Lugano to Zermatt - by car or train?

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1 post
new member
May 8, 2018 - 11:40 PM


We are traveling to Switzerland in June for our honeymoon. We will be in Bellagio, and then will take a train/transport to Lugano, to start our tour of Switzerland, either via train or car, with our primary goal the Zermatt and Mont Blanc areas. We will need to be in Geneva or Zurich a few days later to catch our flight to London. My questions:

1. Should we rent car in Lugano? (we would return to airport, either Geneva or Zurich). I am confused on the cost of trains with the Swiss HFC or Swiss Rail pass, but it looks like the trains would be more money than the car. Please explain if there are benefits to purchasing either a HFC or SRP for a 3-4 day (max) trip in Switzerland.

2. Lugano to Iselle: is this a good route for scenery? I have read about the train at Iselle that goes through the mountain to Brig, and seems like a neat option to cut out some drive time.

3. Zermatt: what are the recommendations for the following: A)car park/garage in Tasch B)hotel recommendations, should we book now? C) what cable cars/mountain transports are open in June (2nd week)? D)other closures/issues we should know about in June? E) how many days (1 or2) in Zermatt for a good hike, good views/cable car ride, etc?

4. Chamonix/Mont Blanc to Geneva VS heading direct to Zurich: from Zermatt, what is a nice scenic route for a one day/one night trip? Is it better to go to Geneva via Chamonix/mont blanc? Or go to Zurich? (flights are about the same from either hub to London).

I hope I've provided enough information. Thank you for your help!

Kelli and Matt

4918 posts
May 9, 2018 - 12:28 AM in reply to KelliAndMatt

Hello Kelli and Matt,

I won't attempt to answer you specific itinerary questions at this stage but will say this . . . .

Read rversustrain. It should convince you to travel by train.

The choice of a rail pass depends largely on your specific itinerary, you budget and your desire for convenience via the largely ticket free travel afforded by the Swiss Travel Pass. You should read “How to choose the best travel pass” ( ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass), download the handy spreadsheet calculator and do the math.

For 4 days I would just buy a Swiss Travel Pass unless you are a keen fan of spreadsheets.

You also need to become familiar with the SBB Timetable.

Last modified on May 9, 2018 - 12:31 AM by rockoyster
5675 posts
May 9, 2018 - 1:34 AM in reply to KelliAndMatt

<<"Should we rent car in Lugano? (we would return to airport, either Geneva or Zurich). I am confused on the cost of trains with the Swiss HFC or Swiss Rail pass, but it looks like the trains would be more money than the car.">>

Could well be true.

Did you check the costs associated with a return of your rental car to a different location than the one at which you rented? It may not be a specific fee, rather, a higher total cost.

Assuming it is a higher cost to go by train, you'll not have to drive, so you can look at the scenery, too.

The train is a very relaxing way to deal with mountain travel. Are you used to driving mountain roads?


4918 posts
May 9, 2018 - 1:56 AM in reply to KelliAndMatt

OK. I'm back.

I answered you Q1 I think so here goes on the rest.

Q2. Iselle is on the route from Domodossola to Brig. You would normally take the Centovalli Express from Locarno to Dodmodossola but there has been a landslide on that route and the train has been replaced by a bus. It is still probably the best way to get from Lugano to Zermatt though.

Q3. I would say 2 nights in Zermatt. Everything should be running in June. Not sure about hiking trails. Chamonix is a fair bit of a detour off the route from Zermatt to Geneva. I would go Zermatt to Zurich via Kandersteg, Meiringen and Lucerne. Stop off in the Jungfrau region if you have a day up your sleeve.

Last modified on May 9, 2018 - 4:24 AM by Lucas
12288 posts
expert &
May 9, 2018 - 5:53 PM

Hi Kelli and Matt,

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! You certainly don't need a car in and around Lugano. Public transport is perfect and allows for more flexible day trips than a car. I was in the area yesterday and decided at the last minute to take another boat than originally planned. It happened to depart just as we arrived at the dock. No difficulty with tickets either because we had a Swiss Travel Pass and could just board any train/boat/bus as we liked. With a car you are forced to go back to the place where you parked, and paid the parking fee. You don't need a car in Zermatt either as cars are prohibited there (one of the reasons why the town is such a wonderful place).

To reach the airport with a car you would need to check for traffic jams to be sure to get there in time. Of course things can go wrong with trains too, but mostly it is very reliable. With a car you need a lot of extra time just in case. Plus time to return it. I spent 2.5 hours in a traffic jam before the Gotthard tunnel, so this is from experience :-) If you arrive at the airport by train you simply walk over to the check-in area in no-time.

Last modified on May 9, 2018 - 5:53 PM by Arno

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