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Itinerary help-repeat/first timer trip—Italy, Switzerland, Paris—oh my!

Hi all, my fiancée & I are planning a trip in late September-first week of October after our ceremony. I have been to Europe a few times with my late husband and kids, this will be my fiancée’s first trip. He likes laid back, but also wants to see “the big” sights. We are planning on 16-17 days mostly in Italy & Switzerland. I have not been to Switzerland. We fly into Venice & out of Zurich. I had an idea of our route, but now DF wants to add Paris in, mostly to see the Eiffel Tower, maybe the Louvre. We can fly cheaply (plus luggage fees, I know) from Pisa to Paris. Give me your thoughts:

1-fly
2-arrive Venice, jet lag & walk around & get a feel for city
3-Venice
4-Venice a.m., fast train to Rome (~4 hrs.)
5-Rome, tour Colosseum, hopefully tour of underneath (Hypogeum), too; Vatican (?)
6-Rome (this is a Sunday, not sure what’s open)
7-train to Cinque Terre, stop over at Pisa—store suitcases @ station, taxi to& from tower, continue on to CT
8-CT
9-CT in morning, train to Pisa for 3:10 flight to Paris, arrive 4:50 @ Orly; (or is it better to fly into CDG?)
10-Paris, picnic near Eiffel, walk the park, Louvre (this is a Thursday)
11-Train to Gimmelwald, Switzerland (10:22-16:59)
12-Gimmelwald (Schilthorn, hike to Murren, , etc. per RS show)
13-Gimmelwald
14-Train to Luzern (3 hrs.)
15-Luzern
16-Train to Zurich (1:10 travel time, runs every hour) flight out at 19:25

This seems too crunched. Could we lose that entire day at Luzern (day 15) & add a day in Paris? Thoughts? TIA!

Posted by
33 posts

Hi Jen,
You are right, your itinerary is too crunched. You really only have 14 days to sightsee. The first part of your trip is fine, relaxing in Venice, and on to Rome. I think you are underestimating all the wonderful things to see and do, and the time to get from place to place. You will wish you had more time in both Venice and Rome. CT is lovely, you will enjoying the villages.

Your addition of Paris for one day, is IMHO unwise. It deserves an entire trip on its own. Plan for a future trip to France!

I haven't been to Switzerland in many years, but you might consider 7 days in Italy and 7 in Switzerland. That would give you a nice mix, and you will actually be able to relax and enjoy your trip.

Posted by
6649 posts

Jen, consider that each change of location eats up a half day or more of your time. Its not just the actually length of the train ride, for example. You have to also count the time it takes to check in/out of hotel, get to/from train station, wait for train, etc. Airport adds security time, check in, etc. So a 3 hour flight ends up taking 6 hours, and there goes your day.

Posted by
4480 posts

Hi Jen, I read “laid back” & “see the big sites”, but I am only seeing the latter in your itinerary….and I am a person who moves faster through cities than most. My advice is to count the total actual hours you will be on transportation or waiting for planes, etc. and then collectively decide if this is how you want to spend your honeymoon. There is no wrong answer - just an awareness, and I feel that since you posted this question, it’s not what you currently would like. I look at the list below, and it personally would make me very sad to leave Venice and Rome so soon and especially Paris! Could Paris be your 1-year anniversary trip, instead, since there is SO much to explore & enjoy, plus other parts of France?

I am seeing one actual day in Venice. (Your arrival day is jet lag.)

Two days in Rome.
One day & a half in CT.
One day in Paris.
Two in Gimmelwald.
(Give the Luzern two days to one or two of the above.)

Posted by
3845 posts

The addition of Paris is really what throws this route into overdrive, in my opinion.
Rome (4n)-Cinque Terre (2n)-Venice (3n)-Switzerland (4n Berner Oberland + 2n Luzern) would work much better, with adequate time everywhere and much less time spent travelling.

Or if you must go to Paris, remove 5 Terre and go:

Paris (4n) - Berner Oberland (4n) - Venice (3n) - Rome (4n)

Posted by
16863 posts

Have you bought airline tickets yet? You will be in Gimmelwald in the first week in October and that is perilously close to the time of the first snowfall at that elevation (on average). Could you re-arrange your trip to start in Switzerland and end in Rome? Or even in Paris, like this:
Paris 3 nts
Gimmelwald 3 nts
Venice 3 nts
CT 3 nts
Rome 3 nts

That is 15 nights and a possibility

Posted by
2096 posts

I agree - take Paris out of this trip. With flights/delays so unpredictable post-covid, you could spend a whole day just transiting. And it's alot of work getting into and out of the CT for a short visit.
Here's a suggestion for a possible routing, and just play with how many nights-minimum 3 nights each location in IMHO.

Fly into Rome-
Train to Venice-
train to Lake Como-
Lake Como to Tirano-meet Switzerland Bernina Express train route-sleep Chur, Pontresina, or St Moritz
train to Berner Oberland- spend as many days as possible
Berner Oberland to Lucerne- [commute to Zurich airport from Lucerne]

Once you're in Italy and Switzerland, you will never feel that you've spent enough time in any of these locations. Safe travels!

Posted by
16863 posts

And yes, taking Paris out of the mix greatly simplifies your itinerary, leaving more time for the other sites. If hubby enjoys the trip, Paris will make a great destination for the next trip.

Posted by
850 posts

There is no bigger fan of Paris than me. Love it, Favorite place of all time. That being said, it is not worth the time it will take for one day there. No way. IF you fly to Paris, then yes, Orly is the airport of choice. Something has to give. Did you look at the travel time between Paris and Gimmelwald by train? You will have wasted an entire day on a train. Either add a day to Rome and do a day trip or another night in the Oberland. If Paris is a must, something has to give.

Posted by
191 posts

This trip looks doable, but not enjoyable. Everyone is different though, so take into account how YOU like to travel. But, especially with this being your fiancé's first trip, I would caution that less is more. Europe for the first time can be incredibly overwhelming - time change, language barrier, new cultural norms, so much to do and see! - and piling on a lot of destination changes has the risk of making everyone more grumpy than normal.

I've been to Paris four times now and would still never dream of being there for fewer than three nights. On our most recent trip (our fourth), we were there for a week, and still found new things to do. Paris is absolutely magical, but I just don't think it fits here.

Posted by
82 posts

My oh my! I agree that it might be better to fly into Zurich and out of Rome, per season and snow in the Alps. Gimmelwald is beautiful but so are many other Alp destinations that might be a bit easier to access from Zurich, allowing the possibility to fly to Venice from there. Then I would leave CT (and definitely Paris) out of the mix and concentrate your time in Italy to Venice and Rome. All of us travel at a different pace, but saying laid back and planning on lots of hoofing it from place to place is not particularly relaxing. This is a honeymoon after all, so take time to have down time and just enjoy being together trying not to rush here and there.
And Paris for a one year anniversary-YES!

Posted by
78 posts

We are booking this trip with miles, and can get into Paris OR Zurich and out of Rome for about the same # of miles as what I have booked now (into Venice/out of Zurich). The reason I put Switzerland last was to end on the relaxing part of the trip, but yes! snow definitely trumps that. My son & I did Cinque Terre in 2019, & loved it, is Lake Como equally as pretty? Or I guess to get the Mediterranean experience we could fly into Zurich, do the Berner Oberland, catch up with the Bernina Express or whatever train goes Switzerland into northern Italy (I have not investigated that area yet), just ride train through, explore Venice, then head south of Rome to the Amalfi Coast, then up to Rome & fly home.

The good thing is since I booked with miles, the flights are easily changed at this point, and I haven’t booked any hotels, yet, but know I need to ASAP. Thoughts?

Posted by
16863 posts

Decisions, decisions. I think Paris to Gimmelwald to Venice to CT to Rome is doable. Rick Steves does similar distances with even more stops in that same 16 day time frame. If those destinations are on your hot list, do it.

It is nice to post your ideas on this forum and get some ideas and alternatives, but in the end, it is your trip and you should go where you want to go. I never posted any of my itineraries here, and if I did, I am sure I would get 10 different ideas of what I should do, but I want to do what I want to do. I am fairly confident I know what is reasonable, and i have made goofs, but I learned from them. So soldier on, make some decisions, then book it.

Posted by
542 posts

Scanning the replies - go with Balso's recommendation. That is the best use of your time and energy.

Good luck & enjoy!