Zurich to Lucerne to Florence

Zurich to Lucerne to Florence

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eablack
eablack
10 posts
new member
Nov 29, 2016 - 9:12 PM

I'm planning on visiting Lucerne at the end of January 2017. I will be flying in to Zurich and plan on taking a train to Lucerne. Spending the next two days in Lucerne then traveling to Florence (SMN) by train on the fourth day. Wondering what the best way is to handle this. We plan on visiting either Rigi, Pilatus, or Titlis depending on weather so I've been looking at the Half Fare Pass and Tell Pass as options. Do these include train tickets to these cities? I think I'll have to get a separate ticket once in Italy? Is it best to buy these train tickets beforehand to have them? What are the station names? I know there's a station in the Zurich airport so I assume I can use that one to get to Lucerne. Also, how prevalent is English in Lucerne?

Thanks!

Emily

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
Nov 30, 2016 - 11:13 PM in reply to eablack

Hi Emily -

Here is a start. Arno and Annika are the experts on rail passes, so i won't comment on those.... except to say that I think the Tell pass is only valid from Zug onward in your journey from Zürich to Luzern.

It is extremely easy to buy tickets in Switzerland at all stations. Whether manned or unmanned, they have easy to use ticket machines, with English as an option. Also, reservations are not necessary INSIDE Switzerland, except for a few special scenic trains. The ticket counter at Zürich airport often has long lines, but they move quickly. I always use the ticket machines, myself.

Some rail passes eliminate all ticketing; a half-fare rail pass requires you to get tickets for each journey; the ticket machines have a clearly marked option for "1/2 fare."

There are good frequent rail connections from Zürich or from Luzern to Milano Centrale, where you will change trains for Florence (Firenze). Allow plenty of time there. Don't count on Swiss-style precisely timed easy connections there. You may not need extra time, but I and other travelers have often needed it.

Those two major rail routes in Switzerland for that journey (from Luzern and from Zürich) cross each other (meeting on two sides of the same platform) at Arth-Goldau. You might have to change at Arth-Goldau, but it is very easy.

The timetable can help you, for journeys to Italy, too.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable.

If you enter Zurich Airport as your start and Luzern ( German spelling) as your destination in the timetable, you will find two trains per hour all day long for the approximately one hour journey to Luzern. They leave at xx18 (with change at Zürich Main station), or at xx47 direct with no change, but a stop, at Zürich main station.

As the xx18 trains may come in to different tracks at Zürich main station, some of which are a few levels down in the station, I'd be wary of a tight connection, especially if you have luggage.

Luggage carts are available; you need a 2 CHF coin to unlock them from their queue; you get the coin back when you "plug" them in at a queue near the place that you are finished with them There are elevators ("lifts" if you are English) and, the luggage carts cleverly go up and down escalators. You can see arrival and departure tracks on the timetable ( click on the "+" to the left of a journey).

Main platform is tracks 3 - 18. Transfers between those are easy. I often advise travelers to Luzern who are not in a rush to stop in the food court above the rail station at the airport and have a coffee, then catch the xx47. Or, since there are many trains per hour from the airport to Zurich main station, take any of those and wait for the next train to Luzern at Zürich main station; maximum wait about 30 minutes.

In Italy, you'll need a ticket from Trenitalia, but you can buy it easily in Switzerland.

English is spoken widely in major tourist centers. In fact, with some foreign (non-Swiss) workers in the hospitality industry, English may actually be preferred to one of the 4 Swiss national languages.

In Luzern, the tourist info office by track #1 is very very helpful.

Slowpoke

eablack
eablack
10 posts
new member
Nov 30, 2016 - 11:39 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Wow that was so helpful, thank you! So I can buy all of my tickets there, including on my journey to Florence? Since I will be flying in to Zurich from Barcelona, will I have to go through customs when I get there? I'm glad to hear that English is spoken, as I was worried! Thanks again for your help.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
Dec 1, 2016 - 12:23 AM in reply to eablack

Hi Emily -

<<"So I can buy all of my tickets there, including on my journey to Florence? ">>

Yes. I recommend that you go to the Travel Bureau (Reisebüro) to the left of the main ticket counter in the rail station. Take a ticket ( the machine has categories...such as Foreign Travel... tickets may include a letter, too, like "A283"). Have a seat. When your number lights up on the overhead board, go to the counter number shown, and they will do it all. Rail pass, tickets, etc.

They speak excellent English, but, as a courtesy, I always ask "May I speak with you in English?"

<<"Since I will be flying in to Zurich from Barcelona, will I have to go through customs when I get there? ">>

No passport control ( Schengen treaty) but you must walk through customs after you pick up your bags in the arrivals area where the luggage carousels are (and, free luggage carts that can ride escalators.)

If you use a luggage cart be careful how you load it. It will go down escalators at a steep angle if you choose escalators in the train station as opposed to elevators.. .

If you only have carry on, just walk past the carousels and through customs. You pass through customs just before you exit the arrivals area into the terminal. Banks have currency exchange in that area, too.

Customs has a "green lane" or a "red lane." If you have nothing to declare, go through the green lane. You will pas a counter to one side, where the customs agents wait. If you look suspicious, they will ask you to come to the counter and discuss your situation. So, don't act nervous. ;-) Keep calm and carry on. ;-)

Obviously, if you have something to declare, as listed on a sign nearby, go through the red lane.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
10343 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 1, 2016 - 10:43 AM in reply to eablack

Hi Emily,

I'd recommend to arrange for your Italian ticket beforehand, unless you don't know your departure time. Long distance trains in Italy require reservations (so they can book out), and also you'll pay less. The lowest prices won't be available if you buy last minute, or even a few days before. You'll find all details on myswissalps.com/traint ickets/italy, and points of sale are listed on the Price tab of that page. For the best price, it may even help to break tickets: buying a ticket to Milan separately from the other leg, but that's a matter of checking prices on the listed websites.

Tickets within Switzerland can be purchased on the spot or online. The same applies to almost all passes. Various passes, including the Swiss Half Fare Card, can be printed at home, so that saves you time, and sometimes money too. Having it in hand means you can skip the queue and buy your discounted tickets quickly from the machines.

A Swiss Travel Pass is also worth your consideration. It includes nearly all your travel plans from the airport to the Italian border. Even Mount Rigi and Pilatus are included for free, and many museums as well. Mount Titlis is 50% discounted. This is the easiest option, as you won't have to buy tickets except for the Italian leg. You can print the pass at home so you can board the first available train without any delay. And if you buy quickly you can even get a 30% discount on the pass. Please see www.raileurope.com/rai l-tickets-passes/swiss-pass/index.html and myswissalps.com/forum/ topic/rail-europe-cyber-deal-30-off-swiss-travel-passes. I think this would be a good option for you.

Last modified on Oct 27, 2017 - 2:49 PM by Arno
Arno
Arno
10343 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 1, 2016 - 10:56 AM

It looks like the 30% off promotion already expired, so apparently they already sold the maximum number of passes. Anyway, the pass is still worth it to consider.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
Dec 1, 2016 - 1:00 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno -

Thanks fiorthe correction and recommendations. I had forgotten about the need to buy in advance for Italy.

I recall that in Italy, even a regular train ticket must be validated in one of the machines on the platform before yopu board a train.Still true?

I have become to accustomed to the ease of buying in Switzerland.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
10343 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 1, 2016 - 2:01 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

I'm no expert for Italy either, but I think ticket validation only applies to tickets purchased at the station, not online. A bit similar to the 2-hour tickets in some Swiss regions/cities which work with the zone system.

eablack
eablack
10 posts
new member
Dec 1, 2016 - 4:53 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno,

Thanks for the information. I agree that the Swiss Travel Pass looks like the best option. I guess I'd have to get the four day pass since I'm traveling from Zurich on Day 1 and to Florence on Day 4. From what I can see the train tickets from Lucerne to Milan on RailEurope are over $100 so definitely worth it. Will the Swiss Travel Pass get me to Milan or to Arth Goldau? Then the only thing I would purchase in advance would be the Swiss Travel Pass and the ticket from Milan or Arth Goldau to Florence?

Thanks again for your help!

Emily

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4485 posts
expert
Dec 1, 2016 - 5:06 PM in reply to eablack

Hi Emily -

Check this page -

www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/validity

Look at the map. The Swiss Travel Pass is good as far as Chiasso, at the border.

doc.myswissalps.com/do cs/default-source/rail-network-maps/swisstravelsystem .pdf?sfvrsn=32

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
10343 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 1, 2016 - 6:35 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Yes, indeed, so a ticket Chiasso - Florence (Firenze) is sufficient. Prices start at € 35.40 (www.trainline.eu/searc h) or $44 (www.raileurope.com/eur opean-trains/trenitalia/how-to-book.html), and there are more websites to try if you want: myswissalps.com/traint ickets/italy/price. Prices may vary a bit based on the travel date and when you buy.

As the promotion is expired your best option for the pass is www.swissrailways.com/ en. After filling out your address, they will show the delivery options. Pick "Online Ticket" from the bottom of the list. They will e-mail the pass (no delivery fees), so you can print it at home.

Last modified on May 17, 2018 - 11:42 AM by Arno

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