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Travel from Venice to Switzerland?

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Wondering what the best way to get from Venice to Switzerland would be . Don't see any cheap flights from Venice to ZRH, so thinking about a train. Would like to most probably end up in the Engandine, although Bern or Berner Oberland would be fine. Would rather not hire a car.

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    Try this website for train connections and schedules: www.bahn.de.

    Although this is the site of the German Railroads (Deutsche Bahn), I find it the easiest to maneuver. It covers all the trains that you could conceivably take. Just look at a map, pick out the in-between stops you would like to make, enter them as "via", and see what comes up.

    The fastest connection (6 hours) is via Milano, but there are also others, some of them quite scenic, but also longer with more changes, such as Venice-Verona-Innsbruck-Feldkirch (both Austria), Zuerich.

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    Hi kenav,

    It's quite a spectacular trip from Milan to the Engadin -- go on the Bernina Express from Tirano, over the Bernina Pass, to Pontresina and St. Moritz. I think that would be the easiest and also the nicest route. More information at

    www.rhb.ch/Bernina-Express.33.0.html

    Unlike treplow, I find the Swiss site to be the fastest and easiest to navigate (no need to input traveller's age, for instance); it's at

    www.rail.ch

    Where in the Engadin will you be going? How are you plans for that destination shaping up?

    Have fun!

    s

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    swandav - Do you mean - we should first get to Milan and then to Tirano and then via the Bernina express to Pontresina, etc? Three different trains? Also, isn't there a "regular" Swiss train that does the Bernina route but doesn't cost as much?

    (Our plans are very loose right now.)

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    Hi kenav,

    You can get the entire train schedule, with changes and duration, at the site I gave you above. You owuld just use "From Venice," "To Pontresina," "via Tirano" to get the exact route.

    It's a very long trip, though, about nine hours. So you may want to break your journey at Milan or at Poschiavo, a great little town.

    Yes, there are lots of regular trains that run over the same route as the "scenic" and marketed BE. The only difference in price would be the reservation fee for the BE, about 5 chf.

    Good luck!

    s

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    While I love the Bernina Express, I don’t think it’s the best way to get yourself and your bags from Venice to the Engadine. First off, you will have to arrive into Tirano by 2:30 pm or you will miss the last Bernina Express train, as that is the time it departs Tirano (at least in summer, it goes a bit earlier in winter, see the schedule). So you have to take the first train out of Venice early that morning and really hope that the trains in Italy are running smack on time that day. Second, the cars are not really made to carry luggage and it may be a bit of pain finding space for your stuff. There are “regular” Swiss trains that go this same route and would take luggage and are cheaper, see rail.ch for the schedule. They run about hourly from what I can see.

    If you are planning to spend time in the Engadine, you can of course do the Bernina Express train ride as a separate half day trip, as you can get it from St Moritz or Pontresina. The St Moritz to Tirano portion is the high glacier portion, the St Moritz to Chur portion is quite lovely through a gorgeous valley, this valley can also be done as a walk and you can see the train bridges. The Chur to Zurich portion is quite pretty but not worth IMO doing unless you are going on to Zurich. You can take “regular” Swiss trains for any of these portions, you don’t have to buy the Bernina Express tickets, but those trains are the only ones with the observation cars so it is nice to do that for the glacier portion from St Moritz to Tirano and back if you can.

    To get from Venice to the Engadine, I would suggest you do one of the following:

    1. Take the train to Lake Lugano (5 hours) and then take the great Palm Express bus ride up in the Engadine (3 hours). This would take about the same time as going via Tirano and taking the Bernina train route, but would be a different experience, as this is a gorgeous ride up over the Splugen Pass and Majola Pass and through some lovely ancient towns like Promontogno and Stampa (You could rent a car and do the drive too, but if you would prefer not to then the bus works). You could spend a night or so in the Lake Lugano area first. This itin could also be done by taking a train to Lake Como and getting the Palm Express from Chiavenna, but going via Lugano only requires 1 change in Milan and so may be easier and will save you about an hour versus going through Como. (Although Como for a night or two is certainly lovely as well. )

    2. Take the train from Venice to Zurich (6-8 hours, night trains are available and may be a good option), then take the very lovely 3.5 hour train ride up to the Engadine. This route is in fact the first part of the Bernina Express, you just don’t have the panorama cars (don’t need them on this part of the route) and don’t pay the higher Bernina prices. (I don’t include the ride to Guarda in this, as it takes a tunnel and is not as scenic as the route up to St Moritz, Pontresina, etc). The bit from Chur to St Moritz is very very lovely (and as I note above, can be done as a walk down through the valley.)

    3. Drive from Venice to the Engadine. This actually is not a long drive and the part from Como to the Engadine up through the passes is a great drive. You could train to Lugano and rent from there if you wanted to rent and drop off entirely in Switzerland.

    I agree that the train via Austria would be very scenic, but to get to the Engadine from Venice via that route would take I think like 12 hours or more, and of course you want to do it during the day as that would be the point, otherwise take the Venice-Zurich night train. I think that you really want the train that goes via a change in Villach in Austria , as I believe it is more scenic than the one that goes via a change in Porta Nuova which takes the Brenner Pass (which I think goes through a tunnel, others may have more precise info on this route). I have taken the one via Villach and it really has some great mountain scenery.

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    HI, SORRY TO JUMP IN THE CONVERSATION..
    BUT IM GOING ON THE SAME TRIP ALSO NX 2 WEEKS.. CAN U PLS TELL ME WHICH STATION TO STOP IN LAKE LUGANO..?

    NEED TO PURCHASE TICKETS BUT SO MANY NAMES OF STATION COME OUT .. TQ

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    I assume you want to go from Venice to the St Moritz area in the Engadine region. If that is the case, my suggestions are below. If you want to go somewhere else in Switzland, please let us know as the below would not be helpful to get to other parts:

    1. IMO the best train stop for you is the Lugano main train station (also called Lugano FFS, but on the Swiss Rail site at rail.ch is it just noted as Lugano). From Venice you only have to change trains once (in Milan) to get to Lugano main train station. See rail.ch for timetables. I think your only option is the train departing Venice at 6:20 am arriving Lugano at 10:10 am.

    2. The Palm Express Bus will depart at 11:55 am from the bus station called Lugano Stazione Nord, which is a 3-4 minute walk from the Lugano main strain station. When you get off the train in Lugano, go to the main station building and exit the front door, turn left and walk maybe 100 meters to the bus station. (There may also be signs in the train station directing you toward the Lugano Stazione Nord bus station). See http://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/infrastruktur/trafimage/bahnhofplaene/plan-lugano-a4.pdf for a plan of the station and it shows the location of the bus station at Stazione Nord. You could also most likely just walk along Track 1 inside the station (with tracks on your left) and you will come to the bus station at the end of the covered portion of Track 1.

    3. Note that from October 29 the Palm Express only runs on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, see http://www.fahrplanfelder.ch/fileadmin/fap_pdf_fields/2011/90.631.pdf
    for the schedule. I believe a reservation is required for this bus, which you should be able to do through the rail.ch website.

    4. Not sure where your end destination is, but you could consider getting off the bus someplace like Sils Maria or Silvplana and taking a look around, have a meal locally. You can then take a regular Swiss Post Bus on to St Moritz in 15-20 minutes from there. Both are in lovely lake settings surrounded by mountains. You can take a cable car in the Sils area up the mountain.

    Just a personal observation, in November you may encounter a good bit of fog or clouds on this route, so please adjust your expectations accordingly. In the higher elevations in late Nov and early December you should have nice views, but coming up from the lake, the lower elevations may be in clouds. The journey would still be interesting, IMO, but may not be as pretty as in other months. Also bear in mind that the sun will set around 4:30 pm and it will be dark by just after 5 pm most days.

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    Lots of good advice here, but two additional comments:

    Poschiavo is not a good stopping off choice on Sundays; almost everything will be closed.

    There's something going on with the runs from Milan to Basel/Zurich and vice versa. I did that route three weeks ago and it was a complete mess. The regular rolling stock (pretty nice trains) were replaced with an old, run-down, filthy (the windows were covered with crud, no opportunity to enjoy the view) and uncomfortable train. It ran an hour late. It was supposed to go from Milan to Zurich but at Arth-Goldau the train crew apparently were too disgusted to continue - I heard this announcement: "please exit the train at Arth-Goldau to catch a REAL (emphasis mine) train to Basel or Zurich. This journey is finished."

    The normally super-cool 7:03 am train that runs daily from Basel to Venice also has been replaced with a run-down substitute. (at least that was the case on my two journeys to Lugano in October)

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    Hi Dayang

    Why dont you take a flight via Easyjet (www.easyjet.com) from Venice Marco Polo to Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport and then a train to Zurich . Its less than EUR 30 on every alternate day. A train from Basel to Zurich is around EUR 20/23 and its about 1.5hr.

    We have used Easyjet for numerous ocassions and will be flying from Madrid to Basel and then train to Lucerne too this coming December.

    Earlier this year, we took the train from Milano Centrale and change train to Lucerne via Arth-Goldau.

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    I need inputs for my travel via train from Venice to Zurich in July, 2012. Our stay in Switzerland will be 3-4 Nights (Before we head to Paris)

    I understand there are no direct trains, we will have to change. I was hoping to make my train journey from Venice to Zurich to be a trip in itself (staying 2 Nights in between).

    Can i possibly take Bernina or Glacier express as the part of the trip? Any other trains i could take?

    I am interested to see the Mt. Jungfrau , Interalaken & Lucerne region. But that being said i am open to recommendations.

    I am looking for a Beautiful train journey with spectacular views, scenic valleys, cliff side journeys and postcard swiss towns!

    Hoping to do an interesting train journey from Venice to Zurich instead of a flight and then taking trains to cover these regions.

    Thanks in advance.

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    I came back from Venice into Switzerland (Vevey) by a day train that transfered at Sion. It was a L-O-N-G boring ride quite honestly. I'd gone to Venice from Vevey by overnight sleeper train (but this route doesn't run any longer).

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    I agree with sabhaida. Easyjet will probably be the least expensive and the quickest. You could always take the flight from Geneva to Venice if you wanted to do spend a day or two around there instead of going to Basel.

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    Here are some thoughts:

    1. Do you have to go to Zurich for a particular reason? If not, you have some other options. You only have 3-4 days. If this were my trip, I would spend none of it in Zurich (and I used to live there). The countryside is what Switzerland is all about. Especially in July.

    2. You could take the Bernina Express as part of this trip; with luggage this will be a little bit of a pain, although doable. However, rather than going to Zurich, an easier and much more logical way to end this trip is to stay in the lovely Engadine area (St Moritz, Pontresina, Davos or the utterly charming Guarda). This area would tick all the boxes on your wish list, and would not have the throngs of tourists who will be in Interlaken in July (there will be some of course, but not the bus loads you will see in Interlaken and the Jungfrau). This area has, IMO, prettier towns, as for example Guarda, plus the odd castle thrown in.

    To take the Bernina Express as part of a trip from Venice, you would take the train from Venice to Milan (2.5 hours), then Milan to Tirano (2.5 hours). You need to be in Tirano by 1:30 pm or so to catch the Bernina. There are 2 departing in the afternoon, one is a local which departs at 2:02 pm, and the other departs at about 2:20 pm. See the timetable and other info at http://www.rhb.ch/. If you take the express, you can get off at St Moritz from where you can get another train to other places like Guarda (about an hour).

    You want a reservation for the Bernina, and IMO you want the first class panorama cars, which give the best views (not a whole lot of luggage room, however, but perhaps the train staff can assist.) The first part of the journey is the part up over the glaciers and this will take you down into St Moritz. You can then spend a few days in this area. If you like scenic train journeys include time on the Bergun-Fillisur journey (which is also part of the Bernina, but is also on just the regular train line between this area and the lowland of Zurich. You can also do an easy downhill walk around this train line.)

    When you are ready to move on the Paris, you can continue your journey by taking the train to Zurich (If you go from Guarda you may take a tunnel which is not as scenic as going from St Moritz or Pontresina). In Zurich you can switch to the fast train TGV to Paris (4 hours). For then TGV, you most likely would want a reservation, see the rail.ch website for info on all trains in Italy and Switzerland. All

    3. It is possible to take the Glacier Express for part of this as well. The logical way to do this would be take a train to Chur in Switzerland (10 hours and several changes, this may not be an attractive option.) From Chur you would take the Glacier Express either to St Moritz or to Zermatt. The St Moritz trip would be quite a bit less interesting than doing the Bernina, as you would miss the glacier portion. The Zermatt end would be the more interesting, but I have to say that the Glacier Express is my least favourite of all the “scenic” trains in Switzerland. It’s a little bit on the long side and a little dull (which is hard to do for Switzerland). See http://www.glacierexpress.ch/EN/Pages/default.aspx for info on the Glacier Express. Zermatt is of course quite lovely and interesting for 3-4 days and you could take side trips to places like Saas Fe which will be less crowded. If you want to go to Zermatt from Venice, then really the best thing to do is just take the regular train, it’s a little over 7 hours, and the last hour or so is the same as the Glacier Express in any event.

    4. A very scenic way to make the journey from Venice to Switzerland is to go via Austria. You might even consider skipping Switzerland and spending the 3-4 days in a place like Innsbruck, where you can get up into the mountains, and there will be somewhat fewer tourists (although probably not many, and it is a bit cheaper. The train journey is through the Italian and Austrian Alps and is quite lovely (have done it in winter most of the way), and takes about 8 hours and requires changes (non stops go via the tunnel which skips the mountains. Going via Villach is what you want as that is in the mountains.)

    5. I can’t end this post without putting in a word for the Lake Geneva region which is just lovely in July. (And there is a the jazz festival potentially, don’t know your dates, but see http://www.montreuxjazz.com/ Although I agree the train journey there is not the most scenic, it’s 6 hours with no changes if you take the 4:30 pm train, so really that bad as journeys go. You get most of the day in Venice, can have dinner on the train, and it will still be twilight when you arrive at 10:30 pm. Look at staying in Vevey, Lausanne, Montreux or small towns along the lake, from where you can do walks in the lovely Lavaux vineyards above the lake and get Alp views, take the fun cliffside incline railway up to Rochers-de-Naye and do walks up there or just take in the views, or take the train for an hour or so up to Châteaux D’oeux in the mountains (or even take part of the Golden Pass, IMO the part from Montreux to Zweisimmen is the most scenic, see http://www.goldenpass.ch/ for info). (I would not stay in Geneva itself which is not as charming as the towns further down along the lake.) Guidebooks or sites like http://www.montreux-vevey.com/en/culture_leisure/Culture_Lavaux_en/Trekking_Lavaux
    and http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1243 and http://www.montreux-vevey.com/en/
    can give you info on both. From the Lake Geneva area you can take a train in about 4 hours to Paris.

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    We took the fast train from Zurich, via Milan to Venice. It was an enjoyable journey--fast. We did buy first class seats--and we were almost the only ones in the train car.

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    @Cicerone - Thanks a lot. This is great and very detailed information. It really solves our dilemma of doing a train journey, spend 3-4 days in Switzerland (Pretty Towns) and connect for our onward journey to Paris.

    I am so tempted with the option 3 as Austria is on our list as well :)

    Appreciate your time and inputs !

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    Hello Cicerone,

    We will be flying into Switzerland in October, arriving approx 15th Oct and need to be in Milan by the evening of the 24th Oct, air tickets not yet finalised so we choose our entry point. We would like to take some scenic rail trips and spend a few days based in one place walking and exploring, I was originally thinking of both the Glacier and Bernina rail journeys on our way to Milan but am now unsure after reading the above. What would suggest?

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    If you can be flexible on where you fly into, I would choose Geneva and start there.

    There is no need to go to the time and expense of taking both the Bernina and the Glacier Express, IMO. There are many scenic rail journeys, some “official” (like the 2 you have mentioned and the Golden Pass) and some unofficial (like the little train up to Rocher de Nayes on Lake Geneva, the hilariously charming cog wheel up to Mt Pelerin, or the train ride up the mountain to Wengen in the Jungfrau). Don’t forget about cable cars which offer tremendous views (but which in October I must warn you may be closed for repair in some places as that is between seasons in many mountain areas). Taking and paying for a day-long “official” scenic train journey in Switzerland is not really that important, as so many train journeys are scenic in themselves. (Most any journey from Geneva to Zurich will include a lovely 20 minutes or so along the Lake Geneva through the vineyards with the snowy Alps in the distance above the lake.) And great rolling stock, smooth tracks, wireless access and in-seat power; it’s all a joy. That being said, of the 2 train trips you mention, I prefer the Bernina and you could fit it in your schedule.

    October 15 is probably too late for the wine harvest season in Lake Geneva, which generally is September; but you never know, keep your eye out on the web and elsewhere for harvest festivals. Otherwise, weather should be pretty good, although the vineyards may be brown as they will have mostly been harvested. Walking is still great and you can of course drink the previously harvested wine with no problem... My comments at #5 in the above post would apply generally to that region. Ferries will be running on an abbreviated schedule, if at all, during October, but I think you can work around that fairly easily, as you can use trains.

    You may want to think about whether you want to take 2 days or so to go to Zermatt and see the Matterhorn. It’s a pretty easy train ride. If you decide to skip Zermatt, then either take the Golden Pass train to the Interlaken area and spend a few days there, or go the faster route to Zurich and then on to Guarda or elsewhere in the Engadine/St Moritz area. Or as you have a good chunk of time, you may be able to do Lake Geneva, the Jungfrau and the Engadine/St Moritz area. It would depend on your interests and how often you want to move.

    From St Moritz you can take the Bernina to Tirano and then a train to Milan.

    You could also consider going from Tirano to Lake Como or one of the other lakes; mid-October is the end of the season but I think you would still find good weather and fewer crowds. Another fun way to get to Como or Lake Lugano from St Moritz is to take the Palm Express bus up and over the passes (they don’t run all days in October as the passes start to close, see http://www.fahrplanfelder.ch/fileadmin/fap_pdf_fields/2012/90.631.pdf). This would mean that you would have to skip the Bernina Express.

    You really have many options, you might want to do some more reading and see how to budget your time. My point is that to spend 2 entire days on “scenic” trains out of 8 days or so days in Switzerland may not be the best use of it. I would take shorter train rides and spend more time walkinig and exploring.

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    @ Cicerone - As per to your point 5 from Comment on April 10

    If we take a train from Venice to Geneva, spend 1 day 2 nights there in one of the smaller towns (Vevey, Lausanne, Montreux).

    day 3 - Leave for Interlaken/Luceren Regios. Spend 2 day and 2 nights exploring the BO area.

    Day 5 - Leave for Paris via Zurich TGV

    Does that make any sense?

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    check out the Swiss Pass for that type of train riding, zigzagging across the country - valid on many mountain trains in Lauterbrunnen area, inclduing 100% the fabulous excursion Lauterbrunnen - aerial cable car to Grutschalp - cliffside train to Murren, cable car down to Gimmelwald and then plunging back down to Lauterbrunnen Valley floor in a thrilling gondola and take postal bus back to Lauterbrunnen - 100% covered by a Swiss Pass - and if you want to take the long long cable car ride from Murren to Schilthorn - the famous Schilthorn/Piz Gloria made famous in James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Service the pass will get you 50% off that.

    Can also use in fully covereage on lake boats on Lake Geneva - wonderful rides from Montreux, even over to Evian-les-Bains in France and boats on Lake Geneva - could use it to go to Basel and then buy a Basel to Paris ticket from there.

    Great sources of info on Swiss trains and passes and other things like the Half-Fare Card, Swiss Card, Swiss Transfer Ticket, etc check out these IMO fantastic sources - www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.swisstravelsystem.com and www. ricksteves.com. Between Montreux and Interlaken the pass is 100% valid on the famous Golden Pass specialty scenic train with domed observation cars and commentary en route, etc.

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    I've been reading the above info with interest, and wonder if I might beg the patience of knowledgeable contributers with another question?

    Three of us are traveling from Paris to Venice the end of September. We had planned on the Thello sleeper train, until learning Switzerland is amazing with Glaciers, old villages etc.

    Instead of training overnight, maybe we should depart Paris early by train, spend 1 night in Switzerland, then continue onto Venice the following afternoon. Alternatively, would flying to and from one location in Switzerland be more practical?

    Any advice is appreciated. It is our first trip to Europe.

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    The one place I would stay in Switzerland would be Interlaken - smack on a main rail line between Paris and Italy - try for 2 nights but even if one you will see the majestic mountains by taking a 20-minute train ride from Interlaken to Grindelwald - for awesome awesome views of the mountain.

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    thanks. I will check train routes and times to see if this works for me. wish I knew more about Switzerland BEFORE I tied my travel dates to France and Italy. We learn by our errors I suppose!

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    >>>Alternatively, would flying to and from one location in Switzerland be more practical?<<<

    It seems flights between Paris/Switzerland and Switzerland/Venice are usually high.

    Perhaps Switzerland would be better for your next trip since you seem locked into some dates in France and Italy.

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    Hitashi here are my thoughts and suggestions:

    1. I just read your post closely and see you are only giving yourself 1 day in the Lake Geneva area. That is a bit of a waste, IMO, as it will be hard to see much in one day. You will have to budget your time very carefully. If you only have 3 days to spend in Switzerland, it would I think be preferable to pick one area of Switzerland and spend more time in it. (Your other posts seem to indicate 4 days, which is still pretty short; but if only have 3 days, I would skip either Lake Geneva or the BO. Maybe toss a coin. You won't be unhappy with either.)

    2. I would avoid Lucerne as you have a very short time as it is, and you don't need to spend any time in a Swiss city. You will have just come from Venice, and Lucerne can't compare. Ditto (even more so) on Interlaken, a rather charmless town. The Swiss countryside is what you want to see. Even Vevey or Lausanne can't compare, so don't spend a lot of time in either, but spend it on the lake, walking up in the vineyards or a place like Rochers-de-Naye. (Vevey does have a nice Saturday wine/farmers market that is worth a stop if you are there on a Saturday.) If you get a rainy day, the old town of Lausanne is pleasant. If you have more than 1 day, the castle at Chillon is worth considering, esp if you get rain.

    3. To get from Lake Geneva to the Interlaken area, you can take a train. Here are some suggestions:

    --if you truly only have 1 day in Lake Geneva, then you need to take as late a train as possible at the end of that 1 day. You have some choices of departures as late as 8:30 – 9 pm from Lausanne or Montreux which would put you into Wengen (see below) between 10 pm and midnight. Of course most of that will be in the dark, but as the sun sets after 9 pm in July you will get the benefit of some of this in light (these trains don't take the Golden Pass route, mentioned below, but some parts are quite pretty). See rail.ch for info on train options. (Do yourself a favour and either send your luggage ahead – see below – or store it in Lausanne or Montreux on the morning of your only day in Lake Geneva so you don't have to backtrack to your hotel to collect bags. Smaller stations, like Vevey, also have luggage lockers or manned storage, see the rail.ch for information.)

    -If you have more time, and can take the train to the BO at some point on your 2nd day in the Lake Geneva area, then I would opt for the Golden Pass on that second day. This is one of the best "scenic trains" in Switzerland, IMO. See http://www.goldenpass.ch for info. If you can, you might want to think about breaking this up with a stop in Châteaux d'Oex or Gstaad for a couple of hours, and a look around there (from either you could take a regular Swiss train on to finish the journey and don't necessarily have to take the Golden Pass, esp from Gstaad which is almost the end of the best part of the Golden Pass in any event). If you are an early riser, there is a 7:45 am Golden Pass departure from Montreux which might work well to stop for breakfast in Gstaad, and then take a later train onto Spiez (lunch may also work). The 9:45 am Golden Pass has some seats in the very front of the train underneath the engineer and you get a stunning perspective (these trains are like the Japanese bullet trains; the seats are "Golden Place Panoramic avec place VIP". You need to book those ahead of time.). There is a Golden Pass which leaves Montreux at 5:45 pm which would also work if you wanted to have a longer time in the Lake Geneva area.

    --If time allows, IMO the best way to do this trip, is to take the Golden Pass train to the town of Speiz in the BO, and then a ferry for an hour or so down Lake Thun to Interlaken West, then a train up to Wengen. (Stopping in Gstaad or Châteaux d'Oex is optional but would also be enjoyable.) This will be a longish day, but you will be able to see a lot that way. A ferry on Lake Thun is one of the sublime Swiss experiences, IMO, as there are great mountain views all around and the lake is a lovely colour. Sitting out back with a cold beer as you glide along watching the snowy Alps is one of my top 10 travel experiences anywhere. Also, you will be able to do all of this in daylight and see a lot in your short time. Spiez is worth a little stroll in itself, as it has a small castle and church on the lake. In July, everyone's window flower boxes and gardens will be out in force, which are a delight. Just snoop around. (Same with Lake Geneva by the way, but the German side of course does it with more precision.)

    --for ferry schedules on Lake Thun see http://www.bls.ch/e/schifffahrt/fahrplan.php. You can coordinate the ferry departure with the arrival of the train. There is a bus connecting the train station and ferry pier, it takes about 10 minutes between the two. The bus will be timed to meet the train when it arrives and get to the ferry pier before the ferry departs (this is how Switzerland works). (However, if you take the 5:45 pm Golden Pass, then you can't ferry as far as Interlaken West as the times don't work. You could consider a shorter ride to Merlingen, and then a train to Wengen; or a longer ride in the other direction to Thun, and then a longer train ride up to Wengen. See the train and ferry schedules. Or overnight in Spiez and do the ferry the next day.)

    --to make the trip easier, I would suggest sending your luggage ahead of you by train. If you drop it off by 9 am at major stations, it will be in Wengen (or other major mountain towns) by 6 pm, see http://www.sbb.ch/content/sbb/en/desktop/bahnhof-services/dienstleistungen/reisegepaeck/schnelles-reisegepaeck/_jcr_content/tabs/tabItems/tab1/tabPar/downloadlist_2/downloadList/file1.spooler.download.pdf for info. This is an excellent service from Swiss Rail. This will allow you to stop off in Gstaad or elsewhere and not worry about luggage, and also will be a bit easier when taking the ferry from Speiz. (Note that the Montreux baggage office does not open until 8 am, so if you are taking the 7:45 am Golden Pass train you would have to send the luggage the night before, and just go with a small carry on. Or bring some of your luggage with you and send larger pieces ahead the day before. I've done the trip with and without bags, and just prefer not to have bags if I can avoid it. You can store bags in Gstaad for a few hours if you end up taking bags with you.)

    4. Wengen is my personal favourite town in the BO. I prefer it to Grindlewald (which is even more touristy as it gets the bus tours), and it offers more in terms of lodging and restaurants than Murren. Lauterbrunnen is at the bottom of the valley and I personally would not consider staying there.

    --In Wengen, you could do the wonderful Maennlichen to Kleine Schiedig walk, which takes about an hour and is quite easy. Or take the Top of the Jungfrau train. Or possibly do both, as the walk begins or end (depending on which way you do it) near the Kleine Schiedig train station, from where you can get the Top of the Jungfrau train. You could also do the train first, come down and do the walk from Kleine Scheddegg to Maennlichen in the afternoon. How much you can do will depend on weather and your inclination. There are some easy short walks in Wengen, and a nice walk down to Lauterbrunnen (nice going up too, but obviously far steeper). Bring gloves, a hat and layers for any Swiss mountain town; as the weather is rapidly changeable and it can be snowing at the top of the Jungfrau, sunny in Wengen and hot on the lakes.

    5. If you wanted to skip Lake Geneva, you can also get to the BO from Venice by train in 6 - 6.5 hours with only 1-2 changes. There are 3:20 pm and 4:20 pm departures which would put you into Wengen at 10:45 or 11:45 pm (the latter requires a short bus ride from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen rather than trains all the way). Alternatively, you could take the train to Spiez, which you can reach in about 6 hours with only 1 change (Milan or Brig). You could overnight in Spiez and then spend the morning on the lake and then go up to Wengen from there. If you took the 3:30 pm or 4:20 pm from Venice, you would be in Spiez at 9 or 10 pm, with just 1 change.
    There is also a 7:00 am train from Venice which arrives into Speiz at 2 pm (one change in Milan), from which you could take the ferry down the lake and then go up to Wengen. That may be a good use of time.

    6. From Interlaken it is 5 hours to Paris by train, an easy trip. (You need about an hour to get down from Wengen to Interlaken Ost train station.) The latest train is 4:40 pm – arrive 9:30 (change in Basel). Would be light for most of trip.

    Linblue, I have some thoughts for you which I will post in another message, as I don't want to confuse the two.

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    Linblue here are my thoughts and suggestions:

    1. Trying to choose where to go in Europe can be daunting for a first timer. There are so many options, and you probably have a limited amount of time. It's hard to tell what to do. The more you read, the more overwhelmed you can become; one place seems more interesting than the last. I would first say to go with your initial choices, as they probably represent what interests you most.

    2. I would also note that both France and Italy have "glaciers, old villages, etc" so you don't have to go to Switzerland just for those. (Austria and Germany also have them, and Austria's would be less touristed and quite a bit less expensive than Switzerland's. The train ride to Venice through parts of Austria is one of the best in Europe, IMO.) So if villages and glaciers are part of your interests, you may be able to include them in your existing itin. (As I don't know what else that includes besides Paris and Venice, it's hard to advise).

    3. While Switzerland does have glaciers and old villages, I am not sure that setting aside only 1 day to see them is the best way to do so. Also trying to do this in the Interlaken area is not the best choice, IMO, as few of villages in the area which are accessible in that short of a period are "old". While perhaps charming in their own way, they may not be quite the picturesque Swiss villages you may have in mind. (They are surrounded by some lovely countryside, however.) I am not entirely sure you will see a glacier in the Bernese Oberland in that short a period of time. I suppose from parts of the Jungfrau you are looking at glaciers, but one snowfield looks a lot like another to me. If your idea means that you have to give up a day in Venice, I personally would not do it for just 1 day in Switzerland (and I used to live there). Not worth the hassle.

    4. Late September is a bit questionable in terms of weather. The saying there is that summer lasts from June 1 to September 1. There is not much of an autumn. Some cable cars close down for annual maintenance, and resorts start to close and stay closed until right before Christmas. It is generally OK until mid-October, but you may find some closures in late September. The ferries are still running on a summer schedule, which is a good thing. However, it may be foggy and rainy and quite cool to cold in the higher elevations. It will be a matter of luck on the day you are there. If you only have 1 day and it turns out to be a rainy one, you may be wishing you had skipped Switzerland. There is not a lot to do in the Interlaken area in bad weather (fondue and wine do help, however).

    5. All of the above notwithstanding, when weighed against the night train from Paris, IF you have the time to take a day off of your itinerary, and don't mind a bit of a hassle with bags, etc, breaking up the journey with an overnight somewhere in the mountains is not an entirely terrible idea. The night train from Paris departs at 7:30 pm and arrives in Venice at 9:30 am, which is 14 straight hours, more time than I personally like to spend on a train, much as I enjoy train rides. So if you want to break up that journey a bit, my suggestion would be as follows:

    --the very fastest route between Paris and Venice goes via the French Alps (just under 10 hours). So you might break up the journey with an overnight there, perhaps in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne or Modane or the French side or Bardonecchi on the Italian side. It's 4 hours on the train there (no changes; 5 hours with a connection in Lyon), and another 5-6 hours on to Venice after that. I have not been to the French towns, so can't offer any sightseeing thoughts, but perhaps others can. I have been to Bardonecchia which has some gorgeous mountain views, and you can get cable cars up pretty easily as it is a very small town. It would be a scenic train journey on both ends, as you will be in the French and Italian Alps for a good bit of it (although some of it will be in tunnels.) On the way to Venice, you will change trains in Torino, site of the winter Olympics in 2006 to give you an idea of the landscape (the snowboarding was held in Bardonecchia). You will also change trains in Bologna, which IMO is absolutely worth a stop to see (and even an overnight there). The other advantage of France or Italy is that it will be cheaper than Switzerland in terms of accommodation and meals.

    --Another alternative is to take the morning day train via this scenic route and overnight in Bologna (8 hours 1 change in Torino), have a walk around and a great meal in Bologna -- to prepare yourself for the tourist onslaught that will be Venice. Or just take the day train entirely to Venice in the 10 hours to see the countryside.

    --if you still feel the need to go to Switzerland, then take a train from Paris to either Speiz, Thun or Lucerne. A train to any of these will take 4.5 - 5 hours and require 1 change. This will be the very pleasant and fast TGV trains. Spend the day/night in the area. See the suggestions for Speiz and Thun above – take a ferry and go up to Wengen if time allows. I would say to base yourself in Speiz or Thun for a hotel rather than up in the mountains as you have limited time. The advantage to this area over the French/Italian Alps are the huge lakes, the disadvantage is that it is a bit further from the mountains. While I am not a huge fan of Lucerne, with such a short time it could be a good place to go in that you can get a ferry trip in and also get to either Pilatus or Rigi mountains pretty easily. Also if the weather is bad, there is more to do there as they have an old town that is quite pretty. Lucerne is tourist central, so just look it up (including on this Fodors site) for a list of things to do. It is rather expensive for hotels and meals (as is all of Switzerland.) If I were choosing, I would choose Spiez, but Lucerne would work if you want more of a city.

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    Wow, thank you.

    I've given up the overnight train from Paris to Venice idea. It seems a waste of an opportunity to see our surrounds & so many hours confined on a train doesnt entice us.

    That said, we have 1 night free on our way to Venice. Given a detour through Switzerland doesn't add much time and offers a quiet picturesque village to rest in, we will take that route. Ism especially attracted to the sound of Thun and its quick accessibility by train transfer. I've researched the map of the village and selected a promising looking hotel that i have booked for our night. Within easy access from the train station and right on lake Thun.

    The suggestion about ferrying down lake Thun has really got our attention. How good is that! I am not sure yet if ithe ferry would be our in coming journey to Thun or outgoing towards Venice via Milan. Either way, it is an excellent idea and I will try to book the journey to include it.

    Ii was finding trains difficult to price and follow schedules but have been given really helpful advice & links in another post. Although it is too soon to see the date we travel through Switzerland, it seems regular trains run through Basel that connect links to Thun. Alternatively Geneve & Berne do as Owell. The time between Paris to Thun or Thun to Venice is roughly about 5 hours per leg. Not bad especially with scenic views.

    Cold weather could be a problem, not for me but my daughters. They wear woollens even in summer! But they'll survive and are so keen to see Snow! What a treat! We've never seen snow.

    I'll take a look at the ferry idea and let you know hoe I go. Thank you all for your detailed advice and expert knowledge about ithis part of the world.

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    Hello Cicerone,

    thank you for your help earlier, our plans have now changed and I am looking for ideas on how to see some of Switzerland in a small window of opportunity, leaving from Venice on Monday 8th October 12 and need to arrive in Milan by the late anoon of Friday 12th October, so really only 3 days to be somewhere and explore, some scenic train journeys included would be nice, your help will be greatly appreciated,

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    Your message above says you depart Venice on October 12 and have to be in Milan on October 12 as well, so it is not quite clear. It appears you may have 3 weekdays in md-Ocotbet in Switzerland. With that short a period of time, and in October, I am not sure it is worth the time and trouble to do the scenic rail trips in the mountains. October can be a bit iffy in the mountains, and you may end up with fog and rain obscuring the views; and as you only have a very limited time, this may not be the best use of it.

    With that short a period of time, I would suggest the Lake Geneva area. You can do at least part of the Golden Pass. There are also shorter rail trips like to Rochers-de-Naye and the splendid incline railway up to Mt Pelerin.

    The Jungfrau/Interlaken area mentioned above may work as it is a pretty easy trip from Venice and then back to Milan. You can do short rail trips there like up the Jungfrau. (October could be foggy there.)

    The Bernina Express train is a possibility, but see if it works with your schedule. I don't think it will work really well on an itin that is in Italy between Venice and Milan. Getting back to Milan could take longer than you may want.

    You could of course stay closer to Venice and go to the Italian Alps (e.g., Bolzano or Cortina), as that won't take you nearly as long for similar mountain vistas as Switzerland (or cost nearly as much money).

    October is great weather in many parts of Italy; so perhaps you could consider taking your time between Venice and Milan. I know that Cinque Terre is already on your itin as is Rome and Florence; I could easily break up 3 days among those places. I am guessing Modena may not be the top of anyone's list right now, but that may be one place to consider. Bologna is quite interesting even if it does not have mountains.

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    I want to go from Venice to St Moritz, Pontresina.. Engadine area... as discussed above in May 2014, final destination Amsterdam (probably by train or airplane) I plan to spend 6-7 days. Any recommendation for the route and places to stay? Many thanks.

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    Venice to Lake Como - stay on the lake a few days in say Bellagio - hop the train from Varenna to Tirano then the Bernina Pass Railway to St Moritz

    some days there

    go via Chur to Zurich - fly or take the overnight train from Zurich to Amsterdam.

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