2: Late afternoon train to Luzern
Day 3 and 4: Luzern and area
Day 5: Luzern to Munch

Posted by
20032 posts

OK, let me read between the lines here. I am going to guess (and I could be wrong) that you will want to go up to the top of the Schilthorn while you are in Muerren. Also that you will want to do something similar in Luzern. Since you seem to be planning on getting a Swiss Travel Pass, Rigi Kulm is covered by that and you will likely to want to take a boat ride as part of that journey. So here are the full fare prices for these trips (Swiss portion in the case of travel to Munich).

Day 1: Basel to Murren day 1 arriving early afternoon. 79.20 CHF pp
Day 2: Late afternoon train to Luzern 51.80 CHF pp
Day 3 and 4: Luzern and area
Day 5: Luzern to Munch 61.00 CHF (to Swiss border) pp
Muerren-Schilthorn-Muerren 85.60 CHF pp
Luzern-Rigi-Luzern with boat to Vitznau on the way 131.00 CHF pp
Total full fare Swiss tickets are 409.20 CHF pp

I looked at 4 ticketing strategies: Half Fare Card, 4-day Flex Travel Pass (no usage Day 2), 6-day Travel Pass, no Pass.
The lowest cost is the Half Fare Card costing 120 CHF pp, which comes to 324.60 CHF pp
Next lowest cost is the 6-day Travel Pass costing 359 CHF pp, which comes to 401.80 CHF pp
Next lowest cost is no Pass costing 409.20 CHF pp
Most expensive is the 4-day Flex Pass costing 323 CHF pp, which comes to 417.60 pp

The Half Fare Card almost always gives the lowest out-of-pocket costs for travel in Switzerland. You do have to buy tickets for each journey. Also, considering that there is no guarantee of good weather on the days you choose to take scenic excursions and may not do them for that reason, the Half Fare Card mitigates the risk.

Posted by
5 posts

Wow, thanks Sam! This is a great analysis. I was working toward it too slowly as we determined sites to see. Your assumptions are absolutely right -- which I guess means we will be joining a long line of tourists. Good call on cost of potential weather impact on a short trip. I assume I can buy and reserve in advance certain train routing using the half card. That leaves buying the site seeing options as we go at the half card discount, and saving dollars in the event weather forces abandonment.