Travel from Venice to Switzerland?

Apr 11th, 2012, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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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.
fjs is offline  
Apr 17th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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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 !
Hitashi is offline  
Apr 21st, 2012, 03:01 AM
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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?
janpeter3 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2012, 04:09 AM
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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 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.
Cicerone is offline  
May 9th, 2012, 11:49 AM
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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?
Hitashi is offline  
May 11th, 2012, 07:10 AM
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Yes it does, will write with some more thoughts shortly.
Cicerone is offline  
May 11th, 2012, 07:21 AM
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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 -; and www. 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.
PalenQ is offline  
May 13th, 2012, 03:43 AM
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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.
Linblue is offline  
May 13th, 2012, 07:43 AM
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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.
PalenQ is offline  
May 14th, 2012, 07:01 PM
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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!
Linblue is offline  
May 14th, 2012, 08:48 PM
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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.
kybourbon is online now  
May 16th, 2012, 10:32 PM
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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 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 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 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 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 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.
Cicerone is offline  
May 17th, 2012, 08:18 PM
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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.
Cicerone is offline  
May 20th, 2012, 07:44 AM
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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.
Linblue is offline  
May 22nd, 2012, 04:07 AM
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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,
janpeter3 is offline  
May 22nd, 2012, 09:14 AM
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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.
Cicerone is offline  
Jan 7th, 2014, 11:30 PM
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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.
wmlam is offline  
Jan 8th, 2014, 01:50 AM
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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.
PalenQ is offline  
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