My girlfriend and I will be flying into zurich August 29 spending 5 nights in Murren(Switzerland), then to Paris(France) for 3 nights, then 6 nights in Varenna(Italy), and finally back to zurich for a night then fly home. I dont think we plan on doing much travel once we get to our locations. My questions are railpass or no railpass, should we take a night train from Paris to Milan(Varenna) or fly, and any suggestions on routes and travel would be very much appreciated Thanks in advance
Your itinerary has you zigging and zagging through multiple countries multiple times - a big waste of time and money. Have you booked your flights yet? If you haven't, please book an "open jaw" ticket, into Paris and out of Milan. It may not be more expensive; but even if it is, it's much more efficient to go in a line and not backtrack. To find these flights, use http://www.kayak.com/. At the top, choose "flights," and under that choose "multi city" instead of "one way" or "round trip." Put in ORD to CDG as your first segment, and MXP to ORD as your second. If you are able to get these flights, it's much easier. You would take the train from Paris to Murren, and later from Murren to Varenna. There will be several train changes on each route, but it's relatively efficient. To find schedules, use the advice here: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/db_tips.htm. A rail pass would be a total waste of money, but you'll save money booking these tickets in advance. You will probably want some kind of pass for Switzerland; once you know more, you can post another note, and the Switzerland experts here can help. If you are stuck with flights RT ORD-ZRH, you would take the train from Zurich to Murren, then train to Paris, then fly or overnight train from Paris to Varenna (via Milan). You can find intra-European flights on http://www.skyscanner.com/. For both your international trains and your flights, the sooner you book, the cheaper it will be. And if you wait too long, some of your routes may sell out.
jeremiah, I agree with Harold. Your route involves a lot of backtracking and zig-zagging, which is not only inefficient but will waste time and money. Have you already booked flights? It would be much easier to fly inbound to Paris and outbound from Milan (or vice versa). Regarding Railpasses, it's not likely that will be the most cost effective method given the few trips you'll be making. A Railpass is definitely not a good idea in Italy, as tickets there are relatively cheap. There are some potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of with trains in all the countries you're visiting, but especially Italy and Switzerland. If there are any "irregularities" with your ticket, you may be fined on the spot! If you need more details, post another note. Cheers!
Yeah, the plane tickets and lodging are already booked.