Zurich to CT route

My family will be arriving at the Zurich airport in July, and have two nights before arriving in the CT. We are trying to plan the most scenic/best intro to Switzerland for basically one night. We are willing to travel around two hours from the airport for the first night (which seems to make Luzerne, Interlaken, or Chur viable options). We would then like the next night to be within approximately five hours of the CT (likely Milan or Lugano).

First choice would be to spend some time in the Lauterbrunnen Valley for a short hike, but would also like to get a 'scenic' train ride in. The William Tell Express seems to leave no time for hiking, and misses the LV. Same with Bernina Express from Chur to Lugano.

Any suggestions?

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6696 posts

The only scenic train that gets close to Interlaken and the Lauterbrunnen Valleyu is the Golden Pass. It runs from Lucerne to Montreux and stops at Interlaken. Chur and the St. Moritz areas are SE of the Lauterbrunnen Valley and are on the other side of some tall alps. The William Tell and the Bernina are over there as well.

From Zurich to Interlaken is indeed 2 hours but not via Lucerne and the Golden Pass. The faster routes go via Bern. The route via Lucerne and the Golden Pass will take you an hour longer.

If you choose the Interlaken/Lauterbrunnen area for your first night, you are about 5.0hrs away by train from Lugano or 3.5hrs away from Milan.

It's a 3.0hr. train ride from Milan to the CT.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

I think you are going to have to choose between a nice place to spend your first night in Switzerland, with a little time to hike, and the so-called "scenic" train ride. Bear in mind that a lot of train routes in Switzerland are "scenic" even if not labeled such.

If you want the scenic train, then the Bernina Express is your best fit. Spend the first night at Chur, the second at Lugano, which is just about 5 hours away from CT.

Two options that involve hiking time would be: (1) train to Lauterbrunnen from the airport (2.75 hours); spend half the next day with a short hike and take the 4-hour ride to Milan; or (2) train to Luzern for the first night; spend half the next day working your way to Arth-Goldau by going over Rigi, with wonderful views and some short hikes possible. From Arth-Goldau, continue to Lugano for your second night. www.rigi.ch for photos and lift/train options.

Posted by Aaron
Tacoma, WA, United States
2 posts

Thanks for the info, Lola. If we do the Luzern option, what route would you take over Rigi? Luzern-Vitznau (by boat)- Rigi Kaltbad- Goldau? Where would you recommend hiking?

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Just to make it fun, I would take the boat to Weggis, and ride the cablecar up to Rigi Kaltbad. There are several nice hikes there---not strenuous, just very scenic. One is a loop labeled the "Flower path" ("Blumenweg") or something like that. There is another that heads south along a road through "town", contouring along at one level, out to a narrower path and a viewpoint. We did that one before breakfast, so it can't be too far.

From Rigi kaltbad, take the train to the top at Rigi Kulm (more views and a chance for a hike ther too, although it was in the fog when we were there so didn't hang around). Another train from Rigi Kulm will take you down the other side of the mountain (say good-bye to lake views at Rigi Kulm) to Arth-Goldau.

The schedules for all these forms of transport and connections will show up on the Swiss rail site, www.rail.ch