Hike Europe: Italian Lakes & Swiss Alps | EF Ultimate Break

Hike Europe: Italian Lakes & Swiss Alps

9 Days  •  3 Cities

Why Go?

If you’ve ever dreamt of strolling the shores of iconic European lakes and hiking stunning trails in the Alps, this is the trip for you. The perfect mix of exhilaration, serenity, and just the right amount of wine and chocolate—which happens to be a lot. Over the course of nine days, you’ll stroll the shores of Lake Como in Italy, explore the lakeside town of Lugano in Switzerland, and hike the dramatic Alps in both. It’s an ideal way to check off two of Europe’s most beautiful and desirable locations in one trip. The only question is when you’re going back—and how many friends decide to come with after seeing your pictures.

What are the top highlights?

  • Get your heart racing with awe-inspiring hikes in Italy and Switzerland.
  • Cruise, kayak, and swim the gorgeous Lake Como.
  • Delight your sense of smell with 20 acres of botanical gardens at Villa Carlotta.
  • Capture stunning views from atop a mountain of over 4,700 feet.
  • Enjoy a glass of wine during a sunset ferry on Lake Lugano.
  • Cross one the longest Tibetan bridges in Switzerland that feels at least twice as long as it actually is—deep breaths.
  • Search for a new outfit from your now close friends Prada, Armani, and Versace in Milan.

Your trip includes

  • Round-trip flights & airport transfers
  • Tour Director & local hiking guides
  • 4 days of hiking through the Alps
  • 7 nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • Private deluxe motorcoach
  • Welcome Mixer with appetizers and drinks
  • Daily breakfast
  • Farewell Dinner

Accommodations

You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.


Click **here **for examples of where you'll stay.

Flights

Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:


  • Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
  • Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
  • Flights are booked with major airlines
  • 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
  • One checked bag included on most flights
  • Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure

Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.

Itinerary

Day 1: Overnight Flight

Board your overnight flight to Milan. Whether you prefer the window or the aisle (because who in their right mind prefers a middle seat?), be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to rest up for the copious amounts of hiking and Swiss chocolate ahead.

Day 2: Arrive in Como

Nestled on the southwest shore of Lake Como, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a spectacular panorama of serene water and soaring peaks. It won’t take long to realize that the history here is as deep as the lake itself—one of the deepest in Europe at over 1,300 feet. The only thing left to do now is find yourself a bottle of vino that pairs well with gorgeous views and OMG we’re in Como excitement.


Today's Highlights:


  • Meet an EF representative at the airport.
  • Transfer to your accommodations and check in.
  • Get the latest schedule from your Tour Director.
  • Take a guided tour of the city to get your bearings and pick out a bar for later.

In the evening, it’s time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy appetizers and drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Afterwards, take the party elsewhere.


Free Time Suggestions
Going Up: Take the Como-Brunate funicular, a mountainside railway operated by cable, from the city of Como to the village of Brunate. Operated since 1894, this short ride offers amazing views of Lake Como—without the hike (no shame).
Time to Barter: Shop like a local at the Mercato Mercerie di Como, an outdoor market along the walls of viale (avenue) Battisti to viale Varese. Browse everything from fresh produce to vintage clothing and handcrafts—just remember to wear your haggling shoes. You do have haggling shoes, right?

Day 3: Tour Lake Como + Walk Villa Carlotta

Settled in? Good. Take some time to relax and explore before the hiking begins tomorrow. Enjoy stunning views of Lake Como that have attracted tourists from the aristocrats of Roman times to the celebrities of today (Ciao George Clooney!). Then don an air of superiority as you walk the grounds of Villa Carlotta, a sprawling estate turned art museum—because of course that’s a thing.


Today's Highlights:


  • Cruise Lake Como by boat to get a new perspective on things.
  • Sample some local fare like Brasato di Cinghiale Selvatico (braised wild boar).
  • Stroll the charming Lake Como Greenway.
  • Take a guided kayak tour of Lake Como before indulging in an afternoon swim.
  • Explore the 20-acre botanical gardens at Villa Carlotta, because anything under 19 would be unacceptable.

Day 4: Hiking Rifugio Menaggio

Get excited for the first hike of your trip that begins at an escape perched on the side of a mountain. Rifugio Menaggio may only be a rest stop for weary hikers, but if you ask nice enough, they might let you stay forever. From here you’ll venture upwards towards some of the most unique and spectacular views of Lake Como, so this isn’t the time to forget your camera (like you would ever actually forget your phone).


Hike Stats:


Time: 7 hours


Distance: 6 miles


Ascent: 2,200 feet


Difficulty: Medium


Today's Highlights:


  • Take on a breathtaking hike that leads to breathtaking views that leads to jealous replies to your breathtaking snaps.
  • Discover a rustic mountain shelter, or Rifugio (refuge), that will truly make you feel as if you’re hiding from the world.
  • Stay on the lookout for the wild boar, roe deer, and foxes that call this mountain home, but don’t forget to check the skies for birds too, as this trip begins at over 4,700 feet.
  • Burn some serious calories hiking, then fuel back up with a typical northern Italian spread of minestrone soup, cheese, and local wine at dinner.
  • Bask in the beauty of the Italian Alps one last time before greeting their Swiss cousins tomorrow. Ok, maybe second cousins.

Day 5: Travel to Lugano + Hike San Salvatore

It’s time to say arrivederci to Italy and bring on Switzerland. However, Lugano is in the Italian speaking canton (similar to a state, just ask the locals) of Ticino in Switzerland, so both the language and the stunning views remain. Maybe it’s not goodbye per se, but more of a ‘per favore salvami del cioccolato,’ aka please save me some chocolate. Lake Lugano gives the town a subtropical climate, so don’t be surprised when you come across palm trees…in Switzerland.


Hike Stats:


Time: 3 hours


Distance: 6 miles


Ascent: Neutral - Ascent & Descent


Difficulty: Easy


Today's Highlights:


  • Travel by bus from Italy to Switzerland, checking another country off your list.
  • Take a funicular up San Salvatore and enjoy views of the lake from 2,700 feet.
  • Hike from Morcote via Carona, then pause for a wine break, before relaxing on a ferry ride back to Lugano around sunset. Could this be more perfect?
  • Wander the shores of Lake Lugano that have been inhabited since the Stone Age.
  • See how Swiss and Mediterranean cultures come together while walking the street of Lugano.

Free Time Suggestions
Photo Op: The Piazza della Reforma is Lugano’s main square and is ringed with pastel-colored, neoclassical palazzi (Easter has nothing on this). The perfect mix of color and architecture to make those selfies stand out.
Well Spent: Only one block from the waterfront you’ll find Via Nassa. This shopping center features a long line of arcades that go all the way back to the 17th century and is the ideal place to get that gift for your bestie out of the way.

Day 6: Monte Lema to Monte Tamaro Traverse Hike

Another day, another chance to stretch your legs while taking in views of Lake Lugano that just won’t quit—even if your legs want to. You’ll traverse the crest of the mountain, crossing summits, slopes, and high mountain pastures while the commanding presence of Matterhorn looms in the distance. This is a hike worth dreaming about, and at over 6,400 feet, you’ll literally have your head in the clouds. Let’s just keep those feet on the ground, except for the jumping for joy part.


Hike Stats:


Time: 5 hours


Distance: 8 miles


Ascent: Neutral - Ascent & Descent


Difficulty: Easy


Today's Highlights:


  • Start and end your hike in comfort with cable car rides up and down the mountain.
  • Reach the summits of Monte Tamaro and Monte Lema—then take some pics to prove it.
  • Savor the spectacular views of Lake Maggiore, Centovalli, Verzasca, Vallemaggia, Locarno, and Bellinzona (told you this was an Italian canton).
  • Discover the Santa Maria delgi Angeli church designed by world-famous architect Mario Botta.
  • See what it takes to satiate your chocolate cravings, and regain your energy, with a nearly endless supply.

Post Hike Spa(extra cost)

You’ve never needed an excuse to be pampered, but if there is a better way to unwind after a hike—we’ve never heard of it. Calm those tired muscles with hot and cold baths, or sweat out anything you didn’t on the mountain in the steam room. Just remember, you’ll still need some energy to make it back to the hotel after you ‘treat yo’ self’.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 7: Hike Curzutt and the Tibetan Bridge

Ancient trails seemingly lead you back in time to when daily life centered around hillside activities. Along the way you’ll gaze down upon the Magadino plain and hopefully build up some courage to cross a pedestrian bridge hanging over 420 feet in the air. If it makes it easier, think of it as a grown-up version of the floor is lava, just a little higher and not in your childhood living room.


Hike Stats:


Time: 7 hours


Distance: 5 miles


Ascent: Neutral - Ascent & Descent


Difficulty: Easy


Today's Highlights:


  • Tease your taste buds on a long trail among vineyards and wineries offering some of the best Merlot from the Ticino area.
  • Cross one the longest Tibetan bridges in Switzerland at 885 feet. By the end you’ll be thankful it wasn’t 886.
  • Step back in time and visit a beautifully restored cluster of homes in Curzutt.
  • Discover the beautiful frescoes at the Romanesque church of San Bernardo.
  • Keep your eyes on the sky for the largest birds you’ve ever seen. Wait, no, those are just paragliders.

Day 8: Free Time in Lugano + Travel to Milan + Farewell Dinner

The final city on your trip provides ample free time to explore on your own. Check out the mural of The Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie, and then reenact it with your new friends at the farewell dinner…maybe just leave the betrayal part out.


Today's Highlights:


  • Travel by bus from Lugano to Milan while pretending this isn’t your last day in paradise.
  • Join a local guide for a tour of the city.
  • Dress to impress, as Milan is the home of world-famous designers Prada, Armani, and Versace.
  • Eat like royalty by trying the local staple of saffron risotto. Not only is saffron more expensive than gold, it’s also much better tasting.
  • Gear up for a late night out in the second largest city in Italy and put that after dinner espresso to the test.

Free Time Suggestions
Inspire Jealousy: Visit the Quadrilatero d’Oro aka the golden rectangle of shopping. An essential destination for shopping, and a great spot to pick something up to show off once you’re home.
Holy Moly!: Stop by the Duomo di Milano aka the Milan Cathedral, the largest church in Italy and 4th largest in the world. Taking over 600 years(!) to complete, it mixes of a variety of architectural styles and is truly a sight to behold.


Farewell Dinner
Share some last laughs (and maybe shed a few tears) at an included farewell dinner with the group. And remember, stories that are embarrassing now are always funny down the road. Ok, almost always.

Day 9: Fly Home

Arrivederci amici miei!
Translation: Goodbye, friends! Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, enjoy your last few moments together. Take one more group photo. Grab that final drink. (Fine, maybe a couple of drinks.) But this isn’t goodbye. It’s “See you later.” The only question is, where?


–OR-


EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS


1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.


2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.


Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.


Activities will take place rain or shine, however the hiking routes may change based on local conditions. Any changes are at the discretion of the guide.

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Flights from

Date: September 4, 2020
    Travel Protection
    Excursions
Trip Fee$3539
Total Price with Flights $3539

Stress-free Booking You have 48 hours to cancel and receive a full refund. You can also switch trips up to 99 days before you leave.

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