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Zurich to Milan - 3rd/4th week of September

Zurich to Milan - 3rd/4th week of September

Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 02:50 PM
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Zurich to Milan - 3rd/4th week of September

Hi Everyone,

I am planning a trip with my sister mid-late September. I think we will fly into Zurich and out of Milan for a total of 6 nights. I would love to spend longer, but it cannot be helped.

I love Italy, but have never been north of Florence and have heard great things about the scenic train rides through Switzerland. I don't want to overplan, but don't want to underplan either. I am a pretty laid back traveler and completely open to suggestions on anyone has for such a short trip. My sister has never been to Europe and while my favorite trips are 2 weeks (hard to take longer from work), I've been known to take short trips on a whim (il.e. London & Dublin over 3 days).

It feels like after a full day of travel, it would be nice to stay in Zurich the first day/night although it appears we could just get on a train and go somewhere. Everyone seems to have must sees for Switzerland, but it all looks great so I'm having trouble deciding. We love the mountains, photography, light hikes, quaint villages, nice people As far as Northern Italy, I know I could spend a year there, but only have a few days. It would seem to be a shame to miss Venice AGAIN, but also have heard great things about Cinque Terra...and frankly a lot of other places.

I'm not wanting to spend a fortune, but budget is not my main concern. It is my sister's birthday and I want her to really enjoy herself.

Tentative:
Arrive Zurich morning 9/20 - stay overnight or move on? Hear it is a good walking city and beautiful.
9/21 - 9/22 ? Where in Switzerland?
9/23 - 24 ? Venice? Cinque Terra?
9/25 - travel to Milan - interesting train stop along the way? Overnight in Milan
9/26 - fly out of Milan mid-day

Any thoughts or suggestions? I'm guessing with all of the other posts about trains, if I can get the stops decided it will be easier to figure out, but any thoughts there would be appreciated as well ;-)

Thanks in advance,
Shelle
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 02:55 PM
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P.S. Really love great architecture if that helps guide in any direction.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 04:39 PM
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I would not stay in Zurich, which is primarily a business city - but hop right on a train to Lucern - which takes about an hour. (There is a train station right under the airport). That way you are ready to start sightseeing first thing the next day in stead of moving hotels so many times. You can get a lake steamer to a quaint little town or ascent one of the mountain peaks nearby - but do check opening days and time of the cable cars or cog railways etc.

I would head from there to Venice for 2 nights (about 10 times more intresting than CT unless all you want to do is hike) and then to Milan to depart.

(But if it were me I would just do Lucerne and Venice - fewer moves and fewer hotels (go home from Venice) and more time sightseeing versus just moving from place to place.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 04:51 PM
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To get train info, use http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query2.exe/en.

You have so little time. What time are you arriving in Zurich? Luzern is only 1hr away and Lauterbrunnen is only 2:45hrs away and you are in the mountains. There is no need to split your stay in Switzerland unless you are arriving very late into Zurich. Even so, Luzern is so close and it has a lake and mountains.

From Switzerland anywhere to most Italy is time consuming by ground. Zurich to Milan is so so at about 4hrs if you look at the bahn site. Venice is so far away by ground. You either have to fly or take not-so-well-connected night trains. Lake Como is an easier destination to add when you are flying home from Milan.

Your itinerary would have been easier to manage if had it been flying into Venice and flying out of Zurich or vice versa.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 05:25 PM
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Perhaps Lucerne and Como would work better unless Venice is a must. Have you booked flights yet?
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Old Aug 24th, 2012, 04:32 AM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback!

I have not finalized the booking of the tickets yet. It was much easier to get in and out of Milan/Zurich than Venice (one connection rather than 2).

greg - we are getting in about 9am, so early.

We can still reverse Milan and Zurich, just felt more drawn to end in Italy than Switzerland. My sister really wants to see the mountains by train so I'm not super concerned with spending time on the train if it is beautiful.

kybourbon - Venice is not a must, there is always next time ;-)

Really just want to spend a few days in each country, see some beautiful sights and meet some interesting people!

Thanks!
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Old Aug 24th, 2012, 05:09 AM
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With only 6 nights (5-full days) frankly, I wouldn't even come through Zurich. Why? Train traffic between Zurich and Milan is time consuming and the scenery is maybe breathtaking, which is a notion open for discussion, for some 15 or 30 minutes during the trip.
I would suggest to fly into Milan and combine with one of the following :
- go to one or some of the following cities: Bergamo, Verona, Vicenza or Padova (all on the Milan-Venice track) for a 1 or 2 night stay and end with 3 nights in Venice, then fly back fron Venice, open jaw,
- take directly the train to Venice for a 3 night stay, and come back by train visiting one of the abovementioned cities, to take off from Milan again.
You could also fly directly to Venice, spend some days in Bergamo, Verona, Vicenza, Padova, come back for a 3 night stay in Venice and fly back, or do an open jaw combination Venice - Milan.

Milan-Venice is a +/- 2h40mn train trip.
In my opinion, you'll optimize your travel experience.
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Old Aug 24th, 2012, 06:04 AM
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I would start in Switzerland and end in Italy.

Swiss rail for train tickets.
http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

Scenic rail info.
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/...l?nodeId=49548
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Old Aug 25th, 2012, 02:32 AM
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Hi mauishelle,

Besides the "standard" Luzern - Venice trail, which I can support as well, I wanna provide you with some alternatives.

Besides Luzern (http://www.luzern.com/en/): Don't forget the scenic drive with boat and train "Wilhelm Tell Express" as an option how to leave CH (Switzerland) with a stop in Lugano, eventually:
http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holiday...ress.html.html
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/...xpress-en.html

I would recommend the premium offer, though this only arrives at 16:27 in Lugano, what then implies a stay in Lugano (Italian Switzerland, recommendable) for one night.

With the standard offer you arrive at 14:27 in Lugano, then you could have a break for 2 hours to stroll around and get on the 17:48 train and arrive in Venice at 21:40.

Or you skip the break in Lugano easily.

Check time tables and best informations (including maps and intermediates stops) at rail.ch (or http://fahrplan.sbb.ch/bin/query.exe/dn, what is the same).

---- or:

The other standard line through CH down to Italy is over the Bernese Oberland (Highlands) with the literal culmination point on "Top of Europe" at the Jungfraujoch at 3571m o.s.l. (11'716 ft). There, preferably stay somewhere in Wengen, Mürren, or Grindelwald, but not in Interlaken as everyody else: http://www.jungfrau.ch/en/sommer/start/

Then go on with train through two major mountain chains by two cardiological tunnels (Lötschberg Base tunnel 34km finished in 2007, Simplon tunnel 20km finished in 1905) with up to 2200m rock above your head. In between you find the capital of the German part of canton Valais: Brig. At this station you can even change to a direct train (coming from Geneva) to Venice (leaving Brig at 09:44) without the usual hassle to change trains in Milano Centrale, what can be a pain, especially Italian trains have a tendency not to be punctual and then you miss eventually your connections. This way, leaving Interlaken Ost at 08:00 (or Wengen at 07:03) you will be in Venice after 6:40h at 14:40.

---- or:

You chose the route through the eastern part of Switzerland (my favourite, because less beaten path by tourists) to Chur where you change to the first part of the famous Bernina Express up to St. Moritz/Engadin area, with a recommended stop in Chur. Stay a couple of nights in this marvel area where the forth official language of CH is located (Romantsch, only spoken by about 0.5% of Swiss population or 35'000 people). http://www.engadin.stmoritz.ch/sommer/en/

Then go on either proceeding the extremely scenic Bernina Express on its famous part through the Bernina valley, before the pass, and through the Poschiavo valley after the pass, to Tirano, being already in Italy. From there to Milano and further to Venice. For example leaving St. Moritz at 07:45 (or 09:45) and arriving in Venice after two changes and 8:55h travel time at 16:40 (or 18:40).
http://www.rhb.ch/Bernina-Express.33.0.html?&L=4
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/...xpress-en.html

Or make a little detour with the nevertheless scenic and renowned bright yellow Swiss Postbus "Palm Express" ride (leaving St. Moritz at 12:20 just once a day) over the Maloya pass and then some part along the lake of Como (in Italy!) and the Lake of Lugano to Lugano in CH again (I can assure you, the Postbus driver will impress you when he moves along house corners with 10cm distance between bus and house with a speed of 50km/h). But this needs eventually a break in Lugano because of late arrival at 16:20, though you could still go on with the above mentioned train leaving Lugano at 17:48
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/...express-1.html
http://www.postbus.ch/pag-startseite...bot-detail.htm

---

You have to choose, but please, get more detail infos BY about the three major alternatives!

And besides, of course, Zurich is worth a visit and is anything else than just a business city. I have to know, since I live here and during summer time I never leave Zurich (stupidest idea to do so), though in November, it could be a very reasonable idea to make holidays somewhere else ;-))

Nevertheless, given your short stay, just hop on a train at Zurich Airport to your destination of choice and follow the advice to change hotel only once (between place change in CH and Italy).

Regards,

Martin

PS: Regarding architecture, this could be a start:

http://www.swissworld.org/en/culture...ss_architects/
http://www.newlyswissed.com/?tag=architecture
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Old Aug 25th, 2012, 02:41 AM
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By the way, what nowadays normally is not being considered anymore when travelling "through" the Alps in less than an hour, this used not to be a simple thing until 100 years ago.

Just consider the following:

The Simplon tunnel between Brig and Iselle di Trasquera is almost 20 km (64,600 ft) long, at the deepest part you have 2200 m rock above your head.
It was built between 1898-1905 (first tube) and between 1912-1921 (second tube). 67 workers died during construction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplon_Tunnel
http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?...20061215222239

Going north from Brig to Spiez, Bern, Basel, Germany, Paris, you find now a new high speed tunnel: the Lötschberg Basis Tunnel (LBT) between Visp and Frutigen, opened December 2007, is 34.57 km (21.48 miles) long. It is called Basis tunnel since there is a older one, the Lötschberg(-Scheitel-)Tunnel between Kandersteg, and Goppenstein on a 500m higher level, 14.6 km long, built between 1906 - 1913.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%B6...rg_Base_Tunnel
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%B6...rg-Basistunnel
http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?...20101112103745

And finally there is the Gotthard route coming from Zurich going to the southern Switzerland called Ticino, and further to Milan.

The Gotthard(-Scheitel-)Tunnel between Göschenen and Airolo, being 15 km long, built between 1872-1882 (199 workers died), is on a 1100m over sea level, and you find max 1800m rock above your head.

http://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?...20061215141626
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard_Tunnel

Around 2016 the new Gotthard Basis Tunnel (GBT) will open, being the longest rail tunnel on the world: 57 km (35.4 miles). Being 500-800 m below the older tunnel, it starts in Erstfeld and ends in Bodio. 8 workers died during construction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NEAT_GBT_engl.png
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard-Basistunnel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard_Base_Tunnel
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 05:31 AM
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MartinZH, thank you so much for all of this great info and insight!

On my way to a conference this week - will digest! I'm very excited for this trip.

Baldrich, I agree that 6 nights is short for two countries, but my sister feels this may be her only trip to Europe and really wants to do both.
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Old Aug 29th, 2012, 01:04 PM
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... and do not miss Venice without visiting the Architectural Biennale 2012 just opened today: http://www.labiennale.org/en/architecture/

And of course do not miss to visit the Swiss Pavilion: http://www.biennials.ch/home/BiennialeDetail.aspx
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