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Berner Oberland, Sonvico, Lake Lugano/Como, Cinque Terre, Chamonix July 2023

Hi there,

We are a family of five (two fairly fit parents and three adventurous kids ages 17, 15, and 10) planning our trip for July 2023. We love to hike and eat fantastic food. We are planning a trip from July 14 to July 31 and could use some suggestions about the best order to visit these cities/areas and best recommendations for cities to fly into and out of. We'd love to spend three days in Berner Oberland (staying in Gimmelwald), a day in Sonvico (where my family is from), a couple days in Lugano and/or Como, three days in Cinque Terre, and three days in Chamonix. Your lovely tips will be much appreciated!

Thank you in advance and happy holidays!

Posted by
365 posts

Where are you flying in, and where do you fly home from? Also, are your travel dates set meaning dates you gave that is fly in and fly home days?

Posted by
8 posts

Our return date of July 31 is solid, but we can expand our trip a few days on the front end if necessary. We were thinking of flying into Zurich and starting in Berner Oberland, then Italy and ending in France (flying out of Nice maybe?). But my initial flight searches shows that it is way more expensive to travel in and out of two different cities. So I am open to suggestions. And we would like to end with the most exciting part of the trip.

Posted by
381 posts

It is not necessarily more expensive to fly in and out of different cities. Price the tickets as a multi city trip (from A to B then C to A) and price separately - buying one ticket for A to B - then a separate ticket for C to A. You can use different airlines too if that gets you better prices.

Posted by
365 posts

I’ve found the easiest way to get reasonable “in one out another” tickets is to be aware of partnerships/alliances and where they fly to most. For example we are flying KLM and Air France as they are part of “sky team” with Delta.

Posted by
16683 posts

As someone who has traveled to Switzerland numerous times with teens, and one time doing a Swiss heritage trips based on my husband’s Swiss relations, I have some comments.

I would not stay in Gimmelwald. I know Rick promotes the place, but there is no town there, very limited lodging options, and zero restaurants. You and your kids would be much happier, in my opinion, staying a , a combined boat plus train journey that bit higher up the hill in the car-fre village of Mürren. With 5 people, you might need an apartment as most hotel family rooms are limited to 4. On a tight budget I would suggest Chalet Fontana, in the ground floor apartment. We stayed there several times. Or ask here for more recommendations. Chalet Oberdorf, a 3-bedroom apartment with speculation views from the living room and the decks is our favorite.

For your visit to Sonvico, it makes sense to make your way to Lugano , as Sonvico is a short bus ride away.. A nice way to travel between the Berner Oberland and Lugano is to take the scenic Gotthard Panorama Express a combined boat plus train route that uses a route over the Alps instead of under them in a tunnel as most of the fast trains do. You would need to start in Luzern which is well,worth a visit.

From Lugano you could make your way by bus and ferry to Varenna on Lake Como, a lovely small town right on the lake. From there to Cinque Terre is an easy journey by train, with a single train change at Milano Centrale if you choose the right connections.,

Chamonix does not fit easily into this itinerary.

Posted by
1956 posts

For such a short trip I would not visit to many places. You lose a lot of time each time you change bases.

So my suggestion would be to split the holiday between the Bernese Oberland, Lugano and the Cinque Terre.

Gimmelwald is very picturesque. It has a few nice places, including a nice bar/restaurant that I even gets me to occasionally make the trek over from Wengen. But it is very quiet. If your idea of a holiday is to read lots of books, have a few walks and end every day with a beer in the same pub with the same people you will love Gimmelwald. Its a place to wind down to de stress. But it may not be what you are looking for. So look at other places. Grindelwald for example has a lot more to offer for your kids. You can always go and do a day trip to Gimmelwald from Grindelwald.

Then travel to Lugano, as suggested via lake Luzern and the old Gotthard line. In Lugano your hotel will give you a Ticino Ticket for the time of your stay, which gives you unlimited free travel on all public transit. You can easily fill a few days there, and Sonvico is just a bus ride away (with buses every half hour).

Then from Lugano to the Cinque Terre is easy. Monterosso is the best place to pick as a base in my opinion, as it has direct trains from Milano, making the trip Lugano - Milano very straightforward.

Forget Chamonix. It is not easy to integrate in a logical routing for your trip. You will have had your fill of Alps in the Bernese Oberland. Just return to Milano and fly home from there, or if you must, return to Zurich (both cases by train) and fly home from there.

Posted by
4535 posts

Agree you should cut--perhaps two stops, so you can have longer stays. Look at travel time involved to help you decide. I'd do Zurich to Milan, skip CT.