I are going to Switzerland for 3 days and 2 nights in late April. I want to take the Bernina Express to Tirano, then take a bus to Lugano. However, I will have to go from Munich, Germany. How should I plan my trip, and where should I go first from Munich? Please help! Any suggestions are appreciated. Thank you so much!
Luna, As you're heading TO Tirano, you'll probably want to start in Chur. The trip from Munich to Chur is ~4 - 5 hours, with 1-3 changes. Since you'd likely arrive in Chur in mid-afternoon, you'll probably have to stay for one night, as the Bernina Express departs at 08:32 (AFAIK). The Bus trip from Tirano to Lugano is quite pleasant, and there will be at least one stop for coffee or "WC break". You'll arrive at the rail station in Lugano (which is above the town), and from there you can either take a Taxi to your Hotel or take the small Funicular down to the main part of town. Which option to choose will likely depend on where your Hotel is located, and whether you feel like walking with luggage. Happy travels!
Thank you very much, Ken. What you sugguested is what I had in mind. However, after reading Rick Steve's article, it seems to me that there isn't anything to see in Chur, and he doesn't recommend staying over night in Chur. That's why I want to know if there is a better plan. Should I arrive in Bern or even Lucern instead (then I will have something to do/see during the half day), and then take the Golden express next morning? Although Golden express doesn't take me to Tirano. :( Maybe I should just stay around the interlaken area? Thanks again for your feedback.
You really have 2 nights and one full day "in" Switzerland, plus a day on either side getting there from Munich and then riding the train. If you truly want to ride the Bernina Express, but not stay in Chur, you could go from Munich to Luzern (6.5 hours by train). Spend 2 nights there (giving you a full day to explore Luzern) then take the train to Chur (2 hours) and pick up the Bernina Express, but you'll have to leave Luzern very early if you want to catch the "official" Bernina Express. You could also leave later and ride a regional train over the same tracks to Tirano on on to Varenna, skipping the bus trip to Lugano. Or if your goal is Lugano, you could go from Luzern via Arth-Goldau and the Gotthard route instead of the Bernina Express. That is an easy trip of 2.5 hours, and there are trains every 2 hours that make the trip with no changes. Frankly, late April would not be my choice of times to ride the Bernina Express. It will be the end of ski season, which means mixed snow and mud in the landscape. (Same will be tru of the Berner Oberland regiona around Interlaken) Lower elevation lakeside places (such as Luzern and Lugano), on the other hand, could be quite pleasant and spring-like. You can see a map of the Swiss train system, so see how the various routes relate to one another, by Googling "Swiss synoptic map".
Wow... I can't believe how much help I am getting from here. Thank you so much, Lola! You are right! I only have 2 nights and 1 full day in Switzerland. I was told by a friend that Bernina Express is the coolest ride on Earth. That's why I want to make it happen during my short stay. However, if late April isn't the best time for Bernina Express, then I would definitely skip it to save some time. After all, I don't want to spend most of my time on the train in Switzerland. So the better plan for me is probably go to Luzern from Munich in the early morning and stay there for one night. Next morning, I will take the Arth-Godau and the Gotthard route (Is that the Golden Express route?) to Lugano. Stay in Lugano for one night, then the following morning go to a nearby town, then back to Munich in the afternoon. One more thing, I just realized I will be traveling during the Easter holiday for the Europeans. :( I don't like to book hotel in advance. I should be able to find a place to stay during the holiday season, right? Thanks again!
Hi Luna-yes, the Bernina Express is described by many as the most scenic of the "scenic" routes in Switzerland. In 4 trips there we have yet to make it over thereI keep intending to , but it is always a bit out of the way, and we don't like to spend all day on a train! I'd like to do it in June and break up the trip with a few days of hiking around Pontresina. If you can save it for another trip, when you can do it in summer when the snowy peaks will stand out in contrast to blue skies, green meadows, rugged rocks, and wildflowers, I think you might enjoy it more. When did your friend take the trip that he or she praised so highly? The Gotthard route is not the same as the Golden Pass route. The Golden Pass route goes from Luzern to Interlaken via a pass and along Lake Brienz, passing waterfalls and great scenery. But lovely scenery abounds in Switzerland and you'll see plenty of peaks and waterfalls (and a few short tunnels) on the gotthard route as well. It goes more or less straight south into Italy, passing through some alpine villages plus Bellinzona and Lugano on the way. If you don't get off in Lugano you can continue on to Como (on Lago di Como) or end at Milan. Reservations are required on this train as it is an Intercity (IC) train, but you can make them when you buy your ticket.
LunaI can't say for sure how crowded or not Luzern might be over Easter, but I did check one popular and well-located hotel (Hotel des Alpes) and they have rooms available on Easter weekend (both nights) and a nice special offer (158 CHF for room plus breakfast.) You might take a look and book that if it appeals to you. that is a very good price for Luzern (although there may be rooms in B&B's away from the center for less.) Nigelthanks for the recognition! I am going to try VERY hard to include the Bernina Express in our next trip, assuming it will again be in late June. And we'll be sure to visit Chur.
Lola, Thanks again. My friends went around June. I think I might just skip the Bernina Express this time, and take your advice to Lucerne first. :) Would I have trouble finding a hotel there during Easter holiday? Thanks again, Luna
Luna, I'm glad that you got Lola's advice, its exactly what I would have said but she said it so much better. June would be galaxies better than April for that route. BTW - Rick misses quite a few places in order to encourage people to stay where he thinks they would do best in a short first trip. I actually like Chur. Its a true town, not a tourist haven. It will never set the world on fire but it certainly is a lovely place. There are places in town and in the surrounding towns.
Nigel, Thank you for your input. Since Bernina Express isn't recommended in April. I will just go somewhere. I am almost certain that the south of Switzerland would be beautiful in Spring. :) Luna
AL, I had to google Heidleberg, and I love what I saw even though it is in Germany. :)
Are you suggesting me explore Germany first? Thank you for your recommendation. Luna
Lola, Thanks for the hotel recommendation. I checked out their website, and I really like it. The price is within my budget, so once I figure out my routes, I will probably go ahead book it. You have been a great help to me. I really appreciate your time and kindness. I hope you can make it to Chur and take the Bernina Express when you go to Switzerland again. All the best, Luna