Best Train Trip Through Europe: Switzerland, Italy

Hint: lots of chocolate, cheese, pasta and wine involved

Train travel through Europe is one of the most efficient ways to see it all. While there's no shortage of amazing food, a new Eurail route linking the Swiss Alps to the picturesque Italian Riviera promises a seamless journey with an abundance of culinary highlights: pasta, chocolate, cheese and wine, just to name a few.

As seasoned Eurail riders know, you can hop on and off trains on a whim. In fact, you don't even need to buy tickets in advance—you can simply write in train numbers and times on the pass when you board. Below, all the things to eat and drink along this new, ultra-picturesque route.

① Lucerne, Switzerland

Savor raclette, a melted Swiss specialty, at Zunfthausrestaurant Pfistern in the Kornmarkt area. Pop by Luz Seebistro, a locals' spot on Lake Lucerne, for an authentic Swiss-style breakfast of coffee, OJ, muesli, pastries and jams, plus a slice of schoggibrötli (a bun-like pastry with chocolate chips). Pick up souvenir loaves of this wonder bread at Bachmann, a popular bakery. And Max Chocolatier, the city's much-hyped artisanal chocolate shop, will fulfill chocolate dreams.

② Lugano, Switzerland

Lugano is a street food haven; colorful alpine strawberries and zucchini flowers are solid open-air-market finds. In the city's historic center, hit up Gastro Snack Bernasconi for caviar, smoked fish and pickled vegetables, and try a raclette pretzel from Brezelkönig. Brace yourself for the staggering array of meats at Gabbani Salumeria, and for sweets, try almond cookies and truffles at Ristorante Grand Café Al Porto or stracciatella gelato in a white chocolate–lined cone filled at Vanini.

Feeling adventurous? Hike along the picturesque Olive Tree Trail, which winds around Lake Lugano and over to the tiny village of Gandria. Settle in for an unforgettable lunch at Locanda Gandriese, where crispy fried sage and risotto,  local cured meats, and nocino (walnut liqueur) drizzled over gelato—not to mention killer views of the lake—are standard.

③ Genoa, Italy

Must-hits include farinata (a salty chickpea cake), fried sardines and pesto (a regional specialty). Go for a Zena panini from Rooster Streetfood Rotisserie—it's stuffed with chicken, pesto and cheese curds—followed by mango, coconut and amarena cherry gelato from Profumo di Rosa, a popular gelato spot. From there, trek to the quaint seaside town of Sestri Levante to get schooled on pasta at Accademia dei Sapori and be sure to grab an obligatory sundown Aperol Spritz at Bagni Liguria, a beloved beachside bar.

④ Milan, Italy

End your Italian vacation on a Michelin-starred note with dinner at Seta at the Mandarin Oriental in Milan, where chef Antonio Guida offers a perfectly executed spin on Italian cuisine. Ratanà, a Slow Food spot, serves vegetarian dishes like vibrant green zucchini flower soup and eggplant terrine.

Jenn Rice is a food and travel writer constantly traveling for cheese, tacos and kouign-amann pastries. Follow her on Instagram at @jennricewrites.