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Zurich to Milan in 8 Days

My husband and I are trying to get our travel fix before popping any young one's out someday, and are trying to plan our first wedding anniversary trip. We are looking to fly into Zurich the evening of 9/18 (Friday) and then fly out of Milan midday on Sunday (9/28). We'd like to do some train travel to see the sites throughout our time there and stop off at all the little towns.

If we wanted to spend the last couple of days in Lake Como and Milan, what are the best routes and towns to stop off on within these 8 days or so? What train stations are they near, etc. etc. Any info would be helpful for us to plan this out!

Posted by
16894 posts

Rather than spending time in Zurich, even though I have enjoyed a day there, I'd head straight to Luzern. Then, Rick's top choice in Switzerland is certainly a couple of days in the Berner Oberland. The scenic route to Italy is via St. Moritz or Pontresina, along the general route of the Bernina Express. Most train schedules will give you results as far as Tirano, on the Swiss/Italian border, but for schedules from Tirano to Varenna (on Lake Como) to Milan, see www.trenord.it. For all kinds of transportation within Switzerland, a Swiss Pass gives you a lot of coverage and is very flexible to use. For the Italian trains, just buy tickets as you go (less than 20 euros per person in 2nd class to get to Milan).

Posted by
6898 posts

Ellen, here are a couple of quick thoughts. I agree with a quick departure of Zurich. My wife and I are not big city people on our vacations. You may have to spend 9/18 in Zurich if your arrival is really that late. Or, if not, it's only just over an hour train ride to Lucerne from the Zurich Airport train station. Great wakeup on 9/19. Spend night #2 9/19 in Lucerne. In the afternoon of 9/20 take the Golden Pass scenic train from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost. Then, take the Berner Oberland Bahn local train into Lauterbrunnen and then take the Muerren BLM gondola across the street from the train station up to Grutshalp and then the short cog wheel train ride into Muerren. Stay in a nice hotel with views over the cliff. Outstanding world class views. Stay 9/20, 9/21 and 9/22 in Muerren. Use the 2 full days to tour the area and possibly visit the two great mountain tops there. If you intend to visit these mountain tops, I suggest a Swiss half-fare card be purchased on your arrival in Zurich for 130CHF. It will pay off if you do visit the two mountain tops. Muerren is just below the Schilthorn. On 9/23, take the train to Pontresina. This is a long train ride. 7.0hrs with up to five transportation changes. Not an easy or short trip but a great set up to take the Bernina Express into Italy. On 9/24, take the Bernina Express to Tirano, Italy and then the train to Varenna-Esino on Lake Como. Spend 9/24 and 9/25 at Lake Como. On 9/26, take the short train ride into Milan and spend the nights of 9/26 and 9/27 there. With your departure at Malpensa at midday on 9/28, an early departure out of Milan for the airport will be just fine. Just arrive for check-in at least 2.0hrs early.

Posted by
2 posts

So I'm having trouble figuring out the best swiss pass that we would buy. If we are there for 9-10 nights, I'm seeing that an 8 day pass is close to $880... that seems terribly expensive for train tickets? That's as much as our flights are costing! Am I looking at this wrong? Any recommendations?

Posted by
20309 posts

The one month half fare card Larry mentioned is the best way to go. The $880 you mentioned would be the cost of 2 8-day passes with you and your husband traveling independently. The 8-day Saver Pass would be $800 if you both traveled together all the time. Nonetheless, this is not your best deal. It would save you only about $45 total over paying full fare assuming you intend to get round trips to both the Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn. The half fare card for 120 chf each, will save you about $340 total (300 chf). You will still be paying about $925 (825 chf), but some of those rail journeys are pricey. Just the Jungfraujoch is 200 chf pp rt, without discount. If you skip the Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn trips, the half fare card is a wash, but will pay off with any other train/bus rides.

Posted by
6898 posts

Just remember that no Swiss pass or card will cover more than 50% of train fare from Wengen to the Jungfraujoch or from Muerren to the Shilthorn. Thus, if you are going to the tops of these two mountains, you still will pay half the fare even though you spent $800 or so on the best Swiss passes.

Another alternative is the Swiss Transfer ticket. This ticket is designed for travelers who enter Switzerland, travel to a single destination and then depart Switzerland. The arrival and departure locations do not have to be the same. This ticket permits you to enter Switzerland, travel free to your Swiss destination, spend your time at this single destination and then free travel to depart Switzerland. While you are at your destination, the ticket becomes a 1/2 fare card. This means that you probably could not spend the extra night in Lucerne and then travel the next day to the Berner Oberland. Also, you might have to buy this ticket at the Zurich airport train station as every train station is not an entry station for this ticket.