How to ride the Centovalli railway between Switzerland and Italy

Centovalli Railway

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Must knows about the Centovalli Railway

  • The trains depart from both Domodossola and Locarno in underground stations; be sure to keep an eye out for signs directing you!
  • Some trains require a small surcharge to be paid on board;
  • From Domodossola, one can travel on to Brig and connect to the famous Glacier Express train;
  • From Locarno, one can travel on to Lugano to connect to the Gotthard Panorama Express or Bernina Express.

A train on the Centovalli railway is crossing the river Melezza near Intragna.

The Centovalli railway

The Centovalli railway offers a unique train journey across remote valleys in northern Italy and southern Switzerland. It's part of the rail connection from Brig to Locarno.

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A journey on the Centovalli Railway

The scenic route runs through the Centovalli (meaning "100 valleys" in Italian) and shows another kind of Switzerland: rocky gorges, quaint stone villages, and many waterfalls. A ride on this train is either a very nice day trip, or a good way to travel from south-west Switzerland (Geneva, Montreux, Zermatt) to south-east Switzerland (Locarno, Lugano, St. Moritz)

The route

The Centovalli trains run between the Italian town of Domodossola to Locarno, in the canton of Ticino, Switzerland. It runs across 83 bridges, 31 tunnels and along numerous waterfalls as it winds its way through the narrow valleys in the region.

Read more about the route here.

The trains

There are two types of trains that travel this route. The most attractive one is the panoramic windowed trapezoidal shaped Treno Panoramico Vigezzo Vision. Additionally there is the more standard train named Centovalli Express. Both trains run quite slowly, but make for a pleasant experience to soak up the views and take pictures.

If taking the Treno Panoramico Vigezzo Vision there is one special seat situated beside the driver in the first train carriage. Great for photographers and videographers! Also this train offers catering service with snacks and beverages.

What’s the best season?

Any season can be great if the sky is clear enough to enjoy the views. However, with several waterfalls along the route, spring time (late March to mid June) can make a for a very pleasant experience. We think winter is the least interesting as this area typically does not get much snowfall, and there can be some grey, rainy days instead.

Lago Maggiore Express

The Centovalli railway is part of the Lago Maggiore Express: a day trip including a boat ride and a regular train as well.

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Insider tips about the Centovalli Railway

  • Stop at the town of Re for a visit to the enormous and spectacular church, The Sanctuary of our Lady of Blood.
  • Numerous hikes into the valleys are available that can be started from many stops along the route. One popular route is started from the town of Verdasio with a cable car ride to the car-free town of Rasa. The hike then goes to Corcapolo or Intragna.

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