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10 Important Things To Know When Traveling From Italy to Switzerland By Train

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Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

Traveling by train to Europe allows you to connect with the place

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Having recently completed a fabulous trip from Lisbon to Switzerland, mainly by train, I’m already planning for more in the future. We hope to train around Europe with our five kids this summer, and Switzerland is at the top of our list! 

The experience differs from plane travel or road-tripping in significant, enjoyable ways. Europe excels at train travel in many countries. We live in Europe with our five kids; unfortunately, Portugal is not one of these countries. However, many other countries, such as Italy, Scandinavian countries, and France, do.

Couple’s trip to Switzerland
The Leaning Tower of Pisa

On our recent trip to Switzerland, we flew first to Milan. We found cheap air tickets on RyanAir for only around €30 ($31) each, one-way, from Lisbon to Milan.

We then traveled by train for about 4 hours each way to Grindlewald, Switzerland. It required two transfers within Switzerland. We didn’t use a car for the entire trip (outside our Uber to the airport) as Grindlewald is small and very walkable. What a joy! I love a trip, especially in the winter with ice and snow, where we don’t need to use a car.

Download and learn more about the Eurail app here.

Eurail Global pass prices for a family of seven

Tips For Traveling From Italy to Switzerland By Train I learned From Our Trip

  1. Masks – If they are still required, which they are for air travel to Italy at the time of writing this, know that Italy requires special masks: the FFP2 mask is the one that reminds me of a duckbill. We had regular surgical masks and were denied boarding until we purchased the FFP2 masks from a gift store in the station. We nearly missed our train departure! Be sure to check current mask requirements, especially as we head into cold and flu season again this fall.
  2. COVID Requirements – While newfound freedoms from COVID restrictions make me incredibly happy, none of us are too naive to think they might never return. Always be mindful of current Covid rules. I find it easiest to Google “Train travel Italy” and read a few links. When we traveled, vaccination was required. We were asked on board to show our Covid vaccination proof along with our passports. However, it was not necessary when boarding the train.
  3. Border Control  When we passed the Switzerland/Italy border, the border control guards came through the cabin and did some document checking. They examined our passports and proof of Covid vaccination. Going into Switzerland, the patrol was a bit more attentive than going the other way.
  4. Eating On The Trains – Most larger trains across countries have dining cars, and you can often buy a light meal, snacks, and drinks. However, we liked eating in the small station cafes on the stops. We found delicious pastries, quiches, and more in the small station cafes. You can ask for your food to be warmed up.
  5. Booking Seats – On longer journeys, booking your seats is a necessity. Don’t be too surprised if they are occupied. Both times we boarded the longer trips, our seats were filled. When we motioned that it was our seats, the people moved. It seems like it is open seating for shorter sections, and we can take our pick.
  6. Timing – Know that the trains are 100% on time in Switzerland, if not a minute or two early. Be careful not to miss your boarding time!
  7. Boarding the wrong train – If you make a mistake, don’t worry. The trains are plentiful for shorter sections, and you can simply board another one. In one of our transfers, we accidentally went the wrong way. A kind man noticed us pondering it and told us to download the SBB Mobile app. This app lists the train tables in Switzerland and can even help you plan your trip in Switzerland.
  8. Noise On The Train – We’ve experienced many train trips in many countries, and each country has its expectations for noise on board. The noise was more prominent in Italy, but trains were relatively silent in Switzerland. Know that the trains also have a first-class section that caters to business people and is much quieter.
  9. Wifi – While wifi is advertised on all trains, I’ve never had any luck getting a good connection. However, cell data works pretty well, and I was able to use our portable hotspot.
  10. Security and Luggage – Know that security is much easier, if it exists at all, on trains.  Our bags were never checked at all.  You can store your bags in luggage sections, near entrances, or above your seat.  

Is it your first long train ride? Here are 7 things to AVOID:

  1. Do not book tickets early (it might be better to do it in advance!)
  2. Packing too much
  3. Arriving late
  4. Sitting in the wrong seat
  5. Not bringing snacks
  6. Not bringing portable wifi and charger
  7. Missing your stop
Traveling in China with kids by train

Enjoy your train travel! We are planning to train around Europe this summer, and I’ll be sure to update you here with any other tips.

Leslie

Booking a flight? Catch great fare deals from Booking.com, Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, or Expedia, and get some budget-friendly tickets.

Find a family-friendly hotel from Booking.com, Expedia, or Vrbo, (we also love Tripadvisor and Hotels.com).

Discover more about Europe through fun activities from GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, or Viator and discover more of Grindelwald.

Need to rent a car? Visit Rentalcars.com.

Get insured while traveling with World Nomads.

Want to have a photo shoot while traveling? Check out flytographer!

Capture your best travel memories in Europe as we do with a GoPro, Sony camera, or our favorite drones: DJI FPV, Air, and Mini.

Check out your travel necessities from a comprehensive list of all the 7Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves. Click Here!

Additional Reading

Travel Italy by Train: How to Make It Easy

Europe Trip by Car: 10 Things You Need to Know

Italy Itinerary for a Romantic 7-Day, 6-Night Getaway

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  1. Pingback: Best Way To Travel Switzerland And Italy — I Live Italy

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