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6 day round trip from Milan or Geneva

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6 posts
new member
Jan 13, 2016 - 12:05 PM


I'm looking at planning a 6 day trip through Switzerland in May and need some advice. I can either fly into/out of Milan and or Geneve but Zurick is not an option. Any suggestions on how to plan family oriented train trip with 4 days of travel in the heart of the country coming from either of these two cities? I wasn't sure if it made sense to take the Bernina express and work my way up to Zurich , then back down through Luzern, Interlaken, Bern and back to Milan. Or start in Geneva go east through the same region and finish in Milan. Or work my way into Austria after the Bernina Express and flying home from somewhere like Munich.

I have little kids and just want to see as much of the landscape as possible in a short period of time.

Any suggested itenaries would be helpful since I am very unfamiliar with the country.


7567 posts
Jan 14, 2016 - 12:08 AM in reply to tblevins78

Hi Tblevins78

I recall that 78 was a good year in Bordeaux. .;-0

May is great in the lower altitudes, but not so good in the higher Alps. Actually, rather awful. Weather and conditions can change quite a bit from early May to late May.

What are your travel dates?

How old are your children? There are some excellent playgrounds here and there around the country.

Have you fixed on the Bernina Express? Nice as it is, there are other routes from Italy that I (my opinion only) like better.

And, as an alternative, entry through Geneva gives you more time in the country.

No need to go to other countries to get a variety of scenery and regional cultures.


Last modified on Jan 14, 2016 - 12:49 AM by Slowpoke
6 posts
new member
Jan 14, 2016 - 7:25 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks for the reply!!

I have a little flexiblity but I'm looking at travel dates from 4 May to 8/9 depending on flights from Copenhagen. Flying to Zurich is almost 5x as much as flying to either Geneva or Milan.

My childeren are 6 and 3. They are both in love with trains so we wanted to do scenic train trip somewhere but wasn't sure exactly where to go. I was only hung up on the Bernina express because of what I have read and the route that it takes out of Italy seem to make sense. I'm up for any suggestions though.

Is there a better time of the year to come and see the scenary in the higher alps?

16099 posts
expert &
Jan 14, 2016 - 8:16 AM in reply to tblevins78

Well, any time is a good time if the weather cooperates and if you adjust your activities to the season. For hiking at higher altitudes, Spring is not a good time as Slowpoke said. But scenic train rides can be done all year round. Clear weather is essential, but you can't plan for that. More about the seasons: myswissalps.com/ besttimetovisit.

The Bernina Express is wonderful but it does take a lot of time from Milan. Another option is the Wilhelm Tell Express route (train and boat combination) to Lucerne, then follow to Golden Pass route to Montreux and finally Geneva from there. The links and the timetable help you to find out what to expect.

Last modified on Dec 24, 2021 - 11:25 AM by Arno
6 posts
new member
Jan 14, 2016 - 11:45 AM in reply to Arno

Can you tell me if any of the stops along the way would be good place to stay overnight (Lucerne, interlaken Montreux)?

This seems to make better sense than the Bernina line but is it just as good?

The best itenary seems to be as follows:

  • Day1-Fly to Milano, train to Locarno
  • Day 2 - Take the Wilhelm Tell Express to Lucerne
  • Day3 - Take the Golden Pass route to Montreux (taking break at Interlaken for sight seeing)
  • Day 4 Take side trip to Rochers-de-Naye and then a boat trip on lake Geneva
  • Day 5 Explore Geneva
  • Day 6 Fly home. (Also could be done in reverse order, right?)

Any thoughts??

7567 posts
Jan 14, 2016 - 3:53 PM in reply to tblevins78

<<" Any thoughts?? ">>

The William Tell Express is very scenic - you get the Gotthard pass and Lake Lucern. All of Lake Lucern is nice, but the southern portion from Flüelen to about Brunnen is particularly dramatic.

I'd spend more time in Luzern and less in Geneva.

There are some nice rail trips - up the Rigi by cograil - and Mt Pilatus is very close buy for cograil or cable car routes.

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne

www.myswissalps.com/pi latus

The transport museum in Luzern is full of trains. There are some "drive it your self" video simulations of train driving.

www.verkehrshaus.ch/en /museum

I thought about reversing the journey and going immediately to Montreux after you land at Cointrin, so that you do not have to go to /through Italy, but the Gotthard Pass route is too good to miss. One of the most spectacular pieces of rail engineering in the world.


Last modified on Jan 14, 2016 - 5:33 PM by Slowpoke
6 posts
new member
Jan 15, 2016 - 9:10 AM in reply to Slowpoke

How would you suggest changing the path if just go from Geneva to Zurich during the same time period? In looking at this potential trip into Italy, I'm starting to see why you wouldn't suggest going into Milan. There seems to be a lot of travel time to get from Lucern down to Milan in one day with little kids. It seems like I can do it and the trip would be nice but this itinary does not give us much time to enjoy the country other than riding on trains and boats the whole trip.

Would I be better off going from Geneva to Zurich and spending more time in Innerlaken and Luzern and just take day trips from there or is there another route I should consider. It seems like you could spend a couple of days in just those locations alone.

Sorry, but this is really helpful. I knew very little about what I was getting into before this thread.

7567 posts
Jan 15, 2016 - 9:34 AM in reply to tblevins78

<<"How would you suggest changing the path if just go from Genevato Zurich during the same time period?">>

That would work..plenty of railroad exposure inside Switzerland.

However, to enjoy the Gotthard Pass route, you only have to go as far south as Bellinzona. You never have to enter Italy.

Check the timetable, as linked earlier in the thread

Also, a good ride to fit in is the Lötschberger to/from Spiez/Brig.

www.bern.com/en/activi tes/ausfluege/loetschb erg-rundfahrt

www.loetschberger.ch/Z ug-und-Strecke/Zug/Bildergale rie-Loetschberger

<<"this itinerary does not give us much time to enjoythe country other than riding on trains and boats the whole trip.">> Some people like that. However, I'd suspect that your children would like to get a little exercise off the trains.....

<<"more time inInnerlaken and Luzern and just take day trips from there or is thereanother route I should consider. It seems like you could spend a coupleof days in just those locations alone.">>

You could send a week based in each of those locations. By the way, it is Interlaken. (Between the lakes.) Interlaken is not a good tourist destination in its own right. . it is a very good railway connection point between the main lines and the Jungfrau region....the Lauterbrunnen Valley and nearby towns.

More on that here:

www.myswissalps.com/be rneseoberland

<<" Sorry, but this is really helpful. I knew very little about what I was getting into before this thread.">>

Don't be sorry...that is what this forum is for.

You might look at Geneva - Montreux - Luzern - Interlaken- Bern- Geneva.

It would make a good circular route....haven't thought about where to stay, whether to bypass Montreux ( Rochers de Naye is spectacular) ... how to pick the best rail routes on that circuit. By pass Bern?

I'll come back to elaborate or alter that suggestion, but it is a good way to start looking into things to see and trains to ride, while having some stopover time in interesting locations.

Luzern could be a base for a few days.


Last modified on Jan 15, 2016 - 9:41 AM by Slowpoke
6 posts
new member
Jan 15, 2016 - 2:21 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks again. I don't think the round trip back to Geneva is going to work because there are no flights back to Copenhagen on the days I'm looking. I think I have narrowed it completly down to flying into Geneva and out of Zurich. I think the best path for my family seems to be the Golden Pass Line with a side trip to Rochers De Nay, on to Lucerne with a 2 1/2 day layover to take day trips from there and then on to Zurich for the last day of the trip and flight home.

In Lucerne, I'm looking at several day trip options. The first being trying to take the Gottard Pass route you suggested. Can this be done in a round trip over one day or would that be too difficult? The second location was a day trip to Pilatus riding the cable car. Is this something that I can safely do with my small children? I'm also looking for some mild hiking options to get out a little bit on our own. There is a suggested "Mild" hike route from Engelberg to Truebsee, is this a good route or do you know if any other routes in the area.

Also in Zurich, I'm looking at potentially a stop off at the Rhine Falls. Is this something that is worth seeing and can it be done over 2-3 hours?

16099 posts
expert &
Jan 15, 2016 - 6:20 PM in reply to tblevins78

Hi tblevins78,

In terms of altitude sickness all mountains are fine for 3 and 6 year olds, provided that they're in normal physical shape. They're old enough to tell you if they don't feel well, which is the main concern for toddlers.

For the Gotthard Pass, you can enter Lucerne to Bellinzona in the timetable I mentioned in my other post, and see if the travel time is ok for you.

The hiking trail you mentioned is very nice. I think I did that one in May as well. There's a very small chance the higher part is snow covered, so you can ask the tourist office if it's accessible. You've probably read the details at myswissalps.com/ hiking/engelberg-obertruebsee-truebsee already.

The Rhine Falls are not in Zurich. You need about an hour to get there and another hour to get back, so 3 hours is a bare minimum. Please see myswissalps.com/ rhinefalls.

Overall your plans look fine I think.

7567 posts
Jan 15, 2016 - 10:59 PM in reply to tblevins78

Arno has commented on your plans, and I agree with him. Good thing...he is the expert.;-)

Re: Gotthard Pass

Luzern to Bellinzona takes between two hours 7 minutes and two hours 33 minutes with four trains per hour. The train at xx18 goes to Bellinzona with no changes.

Or, you can change at Arth Goldau. No reason to, but that is a main transfer point for lines for Zürich or Luzern. from the south.

Bellinzona does not have much to see or do at the train station, if I recall correctly. But , it has been many many years since I have stopped there.

If you want to add anice break with a short walk the trip, you might continue to Locarno on the same train, which goes without change of trains to Locarno. 2 hours and 55 minutes. Have lunch at one of the lake shore restaurants near the train station. Ride the funicular not far from the station up to the Madonna del Sasso church, walk up and down a few sets of stairs and admire the view from outside the church, as well the interior of this Romanesque church.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/madonna-del-sasso-locarno.html

Loarno is more accessible for an easy walk than is Lugano, so I suggest Locarno.

That is probably an 8 hour to 9 hour round trip, but you get to see the Gotthard Pass twice. Well worth it in my opinion. Watch for the church at Wassen.....the train passes it 4 times on each trip. ;-)

Re: Hikes near Luzern good for a 3 year old. That is a tough one - I don't really know how much stamina a 3 year old has. Remember that the Swiss don't notice hills when they walk. ;-) A topo map can give more information:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=swisstopo&lang=e n&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo .pixelkarte-farbe&X=183840.00&Y=67 1580.00&zoom=5&layers= KML||https:%2F%2Fpublic.geo.admin.ch%2FuMAIJrFBQ-2EBw2HqNSsNQ

In Luzern, you can walk along the lake shore path to the Transport Museum ( Verkehrshaus.) Great views across the lake to mountains. About 2 1/2 km. walk from the main station. Served by bus and train and lake boat stops if someone gets tired:


There is a famous trail around the southern part of Lake Lucerne. The "Swiss Path" (der Weg der Schweiz) follows the shore line of the lake from Rütli Meadow ( boat stop) up quite a hill to Seelisberg, then on around the lake to the end at Brunnen. I don't think any stretches are suitable for a 3 year old and also interesting for scenery.


However, this one near Seelisberg might work:

Take the lake boat to Treib, then the funicular up the hill to Seelisberg. Then walk up hill for about 600 meters or take the bus to the grand old Hotel Sonnenberg (now run by an Asian guru). There is a promenade at the hotel and trail partway back to Seelisberg near the cliff edge ( safe, good railings) with spectacular views across the lake and mountains.

map.search.ch/?x=25024m&y=13132m&z=12 8

You might do it as part of a lake boat trip, or, take the train to Brunnen and then the boat across the lake to Treib. The harbor in Brunnen is about a 10 minute walk from the train station...there is a shuttle bus at least some of the time.

In Luzern, take the kids to see the Lion. Maybe a km from the station. I'll be surprised if it does not impress them and puzzle them. My 8 year old granddaughter spent a lot of time just looking before asking questions. I have attached an image of a page from a photobook of our trip to Luzern in 2009.

They'll quite possibly enjoy the nearby Bourbaki Panorama..the 8 year old did and the adults always do.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/bourbaki-panorama-luzern-luzern.html

If you go up on Pilatus, consider taking the lake boat to Alpnachstad, then the cograil train up the mountain. (The train can get you to Alpnachstad faster than the boat, but the boat is more fun.)

Come back that way or by the cable car to Kriens, thence to Luzern...bus, I recall... The cograil is one of a kind; I prefer it. I have attached some really old photos; sorry for the technical quality.

When you leave Luzern, you can go to Zurich directly ( via Zug...a 45 minute train ride). or, you can take time to go through Bern. The walk through the old town down to the bear pits is interesting because of the fanciful fountains in the streets....including one of an ogre ( der Kinderfresser) , the old clock tower, and the bear pits by the Nydegg Brücke.

That might interest the kids more than Zürich.




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