Thanks to railway engineering wonders, the Gotthard Base Tunnel and the Ceneri Base tunnel, it has never been so easy and fast, to make the journey by train across Switzerland from Basel to Lugano.
Final Destination: Lugano or Chiasso - the IC trains; Milano - the EC trains
All trains also call at: Arth-Goldau and Bellinzona (connect for Locarno)
Note that a mix of trains is used for these services, most common are the new Giruno trains, which on this route are used on many departures which don't cross the border to Italy.
The Swiss ICN trains used to dominate this route and they are still used for some departures, but up two one or two departures per day are now handled by the brand new Twindexx trains.
While the older types of EC train are used for the daily train which has travelled from Frankfurt.
6 x IC trains per day
2 x EC trains per day
Book early and save: Yes - If you book Supersaver tickets (more info is available on the SBB ticket guide below)
You may need to search through the departures to find them using the ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ buttons; the Supersaver tickets tend to sell out particularly quickly on this route.
Online bookings open: up to two months ahead of the travel date
Try and be flexible with your departure and arrival times, book as near to 60 days ahead as possible and don't be overly concerned whether you will be taking an IC or EC train (though on this route the IC trains tend to cheaper than the EC trains.
If you will be making a day trip to Lugano from Basel, be open to the possibility that Saver Day Passes are likely to be a cheaper option than booking return tickets.
Seat reservations are optional on Swiss IC trains; and for the journey by EC trains as it's wholly within Switzerland, so seats won't be automatically assigned when booking online.
You can book reservations online, AFTER you have booked a ticket, by using the SBB (Swiss national railways) seat reservation service OR request and pay for a reservation when booking at a station ticket office.
Travelling with a rail pass:
Rail pass users can jump on any train, without having to make reservations.
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The alternative more scenic route:
If you have a rail pass, or are happy to book separate tickets per train, it's still possible to travel over the much more scenic old Gotthard Line, when taking a train from Basel to Lugano
Take one of the IR trains from Basel to Bellinzona station (that usually depart in even hours) and connect there for a train on to Lugano.
Now that these trains travel through the epic Gotthard Base Tunnel, these journeys are now less scenic than they used to be.
But this still a journey with some wow moments, from either side of the train.
These scenic highlights are all south of Luzern where the train will reverse direction.
Between Luzern and Arth-Goldau station there are views over Lake Zug on the left.
After departure from Arth-Goldau, on the right, the train passes the Lauerzersee......and then further south, there are glimpses of Lake Luzern.
South of Bellinzona the trains on this route now use the new Ceneri Base Tunnel.
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This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.