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Family trip with 13 nights in Europe

Hi:
I am travelling to Europe for 13 nights and have already booked my flights from India. Delhi-Zurich on 9th June (reaching on 10th early morning) and Rome-Delhi on 23rd June. I am looking for help in planning the itinerary in between.
-travelling with wife and 2 daughters (11 and 7 yrs)
- more interested in scenic beauty than museums
- would like to stay at airbnb homes so that we can cook atleast breakfast and dinner and reduce cost
- overall looking at staying options under 5-6k INR (90 $) per night
- looking at low cost travel options and how to balance that with budget staying options as travel cost would increase if I keep going away from the metro
- need to first finalize the excursions and sightseeing, then the saying places so that I can start booking them.
- should I go for swiss rail pass or buy point to point tickets or daily passes?
- one in a lifetime journey so would like to definitely cover the beautiful spots

need help with the italy part planning and how to travel from swiss to italy (should i take the glaciar express or any other train or rent a car. should i take the swiss transfer ticket?)

Posted by
7124 posts

I expect you will be looking for a fast paced trip.
Luzern - 2 nts
Lauterbrunnen - 2 nts
Milan/Lake Como - 2 nts
Cinque Terre - 2 nts
Florence - 2 nts
Rome - 3 nts

Posted by
15640 posts

Taking your other post and responses into consideration:

It looks like getting 2 adult 8-day Swiss Travel Passes at 363 CHF each along with the free Family card will simplify things. That will cover virtually all train travel in Switzerland from the time you land to, the time you enter Italy. The exception will be mountain railways and lifts, such as the Schilthornbahn in Lauterbrunnen (50% discount) and the Jungfraujochbahn above Wengen (only 25% discount). So a transfer ticket is not appropriate, you already have that covered in the pass.

Whether a Half fare card will save more money than a Travel Pass, you must calculate each journey you plan on taking and list out the prices on a spreadsheet. Prices can be found at www.sbb.ch. Remember, the first price shown is the Half Fare price. An advantage to the Travel Pass is that, except for the mountain railways mentioned, you do not have to purchase tickets, just board the train, find seats, and if the fare inspector comes by, show him/her your pass and passport.

You seem to be budget conscious, so everyone advising will try to shorten time in Switzerland and maximize time in Italy as Switzerland is quite expensive. But it is your "trip of a lifetime", so how you allocate your time is your decision.

You wanted to visit the Rhine Falls after landing. It is about 45 minutes by train from the airport. You can do that after you land if you want, The destination will be Schloss Laufen (Rheinfall) and you will change trains in Winterthur. Then you can return to Luzern. You and your family will be tired after an overnight flight.

So your itinerary should look something like this.
Luzern
Lauterbrunnen (or Interlaken)
Venice
Florence
Rome

I'll let you fill in the nights at each place. 2 nights in each place means only 1 full day to see it, for the most part. The Ballenberg Outdoor Museum is in Brienz on the way from Luzern to Interlaken. Train from Interlaken to Venice will be a full day. If you want a more scenic train, take the Loetschberg Express route between Spiez and Brig. It will be extra train changes and about an hour longer, but it is your decision.

In Italy, look at train schedule and buy advance tickets at www.trenitalia.com. The train from Switzerland to Venice can be bought at www.sbb.com and if you have a Swiss travel pass, the fare is covered to Domodossolo, Italy.

Good luck in your planning.

Posted by
69 posts

Thanks a lot Sam. your reply was very helpful. It is indeed a trip of a lifetime and I suspect I have started planning late so I'm relaly getting overwhelmed by the truckloads of information and websites to research. I have few more questions:

  • should I be doing the jungfrau excersion or take the glaciar express (is that the the one you referred as Loetschberg Express?)
  • should I travel to black forest as well
  • should I take 1- 2 days in austria as it seems its less expensive? if yes then what all should I do there?
  • suppose I spend 7 nights/8 days in swiss, what all journeys should be suggested so that I can try to calculate the difference between half fare and a travel pass.
  • are there any disadvantages of taking the rental car? from what all I could find till now it seems with the rental car I would be able to get houses which are less expensive but at off train/bus routes and still save travel time.
  • how to travel in italy? rental car in venice or Domodossolo or should I get a travel pass there too?
Posted by
15640 posts

• should I be doing the jungfrau excersion or take the glaciar express (is that the the one you referred as Loetschberg Express?)

The Jungfrau is expensive, even with a Swiss Travel Pass. If you do go, only if the weather is clear, and likely to stay that way for many hours.
The Glacier Express travel east to west, and you need trains that go north and south to get to Italy.
The Loetschberg Express is the old route to get from Interlaken to Italy. It goes over several U-turns to climb the mountain and then a medium size tunnel (14 ½ km), then more twists and turns descending to the valley. About 9 years ago, a new tunnel was opened (34 ½ km) completely under the mountain, speeding things up but eliminating the scenery.

• should I travel to black forest as well

No, the Black Forest is minor compared to the Alps. Not worth a detour.

• should I take 1- 2 days in austria as it seems its less expensive? if yes then what all should I do there?

Possibly. It is a decision you will need to make, but off-hand, I can’t think of anything that will top Swiss scenery.

• suppose I spend 7 nights/8 days in swiss, what all journeys should be suggested so that I can try to calculate the difference between half fare and a travel pass.

I’ll talk about that in another post. It is a long subject.

• are there any disadvantages of taking the rental car? from what all I could find till now it seems with the rental car I would be able to get houses which are less expensive but at off train/bus routes and still save travel time.

The only disadvantage is cars cannot reach some remote mountain areas that lifts and mountain railways can reach. So you will need to park the car and buy tickets and travel that way. But it is a viable option. Drop the car at Interlaken and proceed to Italy by train.

• how to travel in italy? rental car in venice or Domodossolo or should I get a travel pass there too?

In Italy, use trains. Fast (much faster than cars) frequent service between Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome. And they are relatively inexpensive, especially if bought in advance like airline tickets. No pass is as good as buying advance tickets on-line.

You have your start and end points. Now decide your locations, number of nights and book lodging. Then you can connect them with trains or car. By national mandate, every station in Switzerland has at least one train per hour in both directions (except, of course, the middle of the night). Italy trains between major cities run at least once per hour.

Posted by
15640 posts

suppose I spend 7 nights/8 days in swiss, what all journeys should be suggested so that I can try to calculate the difference between half fare and a travel pass.

Here is a suggested route with a couple of side trips. The Schilthorn is about a 60% discount with a Travel Pass or 50% with a Half Fare card. http://schilthorn.ch/de/Angebot/Fahrplan__Tarife/Tarife_Rundreisen

Zurich airport
Schloss Laufen (Rheinfall)
Luzern
Rigi Kulm via Vitznau (lake boat)
Luzern
Interlaken Ost
Schilthorn
Interlaken Ost
Ballenberg (option via lake boat)
Interlaken Ost
Domodossolo (continuing to Venezia Santa Lucia via Milan)

Posted by
616 posts

Why are you rushing so fast through Europe? I do not know if you can or may do it, but I would suggest you add one week to your trip: 5 days to one week in switzerland and then two weeks to distribute in the different places in Italy.

Posted by
69 posts

sam: should I be staying in luzern or lauterbrunnen?

I am thinking (being pressurred by kids actually) to consider taking a trip to Paris (mainly for the Eiffel tower) after or before swiss. some options are taking a train or flight and back (to geneva or venice depending on when I do this) or renting a car to paris and then back. or maybe the over night train.

My question is whether this detour for eiffel (or maybe the city tour) worth the time spent (1-2 days) and hence reduction in the days in italy.

one more question: should i take the half fare card or the full swiss pass

Posted by
14039 posts

Is your budget limited by a bank balance or by a frugal nature?

If the former, you need to make a realistic budget. Finding accommodations at an average of $90/night for 4 people is hard in Italy, the least expensive country you're considering. And the bargains have probably been snapped up by now. Have you found places to stay that are in your budget? Add in transportation costs, both between destinations and local transportation to get from your lodging to/from the sights.

If your budget is more because of frugality, forget it. For the trip of a lifetime, accept that it will be expensive.

And as others have pointed out, more destinations means less sight-seeing time and more expenses.

Posted by
69 posts

Hi:

This is the itinerary I am planning to follow. Please correct me if any changes are required. Traveling with family (wife, 2 daughters (6-12 age))

Day 1 Zurich (7 AM)-lauterbrunnen (apartment booked)
Day 2 luaterbrunnen
Day 3 lautterbrunnen
Day 4 lautterbrunnen-zermatt
Day 5 zermatt
Day 6 zermatt-montreux
Day 7 montreux
Day 8 montreux-venice
Day 9 venice
Day 10 venice-cinque terre
Day 11 cinque terre
Day 12 cinque terre - pisa- rome
Day 13 rome
Day 14 rome-flight

I have lots of questions:

  • is it fine to do zermatt and then montreux or should I reverse the order
  • I want to do junfrau and either titlis or shilthorn, pls advise. titlis is more popular
  • what all boat rides I should be doing based on this itinerary
  • would a half fare card be better or a full swiss pass?
  • what are the things/trips to do in montreux, venice, cinque terre and rome?
  • do I need a eurail swiss+italy pass instead or should I take a swiss pass and a separate italy pass. basically need to know how to best travel in italy economically
  • should I add night in florence after pisa day trip and reduce a night from rome or venice
  • should I take a night train from montreux to venice. what are the options? are they good and what cost?

I have worked out this itinerary after a lot of research and now need help in fine tuning with the final plan, travel, day plans etc. Help will be highly appreciated.

Posted by
69 posts

Hi:

This is the itinerary I am planning to follow. Please correct me if any changes are required. Traveling with family (wife, 2 daughters (6-12 age))

Day 1 Zurich (7 AM)-lauterbrunnen (apartment booked)
Day 2 luaterbrunnen
Day 3 lautterbrunnen
Day 4 lautterbrunnen-zermatt
Day 5 zermatt
Day 6 zermatt-montreux
Day 7 montreux
Day 8 montreux-venice
Day 9 venice
Day 10 venice-cinque terre
Day 11 cinque terre
Day 12 cinque terre - pisa- rome
Day 13 rome
Day 14 rome-flight

I have lots of questions:

  • is it fine to do zermatt and then montreux or should I reverse the order
  • I want to do junfrau and either titlis or shilthorn, pls advise. titlis is more popular
  • what all boat rides I should be doing based on this itinerary
  • would a half fare card be better or a full swiss pass?
  • what are the things/trips to do in montreux, venice, cinque terre and rome?
  • do I need a eurail swiss+italy pass instead or should I take a swiss pass and a separate italy pass. basically need to know how to best travel in italy economically
  • should I add night in florence after pisa day trip and reduce a night from rome or venice
  • should I take a night train from montreux to venice. what are the options? are they good and what cost?

I have worked out this itinerary after a lot of research and now need help in fine tuning with the final plan, travel, day plans etc. Help will be highly appreciated.

Posted by
9454 posts

I am going to weigh in on your Italy portion:

Day 9 venice
Day 10 venice-cinque terre
Day 11 cinque terre
Day 12 cinque terre - pisa- rome
Day 13 rome
Day 14 rome-flight

Too much in too little time. Skip either Venice or the Cinque Terre. and add those nights to the other destinations. 2-3 nights each in either the Cinque Terre Venice and 3-4 in Rome will give you a better experience, IMHO. Two nights in Rome is simply not sufficient. And every time you change locations you add to your costs with transportation.

Pisa is such a waste of time (half a day involved) on a short trip. Yes, the tower is iconic, but given all you can see and do in Italy, it should not be on the top of your list.

Posted by
14039 posts

In addition, Pisa isn't really on the way to Rome. Which town in the CT are you staying in? The most efficient way to get to Rome is to take the local train to LaSpezia and then a direct train to Rome. If you make a detour to Pisa, it's LaSpezia-Pisa (and store bags at the train station, about €4-5 for each piece), then Pisa-Rome with a train change in Florence.

Too much travel time for too little sightseeing time. In Venice, if you aren't staying within walking distance of the train station, it can take you easily an hour from station to hotel. The vaporetto (water bus) is very slow and walking with luggage is slow through the crowds, on the cobblestones, and especially if you have to go up and down bridges to cross the little canals. You'll have one day to see Venice, and then you'll spend most of the next day just getting to your hotel in the CT. One full day there, and off you go - half a day at least to your hotel in Rome. A day and a half to see all of Rome and then you head to the airport. This is why I agree with Laurel, drop either the CT or Venice. I would drop the CT, it's overrated and Venice is different from anywhere else.

Posted by
69 posts

Thanks. The biggest problem I am facing right now is that I am not getting any transport from domodossola to venice on the day of my travel. options:

  1. detour via chiasso
  2. start a day early from montreux and spend the night in milan
  3. this means reduce one night in montreux

pls suggest is there is a better option to go to venice

Posted by
15640 posts

There is a direct train from Montreux to Venice at 8:36 am. If you have Swiss Travel Passes and the Family card, the price is 180 CHF per www.sbb.ch/en. That is the total price for the for of you. Without passes, the price is 328 CHF. That is the train I suggest you use. I calculate it will be for June 16, correct?

One thing that might be confusing to you, is that you will be traveling in Italy just after the semi-annual schedule adjustment which takes place on June 12. Many Italian local trains are not showing on the schedule right now, but will be up soon. These are the trains you need to get to/from the Cinque Terre. The mainline fast trains are on the schedule now. These are the trains like the one to Venice, or Venice to Florence or Florence to Rome.

Posted by
1754 posts

You might spend some time checking to see if you can really do this trip on your budget before you make your plans.

I'm worried that you will not find accommodations for 4 people for 90 USD per night.

Look at what funds you really have, make a budget, see what accommodations really cost (check airbnb, VRBO, Homaway, tripadvisor, booking.com etc) Check the transportations cost, estimate food costs, excursions costs.

You can tally up and get a fairly good idea of expenses.

You are going to really expensive areas. If you really have more money to spend if needed, then great, if not, you might want to rethink your plans going to less expensive countries.

Posted by
69 posts

thanks. I understand that the italy itinerary really looks crammed but I have now made the train bookings too. Maybe the charm of Switzerland (plus a few shots of painkillers before leaving switzerland :-)) will prepare me better for italy.

I now have 7 nights in switzerland in which i have made the first 3 nights reservation in lauterbrunnen. I am thinking of next 2 in zermatt and next 2 in montreux but I am not fully sure. Can you suggest what should I be doing considering that on the 8th day I have to take the train from domo.

I want to do junfrau and either titlis or shilthorn, pls advise. titlis seems more popular

what all boat rides I should be doing based on this itinerary?

I am also not sure if any scenic train ride (like golden pass, bernina, glacier) can be done. would love to do atleast one?

How is the chocolate train? should i stay in montreux for that?

would a half fare card be better or a full swiss pass?

what are the things/trips to do in montreux?

pls help. its already mindboggling with all the research on the web so far.

Posted by
11734 posts

Day 8 montreux-venice
Day 9 venice
Day 10 venice-cinque terre
Day 11 cinque terre
Day 12 cinque terre - pisa- rome
Day 13 rome
Day 14 rome-flight

Based on a recent post you've added a day in Florence to this itinerary? Ouch. This is already terribly rushed; did you drop something?

Posted by
616 posts

I would drop the Cinque Terre bit and do at least 1 more night in Rome ( do not miss Trastevere) and do tha Amalfi coast instead of Cinque Terre, you will lose time going there, Amalfi coast is easily reachable from Rome. Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland is really lovely, however if you are limited with budget, do not stay too long in Switzerland, both accommodation, drinking and eating is very expensive.
When you speak about 90 euros a night,do you mean for one person, one bedroom? Tuscany, the capital of which is Florence has lots of nice scenery views and little town and lovely villages which are accessible from Florence. If you go in small villages you will need to rent a car even if accommodation is cheaper so you need to see how your budget would be best.

Posted by
69 posts

Its addition of the day in Florence at the expense of a day in cqt. Unfortunately i did not get the straight connection from venice to cqt (there was some problem in trains visibility on the net) and instead of soending 2-3 hrs i decided to spend 8-9 hrs in florence. So now i will have just one full day in cqt.

My places and connections are now all fully booked in Switzerland as well as italy so amalfi coast may have to wait for another trip. Is it special?

Looking for best way to spend the time in florence.

Posted by
69 posts

Its addition of the day in Florence at the expense of a day in cqt. Unfortunately i did not get the straight connection from venice to cqt (there was some problem in trains visibility on the net) and instead of soending 2-3 hrs i decided to spend 8-9 hrs in florence. So now i will have just one full day in cqt.

My places and connections are now all fully booked in Switzerland as well as italy so amalfi coast may have to wait for another trip. Is it special?

Looking for best way to spend the time in florence.

Posted by
11734 posts

So your itinerary looks like this?

Day 8 montreux-venice
Day 9 Venice
Day 10 Venice-Florence - Cinque Terre
Day 11 Cinque terre

Day 12 cinque terre - pisa- rome
Day 13 rome
Day 14 rome-flight

See your other post for Florence ideas.

Unfortunately i did not get the straight connection from venice to cqt

Do you mean a direct train (no changes)? I don't think that's possible between those two points to begin with. Without knowing which town in the CT you're headed to, it involves a minimum of one change, and more likely two to three.

Posted by
69 posts

No i mean a good transfer from florence-pisa-la spezia. All the trains avalable on that day when i was trying to book involved 3-4 hrs at pisa in the. Anyway bookings are now done and im. I'm looking forward to getting the best of florence too. Still lots of confusion there.

Posted by
69 posts

for a day in Florence where we will have about 7-9 hrs, can I get a pass that covers the price of the major attractions?

Same thing for Rome, there are too many places and I believe each of them would have individual tickets and queues, Can we get a pass that covers them?

Posted by
11734 posts

The only pass available in Florence is the Firenze Card (72€ apiece) and it's really not a good buy unless if you have three consecutive days in which to use it. You wouldn't begin to get the good of it with only 7-9 hours unless you just run through enough attractions with entry fees to make it pay. But if budget isn't a concern, then go for it.

http://www.firenzecard.it/?lang=en

Posted by
69 posts

We will be landing in Rome around 2 PM on 21st at termini and return from airport on 23rd late night. I am trying to figure out how to spend these 2.5 days

  1. Day 1: Colosseum and surroundings
  2. Day 2: Vatican and Trastevere
  3. Day 3: unsure, trevi fountain, Spanish steps, piazza navona ..

I have some questions

  1. Pls help suggesting places to go for each day
  2. Should I take the Roma pass/48 hr pass / metro pass or just point to point metro/bus/museum tickets
  3. What are the must eat things and where?