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Zurich To Locarno Train: All You Need To Know

(Last Updated On: December 11, 2023)

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. 

Image of Locarno by Hermann Traub from Pixabay


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

You can start by visiting the SBB website: www.sbb.ch. Using the website, you can type in your departure and arrival destinations. 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 (1-month validity) is available on www.sbb.ch. This allows you to travel for half the price on all SBB routes and most other railways during the duration of your discount card.

Using the Swiss Pass, you get unlimited travel by train, bus, and boat in Switzerland. Over 500 museums are also free or discounted, and there are free or discounted excursions to mountain summits.

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Getting tickets from RailEurope is a convenient option if you’re traveling within Europe and/or visiting multiple countries. Having been in operation since the 1930s, RailEurope‘s extensive history, user-friendly website and mobile apps, flexible currency payment options, commitment to customer satisfaction, and strategic partnerships with leading rail operators, collectively establish it as a reliable and trustworthy platform for booking European train travel.

You can obtain from RailEurope the following travel passes:

  • Swiss Travel Pass – choose between continuous or flexible Swiss train passes for 3, 4, 8, or 15 days. The perks? unlimited use in over 90 Swiss cities, free admission to more than 500 museums, and discounts on mountain railways and cable cars. You also get discounts on high-speed Lyria trains between France and Switzerland as well as Nightjet trains that go through Switzerland. See RailEurope for more information.
  • Eurail Global Pass – unlimited train travel to 40,000 destinations in 33 European countries for non-EU residents
  • Interrail Global Pass – access to 40,000 destinations in 33 European countries for citizens and permanent residents of the EU

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.


How to Get From Zurich to Locarno

Zurich Train Station
Image of Zurich Train Station by TouringSwitzerland.com

Zurich toLocarno

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 toLocarno

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 December 2023):

RouteDuration
Zurich Airport – Zurich Train Station –Locarno (fastest)2 hours 27 minutes
Zurich Train Station –Locarno (Gotthard Panorama Route, Direct)3 hours 22 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Bellinzona –Locarno (Intercity)2 hours 10 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Bellinzona –Locarno (Eurocity)2 hours 12 minutes

You can take either an Intercity or Eurocity train from Zurich to Locarno, and they’ll take around the same time. If the Gotthard Base Tunnel is closed for work, like after the accident in August 2023, the trains will use the Gotthard Panoramic Route instead.

I don’t suggest going via Lugano—it’s slower by half an hour and pricier too. Your best options are the Intercity or Eurocity trains through the tunnel for speed or the direct train for a scenic route.


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 to 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?

Here are the train ticket prices from Zurich toLocarno (updated December 2023):

RouteFull Fare (CHF)Half Fare (CHF)
Zurich Airport –Locarno71.0035.50
Zurich –Locarno66.0033.00

As you can see, if you avail of the Half Fare Travel Card, you can save on your fare for long train journeys. So this is 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 can rent a car from Zurich Airport if you wish to and drive this to Locarno.

If you would like to find the best car rental deals in Switzerland, check out Rentalcars.com. Reviews and comments help you find the right car in the right place for the right price. Also, it’s the world’s leading car rental app. You can compare cars and get the best deal by going to Rentalcars.com.

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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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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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