15 Days for Switzerland and (Germany and Italy if possible)

Hi

My husband and I with our 1 year old daughter are planning to travel to Europe from Aug 26 to Sep 9, 2014 (15 days). Our main destination is Switzerland. We would like to spend about 8 days in Switzerland and the rest in Germany and ITaly (7 days). I couldn't find any tour in Rick Steves' Europe matching or close to our requirement. Can someone please help us with an itinerary. We are more interested in natural and scenic beauty rather than museums or history.

The plan that I had in mind was - Fly to munich. See the Neuschwanstein and other nearby places in munich in about 4 days. Then follow this route Zurich - Lucern - Bern - Interlaken - Montreux - Geneva - Zermatt - Lugano - Milan (Italy)- Venice (Italy)- St Moritz-Zurich.

Please provide your suggestions and if you have better itineraries. Also, is it worthwhile to really spend these many days in switzerland or should I add in other places like Austria or Paris into it?

Any suggestions are welcome.

Thanks
Rupi

Posted by Joan
Gettysburg, PA, USA
371 posts

Twelve cities in 15 days with a one-year old?!
I have traveled (some time ago) with a child that age and I think that you will find that choosing one city and one small Alpine location in Switzerland and spending one week in each will give you many kinds of experiences that you will be able to enjoy and also to relax and not spend all your time dashing from one spot to the next.

Posted by roop
Nova Scotia Canada
7 posts

i

Thanks for your suggestion. We are not spending a night at each city but plan to chose Zurich, bern and Geneva for staying and rest of the places to be seen via Rail.

Which are the best Alpine locations to include in itinerary?

If others have suggestions for other itineraries, please share.

thanks

Posted by Darlene
Henderson
34 posts

You want to go to Venice and Milan too?? I think the time from Lausanne to Venice was over 6 hours plus one way last year when we went. Zermatt is not really a day trip. Special train, etc. This seems overly ambitious to me and with a young child to boot. Swiss trains are super but I think you are overdoing it adding Italy in there, esp. Venice and Zermatt.

Posted by roop
Nova Scotia Canada
7 posts

Its great to hear back from experienced people. I am visiting Europe the first time and thats why posted on this forum.

So what would you suggest be the best feasible options in Switzerland in 15 days if not adding any other country? I am still in the planning phase and not finalized anything.

Thanks.

Posted by Chris
Mahone Bay, Canada
259 posts

We've traveled Germany, Italy, and Switzerland quite a bit with our young children. On our first trip our oldest was 6 months, on our most recent trip he was 3 and our youngest was 5 months. So, we've had a bit of experience with this. I love traveling with our little ones but you do need to adapt your travel style.

I think you are trying to do too much. With a little person you are going to need to slow your pace a bit so you can take a break when they need it. If you push yourselves too hard you aren't going to enjoy it the way you should. I'd leave Italy for another trip and focus on Munich/Bavaria and Switzerland.

I like your idea of using a few places as hubs and taking day trips. If possible, I'd suggest renting apartments. We've found they give us more flexibility to eat in if our little ones need some extra play time to burn off steam and prepare healthy meals for them when we need to. I'm afraid we always rent a car and stay outside the city centres, so I can't recommend good places for you to stay.

If it were me planning the trip, I'd pick 3 home bases to work with and do day trips from there. I'd use Munich as my first home base (4-5 days), then I'd use Lucerne (3-4 days) as my second and somewhere near Interlaken (Lauterbrunnen?) (5-6 days) as my third. I wouldn't worry about seeing Geneva, Lugano or St. Moritz on this trip. All the other Swiss places you list can be done as day trips from these home bases. End your trip in Zurich.

Have fun!

Posted by roop
Nova Scotia Canada
7 posts

Hi

Its encouraging to know someone who has traveled with babies already. Thanks for your reply. So here is some change and we are getting close to finalize our plan:

We have dropped the idea of going to Germany altogether. We are now only focusing on Switzerland plus I have a cousin who lives near Milan (Italy) and wants to pick us up for a day or two to stay with his family. He is ready to come at any time during our 15 day trip and drive us along to his place. Can you please help me in finalizing the base spots in Switzerland so that I can accommodate going to his place for a day or two.

We are flexible to fly in and fly out from anywhere. (coming from nova scotia canada)

thank you very much !

Posted by roop
Nova Scotia Canada
7 posts

I just missed to write in my reply above that we will mainly be using the railway network and not rent a car. So please suggest base places which are easy for day tours . Thanks.

Posted by Chris
Mahone Bay, Canada
259 posts

Flying from Halifax, your best bet is probably to fly with Condor. They can get you directly to Europe (Frankfurt), without having to double back to Toronto, Montreal, etc. Taking the shortest route possible with a little one will make your life A LOT easier! On their website you can get connecting flights to both Geneva and Zurich. Zurich is probably the best place for you to fly into for a circular route and the places you want to see. Alternatively you could fly into Zurich and out of Geneva or vice versa.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
4834 posts

Based on flying out of Halifax on Condor, I will propose the following route, which is how I would do it.
Fly round trip Halifax-Frankfurt. Non stop, 6 to 7 hour flights at a very good price. You'd need to leave on the 24th in the evening as this flight doesn't go on a Monday.
Leg 1. Take a direct ICE train from the airport to Munich. there is about one every hour and it takes 3 hours and 45 minutes. Munich 4 nights to take in local attractions and Neuschwanstein.
Leg 2. Take a direct EC train to Venice and spend 3 nights. That's the minimum stay I would do.
Leg 3. Take a direct train to Milan and spend 2 nights. That is enough for Milan,
Leg 4. Take a direct EC train to Montreux and spend 3 nights.
Leg 5. Take the Golden Pass train route to Luzern via Interlaken. You can stop at Interlaken for a few hours if you wish. This is a very scenic railway journey. Spend 3 nights in Luzern.
Leg 6. Morning of Sept 9 take a train to Frankfurt airport. As single change at Basel gets you there by noon with ample cushion.
That route covers much of your wish list, Germany, Italy, Switzerland. Rail legs 1, 2, 6 can be bought in advance to get discounts from www.bahn.com. Most people would not recommend buying leg 1 in advance in case your flight is delayed. All other legs can be bought on line for big discounts. Leg 3 from www.trenitalia.com, and legs 4 and 5 from www.sbb.ch. Leg 5 can be bought there as there really is no discount. You may want to look at some sort of Swiss Pass or half fare card if you plan a lot of side journeys.
That's my $.02.

Posted by tskittles
USA
14 posts

I'm still on the last leg of my Italy/Switzerland trip. We did Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Vernamiege (small village close to Zermatt), Milan through Lugano and Lake Maggiore in 10 days. I was told that it was too much before I went but we did great. No small children but we're traveling with my mother who is older. If you have a car, are organized and don't mind the actual travel (I like to drive for example, esp if its scenic), it sounds like a good trip.

Just my 2 cents: it seems you have too many cities. I would do more countryside in Switzerland: small towns on the French side of Swiss Alps have a charm Geneva doesn't. Also, I wouldn't do Zermatt. It's hard to get to, you have to park and take a train (its car free) and you have to get lucky with weather. You need perfect weather to see Matterhorn and even if you don't want to see it, EVERYTHING in Zermatt is overpriced because of it. Weather is very unpredictable - it was snowing 4 days before we got there and we had +20 degrees. Pick a small village relatively close to Zermatt and go up if you're up for it when you're there.

Lugano is beautiful. If it was me, I would have my relatives from Milan come there or another city/town on the lake on the Italian side. It's easy to get to from Milan and they probably wouldn't mind the excuse :). There isn't much to do in Milan with a small child but the lake provides plenty of opportunity.

Don't add Paris or Austria unless you've been to both and know exactly what you want to do. Paris requires its own trip and you need at least 4-5 days to "see" Paris. You get a taste of Austria, Germany, France and Italy in Switzerland anyway with your itinerary, especially if you're more interested in nature vs. museums.

Posted by roop
Nova Scotia Canada
7 posts

Hi

Thanks to everyone for their inputs.

So far we have booked the tickets. Flying from halifax to zurich on 26 via Iceland air and reaching zurich on 27th 1pm. Returning from Geneva on 9 sep, start flying at 2 pm.

Couldn't do condor because our dates are not flexible.

Based on all that I have learnt so far through this forum, internet and this link:

https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/switzerland/itinerary

I have this rough plan in mind :

26th aug - fly from halifax 27th reach zurich.

Zurich (1 night)
Luzern (2 nights). Take William tell express to Lugano.
Lugano (3 nights - Lugano + st moritz area) then go to Italy with cousin via car
Italy (2 nights) then train to montreux. He will show us Venice in Italy.
Montreux/Lausanne (1 nights). Take golden pass to Bernese oberland
Berner oberland (3 nights). Oberland to Bern then to Geneva
8 sep - Geneva (1 night)
9 sep- fly back home

Please give your suggestions if this sounds feasible and anything that I should re think about to add or remove a location or add or remove time spent.

Thx

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4858 posts

One quick thought; there is no need to spend the night after your arrival in Zurich. Trains go right from the Zurich airport to Luzern and take a bit over an hour to do this, so you can go right there upon arrival and spend one more night there. This means not only more time in Luzern (which is almost universally felt to be more interesting than Zurich - unless you're interested in $50,000 watches and the like), but also means one less hotel change.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
4834 posts

Ok, things are getting clearer. Is your cousin living in Lugano or driving up from Italy? Is he driving you back to Lugano, or leaving you somewhere in Italy to travel back to Switzerland by your self? It makes a difference on how you proceed from there. I'd go from Italy to the Berner Oberland, then to Montreux. You can take the Golden Pass for that trip.
On landing at Zurich (1 pm?), go directly to Luzern. It's only one hour on a direct train from the airport.
Leaving, go from Montreux directly to Geneva in the morning of the 9th. Its only 1 hour 15 minutes on a direct train that goes twice an hour. You'll get there almost as fast as from someplace in Geneva.
And Lugano and St Moritz are not in the same area. Not an easy trip. If you have a car, it is easier, but I don't see the point for a day trip. St Moritz is over hyped IMHO.

Posted by roop
Nova Scotia Canada
7 posts

It's so good to get ideas like these. This is really really helping me to plan better.

My cousin lives in Italy and can come up to anywhere in switzerland to pick us up and same for the drop off. We will call him to to come to swiss when we reach the Lugano area, this will save him time and distance and we are anyways spending time in Lugano.

Italy to oberland is also a good idea and we can catch up the lake Geneva area (Montreux, Geneva) later this way.

Thanks a lot and more suggestions are welcome!