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PATSAT Mar 17th, 2012 12:13 PM

Train ride through Switzerland and place to stop
We are taking the train from Paris to Milan with our twins (who will be almost 2 years) in early July. We've decided to travel during the day (rather than the overnight train) to see some of the scenery in Switzerland --- what's the prettiest route between Paris & Milan? Also, we plan to stop for a couple of nights somewhere along whatever train route we decide to take. Any suggestions for kid-friendly places that will allow us to feel like we've gotten a taste of Switzerland in a very short stay while toting our toddlers? Tall order, I know!!

nytraveler Mar 17th, 2012 05:24 PM

Where you want to be in Switz is the Berner Oberland - in small towns up in the hills for the "Heidi" Switzerland.

If yuo prefer a small city - head for lucerne - which has a lot to see/do, many hotels and restaurants, steamer rides onthe lakes - to a couple of small villages and either cable cars or cog railways up Mt Pilatus or Mt Titlus.

Have no ides of train routes - since we usually travel by car. But if yuo go to and clicl on the English option yuo can see all of the train options.

swandav2000 Mar 17th, 2012 09:21 PM


I agree with nytraveler that Luzern would be your best choice. It has something of all of Switzerland -- lakes, mountains, history, a charming old town, monuments, etc. It's also just an hour or so off of your route. For more information, take a look at

I think that going to the Berner Oberland will just take up too much time to get there & out again. If you had three or four days, then it would be a good choice; but for just one night, you won't be able to take advantage of being there.

For trains within Switzerland, use the Swiss rail site at


Ingo Mar 18th, 2012 01:15 AM

You can take several routes through Switzerland, all of them are very scenic.

1) Geneva - along the lake and up the Rhone valley, then through Simlon tunnel. Possible stops along the way are Vevey-Montreux (lakeside) or Brig (mountains). Even Zermatt is just a quick side trip and possible overnight stay.

2) Basel - Bern - Lötschberg - Brig - Simplon tunnel. Possible stops along the way are Thun, Spiez (both lakeside), Kandersteg, Brig (in the mountains). A short detour away are the famous mountain villages Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Mürren for the typical Swiss mountain experience.

3) Basel - Zürich - Gotthard tunnel - Lugano. Possible stops along the way are Zug, Brunnen (lakeside). A short detour away is Lucerne (lakeside).

All the lakeside places are also close to, mostly at the foot of the mountains. My recommendation would be 2) with a stay in one of the famous villages for a couple of days.

PATSAT Mar 18th, 2012 11:52 AM

Thanks everyone. A couple of questions:

- Ingo -- are all the routes you mentioned regular train routes (not the special scenic trains)?

- In looking around, one possibility I'd found was taking the train from Paris to Vevey-Montreux, staying there 2 nights to go into Gruyeres (maybe the Chocolate Train - touristy, but perhaps efficient way to see a lot?), take a boat around Lake Geneva, see the castle, and possibly do part of the Golden Pass Express train (I think that's the right name). My fear -- will we feel like we've seen Switzerland if we stay in what seems like a resort town?

My fear in doing the Berner Oberland (Murren & Wengen sound spectacular) is that traveling there (a la trains, cable cars, then to the hotel without a car/taxis) with all our luggage and 2 toddlers will be an ordeal and, secondly, once we're there, doing lots of hiking won't be feasible with our toddlers, so we'd mostly just be riding cable cars and walking around town -- maybe my fears are unjustified?

Ingo Mar 19th, 2012 01:27 AM

- Yes, all of those are regular train routes. Btw, even on the special scenic train routes run regular trains as well - hourly.

- Montreux and Vevey are not "resort" towns. They are *real* towns. Vevey more so than Montreux, granted. The Belle Epoque hotels in Montreux and the flowered lakeside promenade are quite a sight. Not to mention castle Chillon, which is as authentic as it ever gets. Ditto for Gruyeres. I would go up to Rochers-de-Naye instead of doing part of the Golden Pass train (which you'd do anyway, visiting Gruyeres.) However, it's French speaking Switzerland and not the kind of Switzerland the first time traveller imagines. No wooden chalets with flower boxes.

- Changing trains is very easy, convenient. Usually it's on the same platform, just hopping from one to the other. And there is no need for taxis in the car-free villages. The hotels pick up their guests from the station with e-cars. What's so bad about riding cable cars and gondolas? :-) There are plenty of easy walks, especially around Mürren. That would be my first choice.

PATSAT Mar 25th, 2012 02:10 PM

Thanks Ingo and others for your helpful responses. I've done some more research and now we're leaning toward taking the train from Paris to Lucerne. Staying 2 nights in Lucerne. Then leaving Lucerne to Italy by taking: 1) the Zurich to Lugano train through the Gotthard Tunnel or 2) the William Tell Express, or 3) possibly trying to complete a portion of the Bernina Express on our way toward Italy (possibly spending a night in Chur/St. Moritz). I have a few questions for you knowledgeable ones:

- Is the Paris to Lucerne train scenic (i.e., worth taking the time to do in the day), or ordinary enough that a night train is fine?

- Of the 3 possible routes to Italy, the regular train through the Gotthard Tunnel is the quickest --- is it worth the extra time to do one of the other routes or will we get the scenery just as much with this route?

- Is there another route from Lucerne to Italy (ultimately we're headed to Lucca/Viarreggio, so planning on picking up a rental car in Milan) that we haven't thought of that combines scenery with efficiency ---- ultimately, we're trying to get as much in as we can while allowing time for stretching legs, breaks, etc for our almost 2-year-old twins.

Thanks for any thoughts!

Ingo Mar 26th, 2012 01:17 AM

- Have never travelled Paris - Switzerland, so cannot comment on this part. However, Basel to Lucerne is nice, not overly scenic, but I would do it during the day. I am wondering if there is even a night train Paris - Basel, and since it is a short ride, how could you get enough sleep on that train?

- If you are not planning to do a cruise on Lake Lucerne while you're staying there, then I highly recommend the Wilhelm-Tell-Express ... which is basically a boat ride on the lake plus the train to Lugano. You can also do this on your own, not as the W-T-Express version: Hop on any boat that is convenient, get off in Flüelen and take the train to Lugano (-Milan) from there. See schedules for the boats here:

and for trains here:

I saw the W-T-Express boat departs 9.12 from Lucerne, arrives 11.55 in Flüelen. By doing it on your own you travel less expensive, but not in first class, don't get a souvenir etc. It's your choice.

I think going via St. Moritz and Bernina Express is too much of a detour in your case.

- Since you're short on time, I do not think another route is feasible.

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