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Fly from Varenna/Milan to Salzburg or take the train

Hi All ,
Been getting some excellent coaching here on how to take the train from Varenna to Salzburg for a little adventure and some sights in the 2nd week of this coming September.. A little nervous though ,2 borders 4 transfers.Hence I'm a little worried about messing up.Just asking the crowd here.. Fly or train? Your thoughts are appreciated! Thanks.

Posted by
16819 posts

I don't see any direct flights from Milan to Salzburg. If flying from Milan to Munich, you'd still have two trains on either end of the trip - both an airport train and a city-to-city connection. I'd definitely choose the scenic train option. Nothing at all happens at these border crossings.

Posted by
11929 posts

Joe---that bahn.de results page timed out so it reverts to a blank search form. Do you recall the one-change routing you saw? The best I can find is a 9.5-hour journey with three changes,, in Milano C., Verona, and Innsbruck.

Posted by
57 posts

Thanks guys looks like by train.I guess the reason for the 4 transfers would be due to partly taking the Bernina panoramic car. To get the most scenic view should I sit on the right side of the train car or left side of the train car as we head north? I have been getting some fantastic guidance from Sam here but I guess any and all suggestions and still always good.Thank You.

Posted by
11234 posts

"A little nervous though ,2 borders 4 transfers.Hence I'm a little worried about messing up"

Border crossings on these trains are usually a non-event. You must have your passport with you in case it is checked, but these are no longer routine on this route.

As for transfers, remember that lots of people will be making the same transfers. The general principles of changing trains:

1) Know the stop before yours, and the time you are due at your stop.
2) A few minutes before you are due to arrive, gather your belongings and move toward the exit. Particularly at larger stops, you'll see others doing the same.
3) As soon as the train pulls into the station, get off.
4) If you at a dead end station (like Milano Centrale), head toward the front of the tracks. Find a departure monitor (not an arrivals monitor), and look for your next train. Then, go to that platform. Remember that you should look for your train number and the train's final destination (in the local language), rather than your destination. For instance, if you were taking a train from Venice to Florence, it will not be posted as a train to "Florence" or even to "Firenze," but instead to its final destination of Rome (Roma) or Naples (Napoli).
5) If you are not at a dead end station (most of them are in this group), you will have to go down to the passageway connecting the platforms, find your new platform, then go up to that platform for you next train. Larger stations can have ramps, escalators, or elevators from the platform level to the passageway; most stations just have stairs.

This is one of those things that is harder to type out than to actually do.Once you've done all of this more than once, it will be very easy.

Most important: if you're lost, confused, or having any trouble, don't waste time - ask for help right away! If you can't find train personnel to ask, most other passengers will be able to help, as they have done this many times.

Posted by
57 posts

Harold
Awesomeness!!. Mille grazie!. Its as if you were holding our hands.

Posted by
11929 posts

Bernina Express is a great choice---it is my favorite scenic train trip.

Heading up from Tirano it doesn't much matter which side you sit on, as the train actually makes switchbacks somthe same view appears on both the left and right sides. But near the top and from there to Pontresina I would choose the right side if I wanted to see the peaks or the left to see the lake near the Pass.

Then if the train continues in the same orientation ( meaning it does not reverse anywhere) I believe you will have a better view of the Landwasser Viaduct out the left side as the train goes around the curve.

Posted by
31221 posts

425,

Could you clarify your proposed route. Are you planning to travel from Varenna to Salzburg via the Bernina Express and not the other route through Verona and the Brenner Pass?

As Laura pointed out earlier, flying will not be a realistic option on that route. It would be a grueling trip and would probably take longer than the train.

Posted by
57 posts

Ken,
Yes my intention is to travel to from Varenna to Salzburg via the Bernina express to experience the panoramic car,provided the you guys think it is worth it,will not add alot of additional time to what will be an already long day. I have learned here the the regular train does run on the same tracks as the Bernina. So at this point provided the more experienced travelers familiar with this route agree with my plans to take the Bernina,that is what I will do.There seems to be some debate here though as route I should take and the amount of transfers.Sam here ,along with some other very helpful people along have provided some great guidance as to connections and transfers,but due to these variables I would like to be as sure as possible and then book this trip now,in advance so I can move on to some other planning for this trip,which I will inevitably harass you guys for! Thank you.

Posted by
31221 posts

425,

Thanks for the clarification.

If you want to take the panoramic Bernina Express cars (reservations compulsory), this is the route....

  • Depart Varenna at 11:24
  • Arrive Tirano at 12:52
  • Depart Tirano at 14:26
  • Arrive Chur at 18:20

There's only one departure each way of the panoramic cars. While you could continue on to Salzburg, it would be a grueling trip and you wouldn't arrive until the early hours of the morning. You might consider spending the night in Chur. It's a very pleasant town, but you might need to brush up on your German (I had an interesting experience in one of the restaurants there).

The trip from Chur to Salzburg involves two trains and a Bus and a travel time of about 5H:45M. You can see the details on the Bahn.de website.

Posted by
57 posts

Ken,
Thank you for your reply.I was hoping to get into Salzburg earlier than midnight on 9/11.That would be quite a long day. If I were to take an earlier train out of Varenna would I still be able to take a portion of this trip on the Bernina and would I have to take the 2 trains and a bus from Chur?.I was under the impression once I got to Chur it would on be 2 more connections.As you can see I am trying to get the logistics down pat here.Thank You.

Posted by
31221 posts

425,

I can certainly appreciate that you want the shortest and easiest trip from Varenna to Salzburg, as that's also how I try to plan my trips.

The trip is shorter and easier if you travel through Verona and the Brenner Pass, but unfortunately I don't think there's an easy solution if you're taking the Bernina Express route. You can certainly travel much the same route as the B.E. using a "regular train", and it will have windows (albeit not panoramic windows) so it will still be a scenic ride.

The easiest solution would be to break up the trip and spend one night in Chur as that makes the ongoing trip much easier, with travel only by train (no bus) to Salzburg and only one change. I've looked at a number of solutions and it is possible to get to Chur early enough to connect with an "easy" train to Salzburg, but it looks like that route travels via Bellinzona, doesn't go the same way as the B.E. and has one segment via Bus.

Using a date of 6 September, one of the best solutions I can find is a departure from Varenna-Esino at 08:24, arriving Salzburg Hbf at 20:03 (time 11H:39M, 5 changes at Tirano, Pontresina, Samedan, Chur and Sargans). That's going to be a long day but it travels the B.E. route and still gets you to Salzburg at a reasonable hour. There's a departure one hour earlier with one fewer change, but it's an hour longer and gets you to Salzburg at exactly the same time.

If you decide to try the route I've suggested above you might want to pick up a Panino and a beverage in Tirano for lunch, as there's a fairly long transfer time there. There should be a Bordrestaurant on the RailJet that you'll be taking on the last segment to Salzburg, which should cover supper. There will be snacks on some of the other trains. It might also be a good idea to pack along CHF 50 or so for travel expenses on that trip. They should take Euro on the trains in Switzerland (that's always been my experience) but the exchange rate may be less favourable.

Perhaps one of the others will have a route suggestion I haven't thought of.

Posted by
57 posts

So I wanted to let you guys know that I have finally booked my Varenna to Salzburg trip.I was a bit nervous and slightly uncomfortable but after the guidance and assurance you guys here on the forum offered me it made the booking process all that much easier. I wanted to send a special shout out to Sam.Sam has the patience of a saint and great knowledge!.. Next.. I am looking for suggestions for the best Sound of music tour to take in Salzburg.Guess I will check the appropriate forum for suggestions..Again..Thank you!!

Posted by
31221 posts

425,

It's great to hear that you've got this all sorted. Just curious, which route / train are you going to use?