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Scenic Route Options between Milan and Zurich

Scenic Route Options between Milan and Zurich

Old Jan 15th, 2014, 04:29 PM
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Scenic Route Options between Milan and Zurich

Hey all,

I have done quite a bit of research but there are still two questions I couldn't answer by myself. Basically I have two days and need to get from Milan to Zurich and I figured I try to get the most scenic train routes as possible. The recommendation online seems to be to get to Tirno and hop on the Bernina Express route to Chur and then onto Zurich. Right now, I have planned a stop in St. Moritz.

1. The legs between Milan and Tirano and Chur and Zurich are as far as I know fixed price so require no previous reservation. Is that true with the Bernina Express route as well?

2. Should I take the actually Bernina Express train or just the regional train?

3. If I were to see a pretty spot/village on the way, is it possible for me to just jump off for a stopover on my ticket?

Thank you guys so much

Nam
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Old Jan 15th, 2014, 06:13 PM
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kja
 
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You will have more flexibility if you take the regional trains rather than the "Bernina Express." The biggest differences, as I understand them, are that the tourist train -- the "Bernina Express" -- has panoramic windows, often fills with tourist groups, and requires a reservation (for a specific train and seat, as I recall). I did not regret taking the regional trains, which sometimes allow one to open the windows. IMO, the southern stretch from Tirano to the area around St. Moritz is truly spectacular. The northern stretch from around St. Moritz to Chur was certainly scenic, but less so, as there are a lot of tunnels and stretches where the track is surrounded by trees, although that is the stretch with some of the most notable engineering accomplishments.

I was glad I chose the regional trains.

Hope that helps!
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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SCENIC ITINERARIES MILANO - ZURICH

a) all the year round, train only:

Milan - Bellano - Colico - Tirano - Bernina - Albula - Chur - Zurich,
Milano C dp 6.20, 8.20, 10.20, 12.20, 14.20 - Zurich ar 15.23, 17.23, 19.23, 21.48, 23.48

Milan - Lugano - Bellinzona - Airolo - Fluelen - Zurich
Milano C dp every 2 hrs from 7.10 until 19.10, 4 hrs journey, important timetable change in mid June

Milan - Brig - Kandersteg - Bern - Zurich
Milan C dp 7.25, 8.25, 11.25, 12.25, 14.47PG, 15.23, 17.25, 18.25, 19.25, 5-6 hrs journey


b) all the year round, train and bus

Milan - Bellano - Colico - Chiavenna - Maloja - Albula - Chur - Zurich,
Milano C dp 6.20, 8.20, 10.20, 12.20, 14.20 - Zurich ar 14.23, 16.23, 18.23, 20.23, 22.48

Milan - Lugano - Bellinzona - Chur - Zurich:
Milano C dp every 2 hrs from 7.10 until 17.10, 5 1/2 hrs journey, important timetable change in mid June

Milan - Aosta - Martigny - Zurich:
Milan Lampugnano dp 7.15, 13.00 - Zurich ar 15.58, 20.58
variant: Milan dp 7.15 - Aosta - Martigny - Montreux - Golden Pass Panoramic - Interlaken - Brunig - Lucerne - Zurich ar 21.56

c) alternatives in summer only:

Milan - train Como - boat - Bellano or Colico - train - Tirano or Chiavenna - .....

Milan dp 12.20, 14.20 - Chiavenna - Splugen Pass - Zurich ar 19.23, 21.48

Milan dp 6.39, 10.25 - Airolo - Nufenen Pass - Grimsel Pass - Brunig Pass - Lucerne - Zurich ar 16.56, 19.56

Milan dp 8.25, 10.25, 12.25 - train up to Fluelen - Lake Lucerne steamboat to Luzern - train to Zurich ar 15.56, 17.56, 19.56

Milano PG dp 9.00 - train - Arona dp 10.15 by Lake Maggiore steamboat - Locarno ar 14.30, dp 16.49 - Treno Panoramico Vigezzo - Domodossola - Brig - Thun - Berne - Zurich ar 21.28
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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2 days and yes the Bernina Pass rail route is a great alternative to going between Italy and Swqitzerland - the only north-south rail line to go up and over the Alps and not tunnel under them as the mainline routes do and IME of years of researching and taking European trains the Bernina Pass rail route is the most awesomely scenic I have been on and I think I've taken every scenic train in Europe!

kja has answered your questions - IME spot on. I also prefer the local trains you can just hop on with a valid ticket - the problem hopping off en route is there may or may not be a place to store your luggage - the two best places would be IMO Alp Grum and Bernina Ospiz - two stations near the summit - a glacier can be walked to around a lovely Alpine lake it feeds - can walk from one station to the other.

For lots of great info on the Bernina Pass Railway check out these IMo fantastic sources: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com - for schedules check www.swisstravelssytem.com. Just buy tickets for the local trains at Tirano - the Swiss station is just across the square from the Italian station but for the official Bernina Express advance booking is essential as yes tour groups IME often book many of the seats and there is a supplement of about $15 I believe. You do get commentary in English on the official Bernina Express and yes the observation cars have glass-domed roofs and there are nice spiffy clean doilies on the seats, which are also more comfy than the locals - but I like the locals because they are rarely full and I can hop back and forth as the scenery dictates.
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Old Jan 16th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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In warm weather some regional (local) trains on this route have open-air cars - basically flat bed cars - the best possible observation cars! No reservations needed - just sit down. I took them once and it was magnificent - a whole different feeling from being inside the train - but even in summer I found it a little cool around the summit.
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