Suggestions for Zurich & Cog train

Jan 5th, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Suggestions for Zurich & Cog train

We are taking my in-laws on a 10 day trip to Europe in September 2008. Mom wants to go to Switzerland and Pops wants to see Rome.

The only other requirement is that they both want to ride a "cog train" - I'm thinking maybe up to the Matterhorn? (we don't need an all day ride)

I am open to all suggestions! I always like to hear advice from others before booking to get some ideas.

We like to stay in small family hotels and B&Bs. Hubby and I have trained Italy quite a bit so I'm thinking we can do a train to Rome from....Milan? Maybe drive before that? Or are trains in Switzerland pretty convenient to most places?

I've only ever been to Switzerland once and that was a drive thru to Piacienza stopping in Zurich and Lugano one night each.

Is it easy to stay in Zurich a few days and make day trips?

Thanks to all who answer!
LilyLace is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 05:55 AM
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Hi LilyLace,

Well, fortunately (or unfortunately), you have quite a few cog (or rack) railways to choose from. Here is a list of the Swiss ones, from Wikipedia:

AlpTransit Gotthard (short, non-public line connecting the Sedrun acces shaft to the MGB railway)

Appenzeller Bahnen , also owning (after merger) Rorschach-Heiden-Bahn, Rorschach to Heiden and Bergbahn Rheineck-Walzenhausen (RhW)

Berner Oberland Bahn, also owning Schynige Platte Railway

Brienz Rothorn Bahn

Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke (DFB)

Dolderbahn (Db)

Gornergratbahn (owned by BVZ
Holding and managed by MGB)

Jungfraubahn holding company comprising Jungfraubahn and Wengernalpbahn - the longest continuous rack railway in the world

Matterhorn-Gotthard Railway (MGB) (former Furka-Oberalp-Bahn and Brig-Visp-Zermatt Railway)

Monte Generoso Railway

Pilatus Railway

Rigi-Bahnen (Arth-Rigi and Vitznau-Rigi railways)

Transports de Martigny et Régions (TMR), comprising Chemin de Fer de Martigny au Châtelard (MC)

Transports Montreux-Vevey-Riviera (MVR), owning Chemin de fer Montreux-Glion-Rochers-de-Naye and Blonay - Les Pléiades

Transports Publics du Chablais (TPC), owning (after merger) Chemin de fer Aigle-Leysin, Aigle - Ollon - Monthey - Champéry and Chemin de fer Bex-Villars-Bretaye

Zentralbahn (Zb) (former Swiss Federal Railway's Brünigbahn and Luzern-Stans-Engelberg-Bahn)
not a rack railway but similar technology


The Pilatus and Rigi systems are the closest to Zürich, about an hour away; getting to Zermatt will take about three hours from Zürich. You can get information on each of these trains either at google or at

You can research all your train trips at the Swiss rail site, (in Enlgish).

Have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 5th, 2008, 08:06 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Pilatus is a fun trip. I took the trip from Luzern to the base by boat, then cog-wheel train to the top, cable car part-way down and then gondola. You could do this as a trip from Zurich but it might be easier to stay in Luzern. The whole trip was probably not a half-day depending on how long to spend on top. Another one nearby is Rigi, again not an all-day trip. But beautiful from the top. What I liked about both of these (and I'm sure this is true for most of them) is that there were mountain guide signs on top so you knew which peaks and points of interest you were seeing in the distance.

Have a fun trip!

Trains are very convenient in Switzerland.
cls2paris is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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I would vote for the Pilatus cogwheel train too. It's supposed to be the "WORLDS" steepest cogwheel train. Of course, who really knows.

You can buy a round trip from Lucern. You could take the trolley to Kreins and then the lifts to the top. Have a good luck around the Alps and maybe have lunch there too. It was good and not too expensive when I went.

Then you can ride down the train and then take the boat back to Lucern.

You can get a package price for Pilatus, if I remember. Check the prices at the bahnhof but maybe some travel agents will give a reduction.

The trip to Rigi is great but take just to the half-point stop. Then give your legs a stretch and walk to the top. Of course you could ride all of the way down.

If you decide to spend the night in Lucern, walk over to the bahn for the Gutsch. It's an old hotel (read that as expensive)and there's a cog wheel train to access to the hotel. You can have a drink or two at the bar, since the view over Lucern and the lake is very nice. The price for riding the train was fairly cheap.

Have a good visit.

blackduff is offline  
Jan 5th, 2008, 12:59 PM
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Unfortunately the Gutsch is closed. It is a magnificent place with a magnificent view. Let's hope it is reopened soon.
sebinah is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 06:51 AM
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Wow this is great! More info than I'd hoped - thanks to all!

I am thinking that we will stay in Luzern for a day or 2 to get our bearings and then do the Pilatus trek via cog train/boat/etc as suggested. I am currently looking at the hotel on top "Bellevue" for a night.

It's listed as a 3 *** and looks clean. Our priority is to have bath ensuite which it appaerntly does.

E We have travelled often hopping around so I know my in laws will get a kick out of staying up there for a night!

Any ideas on that please let me know.

Afterward I think we'll train to Rome via Lugano & Milan? Does that make sense?

Thanks again!
LilyLace is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 07:37 AM
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I'd also recommend Luzern as your base. As with much of Switzerland in the higher elevations, clouds and rain may prevent any kind of view. Giving yourself a few days in Luzern increases your chances of a clear day for a Pilatus or Rigi trip.

Staying atop Pilatus does look like fun. The question is whether you want to make the time commitment of packing, schlepping luggage, unpacking and then repeating after only one night stay. Depending on your paren't age or physical condition, this may be more work than it is worth.

To find out about hotel options, go to There you'll read traveler reviews and recommendations for Luzern area hotels.
JN is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 09:46 AM
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I thought the Bellevue was in Luzern, not up on top of Pilatus, but I could be wrong. Remember that at the top of Pilatus, there remains snow for a good portion of the year and it is much colder up there than at the base, so dress accordingly.

It IS a great cog train up and cable ride down!

We stayed at Hotel des Alpes, with a view of the Chapel Bridge, very centrally located. Last time we were there, however, was in 1994, so I can't vouch for it now, but back then, we had a wonderful stay.
Surfergirl is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 10:56 AM
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Surfergirl---there is a Hotel Bellevue on top of Pilatus as well.

Spending the night there is a great idea. LilyLace, did you find the "special offer" on the website? Overnight in Hotel Bellevue, round trip transport on the cogwheel train and/or the cablecar, dinner and breakfast, bit 165 CHF per person.

Here is the link---just click to open the brochure:
enzian is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 04:11 AM
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Wow the brochure is just what I needed - looks great Enzian -thanks!! It will be alot of fun to stay up on top for a night.

Thanks for the tip Surfergirl. I had not thought about the cold yet. We do go on these trips always prepared but of course that might have been something we would overlook.

JN, also a good point about luggage but as we have travelled a good bit together all over the world AND because my inlaws are a bit older we always stick to the one 21" suitcase rule (with a camera or handbag optional). Always something to consider none the less thanks.
LilyLace is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 06:06 AM
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I'd also suggest staying in Luzern for a few days and doing the Pilatus Golden Round Trip. We went in summer. The weather wasn't the best, but the boat trip and views while going up the cog wheel were great. Unfortunately, we got fogged in a few minutes after we reached the top, but we both still enjoyed the whole trip. Take a warm top in case you need it - we did.

Zurich's okay, but smaller towns such as Luzern and Zermatt are nicer to stay in, especially if time is limited.
speckles is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 10:34 AM
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If you get to Zermatt the Gornergrat is a great ride with breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.

gruezi is offline  

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