3 weeks Switzerland and Milan itinerary

Old Feb 13th, 2024, 08:14 AM
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3 weeks Switzerland and Milan itinerary

After reading many wonderful trip reports here, I'm planning a first trip to Switzerland and the Milan area. I will arrive at Zurich from the US, and depart from Milan. From mid September 2024, two weeks in Switzerland, and one week around Milan. By public transportation, regional trains instead of scenic trains. A seasoned senior solo traveler. Interests: iconic Swiss landscapes, scenic train routes, villages, easy walks, regional cuisine, photography. A rough itinerary:

Arrive at Zurich
2 nights: Bern.
5 nights: Wengen
1 night: Andermatt.
2 nights: Chur (or Bergun)
2 nights: Poschiavo
3 nights: Sils Maria.
2 nights: Varenna.
2 nights: ?
2 nights: Milan.
Depart from Milan

Would appreciate comments. Need suggestions for the two nights between Varenna and Milan. Another quaint village? Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 13th, 2024, 09:13 AM
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The train ride from Wengen tpo Andermatt lasts about 4 hrs (change at Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken, Spiez and Visp).
A much more scenic itinerary goes from Interlaken by train to Meiringen and then by Postbus vis Grimsel Pass and Furka Pass to Andermatt (Wengen dp 9.12 - Andermatt ar 13.35).

But what will you do at Andermatt during a whole afternoon? The place isn't such interesting.
Same remarks for Chur and Bravuogn/Berguen.

I would rather spend 2 nights at Brig from where you can do daytrips to
Saas Fee Mittelallalin revolving Glacier restaurant
Zermatt
Riederalp and Aletsch Glacier (longest glacier of Europe)
Stresa on Lake Maggiore with Isola Bella and Isola Madre

A train ride from Brig to Sils Maria takes about 7 hrs via the Glacier Express itinerary
or about 8 hrs via the Centoalli Express - San Bernardino itineraryi

As an altenrative to Brig, you may also stay at Lucerne, go on from there by historic paddle steam boat all along Lake Lucrne up to Fluelen
and then either by train to Andermatt - St. Moritz
or by Postbus Fluelen dp 15.36 to Klausen Pass - Linthal and then by train to Glarus - Chur. In this case it would make sense to spend the night at Chur.
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Old Feb 13th, 2024, 12:20 PM
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I agree that Andermatt is not really a 'must', but it is nice to break up the long trip from Wengen to canton Graubünden there. Hence I would probably try to arrive in Andermatt in late afternoon after seeing as much as possible along the way. For example, (no idea if that is possible with bus schedules) you could stop at the Grimsel pass road and take a cable car up or do a short hike or whatever. See https://www.grimselwelt.ch/en/
And take the Furka steam railway from Gletsch to Realp instead of Postbus over the pass.

I think there is more than enough to see and do in Chur for more than just one day. Very nice old town, cathedral, church St. Luzi with a pretty unique circular crypt, parish church St. Martin with Giacometti windows, Rhatian museum, art museum ...

I would go to Sils-Maria first, then to Poschiavo and continue via Tirano to Varenna. Otherwise you must backtrack.

After Varenna I would probably spend days at Lake Lugano (either in Lugano proper or in one of the cute villages) or in Stresa. Is Milan a must? You could add those days to Stresa and go to the airport from there if I really correctly.
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Old Feb 14th, 2024, 02:35 AM
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Poschiavo is just 2 hrs by train from Varenna.
therefore I would visit Poschiavo after Sils Maria and before Varenna.

"Need suggestions for the two nights between Varenna and Milan. Another quaint village?"
IMO neither Varenna nor Milano are "quaint villages".

What are you looking for exactly?
You could either do daytrips from Milan to towns with scenic medieval city centers, like Bergamo, Cremona, Pavia.....
or visit a lakeside village like Morcote, Ascona, Cannobio, Orta San Giulio.....
or look for scenic alpine villages like Guarda, Scuol, Soglio.
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Old Feb 14th, 2024, 03:06 AM
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Of course it's possible to spend a whole day at Chur. Ingo is right for that.
But IMO there exist more interesting Swiss towns than Chur.
The Furka steam train is a good idea, but it doesn't run daily (and there are no discounts with Swis Travel Pass, Half Fare Card or so).
There is no doubt that Lake Lugano (and Northern Lake Magggiore) offer much more possibilities than Lake Como:1 cog wheel railway, 4 rope railways, 9 gondolas and 6 bus lines to viewpoints, direct trains to MXP airport every hr, hundreds of km of well signposted panoramic hiking trails, 3 rope bridges (up to 300 m long), several Unesco sites (among them the 3 castles of Bellinzona), theme parks, adventure parks, old churches and monasteries with marvellous frescoes, world-renowned modern architecure (Mario Botta)..........), but most people from America and Asia are not interested in such things and prefer Lake Como.
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Old Feb 14th, 2024, 12:18 PM
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WOW! Thanks for the responses and suggestions. I'll clarify my plan and intent better.

I try to keep my time on a train+bus to less than four hours per day. Wengen to Andermatt would be the longest route in my itinerary, and I do not want to continue to Chur on the same day. Staying at Andermatt is just to break up the route. I dislike one night stays, maybe I'll do laundry there Inga's suggestion "to arrive in Andermatt in late afternoon after seeing as much as possible along the way" is exactly what I have in mind! I'll check both of your suggested routes from Wengen to Andermatt.

I meant staying either at Chur or at Bergun for two nights. From either, I plan to day trip to Guarda, Scuol, or another village. If there is not enough to interest me, I'll depart Chur early, and spend more time on the way to Poschiavo.

If I go to Sils Maria before Poschiavo, I will miss the train ride from Samedan to Poschiavo? Diavolezza is supposed to be a good stop, and Ospizio Bernina to Poschiavo is supposed to be very scenic.

I have been to Sicily, but not to mainland Italy. The Milan area on this trip would give me an intro. On my other trips, my walks were mostly in the cities. In Switzerland, my walks will be mostly in the mountains, etc. Not sure how well I can handle it, and Milan can be a break. Not to mention the food!

Lake Como is not my must visit location. I pick Varenna simply because it is easy to reach from Sils Maria/Poschiavo. I would prefer Cannobio or Orta San Giulio instead, if not for the lengthy travel time. Maybe if I stay at Lake Lugano first ...
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Old Feb 15th, 2024, 12:24 PM
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That is exactly what I thought your intention was - breaking up the long train rides! A day trip from Chur to Guarda or Scuol would be a bit too far IMO.

You would NOT miss anything of the Bernina route train ride if you go to Sils-Maria first. The scenic part is between Pontresina and Poschiavo and you would travel this part from Chur-Bergün as well as from Sils-Maria (via St. Moritz).

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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 05:18 AM
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Stopovers are fine. All depends on the amount of luggage you will have. You will find luggage lockers at all important railway stations, but not at Grimsel Pass or Bernina Diavolezza.

if you don't want to do the whole Glacier Express thing in 1 day, stop over at Fiescheralp and Laax:
Wengen dp 8.42 - Spiez - Visp - Fiesch - Fiescheralp ar 11.35. Hike from there to Moosfluh with marvellous views to Aletsch Glacier or go by gondola to viewpoint Eggishorn instead. Sleep at Fiescheralp.
Leave Fiescheral by gondola at 8.43am, change at Fiesch to the treain and travel all along the Glacier Express itinerary up to Ilanz, the highest situated city on the Rhine river. Board there a bus to the resort town Laax ar 1pm.
Go then by gondola to viewpoint Crap Son Gion and walk down. Sleep at Laax
Leave Laax by bus at 8.17 change at Reichenau to the St. Moritz bound train, travel along the Glacier Express/Bernina Express itineray (via Bravuogn/Berguen) up to St. Moritz, change there to a bus to Sils Maria ar 11.35


Moosfluh, close to Fiescheralp
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 05:22 AM
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Fiescheralp
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 05:28 AM
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around Laax
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 06:37 AM
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The itinarary Sils - Poschiavo goes along the Bernina Express line. Diavolezza is somewhat halfway between both. It can be reached by gondola from Diavolezza railway station. Deposti your luggage at Pontresina railway station if you travel with more than a small bag. After Diavolezza, you will have to backtrack 20 min in order to fetch your luggage; there is no better solution.

From Poschiavo, you can go by train to Varenna/Lake Como (2 1/4 hrs) or you may continue to Milan (3 1/4 hrs) or to Lugano (4 1/2 hrs) as well.
Trains from Lugano to Milano Centrale (city center; 1 1/4 hrs journey) and to Milano Malpensa airport (1 1/2 hrs journey) every hr.
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 06:39 AM
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Diavolezza
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 06:46 AM
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Last edited by neckervd; Feb 16th, 2024 at 06:47 AM. Reason: Lake Lugano
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Old Feb 16th, 2024, 07:01 AM
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Lake Lugano
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Old Feb 17th, 2024, 10:59 AM
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I managed to have my duplicate post deleted. There won't be emojis in my future posts.

I am a slow traveler, i.e. I prefer to stay longer at fewer places. I will be staying at more places on this trip than on my other trips of three weeks. I may change the three stays in Engadine to two, and the three stays in Italy to two. Per your comments, my itinerary is revised:

Arrive at Zurich
2 nights: Bern
5 nights: Wengen
1 night: Andermatt
2 nights: Chur
3 nights: Sils Maria
2 nights: Poschiavo
2 nights: Varenna
2 nights: Lugano or Bergamo
2 nights: Milan.
Depart from Milan

A day trip from Chur to Guarda or Scuol would take five hours RT, yes too far. Need ideas for closer villages.

Unless there are further comments, I will book my flights and hotels based on this itinerary. After that, I'll be back with questions to fine-tune everything. Thanks in advance.

Last edited by planwell; Feb 17th, 2024 at 11:02 AM.
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Old Feb 17th, 2024, 09:59 PM
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Looks like a good itinerary to me. For an excursion from Chur I recommend the vineyards in northern direction with the small towns/villages Zizers, Fläsch, Maluns ... or you could continue to Maienfeld, famous for "Heidi", or go to Bad Ragaz, the spa town (with the glen where the hot springs and some historic spa buildings are.)

Or visit Via Mala, the famous gorge plus Andeer and Zillis, the villages beyond it with a famous church in the latter.
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 01:30 AM
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"A day trip from Chur to Guarda or Scuol would take five hours RT, yes too far. Need ideas for closer villages."
No normal human being goes from Chur to Guarda and back in order to "rebacktrack" the day after to Bever - Sils Maria.
Bever is just a few miles from Guarda.

BTW: Chur - Guarda and back takes 3 hrs and not5

Last edited by neckervd; Feb 18th, 2024 at 01:33 AM.
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 01:51 AM
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"my itinerary is revised:"
sure?

New itinerary:
Arrive at Zurich
2 nights: Bern
5 nights: Wengen
1 night: Andermatt
2 nights: Chur
3 nights: Sils Maria
2 nights: Poschiavo
2 nights: Varenna
2 nights: Lugano or Bergamo
2 nights: Milan.
Depart from Milan

initial itinerary
Arrive at Zurich
2 nights: Bern.
5 nights: Wengen
1 night: Andermatt.
2 nights: Chur (or Bergun)
2 nights: Poschiavo
3 nights: Sils Maria.
2 nights: Varenna.
2 nights: ?
2 nights: Milan.
Depart from Milan
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 03:03 AM
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From Varenna, you can do a day trip to Bergamo. That way, maybe base 4 nights instead of 2 in Varenna.

Lots to see in Lake Como, the various villas.

You can do a day trip from Varenna to Lugano but you have to take the ferry across the lake to Menaggio and catch a bus to Lugano.

Lot of things to do if basing in Lugano, like the Ticino pass from staying in area accommodations will get you to Bellinzona and Ascona and Locarno.

But Lugano in general is more expensive than Italian towns on the lakes, if that’s a consideration.

You can’t go wrong, when you’re in the Alps, you’re just surrounded by beauty, though technically, the mountains around Lake Como, Lake Lugano or Lake Maggiore are not Alps. But the OP will see plenty of Alps in Switzerland.
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 09:02 AM
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Taking notes of the helpful comments.

Planning for every trip, I research a region, pick a few locations of my liking that fit my duration and travel style. After online reviews and sanity check, and revise the itinerary if necessary, I book flights and hotels. Then I fine-tune everything. Like peeling an onion, hopefully without any tears.

I consider myself a "normal human being" liable to be mistaken, especially when planning a first trip to Switzerland. That's why I came to this forum for help.
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