Meeting Your Trip in BRIG or in ZERMATT
Updated for 2016
On this page, you will find information about meeting your trip in BRIG or ZERMATT. Topics include...
We suggest that you print these pages out, and bring a copy with you to your trip.
When and Where:
Zermatt is at the top of an Alpine valley, and Brig at the bottom of the same valley, so reaching these two involves the same trains, except for the mountain cog railway that climbs the hill, from Brig up to Zermatt.
If you are joining your trip in BRIG (all points north)...
...we meet between 2p and 3p at the Brig station, at the far west end of the station building (the left-hand end as you face the building from the street), just beyond the station café, on the street level.
If for any reason you are unable to reach Brig by the time of the final meeting, it is important to call your Coordinator (number on the trip itinerary by 3p on the meeting day, and then to travel directly to the night’s stop in Domodossola. This phone call is VERY IMPORTANT, since we otherwise assume you are a “no-show,” and ship your bike back to Paris!
If you are joining your trip in ISELLE (arriving via an Italian gateway)...
...we meet at 4:30p at the Iselle passenger train station, which is sufficiently small that the meeting point will be obvious. The bikes and the Trip Coordinator arrive via an auto-train at 4:18p (16h18), and will come over to the passenger station (the autotrain station is accross the tracks).
Included in Your Access Package, if you subscribed to it:
Train tickets to Brig or Iselle from Milan, Gallarate or Stresa (Malpensa Airport), Geneva, Paris, Zurich or elsewhere.
Travel Documents will have been sent to you in advance, unless you are arriving via Paris, in which case they will be supplied by our Paris office. You will receive either a train ticket, or a railpass with accompanying explanation regarding its use, and a schedule for the train that you have reserved.
Getting to the Trip
Brig is a major railway junction in the Rhône Valley, and on the border with Italy.
Iselle is a tiny village on the Simplon pass road, at the southern end of the Simplon tunnel, which carries the main rail line under the mountains between Switzerland and Italy.
The closest airports are Geneva and Milan. Milan’s Malpensa airport is geographically closer, but trains to Brig run directly from a rail station in Geneva’s airport’s main terminal, which makes this trip quicker and easier. Direct trains also run from the Zurich Airport rail station.
Your Coordinator’s arrival in Brig is irregular, since/he generally arrives by bicycle. He makes every effort to be in place for the meeting time (and you can check earlier - he is often in place by 1:30p or so), but if you do not see him, simply come back a bit later, and he will be there.
If you get to Brig in time, and are “proactive” about getting your bike sized and set up and dealing with your luggage, you may go for a pleasant warm-up ride before leaving Switzerland. At the other extreme, if you are too jet-lagged to cycle, a short train ride can carry you literally to the front door of your hotel in Domodossola, where you can take a nap.
You will reach Iselle by bus, coming up from Domodossola. Some buses pull up to the railway station, but others stop on the main road, 200 m away. Ask the driver to let you off at “Iselle Stazione”, and he will set you down at the closest stop.
Your Coordinator (and your bike) will arrive in Iselle at 4:30p, coming through the tunnel from Switzerland. This means that you should catch the 4p (16h) bus from Domodossola up to Iselle (the bus station in Domodossola is opposite the train station).
If you purchased them through us, you will receive either a ticket or a railpass for the trip. If you are arriving via Paris, it will be waiting for you in our Paris office, instead.
From Geneva Airport (also works from Geneva downtown)
Follow signs to the train station (within the air terminal). Take the first train announced whose final destination is any of Brig (“Brigue” in French). Domodossola, Milano, Venice (“Venezia”), or Florence (“Firenze”).
If you are going to Brig, most trains terminate there (and the few that continue beyond stop in Brig for a few minutes), so getting off is easy. Two trains operate every hour, and journey time is a bit over 2 and a half hours.
If you are going to Zermatt, you will get off instead in a town called Visp, 10 minutes before your train would reach Brig. To help you prepare to detrain: the previous station is usually Leuk, about 10 minutes prior, and the one before that is Sierre / Siders.
Note that trains travelling through to Italy do not stop in Leuk, and sometimes do not stop in Sierre, either. For these, the previous stop is Sion, 25 minutes prior to arrival in Visp.
See below for ongoing instructions to Zermatt.
From Milan (to Iselle, via Domodossola)
Linate Airport, Brescia Airport, or Downtown Milan (Milano Centrale station)
A bus service runs from either airport (Brescia or Linate) to Milano Centrale station (the last stop for the bus). The bus is frequent from Linate, but not so from Brescia... if there is no departing bus from Brescia, take a local bus into the center of town, and catch the every-half-hour train into Milan from there. Be sure to take a train to Milano Centrale, and not to another Milan station.
We recommend taking public transit, especially from Brescia, since the ride is quite a long one, and thus expensive by taxi (even the bus costs about 15€).
At the Milano Centrale station, take the next train departing for Domodossola. These are hard to figure out, since not all trains terminate their runs in Domodossola (some wind up in Switzerland), so the giant departure board may not mention the place. But “Partenza” (departure) posters posted around the station, and which list all departures chronologically, show all major stations, including Domodossola. The Information Office (“i”) can also provide the necessary information. Trains travelling into Switzerland (in other words, any trains not terminating in Domodossola) require reservations, but if you have a ticket for a train other than the one pulling out, and no time to modify it, go show it to the conductor, and see if he will let you ride.
You will reach Domodossola about 90 minutes after leaving Milan. This is where we will be spending the night, so go to the hotel (the Eurossola, across the street from the station), check in, change for a (short) bike ride. Then return to the station for the 4p (16h) bus to Iselle (the bus station is across the street from the train station). Tickets to Iselle can be purchased on board the bus. This reaches Iselle at 4:28p (16h28).
This could be the topic of a book. Overview: the rail line from central Milan to Domodossola passes not far from the airport. No fewer than three public transit options exist to reach it without going into downtown Milan:
- There is an (infrequent) bus direct to Domodossola, eliminating the need for the train altogether. This bus needs to be reserved in advance: you cannot generally just walk up and get on.
- There is a more frequent bus to Stesa, where almost all Domodossola trains stop. The bus to Stresa is called the Alibus, it takes an hour to make the trip, and it does not require advance reservations.
- A taxi to Gallarate, the closest station on the Milan - Domodossola line (though not all Domodossola trains stop there), costs about 20€ — far less than the 70+€ fare to Milan.
Any of these three options are a minimum of an hour faster (and less expensive) than going into Milan to get your train to Domodossola.
But the bus connection is a bit complex, regardless of which bus you use. The Domodossola bus, which eliminates the need for the train...
- ...is not frequent, and so must line up with your plane (and also with a useful train, if you are going on to Zermatt).
- You must reserve it in advance (can be done by e.mail, in English).
- You must find the stop at the airport.
The Stresa bus is more frequent, but it requires that you then catch a train from Stresa on to Domodossola. In addtion, you have to make your way from the Stresa bus stop to the rail station
(800 m or so on foot — if the driver knows you are going to the stazione, he can sometimes leave you closer).
Whether you wind up in Milano Centrale or in Stresa, take the next departing train to Domodossola. You can figure out which trains stop in Domodossola by consulting the posters labeled “Partenza,” posted around the station, and which list all trains in order of departure. Railway schedules can be consulted at http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html.
These trains require reservations (that means: your ticket is for a specific train, and not for any train you please), but if you have a ticket for a train other than the one pulling out, and no time to modify it, try asking the conductor on the platform if he will let you ride. If his train is not full, he generally will.
Domodossola is about 30 minutes from Stresa, 90 minutes from downtown Milan. You will reach Domodossola about 90 minutes after leaving Milan. This is where we will be spending the night, so go to the hotel (the Eurossola, across the street from the station), check in, change for a (short) bike ride, and then return to the station for the 4p (16h) bus to Iselle. Tickets can be purchased on board. This reaches Iselle at 4:28p (16h28).
If you are continuing to Zermatt, see below.
From Zurich Airport
Follow signs to the train station (within the air terminal). Look on the departure board to see the next scheduled train for Brig. Direct trains to Brig (or to Visp, if you are connecting to Zermatt) run every hour, at 40” past the hour.
Trip time to Brig is 2.5 hours (10 minutes less to Visp). Start paying attention when you go through a massive tunnel, lasting 20 minutes or so. When you come out, Visp (change for Zermatt) is the next stop, and Brig is 10 minutes after that. Since Brig is the final stop, you will have no trouble detraining if this is your destination.
If you are continuing to Zermatt, see below.
If you are arriving via Paris, you have received separate instructions regarding the trip from the airport or rail station to the city center (either to our office, or to one of our hotels if you are spending a night there before setting out). On the cycle trip’s start date, you will travel to Brig by train.
Trains from Paris to Switzerland require reservations, and if you are arriving via this route you should give us advance warning of your preferences, so that we may book an appropriate seat for you. The most appropriate trains depart Paris at 8a (approximately), with a connection in Lausanne, Basel, or Geneva (it is thus impossible to make this trip on the day on which your flight lands).
Stop by our Paris office sometime before your trip (opening hours) to pick up your tickets for the ride down, and to collect any equipment that you need for your trip.
We will provide you with a ticket, and a seat reservation on the first of the two trains you must ride. The reservation will specify a car and seat number.
- If you are travelling via Lausanne or Geneva, your connection point will be the last stop for your train. Everyone will get off there, including you. Take the next train announced whose final destination is any of Brig (“Brigue” in French), Milano, Venice (“Venezia”), or Florence (“Firenze”). Two trains operate every hour from Lausanne or Geneva. Journey time is 2.5 hours from Geneva, 2 hours from Lausanne.
- If via Basel, the train makes a long stop, so you have plenty of time to figure things out (the previous stop, in this case, will be Mulhouse, about 20 minutes prior). Many trains on to Visp or Brig require an additional connection in Bern, though there are occasional direct trains. Overall service is at least once per hour. If you are going to Brig, most trains terminate there (and the few that continue to Italy stop in Brig for several minutes), so getting off is easy.
If you are going to Zermatt, you will get off instead in a town called Visp, 10 minutes before your train would reach Brig. To help you prepare to detrain: the previous station is Leuk, about 10 minutes prior, and the one before that is Sierre / Siders. See below for ongoing instructions to Zermatt.
Travel time to Brig on the second train is 2 hours (10 minutes less to Visp).
From Disentis, via the “Glacier Express”
The “Glacier Express” has the peculiarity of arriving on special tracks in front of (not inside) the Brig station. It stops in Brig for a while, since the locomotive must change ends of the train, so you have plenty of time to figure out that you are there, and get off. If you are continuing to Zermatt (see below) you may do so on the same train.
Travelling on from Brig (or Visp) to Zermatt, if Applicable:
The alpine train from Brig to Zermatt leaves from special tracks embedded in the street in front of the station. That is, you must exit the station, and look for more trains out in the street. In Visp, the train is more conventionally located within the station complex.
The train runs every hour, generally departing Brig at 52” past the hour. Visp departure is 10 minutes later.
The trip takes 80 minutes from Brig (70 from Visp). and Zermatt is the final stop. Stay awake for this ride, which is spectacular. The best scenery is mostly on the left side, but if you are feeling energetic, cross the car every time the train crosses the river (to keep the river always in sight), and you will be richly rewarded.