Hello. My friend and I are planning a 10 day trip to Swizerland & Italy. We fly in and out of Zurich and plan to spend the first two nights (May 11 & 12) in Gimmelwald, the next five nights (May 13-17) around Florence and the last night (May 18) in Zurich. What is the best way to get from Interlaken to Florence? Is it important to reserve a seat for that? If so, how many days in advance? From my raileurope.com research, I am not able to book a train reservation online prior to May 14 (the website requires 5 days advanced notice)... and we'd like to book it for May 13. I am wondering if we can "wing" it or if we should just change plans and go with May 14th. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
First, see the timetables at the Swiss Rail site, www.sbb.ch/en. Enter Interlaken and Firenze as your departure and arrival points. While you could make a fare enquiry online, to save time call the Service Center and book over the phone. Dial 011 (US international access code) + 41 (country code for Switzerland) + (0)900 300 300. Omit the inital zero which is only used for calls originating in Switzerland.
Instead of wasting day 3 getting to florence, take the night train that leaves from Lausanne at 10pm or Geneva at 10:30pm, arrives both Florence and Rome. It's going to take 4 plus hours to get to Geneva from Interlaken, 4 more hours through Milan, and another 3 hours to Florence. It will kill the day. So, use day 3 to get to Geneva for your night train. You might go Interlaken to Bern, get out and enjoy Bern for a few hours and then continue to Geneva for a few more hours of sight seeing before your train. Or, take the Golden Pass line to Montreaux and find some other sight seeing options from there before heading on to Geneva. The point is I don't think there is a quick and easy way to get to Florence from Interlaken. Even if you tried to squeeze in Milan on a daytime transit you would arrive too late to make it worth it. One more thing to consider, how are you getting back to Zurich? There are night trains leaving both Rome and Florence, 8 + 11pm, arr Zur 9 ish. Just a thought. bye.