travelling from Switzerland to Italy

Nov 4th, 2009, 06:24 AM
Original Poster
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travelling from Switzerland to Italy

I am planning a trip to 2 and a half week trip to Italy for next April (18 total days on the ground, not counting travel to and from Europe). But I thought I might start with a couple days in Switzerland (Zurich), followed by train trip through the alps. My planned first destination in Italy is Venice. The thing I am unclear on is how scenic the trip by train would be(my understanding from other threads is that a lot of trains go under the alps, which kind of defeats the purpose of taking the train). If it isn't (scenic that is), what would be a good alternative. I know about the Bermina Express, but that seems to involve starting in Chur or St. Moritz, which would complicate my itinerary.

Also, would I have a better route if I started in another city in Switzerland (I am not emotionally committed to Zurich at this point)

Any thoughts?
glenmd is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 06:31 AM
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Hi glenmd,

Yes, my first suggestion for you is to do the Bernina Pass, and I'm not sure why it would necessarily complicate your journey. Just take the train from Zürich to Pontresina (which I like a lot more than St. Moritz) and stay there for one or two days, then go onward on the Bernina Express. The Bernina Pass is one of my favorite train trips, as it goes over the Bernina pass, past glaciers, etc. It's very scenic.

My other suggestion is to take the train from Zürich to Brig, which is right on the train line to Milan. From Brig you can take a day-trip to Zermatt, home of the Matterhorn, or take numerous walks out to the mountains. Or, you could go on and stay in Zermatt for a few days.

I guess I think it would be a better idea to stay for one or two days in a mountain town rather than stay in Zürich and only see the mountains from a train window. As nice as the Alps are from a window, they are hundreds of times nicer with your feet on 'em and the wind in your hair!

Do you have the Swiss rail site to research all your journeys? If not, it's at

Have fun!

swandav2000 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 06:57 AM
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Is it possible to do Venice first then Switzerland? Although I was in Wengen in September and took the train to Chur. The next morning I went by train to St. Moritz. I did not go on the Bernina Express because on the way to Switzerland, I went from Lake Como to Tirano and took the Berina Express to Chur.
scatcat is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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Zurich is primarily a business city and you don;t want to spend a lot of time there. And yes, most trains (and highways) go under the mountains not over them. Esp in April mountain passes are often still blocked by snow and the roads impassible (some don;t open until early June). So, you need to pick a special scenic train if that's your main objective.

Why not stay IN the mountains instead of in Zurich - then you can get to italy the most convenient way.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 11:32 AM
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Hmmm, Pontresina seems to be a possibility, according to it's website there are some nice walking trails that are available in the winter. I had thought I might spend a little time in Zurich, but most of my vacation will be in cities, so maybe this would be a better way to start.

I could reverse the order of my trip, however my trip plans involves spending 4 or 5 days in Rome at the end of my trip. If that becomes the beginning, well that puts me in Rome in the middle of the Easter long-weekend. I haven't looked into it closely, but I am guessing the heartland of the Roman Catholic Church is probably NOT the best place to be (crowds and expense wise) on the most important religious holiday on the Christian calendar. I could be wrong of course.

Thanks folks, I think Zurich is out (well, maybe I will spend the day of arrival in Europe there, depending on what time my flight ends up getting in. (I have booked nothing, just planning right now)
glenmd is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 11:45 AM
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The train journey from Zurich to Milan has stunning views and is well worth it. The trains don't exactly go 'under' the mountains but wind through tunnel and passes, you aren't in a tunnel all the time!!!!!
Zurich is very pretty

although I found it a little dull.
alihutch is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 12:52 PM
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I wrote a reponse this morning, endorsing swandav's idea of taking the Bernina Express to Pontresina. I must not have hit "post" as it doesn't appear!

Anyway. . . I was considering this route myself for our trip next year, flying into Zurich and heading into Italy. Pontresina makes a good overnight stop and, like many Swiss villages that serve as ski bases, offers winter walking paths as well.

From Pontresina, you need to take the Bernina Express route only as far as Tirano. From there, you can transfer to the train to Milan and onward to Venice.
enzian is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 03:34 PM
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I'm taking the train from Zermatt to Venice after my 10 day hike in Switzerland. It is a 7 hr ride
RobertR is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 04:46 PM
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Glen, check prices for airline tickets. Often, I find that flying into Frankfurt is much cheaper than flying into Zurich (I need to go to a place between the two cities so both airports work for me).

Zurich is just a business city, it's nice but not very interesting for a tourist. Zurich is also very very expensive, especially hotel prices.
germanblonde is offline  
Nov 4th, 2009, 04:50 PM
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oh, if you are using points what I said about airfares won't matter.
germanblonde is offline  
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