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Winter honeymoon - Switzerland? Italian Alps? Other?

Winter honeymoon - Switzerland? Italian Alps? Other?

Nov 24th, 2014, 07:55 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2014
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Winter honeymoon - Switzerland? Italian Alps? Other?

My fiancé and I are planning our February honeymoon and thought that a winter adventure might be a nice twist on the typical beach-going style of honeymoons.

We would love some input and advice on how to best maximize our experience, starting with what areas others may suggest we zero in on. The Swiss and Italian Alps sound appealing and romantic, but I know this is also high season, and the prices may be at peak, which is a bit of a concern.

A few notes on what we're looking for:

- Six or seven nights
- Traveling from US East Coast
- We like skiing and would want to ski one or two days, but do not need/want a super high end ski vacation or resort
- We like a mix of activity outdoors and more low key sight seeing, wine tasting, etc.
- If possible, we'd love to see a few locations - maybe fly into Switzerland for a few days and drive to Italy and fly home from there

Other than skiing, would outdoor adventures like cogs to see mountain ranges or visit the Matterhorn be open in February? Is 6-7 nights "too long" to explore one region or would it be too quick to try to fit in two areas?

Any other suggestions for locations? While we do not have a strict budget, some initial estimates for six days in Switzerland for flights/hotel are coming in at about $6-8K, which is a bit more than we would ideally want to spend just for airfare and hotel.

Thank you in advance!
EAR123 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 08:40 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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My husband and enjoyed a great week in Salzburg Austria one winter. I don' ski but my husband took a daily bus out to the resorts, a guide on the bus explained about the slopes, renting equipment etc. Then I shopped and went to museums, etc. One day we went out together on public transportation to the lakes and had a gondola ride. I took a daytrip by train myself to one of the salt mines you can tour. Evenings we enjoyed some lovely restaurants. And Austrian wine is a treat. We had a direct flight from London. But I think it is also easily reachable by train from Munich or Vienna if that is better for your flight from USA.

laurie_ann is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 09:08 AM
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If you don;t want to do primarily winter sports I would be hesitant to spend the big $ for a Swiss ski resort.

Germany and Austria are much less expensive and have options (as noted above)in which you can combine skiing with other types of activities.

Also - many Swiss ski resorts only rent lodgings for a full week in season. And ski in/out resorts are usually uber high$.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 09:17 AM
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No need to pay peak prices in a top ski resort in Switzerland, but you can always go to one of the less known areas. For example, I love the Lower Engadine/Scuol area, which is only an hour from ritzy St. Moritz, but much less expensive.

I use to ski only 2 or 3 days within a week vacation in winter. There are lots of other things to do, from the fantastic spa Bogn Engiadina over castle Tarasp tours, sleigh rides, winter walks, excursions to other picturesque villages and towns with beautiful churches, museums, the UNESCO world heritage site Benedictine monastery Müstair, and a day trip to St. Moritz area - for watching the horse races on the lake, polo matches, bob runs and so on.

Ingo is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 09:58 AM
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Renting a car in Switzerland and dropping it in Italy is likely to include a big extra charge. Plus driving mountain roads in winter can be a bit iffy. Switzerland, in particular, has superb public transportation, and this is a better bet in winter.

As you are discovering, Switzerland is an expensive destination. If budget is an issue you might look at Austria as Laurie_ann suggests or northern Italy.

But you could easily spend all your time in Switzerland. Lots to see and easy to get around.

Where in Italy would you be interested in going?
Mimar is online now  
Nov 24th, 2014, 11:17 AM
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I think the Jungfrau Region around Interlaken would fit your bill to a T - nothing fancy or really upscale in places like Grindelwald or Luaterbrunnen - toylike trains and thrilling aerial cable ways take you up to the snow and skiing, always possible of course at that time of year at higher elevations - Trains are the best way to get there as cars are banned from much of the area and must be parked on edges of towns. If staying six days look into the Jungfraubahn Pass, valid on trains, cable ways, etc - sold locally. For great info on Swiss trains in general check out: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Images of what I and many believe is the ultimate highlight of Switzerland for a first-time visitor - glacier-girdled peaks arrising thousands of feet above lush valleys - lots of intimate guest houses and family-run hotels, etc.:

PalenQ is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 11:20 AM
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I would fly into Venice and divide your time between Venice and the Dolomites---the best of the Italy Alps.
bobthenavigator is online now  
Nov 24th, 2014, 12:17 PM
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We were just in Switzerland in October. Jaw dropingly expensive. It was beautiful and I will go back, but if you want an equally lovely vacation consider italy and way better food.
Happy honeymoon!
yestravel is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 01:22 PM
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Thank you all for your thoughtful ideas and insights.

I do have these images of breathtaking winter scenery and romantic chalets in mind, which is why the area is so appealing. I think it is a beautiful country and has always been high on my list to visit.

Pricing out just hotel and transportation for Switzerland is showing me how pricy it is. I did some quick searches for flying into Zurich and out of Geneva, with a few nights' stay in each city, as well as Zermatt, and the base price for six days at so-so hotels (as many of the top ones are sold out) plus rail fare is about $6,000. That's of course before meals, skiing and excursions, and incidentals. It's doable, but high.

I'm wondering if an alternative, like the Italian Alps or Chamonix, France might be a little friendlier on the wallet.
EAR123 is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 01:55 PM
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Chamonix is equally awesome in its own way - in summer the Jungfrau Region has IME much more varied offerings - boat rides on the two lakes bookending Interlaken, the Ballenberg Open-Air museum, neat hikes but in winter for skiing Chamonix is great and you also have glaciers and mountain trains, etc.

And yes IME cheaper - not cheap but much cheaper though if you have to economize in the Interlaken area there are surprsingly a lot of budget and fairly nice hotels, especially in Interlaken.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 03:46 PM
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See above !
bobthenavigator is online now  
Nov 24th, 2014, 08:58 PM
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Hi EAR123,

There are ways of cutting costs in Switzerland, and one way is to stay in a ski area for an entire week. Many hotels have terrific offers for a ski-week that includes 6 night's lodging with breakfast and dinner (halfboard) and 5 days ski lift for a reasonable price per person, say around 1,200 chf. You don't have to ski all 5 days,of course -- you can use the ski lift ticket to access winter hiking trails or to get to sledding runs. You can find something like that at a place like Hotel Alpenrose in Wengen (i the Jungfrau region) and also many hotels in the Engadin Valley

And I would recommend that you spend a full week in one location anyway. Your plan of staying for a few nights in Zurich and Geneva won't give you the beautiful scenery you're hoping for -- they are cities. I would minimize the time in cities and spend more time out on the mountains. Since winter is prime time in ski areas, the hotels expect folks to stay for a full week, and if you stay for only a few days, the prices will go up.

There are also ways to cut rail costs. Most folks have some kind of a pass or discount card; no one I know pays full walk-up fare. For instance, you can buy a Half Fare Card for around $120, then you'll pay only half price for practically everything that moves in the country.

So, I would recommend you find a ski-week type of deal at a hotel in the mountains and then spend only 1 or 2 nights in Zurich as you depart.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is online now  
Nov 25th, 2014, 04:49 AM
Original Poster
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Thank you very much for your helpful ideas. We have a lot more research to do before making a decision. If we decide to go with Europe, I will certainly report back. I really appreciate everyone's help!
EAR123 is offline  
Nov 25th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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IMHO Austria and the northern, German speaking province of South Tyrol in Italy are cheaper than Switzerland, and are even more romantic than Switzerland. Landscapes may be a little less spectacular, but the people in Austria, South Tyrol (and also southern Bavaria) are more careful to nice particulars like decorations and flowers in hotels, homes, restaurants; the Swiss mindset is more basic. In South Tyrol landscapes and food are better than in Austria, Austria is a little cheaper and has often better shopping.
asps is offline  
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