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First time abroad- Switzerland and Italy! (Help Please)

Travel Forums Europe First time abroad- Switzerland and Italy! (Help Please)

1. Posted by Mircakes (Budding Member 3 posts) 2y

Hello!

I just booked a flight to Switzerland yesterday with my sister, and I'm soo excited! I live in Los Angeles, CA, and have only ever been to Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas, as well as all over the U.S. I've wanted to go to Europe for years, and I'm so excited to finally be getting a chance that I don't know where to start planning!

The trip will be 9 days total, with 7 full days in Europe. We're landing in Zurich at 7 AM, and the plan is to spend the first day in the city before heading out that night to my friend's house in Wil. She has an apartment and her family has a home, so we won't have to spend anything on boarding.

I'd like to spend two nights in Wil before taking a train to Italy, but I'm having a very hard time figuring out where we should go. Milan is the closest city, but I keep having people (including the girl who's hosting us) tell me that Milan is not "the real Italy," so it's making me wonder if we should take a couple more hours and go to Florence? We'll be spending four nights in Italy, so if the trip ends up being around 6 hours and we leave early in the morning, I think Florence could be worth it. What do you guys think? My real dream would be to go to Rome, but I know that would be too far of a train ride so I'll just have to save it for my next Europe trip.

After Italy I want to go back to Wil for one more night before leaving from Zurich the following morning.
Any suggestions for must-sees in terms of museums, food, and nightlife in Zurich, Florence, or Milan would be great. We're all three girls in our 20s, and I'm sure we'll be wanting to check out a bar/lounge every night, and maybe a dance club a couple of nights. Any other tips are also appreciated!

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Jul-2012, at 23:34 by Mircakes ]

2. Posted by katiew102 (Inactive 19 posts) 2y

Hi.
Florence is highly recommended, the galleries are amazing and the cathedral is a must-see. It is beautiful. The restaurants really are 'the real Italy' I suppose and there are plenty to choose from!! If you research I'm sure you can plan your perfect trip. I hope you have fun :-)

3. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1765 posts) 2y

From Milan, Venice, Turin, Bologna, Florence and Pisa are within easy reach. There can be long queues at attractions, museums and galleries so book them before online.

From Milan's Bergamo airport you can pick up a budget Ryanair flight to Rome, an hour's flight away but it needs to be booked soon as prices quickly rise. Going 18th July with carry on luggage is under 14 euros one way but if you've brought the kitchen sink with you, it'll cost you. If you do go by Ryanair, make sure you print out a boarding pass.

Watch out for pick pockets anywhere there are tourists.

4. Posted by K.Kutch (Budding Member 2 posts) 2y

Milan is the "real" Italy but not very attractive or interesting. Also very expensive and not really worth a visit. Florence is very touristy but beautiful. If you take the train to Milano it is worth stopping in Lugano.

5. Posted by Mircakes (Budding Member 3 posts) 2y

Thanks for the advice! I'm thinking Florence, it is! I did some research and Florence seems like a worthwhile trip. I'm a biiiig art lover, and I love seeing art museums, so it sounds like that's the city for me. I also found a pretty decent hostel there.

And thanks for the advice about booking museums online! I didn't even think about the long lines of tourists. I'll definitely have to do that.

Planning has been really difficult because my friend who lives in Switzerland is in a completely different time zone. It's hard to catch her! But I'm going to run the plans by her hopefully today, and hopefully we can go ahead and get the train tickets soon so that they're not too pricey.

6. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1940 posts) 2y

As one who has been in Switzerland twice, I can only suggest that you are very very VERY WRONG to rush off to Italy so fast. Switzerland is breathtaking, and you should make every effort to see this country FIRST. Zurich and the other large cities are the least interesting places in my opinion - go on the Glacier Express train or almost any other long distance train in this country and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the Alps. If money is a problem, don't despair - just stay in a hostel. I found that expensive restaurants was the major problem for me - answer is to stock up at a deli with wonderful cheese, bread and all the fixings. Italy is not all that much cheaper by the way.

7. Posted by Mircakes (Budding Member 3 posts) 2y

Quoting Daawgon

As one who has been in Switzerland twice, I can only suggest that you are very very VERY WRONG to rush off to Italy so fast. Switzerland is breathtaking, and you should make every effort to see this country FIRST. Zurich and the other large cities are the least interesting places in my opinion - go on the Glacier Express train or almost any other long distance train in this country and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the Alps. If money is a problem, don't despair - just stay in a hostel. I found that expensive restaurants was the major problem for me - answer is to stock up at a deli with wonderful cheese, bread and all the fixings. Italy is not all that much cheaper by the way.

Um, I never said that money is a problem, or that Italy is cheaper. I don't know what lead you to jump to that conclusion. Money isn't an issue, I've been saving up for a trip like this for years. Time is what I'm short on, and I frankly want to see Italy more than I want to see Switzerland. Italy is the #1 country in Europe that I want to visit, so if I'll be only a 6 hour train ride away I'm going to make a point to see it. If it weren't for my friend living in Switzerland and my undying love for chocolate, I would simply spend the whole trip in Italy.

I realize that Switzerland is gorgeous, but as someone who has seen A LOT of gorgeous scenery (from mountain scenery to beach scenery to gorgeous, lush forests and grasslands) scenery only entertains me for so long. I'm a city girl, as is my sister who I'm traveling with, so four nights in a city like Florence would be more worthwhile for us than four nights visiting the Alps. This is simply personal preference. But thanks for your input.

8. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1940 posts) 2y

Rome is fantastic, I found Florence to be overrated, and Milan has great food, but it's a business center. Go to Bologna if you love food. Italy has the best coffee in the world - the aroma is the difference (I am not talking about Starbucks!!!)