My wife and I will be in Zurich for a couple of days en route to Barcelona to board the Ruby Princess for a Greek Island Cruise. Switzerland is full of magnificent scenery but you can only do so much in a certain time frame. We will arrive mid afternoon to Zurich from Munich in early October, spend the night near the main rail station and in the morning head to Mt Pilatus to do the usual scenic tours there. We intend to head back to Zurich and spend another night there and then in the early morning head to Milano for a 1 night stop before our next 1 nighter in Monte Carlo with our final destination in Barcelona. I have heard or rather read that the train trip from Zurich via Chur, St Moritz, Tirano, Sondrio is extremely scenic and far better than the main line down the center as far as the scenic aspect goes. Am I correct with this and can you tell me how complicated it is as regards which trains to catch, the times the trains leave and the total time duration for this trip compared to the most direct route. Maybe someone has a much better idea as regards what to do with our time frame, from where we are coming from and to where we are headed. We are yet to book anything in Switzerland at this point in time. Kind regards Peter and Margaret, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
After you've visited Monte Carlo I suggest that you fly from Nice to Barcelona on Vueling. The fare can be under $100 US. Much cheaper as well as a whole lot faster than taking the train.
I've done portions or the complete trips you mention many, many times. The route via Chur/Tirano is much more scenic however the route over the Gotthard (luzern to Lugano/Milano is not too shabby since you go right along Lake Luzern, through the heart of the alps and down through Ticino. You can easily look up the times for both routes at sbb.ch. One thing I warn over and over: If you go the Bernina route, no need to take the Bernina Express. Take normal trains instead (look up my previous posts for why). If you choose to do the trip via the Gotthard, there's no need to depart via Zurich unless you have to. Half of all trains to Milano depart Basel and go through Luzern. Personally I'd also spend more time in Luzern rather than Zurich. Luzern is gorgeous while Zurich is just big. Yes its on a lake, but Luzern is MUCH more beautiful and quintessential Switzerland.
So there's two votes for more time in Luzern (instead of Zurich), counting what I advised on Peter's thread under "Transportation." I wonder, though, about the plan to spend a night in Milan and then travel to Barcelona in two train days, with an overnight in Monte Carlo. I haven't looked up th etrain schedules recently, but it seems like the trip along th ecoast of France to get to Barcelona is convoluted and time-consuming. sometimes it is recommended to fly from Italy to Barcelona, but then you would miss Monte Carlo.