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Travelling from Switzerland to Italy or Austria

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Apr 11th, 2006, 05:17 AM
  #1
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Travelling from Switzerland to Italy or Austria

Hi All,

I am planning a trip with a group of 3 to Switzerland and the surrounding countries for the first time July 2006. The Swiss scenic rails seem like sth really cool to do. So instead of flying out, I am exploring the idea of taking a scenic train and continuing on by train to Austria (Vienna) or Italy (Florence).

1. Can someone familiar with the rail system show me the best way to do this?
2. Any suggestions on nice stopovers along the way (even in Swiss)?
3. With 2 days in Switzerland and this train trip, is it worth to get railpass of some sort?

OR...totally different
4. Would this idea sound crazy and unlikely worth the time and money?

Any help will be greatly appreciated!

OctopusPass is offline  
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Apr 11th, 2006, 05:24 AM
  #2
 
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Hi OctopusPass,

Well, I personally LOVE to travel by trains, but I wouldn't make them the focus of my trip. I prefer to be out with my feet ON the mountains instead of watching the mountains whisk by my window.

I suggest you start by deciding where you want to go in Switzerland, then seeing what the train connections are like and finding the most scenic routes.

If you're starting in Vienna and ending in Florence, these places might not be too far out of your way:

Zurich
Luzern
Chur
Lugano

You can find routes & schedules at www.rail.ch.

Good luck!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
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Apr 11th, 2006, 07:13 AM
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Do Italy---Vienna is too far.
Include Lugano in your trip.
bobthenavigator is offline  
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Apr 12th, 2006, 09:17 PM
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Thanks for the ideas. Actually, I am asking because time is a constraint, and in hope to save time, I plan to take flights to get in and out of countries, if that makes any sense. Although, Switzerland Alps makes training travelling so iresistable, so that may be the only place I will take the train. Now here is my options, not sure which is better:

1) Fly into Zurich. Take train to Chur. Take the Bernina Express southbound and take the train from Lugano to Florence. I am so lost in the italian train website that I cannot information about the train to Florence.

2) Fly into Zurich. Take train and stay over in Lucern. Take train to Geneva and fly out Florence or Vienna. But not Alps for this one.

3) I like both Lucern and the Alps. Can I do both?

For the 2 days I allot for Switzerland, which sounds like the better plan?

Thanks
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Apr 12th, 2006, 09:59 PM
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I am not quite sure I understand your message, but here are my thoughts:

The Bernina Express train itself does NOT actually go all the way to Lugano, it only goes to Tirano. From Tirano, you have to take a bus to get to Lugano, but there is NO need to do so if you want to go to Florence, as you can just take a train from Tirano to Florence. Lugano is in fact in the opposite direction. For train schedules, I would suggest you use the rail.ch website, it will give you schedules for all trains in Europe, not just trains within Switzerland.

The Bernina Express is an excellent trip and is one of the best of the scenic train journeys in Switzerland, IMO. However, the train leaves Chur at 8:30 AM each day for Tirano. Therefore, you would have to leave Zurich airport by about 7:30 am in order to be in Chur in time. I doubt that your flight is arriving into Zurich before 6:30 am, which is about the time you would need to land in order to make a train to Chur in time to get the 8:30 am Bernina train.

You do however, have several other options which could work.

1. You can take a "regular" Swiss Rail train from Zurich Airport to St Moritz or Pontresina and stay overnight in this absolutely gorgeous Alp area with lakes, walks, and the lovely little towns of St Moritz, Pontresina and Celerina. This is an unknown area by many on this board who tend to head to Lucerne and the Bernese Oberland and skip this area which is just as beautiful and really untouristed by Americans, although well known by Italian and other European tourists, and the Swiss love it themselves. You can get from Zurich Airport to the St Moritz area in just under 4 hours with only 2 changes required. The ride from Zurich to St Moritz would include the SAME route which would be followed by the Bernina Express, including the incredibly beautiful portion between Fillisur and Celerina. For this portion you do not, IMO, need the panorama cars which you would need for the glacier portions, so you are fine in the regular Swiss Rail cars. This option will give you some time in the glorious Alps rather than just looking at them from a train, and is much better IMO than going to Lucerne which is a city that looks up at the mountains but is not in them. (You could even go to the truly charming village of Guarda and stay there overnight, that is only an hour from Pontresina and St Moritz). After an afternoon, evening and morning spent in the St Moritz area walking and exploring, you can get on the Bernina Express in St Moritz (it departs daily from the Pontresina/St Moritz area at several times between 9:30 and 11 am) and take it up and over the glaciers and down into Tirano. From Tirano, you can get a train to Florence in 6 hours, with 1 change required in Milan. There is a 3 pm train to Florence from Tirano which you could easily make from any of the Bernina Express trains, this would even give you time for lunch in Tirano. You would arrive in Florence at around 9 pm.

2. You could overnight in Zurich (a lovely little city and well "worth" a day), and could then take an early morning train to Chur and get the 8:30 am Bernina Express to Tirano and then the train to Florence from there. NO chance to walk in the Alps with this option, but you can take ferry rides (if your trip is after June 1) and enjoy this lovely city.

3. If you wanted to take a train directly from Zurich Airport to Florence and skip Zurich and the Bernina Expres altogther, you can take a train in 8 hours with 2-3 changes, it is a nice ride and very pretty in parts, although I have to say it is not nearly as beautiful nor as dramatic as the train ride up to the St Moritz area in the Engadine and the Bernina Express up and over the glaciers.
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Apr 13th, 2006, 02:39 AM
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Hi OctopusPass,

I strongly encourage you to pick Cicerone's option #1. I do hope that you can plan to return to Switzerland to spend more time & see more!

s
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