Zurich to Milan by train

An Astoro train at Zurich HB

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SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) and Trenitalia (Italian Railways) jointly operate an excellent train service between major Swiss cities and Milan, with one or two trains per day continuing to Verona & Venice.  These trains are branded EuroCity, a generic term for quality train in much of Europe, they are operated by either bullet-nosed Astoro trains, some owned by SBB some by Trenitalia, or new Giruno trains now entering service on the Zurich-Milan route.

small bullet point  What are the trains like?

small bullet point  Travel tips:  Luggage, WiFi, food & drink...

small bullet point  How to check train times, fares & tickets

small bullet point  Route map

small bullet point  Scenery & sights

small bullet point  See the video:  Milan to Zurich by EuroCity train

Routes operated

small bullet point  Zurich - Lugano - Como - Milan via the Gotthard route, every hour or so.

small bullet point  Geneva - Lausanne - Montreux - Brig - Milan via the Simplon route, at various times through the day.

small bullet point  Basel - Bern - Spiez - Brig - Milan via the Lötschberg route and Basel - Lucerne - Como - Milan via the Gotthard route, 1 or 2 trains per day.

One train from Zurich and one train from Geneva extends beyond Milan to Venice.


On 10 August 2023, a freight train derailed inside the Gotthard Base Tunnel ripping up several kilometres of track.  Passenger trains will be diverted over the old scenic Gotthard line (and the original shorter Gotthard Tunnel) possibly until January 2024.  If you're travelling between Zurich & Milan (or between Basel & Milan via the Gotthard route), check your trains online.  The Simplon & Lötschberg routes are not affected.

What are the trains like?

Giruno trains

These swish new Giruno trains have taken over most Zurich-Milan services.  Officially designated RABe 501, their party trick is level boarding - between the wheels they are low-floor with easy level access from platform onto train.  The trade-off is an unusual layout inside, with a floor that's low between the bogies and slopes up over the wheels with some of the car-end seats raised on platforms either side as you can see in the photos below.  There's a restaurant car with cafe-bar counter, the train has power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  I explain how to tell if your train is due to be a Giruno or Astoro/ETR610 in the travel tips section.

EuroCity train from Zurich to Milan at Zurich HB

A Giruno train at Zurich HB.

1st class on Giruno   Restaurant car on Giruno

Giruno, 1st class.  Larger photo.


Restaurant car with bar counter. Larger photo.

2nd class on Giruna   Bar counter in the restaurant car

Giruno 2nd class.  Larger photo


Level boarding. Note the destination screen in the door. 

Astoro trains

These classy tilting pendolino  trains, designated RABe503 Astoro by the Swiss or ETR610 by the Italians, have 1st & 2nd class and a restaurant car.  They're excellent trains, fully air-conditioned with power sockets at all seats, and seats line up with the windows for great views.  Until early 2020, all Swiss-Italian EuroCity trains were operated by these Swiss Astoro trains or their Trenitalia-owned ETR610 equivalent, but SBB's new Giruno trains entered service from 2020 onwards on the Gotthard route and have now taken over all Zurich-Milan services.

ETR610 EuroCity train at Milan Centrale

A Swiss SBB-owned ETR610 about to leave Milan Centrale with a mid-morning EuroCity train to Bern & Basel.

1st class on a Switzerland to Milan Astoro train   ETR610 restaurant car

1st class seats.  Larger photo.


Restaurant car.  Larger photo.

Lunch on an ETR610 train   1st class seats on an ETR610 train

Lunch in the restaurant car...


2nd class.  Larger photo 360 degree photo.

Trenitalia trains

Trenitalia provides the rolling stock for some Switzerland-Italy departures, using its ETR610 pendolino trains.  To all intents and purposes these are identical to SBB's RABe503 Astoro trains, but with a different exterior & interior colour scheme.  You could get either a Swiss or an Italian train.

Italian ETR610 train to Switzerland at Milan Centrale

A Trenitalia-owned ETR610 about to depart from Milan Centrale for Zurich...

Frecciargento train 2nd class seats   Frecciargento train 1st class seats

2nd class on a Trenitalia-owned ETR610...


1st class on a Trenitalia-owned ETR610.

Travel tips

1st class table for two   1st class seats on an ETR610 train

You put your suitcase on racks like this one, or between seat backs where seats are back-to-back...


There are power sockets at all seats in both classes, standard 2-pin European type...

Times, fares & tickets

Route map

You can see how the Gotthard Base Tunnel on the Zurich-Milan route saves a lot of time compared to the old route with the spirals & original Gotthard Tunnel.

Switzerland to Milan train route map

Click for larger mapHighlighted = Zurich/Basel/Geneva-Milan train routes. Green = scenic routesRed = high-speed lines.

Reproduced from the excellent European Rail Map with kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people.  I recommend buying the European Rail Map for your travels and a copy of the European Rail Timetable, www.europeanrailtimetable.eu with shipping worldwide.

Scenery & sights

These trains pass some great Alpine scenery as well as Swiss and Italian Lakes.  Here's a summary of what to look out for on each of the four routes, written assuming you're travelling south towards Milan - if you're travelling northwards the sights will obviously be on the opposite side of the train.

Chillon castle, seen from a Miloan-Geneva train

Chillon castle on Lake Leman, seen from a train from Milan to Lausanne & Geneva in September.

Sion castle, see from the train to Venice

Sion castle in the early light, seen from the morning Geneva to Venice train on the Simplon route.

Lake Leman, seen from a Geneva-Milan train

Lake Leman, seen from a Geneva to Milan train on the Simplon route on a wintry day.

Pretty church & vineyards seen from a Zurich to Milan train   Pretty church & vineyards seen from a Zurich to Milan train

Villages & vineyards seen on the Zurich-Milan Gotthard route.

Lake Lugano, seen from a Milan to Zurich train

Lake Lugano, seen from a Milan to Zurich train on the Gotthard route.

Lake Maggiore, seen from a Milan to Basel train

Lake Maggiore.  Trains between Geneva, Lausanne, Basel, Bern & Milan on the Simplon & Lötschberg routes pass right by the shores of Lake Maggiore.  This is Lake Maggiore seen over lunch in the restaurant car of the 11:25 Milan to Basel on a bright winter's day.

Watch the videoMilan to Zurich

This video takes you on a journey from Milan to Zurich via the Gotthard Base Tunnel on a Swiss-owned ETR610 EuroCity train.

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