8 days Switzerland - Northern Italy

Sep 6th, 2010, 04:06 AM
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8 days Switzerland - Northern Italy

Hello all! I’m a solo female traveler, travelling from Greece to Switzerland-Northern Italy for 8 days during the last week of Sept. As I have booked tickets and accommodation, I m now in the process of figuring out where to go and what to see!
Specifically, I have 3 full days to spend in Switzerland (Sun-Mon-Tue)having Bern as a base. I was thinking of spending a day in Bern and then arrange 2 single day trips to some places that attracted my interest (other than Zurich and Geneva which I do not plan to visit on this trip) such as Neuchatel (the town of Landeron), Oberhofen, InterLaken, Lucern, Fribourg and Lausanne. On Wed I am taking an early train to Milan where I will stay for 4 days. Having Milan as a base I was thinking to spend a day there and then visit for another day either the villages around Lake Como or Bergamo,Brescia and Verona . Should time permits I would really like to see Cinque Terre. Would that be feasible? Are there specific tickets / passes that will allow me to hop on hop off trains in each country or maybe both?!?
I am not much of a museum fan, not much of a party animal either- I prefer nature and beautiful landscapes should that be mountain/lake sceneries or medieval towns and castles. I love taking photographs, eating good food and relaxing in traditional cafes or bars. Based on the above, please feel free to send me your suggestions/corrections regarding my trip or whatever you may want to comment! Cheers and Thank you in advance!
Del28 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2010, 01:51 PM
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Much will depend on the weather. You don't have to stray far from Bern for lots of options.

Trains are at www.sbb.ch.

A quick train ride away is Thun (look up the names I'm tossing out), on the lake Thun, nice town with a former castle. Walk from the train station to the lake, take a boatride with the million-dollar views - they serve snacks etc., it's very pleasant. See www.bls.ch/schiff/

Look up these two and pick one: www.niesen.ch, www.niederhorn.ch.

Both are splendid lookout peaks with great views of the classic alps. Both are accessible from that boatride.

For the Niesen you get off in Spiez, walk up the hill to the train station, take the next local (2 stops) to Mülenen where you take the cograil (see website).

For the Niederhorn, you get off in Beatenbucht, go up to Beatenberg by cograil, then by gondola to the top.

A bit further along the lake is Interlaken, very popular with lots of hotels and restaurants, also looking up at the classic alps but - as a town - not itself much of an attraction, just very useful.

If Roman excavation interest you, from Bern you can visit Avenches (in Latin it was Aventicum) - see www.avenches.ch/en/index.cfm

If watchmaking interests you, look up Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Jura mountains, and on the way you could visit Neuchâtel.

See http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sit...uxdefonds.html and http://www.neuchateltourisme.ch/en/d...onds.1500.html

If you like Paul Klee, note that there is a fairly new museum of interesting architectural design on the outskirts of Bern, dedicated entirely to Klee (Bern claims him as a native son) easily reached on foot or by the splendid public transport. See www.zpk.org

Not far from Bern you can experience cheese and chocolate making - see http://www.la-gruyere.ch/en/navpage_...eseChocFR.html

Also not far from Bern, possibly in combination with either a Neuchâtel or an Avenches visit, you could swing by the historic town of Murten (Morat in French) - quite picturesque, and located on a nice little lake.

Fribourg is also an option, but when you have seen Bern and how it is nestled in the crook of the river etc., Fribourg, with the same layout but much less coherent historic preservaton, is only a pale "imitation".

There is much more you can do while staying in Bern, aside from walking the arcades that flank the old streets (rainproof!), going up to the Rosengarten (there won't be any roses left, but the views are great), and visit the other museums there are, and possibly attend a concert - look up the local daily Anzeiger and let the hotel staff help you find the listings.

I'll let others advise you on Milano.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 7th, 2010, 02:47 PM
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With 4 days in Milan, you have time for day trips to Lake Como and Bergamo... and possibly Verona. I think CT would be way too far for the day.
krgystn is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 12:26 AM
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Million thanks DalaiLlama, you were really helpful!

krgystn, many thanks for the advice! Another thing, if I have the option to chose between a day trip to Lake Como (Bellagio) and Lake Maggiore and its islands , which of the 2 would you advise me not to miss and why???

Thanks again!
Del28 is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 12:37 AM
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DalaiLlama, I havent looked at your suggestions thoroughly yet, but will do so tonight and will come back with questions!!! Once again thank u, for the time spent to write this enlightening message!
Del28 is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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You are welcome.

Re. Lago Maggior: Stresa is a stop on the fast trainline from Switzerland to Milano, and off of Stresa are the lovely Borromean islands that may still have some flowers even that late in the season, they are landscaped diligently. See http://www.stresatravel.com/Tomassuc...an_islands.htm

Coming from Switzerland this would be a good and effortless stop for you - just book the train ticket accordingly, since in Italy (but not in Switzerland) train tickets on fast trains come with mandatory seat reservations. (Because of that, the Swiss will already allocate a seat for you even on the Swiss portion of the trip that goes across the border - that's the only time you must have a seat number on Swiss trains).

If you're on an early train, you could visit the islands, then carry on and get to Milano later the same day, or you could stay the night and explore from there. Your call.

Trains at www.sbb.ch and - for Italy - www.ferroviedellostato.it (take a moment to get to know that site, it's worth it).
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 06:48 AM
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Sorry, that was Lago Maggiore of course
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 04:10 PM
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Del, I have not been to Lake Maggiore so I cannot compare, but Lake Como/Bellagio is well worth the effort.
krgystn is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 04:19 PM
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Bellagio is indeed a nice place. However, Stresa is on the way OP is taking, Bellagio is out of the way.

Bern-Stresa 2:03 hours by direct train

Bern-Como 4:08 hours, via a change of trains in either Milano or in Zürich, then a bus around the lake to Bellagio or a boat across to Bellagio.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Dalai, what you say makes sense but Del also is planning to stay in Milan for 4 days and is looking for a few day trips, too.
krgystn is offline  
Sep 9th, 2010, 02:37 AM
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DalaiLlama, krgystn once again thank u both !

DalaiLlama, you have given me so many options to pick from!
This is what I ve come up so far : Day 1 Explore Bern, Day 2 Day trip to Lausanne and Lake Geneva (through Neuchatel where I d like to see the castle and the town a bit) and back to Bern, Day 3 take the train to Lucern spend there a couple of hours, then train to Breinz (I ve heard that its a very scenic route..) in Breinz do a the boat tour to the Lake (following Dalai's suggestion for a boat trip) and from Interlaken West take the train back to Bern. Day 4 early train to Milan ( sooo looking forward to see the breathtaking scenery)and spend the day there. Day 5 I am in between 2 options : either rent a car and drive along lake Como and take a boat tour there, or take the train to Lake Maggiore - visit Stresa and the islands.. and back to Milan. Day 6 Explore Milan and do some shopping , Day 7 either head to Verona with a stop in Bergamo or head to Pavia with a stop to Vigevano. Day 8 back to athens...

Dont know if my plans are feasible in terms of time and fatigue.. I really want to make the most it and take as many photos I can!!your kind comments on the above would be once again GREATLY appreciated!!
Del28 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2010, 02:56 AM
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I ve also been told thats Zermatt and the Matterhorn is worth a visit..Do u think I could squeeze that in my plans!?!?
Del28 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2010, 05:20 AM
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I live not far from Como BUT I think that the trip to Lago Maggiore & its islands is better...
Milan (monuments & shopping) is worth a 2 days sray...
In my opinion is the short time you havr it's not worth going to Verona...too far. Bergamo it's beautiful; Mantua is very nice BUT it's not really closer than Verona; not far from Bergamo there is Brescia, not bad for a short visit...
Monza, few km from Milan, has a beautiful Duomo and it's good for shopping too.

Gianni (Italy)
Gianni is offline  
Sep 9th, 2010, 12:33 PM
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Congrats, you've done your homework!

Comments: Zermatt is quite a ways out of the way, not possible on this itinerary. The Matterhorn will wait for your next trip...

Day 2: You may have a problem trying to do it all. It looks like access to the castle in Neuchâtel is only via the hourly guided tours, beginning at 10AM Tue-Fri - by then you should be on your way to the Lac Léman or you'll run out of time!
See for yourself at http://www.neuchateltourisme.ch/en/d...atel.1445.html and call from Bern to make sure.

Day 3: It is spelled Brienz, and when you get the train ticket, stress that you want to take the route from Lucerne via the Brünig-Hasliberg. Brienz is the capital of woodcarved souvenirs.

The first stop of the boat after Brienz is Giessbach - there is a brief cablecar ride to take you up to a nice hotel where they serve refreshments in a garden setting, just down from a brief stroll to the waterfalls that are quite nice. Check out http://www.switzerlandflexitours.com...ls-brienz.html.
Then you could catch a later boat for Interlaken.

Boat timetables at http://www.bls.ch/d/schifffahrt/fahr...-sommer-10.pdf

Sherlock Holmes is supposed to have met his fate there near the Giessbach Falls...

Day 4: The trip is less scenic than one might think, because you’re largely travelling along the bottom of valleys (hard to see up) and then through two long tunnels. There are moments when you may have a good view, but only moments, so look for them and don’t expect too much - you will have better views on day 3 if the weather cooperates!

In Milano, make sure you go up on the roof of the cathedral (the Duomo). Access is either by climbing the narrow spiral stairs (are you fit?) or by spending a few Euros and taking the elevator. Both are accessed from the outside. The roof is full of wacky statuettes, just incredible, and on a good day you can see as far as the alps!

Nearby are the glass-topped famous shopping arcades - hold on to your twitching credit cards...

Also not far is the opera house (Scala). All walkable.

About the pigeons: If someone offers you grains to feed them, don’t extend your hand, it is a marketing ploy - as soon as the pigeons see you with the grains, they swarm all over you and a photo is taken and then the hard sell begins...

The metro works fine in Milan, but be totally pickpocketproof - totally, read up on that at www.ricksteves.com and wherever else and heed the advice even if some of it may seem a bit farfetched...

You need not go all the way to Milano and back to Stresa for the pretty lake experience, that would be doubling back and wasting time. I suggest you stop in Stresa on day 4 - on the way to Milan - and visit the islands before going on to Milano. Plenty of time - the 07:35 train from Bern gets to Stresa at 09:38, direct, no switching of trains needed! There are lots of trains to catch later in the day to get from Stresa to Milan - you’ll be in Milan well before dinner time.

Then decide if you still want to go to another lake, or if Milano and other targets will fill in the time you have left, at least you will have had one very nice lake experience.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 11:30 PM
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DalailLama, I cant thank you enough! Another change of plans then for day 2 and 3! I ll skip Neuchatel since there is no direct train and head straight to Lausanne and if I have some time make a short visit to Vevey and Montreux. On Day 3 I ll make the trip the other way round-train from Bern to Interlaken that is and then head towards Lucern as the timetable of the boat trips through Lake Brienz (and not Breinz are quite limited - so that I can hop off to Giessbach according to your suggestions. Sad to hear that the train route to Milan from Bern is not scenic, was hoping to take some photos of nice landscapes..I m afraid I wont be able to see Stressa and the islands on my way to Milan will my luggage and laptop, I d rather go straight to my hotel and make a day trip instead..I ll def go up the roof of Duomo, I ve also heard about the views and the statues!!I m fit yes so I dont think I ll have a prob using the stairs!

Gianni thanks a lot for your comment!I think I ll go for Lake Maggiore and if I have some time left visit Lake Como and Bellagio..

Once again thank you all for your suggestions!!!
Del28 is offline  
Sep 10th, 2010, 11:46 PM
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You're welcome.
I see your point about Stresa - the train station has no luggage storage.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Sep 11th, 2010, 04:37 AM
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I am glad that you decide to go to Lake Maggiore. Beside Isola Bella, make a stop to to visit Villa Taranto (there are incredible beautiful gardens there). You can by a boat combined ticket in Stresa for both Isola Bella and Villa Taranto.

We visited Bergamo (go to Bergamo Alto) and loved it.
Also Mantova and its palaces is beautiful.
Instead Verona, I would go to Vicenza, it is a small city with superb Palladian architecture.

If you have time in Milan after visiting all "standard" sites, go to Monumental Cimitero (Monumental Cemetery) full with beautiful art monuments.

Have a nice trip!
valtor is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 03:08 AM
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valtor thank you for your reply!Mantova and Vicenza are lovely but seem to be a bit far for a day trip and since I decided to skip Verona (which I really wanted to visit) for this reason I think I ll skip them as well..another time maybe!thanks again!

I ll let you know how it went and what I did
Del28 is offline  

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