Swiss_NItaly Logistics

Old Jun 16th, 2005, 04:03 PM
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Swiss_NItaly Logistics

Hello All,
I received some great advice a couple months ago as I initiated my plans for a trip to Switzerland and Bellagio. Now, as the trip draws closer, I am back to inquire about more specific details of travel to this region. From my questions, you will realize I am basically a novice traveler to Europe. I apologize in advance if my questions are a little foolish.

So, here it goes.

Rail Pass Purchase: After doing some investigation, I think the most cost-effective choice for us is the Swiss Card. My concern with the Swiss Card vs the Swiss Pass is (1) We are traveling in Aug. Are the lines going to be long? If so, I am willing to pay the extra money for the convenience of avoiding them. (2) Is English spoken well enough that I will easily be able to purchase tickets? (3) Another benefit of the Swiss Pass is that I can use it in both Luzern and Montreux on the city transportation. How does buying tickets for buses work with a Swiss Card? Do you need exact change?

Bernina Express to Bellagio: After arriving in Tirano (post Bernina Express trip), we are heading to Bellagio via train to Varenna-Esino and ferry across. Upon reaching Tirano, I am guessing that ATMs will be readily available to obtain Euros, right?

Bellagio_Villa Balbianello: Is it easy to find a tour to this location or should I plan in advance? I believe the Villa is only open one day that we will be in Bellagio. I definitely don't want to miss seeing the gardens here.

Berner Oberland Hiking: Since we will only be here a few days, we need to set our priorities on what we would like to do. If you could only do one hike which would you choose: First to Bachalpsee or Murren to Grutschalp with a stop off at Trummelbach falls? How long would each hike take? I think the Murren hike is 1 mile, how far is the First hike?

Castle De Chillon: We are arriving at 930am in Geneva and then plan to spend only one night in Montreux prior to heading to Berner Oberland via Golden Pass. Will we have time to see Chillon on the day we arrive or should we see it the next day and take a late afternoon train?

I am so excited about this trip. I thank you all for your help in making it the best I possibly can.


wsm211 is offline  
Old Jun 16th, 2005, 05:29 PM
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I can answer one of your questions.

You should have more than enough time to see Chateau de Chillon on your arrival day unless your trip is late in the year when the sun sets relatively early. Quite a bit of the Chateau is seen only by daylight. By the way, we enjoyed it very much and spent perhaps 3 hours there. We walked (about 20 minutes?) along the lakeside path from Montreux and took the bus back.

I would ask your hotel (in Bellagio?) about Villa Balbianello. Local and most up-to-date info is always best.

Jean is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2005, 04:33 AM
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Hi wsm211,

Though I usually encourage people to linger at Lac Leman, I'll tell you that you can easily get to Chillon on your arrival day.

It'll take you about an hour (1h03, 1h09, or 1h14) to get to Montreux by train. The walk from Montreux to Chillon is 2.9 km, and, according to, it'll take 43 minutes. So you can easily get there by lunchtime. I always like to vary my travel modes, going one direction by ferry and return by foot or by bus. You can get ferry schedules at

Now I'll see if I can respond to some of your other questions:

Yes, train ticket lines can be busy in August, especially in the central tourist areas like the Bernese OBerland. But I think the longest you'll have to wait is 5-7 minutes, as they always add more clerks when lines are long. There are also lots of ticket machines available at many stations. You can also print up your tickets now from the SBB site, but I think you can only do this 4-5 days ahead of time.

Yes, ticket agents speak excellent English. Conductors less so, but always enough to communicate.

Yes, you'll need exact change for the bus.

Have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
Old Jun 17th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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Your trip sounds wonderful, wsm. You mentioned your willingness to spend more for the convenience of hopping on and off Swiss trains, buses, boats, and city transport with the Swiss Pass. If money is no big deal, then I surely would splurge. I love the Swiss Pass for that amazing spontaneity. J.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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For the train out to Montreux from the Geneva airport (are you flying in? this is your first stop?) be aware that most of the trains you have to transfer at Lausanne. There is one train per hour that goes direct thru to Montreux. The ride is approx 1 hr. 15 mins. and very beautiful.

Paying for a bus ride in Montreux people board and use a self-service machine to purchase their own ticket. I'm not sure how that would work with a Swiss Pass. It was not expensive and we used coin/CHF.

Buying individual train tickets you can do from a self-serve machine or at a ticket window. Someone (if not everyone) will speak English in my experience.

As already figured out, you can easily do Chillon either day. It's wonderful.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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Actually, if you check the rail schedules you'll find there are many trains which originate at the Geneva Airport station and travel directly through to Montreux which do not require a change in Lausanne; certainly more than only a couple per day.

I would agree that you would have little trouble being understood at ticket windows in Switzerland; personally I have always used the SwissPass for a variety of reasons to include the convenience.

You can either take the train to Montreux and walk to Chillon along the lakefront (there is actually a rail station very close to Chillon itself but, unfortunately, trains stop there rather infrequently) or you can take the bus to and from the rail station.

If there is an ATM where you can get Euros in Tirano I would definitely do it there; otherwise get some somewhere before you arrive in least get enough to get you to the first working ATM.

For the best lake views down to Varenna-Esino you'll want to sit on the right side of the train (facing forward).

Are you traveling on point-to-point tickets in Italy? How are you getting back from Bellagio to.....?

You can walk from the RR station in Varenna down to the ferry dock (all downhill....easier if you have rolling luggage) and it takes 10-15 minutes max..sometimes taxis meet arriving trains. Ferry tickets at the ferry problem being understood there, either.
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Old Jun 17th, 2005, 09:51 AM
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There is 1 train each hour for sure that goes direct thru to Montreux.

It's the exact same time each hour (for instance, the 12.17, 13.17, 14.17, etc. I'm not sure the 17 is correct but you get the idea).
suze is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2005, 01:35 PM
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Thank you for the responses.

We are flying into Geneva with an arrival time of 930am. However, I think the consesus is that Chillon can be accomplished on the first day.

Intrepid1, Thanks for the tip on which side of the train to sit on and, yes, we were planning to do point to point in Italy.

Swandav2000, thanks for the ferry schedule link. I agree with your technique of using different modes of travel. My plan is probably to catch the ferry there and then take the bus back.

Thanks Again.
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