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10 days in europe

  • 12 December 2023
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  • Keeps calm and carries on
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i was planning a trip to swiss alps, but my family is not skiing, so not worth it. Asking for help planning 10 days in europe.  i need an itinerary that allows us to see as much as we can in a short time.  flying in to one city and out of another to maximize places visited would be great. thanks

 

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Best answer by thibcabe 12 December 2023, 20:44

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I quite agree with ralderton suggestions. 1 night stays should be avoided for sure.

I’m thinking myself (not sure of the best answer) : is it better to visit Italy in winter with less tourists and keep Switzerland for a future trip in summer or fall ?

For reference I live in Switzerland and the past few days have been continuously rainy, snow has melted under 1000-1200 m. Now lakes and rivers are full (with limited flooding) with stratus clouds forecast. On the other hand weather will be gorgeous this weekend higher up in the Alps.

A week or two ago I wouldn’t have said the same when most of the Eastern part of the country was covered in snow. Of course don’t expect beautiful weather in Italy either but there will be less tourists in cities (unless you’re planning to travel between Christmas and New Year I’d say).

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back again…..still not done with trip itinerary.  suggestion of driving for the italy portion..thoughts? 

fly into rome, stay 3 nights

drive to florence , 2 nights,

then to venice, 1 night

then should we drive back to milan and take train into switzerland?

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What do you want to see in that driving trip?

A car is great in Tuscany. You could take one from Florence for a day or two. But I would do the rest of the trip by train unless there’s something you really want to see en route that’s not accessible by train.

One night in Venice? Like I said before, it seems like a long way to go just to spend 1 night there! I would really try to drop one of your Italian cities. I know it’s hard to do that though.

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is there a way to head into switzerland from venice?  i would rather drop one of the other italian cities.  seems like this is a good time of the year to see venice.  would not come during summer crowds.

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is there a way to head into switzerland from venice?  i would rather drop one of the other italian cities.  seems like this is a good time of the year to see venice.  would not come during summer crowds.

By train? You will be going back to Verona, then either

  • over the Brenner Pass to Austria and then Switzerland, or
  • back to Milan for the mainline to Switzerland, or
  • back to Milan for the scenic route via the Bernina Pass
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ok.  so maybe venice to milan via bernina pass?  then where should we go as we head to zurich?

i thought car from rome to florence then venice to milan would allow us to enjoy the ride, but again, since we don’t have the luxury of time, maybe train is better.

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ok.  so maybe venice to milan via bernina pass?  then where should we go as we head to zurich?

i thought car from rome to florence then venice to milan would allow us to enjoy the ride, but again, since we don’t have the luxury of time, maybe train is better.

No, it would be Venice to Milan first, then take Bernina Pass into Switzerland.

It’s up to you on the car, of course, but I think the train will be more enjoyable, and much faster! You absolutely don’t want a car in the cities. The only time it might be useful is to explore Tuscany for a day or two. But it looks like you wouldn’t have time for that anyway.

A good explanation of the Bernina Pass route here, including a timetable.

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yes, sorry meant then instead of via bernina pass.  so 3 days rome, train to florence, 2 days, train to venice ? days, train back to milan (do we stay one night?), then bernina pass into switzerland (then where as we head to zurich?)

also, for  the trains in italy for the 5 of us, is there a discount option?

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Eurail passes : Adult and Youth (under 28 y.o.) versions. Reservations always cost the same.

Tickets : use trenitalia.com and italotreno.it and check. Enter the date and route you want + passengers (5 adults). There’s no family discount for adults aged 18, 20 and 22 but there might be a group discount.

Tickets will be more expensive closer to travel date (as opposed to Eurail + reservations = fixed prices). Eurail would allow you to decide on the day/the day before which train you’d like to take.

What are your travel dates ? I think you didn’t answer that question previously but it’s to warn you that trains will be more expensive/sold out around Christmas & New Year (busy period). Do not wait to book. Later in January will be much better.

About your itinerary : I’d say 3 nights Rome, 2 nights Florence, 2 nights Venice, 1 night near Varenna on Lake Como (or Milan if you prefer to stay in a city), 1-2 nights Zurich.

Check timetables on bahn.com or DB Navigator app. You’ll see that to get from Venice to Tirano (start of the Bernina route) you must change in Milan. After the Bernina & Albula route you’ll arrive in Chur which has trains every 30 min to Zurich (1h15 journey).

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We arrive in Rome December 27 and leave from Zurich Jan 5

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Okay thanks. I stay with my previous itinerary :

  • Rome 3 nights → biggest city of the trip, loads to do. You’ll also be exhausted due to jetlag in the first days so better to start slowly
  • Florence 2 nights → you’ll spend New Year’s Eve there
  • Venice 2 nights
  • Varenna/Lake Como 1 night
  • Zurich 1 night

Tickets vs pass : after a quick look my calculations amount to 550-600€ with .Italo (700€ with Trenitalia) for your Italian journeys + 220 CHF (233€) for Switzerland. Regular tickets in Italy + in Switzerland 2 full-fare Saver Day Passes and one Friends Day Pass (valid for up to 4 people under 25 y.o. = for your 3 children). Let’s say 800€ for you 5.

.italo trains are as good as Trenitalia + cheaper so travel with them. 1st class only costs a few € more. Venice - Milan is about the same price on Trenitalia/.italo so choose the departure time best fitting you.

Passes : 1217$ = 1150€ for you 5 + 200€ on reservations = 1350€. More expensive.

I’d choose tickets over passes for this trip. The flexibility Eurail offers won’t be useful in Italy as you need to book seats pretty soon either way. And then the day passes in Switzeland give you full flexibility in Switzerland (even more than Eurail as buses/trams are included).

Book everything as soon as possible for the best prices (except regional train tickets in Italy with fixed prices anyway). Questions welcome.

Last thing : the Italian high-speed trains are pretty full on your dates. You should be able to choose seats during booking but it might not always be possible to sit together (check the previous/following connection).

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the train situation seems confusing, but i will figure it out.

the only part missing from the itinerary is a stop in lucerne.  i wanted to get at least one beautiful town in switzerland in before we head to zurich on our way out.

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Sorry if I confused you, that wasn’t the goal! To keep it short :

  • Rome - Florence - Venice - Milan : check italotreno.it and trenitalia.com. Choose the train you’d like depending on time and price. Book as soon as possible as fares will increase/trains will sell out.
  • Milan - (Varenna/Lake Como -) Tirano : regional trains with fixed prices (cannot sell out). Buy whenever you want through trenitalia.com.
  • Switzerland (sbb.ch) : 2 Saver Day Passes for you/your partner (70-79 CHF depending on date, buy in advance) + 1 Friends Day Pass covering your 3 children (80 CHF, fixed price, cannot sell out).

… or get Eurail Passes + high-speed train reservations but it will be quite a lot more expensive in the end.

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If you really wish to include Lucerne I’d do it that way :

4th January :

  • wake up early around Varenna
  • R Varenna-Esino - Tirano 07:25 - 08:52
  • RE Tirano - Pontresina 09:00 - 10:56
  • R Pontresina - Samedan 11:02 - 11:09
  • IR Samedan - Chur 11:15 - 13:04
  • IR35 Chur - Thalwil 13:16 - 14:38
  • IR75 Zürich HB - Lucerne 14:45 - 15:25
  • check-in at your hotel, walk around a bit

A detour via St. Moritz would take an hour longer. Trains run hourly. With the tickets I suggested above you have full flexibility on the train.

5th January :

  • early train to Zurich airport : arrival at 06:12, 06:42 or later

Or cancel the night around Lake Como, leave Venice early on 3rd January (07:18) to make it to Chur at 5pm and Lucerne at 7:30pm. Then on 4th January travel around Lucerne (funiculars/cogwheel trains available but they’ll be very expensive).

Honestly Lucerne is a small town with nothing special. Views are beautiful for sure when there’s no fog (frequent in winter). You’ll get the best landscapes during the Bernina journey. :)

I’d really focus in Italy and come back to Switzerland at some point during summer/fall.

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i’ll go with your suggestion and skip lucerne. 

we will go rome to florence to venice to lake como(via milan?), should we stay one night in milan and only do one night in venice?

then from milan to lake como?

then lake como to zurich...is that the scenic train?  bernina express part?

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I wouldn’t spend a night in Milan. 2 nights in Venice (1st-3rd January) and 1 on the eastern side of Lake Como (3rd-4th January) would be my choice.

You’ll have to go through Milan at some point yes. If you wish you could leave your luggage somewhere at the station and visit the city for a few hours. Feel free to decide on the day, only Venice - Milan needs to be booked in advance. Itinerary on 3rd January :

  • Venezia S. Lucia - Milano Centrale : Trenitalia 07:18 - 09:45 (30€ per person) or 10:48 - 13:15 (37€) ; .italo 07:57 - 10:25 (30€) or 13:57 - 16:25 (25€). More trains available but not direct.
  • R Milano Centrale - Varenna-Esino : 10:20, 12:20, 13:20, 14:20, 16:20, 17:20 and later departures

From Lake Como travel to Tirano on a standard regional train through an Alpine valley. Then the fun begins :)

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so we book venice - milan in advance but can book milan - lake como that day?

and in lake como area, which town do you suggest we stay?

the train from lake como to tirano is not the bernina express correct?

what company do i book for that?

then from tirano to zurich is the scenic route with bernina express?

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Yes book Rome - Florence - Venice - Milan in advance (high-speed trains which could sell out soon).

I’ve been to Varenna (in April) and it was a beautiful village but there are surely other villages along the eastern shore with a train station. Check a map.

Lake Como - Tirano is the same regional train coming from Milan (trenitalia.com). Tickets are very cheap.

Look at timetables on SBB app (.italo trains don’t appear though).

Between Tirano and Zurich either you wait for the Bernina Express leaving at 14:24* (travel in the reservation-free carriages at the front) or you take hourly regional trains along the same route (better). Connections are straightforward and guaranteed. For example :

  • R Varenna-Esino - Tirano 09:25 - 10:52 (trenitalia.com)
  • cross the little square to get to the Swiss station
  • RE Tirano - Pontresina 11:00 - 12:53
  • R Pontresina - Samedan 13:02 - 13:09
  • IR Samedan - Chur 13:15 - 15:04
  • IC3 Chur - Zürich HB 15:08 - 16:22

Feel free to stop along the way, you’re not set to an itinerary/schedule at all. Alp Grüm is worth a stop : middle of nowhere with only a café/restaurant. A detour via St. Moritz would take an hour longer. As I said above download SBB app and start from there.

*which means the last bit of the route will be in the dark (a shame!)

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great information, thank you!  the main part of our trip in switzerland will be the scenic route.

i would prefer that be done during the day.  are there multiple routes?

also, if we stop in alp Grum, we can reboard without getting an additional ticket?

 

 

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Yes the entire route will be beautiful. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Hopefully you get sun but even if you don’t, snow is guaranteed → 1 meter of new snow forecast in the Alps this weekend!

Multiple routes ? A few but not many : for example via Zernez/Vereina or via Davos instead of Chur. Trains run at least hourly on all lines. I’d follow the above itinerary but do not hesitate to stop for an hour or two along the way.

Yes sure, the Saver Day Pass and Friends Day Pass (get them soon) are valid across the whole country on the selected day. Trains, buses, trams and even boats are included ! Hop on and show the ticket whenever asked, easy as that :)

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just like you said...tickets are gone.  the only seat reservations for  the bernina express are available on january 1. 

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You do not need to book anything for the Bernina Express (like I said multiple times too!).

You can travel on the reservation-free carriages at the front. Hop on and sit wherever you want, it's the same process on most European trains.

If you were to take the Bernina Express (once a day, leaving Tirano at 14:24) remember that half the scenic journey will be through darkness at this time of year. Such a shame !

That's why I suggest taking earlier regional trains, running hourly on the same route. Reservations not possible (nor needed) on those.

Check timetables on SBB app if you wish.

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i figured out the trains and working on accommodations.

the only issue is lake como area, varenna, have no hotels and very limited airbnb.

do you suggest we stay in milan for the night instead or maybe revisit the idea of lucerne?

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