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Zurich To Lugano Train: All You Need To Know

Last Updated on December 12, 2023 by Admin

Located in the sunny canton of Ticino, Lugano offers a wide range of outdoor activities. It is one of the most popular weekend getaways and vacation destinations in Switzerland. A city full of charm and panoramic mountains, Lugano also has a serene lake, a historic old town, and a mild climate.

Image of Lugano Lake by Andreas from Pixabay

Zurich is the starting point for many visitors to Lugano. After all, it’s where Switzerland’s largest airport is located. There are a few specifics to be aware of if you are planning to travel via train from Zurich to Lugano. How do I get from Zurich to Lugano by train? Is the ride scenic? How much does the ticket cost?

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

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 convenient while 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

How to Get From Zurich toLugano

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

You can get direct trains from Zurich Train Station to Lugano. There are typically one or two direct trains per hour.

Aside from the direct trains departing from Zurich Train Station, you can also take the trains that go via Arth-Goldau.

Zurich Airport to Lugano

There are no direct trains from Zurich Airport to Lugano.

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 heading to Lugano. There are two to three trains 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. 


Are There Direct Trains From Zurich to Lugano?

As of the time of writing (updated December 2023), there are direct trains from Zurich toLugano.

The two direct train lines from Zurich to Lugano are the following:

  • Eurocity trains departing Zurich and heading to Milano Centrale and Genova P. Principe.
  • Intercity trains departing Zurich

How Long Is the Train Ride From Zurich toLugano?

In December 2020, the 15.4-kilometer Ceneri Base Tunnel was opened to the public. It reduced travel time from Zurich Train Station to Lugano to less than two hours.

Ceneri Base Tunnel (Galleria di base del Monte Ceneri in Italian) is a Swiss railway base tunnel in Ticino. It runs under Monte Ceneri from Camorino in the Magadino Flat to Vezia near Lugano. The tunnel effectively bypasses the former high-altitude rail route. 

Unfortunately, a cargo freight train accident in August 2023 will cause trains to be rerouted via the Gotthard Panorama route until further notice. At weekends, around 30 trains run through the Gotthard Base Tunel.

The following table shows the train ride duration from Zurich toLugano (updated December 2023):

RouteDuration
Zurich Airport – Zurich Train Station – Lugano (fastest)3 hours 0 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Lugano (Eurocity)2 hours 55 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Lugano (Intercity)2 hours 43 minutes
Zurich Train Station – Arth Goldau – Lugano (Intercity)2 hours 43 minutes

Is the Train Route From Zurich toLugano Scenic?

Despite not being as scenic as Bernina Express and Glacier Express, you will still experience scenic views. Nevertheless, the train will take a long time in the Gotthard Basis Tunnel, and there will be little to no outside view.

FUN FACT: At 57 kilometers, the Gotthard Basis Tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the world.

In any case, you will still see parts of Lake Zurich during your trip from Zurich to Zug. You will also see Lake Lucerne as you travel towards Arth-Goldau. 

Other Scenic Trains

In case you would like to check out other scenic trains, then there are more scenic trains recommended below. These are the Golden Pass Line, the Glacier Express, and the Bernina Express. Another interesting train is the Historical Train that goes from Davos to Filisur.

Image of Bernina Express by TouringSwitzerland.com
Image of Bernina Express by TouringSwitzerland.com

Your other options in detail are the following:

  • Golden Pass – Golden Pass departs from Lucerne, Interlaken, or Montreux. The Golden Pass has panorama coaches and is scenic.
  • Glacier Express – Glacier Express is a long journey that starts from Zermatt, home of Matterhorn. It then traverses 291 bridges and 91 tunnels before stopping in St. Moritz. Both Zermatt and St. Moritz are beautiful mountain resorts worthy of a longer stay. The Glacier Express passes by several idyllic mountain villages.
  • Bernina Express – Bernina Express is another train route that begins in Chur. Chur is the oldest alpine city in Switzerland and definitely worth visiting. This train route spans 196 bridges. It goes through 55 tunnels and passes 20 beautiful villages in Switzerland. 
  • Historical Train Davos to Filisur – May through October, vintage carriages are pulled by the century-old crocodile locomotive from Davos Platz to Filisur. The train line covers a total length of 4,200 meters through 14 tunnels and 28 bridges. Its scenic highlights include the Wiesen Viaduct and the Zügen Gorge.

How Much Will the Train Ticket From Zurich toLugano Cost?

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

RouteFull Fare (CHF)Half Fare (CHF)
Zurich Airport – Lugano73.0036.50
Zurich – Lugano68.0034.00

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 Lugano?

Yes, there are currently no restrictions for traveling from Zurich to Lugano. However, the work being carried out in the Gotthard Base Tunnel due to the accident on August 2023 has caused a longer train journey until further notice.

Can you drive into Lugano?

Yes, you may drive your car from Zurich to Lugano. You also can rent a car from Zurich Airport if you wish to and drive this to Lugano.

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 Lugano Car-Free?

Image of LAC Lugano Arte e Cultura by Alessandro Squassoni from Pixabay

As opposed to ZermattWengen, and Mürren, Lugano 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.

* Disclosure: By clicking on our affiliate links, you may support TouringSwitzerland.com while incurring no additional costs. We appreciate your support!

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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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