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15 days for 1st time visitor to Switzerland

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15 days for 1st time visitor to Switzerland

Old Jan 10th, 2003, 07:51 PM
  #1  
Carol Silverman
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15 days for 1st time visitor to Switzerland

Greetings:
I have read just about everything on these message boards - really found it informative and intriguing
I like to combine cities/scenery & don't like to stay at one place less than 3 nites. Staying 3-4 nites (or 5 nites for something that's a good base to the region interests me. Nor do I like to rack up the miles in travel (generally, for this period, my maximum driving mileage has been 500 miles, but I prefer 300 to 400 miles). I was thinking to visit, Bern, Lucerne, Bernese Oberland, and I was going to include Zurich but I did see some negatives there. I was wondering if I should press further & also visit the Chillon area (although 1-2 castles would be enough for me on a trip). I initially included Chur but then thought mileage would be excessive.
As far as hikes, probably a 2-hour hike would be my maximum -- just to give you a sense of things I enjoy.
Anyone have comments on what I should visit, # days to spend, & what to skip? I would really welcome the information.
Many thanks
Carol
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 04:59 AM
  #2  
jw
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If you have time, visit our Support Group threads I, II, and III for lots of ideas. I'm a train-rider, so won't venture opinions about driving. Switzerland is wonderful. You're going to receive more suggestions that you know what to do with.
J.
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 06:11 AM
  #3  
s
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Hello Carol,

Like jw, I prefer taking the trains in Switzerland. There’s no better way to travel than to enjoy a picnic of cheese, bread, and chocolate while watching the scenery. If you’re traveling alone, it’ll probably be cheaper too. If you’re flying into Switzerland, both Zurich and Geneva airports have a train terminal in the basement, so it’s very, very convenient.

But now, as to your itinerary. I think you have two main options. The first choice would be to sample three distinct areas for four-five nights each to get a good overview. The second choice would be to take an “Untours” apartment for two weeks and get a great in-depth introduction to the country.

If you decide to go broad, you can make a half-circle of the country. From the Zurich airport, go the Graubuenden (about three hours by train). If you like cities, stay in Chur as you planned, but if you prefer smaller towns, go to Scuol, Zuoz, Pontresina, or a similar one. I haven’t been to any of these places (yet!!!), but if you’ve read a lot here, you know that they get rave reviews.

From here, go south to the Ticino, about four hours by bus. If you like cities, go to Lugano, but if you like towns or villages, try Locarno, Porto Ronco, Gerra (on Lake Maggiore), Gandria, Morcote (on Lake Lugano).

From the Ticino, go north to Luzern (about three hours by train). You can easily stay here for the rest of your stay and take day-trips to Bern (about two hours each way), Wengen (about three hours each way), and Zurich (about an hour). In addition, you can enjoy Luzern’s old town and the many beautiful ferry rides, the lakeside villages, and the peaks of Rigi, Titlis, and Pilatus.

The other option, the two-week Untours, would give you the best of both worlds. You can get to know one area intimately and still take long day-trips to other areas. One poster here took an Untour in central Switzerland in 2002 and still spent a few days in the Engadin Valley during the two weeks. Do a search here for Untours to see if it comes up. You can get more info at www.untours.com.

So, as jw notes, you’ll probably get quite a few suggestions for your trip. The good thing is that they’ll all be right! You really can’t go wrong here.

Have a great time!

s
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 08:09 AM
  #4  
Ingo
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Carol, I like requests like yours: the detailed description of your requirements make it much easier to reply adequately.

Jw’s advice to read the Support Group for Those Who Love Switzerland I, II, III threads is very good, but that takes a very long time! There must be about 500 post so far in these threads …

S already gave great advice, and there is probably nobody else on this board who is more addicted to the Engadine (Scuol, Guarda, Zuoz, Pontresina, Sils etc.) in Canton Graubünden than I am. It is definitely one of the most beautiful regions in the Alps, but since it is completely different from other regions in Switzerland I am concerned that it is not corresponding to the expectations of a first time Switzerland visitor, though. Maybe it is more appropriate for an experienced Switzerland traveller, who wants to put his nose deep into a minority’s culture (Romansch) and explore remote treasures. And, in addition to that, it is maybe a little out of the way (mileage), although it is worth the effort IMO.

So, I usually recommend to visit the Bernese Oberland and Lake Lucerne for first time Switzerland travellers. Both are sometimes crowded (July/August), but you will be able to find some secret spots with our help.

Let me point out that driving is not of much help, even in these regions. As s mentioned, some villages are car-free (Wengen, Mürren). One of the greatest experiences in Switzerland are rides by mountain railways/cable cars. So, you will see that you often will finish your ride at a different place than where you started from – a hassle to go back to your parked car. And around Lake Lucerne the ferries in combination with mountain railways are definitely the quickest transportation system.

My recommendation is to spend a week in the Bernese Oberland and the other at Lake Lucerne. Or extend your stay in Bernese Oberland to 9 or 10 days and spend the rest at Lake Lucerne. Since you are not into hiking, but like scenery and towns I recommend to stay NOT (at least not all your time) in a quaint, but remote village like Wengen or Mürren. You should better stay down on Lake Thun, maybe in Oberhofen, Hilterfingen or Spiez. These villages are very convenient for day trips to both the mountains and towns/cities like Thun, Bern, Murten, Fribourg. It would also give the opportunity for a day trip to Lake Geneva (Montreux and castle Chillon).

At Lake Lucerne I recommend to stay in either Lucerne – if you don’t mind a quite touristy, but wonderful city – or a village north of the lake like Weggis, Vitznau or Gersau.

Of course the final decision of your place to stay depends on the type and price range for accommodation.

Finally, let me remind you that in case you are (surprisingly) looking for the “unknown” face of Switzerland (see above) you might take the Engadine into consideration.

Let us know how you decide on the region to stay in and we will continue with more detailed recommendations for sightseeing, day trips, walks, accommodation etc.

Ingo
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 08:31 AM
  #5  
Carol Silverman
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Ingo:
Your remarks were extremely helpful - particularly the info about where to stay in the Bernese Oberland. You will be a little dismayed to hear that my significant other does not like to stay in the more remote places - he says he likes liveliness and people! We like to stay at comfortable hotels although 5-star things are out of our price range - I'm looking for hotels/inns with two twin beds or a king bed - I guess the Swiss/Europeans are much healthier than the Americans and more lithe -
If we stay in the Bernese Obserland for a week - do you recommend that it be spent in one place (hotel)?
Many thanks
Carol
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 08:35 AM
  #6  
Carol Silverman
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Ingo:
I couldn't resist asking something else. I saw on the internet a site that was twenj.com I thought it was amazingly good and I wondered if you and others shared the opinions expressed there such going to the Schilthorn and Schnige Platte and NOT going on the Jungfrau trip.
Best,
Carol
 
Old Jan 11th, 2003, 08:40 AM
  #7  
Carol Silverman
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S & J:
S - Your recommendations sound so exciting - The untours sound interesting & I'm reading up on that - but the trip that covers a lot of area sounds like a little too much for m.
J - I'm still continuing to read (and reread!) the support group threads (I, II, and III)
Many thanks for your interest & help
 
Old Jan 12th, 2003, 07:01 AM
  #8  
Ingo
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Carol, if everybody would like to stay in remote places – there would not be many remote places left on earth! It seemed to me that everyone on this forum searched for secret spots, so I am glad to hear your “significant other” (LOL!) likes the lively places.

Originally I thought you should spend the week in Bernese Oberland in one place. But having this new information I am not sure if this is the best for you. The villages I mentioned on Lake Thun are not so much lively and full of people, so you might look into other options. A compromise would be to decide for two different places as bases – Grindelwald as a quite (but not too much) lively village in the mountains and Thun as a lively (pop. 40’000) town with beautiful old town, castle, lots of restaurants, bars etc. Or you decide to stay in a lively place like Interlaken, which is quite touristy and sometimes crowded. I know that many other posters on this forum will vote against Interlaken. It lacks the charm of a mountain village, but is a great transportation hub for both the mountains and other cities. Interlaken offers good hotels, restaurants and some shopping and nightlife. I hate packing/unpacking during the vacation, but the choice is yours.

Regarding accommodation I recommend to have a look at the websites www.thunersee.ch , which includes Thun and the villages around the lake. For Interlaken have a look at www.interlaken-tourism.ch and for Grindelwald at www.grindelwald.ch . Hotels in Switzerland are usually excellent. For special requests like King size bed or two twin beds you better contact the hotel directly per email (after you decided for one). I am sure that a four star and also the most three star hotels will satisfy you.

For the beginning of your search, the four star Schweizerhof in Grindelwald is fantastic and the three star hotel Alpina in Grindelwald received good reviews on this board. I have not stayed in both Interlaken or Thun yet, sorry. I heard that the four star Hotel Interlaken in Interlaken would be fine, and friends of mine stayed at both Hotel Freienhof and Hotel Krone in Thun and were very satisfied.

The twenj website is amazing. In general I agree with their opinions. When I went up to Jungfraujoch I was somewhat disappointed that almost the entire route goes through a tunnel, which does not provide any view. Well, it is a special experience to walk on the glacier on top and see the huge snow capped mountains and the Aletsch glacier. But for my taste the view from Schynige Platte offered more: views of the lakes, green meadows, villages in the deep valleys and the gorgeous “wall” of the mountains Eiger, Moench and Jungfrau with its glaciers. More impressive IMO than from the Jungfraujoch. Not to forget that the cog-wheel train ride up to Schynige Platte is funny and full of nice views. Schilthorn is somehow not my favourite. I don’t know why. Others rave about it. You might also consider that the Schynige Platte trip is free with the Regional Pass Berner Oberland, while you only get a reduction of 50% on the fares for both Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. And this is still very expensive!

Ingo
 
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