Swiss itinerary- May 2019 Lucerne, Zermatt, Lugano

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DavidW
DavidW
2 posts
new member
May 27, 2018 - 11:19 AM

My wife and I are in the process of planning a long dreamt of European Trip in 2019. We would appreciate some thoughts, suggestions etc on the plans so far.

Don't worry if we have completely gone about it the wrong way please do not be afraid to tell us, we will not be offended, we really need some good advice.

We have booked a 14 night River cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam commencing on April 13th

We then plan to spend 2 nights in Amsterdam before taking the train to Paris, where we will stay for 4 nights.

We then expect to travel to Lucerne on the 3rd May, where we will stay for 5 nights. We then hope to take the train to Zermatt, to stay 2 nights then taking the Glacier Express on the 10th May to St Moritz and to stay for 2 nights in the St Moritz area.

The planning so far suggests that on the 12th May we take the Bernina Express to Tirano and then the Bernina Bus to Lugano.

We then would like to spend 4 to 5 days in the Italian Lakes area and to then spend a further 4 weeks around Italy travelling down as far as Rome, and then returning to South Australia from Rome.

So now I have finally got to the questions that we have to ask, I realise that I have to keep to questions relating to the Switzerland part of the trip. Whilst we realise that most people would do this in a much quicker time span than we are planning, we are not getting any younger and want to really enjoy the experience.

1/ We are thinking that we should buy (I understand that there are no "Senior" discounts available) a 2nd class "15 Consecutive Day" Swiss Travel Pass, would that make sense?

2/ Should we consider staying over night at Tirano, rather than doing the Train and Bus Trip in one day?

3/ Here I'm going to use a little "licence" as the question involves Italy as well as Switzerland. We intend to stay at Lugano at the end of the Bus trip to that town from Tirano. We are wondering if we should consider using Lugano as our base for the Italian Lakes or should we be moving, say, to a couple of other towns. If we should. some suggestions on some sort of Itinerary, for the lakes area, would be much appreciated. I now realise that I am probably going to get into trouble here as I should probably be saying "The Swiss/ Italian Lakes".

4/ If we stayed at Lugano would our "Travel Pass" be of any assistance to us whilst in the area, ie on the lakes or local bus trips, bearing in mind that we would probably be crossing the border at some stage and I'm not sure if that is allowed.

5/ Are there any suggestions on improving our plans?

Regards, and thanks for your responses in advance.

David Williams

South Australia

Lucas
Lucas
9206 posts
expert &
moderator
May 27, 2018 - 3:56 PM in reply to DavidW

Hi David and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Sounds like a lovely holiday!

  1. Probably yes. But to know which pass is the best for your specific itinerary you need to plan out all trips you will make (train, bus, boat, cable car) and compare the prices for regular tickets to the rail pass price (and which routes/mountains are free or discounted). Once you have that information you can read our page here on how to choose the best rail pass. There is a spreadsheet there to help with the math. :)
  2. I don't think so. The train to Tirano is only 4 hours and it isn't a terribly exciting city. The Glacier Express is 8 hours in comparison.
  3. Lugano is a good base for the Swiss region at least. I can't say about the Italian region as I haven't been there. Como or Bellagio are popular I believe.
  4. The Swiss Travel Pass covers you on buses and trains and some boats there yes. Some others it will get you discounts. The PDF map here (https://www.myswissalp s.com/swisstravelpass/ validity) gives you a good overview of Switzerland routes in general but not too specific on Lugano.
  5. I think the itinerary seems quite nice and relaxed and makes sense in my head. If you are looking for things to do on each day try the following links for ideas:

Hopefully that gets your started and I'm sure a few other members will chime in as well. Let us know if you have more questions!

May isn't the best time for hiking just so you are aware, but I'm not sure if that is on your agenda. Some mountains will be closed for cable car maintenance as well as an FYI but many will be open.
We don't have a specific Lugano or Ticino region page yet but I took a weekend trip there in March and you can read about it here for some ideas.

Last modified on May 27, 2018 - 3:59 PM by Lucas
Removed user
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May 28, 2018 - 1:47 AM in reply to DavidW

Hi David,

>> We then expect to travel to Lucerne on the 3rd May, where we will stay for 5 nights.

If you are planning to visit Pilatus, the cogwheel train from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm opens between the beginning and middle of May, depending on when the track is cleared of snow. If it is not operating during your stay, you can go up and back on the cableway from Kriens.

All the other mountain transport will be operating.

>> We then hope to take the train to Zermatt, to stay 2 nights

The fastest route to Zermatt from Luzern takes about 3.25 hours, with transfers at Bern and Visp. This route is fastest because it avoids the mountains by travelling through some flatter parts of the country and through long tunnels underneath the mountains. If you have time, you could take one of two longer (but more scenic) routes:

  • Part of the Golden Pass route on the Luzern-Interlaken Express over the Brünig Pass to Interlaken Ost, followed by the Lötschberg mountain route from Spiez to Brig via Kandersteg (about 5.75 hours). To get this route in the timetable, plan the trip Luzern to Zermatt via Meiringen and Kandersteg.
  • Part of the Gotthard Panorama route, followed by part of the Glacier Express route (about 6 hours). To get this route in the timetable, plan the trip Luzern to Zermatt via Andermatt.

At Zermatt, the Gornergrat railway will be operating, but the cableway to Klein Matterhorn/Glacier Paradise will be closed for maintenance, as will the funicular to Sunnegga (and cableways higher up).

>> then taking the Glacier Express on the 10th May to St Moritz and to stay for 2 nights in the St Moritz area.

St Moritz is very quiet in May. Nearly all of the mountain transport will be closed for maintenance, and some hotels, restaurants and shops will also be closed.

However, the Diavolezza cable car will be operating, and this is definitely a worthwhile trip to do. You get the train from St Moritz to Bernina Diavolezza (a request stop), then the cable car up to Diavolezza, where you can view the glacier.

The Diavolezza cable car is not covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, even for a discount.

However, if you stay more than one night at a hotel that participates in the "mountain railways included" arrangement, they will give you a pass for free transport on the local railways, buses, cable cars and funiculars. Participating hotels include budget hotels. The pass is valid from 1 May to 31 October.

There is more information about the free mountain transport pass here:

www.engadin.stmoritz.c h/sommer/en/bergbahnen -inclusive/

If interested, there are some photos of the Diavolezza attached to my post of Jul 28, 2017 - 5:42 AM on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/alternate-trains-for-glacier-express

>> 2/ Should we consider staying over night at Tirano, rather than doing the Train and Bus Trip in one day?

I agree with Lucas that Tirano is not worth an overnight stay.

>> 4/ If we stayed at Lugano would our "Travel Pass" be of any assistance to us whilst in the area, ie on the lakes or local bus trips, bearing in mind that we would probably be crossing the border at some stage and I'm not sure if that is allowed.

The Swiss Travel Pass is valid for boats on Lago di Lugano (Lake Lugano), but not on Lago Maggiore (at Locarno).

However, your hotel will give you a (free) Ticino Ticket, which will get you a 20% discount on day passes (not on individual tickets) for the Swiss part of Lago Maggiore. That will take you as far as Brissago, including the Brissago Islands. A stop at Ascona, which has a picturesque waterfront promenade, is also recommended.

www.ticino.ch/en/ticke t.html

www.ticinotopten.ch/en /parks/brissago-islands

The Swiss Travel Pass is also valid on PostBus routes in Ticino and local buses in Lugano and Locarno (among other places), and will also get you a 50% discount on most mountain transport in the area, including the Monte San Salvatore and Monte-Brè funiculars. The discount for the funicular to Madonna del Sasso in Locarno is 25% (but it is a very cheap trip).

Alpenrose

Last modified on May 28, 2018 - 6:12 AM by Arno
DavidW
DavidW
2 posts
new member
May 28, 2018 - 10:49 AM

Hi Alpenrose666 and Lucas

Thank you for your prompt replies, which are greatly appreciated.

Your responses have raised several further questions and I'm sure that there will be more. I will post them in a couple of days once I have worked them all out.

Regards

David Williams

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