If you are looking for an easy travel route between Ticino, Switzerland and Northern Italy, or want to enjoy a scenic train ride for a day trip, the Centovalli Railway is a journey you should check out. The distinctive white and blue trains run daily and suitable for everyone wanting to travel along the pretty scenic route via Locarno and Domodossola.
Officially the Centovalli Railway was opened in 25 November 1923, which now transports thousands of passengers every year between Switzerland and Italy. The train has a few carriages, which follow a single train track through the whole journey.
Centovalli Railway – Where To Start?
Starting either at the pretty Italian city of Domodossola or at the Swiss sunny location of Locarno, both stations can be found underground at each end. This is where the trains depart for the whole journey to the final station. They are easy to find with signposts and directions clear at both the Swiss and Italian stations.
Most travellers take the train the whole journey, but you can always also consider getting off at at earlier stop for a local hike or to explore at a village along the way. There are a total of 32 stops along the way.
We noticed that the train does not stop at most stops along the way. And this is because you will have to inform the conductor in advance what stop you will take, as the train will not stop at your middle destination otherwise. You will see the employee walk through at the beginning to check with you about your final destination.
From our personal experience while living in Locarno, we have been on this train multiple times during Summer and Winter. The train is easy to travel on with a ticket via our SBB train app as like most Swiss/Italian trains. So we also benefit from the reduced fare with our Swisspass card.
Alternatively you can also buy your train ticket in advance online (which is also recommended during busy periods during summer or with an event). For example, when Domodossola has their Christmas markets open in December, it can be very busy on the train at weekends. Likewise for when Locarno has the Film Festival event during August.
The train company also advertises offers, such as 2 for 1 travel for 2 people, so that you only pay for one person. These are great deals when you are flexible for your travels! Check the official website for latest deals for your journey and dates of travel.
A Stunning Scenic Journey
The journey is one of the main local scenic train railways you can take in the Ticino Canton of Switzerland to the Northern Italy region of Piedmont. This panoramic train route is very pretty all year round with every season, but even more stunning after a wintery white snowfall and during the Autumn foliage oranges and browns.
Let me also highlight that this is not a fast train. This is in fact rather slow, and we find that this is actually rather more enjoyable. Since you are likely wanting to take the train for the scenery. The total Centovalli railway journey is 52km long, which goes over 83 bridges and through 31 tunnels. You pass numerous waterfalls (depending on the season you are travelling in) too. The journey takes you through the Vigezzo Valley and Centovalli, and it truly is beautiful.
Tip: Sitting on either side of the train has amazing views along the way. However when leaving Locarno towards Domodossola, we would personally recommend sitting on the left side. As this is the side that the train has the best views along the Swiss Centovalli valley before heading over the Italian border.
Centovalli Railway Summary
Our personal journeys on this panoramic train has been enjoyable every time. The train in our experience has been overall very clean, used by tourists and locals alike, and always welcomed by the friendly staff. Overall we definitely recommend a trip on the Centovalli railway if you either;
- Enjoy scenic train rides through Swiss and Italian mountains
- Want to visit a local event, such as the Domodossola Christmas Markets or the Locarno Film Festival.
- Need to travel further through Italy or Switzerland, using this train during the journey.
For more Italian Content, check here:
Our Experience on The Simplon Car Train