How to reach Switzerland by train from Milan
All international trains to Switzerland leave from Milan Central Station. From here you can depart for tempting destinations such as Zurich, with its posh Bahnhofstrasse shopping avenue just a stone's throw away from Zurich's central railway station. The journey between the two cities takes about 3 hours and 20 minutes. When in Zurich, don't miss the Kunsthaus, its most famous art museum, with an emphasis on Swiss art. If you're there on a Wednesday, entrance is free!
You can reach cosmopolitan Geneva from Milan with a direct Eurocity train in about 4 hours. Genève Cornavin station is only a short stroll away from Geneva's most emblematic sight, the Jet d'Eau. This water fountain on Lake Leman shoots 140 metres into the air and is magnificently lit at night. Another attraction is the artsy Quartier des Grottes, which features several residential buildings called Les Schtroumpfs (the Smurfs), which were built in the 1980s. The architects tried to avoid straight lines as much as possible, creating these edgy, unconventional structures.
You can travel from Milan to Basel in a little less than 5 hours. This Swiss city bordering France and Germany is well worth the trip with its medieval town centre. The river Rhine flows through Basel, and you can cross it on small pedestrian ferries that make the journey tethered to overhead steel ropes, powered by the current alone. The most picturesque parts of the town can be found by the Münster, Basel's main cathedral that dates back to the beginning of the 11th century.
From Milan to Lugano by train
You can make the trip from Milan to Lugano by train in about 1 hour and 10 minutes – take again the Eurocity train. This journey is the ideal setup for a day trip to this amazing city situated on a beautiful lake with the same name. When you leave Lugano railway station, take the funicular which brings you directly into the centre of the old town and the lakeshore. Because of Lugano's warm micro-climate, you'll find a Mediterranean-style atmosphere here, including palm tree-lined boulevards.
Combined with the Alps and the lake in the background, there's plenty of excellent photo opportunities here. With this sunny backdrop, Lugano is a laid-back place that's best explored on foot. One place to keep an eye out for is the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence. Its origins are believed to go back to the beginning of the 9th century and its imposing facade dates from the 15th century.
From Milan to the Swiss Alps by train
All trains departing from Milan to Switzerland will cross the Swiss Alps. If you plan to take a break in these gorgeous mountains, you should consider visiting the lakeside town of Lucerne. Just over three hours from Milan, you'll alight in this historic town that's best known for its connection to the William Tell legend. One of Lucerne's best-known landmarks is the covered 14th-century Chapel Bridge, said to be Europe's oldest wooden bridge. Beautifully decorated with flowering plants from spring to autumn, its interior frames are adorned with over 100 pictures of 17th-century life and history.
If you prefer spending time in a smaller town, take the train to Andermatt. The average journey time from Milan is about 3 hours and the train drops you off directly in the centre of this charming alpine town. Andermatt is an ideal base for hiking in summer, and skiing in its deep snow in winter. A quieter town now thanks to reduced traffic with the opening of the Gotthard tunnels, it's growing popular again with visitors who come for the tranquillity and fresh mountain air.
How to get on a scenic train in the Alps
There are two outstanding scenic train routes running through the Swiss Alps. The first is the Glacier Express. Reserve a window seat to capture the spectacular views when the train passes through picturesque mountain villages and past majestic glaciers. The route also crosses nearly 300 bridges. You'll admire these landscapes as the train moves at a sedate pace for your viewing pleasure. Board this ironically named 'express', often nicknamed the 'slowest train in the world', in Zermatt, and travel all the way to St-Moritz, passing through the Swiss cantons of Grisons, Uri, and Valais on the way.
The second fantastic option is the Bernina Express, which starts in the Italian town of Tirano and continues, via St-Moritz or Samedan, to either Chur or Davos. The stage between Tirano and Thusis, with its unmatched views of glaciers and summits, is especially breathtaking and has earned UNESCO World Heritage list status. Also known as the red train, the Bernina Express runs only once a day in each direction, so book your ticket in advance to avoid disappointment.
Milan is an excellent choice for a gateway to Switzerland and its many fascinating towns and cities. For a full overview of all the exciting travel possibilities, have a look at our extensive Trains in Switzerland page. You'll also find many great tips here on how to get the best deals when it comes to purchasing your ticket. We're here to help you with every step of making this an unforgettable trip!