Taking a trip over the Italian border and through to Switzerland is a lot easier than you may think. Crossing rivers and mountains, lakes and wooded peaks, the journey is just as exciting as the destination. There’s only one way to soak up the stunning views from Milan to Lugano, and that’s by train.
Board a Eurocity service in central Milan and be transported on a ride through the tip of Lake Como to the picturesque Swiss city of Lugano. Lugano station is centrally located, you’ll arrive in the heart of the city close to Lugano Lake and the nearby cultural sights in less than an hour and a half.
So, what are you waiting for? Find everything you need to know about train timetables and tickets from Milan to Lugano below.
|Journey time||From 1h 15m|
|Distance||38 miles (61 km)|
|Frequency||32 trains per day|
|Departure station||Milan Central Station|
|Changes||Direct trains available|
|Train and bus operators||Regiojet, Marino, Trenitalia, SBB CFF FFS, Flixbus, Trenord, Calanda Viaggi (Bus)|
Trenitalia is the national railway company of Italy, with a fleet including high-speed trains (Frecciarossa, Frecciargento and Frecciabianca), Intercity and Intercity night trains and regional trains. Trenitalia offers discounts and special promotions on selected routes, two types of discounted tickets for young people under 30 and people over 60.
Founded by Trenitalia and FNM (Ferrovie Nord Milano), Trenord run suburban and regional trains in Lombardy and from Lombardy to Ticino, the Italian-speaking region in Switzerland. With Trenord, you can travel between Milan, Bergamo, Como, Varese, Pavia, Brescia, Chiasso, Milan Malpensa Airport and Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport in total comfort. All Trenord trains have First and Second Class and offer special discounts to travellers under 14, over 60 and groups.
Most of the train companies across Europe release their tickets around three to six months in advance, many of which can be cheaper the earlier you book. If you know the dates you want to travel, you may be able to find some cheaper train tickets from Milan Central Station to Lugano by booking early.§
Many of the train services in Europe are also popular commuter services, lots of train companies increase ticket prices during “peak hours” (generally between 06:00 – 10:00 and 15:00 – 19:00 on weekdays). If you can, consider travelling outside of peak hours to find lower priced tickets.
On some of the busier routes, you might also have the option to take a slower or connecting train. It may take a little longer than some high-speed or direct services, but if you have a little extra time on your hands, you might find a cheaper fare. Plus, you'll have more time to enjoy the view of the countryside!
For specific information about how to get your hands on cheap tickets, check out our European train tickets hub.
The average journey time by train between Milan Central Station and Lugano is 1 hour and 53 minutes, with around 32 trains per day. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays, so use our Journey Planner on this page to search for a specific travel date.
The fastest journey time by train from Milan Central Station to Lugano is 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Train ticket prices from Milan Central Station to Lugano can start from as little as €12 when you book in advance. The cost of tickets can vary depending on the time of day, route and class you book and are usually more expensive if you book on the day.
Yes, it is possible to travel from Milan Central Station to Lugano without having to change trains. There are 15 direct trains from Milan Central Station to Lugano each day. Though there may be fewer direct services available depending on your exact departure date.
The first train from Milan Central Station to Lugano leaves at 00:25. Times and services may vary during weekends and holidays.
The last train from Milan Central Station to Lugano leaves at 22:52. Trains that depart in the early morning hours or very late evening may be sleeper services, time and services may also vary during weekends and holidays.
Trains travelling from Milan Central Station to Lugano cover a distance of around 38 miles (61 km) during the journey.
I took a Eurocity train from Milan Central Station at 09:25 with an expected arrival time of 10:38 in Lugano Station. The journey only lasts 1h 13m, so I preferred taking the train rather than driving and risking getting stuck in traffic.
Departing from Milan Central Station
I easily got to Milan Central Station with the Milan Metro Line 2 (it’s the green one). The train station is directly connected to the metro station, so it’s super easy to move from one station to another.
As I got to the station quite early, I had time to have breakfast at the Panino Giusto bar, which is opposite the stairs on the ground floor. I travelled on Saturday, so the station was less crowded than usual, which was perfect because I was able to take in all its beauty, something I never manage to do during the rest of the week.
On board the Eurocity
Eurocity are day trains connecting different European countries. Second-class seats are quite comfortable and come with headrests and reclining tables.
I found out that you can also travel in First Class on this route and you can cancel your ticket before departure and get an 80% refund if you can’t travel anymore.
Getting off in Lugano
As soon as you leave Lugano station, you can either get a bus or a cable car to the city centre – just follow the signs and you’ll be in the centre in no time at all.
The historical service between Lugano Station and the central Piazza Cioccaro has been active for 130 years and it’s probably the fastest way to get to the city centre. The cable railway runs from 05:00 to 24:00 every day and can take up to 100 passengers (and their bikes at specific times). The journey lasts about a minute and a half and the ticket costs 1.30 Swiss Francs.
I was very impressed with the Eurocity train – the ticket price is the same as that of Trenitalia and TILO (the regional trains serving the Canton of Ticino). I strongly recommend taking it.
Origin: Milano Centrale
Travel time: 1h 13m
Greta is one of our trusted, hand-picked travel writers. The information for this article was recorded first-hand, based on her own genuine experience of the journey.