Travelling through Lugano

Frankfurt to Milano / Milan / Mailand by train

How to take the wonderful rail journey from central Germany to northern Italy

This fascinating journey on the only direct train from central Germany to Italy includes rushing down a German high-speed line, a passage across Switzerland with views over five lakes and a travelling through the world's longest railway tunnel.



From Frankfurt Main Hbf to Milano

Travel Information

Final Destination: Milano Cle

Within an hour of arrival high-speed Frecce trains will be departing for Bologna, Firenze, Napoli, Roma, Verona and Venezia.

This train also calls at: Lugano and Chiasso and Como and Monza

1 x train per day


Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 4 months ahead of the travel date (usually)

Note that bookings do NOT open 6 months ahead.

This train is usually scheduled to depart from Frankfurt Main daily at 08:06, so target that departure time when looking at this journey.

On the DB Bahn booking site look for the journey which:

  • has 0 in the Chg. column
  • has EC in the Products column.

Seat Reservations:

Because this train travels into Italy, seats will be assigned when booking tickets, irrespective of whether you want to travel 1st or 2nd class.

But if you will be travelling with a rail pass, you will need to have reserved seats prior to boarding.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
DB Bahn from €39.90

DB Bahn Guide

DB is the national railway operator in Germany, so its website can be used for booking journeys by German express trains; the ICE and IC trains and it doesn't charge booking fees.
It also sells tickets for journeys by direct trains on all international routes from Germany regardless of whether DB is operating the train service.

It also sells an extensive range of end-to-end journeys which involve making connections both within Germany and in neighboring countries, but journeys between Germany and Britain cannot be booked on DB.

A key feature of DB website worth keeping mind is that it offers 1st class ticket purchasers complimentary seat reservations on journeys both within and to/from Germany.

Seat reservations for daytime in both 1st and 2nd class can also be booked separately from tickets.

Omio from €39.90

Omio Guide

Omio is an online ticket agency which offers tickets for rail journeys in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

The three key advantages of using Omio are

  • it offers prices in multiple currencies
  • it usually offers price comparison with other modes of travel including flights and buses
  • when visiting Europe, you can book journeys in multiple countries in one transaction.

The disadvantage of booking with Omio is that it often adds a booking fee to the final price; therefore when it does so without offering a price advantage, SMTJ doesn't tend to offer Omio as a booking option.

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesLandscape (Hills / Mountains)Lake viewsHigh Speed (partial journey)

Good to Know

On German railway timetables this is classified as an 'ECE' service.
The ETR 600 trans are most often used on this service, but the Astoro can be used on certain departures.

Note that the return direct train FROM Milano TO Frankfurt (Main) takes a different route in Italy and Switzerland via Stresa and Brig.

Journey description:

This is a fascinating journey with multiple highlights to look out for:

  1. On route to Switzerland comes the fastest part of the trip when the train travels at up to 250 km/h on the high speed line between Karlsruhe and Offenburg.
  2. The train will reverse direction on departure from Basel SBB station and the highlight on the journey on to Luzern is the passing of the Sempachersee over on the left
  3. The train will also reverse direction on departure from Luzern station and for most of the journey between there and Arth-Goldau, the Zugersee is on the left
4. The next beautiful vista to look out for comes after departure from Arth-Goldau station, when on the right, the train passes the Lauerzersee...

...and then further south, also on the right there are glimpses of Lake Luzern.
5. The train will then travel through the world's longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, and after Bellinzona it dives into the new Ceneri Base Tunnel.
6. South of Lugano station the best views switch back to the left as the railway runs by the Lago di Lugano.
7,The final wow moment comes after departure from Lugano station when the train will cross the lake.

After the trains have crossed the lake, the best of the views switch to the right.
  1. The Italian section of the journey south of Chiasso is more mundane, despite the trains passing through Como, its namesake lake can't be seen from these trains.
Departing from Luzern Departing from Luzern
The view over Lake Zug The view over Lake Zug
The view over the Lauerzersee The view over the Lauerzersee
Approaching Bellinzona Approaching Bellinzona
Approaching Lugano station Approaching Lugano station
Looking over the lake after departing Lugano Looking over the lake after departing Lugano
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