Travelling between Milan and north-west Switzerland by train is not only straightforward thanks to the direct rail services, it's also a lovely journey.
Connect in Basel for trains to destinations without direct services from Milan including Cologne/Koln, Mainz, Koblenz and Strasbourg.
Final Destination: Basel or Frankfurt (Main)
All trains also call at: Spiez (change for Interlaken), Thun, Bern and Olten (connect for Biel and Neuchatel)
4 x trains per day on this faster route
2 x trains per day on an alternative route via Luzern, which is around 35 mins slower and departs Milano only around 40 mins after the departure of a faster train.
Book early and save: Yes
Online bookings usually open: 4 months ahead of the travel date; though this period of time can be shorter, particularly when searching for journeys more than three months ahead during October and March.
Reservations will automatically be assigned when booking tickets (but rail pass users will need to make reservations prior to boarding at a ticket office; they're not available from the Trenitalia ticket machines)
Trains departing at different times can be cheaper than others leaving on the same day - so you may need to look through the day's departures to find the cheapest fares.
Check that you're booking for the direct trains, using the journey time to guide you.
There are also direct traisn from Milano Centrale which travel via Luzern, they have a longer journey time (4hr 40 min) and departs from Milano at around 08:10 and 10:10.
These trains can be worth taking if they're cheaper, or if you have previously travelled this route via Brig and Bern, but you have yet to travel that alternative route via Lugano and Luzern.
Rail Pass Users:
If you will be travelling with a valid Eurail or InterRail pass, you will have a choice of :
(1) paying the reservation fees to travel on these direct trains - our guide to using using rail passes to travel from Italy has all the info you'll need, including fees and step-by-step instructions on how to book.
(2) avoiding all reservation fees by taking a regional 'Ticino' train from Milano to Lugano and making a simple connection there into a train on to Basel.
|Ticket Provider||Approximate Cost|
|Save A Train||from €39|
|Italia rail||from €39|
|Rail Europe||from €39|
The trains on this route will reverse direction on departure from Bern.
There are also typically two additional trains per day from Milano to Basel which take a route via Luzern which is slower by more than 40 mins.
They typically depart Milano Centrale at 08:10 and 10:10.
If you're a fan of engineering achievements then this is an awe-inspiring journey.
After Domodossola the train travels through The Simplon Tunnel and after Visp it will travel through The Lötschberg Base Tunnel - both of which were previous holders of world's longest railway tunnel honors.
If your reserved seat is on the right of the train (when facing the direction of travel) the first highlight from a scenic point of view are the fabulous views over Lake Maggiore.
They can be seen north of Arona...
but what's particularly worth looking out for is when the train departs from Stresa....and shows the beautiful islands in the lake - and it also showcases why ShowMeTheJourney has tried and failed to photograph these islands, they can only be glimpsed through the trees. (These videos above and the video below were taken from trains travelling in the opposite direction).
The part of the journey between Domodossola and The Simplon Tunnel is also fabulous, as the train will thread through a valley as it approaches the tunnel.
The other scenic highlight is the part of the journey between exiting the Lotschberg Base Tunnel and arriving in Thun station.
The beautiful Thunersee comes into view on the right as the train arrives in Spiez.
Between Speiz and Thun the train travels by the shore of Lake Thun.The lake is on the right when heading north.
The train will reverse direction on departure from Bern.
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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.