Hi all, I am planning my first trip to Europe for Apr-May 2023. I have narrowed it down to Switzerland & Italy. I will be travelling with my mother, both of us enjoy walking and exploring new cities and eating good food. Our plan is to fly from Singapore to Zurich and return home from Rome. As of right now I am considering getting the Half Fare Card.
Our rough plan is:
Day 0: Depart Singapore for Zurich.
Day 1: Arrive Zurich in morning, train to Lucerne (2 nights). Rest of the day at leisure to explore Lucerne and get over jet lag. (maybe we could explore Zurich city centre a bit before heading to Lucerne as it is only 15mins away from the airport by train?)
Day 2: Full day to explore Lucerne - Chapel Bridge, Old Town, Lion Monument etc.
Day 3: 2h train train to Interlaken (we chose Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland as a home base as it is a central transport hub that allows us to travel around with more convenience, and also it has cheaper accommodation and more options). We will stay in Interlaken for 3 nights. Rest of the day at leisure to explore Interlaken.
Day 4: In the morning, train from Interlaken up to Murren, explore Murren for a while before heading up to the Schilthorn (we chose Schilthorn over Jungfraujoch as it is a cheaper option and has equally good views). After lunch on the Schilthorn, head down to Gimmelwald, then explore Lauterbrunnen Valley before going to Grindelwald to spend the rest of the day then head back to Interlaken when done. Is this day's itinerary too much?
Day 5: Cruise on Lake Thun, explore the surrounding towns. I have found out that there is a Monday day pass for CHF 39 that allows unlimited access to both lakes for the day, however, I also know that there is a Saver Pass for CHF 29 only if I have the Half Fare Card. I will spend the morning to afternoon exploring the surrounding towns and for sunset I may consider going up Harder Kulm, but maybe 2 mountains is too much for one trip for my mother.
Day 6: Train to Florence. We will change trains at Spiez and then stop at Milan for lunch and see the iconic Duomo. Will the shops be open around 10am-12pm for lunch? With regards to our train tickets, do I purchase the Interlaken-Milan portion in advance, or buy on the day itself? Then buy Milan-Florence separately? Florence 5 nights, rest of the day to explore Florence at leisure.
Day 7: Full day to explore Florence's main sights - Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Duomo etc.
Day 8: Day trip to Bologna (1h20m by train one way). Full day to explore Bologna.
Day 9: Day trip to Siena (1h30m by train one way). Full day to explore Siena.
Day 10: Second full day to explore Florence. Accademia Gallery, Piazzale Michelangelo etc.
Day 11: Train to Rome (5 nights). Rest of the day to explore at leisure.
Day 12: Vatican City & Castel Sant'Angelo if time permits.
Day 13: Colosseum day. Baths of Caracalla too maybe.
Day 14: Explore Rome's main city centre sights - Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps etc.
Day 15: Wander about Rome's neighbourhoods - Trastevere & Testaccio.
Day 16: Depart Rome!
How does the itinerary look? Any suggestions to change? I am still a little stumped by the Swiss transport fares (not sure if the Half Fare Card will be beneficial to us with my itinerary, maybe someone could suggest if it would be? Or if I should visit somewhere else to make it more beneficial? Or the Swiss Travel Pass?).
If it matters, our budget is about 4K USD per person, we would like to stay in decent clean hotels for the most part that don't have to be luxurious, just those 2-3 star budget hotels will do fine. But after research, likely we will have to stay in apartments for at least half the trip. And we love eating. So a lot of the budget went there ;-)
We really appreciate whatever feedback we get to improve our itinerary so that we can have a wonderful first trip to Europe.