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Switzerland Train Travel

We will traveling to Switzerland in Sept.2014. What would be the best way to include The Golden Pass, William Tell Express, Glacier Express and the Bernia Express winding up in Lugano, Italy.
We would like to spend about 12 days, but not limited to that time frame. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance. Michele

Posted by
2829 posts

First of all, Lugano is located in Switzerland, not Italy.

Second, I think you are too focused on named-trains.

You could start your trip in Genève or Lausanne, visit Zermatt, from there go to Interlaken (or somewhere else up on the Lauterbrunnen valley), visit the moutains there, go to Luzern, then to St. Mortiz via Andermatt, then to Tirano, then to Lugano changing trains (avoid the crappy bus at all costs).

You could spread stops along that general route as pleased. Try to stay at least 5 nights between Zermatt and Interlaken so that you can have a good shot at excellent weather at least one of those days.

Yet, I'd focus less on these named trains and try to divide my time better between Alpine locations, cutting out the ride on the Bernina Express and substituting boat rides from Interlaken for the William Tell Express.

Posted by
2918 posts

That is a lot of train travel. I agree with Andre that the William Tell is redundant, as it would take you to Lugano twice if you do the whole Bernina Express. But I also suggest you skip the bus ride to Lugano.

So here is how you can do all the rest on the named scenic trains that you listed:

Fly into Zurich and head straight to Lucerne ( only an hour away). Spend 2 nights there and take a boat ride to cover what you would on the William Tell. I suggest the Rigi loop by boat, cogwheel train and cablecar then boat again. It is wonderful.

From Lucerne take the Golden Pass route as far as Interlaken, and transfer to Lauterbrunnen 20 min. Away. Spend 2-3 nights in Lauterbrunnen or a mountain village. Then return to Interlaken and continue on the Golden Pass route to Montreux.

Spend 1 or 2 nights in Montreux, then head to Zermatt. One night there and take the Glacier Express to St. Moritz. You can spend a night or two in either St. Moritz or Pontresina and then take the Bernina Express to Tirano. At Tirano, instead of catching the bus to Lugano, ride the train to Varenna on Lake Como. Very pretty village.

It is only hour by train from Varenna to Milan. At Milan you can either end your journey and catch a plane home, or transfer to a train back into Switzerland. The direct route back to Zurich goes through LugNo, so if it is really on your must-do list you can spend a night there. Then continue to Zurich for your flight home if that is your flight plan. The train between Lugano and Zurich will cover the train portion of the William Tell.