Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

1st time Swiss traveler - please help with itinerary

1st time Swiss traveler - please help with itinerary

Jan 12th, 2006, 06:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 207
1st time Swiss traveler - please help with itinerary

After much research from this forum and guide books, I have started working on an itinerary for a 2-week trip to Switzerland scheduled for late August-early September. My goal is to visit several regions, but stay for a few days in each. I want to concentrate on day trips from a central location in each region, thus minimizing hotel moves. I will travel with a Swiss Rail pass. Here goes:
Arrive in Zurich, take train to Pontresina
Pontresina - 3 nights - take day trip through Bernina Pass to Tirano while there.
Glacier Express to Zermatt
Zermatt - 2 nights
Lauterbrunnen - 6 nights
Lausanne - 2 nights
Fly back to states from Geneva
Any suggestions on moderate priced hotels would also be appreciated.
mjnbrown is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 08:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
I have spent quite a few nights in Lauterbrunnen, and visited Zermatt, although we overnighted in Saas Grund, at the bottom of the hill from Saas Fee.
Lausanne is beautiful, a very upscale place.

I think you will enjoy the trip.

Here is hoping you have good weather in Zermatt and that the Matterhorn stands out like a beacon.

You will have a ball in the Berner Oberland. Lauterbrunnen is in the middle of the area, and you will have transportation to many higher moutain vistas.

My 5 favorite walks:
1. From Lauterbrunnen, go to Grindelwald and take the gondola to the station called First.
1a. Walk to the Bachalp See and, if your legs will do it, go as far toward the top of the Faulhorn as possible for a stupendous view.
1b. If the Fauhorn is out of range, take the flatter hike cross the meadows to the restaurant at Grosse Scheidegg.
(Means large mountain pass.) From Grosse Scheidegg, return to Grindelwald on the Post Bus which stops at the restaurant. Good food by the way on the sun porch with its gorgeous views.

2. From Grindelwald, take the cable lift to Pfingsteg. From there walk the glacier trail to a location called Stieregg. Incredible views of the inner mountain world of glaciers and jagged peaks.

3. From Wengen, take the cable lift up to the crest of the Männlichen, that towering ridge between Wengen and Grindelwald. Incredible views of the north face of the Eiger.

4. Take the train to the Jungfraujoch if the budget will tolerate it. Once there, and if the day is clear, walk out to the hikers' shelter known as the Mönchsjochhütte. The "Hütte" is a 3 story building bolted to the face of the cliff. You can get a good lunch there.

5. From Kleine Scheidegg, take the Jungfraubahn as far as the Eigergletscher station. (Or the Alpiglenn station on the route to Grindelwald.) Then walk some of the Eiger Trail which really gives you an up close and personal view of the Eiger north face.

As a smaller hike, go to Gimmelwald and hike to the inner mountain world in a deadend valley known as the Kilchbalm.
Water streams down the cliffs from numerous snow banks.

As another small hike, walk along the rail line from Mürren to Grutschalp and back. I don't know the status of the train on this line because the cable lift from Lauterbrunnen uphill to a location called Grutschalp is scheduled for phase out. It probably will not be in operation when you get there. A new cable line is scheduled for installation over the summer and fall.

Even so, there is plenty to do.
Interlaken is a 20 minute ride on the train, and the Museum of Swiss Life is in a place called Ballenberg near Brienz, which is on the lake.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
PS I forgot the most important part.
I think your plan is fine. You will enjoy all of it.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 12th, 2006, 09:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 90,966
when you are in Lausanne maybe also visit Vevey and Montreux, just next door? depending on the day of the week you can catch the different town's open air farmers markets. take time to stroll the quai (lakeside promonade) in any of these three towns.

the train is a cinch to get back to the Geneva airport from any of these spots for your trip home.
suze is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 01:16 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
For so-called "budget" hotels in Switzerland (I've stayed in several and they are super clean, etc.) take a look at www.rooms.ch.

For Zermatt hotels check out www.zermatt.ch
Intrepid1 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 08:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
I might add that the train to the Geneva airport works very well. We flew from Geneva last summer and took the train from Lauterbrunnen all the way. We had a change in Interlaken and in Bern. We arrived with no problems and found the EasyJet check-in counter.

Swiss trains, barring a major problem, are very punctual.

I used a car last summer, but that was because we did more roaming outside of the immediate area of Lauterbrunnen - Grindelwald. We drove over the Grimsel Pass and the Sustern Pass. Then we decided to drive to Schaffhausen to see the Falls of the Rhine.

You may not have time for that this trip, but put those falls on your agenda for a future visit. They are impressive.
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 04:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 679
Bookmarking Bob's favorite walks for myself... Thanks!
Meredith is offline  
Jan 13th, 2006, 07:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
I cannot help but add one more. In Zermatt, we took the train toward the Gornergrat (grat = ridge) and got off at the next to last station and walked the rest of the way.

The weather was changing rapidly as we walked along. I got in one good look at the Matterhorn before it disappeared behind the fog and clouds. By the time we got to the Gornergrat station, snow was falling.

Every once in a while, Monte Rosa and those huge alpine glaciers would break out of the clouds and we could get a partial but dramatic view.

On another trip, we had better sunlight and the scenery from the Gornergrat viewpoints is outstanding.

Another good trip if the budget can stand it is the cable car ride to the Klein Matterhorn. As I recall the journey is in 3 stages. The top station is liable to be much colder than the valley below. I think this is a spectacular ride upwards as well.

I will not try to compare it with the Grindelwald to First gondola ride. They are different and each is spectacular in its own way.

I think I am partial to the Grindelwald - First ride because it was the first one we took in 1998. As the old saying goes, there is no love like the first love.

(And I am still married to her.)
bob_brown is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 05:38 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,393
Hi, mjnbrown. Your travel m.o. is a good one. I notice, though, that you didn't say that your stay in Lauterbrunnen will emphasize walks rather than rail daytrips. Maybe you could clarify your wishes.

I'm asking because if, like my own travels, your intention is to daytrip to Bern, Lucerne, Thun, Solothurn, etc. from there, you might want to consider staying on one of the lakes at the foot of the mountains rather than Lauterbrunnen. You'd still be in an excellent position to rail up to L', or Murren, or Grindelwald, but you'd be in a better location for the daytrips to other towns of the region.

Even if your preference is the days of walks, maybe you'll consider taking one day from Lauterbrunnen and adding it to Lausanne (like Bob, I agree that it is a lovely, graceful city). There are a multitude of places to visit from there. Chillon, Vevey, Montreux, Gruyeres, Chateau d'Oex, Avenches, Nyon, and best of all, the vineyards of the lavaux region (with Cully, Lutry, St. Saphorin, and Rivaz).

I am so envious of your two week plan. You will have a wonderful trip and leave looking forward to your next one. J.
jmw44 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 06:10 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Wow, great info for any of us going to Switzerland.

Thanks for the great walks, bob brown.
I have added these to our folder for our stay in Wengen in June 2006.

Your trip sounds lovely, mjnbrown.

Happy travels!
fun4all4 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 473
Could I jump in here and ask how do you bookmark a post, as Meredith mentioned with Bob's favorite walks. Thanks...
Beatle is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 473
Got it- I just read Budman's message on saving threads- thanks Budman..
Beatle is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 10:15 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 207
Thanks everyone - especially Bob - for the great info. In response to one question, I'd like to hike and train equally. I like the train up, hike down combinations, but also will want to enjoy some boat rides on the nearby lakes. I have toyed with the idea of basing myself in Interlaken, but I think I like the idea of being up in the hills a bit, staying in Lauterbrunnen, better. I will still have good access to train lines from Lauterbrunnen. Does anyone have ideas on my choice of Pontresina as a base in the St. Moritz area? Also, I do plan on getting around the Lausanne area a bit in my short visit there.

Thanks again, everyone. I can hardly wait till August.
mjnbrown is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
We just returned from Switzerland and had one of our stays in lauterbrunnen, and we loved it. I am still working on trip report! I don't know if you are traveling alone, and what moderate price hotel means to you personally, but you asked about hotels - we stayed in the Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen and were very pleased. I am jealous you will be able to see it in warmer weather and plan to go back in summer season asap. If you are traveling along, there were many single adults in Silberhorn, and the staff was most accomodating and helpful with day trips. We also stayed in Bern, which would be an hour train trip for you, and found it a lovely city, small and good for a day trip I think.
escargot is offline  
Jan 14th, 2006, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
Two very good "hike down" opportunities are available.

From Wengen, ride the cable lift to the crest of the Männlichen. A trail leads down to Kleine Scheidegg.

From the Eigergletscher station on the Jungfraubahn you can hike down the Eiger North Wall trail. I caution you that that one is steep and in places the underfoot is gritty. I suggest a good hiking pole for stability and balance.

Or, hike up it. Less danger of falling on your nose.

bob_brown is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 09:33 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 207
Thanks again Bob. I really appreciate the great hiking routes. That is what I am looking forward to the most. Although I am really a train lover, so the trains and cable cars will be great fun for me as well.
mjnbrown is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 10:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
There is a good hiking guide in English for the Berner Oberland area. The title is The Bernese Alps by Kev Reynolds and it was published by the Cicerone Press.

I understand that a relatively new edition is available from www.alibris.com.

Reynolds has several other guides to trails in Switzerland as well including the Valais (or Wallis in German( which includes the Pennine Alps south of the Rhone which includes Zermatt.

If you want a longer challenge of a hike, the walk from Schnyige Platte to First is the ultimate. Unfortunately it is long and at times difficult.

The problem is getting to Schynige Platte early enough to get started on the hike. There is a need for timeliness because the last gondola car starts its descent from First to Grindelwald at 6 pm.

The hiking distance is 15 K, and the altitude gain is around 2,000 feet.
Hiking speed in the mountains is hard to predict and some people move much faster than I do.

bob_brown is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:01 PM.