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Transfer from Milan Malpensa to Saas-Fee

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We're flying into Milan March 18th. Was planning to rent a car and drive myself. I'm traveling with my wife and two small children. The train I suppose is also an option, but given the additional hassle, I'd prefer to stick to the road. Has anyone made this drive? Can the drive be hairy in a storm? Is the road plowed reliably? Also, is there issues with taking an Italian rental car into Switzerland (I understand the Swiss like Austria require a sticker of some kind)?

Are there any taxi type options you're aware of? A quick google search turned up rates from approximately $750 round trip. Does that seem reasonable? Are there any transfer providers I should be aware of? The car rental will be about $300, plus parking for the week in Saas-Fee, gas, tolls and the Swiss sticker. So, I figure I'm probably not coming out too far ahead with the rental and have to deal with the hassle of a 3 hour drive after an overnight flight from New York.

Also, is there any upside to having access to the car during the week in Saas-Fee?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Train is probably your best option tbh, it goes direct to Visp where you get the rack and pinion train to Stalden where the bus takes you to Saas Fee. The road crosses the Simplon pass which can get hairy when it snows, you can put the car on a train on the Italian side if that's the case and pop out in Switzerland.... The vignette for driving on Swiss motorways probably won't be needed as you're driving a very short distance to Visp where it's all minor roads. Of course, you'll need snow tyres at a minimum, maybe chains as well.... I drove over the pass last March in storm conditions, not plowed and it was hairy in my 4 x 4 with snow tyres! You can drive to Zermatt from Saas Fee, about 45mins, but again beware the snow, otherwise no real benefit from a car in resort.
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@goweje, I am slightly surprised that it's possible at all and even more surprised that it's remarkably straight forward.

I'm using the Swiss Railways site which I find to be pretty joined up (if you aren't aware the Swiss public transport system is very well integrated) http://fahrplan.sbb.ch/bin/query.exe/en

Assuming from your use of $ that you're flying from US I am guessing you arrive at Linate airport so you probably want to get a taxi to Milan Centrale and then a promising connection would be something like

Milano Centrale dep 11:23 EuroCity 52 Direction: Basel SBB
GP TT Restaurant Reservation compulsory Minibar or catering zone VI BICYCLES: not permitted BICYCLES: reservation compulsory
Visp arr 13:26 (platform) 5

Visp
walk 4 min.,

Visp, Bahnhof Süd dep 13:46 1 BUS 511
Direction: Saas-Fee, Busterminal

Saas-Fee, Busterminal arr 14:39

Duration: 3:16;
runs daily, not 25., 26. Mar 2017, 3., 4. Jun 2017

Taxis? are going to cost an arm and a leg.

Google has the drive taking 3h23 so little or no time advantage. Saas Fee itself is, anyway, car free.
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I was about to state the same. Only downside is you have 2 changes (Milano Centrale and Visp) which might be a hassle with 2 tired kids, depending in how much luggage you have. It is a lovely journey though and could be a bit of an adventure - and definitely better than facing the drive after an overnight flight.

If you do decide to go the tax route, I recommend Taxi Zurbringen (based in the Saas valley), I have used them many times over the years and always had outstanding service. http://www.taxizurbriggen.ch

You will love Sass Fee it is stunning, and ideal for a family. Our 4 kids all learnt to ski there and we still go back every year for a few days to visit old friends. Let me know if you would like any recommendations/advice on restaurants/ski schools/ski hire/anything else as we know the village and mountain very well.

Best of luck!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
KenX wrote:
Train is probably your best option tbh, it goes direct to Visp where you get the rack and pinion train to Stalden where the bus takes you to Saas Fee. ...


As under a new name says, it is simpler to just get the bus from Visp to Saas Fee. (Although if you've never been before you might want to experience the rack and pinion train!)
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For taxi you are looking at €700, direct from Malpensa. eg, www.transfersmilanairport.com

So rental would be cheaper. I guess train would be, too.
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Fond memories of the little train, I'm biased!!!!
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@goweje, Not all your questions answered so I will add a couple of things.

Access to car during the week.
Cars park in the big undercover multi-storey at the end of town. You CAN access a car easily during the week, it's not like Zermatt where they live down the valley.

Problems of Italian hire car in CH and up the Saas Valley
You will not have a vignette but you won't need one if you go up over Simplon.
The car will have summer tyres which exposes you to insurance risk in Switzerland.
You wil almost certainly have to buy chains if you need them.
Simplon pass in a storm can be hectic to say the least.

I would NOT go by Italian car to Saas from Malpensa - I have lots of experience of travelling from UK to Valais - flying into Geneva and Italian airports. Train is by far the best option, in my view.
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Just did the milan to zermatt via train, arriving at malpesa, also went to saas fe from zermatt, so I think i know the route fairly well. If you have reasonable luggage, train is pretty easy. Malpensa Express will deposit you on track 1 at centrale and you will not need to go far to catch the train at brig (at least that is the route we took, rather than visp). You then walk out of the station and across the street to catch a train to stalden saas (same train that ends at zermatt). Then we had friends pick us up and its about 30 minutes drive to saas fee. It is a winding road, but completely dry when we were there. There is a bus from stalden, but it really is planes trains and automobiles at that point. From what i could find out, taxi from stalden saas to saas fee was over $100. Not much in the way of a suggestion here, but that's my understanding of the train route.

One note on bags, the train from milan to brig is a crap shoot with regards to space for bags. Going out, was a breeze. coming back it was a scrum. We had one big ski bag that make it even more challenging. God mess my wife and daughter for dealing with the whole process. I would think that from the airport all the way into saas fee is 7-8 hour journey once you leave customs. Makes for a long day if you just got off a long flight (we stayed in milan for a few nights before heading to the mountains and was very happy with that schedule).
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Redwine wrote:
Just did the milan to zermatt via train, arriving at malpesa, also went to saas fe from zermatt, so I think i know the route fairly well. If you have reasonable luggage, train is pretty easy. Malpensa Express will deposit you on track 1 at centrale and you will not need to go far to catch the train at brig (at least that is the route we took, rather than visp). You then walk out of the station and across the street to catch a train to stalden saas (same train that ends at zermatt). Then we had friends pick us up and its about 30 minutes drive to saas fee. It is a winding road, but completely dry when we were there. There is a bus from stalden, but it really is planes trains and automobiles at that point. From what i could find out, taxi from stalden saas to saas fee was over $100. Not much in the way of a suggestion here, but that's my understanding of the train route.

One note on bags, the train from milan to brig is a crap shoot with regards to space for bags. Going out, was a breeze. coming back it was a scrum. We had one big ski bag that make it even more challenging. God mess my wife and daughter for dealing with the whole process. I would think that from the airport all the way into saas fee is 7-8 hour journey once you leave customs. Makes for a long day if you just got off a long flight (we stayed in milan for a few nights before heading to the mountains and was very happy with that schedule).


Depends on the airport you arrive at in Milan - Malpensa or Linate. Max 5 hrs, min 3.5hrs, nowhere near 7 - 8 hrs
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Didint OP say mxp? I didn't fly from linante, but seems much easier than mxp. About an 45 minutes to central if u wait for train a little, call it an hour to board next train, 3 hrs to brig, maybe another 1/2 hr to stalden with wait, then 30-60 minutes to Saas fee if u cab it or wait for bus, so yeah closer to 5 hrs, maybe 5.5. My bad.

I bot all tix on line prior including rt on mxp express. Reduced stress by a lot vs trying to figure out where to buy and how to use machines etc.
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Re @Redwine comments - I have lived in Switzerland for 11 years and have been all over the place by public transport (including Saas Fee). Until you've seen it in action, you would not believe just how extraordinarily organised it is.

So the shortest transit I saw as posted above goes Milan Central-(Train)-Visp-(Bus)-Saas Fee. That wasn't quickest but had only one change.

Being Swiss, Visp station has its own page with maps e.g.http://www.sbb.ch/content/dam/infrastruktur/trafimage/bahnhofplaene/plan-visp-a4.pdf

Per the route I posted, you have enough time to have a drink or snack at the bakery in the station (marked on the map) before getting in the bus which will be at its proper stand (marked on the map). Bus takes you to SF bus terminal which is iirc closer to the center than you can get a car (I may be wrong on that).

Unless you really want to see a funicular railway, which is entirely fair enough. But no need for a taxi at the other end you just get on the bus. SBB website wouldn't even let me check a route using the funicular it just put me on the bus from Visp.
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@under a new name, Well said - its a bit over 3hrs from Milan Centrale in total - and I agree the transports system is a joy to use in Switzerland. And yes, the bus gets you a little closer to the centre than a car would!

@Redwine, Sorry but your route and timings are all completely wrong, and add unnecessarily to the time it takes which is misleading. For a start travel to Zermatt is not the same route as travel to Sass Fee so not a good comparison at all. No need for a change at Stalden or "to wait for the bus" there - the route is via Visp which is where the bus that you suggest would pick you up at Stalden comes from (assuming you do not waste an hour getting to and waiting at Stalden). Also trains leave every 30 mins or so from Milan not every hour.

5hrs max - would probably be more like 4hrs door to door.
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@Redwine, no - but it could be MXP - in which case quickest still around 3.5 hours e.g.

Malpensa Aeroporto dep 10:00 BUS90004 Direction: Domodossola (Italy)
Domodossola arr 11:20

Domodossola dep 11:48 platform 2 IR 3318 InterRegio 3318 Direction: Brig
Brig arr 12:16 platform 7

Brig dep 12:28 platform 4 IR 1820 InterRegio 1820 Direction: Genève-Aéroport
Visp arr 12:34 platform 4 walk to

Visp, Bahnhof Süd dep 12:42 bus platform 1 BUS 511 Direction: Saas-Fee, Busterminal
Saas-Fee, Busterm arr 13:34

Going via Milan Central adds an hour for no evident benefit.
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@valais2,

Quote:


Problems of Italian hire car in CH and up the Saas Valley
You will not have a vignette but you won't need one if you go up over Simplon.
The car will have summer tyres which exposes you to insurance risk in Switzerland.


Why is a vignette not required?

It's my experience that vehicles rented in the winter from MXP are equipped with winter tires or at least can be requested for nominal additional cost. I take your point about the potential need for chains and insurance risk.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@goweje, ...no need for a vignette because there is no motorway....only needed on motorways, there is no motorway section from Simplon to the Saastall. Yes you can order winter tyres. I have on previous occasions with the big companies. I arrive...sorry, no cars with winter tyres, but if you buy chains we will re-imburse you. We did have to buy chains, and it was a complete pain trying to get the money back. But this was a few years ago, and we stopped trying to come from the Italian side during the winter season because of the hassle. If people have found it easier in the last couple of years please correct me so that people have the right information.
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Thanks everyone for the phenomenal response. Wish I'd discovered this forum years ago. To clarify, we fly into Malpensa (MXP) terminal 1 on March 18th at 11:15 AM.

I want to make sure I'm clear as there's been a bit of back-and-forth regarding the train option. I've been using Trenitalia and see the fastest route is MXP-Milano Centrale-Visp-Saas Fee. Is that correct? If so, the problem with this route is the next departing train doesn't leave Milano Centrale until 18:05. Also, what is the cost of a taxi from Visp to Saas Fee. I think I read elsewhere that it's about 100CHF.

Other mitigating factors, we will unfortunately be traveling with way more than a reasonable amount of luggage. My wife continues to insist that we drive. She thinks we may day trip to Zermatt. Again, with two small children I suspect we'll find ourselves quite cozy in Saas-Fee and find no need for the hassle of daytripping to Zermatt. Google maps shows me about 50 mins to Zermatt, but how difficult is the drive and parking situation?

Lastly, I think I saw from the Saas-Fee TI site that parking for the week in Saas-Fee is about 90CHF, is that accurate?

I'm currently thinking taxi to Saas-Fee and train back. We're spending a couple days in Milan before we fly back to NY and don't want to deal with a rental car in the center of the city. But, having a hard time persuading the Mrs. that the rental car isn't the way to go.

Thanks again!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@goweje, here's a map of the roads which need a vignette:

https://www.autobahnen.ch/images/vignette_required_en.jpg

there's a short new section between Visp and the bottom of the Saastall but you can bypass this in a few minutes along the minor road, only adds about 10 mins.

I have had a very 'interesting' time in an Italian car on summer tyres in the Valais. Late spring snowstorm. Two inches of fresh on the road. Never again. Stuck at 900m and it would go no further. No chains. Learning the hard way. I knew I was taking a risk - arrived very late at night at Malpensa, no winter tyres available, no chains, no petrol stations open, no supermarkets. S"""""""""t. The train is warm, punctual and safe.

Luggage....snowboard bag with wheels. Probably will go higher on the hill than an Italian car on summer tyres. Day trip to Zermatt? Far faster on the train or postbus. You have to leave your car at Tasch, in the valley anyway, so half the journey is by train, by mandate. Or contact Air Glacier and get a helicopter over....
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@goweje, I think your idea of taxi there and train back is a winner, especially given the fact you will have endured an overnight flight where a difficult drive might not be for the best. I will write to you in detail tomorrow also with some advice on the village and the mountain.
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@goweje, the car for a day trip to Zermatt is not of much help because you can't drive to Zermatt. Even if you have a car, you would have to park it in Tasch and take a short train ride into Zermatt.

I'm from the States too, so I see what you are dealing with here. Renting a car is virtually the only option for tourism in the US, so we tend to think it's always the easiest way. Here, I don't think it is. Of course, good luck convincing your wife of that.

Maybe it makes sense to explore splitting up your luggage a bit and seeing if you can store some of your "city clothes" at the Milan hotel to make it a bit easier to use transport?
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@goweje, trenitalia website is 1. Crap and 2. Doesn't consider buses as trains. Whereas the Swiss are integrated transporters.

Use www.sbb.ch/en from Malpensa to Saas Fee and you will see there is a transit leaving 13:00 arriving 16:34.

Driving adds hassle.

Why leave one charming Swiss ski village to view another equally charming Swiss ski village. With attendant hassle.

Why add hassle.

Why taxi at exorbitant expense one way and not the other. If it is worth it outbound it is surely worth it inbound.

Puzzled Puzzled

You might want to mention to your lady wife that driving across alpine passes is not the default Swiss option, and if they must do it, the cars will most certainly be properly equipped, whereas the Italians thinks it's an excuse to re-stage the Rallye de Monaco.
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@valais2, or the final scene in the Italian job...

Anyway back to reality

There are around a dozen trains a day

https://www.trainline.eu/trains/milano/visp

The postbus, as uann suggests connect brilliantly with the trains at visp and whisk you up to sass grund and saas fee.

My son always talks to everyone on the train and bus. This is why he gets us into places, onto machinery, inside installations that no one else gets to go into. We would never have met Minina, or her son who drove from London to Kabul, or Flavian, or Peter Jones (!) whilst he was in the Valais ...

And none of that would have happened if we'd gone by car....
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Am I doing something wrong? Why doesn't www.sbb.ch/en show pricing?

Station/Stop Time Platf./ Edge Travel with Occupancy Comments
Local area map: Malpensa Aeroporto, terminal 1
Malpensa Aeroporto, terminal 1XR dep 13:00 BUS90008
BUS

Bus 90008
Direction: Domodossola (I)
RC Reservation compulsory

Local area map: Domodossola (I)
Domodossola (I) arr 14:20

Local area map: Domodossola (I)
Domodossola (I) dep 14:48 3 IC 1076

InterCity 1076
Direction: Basel SBB
Restaurant FZ BZ RZ Reservation possible

Local area map: Visp
Visp arr 15:26 5

Duration: 2:31;
runs daily, not 4., 5., 25., 26. Mar 2017, 3., 4. Jun 2017

Everyone extols the virtues of Swiss mass transit. That's great, but a huge chunk of this trip is on an Italian bus. Can anyone speak to what I can expect on the bus?

To be even more specific, we're talking about making this trip after a transatlantic red-eye flight with children ages 1 & 4, a two transfer trip from the airport seems a bridge too far.

After doing some basic research, a day trip to Zermatt seems like a no go, car or not.
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@valais2,

I rented a car last February from Malpensa, we drove to Chamonix. Car had winter tires and was able to hire chains for a small fee directly from the rental company. I think we went through Locauto, but all the companies we looked at had chains for hire.
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@goweje, one option is to take a short taxi ride from Malpensa to Gallarate and pick the train up there - saves the hassle and time of going into Milan.
Europcar offer hire cars in Italy with the option of winter tyres
If you drive you can cut out the Simplon pass by putting your car on the efficient car train
https://www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/car-bike/car-trains/autoverlad-simplon.html
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@goweje, I am guessing that SBB don't have a firm contract with whoever runs the bus and therefore can't show pricing. It being a domestic service. 1hr20 of a 3hr40 trip doesn't sound like a "huge chunk" to me however.

I get your point about a 2 change journey after an overnight transatlantic with young kids - clearly that's a cost/benefit question that only you (or your wife) can answer!

Just because I like to know, here's the bus company http://www.comazzibus.com/eng/prenotazione_alibus.php - you have to look in the PDF timetables for pricing rolling eyes but Malpensa-Domodossola is from €15. Looks like a smart tour bus and a well run company (with a long history).
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@goweje, my problems admittedly were a few years ago, and things sound as if they have improved - which is good. Winter tyres are essential for Simplon during the season - we have had late falls in the last three years - putting car on the train and taking it through the simplon tunnel is indeed possible but I don't like driving around CH without winter tyres oct-April in a hire car or foreign reg car.
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@goweje, day trip by car from Saas Fee to Zermatt is very simple - drive to Täsch (about 45 mins away), leave your car in the big car park there and take the regular train just one stop. We did it a couple of years ago and very much enjoyed the day, skiing over to Italy.
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Thanks again for all the great advice. As a postmortem, we took a taxi (van) to Saas-Fee and did the bus/train back. I'm very grateful folks steered me away from the rental car option. We were lucky with the weather both arriving and departing, but wouldn't be an easy drive in inclement weather. I'd say the taxi was by far the best option. The wife and kids slept slept almost the entire ride. The rest they got in the car enabled us the energy to get out and explore a bit the afternoon/evening of our arrival. For the record, the drive is actually more scenic than the train as you get to enjoy the Simplon Pass, both run along Lake Maggiore.

I made the mistake of allowing the most on the ball of the front desk staff of my hotel to book the train tickets back to Milan. She suggested in needed 1st class and had me pay for a seat for my 8 month old child. As a result, the train cost me nearly as much as the private van transfer. Didn't realize I'd paid for the extra seat until train staff had switched at the border. The Italian conductors agreed I should have a refund, but of course their hands were tied as it was a "Swiss problem."
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