Most scenic option from Lake Como to Interlaken? Should I go via Menaggio & Lugano?

I will be visiting Lake Como and the Bernese Oberland area in July 2015. I have not decided whether to stay in Como or Menaggio. When I travel from Lake Como to Interlaken, is it correct that if I go from Menaggio to Lugano to Interlaken I can take a more scenic route than if I went from Como to Interlaken? This would determine whether to stay in Como or Menaggio.
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) June 30, 2015 19:41
    Hi.

    Nearly all routes there would be scenic to a large degree. However, I do think it would be a good idea to go with an option from Como/Menaggio to Interlaken that would involve routing yourself through Lugano (or Bellinzona) and Lucerne.

    Trains between Lugano and Lucerne would operate along the 'William Tell' scenic route for part of the way and go through the 'St. Gotthard range', while the trains from Lucerne to Interlaken would operate along the 'GoldenPass' scenic route.

    There are also direct trains straight from Como to Bellinzona, which pass through Lugano en route. The segment between Lugano and Bellinzona is on the 'William Tell' scenic route, and the portion of this route from Bellinzona to Lucerne would go through the 'St. Gotthard' range.

    If your plans do include going to Menaggio, you can take a bus or ferry to get there from Como. From Menaggio, you would then take the 'Palm Express' scenic bus in order to get to Lugano, from where you can continue on by rail for the rest of the journey until you get to Interlaken. Tickets for the bus or ferry from Como to Menaggio would have to be purchased locally, as would tickets for the 'Palm Express' bus from Menaggio to Lugano.

    You would purchase your other tickets by clicking on 'Find Fares & Schedules' on the homepage of our website (www.raileurope.com) and entering the route. For a trip such as this, you would have to piece together the connection by doing a separate search for each segment.

    Therefore, if you plan to head to Interlaken right from Como, you would do one search for trains from Como to Lugano or Como to Bellinzona, another search for connecting trains from Lugano to Lucerne or Bellinzona to Lucerne, and another search for connecting trains from Lucerne to Interlaken ('GoldenPass' scenic trains).

    Otherwise, if you will be heading to Interlaken from Menaggio, you would do one search for trains from Lugano to Lucerne and another search for connecting trains from Lucerne to Interlaken ('GoldenPass' scenic trains)
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  • This is soooo extremely helpful. Thank you so much. How would I have known any of this?

    I think I will go from Como to Lugano to Bellinzona to Lucerne to Interlaken (and then eventually to Wengen). Does that sound correct and scenic?

    Would it be best to buy tickets before we leave or once we are there?

    The Swiss trains are less than the private - is that correct? Do you know what the price difference is? I assume I do not have to take the private trains which would cost more.

    Any other advice?

    I thank you so much!!
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) July 02, 2015 19:05
    I do think you've decided on a perfect route as a way to get from Lake Como to the Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland, and you can expect that your entire journey will be incredibly scenic. It is recommended that tickets be purchased in advance, prior to departing for Europe.

    There are no other trains that operate along the routes you're referring to, so I'm not sure what you're referring to by "private trains". The trains I mentioned, with regard to each route, are the trains you'll be taking.

    Since you'll be in Interlaken, you're probably planning on heading up to Jungfraujoch and/or Schilthorn.

    Interlaken-Jungfraujoch

    For a trek up to Jungfraujoch, you would purchase the '1 Day Round-Trip Journey from Interlaken' option of the 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe'. You would purchase this here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/....

    There are 2 different routes you can take for travel between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch, one via Grindelwald and the other via Lauterbrunnen. Both of these routes involve 2 changes along the way. The option that goes via Grindelwald involves changing in Grindelwald and then Kleine Scheidegg. The option that goes via Lauterbrunnen involves changing in Lauterbrunnen and then Kleine Scheidegg (Wengen is a stop of the train between Lauterbrunnen and Kleine Scheidegg.) To maximize your experience, you might want to consider making your ascent via one route and descending via the other route.

    The segment between Interlaken and Grindelwald, and the segment between Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen is on the 'Bernese Oberland Railway'.

    The segment between Grindelwald and Kleine Scheidegg or Lauterbrunnen and Kleine Scheidegg is a cog railway called the 'Wengenalp Railway'.

    The segment between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch is a cog railway called the 'Jungfrau Railway' and is the highest railway in Europe, making Jungfraujoch itself the highest rail station in Europe.

    A one-way between Interlaken and Jungfraujoch only takes about 2.5 hours in duration via either route. Reservations are not accepted for any part of this trip. The 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' is an open voucher that you would use to hop on any of these trains on the journey up to Jungfraujoch and back. The 'Jungfraujoch Top of Europe' is only valid for a period of 24 hours, so your round-trip would have to be completed within that time frame. To maximize your experience, you might want to consider making your ascent via one route and descending via the other route.

    Interlaken-Schilthorn

    For a trek to Schilthorn, you would purchase the '1 Day Round-Trip Journey From Interlaken' option of the 'Schilthorn/Piz Gloria'. You would purchase this here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/....

    To begin the ascent to Schilthorn, you would take the 'Bernese Oberland Railway' from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen, there are then 2 different routes you can take to reach Schilthorn. As I recommended for the Jungfraujoch trip, you might want to consider making your ascent via one route and descending via the other

    One route would have you taking the 'Grütschalpbahn' cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp. In Grütschalp, you would switch to the 'Mürrenbahn' train to Mürren. From Mürren, you would then continue on the 'Schilthornbahn' up to Schilthorn.

    The other route would have you taking a bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg. In Stechelberg, you would switch to the 'Schilthornbahn' cable cars that will take you to Schilthorn. On the way from Stechelberg to Schilthorn, there are stops in Gimmelwald, Mürren, and Birg.

    'Piz Gloria’ refers to the panoramic revolving restaurant at the Schilthorn summit.

    The Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn excursions will not disappoint.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) December 29, 2016 17:01
      Update:

      With regard to the excursion up to Jungfraujoch, reservations are now possible for the Jungfrau Railway segment between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch. In fact, as a supplement to the ‘Jungfraujoch Top of Europe’, reservations are now highly recommended on the Kleine Scheidegg-Jungfraujoch segment for travel between the months of May and October. The Kleine-Scheidegg-Jungfraujoch reservations can be purchased locally at the preceding stations in Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Wengen; as well as the nearby station of Mürren.

      Reservations are still not accepted for the segments between Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg, whether you take the route via Grindelwald or the route via Lauterbrunnen. Therefore, the ‘Jungfraujoch Top of Europe’ would be all you’d need to board for these segments.
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  • This is such great information. I am reviewing everything you mentioned in detail and becoming more familiar with it. Thank you so very very much!

    It seems like it would make most sense to get the Swiss Pass then?
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) July 06, 2015 17:55
    Yes, you could definitely do the 'Swiss Travel Pass' instead of regular point-to-point tickets.

    For travel with a 'Swiss Travel Pass', you would be eligible to receive a rated called the 'Passholder 2' for reservations on a direct train from Como to Lugano or Como to Bellinzona (even though these trains start out in Italy). The direct trains from Como to Bellinzona actually pass through Lugano en route. Therefore, unless you have specific plans to stop in Lugano, you can just take a direct train straight from Como to Bellinzona.

    You would purchase tickets at a 'Passholder 2' rate for a direct ‘EuroCity’ train from Como to Lugano or Como to Bellinzona by clicking on 'Book your Rail Pass Reservations' on our homepage (instead of 'Find Fares & Schedules'), entering the route, and indicating that you'll be traveling with a 'Swiss Travel Pass'.

    To ensure it's a 'Passholder 2' rate that you're being quoted when you pull up the results of your search, you would click the 'View' button for the cost listed under your preferred class of service for your preferred departure. After you click the 'View' button, a box will expand out underneath. In this box, you would refer to the option(s) listed under where it says 'Ticket Flexibility' and click 'Read More'. When you click 'Read More', the name of the fare should display as something like 'Trenitalia International Trains Passholder 2'. Generally, the 'Passholder 2' rates for these trains would be the 'Semi Flexible' option under 'Ticket Flexibility'.

    On the trains from Bellinzona to Lucerne and even the GoldenPass trains from Lucerne to Interlaken, reservations are not necessary. Therefore, the ‘Swiss Travel Pass’ is all you would need to board these trains.

    If you purchase the ‘Swiss Travel Pass’, it would also be important to point out that you would have to purchase different options of the ‘Jungfraujoch Top of Europe’ and the ‘Schilthorn/Piz Gloria’ passes than the ones I mentioned previously.

    Jungfraujoch Top of Europe

    On the way up to Jungfraujoch, the ‘Swiss Travel Pass’ would only cover you as far as Grindelwald (via one route to Jungfraujoch) and Wengen (via the other route to Jungfraujoch). The ‘Swiss Travel Pass’, however, would enable you to receive a 25% discount on the segment from Grindelwald to Jungfraujoch (and vice-versa) and the segment from Wengen to Jungfraujoch (and vice-versa). To receive this discount, you would purchase the ‘Grindelwald or Wengen to Jungfraujoch for Swiss Travel Pass Holder’ option of the ‘Jungfraujoch Top of Europe’. This would cover you on the ‘Wengernalpbahn’ cogwheel railway from Grindelwald or Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg (and vice-versa) and the ‘Jungfrau Railway’ from Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch. Wengen is a stop of the branch of the ‘Wengernalpbahn’ between Lauterbrunnen and Kleine Sheidegg.

    Once again, you would purchase the ‘Jungfraujoch Top of Europe’ here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/jungfraujoch/index.html.

    Schilthorn/Piz Gloria

    On the way up to Schilthorn, the 'Swiss Travel Pass' would be valid as far as Mürren, but only via the Grütschalp route; it would not be valid to cover the bus from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg and the cable cars from Stechelberg to Mürren via Gimmelwald. With the ‘Swiss Travel Pass’, however, you would be able to receive a 50% discount for from either Interlaken or Mürren to Schilthorn (and vice-versa). If you go with the option starting in Interlaken, you would be able to take the route between Lauterbrunnen and Mürren that goes via Stechelberg and Gimmelwald, not just the Grütschalp route. With the option starting in Interlaken, you would also not have to use your ‘Swiss Travel Pass’ for the segment on the ‘Bernese Oberland Railway’ between Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen.

    To receive the 50% discount between Interlaken and Schilthorn, you would purchase the ‘Interlaken to Schilthorn for Swiss Travel Pass Holder’ option of the ‘Schilthorn/Piz Gloria’. To receive the 50% discount between Mürren and Schilthorn only, you would purchase the ‘Murren-Schilthorn for Swiss Travel Pass Holder’ option of the ‘Schilthorn/Piz Gloria’.

    Once again, you would purchase the ‘Schilthorn/Piz Gloria’ here: http://www.raileurope.com/activities/schilthorn-piz-gloria/index.html.
    • Jeff (Official Rep) December 29, 2016 17:01
      Update:

      With regard to the excursion up to Jungfraujoch, reservations are now possible for the Jungfrau Railway segment between Kleine Scheidegg and Jungfraujoch. In fact, as a supplement to the ‘Jungfraujoch Top of Europe’, reservations are now highly recommended on the Kleine Scheidegg-Jungfraujoch segment for travel between the months of May and October. The Kleine-Scheidegg-Jungfraujoch reservations can be purchased locally at the preceding stations in Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Wengen; as well as the nearby station of Mürren.

      Reservations are still not accepted for the segments between Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg, whether you take the route via Grindelwald or the route via Lauterbrunnen. Therefore, the ‘Jungfraujoch Top of Europe’ would be all you’d need to board for these segments.
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  • Hi Jeff

    Thanks for all your input and experience you shared.
    I plan to go to Interlaken Switzerland from lake como and would be only 10 min to Menaggio. The best scenic view as you recommended from my understanding be catch a Palm Express. I be travelling with my wife and two sons. So should we book our bus ticket from US where we reside or do it in Italy when we get there?
    Any other suggestion?

    thanks amir
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