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Day trip TO Switzerland from Lake Como Italy

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We are staying in Lake Como. We are traveling with my parents in their late 60's. I am trying to decide whether to go to Lucerne? Or Lugano (seems similar to Lake Como area). Or to the St. Moritz/Pontresina area for a very easy hike.

Can anyone recommend a good Swiss day trip from Lake Como area? Is Lucerne possible for a day trip? And worth it? We have a car, but is it better to drive to Switzerland or take the train.

Any suggestions for a Swiss day trip are welcome.

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    If you have a car, I would definitely say to take the very scenic drive up and over the passes to the Engadine and/or St Moritz. The Post Bus, mentioned above, also makes the same trip, but with a car you can spend more time in the lovely ancient towns along the route like Promontogno and Stampa. You have more flexibility to stop for good views, and to have a meal (or bring a picnic). I generally like Swiss trains and buses, but in this case I think you will be better off driving as you only have a day and you already have a car. The drive without stopping to St Moritz from the west side of Lake Como (around Menaggio) should take about 2 hours, a bit longer if you are in Como itself. Assuming your trip is in the next month or so, you will have light until a fairly late hour even in the higher elevations, so you can really make a full day of it. Lots to see and do in the area. The town of St Moritz itself is not all that charming (some interesting people as you can imagine and some good restaurants), but it is in a lovely setting. Also consider places in the area like Celerina and Sils-Maria. Celerina has a number of scraffito buildings which are unique to the area. I think you would have time to get to Guarda, an extermeley charming village in a valley with many scraffito buildings; not sure this would work with your schedule. Get a map or do some website mapping and see. I would certainly skip the town of St Moritz in favour of Guarda, but perhaps would not want to give up the chance to go up into the mountains by cable car. Some planning and compromise may be necessary. Walks from Guarda would be possible, and they offer lovely views, but it is not up at a really high mountain elevation, I am not sure exactly what you are looking for. Some ideas for hikes in the Pontresina and Engadine area generally can be found at http://www.pontresina.ch/011stm_020102_en.htm. Most every town in the area (and mountain towns in Switzerland generally) publishes a simple 1-2 page walking guide which you can find at the local tourist office, and many put them on line in English, so do some searching around or look at a guidebook for ideas.

    Lugano is actually different from Como somewhat in terms of the geography. The lake is not nearly so wide and is more closed in by the mountains (at least that is my impression of it). However, it is in the the Italian part of Switzerland, so you may feel it is similar to Como and it may not feel really “Swiss” to you, esp the city areas. It would probably be closer however so may work well for a day trip. The Engadine is unique.

    I like the Bernina Express a lot, but getting to and from Tirano from Como may be a pain, IMO, esp timing it with the trains. Look at drive time and train departure times and see how it works. (IMO you need to be on the panaroma cars for this portion of the route and not just any regular train from Tirano to St Moritz. The panorama cars only run 1 or 2 times a day I belive, see rbb.ch). In any event, I think the drive up to St Moritz will give you lots of views and thrills, and when you arrive you can take a cable car or two up into the mountains for more views and the opportunity to get close to glaciers.

    I don’t think Lucerne is worth it at all from Lake Como (I don’t Lucerne is worth much in any event, it’s the most overrated place in Switzerland, IMO). A drive to be in a city on a lake which looks over to the Alps (which is what you can do from Como too, albeit they are a bit closer in Lucerene). I would stick to the countryside.
    Don’t forget that there are some good walks/hikes in the Como area itself, including the very nice walk from Varenna to Bellanno or vice versa, which would include a trip to see the gorge.

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    Lives for Travel,

    Lots of good advice above. One town not mentioned is Soglio. Soglio is just off of the road from Chiavenna to St Moritz (the east-west road over the pass). It is a picturesque small town. Probably worth a stop, since you will you will have a car.

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    OK I just found my notes on restaurants and some other bits about the St Moritz area, hope they are helpful. For details on the walk to/from Alp Languard above Pontresina mentioned briefly below, see http://www.graubunden.com/en/summer-holiday/summer-activities/hiking/hiking-trails/tour/muottas_muraglalpine_trailalp_languard.html. (This is for the walk going in the direction from Muottas Muragl, you can reverse this and end with a meal in Muottas Muragl, or park the car at the at the base of the funicular for Muottas Muragl and do the walk as instructed, ending for a meal at Chalet Alp Languard)


    CELERINA

    The Cresta Palace Hotel has several good restaurants, including a good Italian restaurant (http://www.crestapalace.ch/default_english.htm). The little town here has some stand-alone restaurants along the main street as well, and some hotel restaurants fronting the main street that would be fine as well I am sure, esp for lunch. Sameden has lots of scraffito buildings and is also worth a stop.

    MADULAIN

    Tavolino
    Hotel Stüva Colani
    7523 Madulain
    Tel: 81- 854-1771

    Maudlin is a tiny village near to Celerina and very close to Zuoz. There are hardly any tourists in the village. This is a very good casual Italian restaurant, there is also a more formal restaurant. It is in a lovely scrafitto building. Its only 15-20 minutes from Celerina, Pontresina or St Moritz. This is a good town to walk to from Pontresina or any of the other towns, its along the valley floor, and there are some great views.

    PONTRESINA

    Chalet Alp Languard

    At the top of the Languard cable car. Great views. Excellent for lunch (I think they do breakfast as well. ) There is very good walking from here, including the popular and not too difficult walk to Muottas Muragl, where you can then take a funicular down the mountain. (This can also be done in reverse.)

    Saratz Restaurant
    Hotel Saratz
    Tel: 81-839-4000
    http://www.saratz.ch/

    Mediterranean as interpreted with Grabunden flavour. Actually a very good mix. A pretty dining room. Expensive.

    Coloani Stubli
    Steinbock Hotel
    Tel. +41 (0)81 839 36 26
    http://www.steinbock-pontresina.ch/

    This hotel is the 3-star hotel run by the people who operate the very nice 4-star Walther hotel. The restaurant is a good casual stubli. Moderate price. The more expensive formal restaurant in the Walther is also good. (hotelwalther.ch)

    Cafe Puntschella
    via Mulin

    Moderate price, sandwiches, Swiss specialties plus salads and other fare. Great pastries. Good views.

    SILS-MARIA

    Waldhaus Hotel
    http://www.waldhaus-sils.ch/

    Very good formal restaurant the Arvenstube. In the summer they serve lunch on the very nice outdoor terrace. This is one of my favourite hotels in Switzerland.

    ST MORITZ

    Hanselmann
    Via Maistra 8
    Tel 81-833-38064

    Cafe/bakery. Moderate to even inexpensive, good for breakfast or lunch. I don’t think they serve dinner. In a scraffito building.

    Any of the restaurants in the Kulm Hotel (http://www.kulmhotel-stmoritz.ch/) are good, the Grand Restaurant and the grill (Rotisserie) are very good, albeit expensive and a jacket and tie are required in the evening at the Grand for sure. The Kulm is an elegant old hotel.

    The restaurants in the Suvretta house outside of town (suvrettahouse.ch) are good; Suvretta house also operates several good restaurants up on the Corviglia mountain behind the hotel, so you can take the Suvretta lift up for walks or views from there, any would be worth a stop for lunch, and I believe in summer some are open for dinner as well.

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