North of Bellinzona

Zürich / Zurich to Milano / Milan / Mailand by train

How to take the rail journey Zurich to Milano/Milan

A highlight of the 2021 European rail timetables was to be an expanded service of trains between Milan and Zurich, the brand new trains that have been introduced to the route and the newly opened Ceneri Base Tunnel have enabled the fastest ever journey time between the two cities.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on the route, so the planned most frequent ever train service has had to be placed on hold.
Though this remains a journey which showcases the best of European rail travel.
The smart new trains have restaurant cars, the engineering achievements to enable the journey time are phenomenal and despite the epic, recently opened rail tunnels, most of the journey is still fantastically beautiful!

Another 2021 innovation was the very welcome extension to the routes taken by some departures, so that Zurich now has a daily direct train to Genova/Genoa, though the planned direct train to Bologna has seemingly been placed on hold.
Though Milano Centrale is still the gateway to many Italian destinations not served by direct trains from Switzerland, so take these trains and connect there for the likes of Firenze/Florence, Roma/Rome, Napoli/Naples, Bari, Rimini and Pisa.



From Zürich HB / Zurich main station to Milano Centrale

Travel Information

On the planned timetable these trains were to depart hourly between 06:33 and 11:33 and then after midday the departures were to be in the odd hours only until 19:33.
Though due to the pandemic four of the departures leaving before 14:00 are being terminated at Chiasso, with connections available on to Milano and Como.

Final Destination: Milano Cle. or Genova P.p or Venezia S.L (or or Bologna C)

These trains also call: Como San Giovanni station and Lugano

Note that three types of train are used on this route, the new Giruno trains are gradually replacing the ETR 600 trains, while on some departures, particularly at weekends, the Astoro trains are used.
On some departures an Astoro and and ETR 600 train are joined together.

On some departures, when two trains are joined together regardless of the type of train, the train closest to the concourse will be terminating at Chiasso or Lugano, with only the front train continuing on to Milano.

up to 10 x trains per day


Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 4 months* ahead of the travel date

*If you look more than 3 months ahead it's likely that not all departures will be listed

(On the Trenitalia website, you will need to enter Zuerich Hb as the departure station).

Trains departing at different times can be cheaper than others leaving on the same day, so you may need to look through the day's departures to find the cheapest fares.

Rail pass users

If you will be travelling with valid Eurail or InterRail passes, you will need to pay a rail pass reservation fee when boarding this train for a journey to Switzerland (seats will automatically be assigned when booking tickets).
Though avoid paying for these reservation fees at a station in Switzerland, because if you do so you will also have to pay a 11CHF booking fee.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
Italiarail from €29

Italiarail Guide

ItaliaRail lives up to its name by selling tickets for rail journeys within Italy and the core feature of its service is that it is primarily designed to be used by international visitors to Italy.
So the English translations of place names are used when looking up journeys and the terms and conditions for using each type of ticket are clearly explained.
It also clearly points out the additional costs of upgrading to other classes and types of tickets while spelling out the additional benefits of doing so.

Users of InterRail and Eurail passes can also book seat reservations on the Frecce and InterCity trains without paying a booking fee,

Trenitalia from €29

Trenitalia Guide

Trenitlalia is the national rail operator in Italy and in addition to its cheaper types of ticket; it also typically offers other discounts available to non-Italians, which include:

  • Group Offers, provides for a discount of up to 50% when 3-5 Adults travel together.
  • Family Offer for when groups of 2 - 5 people are travelling together and at least one of the party is a aged 11 and under.
  • The Children Free Offer is available for journeys by Frecce trains, when groups of 2 - 5 people are travelling together and at least one of the party is a aged 15 and under.
    Those aged 15 and under travel for free, but the Adults will need to purchase full price 'Base' tickets.
Trainline from €29

Trainline Guide

SaveATrain from €29

SaveATrain Guide

Omio from €29

Omio Guide

Omio is an online ticket agency which offers tickets for rail journeys in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

The three key advantages of using Omio are

  • it offers prices in multiple currencies
  • it usually offers price comparison with other modes of travel including flights and buses
  • when visiting Europe, you can book journeys in multiple countries in one transaction.

The disadvantage of booking with Omio is that it often adds a booking fee to the final price; therefore when it does so without offering a price advantage, SMTJ doesn't tend to offer Omio as a booking option.

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesLake viewsMountain views

Good to Know

The departure at 08:33, which is now direct to Genoa calls at Milano Lambrate station and not at the city's main railway station, Milano Centrale.
Though Milano Lambrate has an equally easy connection to the western side of city centre as an interchange is available to line M2 of the Milano metro.

Looking down on Lake Zurich Looking down on Lake Zurich
Looking over the Zuger see to the south of Zug station Looking over the Zuger see to the south of Zug station
Between Zug and Arth-Goldau Lake Zug is on the right Between Zug and Arth-Goldau Lake Zug is on the right
To the south of Arth-Goldau, passing the Lauerzersee, which is on the right To the south of Arth-Goldau, passing the Lauerzersee, which is on the right
Then look out for glimpses of the Luzernsee also on the right Then look out for glimpses of the Luzernsee also on the right
Heading towards the Gotthard Base Tunnel Heading towards the Gotthard Base Tunnel
Between the Gotthard Base Tunnel and Bellinzona Between the Gotthard Base Tunnel and Bellinzona
Departing from Lugano station Departing from Lugano station
Looking over Lake Lugano to the south of the station Looking over Lake Lugano to the south of the station

These trains may be faster than ever, but now that they use The Gotthard Base Tunnel and the brand new Ceneri Base Tunnel, this journey is also less scenic than it used to be.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is now the world's longest railway tunnel, so long that it takes trains more than 15 mins to travel through it.
An announcement is made on the train just before it enters the tunnel.

However, this is still one of Europe's most epic express train journeys and thanks to those tunnels the journey time is now more than an hour faster than it was previously.

From the LEFT of the train (when facing the direction of travel) the first highlight to look out for is the view over Lake Zurich, as the train ascends up from the shore.

Then, if the weather is behaving itself, after departure from Zug station comes what is now the highlight of the journey, the view over the Zuger See.
This lake with its mountain peaks on the far shore can be seen on the right for more than 15 mins between Zug and Arth-Goldau station.


The next beautiful vista to look out for comes after departure from Arth-Goldau station, when on the right, the train will pass by the Lauerzersee.

Then just to the south of here, also look out on the right for glimpses of the Luzernsee.

Now that the trains on this route use the Ceneri Base Tunnel the next scenic highlights on the journey
come shortly after departure from Lugano, where there are views over the lake, initially over on the LEFT.

The final wow moment comes after departure from Lugano station when the train will cross the lake.

After the trains have crossed the lake, the best of the views switch to the right.

The Italian section of the journey south of Chiasso is more mundane, despite the trains passing through Como, its namesake lake can't be seen from these trains.

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