Train from Germany through Switzerland to Italy

Train from Germany through Switzerland to Italy

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Posts: 5. This thread is closed.
Mermaid
Mermaid
2 posts
new member
Jul 6, 2015 - 3:16 PM

Need advice on buying either Swiss Rail Pass or Point to Point Tickets. Will be traveling in Germany via rental car. Dropping the car in Singen, Germany and want to take the train to Lucerne. Then considering the Wilhelm Tell train/boat or local trains to get to Milan, Italy to rent another car.

There are 3 seniors, one adult, and one 10 year old child traveling together.

Thanks!!

Annika
Annika
4415 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 6, 2015 - 3:24 PM

Hi Mermaid,

How many days will your stay in Switzerland? Do you have any other travel plans, like day trips by cable car?

Mermaid
Mermaid
2 posts
new member
Jul 7, 2015 - 12:57 PM in reply to Annika

Thank you so much Annika for your reply!

Regretfully, just have time to spend one night in Switzerland. The trip begins in Germany visiting family, and will be ending in Rome. We will be leaving Germany along the Southwestern border, and Singen appeared to be a good town for returning the rental car. Planning to overnight in Lucerne as it was on the way and although touristy, beautiful. I've researched taking the Pilatus Round - lake steamer, railway and return via cable car and bus.

I wanted to avoid the expensive one way drop fee of renting car in Germany and dropping in Italy, but more than that, wanted to experience train travel as well. I'm realizing that cost wise, it will not be less expensive for a party of four to take trains north to south through Switzerland. However, I also am not keen on the idea of driving over the Alps on the Gotthard Pass, and I read that the Gotthard Tunnel can have 1-2 hour traffic delays in the summer. Are there tips for avoiding the traffic delays?

I've researched both the Wilhelm Tell Express from Lucerne and the Bernina Express from Chur. Logistically the Wilhelm Tell makes more sense to take however the boat ride portion seems rather long. I've also read that regular train follow the same route as the Wilhelm Tell, but the cars just don't have the large panoramic scenic windows.

My largest confusion lies in trying to understand if the Swiss rail passes allow for train travel outside of Switzerland? As from Singen to Lucerne, Bellizona or Lugano to Milan. It seems simpler to just keep the rental car, but I'm hoping I can figure it out. Is their an online planner for train travel?

Thanks for your help!

Annika
Annika
4415 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 7, 2015 - 2:23 PM

Hi Mermaid,

Swiss rail passes cover Switzerland, and sometimes a few short routes across the border. You can download the map of any pass from our pass pages and see the details. But a pass is likely not worth it in your case. If you pick a very expensive route or cable car a Swiss Half Fare Card is the only one worth considering, but not for just a north to south train ride. Point to point tickets will be fine in such a case.

On your first day you could visit the Rhine Fall and then proceed to Lucerne for the night (see here for hotels). On the second day the Wilhelm Tell route is indeed worth it, including the boat portion. Lucerne to Bellinzona takes less than 5 hours on the boat and the train. That's a lot of time but at least you've seen quite a bit of Switzerland that way, and there's plenty of time left to reach Milan, which is a bit more than 90 minutes from Bellinzona.

You can take any train and boat on the Wilhelm Tell route. It's all explained on the page I linked to. All public transport is in the Swiss timetable.

Avoiding traffic delays is possible by avoiding the busier dates and times (Friday to Sunday are usually the worst days), but with your tight schedule that's not really realistic. It's either waiting for the tunnel or doing the longer ride across the pass if you're comfortable with that. The train is much better for the person who would be driving as you can't pay attention to the road/traffic and watch the scenery at the same time. Also the lake portion can't be done with a car parked at the other end of the lake.

Last modified on Jul 7, 2015 - 2:23 PM by Annika
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2638 posts
expert
Jul 8, 2015 - 12:12 AM in reply to Mermaid

<<"and I read that the Gotthard Tunnel can have 1-2 hour traffic delays in the summer. Are there tips for avoiding the traffic delays?">>

Or much longer, especially on weekends.

The answer- take the train. ;-)

slowpoke

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