We have our trip pretty well planned out through Germany, and our day and night in Venice. We are looking to stay another night or two in Verona before heading across Northern Italy on our way to Lucerne. We would like to stay somewhere where it is easy on off for the train that will take us to Lucerne. Any suggestions appreciated. We looked at the Como area, but with all the towns surrounding the lake, we get so confused. Suggestions? We are on a budget and looking for places under the $150 range. If there are suggestions other than Como, would love to hear them, other than Milan. Thanks!
JR, Given the fact that your next destination is Lucerne, you might consider stopping in Stresa on Lago Maggiore, rather than Lago di Como. That provides an easier travel route, and Stresa is also a beautiful city. While there you could tour Isola Bella and perhaps some of the other Borromeo Islands, take the Cable Car to Mt. Mottarone (provides a great view of the town and the lake!) or perhaps take a day trip to Locarno (depending on how much time and money you have). Travel time from Verona Porta Nuova to Stresa is as short as 2H:48M, with one change at Milano Centrale. Travel time from Stresa to Lucerne is as short as 3H:34M, with one change at Olten. The travel time and number of changes will vary according to which train you choose. Check the bahn.de website for details. Happy travels!
There are train routes into Switzerland from Italy on both sides of Lago di Como. To reach either one from Verona, it is best to return to Milan and start there. On the west side of the lake, the train from Milan to Luzern (via Arth-Goldau, most with changes there) stops at Como town, as well as at Lugano on a different lake. At Como you could catch a ferry to another spot on the lake if you didn't want to stay in the town itself. Or you could stay near Lugano, but the word "budget" doesn't fit very well there. You could try this place on the lake in nearby Gandria, where a double room without lake view is 146 CHF: http://www.hotel-moosmann-gandria.ch/ On the east side of the lake, the train stops at Varenna, which is a beautiful small town featured in the Rick Steves programs. It is lovely there, and maybe someone can suggest budget options. Continuing on from Varenna, the train goes north to Tirano at the border. There you can catch the scenice Bernina Express train to Pontresina, St. Moritz, or Chur, and then on to Luzern. This route is considerable longer than the direct route, but also is more scenic. You can also reach Varenna by ferry from Como, but I don't know how long that takes.
Hi JR. If your priority is easy on-off, ideas would be Milan or Lugano. Not clear how much time you have. If you have a couple days, then you could consider other options. For either Milan or Lugano, you could stay the night, or do an early train from Verona, stop for the day, and then continue on to Lucerne on the evening train. Enjoy your trip!
The fastest route from Verona to Luzern is Verona>Milano(train change)>Como>Chiasso>Lugano>Bellinzona>Arth-Goldau(train change)>Luzern. The total trip would take almost 6 hours from VR to LZ. I'd suggest two choices to visit the Lago di Como without straying too much out of the course: 1. Verona>Milano. Change train and go from Milan to Varenna (via Lecco) on the Eastern shore of the lake. Visit Varenna. Take Ferry across and visit Bellagio. Visit Bellagio. Take bus or boat from Bellagio to Como (Bus=Euro 3.10 pp, 70 min - Hydrofoil= Euro 11.80 pp, 50min.- Ferry=Euro 8.30 pp., 2 hrs.). When you arrive to Como, walk to station (5 min. from Ferry and even less from bus) take train from Como up to Luzern. 2. Verona>Milano. Change train and go from Milan to Como. Get off in Como. Take bus or boat from Como to Bellagio (see above prices and times). Visit Bellagio. Return from Bellagio to Como via bus or boat. Get back on a train in Como and proceed north to Luzern. Lola above gave you also the option of going north from Varenna to Tirano and taking the Bernina Express train from Tirano to St. Moritz and from there to Luzern. That route is significantly longer, however if you have the time it is truly spectacular.
Varenna. See RS "Italy" guidebook.