itinerary help for travels to Belgium,Switzerland,Italy in June

I'm at the beginning stages of planning a family trip (me,hubs,22 and 17 yr old). I am not sure about the best order in which to see things for ease of flight planning and train travel between places. I plan to visit Brussels,Bruges,Zurich,Murren,Venice,Florence,Rome and maybe Naples. This is about a 12-14 day trip from mid-late June. I haven't figured out the amount of time in each location. I'm not sure if it would be best to start in southern Italy and train north with a flight possible somewhere in the middle for time or directness purposes or if flying into Zurich or Brussels (from California) is best for price/convenience. I am open to changing the towns but this is my favorite plan right now. I would love to hear suggestions so I can plan a smooth and interesting trip. The kids haven't been to Europe before but hubs and I have travelled to Italy and used the trains.
Thanks all
Melinda

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
4434 posts

It sounds like a pretty good order of travel, better if you can fly into Brussels and out of Rome (I would get to Naples before Rome, if you decide to go there; most flights out of Naples will put you in another city in Europe to transfer, often it's Rome).

Zurich doesn't hold much attraction for me, but I love Belgium. I think your kids would enjoy it, too. Brugge, Gent and Brussels are all good choices.

I haven't been to Murren, you've been to Italy so you probably know what to see/do there. My goddaughter (11) and her brother (17) both loved the Galleria Borghese in Rome, also Acqueduct Park, the catacombs, and the part of the city wall that you can walk (near Porta San Sebastiano). And of course the Colosseum, fountains, pizza al taglio and gelato. Your kids are older so their tastes may be more sophisticated.

Have a great trip.

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
2804 posts

You are planning to see 7 or 8 places in 12-14 days: if not impossible, highly challenging. You won't get to see much more than the inside of a train or plane. Cut it down to 4 places maximum and drop at least one country of the 3. You will still be rushed but it would make for a more feasible trip. You could certainly spend all the time in Italy, or maybe a combo of Italy and Switzerland. Or stay longer: 3 weeks might do it.

Posted by Devon
Ballwin
833 posts

If you only have 12 to 14 days to spend there, and you're trying to visit all of those places - you would spend about half your time traveling and 2 nights on average per city. That means only one full day. I will sometimes go for more fast-paced trips, but that is extremely fast. I think you would likely feel rushed and that you didn't see very much. I agree with Laurel to cut a a few of your locations, narrow down where you want to go. I typically try to stay at least 3 nights in a place, getting 2 full days out of it. On that pace you could visit 4 cities during your trip (and maybe some day trips outside of those if you choose). Maybe do Brussels + Venice, Florence Rome, or the Swiss/Italian combo Laurel mentioned.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6888 posts

Does the 12-14 days include the international travel to and from Europe? Or, is this 12-14 days clear of the international travel? I would suggest that 7-8 cities spread through 3 countries is not a good idea unless you have almost 3 full weeks. You won't see as much as you think. You really need 2 full days for Muerren, Venice, Florence and Rome. Then, consider that it's 8hrs on the train from Muerren to Venice. No night train for this run. One thought about travel to and from is to arrive in Rome and depart Brussels. The reasoning here is to follow the weather as its warming up. By the time you arrive in late June or early July in Rome, it could be quite warm and humid.

For your stay in Muerren, check out the Chalet Fontana. The have a nice multiple room family suite. Book early - hard to get in the summer.

Posted by melinda
Norcal
4 posts

OK...you all have brought me back down to earth! Thanks for your input.

I will drop a couple of cities. Zurich and Brussels were in the mix thinking we would likely be arranging our flight arrival/departure through one of them. Larry,good info about the 8hr train ride from Mürren to Venice. These are the details I don't have yet but make a big diff in choice making. Though I've been to Venice and could skip it again i'm thinking kids might find it cool. Son would like Doge's Palace. How does Bruges compare to Venice in terms of a unique canal city and crowds? Is a day trip to Bruges from Brussels reasonable?

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6888 posts

Melinda, let's play with this one a bit. First, note that Brussels and Rome is almost 1,000 miles. This is quite a separation. Second, the place I would delete is one of my very favorites - Muerren. From Bruxelles-Midi (Brussels main train station), it's up to 11.0hrs on the train to Muerren with 4-5 transportation changes. The fastest runs (9.5hrs) require a train change (including a change in train stations) in Paris. It's a really long day. Instead, I would suggest flying from Brussels to Venice non-stop. www.vueling.com has such a non-stop. 1hr40min. The lowest fare I see is 49Euro p/p in late June. Vueling is a very nice Spanish discount airline. I'm not sure if they fly this route every day so you will need to check.

I really do not like giving up Muerren but if you consider this, the rest of your trip (Venice, Florence and Rome) can easily fit. By skipping Muerren, you save up to 11hrs to get there and the 8hrs to get to Venice. Quite a time savings.

If this looks good, I would lock in on the Vueling tickets right away. With the discount airlines, the earlier you book, the lower the fare. The longer you wait, the higher the fare. Also, carefully read the travel conditions on their website. The budget airlines all have extra fees for large or heavy luggage. Plus, they limit the carry-on.

If NorCAL is Northern California and you are near Sacramento, I'm a member of the Sacramento Rick Steves travel group. Our next meeting is on April 15. Andrea always posts the meeting notice under General Europe about 10 days out from the meeting date. Great one-on-one personal assistance with your travel plans. We have our computers with us. Please come by or send one of the 2 children. Hopefully, you will have your precise travel dates and if the suggested plane ride looks good, you will have booked it. No time to waste there.

Next, do you want some great fares on the 180MPH trains from Venice to Florence and from Florence to Rome? About 19Euro vs 45Euro. The tickets are non-refundable but you can buy them right now. You will need to know your precise travel dates before locking in these tickets. Let's speed things up a bit. :)