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Trip Help for Milan - Lucerne (or Zurich)

  • 9 July 2023
  • 6 replies
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Planning to buy 1st or 2nd class Eurail pass for family trip (including 1 child who has special needs). Arriving July 20, 14:00 at Milan.  We want to go to Lucerne (or Zurich) for 2 days, and then to Munich on July 22. Trying to figure out a scenic, but not overly time-consuming route to avoid child’s or parent’s meltdown. I know it could be extremely hot, and most Swiss hotels there don’t have a/c, so the happier we arrive in Lucerne, the better (hopefully). Does this seem like the best route:

  1. MXP to Milan Central to Lugano (stay overnight in Lugano or go directly to Lucerne?)
  1. Lugano to Lucerne (regional train instead of Gotthard Panoramic, but find a train on the Old Gotthard track). Having a hard time on the Swiss rail site because it keeps giving errors and unsure how to book a good boat to get to Lucerne and still have time to go to one of the mountain tops like Pilatus or Rigi.
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Best answer by thibcabe 9 July 2023, 23:17

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Some advice :

I'd stay in Lugano for the first night. There is an hourly train direct from Malpensa avoiding the somewhat stressful transfer in Milano Centrale.

Are those your only train journeys ? Then a Eurail Pass is surely not worth the cost.

20th July : buy a one-way ticket to Lugano (23 CHF on sbb.ch/SBB app).

21st July : buy a Saver Day Pass for 70 CHF. It is valid on all public transportation, including boats and Rigi (not Pilatus though).

22nd July : buy a one-way ticket for the whole journey on bahn.com.

Children under 16 y.o. can get the Junior Card for 30 CHF a month at any ticket office.

To search journeys using the beautiful Old Gotthard Railway, add "via Airolo". You can take the boat in Flüelen, it leaves hourly at xx:00 + 13:40. As the train coming from the south arrives at xx:43, the connection is perfectly timed. To find boats on SBB app deselect trains.

Do not hesitate for questions.

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Swiss tickets are generally valid all day on the selected route (a few hours for short distances, like within a city). They are not tied to a specific connection except Saver tickets.

Saver Day Passes are valid all day on all public transportation. Simply hop on.

The Eurail Pass gives the same flexibility but is only valid on trains and boats on Lake Thun and Brienz. You get a 50% discount for Lake Lucerne, Pilatus and Rigi.

Seat reservations are not a thing in Switzerland : you hop on and sit wherever you want. As a rule of thumb trains are generally less busy at each end.

Both 1st and 2nd class are fine in Switzerland. If you were to travel further than Munich then a 1st class pass could be great value. You get free seat reservations with a 1st class pass in Germany, Austria, Czechia, Hungary,... through ÖBB. :)

Swiss tickets are generally valid all day on the selected route (a few hours for short distances, like within a city). They are not tied to a specific connection except Saver tickets.

Saver Day Passes are valid all day on all public transportation. Simply hop on.

The Eurail Pass gives the same flexibility but is only valid on trains and boats on Lake Thun and Brienz. You get a 50% discount for Lake Lucerne, Pilatus and Rigi.

Seat reservations are not a thing in Switzerland : you hop on and sit wherever you want. As a rule of thumb trains are generally less busy at each end.

Both 1st and 2nd class are fine in Switzerland. If you were to travel further than Munich then a 1st class pass could be great value. You get free seat reservations with a 1st class pass in Germany, Austria, Czechia, Hungary,... through ÖBB. :)

Thank you! Yes, planning to got from Munich to Fuessen and Rothenburg Ober Tauber with the Bavaria one day ticket, and then either Prague or Vienna, then Venice and back to Milan.  

Otherwise, as the only air conditioned hotels in Lucerne are $$$, I am thinking of re-routing and going from Milan to Innsbruck (instead of Lucerne), then same trip as above. In this case, I wonder if it may be better for us to rent a car.

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I mean... is A/C that big a deal to change your itinerary completely ? I live without it like a lot of people : open the windows during the night and in the morning, close them and the shutters or blinds during the day. The weather may not even be that hot, yes it's 32°C until Tuesday but then who knows ? That's off-topic but I wanted to say it.

Okay then per your itinerary a Eurail Pass is surely good value, I'd pay for 1st class for the less crowded carriages. You'll also get free seat reservations as written above.

Between Vienna and Venice there is a very convenient night train, it has private compartments but you need to book ASAP as those trains are extremely popular. With a Eurail Pass you only pay accommodation price.

I mean... is A/C that big a deal to change your itinerary completely ? I live without it like a lot of people : open the windows during the night and in the morning, close them and the shutters or blinds during the day. The weather may not even be that hot, yes it's 32°C until Tuesday but then who knows ? That's off-topic but I wanted to say it.

Okay then per your itinerary a Eurail Pass is surely good value, I'd pay for 1st class for the less crowded carriages. You'll also get free seat reservations as written above.

Between Vienna and Venice there is a very convenient night train, it has private compartments but you need to book ASAP as those trains are extremely popular. With a Eurail Pass you only pay accommodation price.

I understand about AC, and it would be fine except for my one child. And I know how it sounds to others, but that’s my situation. Now back on topic...

I am going to try a hotel in Weggis (has windows open to the lake from the rooms). I would need to get there on 7/20 due to their 2-night minimum stay. But the route seems to require a separate train, bus or boat from Lucerne. Will keep looking for a Lucerne hotel over the next couple days to keep things simple, or ask the hotel for help coming from Lugano.

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Weggis indeed doesn't have a railway station. The most beautiful way to get there is obviously the boat from Lucerne or Flüelen but the fastest one is (every 30 min) :

- train Lugano - Arth-Goldau

- train Arth-Goldau - Küssnacht am Rigi

- bus Küssnacht am Rigi - Weggis : 5.20 CHF, less than 20 min

Depending on where you're flying from, you'll be very exhausted arriving in Milan and having a 3-4h journey ahead of you may not look ideal. If possible I'd stay south of the Alps.

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