Journey Northern Italy to Switzerland: Milan to Zermatt

Advisor - Aida Mollenkamp
Curated By

Aida Mollenkamp

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  • Italy

  • Switzerland

  • Milan

  • Zermatt

  • Food & Wine

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Outdoors

  • Local culture

  • Sightseeing

Italy and Switzerland are the places where you can have an outdoor adventure.
Curator’s statement

Northern Italy is a destination that is a bit misunderstood by many travelers, but I think it’s best to experience it and Switzerland together. This will give you a taste of the Alpine culture, big cities and small towns, and a chance to see the stunning Italian Lake District. While most people think only of fashionable Milan or adventurous Zermatt, you can also do various activities, from wine tasting, riding cable cars, visiting small towns and lots of outdoor adventure.

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Where to stay

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Bulgari Hotel Milano

A chic oasis in the heart of the city’s shopping district, home to a see-and-be-seen aperitivi bar and rare treat indoor swimming pool.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast for two daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hotel Villa e Palazzo Aminta

Hotel Villa e Palazzo Aminta is a breathtaking five-star lakeside retreat that combines elegance, indulgence, and stunning views, creating an unforgettable luxury experience.

Bergwelt Grindelwald

Embark on an alpine adventure and discover the epitome of Swiss hospitality at Bergwelt Grindelwald, where breathtaking views meet unparalleled comfort.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Advisor - Aida Mollenkamp

Unlock perks by contacting Aida to book your trip.

Day 1-3: Exploring Milan

The Duomo di Milano is considered the second largest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world.

Your adventure begins in Milan, the fashion and design capital of Italy. Start your journey with a visit to the iconic Duomo di Milano, an impressive Gothic cathedral that dominates the city's skyline. Climb to the rooftop for panoramic views of Milan and the Alps beyond.

Next, head to the historic Sforza Castle, a grand medieval fortress that now houses several museums and art collections. Stroll through Parco Sempione, the castle's adjacent park and enjoy a leisurely picnic under the shade of ancient trees.

For an artistic experience, visit Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece "The Last Supper" at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. Due to its popularity, be sure to book tickets well in advance. If you need help doing so, don’t hesitate to reach out.

In the evenings, explore the vibrant Navigli district, known for its charming canals, trendy bars, and restaurants. Indulge in delicious Italian cuisine and try some of Milan's signature cocktails.

Where To Stay: Our clients love staying at the luxury hotels in the city center like the Bulgari Hotle Milano or at the Galleria Vik Milano.

Day 4-6: Serenity at Lake Como and Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland

From Milan, take a short train ride to Lake Como, one of Italy's most renowned lakes. Arriving at the charming town of Como, board a boat and cruise along the glimmering waters, passing beautiful villas and picturesque towns. Make sure to stop by Bellagio, often called the "Pearl of Lake Como," with its cobbled streets, elegant boutiques and lovely gardens.

For a more tranquil experience, venture to Lake Maggiore, located an hour's drive west of Lake Como. This serene town offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the shimmering lake. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the lakefront promenade or travel to the Borromean Islands for stunning views.

Where To Stay: Opt for the luxurious Villa D’Este on Lake Como or at Villa and Palazzo Aminta In Stresa on Lake Maggiore.

Day 7-9: The Swiss charms of Lugano and Locarno

Cardada Cimetta is a scenic mountain paradise in Switzerland, boasting panoramic vistas, hiking trails, and a cable car ride to reach its breathtaking summit.

Crossing the border into Switzerland, the beauty of Lugano will captivate you, nestled amid the mountains and on the shores of Lake Lugano. Take a boat trip to admire the scenic landscapes from the water, or simply unwind at one of the many lakeside cafes.

Lugano is also a paradise for wine lovers. Embark on a wine-tasting journey at local vineyards and savor the delightful Swiss wines, which are often overlooked but are of exceptional quality.

Next, travel to Locarno, a charming town on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore. Discover the historic center, visit the picturesque Madonna del Sasso sanctuary and take a cable car to Cardada-Cimetta for mesmerizing views of the surrounding lakes and mountains.

Where To Stay: Villa Principe Leopoldo in Lugano or Villa Orselina in Locarno.

Day 10-12: Alpine wonderland in Grindelwald

Aletsch Glacier is Europe's largest and most spectacular glacier, a frozen wonderland in the Swiss Alps, captivating with its immense beauty and ecological significance.

Heading further into the Swiss Alps, arrive in Grindelwald, a breathtaking Alpine wonderland. Surrounded by towering peaks, lush meadows, and cascading waterfalls, this idyllic village is a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

Take the cogwheel train to Jungfraujoch, known as the "Top of Europe," to witness jaw-dropping views of the Aletsch Glacier, the longest glacier in the Alps. Don't miss the thrilling experience of walking through the Ice Palace, a network of tunnels carved into the glacier.

For adrenaline seekers, engage in outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, or paragliding. Alternatively, indulge in leisurely walks through the charming village streets and immerse yourself in the Swiss way of life.

Where To Stay: Bergwelt Grindelwald for pure luxury.

Day 13-15: Majestic Zermatt and the magnificent Matterhorn

The Gornergrat Railway is a mountain rack railway, located in the Swiss canton of Valais.

Your final destination is Zermatt, a car-free village nestled at the base of the world-famous Matterhorn peak. Reach this iconic destination by train from Grindelwald, enjoying scenic views along the way.

Zermatt is a paradise for hikers and mountaineers. Take the Gornergrat railway for stunning panoramic views of the Matterhorn and the surrounding peaks. Hike to the picturesque Five Lakes Walk, which offers breathtaking reflections of the Matterhorn on calm days.

For an extraordinary experience, ride the Gornergratbahn at sunrise or sunset to witness the breathtaking play of colors on the Matterhorn's majestic facade.

Before bidding farewell to this enchanting journey, indulge in some delicious Swiss chocolate and sample local delicacies at cozy mountain restaurants.

Where To Stay: The stylish CERVO Mountain Resort.

Need to Know

Embark on this captivating journey through Northern Italy and Switzerland, where history meets nature and stunning landscapes leave you in awe. From the cosmopolitan streets of Milan to the majestic peaks of Zermatt, every moment will be filled with beauty, adventure, and unforgettable memories. Let this guide be your passport to an extraordinary experience of culture, nature and serenity. Safe travels!

Throughout your Northern Italy and Switzerland itinerary, the most convenient mode of transportation is the efficient and punctual train system. Both Italy and Switzerland boast well-connected train networks that make traveling between cities and towns a breeze. Purchase a Swiss Travel Pass to enjoy unlimited travel on trains, boats and buses in Switzerland, as well as free admission to many museums. For shorter distances or local exploration, consider renting a bicycle or simply walking. Additionally, boat rides on the lakes offer a relaxing and scenic way to explore the waterfront towns.

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, 10 Things To Do In Bellagio Italy For A Luxurious Trip.

Advisor - Aida Mollenkamp

Travel Advisor

Aida Mollenkamp

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Italy and travel to Switzerland.