Travelling from Munich to Italy via Switzerland

Best route on the way to the Leaning Tower of Pisa

My parents are coming down in May and want to go to the leaning tower of Pisa. But they want to head on the train through Switzerland. Is that possible, has anyone done that? My parents just want to see if its possible to go through Switzerland, because of the views that you can see while travailing by train.


It is very possible and a nice trip. I took my mom through Switzerland but used lots of ferries, they are slower, but you get great views and its just fun to be on a boat. If looking for places to stay on your way to Pisa i recommend Lucerne, Gimmelwald and Cinque Terre (Italy, just north of Pisa).
Small Town Boy
Use the DB website to look for train times. Munich to Pisa wouldn't normally involve travelling through Switzerland (but rather Austria), but if you enter a "via" station, you can go where you want.
I'm sure it's possible. It just depends on your point of departure and how far out of the way you're willing to go.

Go to and check the train schedules. There's an English option also. Type in your cities, dates, etc. Click on the individual results to see more details. Within that you can click on the individual trains (products) used to see every stop made on the way. You can also do a search from, for example, Munich to Pisa, or you can do it from Munich to Pisa VIA some middle city.

Depending on how many people will be travelling, it might be cheaper, faster, and easier to rent a car and drive down whichever road you like. Just be sure that the rental agency approves travel with the car outside of Germay. Sometimes it's restricted (special fares, more auto theft in some countries, etc.). Also, some countries require a highway tax be paid. In return you get a sticker to put into your window.

Good luck and have fun.
Yes, it is possible, but it would be a long day of travelling by train. I've calculated in the past that for two people the cost of the train is about the same as the cost of gas for driving. With three people, going by car is definitely cheaper and allows for all sorts of alternate routes and stops.

There's a direct train from Munich to Zurich, and then a direct train from Zurich to Milan. From Milan you have lots of regional trains to Pisa.

A sample schedule: (obviously other combinations possible, but this has the least number of changes)
dep Munich 7:12
arr Zurich 11:44

dep Zurich 13:09
arr Milan 16:42

dep Milan 17:05
arr Pisa 21:35
Small Town Boy
Of course the advantage of the train is that the views are much better (bigger windows) and it's more relaxing. And the "car is cheaper" calculation assumes you already own a car.

As alluded to above, travelling via Z├╝rich (or anywhere in Switzerland) is not the direct route, hence the 14-hour journey. The direct route takes around 9 hours and still offers great scenery. If your parents do go via Switzerland, it would make sense to break the journey for a couple of days in somewhere like Lucerne.
Agree. I don't see the point of making such a detour without stopping somewhere for at least a day; Luzern would be the obvious choice, especially if your parents haven't visited Switzerland before.
1) If you use a car, think about the extra tax thing that you have to pay for using the autobahn in Switzerland.

2) Also, if you rent a car, there are some restrictions as per the rules of some countries. Zum Beispiel (For Ex) : A rental car from some country in Europe cant be used in some other country (doesnt apply to all countries).

And hey, its worth a ride on the train through the alps (Be it Swiss or Austria). Beautiful scenery and breath-taking panoramic views.
... Luzern would be the obvious choice ...
Next stop Lugano ... on the sunny south side of the Swiss Alps
thanks guys, yeah it will be by train, love trains and don't have a car, plus want to look out the window and drink beer with my dad, not worry about traffic and drive...
9 hours is impossible if you want to go through Switzerland. I agree that going through Zurich is a detour, but I was just giving an example using the least number of changes. The Cisalpino train from Zurich to Milan goes through beautiful areas and gives a wonderful view of the Swiss countryside - I used to take it to visit friends in Milan when I was going by myself.

I was always a bit frustrated when we lived in Switzerland (just south of Lake Constance) because train schedules weren't very convenient going to my in-laws in Albstadt, Germany which is why we ended up mostly driving. The highway tax in Switzerland is only 40 sw.francs (about 26 euro) for a year and many rental cars come with the sticker already on the windshield so that isn't really a consideration. It is the Austrian highway sticker that is expensive.

Be prepared for at least 13-14 (or more) hours of train travel. Personally, I prefer to add half an hour of travel time if it means only 2-3 changes instead of 6. I would suggest perhaps breaking up the trip with at least one overnight somewhere in Switzerland. Places near the Austrian border will take Euros so you won't even have to convert currency.

And you're right, my calculation of expenses didn't take into account the cost of buying or renting a car. We have cars already, so the cost of ownership didn't play a role in my figuring out whether taking the train or driving was cheaper.
If you have the time (and money) it might be worthwhile taking the Wilhelm Tell Express (paddle steamer then train) from Lucerne to Locarno/Lugano.
Locarno (or Lugano) are definite places to stop. Both are beside lakes, but the town of Locarno is much smaller.

See:Swiss Travel: Scenic Routes and Excursion Ideas

If you decide to travel to Lucerne I would try to stop off at the Bodensee on the way, eg. at Lindau, and maybe also Liechtenstein.
Not sure of the train links though.
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