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Switzerland-Italy-France 2 week Itinerary Help

Hello! My husband and I are trying to plan a trip in July (the only time we can travel) to Switzterland, Italy and France. Our ideal vacation will be focused on enjoying the outdoors, food and wine. We hope to hike in the Alps (possibly take the Glacier Express), see northern Italy, and the south of France. We are not looking for too much time in big cities. Has anyone done a trip like this and have an itinerary that they can share? Any tips or recommendations of must-sees and skips?

Much appreciated!

Posted by
451 posts

Two weeks is not much time to see three countries. Three stops at most. I would keep it simple.

Venice Italy, then Lake Como, then St. Moritz or Zermatt, Switzerland.

5 N Venice You lose one day due to arrival from the States and some people are not fully functioning their first day in Europe, so this gives you three full days.
3 N Lake Como. I do not know this area, others here can go more in depth.
2 N Zermatt, take Glacier Express
3 N St. Moritz, spend time in the Upper Engadine valley.

1 N in either Luzern and leave from Zurich. It is about 70 minutes from Luzern to the airport in Zurich, trains leave twice an hour.

Use for travel time estimates and prices.

Posted by
16894 posts

Starting from the plan above, I would reverse the order of Zermatt and St. Mortiz, like this:

Varenna northbound to St. Moritz via the Bernina Express: 4 h 15 m with change at Tirano

St. Moritz to Zermatt via the Glacier Express: 8 h direct

Zermatt to Luzern: under 4 hours with 2 connections

The south of France would require more train travel time before reaching Switzerland. See the DB link at How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online for accurate train schedules. Other stops that are easy to add in Italy along the main east-west train line include Padova, Vicenza, Verona, Brescia, and Milan.

Posted by
2744 posts

I agree that it is going to be hard to hit three countries in two weeks. You might be better off focusing on just two.

Regarding, csu15269's suggestions, I would not spend five nights in Venice since your time is limited and Venice is HOT in July! If you decide to start (or end) in Venice, I think two or possibly three nights is enough. From there, it's easy to get to Varenna on Lake Como where two or three nights is plenty. Another option is to head up to the Dolomites which will let you hike in the Alps to your heart's content. I would suggest 3-5 nights in Ortisei. It is every bit as beautiful as Switzerland and much less expensive.

If you still want to go to Switzerland, I would suggest the Berner Oberland over Zermatt. I loved staying in Murren, but you could also consider Wengen or Lauterbrunnen. Again 3-5 nights is ideal. (It's always good to have plenty of time in the mountains in case you get some rainy or overcast weather.) From there you could head to Luzern and fly out of Zurich. If you want to go to France, you are going to have to give up something. Paris is fairly easy to get to from the Berner Oberland, but Paris in July is going to be hot and you said you were not interested in big cities. Unfortunately, I have not been anywhere in southern France other than the Dordogne region, which is a little too far for your itinerary, so I can't advise you.

Posted by
13 posts

I would suggest flying into Zurich. You could spend a day in Zurich if that interest you and also it would be nice to rest up. I suggest taking the train to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. It is about 1 1/2 hours from Zurich with about 3 connections (via Bern, Spiez and Interlaken). It will offer some of the greatest alpine views imaginable. You can take a gondola up to a tiny alpine village called Gimmelwald. The hikes are filled incredible with views of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau Mountains.

After a couple days of hiking, you can take the train to Lake Como, which is a beautiful ride (Milan is just ok so you can skip it). The ride is only a couple of hours as I recall. Lake Como also offers great hikes. You can take ferries to different towns on the lake. Bellagio, the most famous town on the lake, is a little ritzy for my taste. I stayed in Menaggio which has great trails into the mountains. Varenna is also great.

After Lake Como, I suggest taking the train to Verona. It is a beautiful medieval northern Italian city. It is not too touristy. You could spend 1 to 2 days in Verona. Verona is only about an hour from Venice. Even though Venice is engulfed with tourists, I still think it is worth spending a couple days there. If you walk the back streets, away from St. Mark's square, you will see the real Venice and it is breathtaking.

After Venice, you could go north to the Dolomites. I have never been but I hear it is incredible. You could also go south to Florence and Siena which are incredible, yet obviously a little stressful with tourists.

If you go the Florence route, you could take a train to Cinque Terre after and spend a few days there. 5 amazing towns on the sea. From there you could take the train to Nice via Genoa.

If you decide not to do Florence or stay in northeast Italy, I would suggest flying from Venice to Nice on a low cost airline like Easy Jet. I have never been to south France so I cannot give any advice there.

You can fly home from Nice or Marseille, probably via Frankfurt. No need to make it a roundtrip from Zurich. This is how I would do it but obviously there are many different ways you can plan your trip. Hope this helps!