Hi! My husband and I are traveling to Switzerland and Italy in July 2020. We arrive in Zurich on 7/17 at 8am and depart from Milan at 12pm on 7/27. Apart from a couple days at Lake Como (No idea which parts of Lake Como either) I have zero idea where to stay/what to do. We are open to travel by train, plane or car. We aren’t interested in going to Geneva and would like to visit places that make sense traveling from Zurich to Milan/Lake Como. Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you!!
You have a lot of options. I really like Luzern. It is a lovely city on both a river and lake and surrounded by mountains. Another beautiful area in Switzerland is the Berner Oberland. Towns people enjoy there are Gimmelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Wengen. You could think about taking the Bernina Express train from Chur to Tirano and then on to Lake Como. I haven't been, but Turin, Italy, sounds wonderful. There is a thread going right now with enticing discussion.
I second the suggested areas of the previous responder. After the Berner Oberland area, I would recommend taking the Glacier Express train to St Moritz, then take the Bernina Express from St Moritz to Tirano. From Tirano, there are various alternatives by train or bus to the Lake Como area. I would recommend stopping in Lugano, which I think is one of the prettiest places in Switzerland (which is saying a lot because there are so many breathtaking places) and then heading to Lake Como. We have stayed in Bellagio and Varenna right on the lake, both lovely but different, so read up to see which, if either, appear=ls to you. From Lake Como, it is an easy, scenic bus ride into Milao Centrale, or the train leaves Varenna into Milano Centrale as well. So much to see - enjoy!
Do you have any kind of guide book? You can make most of the decisions on where you want to go from reading guide book. That way you don't assume that someone is going to suggest a destination like Geneva that you are not interested in going to. You can get guidebooks for free checkout at a public library; hopefully if you have one where you live or just buy one online
See Jazz+Travels reply above.
Buy a guide book. Or get one from a library. No one here knows your interests. And we can’t plan a vacation for you. Switzerland and Italy are big places with lots of see and do. Rick Steve’s Italy and Switzerland are obviously good choices.
I also like Lonely Planet which covers smaller towns and areas not covered by Steve’s. But there’s lots of great guides out there.
Here's an option: From Zurich, its an easy train or drive to Chur. Chur itself is nice but not spectacular, but it is the gateway for the Bernina Express (https://www.seat61.com/BerninaExpress.htm). The Bernina Express is a wonderful scenic train ride, in panorama window cars, up over the Alps (with a stop at a remote station at the very top) and down into Italy at Tirano.
At Tirano, you walk across the city square from the Swiss station to the Italian station, and from there, regional trains take you to Lake Como and Milan.
We had the same arrival and departure cities this past September. We loved the following itinerary.
Night 1 - Zurich (not a spectacular city but it was ok)
Night 2,3 - Lucern is wonderful
Night 4,5,6,7 - Murren. The area in spectacular!!
Night 8,9,10 - Varenna. Beautiful and quiet
Night 11,12 - Florence - Not too far actually. Our second time there because we loved it so much.
Night 13,14 - Milan - Worth the stop for a city tour and "The Last Supper"
All are easily reached by train. Good luck!!
I would skip an overnight in Zurich to start. You can get to Luzern in just over an hour on a direct train from Zurich airport. The direct trains go once per hour, and there are trains with connections at other times.
Don’t waste your time in Zurich because Lucerne is much nicer and so very close. Trains, buses, boats, gondolas are THE ways to travel in Switzerland. No need for a car.
I agree that you should stay the night in Luzern and not Zurich. I just was in Florence and enjoyed it, but because of the distance, I would research places like Turin which are closer to Milan/Lake Como. Also, I feel like Florence needs at least 3 full days and I don't think you have time for that in your itinerary.
Last May we landed in Zurich, took the train to Lucerne and spent 4 nights there (5 full days). Then we took the boat to Brunnen (beautiful!) and the train to Locarno (you can take the boat all the way to the bottom of the lake if you wish). Spent 2 nights in Locarno and took the bus up to Val Verzasca (it was raining and we were the only people there). From there we went to Lugano, which is gorgeous, and then on to Bellagio on Lake Como. The only thing I'd change is to make this trip take two months and spend more time everywhere.
Have fun planning your trip.
I definitely agree with the others.... skip Zürich and head straight for Lucerne. You could, for example, follow this route.....
- Lucerne (3 nights)
- Lauterbrunnen Valley (2 nights)
- Chur (1 night). This would allow you to take the Bernina Express
- Varenna or Bellagio / Lake Como (3 nights)
- Milan (1 night)
The nights in each spot can be "fine tuned" as required. An alternative would be to skip Chur and travel directly from the Lauterbrunnen Valley to Varenna. That trip will take about 5.5 hours with a couple of train changes. With such a short Itinerary, that's probably what I'd do.
As the others have mentioned, have a look at the RS Italy & Switzerland guidebooks, as there's an enormous amount of good information there that will help to plan your trip.
I think Ken has a great plan. A minor change I would suggest would be to take a day from Lake Como and add to Berner Oberland. I just took the Bernina Express in October. It was lovely.
17Jul - sleep in Zurich.
18Jul - take a direct train to Luzern (1h). Sleep in Zurich.
19Jul - take a direct train from to Bern (1h). Sleep in Bern.
20Jul - take a direct train to Murten (30m). Sleep in Bern.
21Jul - train to Interlaken Ost (1h). Train to Lauterbrunnen (20m). The Grutschalp Cable Car and Murren Train (20m) is the most scenic route to Gimmelwald. Sleep in Gimmelwald.
22Jul - sleep in Gimmelwald.
23Jul - sleep in Gimmelwald.
24Jul - work your way back to Interlaken Ost and take a direct train to Spiez (30m) and then to Milan (2.5h). Sleep in Milan.
25Jul - Sleep in Milan.
26Jul - direct train to Varenna (1h). Take a 10m boat to Bellagio (10m). Return to Varenna and tour town. Sleep in Milan.
27Jul - fly home.
IMO, The more picturesque and interesting place to stay at the start of your trip is Luzern, not Bern or Zurich. If you have the time, a day trip to Bern would be nice but one could stay in Luzern three nights and still have plenty to do. I feel the same about Milan. There is more of interest around Milan, not as much in Milan. I quick day at Lake Como doesn't begin to really see that area, I would recommend staying two nights on Lake Como in Bellagio or Varenna.
We did love Gimmelwald in Berner Oberland, but many would find it too quiet. I would recommend researching the little towns to determine where the best place to stay might be--Murren, Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Grindelwald or Gimmelwald.
My daughter and I were in England and Italy for 10 days last August and our few days at Lake Como were absolutely the highlight of the trip. In fact in 4 trips to Europe in recent years (England 4x / Italy 2x / France / Belgium) I think Como (and the White Cliffs of Dover) are my favorite places on earth. We stayed in an amazing Airbnb in Bellagio and did a fantastic day tour that included Villa de Balbianello. The time we spent on the lake during the tour felt surreal -- it's like you're transported to an ethereal world. Would love to go back someday.
In the meantime, I'm starting to look at Switzerland as a potential trip for us this summer so your question and the answers are helpful!
We are thinking of doing something similar this July as well. Flying into Zurich then staying in Switzerland for a few days before making our way to Lake Como and spending the majority of our trip in Italy. Sounds like the Bernina Express would be a beautiful trip to Italy.
Emilie would you be willing to share the name of the Belagio Airbnb?
I would also like to have the Bellagio AirBnB name!
I would love the name of the Bellagio Airbnb as well Emilie! TIA
Following as we’re looking at a trip to same locals beginning of October. I would like to know if anyone has been to Switzerland and Northern Italy in October and what to expect for weather. I would also like name of recommend B&B’s in Gimmelwald and Bellagio.