Zurich To Locarno Train: All You Need To Know

Located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, Locarno is a popular tourist destination. Along with its neighboring town of Ascona, Locarno stands out for its proximity to the gorgeous valleys of the region, its location along the shore of Lago Maggiore, its magnificent climate, and its stunning old town. 


The majority of visitors to Locarno will come from Italy or Zurich. In this article, we will discuss the train commute from Zurich to Locarno. How long is the travel time from Zurich to Locarno? How much are the tickets? Read on for more information. 

On this page, you can find all the information you need regarding the train journey from Zurich to Locarno.

Overview: Navigating Swiss Trains

To begin, you can go to SBB’s website:  www.sbb.ch.

You can put your departure and arrival destinations on the website. It will then guide you to where and when you need to be. An app is also available for iOS and Android devices.


If you wish to pay half the fare for all your train rides in Switzerland, a Half Fare Discount Card is available at  www.sbb.ch. Your discount card allows you to travel and board most trains throughout Switzerland for half the price.


Are There Direct Trains From Zurich to Locarno?

As of the time of writing (October 2021), there are direct trains from Zurich to Locarno. But the direct trains leave only once every two hours. If you are unable to catch the direct train, you will have to travel via Bellinzona and/or Arth-Goldau.

The direct train from Zurich to Locarno is an Interregional train (IR Train) that also stops in Arth-Goldau, Schwyz, Bellinzona, Tenero, and more.


How to Get From Zurich to Locarno

Image of Locarno by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

Zurich to Locarno

You will have several options to get from Zurich Train Station to Locarno. These are:

  • From Zurich, take a direct train to Locarno. Even if it’s not the fastest route, at least you won’t have to change trains. The train is also panoramic as it goes through the Gotthard Panorama Route compared to the other trains that go via the Gotthard Basis Tunnel.
  • From Zurich, take the Intercity Train or Eurocity Train to Bellinzona, then change to the train for Locarno.
  • From Zurich, take the Intercity Train to Arth-Goldau. Continue to Bellinzona and Locarno by connecting trains.

Zurich Airport to Locarno

There are no direct trains from Zurich Airport to Locarno.

From Zurich Airport, you can take any train which will lead you to Zurich Train Station. From Zurich Train Station, simply board the next train connection heading to Locarno. There are one to two train connections per hour.

If you want to find out which train platform you need to go to and what time, you can check the screens and boards inside Zurich Airport. 


How Long Is the Train Ride From Zurich to Locarno?

The following table shows the train ride duration from Zurich to Locarno (updated June 2022):

RouteDuration
Zurich Airport – Zurich Train Station – Locarno (fastest)2 hours 26 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Locarno (Gotthard Panorama Route, Direct)3 hours 20 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Bellinzona – Locarno (Intercity)2 hours 9 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Bellinzona – Locarno (Eurocity)2 hours 11 minutes

The train ride from Zurich to Locarno will take roughly the same amount of time, regardless of whether you take the Intercity or Eurocity, or whether you change at Arth-Goldau. It is only the direct train to Locarno that differs in terms of travel time.

Surprisingly, the direct train to Locarno is slower than the other train connections, mainly because it has lots of stops compared to the other Intercity trains. It is also a panoramic train.

I recommend simply hopping on the next train going to Locarno. But there is also the option to wait for the next direct train to Locarno from Zurich Train Station if that is what you prefer. 


Is the Train Route From Zurich to Locarno Scenic?

Most of the train routes to Locarno are not inside panoramic trains. These are fast trains designed to bring you from Zurich to Locarno as quickly as possible.

Direct trains from Zurich to Locarno that take the Gotthard Panorama route are scenic. You’ll have to wait a bit longer to arrive at your destination, but you’ll be rewarded with great views.

Gotthard Panorama Express Train

Image of the Gotthard Panorama Express Train from wikimedia

The direct train from Zurich to Locarno is a panoramic train. Although this train travels only once every two hours, this Gotthard Panorama train is a great journey along the historic Gotthard panoramic route from Zurich until Ticino.

With a total length of 209 kilometers, the train route from Zurich to Locarno takes around 3 hours and 19 minutes. This train route goes through Arth-Goldau, Schwyz, Brunnen, Flüelen, Altdorf, Erstfeld, Göschenen, Airolo, Ambri-Piotta, Faido, Lavorgo, Bodio TI, Biasca, Castione-Arbedo, Bellinzona, Giubiasco, Cadenazzo, Tenero, and ends in Locarno.

Through this train route, you will get to see the small church in Wassen, as well as the lakes Zurich and Lucerne.

If you would like to do another scenic experience on a similar route, the Gotthard Panorama Express will take you from Ticino to Lucerne first by train, and then on a steamboat starting Flüelen until you reach Lucerne.


How Much Will the Train Ticket From Zurich to Locarno Cost?

As of the time of writing (October 2021), here are the train ticket prices from Zurich to Locarno:

RouteFull Fare (CHF)Half Fare (CHF)
Zurich Airport – Locarno68.0034.00
Zurich – Locarno63.0031.50

As you can see, if you avail of the Half Fare Travel Card, you can definitely save on your fare for long train journeys. So this is definitely something to consider during your travel to Switzerland. You can do simple calculations and decide from there if it will be worth it for you.


Do You Need a Seat Reservation on the Train?

No, there is no need to reserve a spot on the train. But you can always add this option if that is your wish.


Am I allowed to travel from Zurich to Locarno?

Yes, there are currently no restrictions for traveling from Zurich to Locarno.

Can you drive into Locarno?

Yes, you may drive your car from Zurich to Locarno. You also have the possibility to rent a car from Zurich Airport if you wish to and drive this to Locarno. Check with the car rental agency for more details.

Is Locarno car-free?

As opposed to ZermattWengen, and Mürren, Locarno isn’t car-free. The city has a variety of transportation options: buses, bicycles, cars, and trains. 

If you are interested in visiting car-free villages in Switzerland, you can check out our article: 12 Charming Car-Free Villages in Switzerland.

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