I am traveling to switzerland for the 1st time this June 2013. Flying into Zurich then would like to travel by train down to Bellagio. What train/towns would be best? We thought about Zermatt is this a good place to stop? Is it best to buy point to point tickets or a pass? would like to stop at least 2 places. We are not interested in sking or hiking would like more the historical and culture of Switzerland. Thanks any help would be greatly appreciated!
"We thought about Zermatt is this a good place to stop?" We are not interested in sking or hiking would like more the historical and culture of Switzerland." Zetmatt is all about skiing and hiking, which is, of course, a big part of the culture of Switzerland. The other major part of Swiss culture is manufacturing of high-margin products and investment banking... they didn't become one of the world's richest countries because of cheese and jodeling. If you want historical Switzerland, however, consider Luzern, Sion, St. Gallen or Thun.
I would avoid Zermatt (and Zurich). Zermatt is incredibly touristy and remember Switzerland's true beauty lies in its countryside. You might want to look at Luzern as a base. From there take a ride on a steamer on Lake Luzern for a day, go up on the Rigi, Pilatus or even Titlis for views. Either way I'd travel to Bellagio via the Bernina Express route. Here's how I'd do it: Travel by train from Luzern to Andermatt via Göschenen. From there go onto Samedan or Pontresina. That route will take you along lakes, and through the middle of the alps over 3 very scenic rail routes. Overnight in Pontresina or Samedan. From Pontresina ride the route of the Bernina Express to Tirano and then by Italian train to Varenna-Esino. From there you'll catch a ferry over to Bellagio. Its a lot of train travel but the route is one huge postcard of Switzerland and you'll have your eyes glued to the window the whole way. Note that I say take the route of the Bernina Express and not ride the express itself. The whole route that I'm describing is traveled by small trains that don't travel very fast so the expresses and locals travel at roughly the same speed - slow enough that you can almost hang your head out the window. A bonus is that you wont be on a train with a ton of tourists or have to pay a reservation fee. Also, if you want to stretch your legs and explore a small village just get off the train at virtually any station - the next train will only be 30 mins or an hour behind! The best site to find schedules for this entire route is sbb.ch - its the official site of the Swiss Federal Railroad. Have fun enjoying my beloved country!
Thanks so much for your help! That sounds like a nice Route to take . I was hesitant on Zermatt already so I think we will
carol, The Berner Oberland (Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, etc.) is a big favourite with many here, but given your time frame I definitely agree with the suggestions from Marcus. My suggestion would be to travel directly from Zürich to Luzern on your arrival day (there's a station right at the airport, and it's a relatively easy trip). I was in Zürich in October and it's a vibrant and interesting city, but your short time would be better utilized elsewhere (IMO). Lucerne is an incredibly beautiful city and it fits well with your eventual trip to Bellagio. Some of the things to do there..... > Visit the incredible Museum of Transport. I could (and did) easily spend a full day there, as there's lots to see. > See the famous Lion of Lucerne, which Mark Twain called "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.". > Walking Tours - book at the T.I. in the station. > Cruise on the lake > Mountain trip to Pilatus, etc. > Be sure to walk across the famous Chapel Bridge You could also travel to Chur and take the train from there to Tirano (Lucerne / Chur about 2H:10M, one change). As suggested, the regular trains would likely be just as good as the Bernina Express (although you could take the B.E. although timing may be an issue). The rail trip from Tirano to Varenna-Esino is 1H:32M. Be ready to exit the train promptly, as it only stops for about a minute! Unless you're hauling several Steamer Trunks, you should be able to walk down from the station to the Ferry dock. It's right in front of Albergo Olivedo (big yellow building, you can't miss it). There's a Ferry ticket office at the dock. There are fairly frequent boats to Bellagio, and the trip is about 20 minutes. Happy travels!