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Northern Italy/Switzerland itinerary

My family of 4 including two older teenagers are flying into Venice on July 1st. We're spending 2 nights there and then 2 nights in Milan (spending two nights there to account for travel to city before and after), and then 2 nights in Lake Como/Bellagio area.
Then we will travel to Switzerland for 5 nights. We will fly out of Zurich on July 14. We are first timers to Italy and Switzerland.
We are interested in seeing the unique topography and beautiful views. No city life and no museums. We would like updated 4/5 star hotels with air conditioning. We are also meeting another family in Switzerland so that is complicating things.

Where do you suggest we visit in Switzerland for ease of travel coming from Italy and ending up in Zurich?
Is there a particular part of Lake Como that makes it easier to travel north as we have not booked that property yet?

I was initially thinking of taking the Bernina Express to St. Moritz.
Now I have switched to Grindelwald for 3 nights and Lucerne for 2 nights.
How do we get from Como to Grindelwald? We are open to other areas if the travel is too cumbersome.
Should we just do one night in Lucerne?

Thank you so much! So much information and hard to work through when you have never been to these areas.

Posted by
4993 posts

Your question is asked regularly here. The above is the result of a Search here on the Forum.
I'd recommend a RS guide book, watching the RS videos, and reviewing the posts here regarding the Swiss train system, SBB, which is very user- friendly, dependable, and efficient.
If your Zurich flight isn't too early , you can spend that last night in Lucerne.
Many are reporting that lodging in Europe is in short supply and expensive, due to pent-up COVID demand, so I'd highly suggest you decide on an itinerary and book lodging asap.
Have a great trip in these beautiful areas!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you so much! I did search the travel forum here extensively but I had some specific questions that I did not see the answers too. Specifically what Switzerland and Lake Como areas make sense for ease of travel from Lake Como.
I also have the Rick Steves Switzerland travel book. I will look through it again.

Posted by
11350 posts

We have done basically what you hope to plan.
We had an Italian rental car, picked up and dropped off in Italy. When entering Switzerland you need to buy a vignette for car window, easy to find places to buy.
We were warned by many friends NOT to stay in St- Moritz rather in charming nearby Pontresina. We were so glad we made that decision. St- Moritz is in a beautiful setting but it has lots of concrete , unattractive buildings. Not appealing.
On our trip we went from Milan ( stayed a few days) to Lake Orta in Italy, (did not like it due to air pollution from paper mill) then to a week in Grindelwald( we loved it) then to Pontresina ( loved it) then back into Italy to Bellagio on Lake Como which is a favorite of ours, been there several times. Then we. dropped off car at MXP and flew to USA. Trip was about 2.5 weeks long.

Posted by
20309 posts

If you want to Grindelwald from Bellagio, take a fast boat to Como, then a taxi to San Giovanni station. You can get a train direct to Luzern from there at 10:59 am, or with a connection at other times. At Luzern, change to a train to Interlaken Ost, then a train to Grindelwald.

For some reason, everybody posting on this forum wants to go from Lake Como to the Berner Oberland. As you can see, it is a cumbersome journey. Your original plan of going to Switzerland over the Bernina Pass is much more straight forward. But its your holiday, so go where you want, just realize the logistics.

Posted by
8586 posts

Since you say you want beautiful views and no city life, I'd skip staying in Milan, and just go on to Varenna-Esino on the Lake. It's only an hour by train from Milan ( a short ferry ride from Varenna to Bellagio), so you might as well keep moving. Thats 2 nights you can spend elsewhere. Actually, I'd add those to Luzern, which, despite being a city, is in a topographically beautiful area, on a lake surrounded by visitable mountains.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for the help. Yes it seems that Bellagio to Grindelwald is very travel cumbersome. Maybe we will do our original idea and go via the Bernina Express to Switzerland. Then decide where to stay. I will rethink Milan as well.
Keep commenting on ideas. It is really appreciated.

Posted by
495 posts

Milan is a big thumbs down in my book. It's so crowded and unless you're going there for a very specific reason like some landmark you absolutely must see, I'd completely skip it. It's not the charm you're looking for on an Italian Swiss vacation in my opinion. I'd add nights on to your time in the Italian lakes and Switzerland, it never hurts to have a buffer day to allow for weather, relaxation and just soaking up the area you're in. Milan would just be a waste of that important time.

I don't personally think a 4.5 hour train from Lake Como to Berner Oberland is a deal breaker in my book, especially if you get rid of those nights in Milan. The Berner Oberland is THE gem of the Swiss Alps. We've tried finding places to compare. You can't.

A Venice (2), Bellagio (3), Berner Oberland (4), Luzern (2) vacation would be magical. You'll love all parts of that 2 weeks.

Posted by
4 posts

I think that is a good idea to delete Milan and add those nights somewhere else. I will do Venice two nights and then Lake Como area three nights and then take the Bernina Express to Switzerland and figure out where to stop to catch another train to Interlaken and then Grindelwald. We'll stay there 4 nights. From there we'll do Lucerne two nights and then maybe directly go to Zurich for our flight. It's at 945am so will have to see if that works logistically. Thank you so much for the advice!