We had cause to travel to Naples recently and decided to take a train journey via Milan instead of go by plane, especially since no airline flies from Zurich to Naples anymore.
Planning the trip was easy enough. You can get train times from the Swiss Railways website but you will need to wait a couple of days for a human to calculate a total price and contact by email so this is not ideal if you need to travel within the next couple of days.
The best way is to visit any SBB ticket office. I used the travel office at Zurich Main Station (HB), where the whole process was done and dusted within 10 minutes. Again, this was because we needed to book the whole journey down to Naples. For the Zurich to Milan leg, you can buy the ticket from any ticket office and also online.
Focusing on the Zurich to Milan leg of the journey, this really was a breeze. In a touch over 3 hours, you are whisked from city to city on the Cisalpino train. The Cisalpino allows you to do the journey without a change but there are only a few trains per day. if you are OK with one or two changes then the journey can be done in a variety of other ways.
The Cisalpino itself is an Italian service, run by the Italian railway so there are a few things that you usually do not find on a Swiss train. For example, the electric blind was jammed and could not be moved up without applying some brute force.
We went for first class seats, reasonable priced at 100CHF thanks to the Half Card and it was all very comfortable with a decent trolley service. You can also book seats for dinner in the restaurant car.
Our table had electrical sockets, ideal for charging the laptop en route.
The scenery at times was breathtaking. Lake Lugano is especially impressive with a dramatic Alpine backdrop. It is interesting whilst travelling through Switzerland to witness the change in town styles as you pass from German regions through to towns closer to Italy. At some points you really feel like you are in Italy although you are still some way from the border.
By the way, now that Switzerland has joined Schengen, no passport check is necessary either way.
On arrival at Milano Centrale, we stopped at the Excelsior Hotel for a coffee before boarding our overnight sleeper to Naples but I have to say, it is worth keeping your wits about you in and around the station.
It’s one of the great things about Switzerland, that you are in the heart of Europe. Within a few hours you are in another major European city and you can make the journey in comfort and at reasonable cost.