I am thinking of flying into Zurich and spending 3 days to sightsee and travel to the lake country area. Can anyone suggest possible routes and/or locations using trains to get a taste of this country? Thanks for any advice.
Hi Marsha. It's not clear what area you mean by 'the lake country area'. Also, I'm not sure what you're asking.. How to get to the lake country? Or what to do on your way? Or..?
From your initial remarks I assume you are thinking of Maggiore or Como . If that is the case , you would probably better off flying into Milan . However , more information such as time of year and where else you might be going , would help to advise you .
Marsha, you really need to provide more info on "lake country area". But, taking the liberty of assuming Lake Como area, you can take a very nice high-speed train from Zurich to Como S. Giovanni which is on the SW corner of Lake Como. From there, you can take the ferry to Maggiore, Bellagio or Varenna. Or, you can continue on the same train to Milan and take the 1hr train to Varenna. It's a 3hr40min train ride. If you book early on www.trenitalia.com up to 90 days out, I see a Smart2 fare of 32Euro for the Zuerich/Milan run. Ordinary fare is 72Euro.
My husband and I took the William Tell Express from Lucerne over to Lugano. We spent five nights in Lugano. We then did day trips from Lugano over to Milan, Lake Como and Lake Maggiorre. We then took the Bernina Express from Lugano and ended in Zurich.
Thanks for your replies. To be more specific, the trip is planned for early September and we plan to meet up with friends in Florence on 9/13 but thought we would start in Switzerland as we have not been there. The general plan is to tour by train from Zurich through Switzerland for 3-4 days heading south to either Lake Como or Maggiore for another 1-2 days. We would then continue by train to Florence I presume by connection in Milan? My questions are: (1) if we stay one might in Zurich then where should we spend our other nights; (2) should we take the scenic train rides advertised and if so then what city do we need to be in to do so; (3) both Como and Maggiore sound beautiful do we need to choose or can both be seen in our short time. Thanks for your help.
Marsha, I suggest you head straight to Lauterbrunnen or one of the higher villages like Wengen or Mürren on arrival. Spend two nights there to see the beautiful peaks, lakes and valleys of the Berner Oberland. Then take the scenice Golden Pass route east to Luzern (2 hours if I remember correctly) and spend a night there. From here you have two good choices, both of which lead to Lago di Como. (or with with a minor variation, to Maggiore). My first choice would be to head to Chur and pick up the Bernina Express, the most scenice of these-called scenic routes. Spend a night in the mountains at Pontresina, or nearby St. moritz or Sils Maria. Or Samedan. The next day continue to Tirano and change there for an Italian train to Varenna (2 hours away). Varenna is lovely and worth 2 nights if you have the time. From there it is only an hour to Milan where you catch the train to Florence. (If you continue on the Bernina Express from Tirano instead of heading to Varenna, you take a bus to Lugano, also on a lake but a much larger town). The other option from Luzern would be to go to Arth-Goldau and catch the train heading to Milan. You can get off at Lugano or the town of Como on Lake Como. (Not as charming as Varenna). The next day you would continue to Milan and on to Florence. Or you could go from Arth-Goldau to Locarno, on Lago di Maggiore. All of these options use the Gotthard Pass route through the Alps, with a few tunnels. I think you can tell from the way I wrote which option I would choose.
Are you thinking of getting a Swiss railpassmifyounare for this travel? If not, and you are taking that direct train from Zurich or Arth-Goldau, you can get a discounted ticket on the Swiss or Italian rail websites. Rail.ch or Trenitalia.com.