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Please help us plan Northern Italy/lakes trip 6/19

Please help us plan Northern Italy/lakes trip 6/19

Old Feb 1st, 2019, 04:30 PM
  #21  
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That I don't know yet. I am thinking 4-5 nights in Switzerland. We were originally going to stay in a couple of towns but looking at the size of Switzerland, do you think we could plant ourselves in one town and take transportation to the others we want to see? It looks like Interlaken might be a good base. I haven't done much research on that part of our trip yet. What do you think might be a good base town?
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Old Feb 2nd, 2019, 06:44 AM
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Interlaken is very popular with touristsf from overseas and you can easily spend 2 weeks there if you want to experience all cog wheel railways, gondolas, boats and post buses of this area.
But Interlaken is a kind of cul-de-sac with long journey times to other places of Switzerland:
2 hrs to Lucerne
2-3 hrs to Lake Geneva
2 hrs to Neuchatel
3 hrs to Matterhorn Paradise
3 1/2 hrs to Titlis
4 hrs to Rigi
add 1 hr if you plan to go to remoted mountain villages like Muerren, Wengen, etc.

If you are happy with the mountains,lakes, caves, gorges and waterfalls of the Interlaken area, go to Interlaken.
If you want to visit other areas of Switzerland, like the highest mountains, the longest glaciers, medieval cities, castles and cathedrals, roman theatres, all kinds of museums (from Red Cross and Human Dignity via art galleries up to the smuggler museum) you must check other bases.
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Old Feb 10th, 2019, 02:37 AM
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Without having done much research on Switzerland yet, that is very useful information,neckervd because we do want to go to other places. I assume with the great transportation system there that Interlaken would be the best base. What other town would be more transportaton friendly to other places?
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Old Feb 10th, 2019, 02:18 PM
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I would not stay in Interlaken rather in the beautiful mountain towns nearby- Grindelwald, Wrngen, Murren.
We like all the larger Italian lakes and have been to them all several times. . Lake Garda probably would be more difficult to combine with Switzerland. When we combined the lakes with Switzerland we went Milan, Lake Maggiore, Lake Orta (which we didn’t enjoy), Switzerland- Grindelwald and Pontresina- then easily drove back down to Lake Como, and finally flew out of Milan MXP., a large circle that worked well,
Lake Garda combines well with the Dolomites, Verona, Venice.
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Old Feb 10th, 2019, 03:28 PM
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Ah that makes lots of sense. So you think its fitting too much in to go to Garda. Everyone seems to recommend it. This will probably be our one and only trip there. We will be spending 12 days or so between the lakes and Switzerland. Are you recommending that we base ourselves in Grindelwald or Pontresina? We want to stay in a town which makes it easy to take public transportation for a couple of day trips to other places.
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Old Feb 11th, 2019, 01:11 PM
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Lake Como and Lake Maggiore

If Switzerland is in your plans, I would also suggest to leave Lake Garda for another trip.

Our favorite is Lake Maggiore with its excellent ferry service, which connect with the Swiss part of the lake as well as with the Italian part. Stresa is a very popular place on Lago Maggiore, but we preferred to stay in lovely and less touristy Cannero Riviera at the charming “Hotel Cannero” with amazing restaurant and ferry stop right at the doorstep. You can take a ferry to Isola Madre and Isola Bella... hard to find places more beautiful...

If you want a good connection to Switzerland, then you can stay in Menaggio on Lake Como and take a busy to Lugano. We did stay in Menaggio because we had a car, but much better place to stay on Lago Como is charming Varenna (there is a direct train from Milan to Varenna). Ferries are readily available and you can easily get to Bellagio (very touristy). I would also recommend taking a ferry to Lenno to see stunning Villa Balbianella.

I cannot help you much with Switzerland because we had spent two weeks there driving around and I am struggling with advising you where to spend your five days: too many gorgeous places to choose from. We did have two weeks and did not have any time left for the Italian part of Switzerland, which we will go to when we return to Lake Como. We stayed in Interlaken, and on Lake Geneva, and in Zurich... visited Lucerne, Bern, Gruyer, magnificent Chateau de Chillon near Montreaux, Geneva, Lakes Thun and Brienz... You will be spoiled for choice... Switzerland has the most gorgeous and unique natural beauty which will leave you speechless😊
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Old Feb 12th, 2019, 06:35 AM
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Once again:
Lugano is in the center of the 3 big lakes north of Milan, with trains to Como (Lake Como) and Locarno (Lake Maggiore) every 30 min as well as train connections to Lucerne/Zurich (2 hrs journey) at least every hr and to Milan (1 hrs journey) at least every 2 hrs.
If you stay in a hotel on the Swiss side of Lake Lugano or Lake Maggiore, you will most probably get a regional travel pass for free.
So, if you want 1 base for daytrips to the 2 other lakes, Lugano is the best solution.
As to a base for the mountains: if you are happy with the mountains, lakes, caves, gorges and waterfalls of the Interlaken area, go to Interlaken.
If you want to visit other areas of Switzerland, like the highest mountains, the longest glaciers, medieval cities, castles and cathedrals, roman theatres, all kinds of museums (from Red Cross and Human Dignity via art galleries up to the smuggler museum) you must check other bases.

Good transport hubs like Bern, Thun, Spiez, Visp, Brig, Lucerne are the contrary of isolated mountain villages like Gimmelwald, Muerren, Wengen, Grindelwald, Zermatt, Pontresina, Scuol-Tarasp....
You must make a choice, you cannot have both.
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Old Feb 12th, 2019, 05:37 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by cathee View Post
This is the first international trip i've planned myself and the thing I'm the most nervous about is the transportation..
Congratulations for taking that big step into planning your own international trip! And please be patient -- I'm reasonably experienced in planning my international trips, and I still found Switzerland extremely challenging, as I couldn't easily figure out what were places to visit rather than just places to stay, which areas were so similar as to be redundant and which sufficiently different to warrant visiting each, etc. And differences that might matter to me (e.g., the greater costs of staying in Switzerland rather than Italy) seem not to matter to others!

For the early phases of trip planning, I find it most useful to get just a general sense of times and options. For that, you might want to consult rome2rio.com -- just be sure not to take it as the "final word" on anything, as it isn't sensitive to seasonal variation in schedules. For every bit of information you could possibly want about public transportation within Switzerland, consult sbb.com. For international trains, take advantage of the wealth of information on seat61.com

A good guidebook or two might also serve you well -- for me, when trying to get a sense of what all these places were (and where) I found having just one or two books that I could mark with sticky tabs proved extremely helpful -- far more than long lists of possible routes. If you don't already have some, consider getting a few (maybe the Rough Guide and/or Michelin Green Guides), or consult them at your local library.

I'm sure you'll end up with a plan that allows an absolutely wonderful experience. Hope that helps!
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 03:58 AM
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kja We read your trip report. What am amazing 30 days! We are using some of your experiences it to plan ours---but only 6-7 days is impossible to see it all. I want to read about other places you've gone as well. Happy traveling and thank you.
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Old Feb 19th, 2019, 06:40 PM
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@ cathee: I'm glad you found some value in my old trip report! Even with 30 days (and they were amazing!), there was a great deal that I had to skip -- Switzerland holds a wealth of opportunities. If my trip helped you narrow down your choices for 6 or 7 days, it will have served a purpose. BTW, note that I travel hard -- on the move until there is literally nothing else I can do on a given day, with few if any breaks, so take that into consideration as you plan your time in the area.
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