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Swiss Alps Itinerary - HELP!

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My husband and I are planning a short trip (5 days) to the Swiss Alps in August. My initial plan was to fly into Zurich and travel south, leaving out of Geneva. We wanted to see Lucerne, Berner Oberland, Zermatt, Geneva, however this seemed very ambitious for such a short time frame.

New plan! Fly in and out of Geneva; stay in the southern part of the country and see as many beautiful landscapes as possible. Upon reading many reviews and recommendations, we are thinking:

Fly into Geneva. Visit Lake Geneva, Zermatt, Lauterbrunnen/Environs/Interlaken(Jungfrau/Grindelwald). Any recommendations on best area to stay? Is it possible to stay in ONE HOTEL during this trip and do day trips to these areas or is it best to stay in different hotels? Where would you recommend spending the most time?

-Swiss pass? This is the best way to get around without a car?
-Glacier Express -- not worth it because it's a one-way train? A review I read had mentioned travelling on the tourist trains instead (?) Are these the trains you ride on via Swiss Pass?
-Is it worth travelling to Zermatt? Can we get a good view from other areas like Jungfrau?
-As far as an itinerary, did I pick the best places to see? We are interested in VIEWS, not so much cities, shopping.

Any expertise would be appreciated. There are so many beautiful areas to explore, we'd like to get the most out of our trip.

Thank you!

  • Report Abuse

    You want to do way too much in 5 days.

    Difference between Zermatt and Grindelwald (Jungfrau area):


    Zermatt is IN THE MIDDLE of the highest mountains of Switzerland, 32 of them are more than 4000m high:
    Zinalrothorn (4221m), Obergabelhorn (4063m), Dent Blanche (4357m) in the West
    Dent d'Herens (4174m), Matterhorn (4478m) in the South West
    Breithorn (4164m), Gendarme (4106m), Roccia Nera (4075m), Polluce (4092m), Castore (4223m), Felikhorn (4063m) in the South
    Lyskamm (4527m), Ludwigshoehe (4341m), Parrotspitze (4432m), Signalkuppe (4554m), Zumsteinspitze (4563m), Punta Dufour (4634m), Nordend (4609m) in the South East
    Strahlhorn (4190m), Rimpfischhorn (4200m, Allalinhorn (4027m), Alphubel (4206m) in the East
    Taeschhorn (4491m), Dom (4545m), Lenzspitze (4294m), Nadelhorn (4327m), Stecknadelhorn (4341m), Hohberglihorn (4219m), Dirruhorn (4035m) in the North East
    Bishorn (4153m), Grand Gendarme (4331m), Weisshorn (4506m) in the North West

    The following 17 glaciers can easily (on signmarked trails, without pick or rope) be reached on foot from Zermatt village by experienced hikers:
    Schaligletscher (Weisshorn Hut trail)
    Hohlichtgletscher (Mettelhorn trail)
    Triftgletscher (Rothorn Hut trail)
    Schoenbielgletscher (Schoenbiel Hut trail)
    Zmuttgletscher (Schoenbiel Hut trail)
    Matterhorngletscher (Hoernli Hut trail)
    Furggletscher (Furggsee trail)
    Theodulgletscher (Gandegg Hut trail)
    Gornergletscher (Monte Rosa Hut trail)
    Grenzgletscher (Monte Rosa Hut trail)
    Monte Rosa Gletscher (Monte Rosa Hut trail)
    Triftjigletscher (Stockhorn trail)
    Findelngletscher (Fluhalp trail)
    Laengfluhgletscher (Fluhalp trail)
    Alphubelgletscher (Taesch Hut trail)
    Weingartengletscher (Weingartensee trail)
    Festigletscher (Dom Hut trail)
    Another glacier (Breithornplateau, 3800m) can only be reached by gondola.

    Wengen/Grindelwald are on the NORTHERN SLOPES of the Alps. The 6 (more than 4000m) high mountains of this area are all in the South of Wengen/Grindelwald:
    Schreckhorn (4078m), Lauteraarhorn (4042m), Finsteraarhorn (4274m), Fiescherhoerner (4049m), Moench (4107m), Jungfrau (4158m).

    The following 4 glaciers can easily (on signmarked trails, without pick or rope) be reached on foot from Grindelwald village by experienced hikers:
    Oberer Grindelwaldgletscher (Gleckstein Hut trail)
    Unterer Grindelwaldgletscher (Schreckhorn Hut trail)
    Eismeer (Schreckhorn Hut trail)
    Guggigletscher (Guggi Hut tral, begins at Eigergletscher railway station)
    4 other glaciers can be reached from Stechelberg bus stop
    Another glacier (Jungfraufirn, 3800m) can only be reached by Jungfrau railway (return fare about 150 USD).

    If you combine it with Bernina Express and treno panoramico Val Vigezzo, it's not a one way affair, but a round trip. But it makes only ssense if you leave the train at the interesting places and stay there for 1-2 days: Zermatt, St. Moritz/Pontresina, Lugano. Itinarary: Zermatt - Glacier Express - St. Moritz/Pontresina - Bernina Express - Tirano Bernina Express bus - Lake Como - Lugano - boat l Ponte Tresa - bus - Luino - boat - Locarno - Valle Vigezzo Panoramic trrain - Domodossola - Post bus - Simplonpass - Brig - train Zermatt.

    From there, day trips to the following and many other places are really easy:
    Aletsch Glacier
    Saas Fee
    Val d'Anniviers
    Lake Geneva
    Lake Thun, INterlaken, etc
    Stresa lago Maggiore
    Borromean Islands
    But be aware that, although a charming small medieval town, Brig is NOT a mountain village.

    You may have a look at

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Anna2550,

    I agree with neckervd above that your trip will be more enjoyable (and more memorable) if you have fewer destinations. With four nights, I would have only one base, and by flying out of Geneva, you'll need to stay close to that airport the night before your flight (Brig is about 2h40 from the airport).

    I would recommend you choose between Zermatt and the Oberland for your base for three nights. Then return to Lake Geneva for your last night (Montreux or Vevey are about 90 minutes from the airport).

    If you could fly in/out of Zürich, then you could see the Oberland and stay in Luzern the night before your flight (Luzern is 1h from the airport). Alternately, you could stay in Bern or Thun for all 4 nights, as Bern is about 1h15 from the airport and Thun is 1h40. From either Bern or Thun, you can easily visit the Jungfraujoch, Zermatt, Montreux/Vevey, Grueyres, Gstaad, etc.

    Have fun as you plan!


  • Report Abuse

    Thank you both for you advice and assistance! It's very much appreciated :) You've helped very much.

    Our plan is to stay in Oberland for 4 nights and then travel down to Geneva for 2 nights. My question is whether the SwissPass would be more beneficial rather than purchasing train tickets when needed. We will definitely need a train ticket from Geneva --> Oberland, then Oberland to Geneva, however is necessary to have while seeing Oberland? We'll likely be staying in Murren or Wengen and visiting the local area.

    I read that the Geneva Transport Card is free when staying at Geneva hotels, therefore we can use this to see the city, however I dont think it includes seeing much of the lake and travelling to other towns (Vevey, Lausanne, Montreaux).

    Any insight on how much use we'd get out of it? Are buses, cable cars, trams used more so (and for a lesser cost) in Oberland? A 5 day SwissPass for 2 people runs a bit over $700.

  • Report Abuse

    Do you really think that it is possible to give a useful answer to your question? All depends on the train, boat, bus, cablecar and gondola rides you will do in Switzerland.
    You don't tell a single word about that (except the fact that you want to go from Geneva to Muerren and back without telling us along which itinerary).

    Do your maths with the links I gave above and you will see what is the best pass for you. But don't forget the Bernese Oberland Pass!

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