2 weeks in Italy and Switzerland: an itinerary

 Well hello to you my reader chums! As many of you know, Italy is my favourite country and I love to visit, as much as I can. The food, the warm and inviting culture, the characteristic buildings, the cobbled streets and the friendly locals make it a trip of dreams. One place I've always wanted to visit is Switzerland, but due to how expensive it is, I've steered away from visiting, picking cheaper locations to travel instead.

One experience I wanted to have in Switzerland was the train journey between northern Italy to Switzerland, witnessing the mountain scenery along the way. If you're keen to explore northern Italy and the mountainous villages with Switzerland's best lakes, here's my 2-week itinerary to Italy and Switzerland. 

2 weeks in Italy and Switzerland: an itinerary

3 days in Parma, Italy

Parma is a gorgeous destination you'll fall in love with and you can either fly from London to Milan and get the train to Parma or fly directly into Parma. The beauty of Parma is the incredible food scene; I can assure you everything you eat will be heaven, from the fresh tortellini, cured meats, parmesan, and gelato to ragu. 

Parma isn't a massive city, however, you can see all the best sights in two days, from the Duomo, Palatine Library, Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata, and Baptistery to the quaint piazzas you can roam around. The city also has some quiet green spaces to lap up the sunshine and read a book, from Parco Ducale to the green space around the Palatine Library. 

As Parma is renowned for its food, ensure you spend those days eating as much fresh pasta, gelato, cured meats and parmesan as possible! Restaurants, classic cafes and gelaterias come in the bucket load across this city.

On the third day in Parma, you have the privilege of being incredibly close to many other famous Italian cities, such as Modena and Bologna. Modena is 30 minutes away and Bologna is just over an hour away by train. In Modena, you can see the famous Ferrari museum, wander around the colourful streets, visit the local Mercato Albinelli and sample balsamic vinegar (where it's produced). Modena is rather small so a day is plenty of time to see the best sights and soak up the beauty. While with Bologna, the city is larger and you can have a day trip there but probably won't be able to see everything. Some highlights to see on a day trip include Basilica di San Petronio, Cattedrale di San Pietro, Torre Degli Asinelli and Piazza Maggiore/ Piazza Nettuno.

3-5 days in Lake Maggiore, Italy

After the wonders of the city and exploring the highlights, it's time to relax in the glory of Italian lakes. You have two options Lake Maggiore or Lake Como. For this itinerary, I'd recommend Lake Maggiore as one, it's quieter and has plenty to explore and two, it's an easier route to the locations in Switzerland I've laid out. 

Lake Maggiore is huge and has plenty of towns scattered from the south to the north, as the lake weaves into Switzerland. You have your fair share of locations to stay at but I'd recommend Laveno or Stresa, depending on what you're looking for. Laveno is smaller and quieter but a key location to visit other areas in Lake Maggiore and head over on boat trips. Stresa has a more direct port to the iconic island destinations across the lake, yet is a lot more touristy.

The train journey from Parma to Lake Maggiore takes over 3 hours with a couple of changes but is easy to follow. You'll travel from Parma to Milan Central, Milan Central to Milano Bovisa Politecnico and then the third train to Laveno. 

Lake Maggiore is one of those destinations where you could spend weeks mooching around different lake towns, going on boat trips, eating good food and generally relaxing. We only spent 3 nights there but I could have happily done another two, hence saying 3-5 in the itinerary. In Laveno, the town doesn't have loads to do but you can spend your time roaming around the lake and going on the Funivia del Lago Maggiore Cableway.

The other days in Lake Maggiore, take a day trip to the Borromean Islands, visiting Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori. From Laveno, you can take the boat over to Stresa and get a hop-and-hop-off pass to visit each of the islands, Isola Bella and Isola Madre are the largest with beautiful palaces and gardens to explore. Spend the rest of your Lake Maggiore days, exploring Cerro and the beaches there and Luino, the famous market town. Embrace lake life, the sunshine and fresh seafood. 

2 days in Spiez, Switzerland

After a week in the land of gorgeous food, phenomenal scenery and lake life, you can experience a memorable journey between Italy and Switzerland on the train. I kid you not this train journey, when leaving Italy into Switzerland will amaze you in many ways. From Laveno, there are different routes, I took the train to Sesto Calende, a bus from there to Domodossola and then a direct train to Spiez. The journey takes 4-5 hours but is completely worth it and you can spend a lot of time, especially on the last train, peering out of the window at the views.

Switzerland has endless lakeside towns to explore, however, my picks are Spiez and Brienz as Spiez sits on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz, on Lake Brienz, giving you the chance to explore both lakes. I fell in love with Spiez from the moment we came out of the station as the views were like a postcard. Spiez has a slightly residential and village feel which I adored and enough exciting activities to keep us preoccupied for two days.

Spiez has the famous Mount Niesen and honestly, getting the funicular up here had to be my favourite experience in Switzerland! There are no words to describe the beauty of the view. Other highlights include Spiez Castle, lakeside walks, swimming in Lake Thun and the vineyard adventure trail.

2 days in Brienz/Interlaken

From Spiez, Brienz is easy to reach taking under an hour to get there with breathtaking views along the way. Brienz is a lot smaller and there is less to do, however, it had the typical Switzerland village architecture I expected and it was incredibly gorgeous to roam around, especially the lake. Brienz is lovely to roam around and visit the Giessback waterfalls nearby. This town is also next to Interlaken which many people visit and this town certainly has a more 'land' feel than the other lake towns. You can enjoy a classic chocolate fondue, explore the shops and do all your souvenir shopping here, and there are more food options.

2 days in Zurich

The last stop on this itinerary is the beautiful Zurich as that's the destination you'll be flying back from. From Brienz, the train takes around 2 hours to reach, you'll go from Brienz to Luzern and Luzern to Zurich.  Zurich is a beautiful city with plenty of sights to witness, from the Lindt Museum, Lake Zurich, the quaint old town and endless chocolate shops to eat as much Swiss chocolate as possible.

I hope you enjoyed this guide! When are you planing your trip?

Thank you for reading <3

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