Help with Switzerland and Italy Trip

Dec 14th, 2011, 01:39 PM
  #1  
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Help with Switzerland and Italy Trip

All trying to plan a trip for early October 2012 to Switzerland and Northern Italy. We are flying into Zurich and out of Milan. Our main interests are beautiful scenery, hiking, good food, and some historic sites. We would prefer to do this by train since it seems that is the best way to go in Switzerland. Here is a very tentative first pass at the trip:
- Arrive in Zurich train to Lucerne
-Lucerne
-Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen
-Lauterbrunnen day trips
-Lauterbrunnen day trips
-Lauterbrunnen day trips
-Train to Lake Como (is this possible?)
-Lake Como
-Como to Milan
-Fly home

Does this sound feasible? Are we missing anything major? Have been to Italy several times but just never to the Lake Como area. Is Lauterbrunnen a good location to base for the OB? That seems to be pretty central. Thanks for any help on this.
travel_princess is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 02:09 PM
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Lauterbrunnen is an excellent base--much better than staying in Interlaken. We were in the OB for four nights and it seemed just about right.

I like your itinerary.
Connie is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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Lauterbrunnen may be sweeter Alpinistic looking in scenery but it is not a better base for the Berner Oberland than Interlaken - Interlaken has much better rail links and boats on both lakes right from town.

anyway investigate the Jungfraubahn Pass and Berner Oberland Pass since most of your time will be in the Interlaken area (including Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, etc - better than a Half-Fare Card or Swiss Pass IMO for your itinerary.

Lots of great tips and dope on using Swiss trains check out these fab IMO sites - www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.seat61.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 02:56 PM
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A more direct route to Lauterbrunnen would be via Bern. If you want to see a pleasant and scenic city in CH then Bern would be fine. Another option is that you extend your stay in Lauterbrunnen and spend one day taking the train to Thun, visit that city, and then take the boat from there or Spiez back to Interlaken, and the train back to Lauterbrunnen. This would give you a bit more "Weather Flexibility". The mountains probably will not be crystal cleaer every day. In fact, plan to see the mountains on day and half-day trips in the morning. Around noon some will start getting clouded in.

As to Italian Lakes. I actually have two favorites: Lago Maggiore (with its pretty islands) and Lake Garda. There my favorite is the island part (i.e. the old part) of Sirmione. That part is within the town walls. It is located at the very southern part of the lake and offers seveal options for visiting by boat several towns and resorts along the lake. I find Lake Como a bit "chopped up".and not particularly restful.
treplow is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 03:35 PM
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I agree with Treplow that Lago Maggiore may be a better destination for you than Como with this itinerary. Also, better logistics to Milan or MXP direct from Stresa.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 09:26 PM
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Hi travel_princess,

I think your itinerary sounds good. I personally wouldn't base in Interlaken because (imo) it lacks the charm of so many other villages in the area; Lauterbrunnen is a good alternative.

You can see the exact train route and schedules using the Swiss rail site at

www.rail.ch

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 04:55 AM
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I for one love Interlaken and feel it is much maligned by folks who often never get off the tourist-store dominated main drag - Interlaken has really cute parts that IMO are as dreamy as any city in Switzerland. Of course it ain't a remote car-free village like Wengen or Murren but I for one find those places way tooooooo quiet for my tastes - Interlaken is a bustling regional city in its main shopping area and has many restaurants, supermarkets and even a casino to replenish dwindling trip funds.

Check out the Matten part of Interlaken and from your hotel balcony you will have scintillating views of the Jungfrau Massif far in the distance.

Walter's Herberge is a perennial favorite of budget travelers - a cozy guesthouse with such views and an amazing breakfast served in your room or on your balcony.

Interlaken is a great base and IMO is too often dissed by folks here who I believe have never really looked around its lovely nooks and crannies - take the footpath along the river and you are surrounded only by nature - check out the lovely Lucerne like covered wooden bridges - Interlaken is a lovely town and IMO the best base for day trips everywhere in the Berner Oberland.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 06:47 AM
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Thanks to everyone who has responded. A couple of questions I have heard that the boats on the lakes in BO might be closed by October does anyone know about that? Also any recommendations on places to stay in Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen and Lago Maggiore? We like nice accommadations but doesn't have to be on the scale of the Ritz Carlton. Also appreciate the websites very helpful.
travel_princess is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 07:38 AM
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http://www.bls.ch/d/unternehmen/down...rplan-2012.pdf

there are boats on Lake Thun all year but check the schedule at the official web site above for October to see when the several daily boats scale back.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 15th, 2011, 10:25 AM
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In Luzern we liked Des Alpes---for Stresa look at www.stresa.net---lots of options.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 20th, 2011, 01:02 PM
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Nobody ever mentions staying in Grindelwald but always Wengen, Murren or Lauterbrunnen.

To me Grindelwald has the finest views of all these places - a huge amphitheater of scintillating views pracitally 350 degrees around and is also a nice nice town - perhaps a bit too lively for some folks tastes but I for one find the coming and doing of alpinists exciting - Grindelwald also has many more budget accommodations IME than other up in the hill towns.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 20th, 2011, 10:00 PM
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PalQ, I really wish you would quit accusing me of not having experienced all of Interlaken. As I've told you numerous times, I *have* gone beyond the few main streets of the town and have gotten lost in the tangled backstreets and have walked along the river between Ost & West and walked over the bridges -- a few times. I would agree that Interlaken is an interesting place to spend a few hours, but certainly not engrossing/charming/pretty enough for a base.

So, I am one who knows Interlaken and still wouldn't like to base there.

Oh, and the reason (I think) that folks focus so much on Wengen and Mürren is that they are car-free; as car-free villages, they offer a unique atmosphere and air purity that Grindelwald can't match.

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 12:55 AM
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I have to agree with PalQ and disagree with Swandav on the merits of staying in Interlaken. I echo everything PalQ had written about Interlaken. Explore the areas outside the main street, I stay almost every year in Unterseen, a lovely little area to wander round in the evening with plenty of restaurants of all tastes and prices. Out of the main season I prefer Interlaken, lets be honest all most people want is somewhere to lay their heads and somewhere to eat. It is the ease of transport that keeps me going back and the fact the one can start the day's excursion without having to add time to the journey as one would staying in any of the other small villages, delightful as they are. Before anyone jumps in, I have stayed in both Murren and Wengen and enjoyed them, but the overriding thing for me is the ease of transport methods.
I think it is only fair to point out the pros and cons of all the villages.
tipsygus is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 07:59 AM
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Absolutely, tipsygus, I do agree -- it is fair to give full pros and cons of each village/town.

Just don't dismiss those who don't agree with you by saying s/he hasn't seen the town!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2011, 08:08 AM
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Nice discussion...bookmarking this...thanks!
Blwetorch is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 11:17 AM
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PalQ, I really wish you would quit accusing me of not having experienced all of Interlaken>

swandav2000 - I am not talking about you when I make those comments so QUIT taking it personally - yes I am addressing the many such Interlaken is crap comments from posters other than yourself because I do believe they have never seen the many many really sweet romantic parts of Interlaken or I do believe that they would not say Interlaken is crap.

I fully understand Swandav that you have seen all of Interlaken and your opinion is different from mine and several other folks like tipsygus and others who have agreed with my opinion.

Charm is in the eye of the beholder and to me staying in Matten at say Walter's guesthouse where I have breakfast on the balcony with a wondrous view over cow-strewn meadows of the whole of the Jungfrau Massif in the distance - to say that this is not charming enough for a base to me is yes incredulous but that is your opinion. To me it is romantic to the hilt - different than a Wengen which is right up in the Alps but nevertheless romantic.

Have you been to the Matten area of Interlaken? And you do not find it charming - it is the quintessential small-town feeling. And some folks like the trappings of a larger city - I myself am quickly bored in a chruchmouse quiet place like Wengen where they roll up the sidewalks after dark. So staying in Matten (or Unterseen like tipsygus - on a lovel lovely Alpine lake - you have what to me is definitely a charming scene yet if you like it the charms also of a larger town, which folks like me like.

But again when I say folks who dis Interlaken as crap (and you do not say that) I do believe rarely get off the main drag and they judge all of Interlaken on that one main tourist schlocked drag.

Again my comments are not to be taken personal by you - I am not talking about you when I say that. And I will continue to say what I did because there are often comments denigrating Interlaken by folks who, unlike you, I believe have never ferreted out the many charms of Interlaken.

and as a utilitarian transit base Interlaken cannot be beat. If you stay in Wengen you have a long commute to get down to Interlaken to say take a boat on Lake Thun or Lake Brienz - go to the fab Ballenberg Open-air Museum, Bern, the Kandersteg valley or even Lucerne - and in not so uncommon foul weather Interlaken thus would also be a better base from which to hop to Bern or Thun or Lucerne, places much better in poor weather than being stranded in Wengen or facing a long commute from there to get down to Interlaken.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2011, 10:21 PM
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PalQ,

I was the **only** poster who posted against Interlaken. Your post came right after my post. So it was a natural conclusion that you were addressing me.

Agree that Interlaken is a good utilitarian base . . but I always want more than utility in my Swiss visits!

Thun is almost as convenient as Interlaken, and one can see more of Switzerland from there (from Lake Geneva to Gstaad to the Jungfrau region). Plus, Thun is a **charming** town. If one wants convenience and charm and doesn't want to stay in a mountain village, I think Thun win hands-down over Interlaken.

Have you experienced Thun?

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Dec 24th, 2011, 06:11 AM
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I find both PalenQ and swandav200....equally helpful about Switzerland...the trains in particular. We can take it on our strides...just on occasions that they differ with each other...eg.. Interlaken. Thanks both of you!
Blwetorch is offline  
Dec 24th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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I have been to Thun many times and yes it is a nice large town - much larger and busier than Interlaken which off the main drag has a small-town feel and charm.

Thun has no real lake front - I would certainly take neighboring Spiez over Thun anytime if one wants views from their hotel balconies - Spiez hovering high above Lake Thun and with a castle of your dreams - Thun hotels would offer no views at all of the Alps I think from what I know - like staying in any big city - Spiez and Interlaken hotels offer awesome views of the Jungfrau Massif - Thun makes at most a few-hour diversion from much more charming bases - Thun is great for shopping and has a cute river with neat wooden bridges, etc. But as a base it is just another Swiss city - not what one wants when in Switzerland - Interlaken has real charming parts that I find more appealing than Thun - but then again charm is indeed a subjective thing.
PalenQ is offline  

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