14 Days Dec Trip to Switzerland (or???)

Sep 27th, 2014, 10:18 PM
  #1  
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14 Days Dec Trip to Switzerland (or???)

After planning my last wonderful trip to NZ with the help of all the fodorites, I am back again, this time round with a new destination in mind - Switzerland! We will be travelling in the first two weeks of December.

Just a quick background, we are a bunch of young avid travellers from a fast-paced Asian country. It will be the first time we stepped foot in Europe and hence, this trip serves more of a "taster" of all. We are into mountains and lakes and farms, but we don't intend to do skiing in this trip. We are looking at a max of 2 nights stay in any cities. Our initial plan for the route is as below:

1. Zurich (arrival on flight at 7+am)
2. Appenzell (1 night)
3. Lucerne (2 nights)
4. Lugano (1 night)
5. Pontresina [1 day down to St Moritz] (2 nights)
6. Zermatt (2 nights)
7. Lausanne or Montreux (1 night)
8. Gimmelwald or Murren or Interlaken (2 nights)
9. Bern en route to Zurich for late flight out on our last day

However, after reading much of the fodorites trip report (and the lackthereof in the cold wintry season), we are truly concerned if we should trim out certain areas that may not even be accessible during the season or too cold for our "warm tropical-tuned-bodies".

The shopaholic selves among the girls in this trip have also started questioning if we should split half of our time between Rome and Milan or Paris and Florence as an alternatives together with the Switzerland leg of this trip.

We welcome all advices, and recommendations on stays and must-visit sites or food in all the abovementioned areas.
Jamie54 is offline  
Sep 27th, 2014, 10:38 PM
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Your itinerary in entirely too fast paced for the likes of me, but I suspect age has a lot to do with it!

Do keep in mind that days are very short in Switzerland in December - it gets light around 7:30-8 am and dark around 4:30 pm. Days feel even shorter when you're in a valley (such as in the Engadine) as it takes longer for the sun to crest the mountains, and then the sun dips behind the mountains around 2 pm. This also makes it feel quite a bit colder.

I assume you're going to Switzerland for the incredible scenery, so you'll want some daylight!

The advantage (and disadvantage) of visiting in early December is that it's pre-season in alpine areas, and you'll find quite a few closures. Bus and train transport operate on a reduced schedule in alpine areas, so you'll need to plan accordingly in order to make the most of your short days.
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 27th, 2014, 10:41 PM
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We visited some of the areas you plan to visit in early December last year, so my trip report from that visit might give you some insight in what to expect that time of year:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...r-oberland.cfm
Melnq8 is offline  
Sep 28th, 2014, 04:23 AM
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If doing even half of that by train as I suppose you are then by all means check into the Swiss Pass which allows you to hop on virtually any train anytime - and again if you do half of what you prevision it will still be a great deal - for lots of info on planning a Swiss rail trip check out these IMO superb sources: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. An 8-consecutive-day Swiss Saver Pass (2-5 names on one pass abut 20% cheaper than solo passes) would be the ideal one for your time frame, covering every train or trip previsioned in your OP.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 28th, 2014, 08:44 AM
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5. Pontresina [1 day down to St Moritz] (2 nights)>

those places are just a few miles apart - why spend all the time relocating - and most folks here vastly prefer Pontresina ta a glitzy St Moritz.

And be sure to do a day out of the fantastic Bernina Pass railway - my top scenic railway in all of Europe and I think I'd taken them all. A lovely awesome day out.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 28th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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Sure if the group wants to go to Paris or Rome for shopping and city activities, you could certainly split the trip and do one week in Switzerland (which might be enough since the weather's so cold) and one week in one of the cities instead.

For a 1st trip to Europe, I personally wouldn't recommend what you have planned at all (because of the pace and because of the weather)... and I'm crazy about Switzerland!
suze is offline  
Sep 28th, 2014, 12:24 PM
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All places you mention can of course be reached by train (every 30 to 60 min, from about 6am until late evening).
But what do you plan to do at all these places?
As mentioned above, it may be cold (night temperatures at Pontresina for example can easily go down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit) and rainy or there may be fog and snowfall.

If you like to visit the museums and churches of Zurich, Bern, Lucerne and Lausanne, you may be fine. Otherwise you may reconsider your plans.
neckervd is offline  
Sep 28th, 2014, 12:39 PM
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Crazy itinerary in the winter.
I would have a max of 4 hotels for this trip.

Or, forget CH and see the beauty of the Dolomites and Venice, with some shopping in Milan.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Sep 28th, 2014, 02:39 PM
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Yes you will be moving incessantly and not really staying anywhere - I'd take out a few places like Apenzell or Lugano unless you have friends there, etc and put another day into Montreux or Vevey - two towns many prefer over a much larger Lausanne and into the Interlaken area, an area where there is so so many things to do from a base.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 30th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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Jamie54 - what do you think?
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 6th, 2014, 06:15 AM
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Thanks all for your kind and generous advices. Ive currently trimmed off Apenzell and Lugano as suggested. So the itinerary looks a little like this.

1. Lucerne (2 nights)
2. Pontresina (2 nights)
3. Montreux (3 nights)
4. Interlaken (2 nights)
5. Zurich (1 night)

I heard much about the various railways. For the Bernina Pass, which portion of the journey do u suggest for us to take? (as I observed that it travels all the way to Italy)
Jamie54 is offline  
Oct 6th, 2014, 06:56 AM
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A "fast-paced Asian country?" What us that all about? Why make an issue out of your country of origin?
Dukey1 is offline  
Oct 6th, 2014, 02:52 PM
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I'd spend three days in the Interlaken/Jungfrau Region over 3 in Montreux - lots and lots of stuff to do in the Jungfrau Region - awesome things - things to do in Montreux too but not as awesome and I'd stay not in Interlaken but right up in them hills in Grindelwald or some cutesy Alpine town. Interlaken is neat but it's not in the mountains.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 6th, 2014, 03:56 PM
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I agree---the Berner Oberland is the best and deserves more time.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Oct 7th, 2014, 07:04 AM
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I heard much about the various railways. For the Bernina Pass, which portion of the journey do u suggest for us to take? (as I observed that it travels all the way to Italy)>

IME the best is the part to the summit - around the stations of Bernina Ospiz and Alp Grum - get off at one station, walk around the glacier-fed lake to the glacier - go back to the other station p sit on the sun terrace with a beverage and soak up this awesome Top of the World scene! - the part down to Italy is nice but not nearly as awesome as the part up to the summit from Pontresina.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 7th, 2014, 11:40 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=bern...w=1455&bih=977

Here are some views from Bernina Hospiz - the glacier fed lake you can easily walk around to the glacier's tip itself and the sun terrace from which to sit and ponder it all...

Head here first then work you way back down to Pontresina, hitting some other neat things near stations.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 7th, 2014, 04:05 PM
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kja
 
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Honestly, I would find this plan unpleasantly rushed, but it really depends on what you want to see and do. Much as I loved Pontresina, you might consider waiting to visit it until you can see more of that part of Switzerland. I like the idea of adding that time to the Bernese Oberland.
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Oct 8th, 2014, 01:12 AM
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"1. Lucerne (2 nights)
2. Pontresina (2 nights)
3. Montreux (3 nights)
4. Interlaken (2 nights)
5. Zurich (1 night)"

May be:
Zurich airport - LUCERNE - Bruenig - INTERLAKEN - Golden Pass - MONTREUX - Milano Centrale - Tirano - Bernina - PONTRESINA - Albula or Veraina - ZURICH.
neckervd is offline  
Oct 8th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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nice nice outline neckervd - nice - laid it all out - what a gorgeous itinerary.
PalenQ is offline  
Oct 8th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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1. Lucerne (2 nights)
2. Pontresina (2 nights)
3. Montreux (3 nights)
4. Interlaken (2 nights)
5. Zurich (1 night)>

You may want to go from Zurich Airport right to Pontresina via Chur to start (or end) your trip like neckervd says

then from Pontresina you can take the Glacier Express (or from nerby St Moritz) to Brig and change there for direct trains to Montreux - beats going thru Italy and hectic Milan Centrale and a Swiss Pass would cover it in full (but supplement/seat reservation on the
official GE is needed)

then hop the Golden Pass from Montreux to Interlaken and then to Zurich.
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