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Bucket list travel in Italy, Greece, France vs Berner Oberland

Our recent bucket list trip to Europe, 14 days excluding flights to/from Europe, has given me a new perspective on the difference between the Berner Oberland and the 3 other countries that we visited.

Of course every person has a different motivation for traveling, but I think that many travelers are in a mindset where they won't admit that they don't really care for 500 year old art, sculptures, or palaces. As a result, popular places we visited in Italy, Greece, and Paris were so crowded with mile long lines, that it was almost a chore to cross these places off our bucket list. We saw most of the important sites in each city, but it was hard to feel relaxed. I might have felt differently if I had a month in Italy, an unlimited budget, or maybe was a study abroad student with no set travel plan.

On the other hand, staying in places like Lauterbrunnen and Murren in the Berner Oberland even for a day felt like a real vacation, so relaxing. That experience has made me rethink about travel plans for the future. The more I think about it, I've realized I'm not interested in seeing grand cathedrals, and big cities, worrying about pickpockets. I'd rather spend more time in Switzerland, so long as my budget allows.

Posted by
11350 posts

Europe is getting more crowded and if you went there in the summer I can only imagine the awful crowds at your “must see” places. It is so much more relaxing to be in the Berner Oberland or riding ferries around Lake Como than dealing with the mobs at the Vatican Museums. Plus, what others tell you are “must see” may not be for you and your interests. Visit in the off season if you still want to do some intensive city sites.

Posted by
11444 posts

Bravo, Andy! (But don't tell anyone about this secret!)

Off-season travel certainly makes it easier to see the big sights but eventually, those museums, churches, and palaces do become more of an obligation and less of a joy, especially when crowded. After years in Italy, I cannot get excited about a museum featuring Roman artifacts. We build our travel around (mostly) self-guided walking tours when we are in cities and pop into museums/churches/palaces that may interest us but feel no obligation.

The outdoors always gives me a thrill in Europe. I love that we can hike all over in the Dolomites and Switzerland without a car. You are right: it is more of a getaway.

Posted by
3879 posts

Hey, Andy. Thanks for the report. I agree that the Berner Oberland is a special place. I stayed a few nights in a chalet in Gimmelwald in 2017, and it was awesome! Very relaxing. I'm looking forward to going back... perhaps next year.

I started traveling to Europe in 2014. With each trip, I learn more about how I like to travel and what I like to see. I don't have a bucket list; I just kind of think about where would be the next cool place to go and start planning.

In 2015, I did 3 weeks in Italy (Sienna, Florence, Lake Garda, Venice, Nocelle (above Positano), and Rome). I really enjoyed nearly everything about that trip but learned that I often liked the "not must see" places as much as or more than the "must see" places. Lake Garda was definitely a favorite, partially because it was filled with relaxed, vacationing, middle class German, Brits, and Italians (instead of frantic international tourists). Nocelle, population something like 138, was also very high on the list; it was much cheaper and much more peaceful (with an equally amazing view of the sea) than Positano down below.

In Italy, I did go to one or six too many art museums. I have zero desire to ever see another Madonna with Child painting again.