The Centovalli Railway, Italy to Switzerland
The Centovalli Railway connects Locarno in Italian-speaking southern Switzerland with Domodossola in northern Italy. Known as both the ‘Centovallina’ or ‘Vigezzina’, the train offers a unique journey across both Switzerland and Italy, running through the Centovalli (meaning 100 valleys), rocky gorges and past many waterfalls. The train serves both transit traffic and tourists and is a great way to take in this corner of Europe’s varied landscape, from the Alps and Lake Maggiore to Piedmont and the Simplon Pass. The entire journey takes just two hours and covers 52km, on board either a panoramic tourist-friendly train or the regular Centovalli Express.
Prices from: £38
Departing from: Domodossola, Italy
Journey length: 2hours
The Centovalli Railway route
The Centovalli trains run between the Italian town of Domodossola to Locarno, in Switzerland’s canton of Ticino. The journey takes two hours and travels for 52km, running across 83 bridges, 31 tunnels, past glistening waterfalls and narrow valleys. Everything about this journey is scenic, winding up the slopes of Trontano and climbing into the Valle Vigezzo (Vigezzo Valley) to St Maria Maggiore (at 836m).
The train gradually descends back through the valley and onto the Centovalli region, with the trip finishing in Locarno on the shoes of the glamorous Lake Maggiore. The train operates all year round, but as timetables are subject to change, it’s worth checking the website before planning your trip. Want to continue your rail adventure? Lugano is just a short train or drive away from Locarno, where you can board the Gotthard Panorama Express or the Bernina Express.
The Centovalli Railway trains
The Centovalli rail route is a very active route, catering to travelling locals, commuters and tourists alike. There are two types of train available to ride, but it’s best to look out for the panoramic trapezoidally-shaped Treno Panoramico Vigezzo Vision. Not only does this train have vast windows and viewing opportunities but it also has free audio guides providing detailed information about the route. A standard called Centovalli Express also runs the route. Both trains have 1st and 2nd class seating, and snacks and beverages are available to purchase on board.
Why we love it
What could be more romantic than taking in the Italian countryside, palm tree-lined lakes and snow-capped Alps by train? The train links two fantastic destinations and also provides great transport links at each end.