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Switzerland, Austria, and Lake Como Trip and Train Suggestions

Switzerland, Austria, and Lake Como Trip and Train Suggestions

Apr 29th, 2009, 12:08 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 64
Switzerland, Austria, and Lake Como Trip and Train Suggestions

Hi Fodorites!

My sister and I found a great airfare deal to Geneva this summer, so we're planning a trip for 9 days (8 nights) in early July! We'd like to see Salzburg and Lake Como and spend some time in Switzerland. I've been reading our Austria guide, which recommends the Salzkammergut, so we're thinking about a day trip to St. Gilgen from Salzburg as well.

I would love to hear your comments and suggestions, especially if you have any train travel tips. It looks like a 3-country Eurail Select Youth Pass (we are both under 26 years old) might be the cheapest way to get around -- we're trying to be as budget-conscious as possible!

Here's our initial rough itinerary, I'd really appreciate any feedback you have:

Day 1 -- land in Geneva at 5 pm
Day 2 -- Geneva
Day 3 -- mid-morning train to Salzburg (transfer in Zurich)
Day 4 -- Salzburg
Day 5 -- Day trip to St. Gilgen; return to Salzburg for the night
Day 6 -- early morning train to Lake Como: we are thinking of staying in Bellagio, so will probably have to take the train from Salzburg to Milan, then head up to Varenna and take a ferry to Bellagio
Day 7 -- Bellagio/Lake Como
Day 8 -- night train to Geneva
Day 9 -- depart from Geneva at 5 pm

Jess_M is offline  
Apr 29th, 2009, 12:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,959
That's a lot of time on trains:

Geneva-Salzburg, 9 hours.
Salzburg-Varenna, 9-10 hours.
Varenna-Geneva, 5 hours, and the last train I find departs Milan at 7:20 pm and arrives Geneva at 11:15 pm, so not a "night train" per se.

Bottom line, you have 8 days, and you'll spend the better part of 3 days sitting on trains. I'd probably drop either Austria or Italy and spend more time seeing towns rather than the passing scenery.

Before you buy a rail pass, compare the point-to-point fares to the cost of a pass.
Jean is offline  
Apr 29th, 2009, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
I'm certainly not the expert in this department, but as a layman, I can tell you that you are flying into the wrong airport to visit the places you want to see. I understand that $ determined the flight to Geneva, and if that's the case, I suggest you consider revising your itinerary to include the Berner Oberland and another area that's not more than 4 hours by train. I could be wrong.
lenox862 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2009, 02:22 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 9,472
Skip Salzburg for this trip. Go to Zermatt, Berner Oberland and then Lake Como.

You'll hate the train at the rate you have planned right now.
kleeblatt is offline  
Apr 29th, 2009, 04:11 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,431
I agree that you should limit your travel to one or two locations. Check out lodging availabilty in or near Geneva that meets your cost/comfort needs. Spend the day of arrival sightseeing in Geneva, then take a 1-day trip by train either to Chamonix or lake Annecy.

Then proceed to Interlaken, the jimp-off point to the Berner Oberland. Either do day trips from there to Grindlwald (First- gondola lift mountain;Jungfrau Joch-cog railway mountain; a very pleasant half day boat trip from or to Spiez on the Thuner See lake,return trip by train. Form Interlaken also take the train to Lauterbrunnen and visit these mountains (by train an/or cable car): Schilthorn, Jungfrau Joch, Maennlichen, with walk back to Kleine Scheidegg. If you stay in Interlaken, you need to take a daily train trip to either Grindlwald or Lauterbrunnen. If you decide to stay the whole time in either Lauterbrunnen or Grindwald but yo can also visit most of the above mountain sites with less back-and- forth travel.

Check out the many (sometimes confusing) Swiss railroad deals. Most likely they will be much cheaper than the Eurail Pass.
treplow is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 08:33 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 64
Thanks for the suggestions! We both don't mind a lot of train travel, especially in scenic regions, but it would be nice to have more time on the ground in the towns. Lake Como is at the top of both of our lists, so schuler your route sounds interesting. I'm sad about maybe leaving out Salzburg, but I guess worst case scenario, we'll just have to go back!
Jess_M is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
It don't seem a railpass would pay off for your plans but to learn a lot about European trains and passes i always point to some fine sites with lots of objective info as well as pass prides, etc.- www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com - check www.railsaver.com to see if a pass is warranted or not - again i would think not but not sure.
Palenque is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 10:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Well there is a Swiss-Austria Eurailpass and that would be about the only one you would consider.
Palenque is offline  
May 1st, 2009, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 9,023
Salzburg to Milan is a very long all-day train ride - no direct route - have to go via Verona, Italy then to Milan and then up to Varenna (for Bellagio boats)


(this site - the German Railways site or www.bahn.de is the best for schedules i've seen - easiest for trains all over Europe)
Palenque is offline  
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