Centovalli Railway questions (from Grindelwald)

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jalessaga
jalessaga
10 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2018 - 2:37 PM

Hi everyone,

My friend and I are planning our trip, and our last night in the Berner Oberland is in Grindelwald. We wan to go to Ascona next, and probably stay in Locarno. To find the best route should I just consult SBB timetables, or are there any "scenic" or panoramic trains that go this way that aren't listed there, or private rail companies?

Looking at SBB.ch, it seems the route that would make most sense from Grindelwald to Locarno is via Domodossola taking 4.5 to 6 hours. For some routes the last train we'd get on is in Domodossola, "43 Direction Locarno FART CENTOVALLI EXPRESS" that takes us to Locarno. I am assuming this *is* the Centovalli Railway scenic route, which is something we want to do. However, if it is included in this route, therefore if we went from Grindelwald to Locarno this way, then we shouldn't bother buying ticket do do the Centovalli Railway from Locarno?

However, we might want to spend some time in Domodossola. Do you think it would make sense to take the train from Grindelwald and get off at Domodossola, stay there a night, and then do Centovalli Express to Locarno? Or should we just take the train to Locarno and do a round trip day excursion on the Centovalli from there? I'm assuming the second option would be more expensive. I'm also not sure how Swiss Rail Passes work when you take the train *from* Italy.

Also, in regards to SBB, these routes also say "Does not operate daily." Is there a way to know which days they don't operate, if it's on a schedule? Also, there are so many abbreviations and icons and symbols on the SBB time tables. I can't seem to find a page or a key that tells me what they mean. Do you know of any?

Thank you so much!

Lucas
Lucas
9577 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 4, 2018 - 4:02 PM in reply to jalessaga

Hi jalessaga

There are no trains operating in Switzerland that aren't on the SBB timetable. It always gives you the most direct/fastest options - in your case that includes taking the Centovalli Express route between Domodossola and Locarno. :)

There are two trains that operate on this route: the panoramic train (TRENO PANORAMICO VIGEZZO VISION) and a regular train. If you take the panoramic train you must pay a surcharge of 1.50 (Swiss Franc or Euro) on board the train.

I'm not sure if Domodossola is worth a full day but if you want to enjoy Italian prices for lunch it isn't a bad idea!

Don't worry about the "does not operate daily" when searching the timetable. If it says it is departing at 13:00 on July 1 then it is - don't worry if it doesn't operate on another day. :) If it is on the schedule for a certain date and time then it is running on that date and time.

The Swiss Travel Pass (for example) is valid for the route from Brig to Domodossola to Locarno - see validity map here. Is there another rail pass you are thinking about?

If you hover your mouse over the symbols they will tell you what they mean. :)

jalessaga
jalessaga
10 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2018 - 5:00 PM in reply to Lucas

Thank you, this is very helpful. And wow, hovering over the symbols.. Should have known!

How do I know if I am booking a ticket for the panoramic train, will it say so on SBB?

If you're not sure Domodossola is worth a day, are there other places you'd suggest that are worth a day near by?. Or is 4 days in Ascona region good enough and no need to try to complicate it?!

Lucas
Lucas
9577 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 4, 2018 - 5:53 PM in reply to jalessaga

Yes, the panoramic train is marked as TRENO PANORAMICO VIGEZZO VISION on the timetable.

Yes, the Ascona, Locarno and Lugano towns are worth your time. Read about my recent trip there here.

Last modified on Apr 5, 2018 - 1:03 PM by Arno
jalessaga
jalessaga
10 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2018 - 7:04 PM in reply to Lucas

I now see that for the train from Grindelwald to Locarno, we can actually get on the panoramic train as the last leg - meraviglioso!

I think you are right there's no reason to put in a night in Domodossola if we can do Centovalli as a part of the train ride down. For our four nights in the region, we're trying to decide between the three lodging options we have in Losone, Minusio, or Lugano. You mention it's a little tricky traveling w/o car by bus and train from Locarno, so we don't want to isolate ourselves. We could also split it up and do three nights in Losone or Minusio, and then one in Lugano. We want to explore smaller towns and villages, explore Locarno, do some hikes, try to find a castle or two, see what Lugano is like. Also, is it worth it and practical do do some kind of day trip (maybe via lake on boat) to Italy? It seems like we've got to see Italy a little more because it's right there!

Last modified on Apr 4, 2018 - 7:25 PM by jalessaga
jalessaga
jalessaga
10 posts
new member
Apr 4, 2018 - 9:10 PM

I think we're deciding to stay all 4 nights in Losone - it's the cheapest option, plus we like a place with a quieter vibe than a bustling city (which is what I've heard/read about Lugano?) Our place is right next to the bus stop so it'll be easy to get into Locarno or Ascona, and I've been reading about the many things to do from there. I think it will be a good relaxing end to our trip. And we'll probably be pretty worn out from all the hiking high in the alps! We do want to make a day of Lake Maggiore. Apparently there are some islands, and it's also a lovely trip to go across the lake to Stresa?

rockoyster
rockoyster
4015 posts
expert
Apr 4, 2018 - 10:07 PM in reply to jalessaga

Does your lodging offer the Ticino Ticket (www.ticino.ch/en/ticke t.html) - very handy.

Bellinzona is castle central. bit.ly/2It1w8p

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Apr 5, 2018 - 1:30 AM in reply to jalessaga

>> We do want to make a day of Lake Maggiore. Apparently there are some islands, and it's also a lovely trip to go across the lake to Stresa?

Lake Maggiore is not covered by the Swiss Travel Pass. Details are here:

www.navigazionelaghi.i t/eng/m_illago.html

The trip is quite nice, but you spend a lot of time out in the middle of the lake. I preferred the lakes where you are closer to shore (i.e. closer to the scenery) more of the time.

As for islands, there are the Brissago Islands in the Swiss Basin of Lago Maggiore:

www.illagomaggiore.com /en_US/26346,Poi.html

Down near Stresa, there are

  • Isola Bella
  • Isola Superiore
  • Isola Madre

Departures from Locarno all the way to Stresa (and return) are limited, so if you want to visit these islands on a day trip from Locarno, you will need to plan carefully with the boat timetables.

www.navigazionelaghi.i t/eng/m_orari.asp

Alpenrose

Last modified on Apr 5, 2018 - 1:30 AM by Removed user
Lucas
Lucas
9577 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 5, 2018 - 8:32 AM in reply to jalessaga

I'm not sure if I would put any Swiss city under "bustling" but maybe in the summer a few like Lugano certainly are with tourists! :)

You shouldn't have any issue getting to Italy - boat maybe but bus/train would be simpler. Like you said it is right there - The town of Porlezza seemed charming (from a distance anyway). :)

You could look at taking a boat to Campione d’Italia (boat stop is Campione). It is an Italian exclave within Switzerland.

Last modified on Apr 5, 2018 - 1:05 PM by Arno

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