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Switzerland and Italy Itinerary

How long was your stay?

9 days.

How did you travel?

As a family.

Tell us why you traveled to this destination.

This was a mother-daughter trip of a lifetime, experiencing the natural beauty of Switzerland and ending our trip in the city of Milan.

What was your itinerary?

Day 1: Arrived in Zurich, and took the train to Appenzell. Checked into Alder Hotel, and grabbed dinner at an outdoor restaurant.
Day 2: Breakfast at the hotel. Hiking around Seealpsee Lake and up to Aescher Guesthouse for lunch. Explored Wildkirchli caves.
Day 3: Breakfast at the hotel. Train to Interlaken, then to Lauterbrunnen. Checked into Hotel Oberland. Dinner at Restaurant Weidstübli.
Day 4: Hotel breakfast. Explored Jungfrau town. Hiking around Wengen and breakfast at Allmend Restaurant. Shopping at Interlaken, and dinner at Restaurant Schützen.
Day 5: Morning walk through Lauterbrunnen Valley to the Schilthorn. Lunch on the tram to Piz Gloria. Explored Murren, and dinner at Hotel Oberland.
Day 6: Breakfast at the hotel. Departed for Lake Como via Lucerne and the Gotthard Panorama Express route. Checked into Villa Rubini. Dinner at Mama Gia’s.
Day 7: Breakfast at the Hotel. Ferry to Bellagio to explore Lake Como. Dinner at Harry’s Bar in Cernobbio
Day 8: Took the train to Milan and checked into Spadari al Duomo. Pizza for dinner.
Day 9: Shopping around Milan, before heading to the Milan Airport to end our trip.
 

Give us all the details! Tell us where you went and what you did on your trip.

Day 1: We flew direct from Chicago to Zurich. We took the train from the airport to Appenzell, a small town where we’d base ourselves to hike and explore the northeast Alps. We checked in to our quaint Alder Hotel. Our robin-egg blue room with low ceilings was the perfect frame for the view of this beautiful Swiss town! We found a little outdoor Swiss restaurant and enjoyed fondue and hefeweizen beer.

Day 2: We couldn’t sleep well (despite our very comfortable beds) due to the time change. After our delicious complimentary hotel breakfast, it was time to wake up and take the 10-minute train ride to Wasserauen. We exited the train to a long line of cows coming from the high alpine ground to the other side of the mountain to prepare for the winter season. Watching and hearing the beautiful music the cowbells made as they passed by with their owners, generational families, and children in tow was magical. Our hike around Seealpsee Lake on this rainy day up to the Aescher Guesthouse was ethereal. We enjoyed meats & cheeses and more hefeweizen beer and felt like we were in a different time. We explored the prehistoric Wildkirchli caves on the way to take the Ebenalp cable car back down to the train station and back to Appenzell.

Day 3: After breakfast, we took the train to Interlaken and connected to Lauterbrunnen, where we’d base ourselves for the next three days. Stepping into town, we were surrounded by jagged, snow-capped & steep green peaks of the Bernese Alps. Our time in Switzerland came with rain and clouds after a long, dry, hot streak. We could feel the land singing and enjoyed the mist & raindrops! We checked into the Hotel Oberland, the perfect hotel for our location, while we explored the Jungfrau area. We loved the ambiance and our raclette dinner at the Restaurant Weidstübli that night, located in the “Camping Jungfrau” sustainable complex, surrounded by a hostel, campers, tents, and beautiful bungalows. I would stay here in a heartbeat!

Day 4: After the delicious hotel breakfast (we loved their espresso bar!), we set out to enjoy the little towns of the Jungfrau area. The rain was steady that morning, so we bundled up in waterproof gear. We missed our mid-way train stop to hike up, so we exited the train at the Kleine Scheidegg, above the snowline. The snow was coming down, so we purchased some ski pants at a gear shop at the historical Desalpes Hotel, a place I’d love to stay and ski someday. On the way back to Lauterbrunnen, we hiked down to beautiful Wengen, one of the car-free towns. We stopped at the Allmend Restaurant for hot soup before returning to our hike. After a quick change, we took the train to Interlaken and shopped around. It felt busy compared to Lauterbrunnen, so we didn’t stay long—dinner at the Restaurant Schützen, next door, perfectly ended our adventurous day.

Day 5: We awoke to low, misty clouds on my daughter’s 19th birthday. We took a beyond magical walk through the Lauterbrunnen Valley on the way to the Schilthorn, the tram up to the famous Piz Gloria, the rotating restaurant on top of the world, where a scene from the James Bond Film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed. The lunch and the ride-up are free on your birthday, and it was my daughter’s birthday! Unfortunately, the clouds had moved in, so we could not see the breathtaking view around us! But the experience was still unforgettable. We hit the beautiful car-free town of Murren on our way back to our hotel and enjoyed a birthday dinner at our hotel, Restaurant Hotel Oberland, where we were treated like royalty!

Day 6: After an early hotel breakfast, we boarded the train for Lake Como! We took the scenic route to Lucerne and south via the picturesque Gotthard Panorama Express route. After our 5-hour ride, we decided not to take the taxis waiting at the station to our hotel. Big mistake! I wanted to walk to a bank and attempt to exchange my Swiss francs for Euros. The banks in Como wouldn’t do this, and it was challenging to find a taxi in Como to take us to the funicular to Brunate, where our small hotel, the Villa Rubini, was. After dragging our suitcases all over Como, we finally found the funicular, and thankfully, the kind Mito from the villa picked us up and drove us up a winding road to a stunning, eclectic villa in a fairy tale setting. Marta from the estate booked us a table for dinner at Mama Gia’s across the street with a panoramic view over Lake Como. Our room in the villa was heavenly, and we slept like babies.

Day 7: The villa breakfast was the best of our vacation. We sat at a bistro table, and Marta brought us cappuccinos and enjoyed fresh pastries and fruit while Max prepared the best scrambled eggs we’ve ever had! We were dropped at the funicular and headed to the ferry boats to explore Lake Como. Although we purchased tickets beforehand, we were denied entrance to the ferry we thought we were booked on. We waited 2 hours for an additional ferry to Bellagio for a brief visit and a fantastic lunch on a steep walkway. We didn’t have much time to explore as we needed to board a ferry back to Como. Our evening ended with a spectacular dinner at Harry’s Bar in Cernobbio overlooking the twinkling lights of Como. Another deep sleep at the magical Villa Rubini.

Day 8: Max drove us to the train station, and we headed to Milan! We checked in to our ideally located hotel, Spadari al Duomo, just 5 minutes from the famous Duomo and the best shopping! The Duomo was spectacular and was unfortunately closed to visitors while we were there, but the views from outside were stunning. We grabbed pizza at one of the many restaurants surrounding the Duomo and had a great night’s rest at the Spadari.

Day 9: We woke up early and hit some shops prior to catching the fast train to the Milan Airport, the Malpensa Express. The taxi ride from our hotel and transfer to the train via the less busy Cadorna station vs. the busy Central station! The Milan (MPX) airport is huge, and the signage could be better. We were pressed for time, arriving 2.5 hours prior to departure. Arrive at least 3 hours early!

Would you recommend this trip to a friend?

Yes

What was the highlight of your trip?

The intense natural beauty of Switzerland. If you love mountains (and lakes), you will be in heaven here. The opportunity to view a culture that takes pride in living sustainably. The Swiss were kind people with patience for tourists. Seeing the cattle drive in Appenzell and hearing the symphony of cowbells. The convenience of the train. The fairy-tale Villa Rubini in Como (and Max’s scrambled eggs), Max, Mito, Marta, and Tapazia the cat 😉 Victoria and the wonderful mountain Hotel Oberland. The zen-like atmosphere and church bells near the Hotel Adler.

Did anything go wrong? If you were to take this trip again, is there anything you would add or do differently?

I would not visit the beautiful Lake Como in August–too many tourists, and we could feel the fatigue in the interactions with the residents. If you want to visit during warmer months, try May/June or September/October), and BE SURE to make all tour and ferry reservations ahead of time. You cannot flag down a taxi in Como. Reserve one ahead of time or catch one at the train station. Stay in Como for at least three days; 2-days was much too short! Leave for the Milan airport early, especially if you need a tax refund (after passport check!). The signage is poor, lots of walking. Lake Como and Milan, we felt rushed. I would save beautiful Italy for a dedicated visit and spend more time in Switzerland! 
 
 

 
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