Embarking on a European journey with our family of nine brought us closer together, creating memories that will last a lifetime. From breathtaking landscapes through Switzerland to captivating cultural experiences in beautiful towns, our 10-day adventure took us on a whirlwind tour through some of Europe’s most enchanting destinations. Join us as we recount the highlights of this unforgettable trip.
Day 1-2: Birmingham to Geneva
After a series of flights, we arrived in Geneva, Switzerland, eager to explore the city’s historic charm. Although we were all pretty jet-legged, we were excited to finally be there. The magnificent St. Peter’s Cathedral in Old Town Geneva awaited our arrival, where we joined a fascinating 2.5-hour walking tour guided by the charismatic Paul. As we strolled through the narrow cobblestone streets, we immersed ourselves in the rich history, captivating stories, and architectural wonders that make Geneva a true gem.
After bidding farewell to Geneva, we embarked on a picturesque drive to the enchanting town of Montreux. Along the way, we marveled at the breathtaking Swiss landscapes that unfolded before us—rolling green hills, majestic mountains, and crystal-clear lakes. Our excitement reached new heights as we approached Montreux, a place renowned for its natural beauty and cultural heritage. Upon arriving in Montreux, we settled into the Hotel Helvetie—a great base for our adventures. Though the bustling city offered vibrant energy and captivating sights, we learned that parking should be booked well in advance to ensure a smooth experience. After picking up a dinner to-go from “Rando Burger Joint” we ate in our hotel rooms and were ready to call it a day.
Day 3: Castle Chillon and Interlaken
Our day began with a delightful breakfast at our hotel, an experience that left us craving more. Energized and ready for the day’s adventures, we set off on an exciting audio tour at the legendary Castle Chillon. For three captivating hours, we immersed ourselves in the history, legends, and architectural wonders of this medieval fortress. As we wandered through its halls and chambers, we couldn’t help but feel transported to a bygone era.
Following our visit to Castle Chillon, we set out on a scenic two-hour drive to Rosenlaui, a hidden gem nestled amidst the gorgeous Swiss Alps. (Be prepared for windy and tight roads to the top). Arriving at Rosenlaui, we were greeted by a captivating trail with panoramic views and unforgettable photo opportunities. A picture at the iconic bridge became a cherished memento of our time in this beautiful location. (Type in GPS Rosenlaui Hotel and you will be able to find the iconic bridge along the way).
As the afternoon unfolded, we continued our journey to Interlaken, a picturesque town nestled between two stunning lakes. A quick stop at Denner (a local grocery store) allowed us to stock up on groceries for the upcoming days. With supplies in hand, we arrived in the charming village of Lauterbrunnen, where we parked at the base of the cable car that would transport us to Murren. With a nominal fee of $12 per person, we ascended to the charming village, perched high in the mountains, offering awe-inspiring 360-degree views.
Side note: if you choose to stay in Murren or really anywhere other than Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen you will have to take cable car lift. No cars are allowed.
Our accommodations for the night were a ski chalet in Murren, boasting not only cozy comforts but also panoramic vistas that took our breath away. With space for 10-11 people, we relished in the company of everyone finally being together, surrounded by the magnificence of the Alpine landscape.
As we settled in for the night, the tranquil beauty of Murren embraced us, making us grateful for the remarkable experiences we had already shared on this unforgettable journey.
Day 4: Hiking to Lauterbrunnen and Cycling Adventures
After a restful night’s sleep in the enchanting village of Murren, we awoke feeling rejuvenated and ready for another day of Alpine exploration. The day began with a leisurely start as we slept in, savoring the beauty and rest of our mountain retreat.
With a hearty breakfast fueling our bodies, we embarked on a scenic 4-5 mile hike down to Lauterbrunnen. The trail unveiled breathtaking vistas at every turn, offering glimpses of cascading waterfalls, lush green meadows, and snow-capped peaks. It was a nature lover’s paradise, and each step filled our souls with a sense of awe and wonder at the God who created it all.
As we descended into the valley, Lauterbrunnen welcomed us with its quaint charm and picturesque beauty. The town, nestled in a deep valley with towering cliffs on either side, exuded a serene atmosphere that instantly captivated our hearts. We spent the afternoon meandering through its streets, immersing ourselves in the local culture, and soaking up the warm hospitality of the locals.
To further embrace the town’s enchanting ambiance, we decided to rent bikes from Imboden Bike. Pedaling through the town and its surroundings, we reveled in the freedom and joy of exploring at our own pace. The gentle breeze brushed against our faces as we rode along, taking in the magnificent scenery that surrounded us.
As the day unfolded, we found ourselves blown away by the town’s unique shops, cozy cafes, and charming architecture. The friendly locals welcomed us with open arms, sharing stories of their community and offering suggestions for hidden gems worth exploring.
In between our adventures, we took moments to pause and soak in the beauty that enveloped us. Whether it was the sight of a cascading waterfall, the vibrant colors of blooming flowers, or the distant sound of cowbells echoing through the valley, Lauterbrunnen left an indelible mark on our hearts.
Day 5: Biking and Hiking in Lauterbrunnen
Setting off from our cozy retreat in Murren, we embarked on an exhilarating bike ride down to Lauterbrunnen. The gentle breeze caressed our faces as we glided through the scenic countryside, immersing ourselves in the natural beauty that surrounded us.
However, I must confess, there was a moment of excitement during the bike ride. As I zoomed down the winding path, I learned an important lesson – never solely rely on the left hand brake. A sudden jolt sent me soaring over the handlebars, a humbling reminder that these e-bikes are no joke. Fortunately, I emerged with only a few scrapes and a tale to share.
Arriving in Lauterbrunnen, we were greeted by the majestic sight of the iconic Staubbach Falls. Its cascading waters mesmerized us, providing the perfect backdrop for capturing unforgettable photographs at one of the area’s best picture spots.
After returning our bikes, we hopped on a train and ventured to Wengen, a charming village perched high in the mountains. Our spirits soared as we experienced a thrilling 3-mile hike to the most breathtaking picture spot yet. The panoramic views of the Alps stretching as far as the eye could see were truly worth the effort.
As dusk approached, we found ourselves at the esteemed Hotel Silberhorn, where we indulged in an exquisite dining experience. Each bite was a tantalizing blend of flavors, leaving us craving more. It was undoubtedly the best meal of our trip thus far, a culinary delight that perfectly complemented the day’s adventures.
Day 6: A Journey to Lucerne and Majestic Neuschwanstein Castle
After bidding farewell to the breathtaking landscapes of Lauterbrunnen, we set off on a scenic drive towards Lucerne. Our anticipation grew as we approached this charming city known for its historic architecture, vibrant culture, and stunning lakeside setting.
Upon arrival, we couldn’t resist starting our exploration with a visit to the famous Chapel Bridge. Its iconic structure, adorned with beautiful flowers, provided a captivating backdrop for photographs. As we strolled along the bridge, we marveled at the blend of history and natural beauty that surrounded us.
With a delightful coffee and a pot luck lunch in hand, we were ready for our next adventure.
After our quick stop in Lucerne, we embarked on a 3.5-hour drive to our next destination: Neuschwanstein Castle. Nestled amidst the picturesque Bavarian Alps, this fairytale-like castle was a sight to behold. Use this link to order tickets ahead of time.
Arriving just in time for the last tour of the day, we eagerly explored the castle’s opulent halls, grand rooms, and stunning vistas. Each step transported us back in time, immersing us in the romanticism and architectural splendor of this renowned landmark. We all enjoyed learning about the mystery shrouded around Ludwig II‘s life and death.
As the day drew to a close, we drove the 3 hours to Salzburg, a city of rich history and musical heritage. We settled into a cozy VRBO around midnight, and reflected on the captivating experiences we had encountered throughout the day.
Day 7: Rainy Salzburg and Austrian Delights
As we woke up to a drizzly morning, our plans for a ferry ride at the picturesque Konigsee had to be revised due to the weather conditions. Nevertheless, we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits. We took a few pictures and hopped into our vehicle and embarked on the short drive to the vibrant city of Salzburg.
Arriving in Salzburg, our appetites led us to a local hotspot: Salzburger Grill Imbiss. Here, we indulged in the most mouthwatering bratwurst, savoring every bite of this culinary delight. The flavors and textures danced on our taste buds, solidifying it as the best hotdog we had ever experienced.
We were greeted by a knowledgeable and passionate guide who would lead us on a captivating 3-hour walking tour. We quickly discovered that customizing our tour to include our specific interests and preferences ensured an even more enriching experience. Our guide expertly tailored the tour, taking us on a journey through Salzburg’s storied past and iconic landmarks.
As the evening unfolded, we sought a charming setting to enjoy a memorable dinner. Gasthof Sur Goldenen Traube proved to be the perfect choice. The cozy ambiance, attentive service, and delectable cuisine made for an unforgettable dining experience. We savored every dish, relishing the flavors and savoring the joyful moments shared around the table.
Day 8: Hallstatt to Lake Como
Our day commenced with an exhilarating 1.5-hour drive from Salzburg, leading us to the mesmerizing town of Hallstatt. As we wound through the scenic roads, we were greeted by postcard-perfect views of towering mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and quaint Alpine villages. The allure of Hallstatt beckoned us, promising a taste of Austrian charm like no other.
Arriving in Hallstatt, we instantly fell under the town’s enchanting spell. Nestled between towering mountains and the serene Hallstätter See, this UNESCO World Heritage Site captivated us with its idyllic setting and fairytale-like atmosphere. We strolled along the lakeside promenade, soaking in the beautiful views and admiring the traditional Austrian architecture that adorned the streets.
After walking around Hallstatt, we continued our adventure, embarking on an 8-hour drive towards our ultimate destination: Lake Como, Italy. The journey was long, but the anticipation fueled our excitement. We traversed winding roads, crossed breathtaking landscapes, and marveled at the ever-changing scenery that unfolded before us.
As the sun began to set, we finally arrived at our much-awaited haven in Lake Como. Tucked away in the charming town of Cernobbio, our luxurious vacation home awaited us. With its six bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a host of lavish amenities, it offered the perfect blend of comfort, elegance, and convenience. Surrounded by the beauty of Lake Como, we knew we had found our paradise. This was definitely our favorite stay of the trip. 5 Stars all around!
Day 9: A Cycling Adventure and Gelato Delights – Exploring the Charms of Lake Como
The day began with the gentle aroma of freshly brewed coffee enveloping us at Poletti, a charming café nestled in the heart of Como. Energized by our morning pick-me-up, we eagerly set out to embark on a cycling adventure, ready to explore the treasures that awaited us on the island.
With our trusty e-bikes, we pedaled along the scenic and tight paths that meandered around Lake Como. The cool breeze caressed our faces as we marveled at the beautiful waters glistening under the warm Italian sun. Each turn revealed a new vista, a breathtaking landscape that left us in awe of The Lord’s artistry.
Our cycling escapade led us on a 10+ mile journey, traversing the island and uncovering its hidden charms. From quaint villages to charming waterfront promenades, we reveled in the beauty that surrounded us. Would we recommend e-bikes on Lake Como’s winding blind roads? Maybe not. We felt at every turn we could be hit by a passing car or taken out by a fellow biker. Was it a fun memory? Absolutely!
Ending our exploration, we stumbled upon a delightful treasure: Crema & Cioccolato Gelateria Caffetteria. With a wide array of delectable gelato flavors, we couldn’t resist indulging in this Italian delight. The creamy, flavorful scoops tantalized our taste buds, while the warm hospitality of the owners added an extra touch of sweetness to our experience.
As the day drew to a close, we returned to our haven in Cernobbio, cherishing the memories we had made throughout the day. The beauty of Lake Como, the thrill of cycling through its landscapes, and the indulgence of exquisite gelato had woven together a tapestry of unforgettable experiences.
Day 10: Sailing in Bellagio and Kayaking on Lake Como
Our day began again at Poletti (yes it’s that good), where we were greeted by the comforting aromas of freshly brewed coffee and the enticing display of mouthwatering pastries. As I sipped my coffee, memories of my summer abroad in Italy over five years ago came flooding back, reminding me of the limited but precious conversations I had in Italian. Although I was never fluent, I cherished those moments of attempting to converse and connect with the locals. As I stumbled through my words, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of the Italian language and the sense of belonging it brought me, even in those brief exchanges. It was a reminder that language is more than just words – it’s a bridge that connects us to people and cultures, even if only for a fleeting moment.
Energized and ready for the day’s adventures, we set out to catch our boat tour in Bellagio, a charming town nestled along the shores of Lake Como. With Federico as our guide, we embarked on a leisurely sailing journey, exploring the enchanting nooks and crannies of Lake Como. The gentle breeze caressed our faces as we marveled at the stunning vistas that unfolded before us. Federico skillfully navigated the waters, allowing us to bask in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. I do recommend letting him know as soon as you get on the boat what your desired landmarks are… otherwise you will sail somewhat aimlessly.
After our boat tour, our adventure continued as we drove to Valmadrera CO for a thrilling kayaking tour. To refuel before our kayaking adventure, we stumbled upon the Drera Fresh Bistrot, which happened to be celebrating its opening day. The delectable cuisine and warm hospitality made it an extraordinary dining experience. Once fueled, we glided through the calm waters, marveling at the lush shoreline and the majestic mountains that framed the horizon.
The kayaking tour also came with unexpected surprises as we received drink and appetizer vouchers for a charming restaurant just across the street. It was a delightful treat that further enhanced our experience and left us full and happy.
As the day drew to a close, we made our way back to our cozy VRBO, taking a different route to avoid the narrow roads. With anticipation in the air, we enjoyed a captivating evening under the starry sky, as fireworks illuminated the water, casting a magical glow over Lake Como. It was a moment that encapsulated the essence of our journey, a celebration of cherished memories and the joy of shared experiences.
Our 10-day European adventure was an incredible tapestry of experiences, weaving together natural wonders, cultural treasures, and gastronomic delights. From the picturesque landscapes of Switzerland to the charm of Austria and the beauty of Lake Como, each day unfolded with new discoveries and cherished moments. This journey will forever hold a special place in our hearts, reminding us of the power of travel and the joy of shared experiences.