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Lake Como/ Switzerland/ Barolo in April 2020. Suggestions needed.

Hello,
My partner and I are going for an 8 day trip (April 8 to 16th) to Lake Come/Switzerland. The timing is not ideal but I wanted to be in Switzerland to celebrate my 50th birthday. We will be in Italy on Good Friday and Switzerland Easter Monday. We are from Canada and flying into Milan (Malpensa Airport).
Renting a car at the airport (pick up and drop off). We prefer small towns and nature, excited to experience the culture and see the beautiful sights. Love to hike but also realize that most of the hiking trails may be closed or muddy.
This is my plan so far. I would love comments or suggestions. I want this to be an amazing trip - despite being in April.

  1. Lake Como ( staying at Hotel Du Lac) for 2 nights

  2. Lauterbrunnen (3 nights) - home base ( might book Hotel Silberhorn) then day trips to tour Luzern, Engelberg and Gimmelwald

  3. Lake Geneva (1 night) - not sure where to stay

  4. Barolo/Piedmont Area ( 1 or 2 nights) - winery experience (might book Hotel Castello Di Sinio)

Thank you,
Brenda

Posted by
15573 posts

Be sure to purchase a vignette as you enter Switzerland and attach properly to your car's windshield.

Posted by
11153 posts

Just a pedantic note - there is no place called "Grimmelwald." There is Gimmelwald, and there is Grindelwald. Both can be reached from Lauterbrunnen, each by a choice of two different routes. Gimmelwald is the one Rick loves, but most of us here on the forum are not as over-the-moon about it (Rick has personal relationships with many in the town, over many years). Grindelwald is much larger, has bus and car traffic (Gimmelwald only has tractor service vehicles), and has stores and restaurants (Gimmelwald has only a couple of each).

Posted by
8 posts

Harold,
Yes, I meant Gimmelwald but after reading your message, I think we will go to Grindelwald instead. Thank you:)

Do you think Lauterbrunnen is a good place for our home base (3 nights)? or should we stay in Luzern? I need to book a hotel soon as it will be over the Easter weekend and need to make sure we have a place to stay. Looking for a special place (as my birthday is that weekend) and prefer small towns vs city. My concern is the time of year and we are driving.

Thank you:)

Posted by
1653 posts

Hi,
I'd leave out lake Geneva, to make fewer stops.
Also, I will offer a controversial opinion regarding Lauterbrunnen. The Berner Oberland is amazing, BUT you have very little time, and it's a fair old drive from Lake Como, and then to Barolo.
An alternative, almost-equally amazing (not as dramatic, but very scenic) mountain region would be the Engadin, with a base like Pontresina or Samedan. You will have access to great hikes in side valleys, some mountain railways will still be open for the views (but please check, some such as Muottas Muragl will be closed), and it is a short drive north of Lake Como.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you Balso. I will look up the Engadin area. Lauterbrunnen is on my bucket list. I can skip Lake Geneva and Barolo.
Appreciate your suggestions:)

Posted by
1653 posts

I assumed you had a specific interest in the Barolo region. If not, then Lauterbrunnen area > Engadin in terms of dramatic scenery, and I would not go to both in such a short trip.

A Como - Lauterbrunnen - Vevey (Lake Geneva) - Milan loop will work nicely, skipping Piemont / Barolo wine region.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you. I appreciate your suggestions. I love the travel books and this forum is so helpful.

Posted by
12040 posts

Just a note, most of the tourist infrastructure in the Berner Oberland closes down during April, mainly because as you noted, the weather is suitable for neither hiking nor skiing. Many of the lifts are closed for seasonal maintenance, and likewise, most of the hotel and restaurant owners take a month off for their own holiday, or re-equip themselves for the change from winter to summer tourism.

You can still probably find a room somewhere and the odd restaurant or two might stay open with a reduced menu. But go with a much lower set of expectations. Most of the glowing write-ups you read here about the Berner Oberland are from people who visited in the bright days of summer, not the overcast, muddy conditions of April.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you Tom. The time of year is not the best but needed to be somewhere special on my 50th birthday. We will likely spend more time in Luzern but wanted to have our home base in Lauterbrunnen. I am hopefully for some beautiful views and to experience some of the culture.

Posted by
12040 posts

I am hopefully for some beautiful views and to experience some of the culture.

If you're lucky, you may get some views, but don't count on it at that time of year.

The "culture" you encounter in April will be "agriculture". The farmers use the lull tourist traffic to fertilize the pastures. Think liquified manure sprayed through a power hose.