The North Italian weekend getaway (with a little bit of Switzerland)

 I know that sometimes you wonder where to travel for a weekend getaway and you don’t come up with something amazing that excites you enough to open your laptop immediately to purchase your flight tickets.  

 I am a travel freak and always looking for something that excites me and could possibly give me memorable experiences for a lifetime. We all work hard to pay our pills but there really should be more joyful times when we enjoy our lives to the fullest. 

 As nature is in my heart, I thought about seeing different landscapes and views where my eyes could rest and where I can get inspiration to continue working hard to achieve my goals. So this post is for travel enthusiasts who are into active travelling.

 For my weekend motivation trip I visited classical lake Como which has beautiful Italian architecture and old town on the riverside of the lake. After that the road trip took me to Switzerland to visit historical village Saint Moritz, which is one of the most popular Winter ski resorts in the World. Those views towards alps are stunning there.

 Next stop was at the breathtakingly beautiful lake Garda, back in Italy. And then I was off to my last destination – Venice – with a little stop over Verona. The driving duration of this road trip is around 14 hours so minimum program would be 3-4 days so it would be perfect for a long weekend getaway. Best time for this trip is from May to October (with summer months being high season – meaning more crowds, higher prices and longer waiting time everywhere). Depending on the season you are going to this road trip please be aware that it can be cold and even some snow on the mountains when travelling off the season. Keep that in mind when choosing a car. You ll find perfect options for every season on Rentalmoose: LINK HERE

NB! Just in case to avoid any future misunderstandings don’t forget to use the Rentalmoose app to take photos of the condition of the car when receiving it and before starting your journey and to qualify 50% of rebate from excess coverage. 

1. Milan

The Galleria next to Milan Duomo 

 The starting point of this trip is Milan and it there are many great flight connections to get there. Milan has 3 big airports – Malpensa, Linate and Bergamo. All of the airports are more or less about 1 hour drive from the first location – lake Como. If you are looking for cheaper flight tickets for your budget then Easyjet and Ryanair are they way to go – both companies have many flights to Milan. A good option is also Norwegian (they also have wifi on board if that’s important to you). Try to find flights from Momondo, Skyscanner or Kayak. Our journey here starts from Malpensa airport.

After your arrival to Milan there are two options. Either you like to go to the city or drive directly to the lakeside. During high season in Summer there might be a lot of traffic around the city centre and parking can be hard to find. So when planning to visit Milan we suggest to park the car outside the centre and use a public transport to go and see the Milan Duomo and beautiful Galleria next to it, and if you are not the one driving – enjoy an Aperol Spritz at one of the cafe’s around here. Milan is on the other direction from lake Como so your driving time will be longer. 

 For rental car options have a look at Rentalmoose.com which offers you the best prices for car rentals from the most well known car rental companies. Keep in mind that when you are seeing that car rental companies are offering really low prices online then there might be some risk for you – either high deposit or hidden fees. There is no such issue when booking through Rentalmoose. 

 With Rentalmoose application you can take pictures of your car visual condition (scratches) and when returning you have proof of your car condition which means lower risk for you and better car renting experience. To avoid any misunderstandings use the Rentalmoose app to take photos before starting your journey and to qualify 50% of rebate from excess coverage. 

 Pick a suitable car that you feel like driving with. When you want to enjoy the summer breeze then opt for a convertible or when you are going with more than two people then a sedan or a jeep is a better choice. Add your criterias at the Rentalmoose and it will offer you the most suitable car options for the getaway.

Next:  Milan Malpensa – Como (about 40 minutes drive)

2. Lake Como

Hotel Villa d’Este in lake Como 

 If you won’t like to fight the heat of the Italian mid-summer at the city on the inland and prefer a cool breeze of the lakeside instead then sit in your car at the airport and take the direction to Como. It takes around 1 hour from Malpensa airport to lake Como. Keep in mind that on the way you run into highway tolls where you have to pay. When arriving to lake Como enjoy the stunning view and take a walk in the old town and riverside. There is an amazing restaurant just a little walk from the city centre – The Market Place. Don’t let the neighbourhood scare you away – it’s located under the old and rusty apartment building, not as nice as in the old town. This restaurant offers Michelin quality food with reasonable prices. 

 A very nice place to visit in the area is Villa d’Este. Maybe treat yourself to a drink and a dessert in their lovely restaurant with the most amazing view to the lake and mountains. And if you have more time – take a ferry to Bellagio. A true fairytale city.

 Now if you want to go shopping then Como is not the best option for that as its a small town and doesn’t have too many boutiques. But close-by is an outlet called Fox Town Factory Stores where you can purchase designer goods and save some euros. They have most well known brands and it’s good to check out their discounts when going there. Fox Town is located in Switzerland, just across the Italian border, about half an hour drive from Como centre. 

Next: Como – Saint Moritz (about 2,5 – 3 hours drive)

3. Saint Moritz

Badrutt’s Palace in Saint Moritz

 Are you ready to visit one of the oldest and most iconic ski resort areas in the whole world? When driving from Como to Saint Moritz you will see amazing views on the way. Feel free to stop to breath the fresh air and take a few photos of mind-blowing views. Also be very careful when driving the curvy mountain roads. 

 Saint Moritz is a popular Winter destination but there is plenty to do during summer season as well. But keep in mind that the climate is a bit cooler there even during the summer. 

 For those who like biking or want to have adrenaline rush then mountain bikers can use the cable car to reach the Piz Nair mountain station at 3,056 metres above sea level. The views are breathtaking and the trails are as varied as the wonderful natural environment itself. Read more HERE about why you should experience the mountain biking. 

 After getting dirty on the bike there is nothing better to do than going to sauna and relax in the spa. This is another thing that St Moritz is famous for. Most of the hotels have spas here. Most legendary hotels here are Badrutt’s Palace, Kulm hotel and Grand Hotel des Bains Kempinski. Good thing is that summer is the low season in the resort so you can get better hotel deals this time! 

 Hotel Badrutt’s Palace is in the heart of the village. It’s dating back to 1898, being one of the first hotels which had electricity and in 1913 they built first indoor tennis court in European continent. Instead of indoor tennis court they now have here Le Restaurant dining room. So if you want to experience something extraordinary then book a table in Le Restaurant in advance. They do have an outdoor tennis court though so you don’t have to miss the game. A bit simpler place to eat there is Chesa Veglia – located in a gorgeous and authentic Engadine farmhouse, converted almost a century ago into the Badrutt’s Palace Hotel. Hotel is situated just 350 meters from the lake. Kempinski on the other hand is just in front of the lake where in the winter time the famous St Moritz Snow Polo takes place. 

NB! When in search of a cheaper hotels for your budget then look the ones out of the centre –  the prices are cheaper yet they are still a small car drive away from the village. 

Next: St Moritz – Limone Sul Garda (about 4,5 – 5 hours drive through Paseo Stelvio)

4. Limone Sul Garda

 Before continuing driving make sure you choose a road that goes to Limone via Stelvio Pass. It will be a longer way but we chose this route for a purpose – this road has been rated as one of the world greatest driving roads by Top Gear. Check out the Top Gear video where they are driving through it and let them give you a taste of the feeling what you are about to get from this road trip.

 And our road trip has brought us back to Italy, on the way to another great lakeside destination – lago di Garda – the biggest lake in Italy which is known for its crystal clear water. Our stop here is in Limone Sul Garda. Limone is very tiny but gorgeous little village. It’s a perfect place to do a little stop, walk around in the village and in the promenade to enjoy the cute old houses and all the flowers – there are so many vibrant, colorful flowers everywhere! Walk until the harbour and then treat yourself to a delicious gelato – famous Italian ice cream. 

 For the real Italian vibe stay at the Splendid Palace hotel or Hotel Castell – both of them have marvellous views at the lake. When you prefer more modern accommodation then look no further from Park Hotel Imperial. A good feast awaits you at the Vecchia Malcesine restaurant. And for a simpler lunch go to Ristorante Gemma

Next: Lago di Garda – Verona (about 1,5 hours)

5. Verona

Arena di Verona 

Let’s continue to drive in the final direction – Venice. But first: about a half an hour drive to the South on the lake shore there is one of the best restaurant and hotel in the Garda area (if not in the World…) – Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli. It is very private and as a tourist almost impossible to find – there are even no signs on the streets. If not planning to spend the night there you can go to their restaurant also. But this place comes with a price tag, it is expensive. But the food is oh so divine! Villa Feltrinelli, appears unchanged since 1892, yet it’s always different. This will be a once in a lifetime experience! 

 If Villa Feltrinelli doesn’t suit your travel budget then drive until Sirmione. This is another beautiful location in the lake Garda. And it’s literally in the lake Garda as Sirmione is on the top of a peninsula. Don’t forget to see their amazing castle Scaliger. 

 Go to restaurant La Rucola 2.0 or La Speranzina if you are ready to pay more for your fabulous meal or go to Trattoria Clementina where you also great food with reasonable price. 

After you have discovered Sirmione hop on the car and drive to Verona. Name sounds familiar? Probably because this is the city where the Worlds best known love story came from. Oh yes, the place of Romeo and Juliet! Go visit the Casa di Giulietta – a 14th century residence with a small Juliet’s balcony and if you are together with your loved one then write your names on the wall as thousands of loved ones have done before you. Another must see place is Arena di Verona. The Verona Arena is a huge 1st-century Roman amphitheater, which currently hosts concerts and large-scale opera performances. So check their program, maybe you can see some event there. I was lucky to witness Andrea Bocelli himself singing there. 

Next: Verona – Venice (about 1,5 hour drive)

6. Venice

View from the Gritti Palace Terrace in Venice

You are reaching the beautiful Venice, a really unique city which is built on the islands and belongs to UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals. Places to see in Venice are its Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco. Of course you have to go to gondola ride while in there! You can also go shopping as most fashion brands are represented there and many Italian ones make special collections that are only possible to buy in Venice!

 The most famous hotels in Venice are Hotel Danieli (Legendary The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp was filmed there), The Gritti Palace, Aman hotel and Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Of course all of those come with a price (possible to get better price when travelling off season!).  A good hotel recommendation with a reasonable price would be Hotel Ai Due Principi

 For best pasta go to The Gritti Palace Terrace – the view from there to the is jaw dropping good! For the best Bellinis you’ll need to visit the famous Harry’s Bar that belongs to Cipriani. 

Drop off

Tip: I recommend to drop off your rental car at Venice because the traffic in Venice is by gondolas anyway and this way you’d skip high parking fees. Catch Italia Rail fast train that takes you directly to Malpensa airport in 4h 5 mins from Venice. 

If you still choose to park your car at the port for the time you enjoy Venice and drive back to Milan, then a pit stop recommendation would be Bergamo (or maybe your flight departs from Bergamo airport anyway?). If you happen to be foodie then Michelin 3* restaurant Da Vittorio in Bergamo should be a must for you. In this case drop off your rental car at the airport. 

See the detailed Venice parking information HERE.  

Conclusion 

Ready to pack your bags? You have come along with the experience that many have dreamed but never executed. Now it’s your time to take this adventure to alive as your next weekend getaway trip. So find the best flights at Kayak, Skyscanner or Momondo, book the hotels through Booking.com and get your dream car for the road trip at Rentalmoose. 

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