Milan, Lugano: car hire or public transport?

Milan, Lugano: car hire or public transport?

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mrandmrsd
mrandmrsd
5 posts
new member
Jan 17, 2016 - 6:18 PM

Flying in to Milan and staying in Lugano for 5 days and it's our first trip to Switzerland; February 20th. We are not big culture vultures but would like to do a nice scenic boat trip, scenic train journey and a bit of retail therapy for good measure.

Can anyone give some iternary suggestions and if we should hire a car or use public transport?

Thanks.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2653 posts
expert
Jan 17, 2016 - 10:01 PM in reply to mrandmrsd

Hi MrandMrs D -

Welcome to the forum.

Lugano is a very nice part of Switzerland.....Italian in character but better organized. ;-)

One of the most spectacular feats of rail engineering is within easy reach -

The Gotthard Pass line over the Alps to Flüelen and return. Or, continue to Luzern or Zürich

Check it out in the timetable:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

and -

map.search.ch/?x=39704m&y=-39408m&z=2

Check out the Wilhelm Tell Express:

www.myswissalps.com/ wilhelmtellexpress

It combines a train portion and a lake boat portion.

Due to time required, you might not want to take the entire route Wilhelm Tell route, as follows. You could probably fit in a portion of the a lake boat trip on Lake Luzern, continuing from Flüelen to Brunnen, then return to Lugano , easily in one day. (That might require some work with train schedules and local trains from Brunnen to get a good connection back to Lugano. Not actually that hard, but perhaps confusing if you are not used to the rail system.) So, you might simply go to Flüelen by train and return, or to Luzern by train and return. Lugano to Luzern by express train - 2 hours and 31 minutes to 2hrs 44 minutes, once per hour with additional trains between those. You could easily have lunch in Luzern and look around for a couple of hours before returning.

Lake boat schedules are running on a limited winter schedule in February...not sure about connections at Flüelen, but the boat schedules are in the time table along with the train schedules. From Brunnen to Luzern is also nice by boat, but it might make a long day for a return to Lugano if you include that section, too.

The train ride is by far the most enjoyable way to go if you do that trip....even still in May, the high alpine passes are still closed due to snow (unless it has been a very warm winter with little snow.) They usually open in early June. And, the auto tunnel through the Gotthard is smelly, ugly and not a scenic drive, for sure! What's more, the driver of an auto has to pay careful attention on those mountain roads -on the train, he or she can watch the spectacular scenery. And driving in February will be difficult on any mountain roads, if you take them.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/lugano.html

If you have not already booked in Lugano, consider staying in Luzern.

5 or 6 hours from Malpensa, but beautiful, and centrally located to see some very attractive parts of Switzerland by train. Definitely Winter weather in late February - a lot colder than Lugano.

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne

Shortest route in the timetable from Malpensa to Luzern is about 5 hours. Not a scenic route.

Others have used a bus connection from Malpensa to Lugano, then caught the train over the Gotthard from there. That bus might be useful for you to get to Lugano.

www.malpensa-express.com/EN/index.p hp/en/schedules

One hour and 15 minutes bus to Lugano from Malpensa+ Express train from Lugano to Luzern - 2 hrs 31 minutes once per hour at xx10, as well as some trains at intermediate times. Total about 4 hours if the connections at Lugano is timely.

Lugano itself is a small town and easily walked...The weather is usually not too cold in February, and the lake there has some nice boat rides.

and there are buses -

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Trasporti_Pubblici_Lug anesi

You won't need a car.

Slowpoke

mrandmrsd
mrandmrsd
5 posts
new member
Jan 18, 2016 - 4:20 PM

Thank you for all that information. We have already paid for our hotel, we are staying at the Swiss Diamond Hotel in Lugano and they have a shuttle service from hotel into the centre.

Going forward, I think public transport is going to be the best option.

Do you think a travel card would be the best option or paying or each journey individually?

Many thanks.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2653 posts
expert
Jan 18, 2016 - 4:38 PM in reply to mrandmrsd

<<"Do you think a travel card would be the best option or paying or each journey individually? ">>

The only way to be sure is to decide on your itinerary.

If you are going to do a whole lot of rail travel, the Swisss Travel Pass often works well.

For moderate travel, the Swiss Half Fare card could be worth while. It costs about 120 CHF and gives half fare on just about everything that moves. ( Some mountain excursion railways and cable cars may be exceptions.)

(The fares in the timetable are already shown as half-fares, because all Swiss carry a half-fare discount card. Double them ( on regular trains, boats, buses) if you have no discount card. Check out the links here:

www.myswissalps.com/sw issrailpasses

These may be useful, too:

www.myswissalps.com/ge ttingstarted

Arno and Annika - the Forum moderators - are the experts on rail passes. I'd wait for their comments, but it will help a lot if you have some idea how much travel you plan to do.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 18, 2016 - 5:08 PM by Slowpoke
Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 19, 2016 - 6:05 AM

Hello!

The two passes Slowpoke mentioned are the ones to consider: Swiss Travel Pass for a lot of traveling without the need to buy tickets, Swiss Half Fare Card for buying 50% discounted tickets for all your trips. It's very likely that buying regular tickets without any rail pass is going to be much more expensive, but you need an itinerary to be sure. The below pages help you decide:

mrandmrsd
mrandmrsd
5 posts
new member
Jan 19, 2016 - 10:34 AM

Many thanks.

I have come up with an outline iternary.

  • Saturday Afternoon Milan Airport to Lugano by train via Milan
  • Sunday Lugano
  • Monday As much as the Wihelm Tell route we can fit in!
  • Tuesday Milan or Bernina Express?
  • Wednesday Luino
  • Thursday Morning Milan centre for a bit of retail therapy if don't do Milan on Tuesday; then on to Airport.

I can see that we are going to have to make a return trip already, so much to do and see.

Arno
Arno
7718 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 19, 2016 - 3:38 PM in reply to mrandmrsd

If you include the Bernina Express a Swiss Travel Pass makes sense (3 days, Monday to Wednesday or Sunday to Tuesday), otherwise a Swiss Half Fare Card would be better. That's my estimate anyway. To be sure, you can do the math as explained in the link I gave you in my last post.

Yes, there's definitely much more to see. So do come back!

Last modified on Jan 19, 2016 - 3:39 PM by Arno
mrandmrsd
mrandmrsd
5 posts
new member
Jan 20, 2016 - 10:28 PM

Been looking at the Bernina Express and I don't think it is really feasible due to our location in Lugano.

Has anyone done the following journey and would it offer a good alternative?

Lugano to Brig to Andermatt and back to Lugano.

Last modified on Jan 20, 2016 - 10:30 PM by mrandmrsd
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2653 posts
expert
Jan 20, 2016 - 11:11 PM in reply to mrandmrsd

<<"Saturday Afternoon Milan Airport to Lugano by train via Milan ">>

That is a trip that I have avoided as much as possible whenever i have come in through Malpensa.

If it fit my schedule, I would take the shuttle bus mentioned earlier. Train travel in Italy is an adventure. The trains are sometimes on time, which means that you always have an adventure. Probably cheaper and certainly faster.

<<"Others have used a bus connection from Malpensa to Lugano, thencaught the train over the Gotthard from there. That bus might be usefulfor you to get to Lugano.www.malpensa-express.com/EN/index.php/en/schedules One hour and 15 minutes bus to Lugano from Malpensa">>

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2653 posts
expert
Jan 20, 2016 - 11:28 PM in reply to mrandmrsd

<<"Been looking at the Bernina Express and I don't think it is really feasible due to our location in Lugano.Has anyone done the following journey and would it offer a good alternative?Lugano to Brig to Andermatt and back to Lugano. ">>

Lugano is a bit out of the way for the best trips in Switzerland, except for the Gotthard pass.

What you propse that you might do is a really nice trip, providing some of the scenery of part of the Glacier Express . But, it gives you a 3rd trip over the southern part of the Gotthard Pass route. That's not so bad, but perhaps not the best way to spend your time. You'll get it twice om Monday.

<<"Monday - As much as the Wihelm Tell route we can fit in!">>

Here are some of the other rail trips that are accessible from Lugano that are spectacular. I have not tried to put together a circular route, and suspect that they might not match your time constraints, but take a look at the timetable..

Rail from Locarno to Domodossola, via the Centovalli. Very light schedule. May not match your constraints. Can then go on to Brig. Or you can go southbound, although I'm not sure how to put together that connection back to Lugano...don't know how far south you might need to go.

Brig to Spiez via the older upper route, using the Lötschberger Express - route through Kandersteg on the time table. Avoid the faster "Lötschberg basis tunnel" which runs under the pass and is certainly not scenic. ;-( Faster, though.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 21, 2016 - 2:28 AM by Slowpoke
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2653 posts
expert
Jan 23, 2016 - 5:54 PM in reply to mrandmrsd

Hi Mrandmrsd -

In another thread I posted somelinks to images of train rides within your reach from Lugano.

Thought you might be interested,.

Scroll down the thread quite away before you get to the links.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/rail-pass-or-car-rental-for-5-nts-this-summer

Slowpoke

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