3 days in Switzeland in May

Mar 10th, 2007, 07:53 PM
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3 days in Switzeland in May

It would be our first visit to Switzerland and we have only a short time to taste..
We plan our visit to beginning-mid May as follows:
Day 1: Landing in Zurich evening time
Days 2-4 : Still open...
Day 5: Our flight leaves at 12:30 PM from Zurich

We are a married couple in our 40s (in fact celebrating my wife's 40 birthday).
We love to drive so we'll definitly rent a car. We love nature but not so much in shape - so only very very short hikings are acceptable.
Also be glad to tour some culture/architectural sites - and most important - looking for a romantic experience.
So - I'll be glad to have advices from this forum which helped us a lot in the past.
Specifically - since we wouldn't like to spend each night in a different place - can you suggest places + romantic accomodations that can be used as a base for this trip ?
Thanks in advance...

Shilo is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 03:38 AM
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Hi Shilo,

I wonder if you've ever taken a train in Switzerland -- and that you love to drive only because that's been your only experience?

Especially with your itinerary -- one major destination -- the trains would be the best, most convenient option for you. There is a train station in the basement of the Zurich airport, and you can be in Luzern (for example) in an hour with 0 changes. You won't have to hassle with rental desk clerks, maps, unfamiliar roads, city traffic, or city parking fees.

I suggest you consider taking the train -- where you can buy a picnic lunch of fresh bread, Swiss cheese, Grissons ham, Swiss wine, and of course Swiss chocolate. Then you'll look up and be at your destination. It's quite fun.

swandav2000 is online now  
Mar 11th, 2007, 04:14 AM
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I would pick one spot and stay there the entire time. Luzern is a beautiful small city, with lake, mountains and river views, good shopping, a cool old town and great German/Swiss food. From there you could day trip to other places such as Zurich or Bern, or even the Berner Oberland mountain area.

Strongly agree that car is NOT the way to go. Parking fees are high, traffic in cities is time consuming, trains are fast, frequent, clean and go to all the places you might wish to visit.
JN is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 02:22 PM
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Thanks. Hard for me to give up the car but I'll give a second thought on that issue and try to think "out of the box" - at least my box -
It certainly sounds appealing to continue from Zurich airport to Luzern by train - still not so sure about handling the rest of the trip with no car...
Any way - can you direct me to sites where I can get more information regarding train schedules & guides that will assist me with my plannning/decisions?

Also, assuming I'll use Luzern area as a base I'll be glad to have recommendations for accomodation in that area (whether in town if I use the trains or the vicinity if I stick with the car).
Shilo is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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Swiss Rail site

CarolA is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 03:24 PM
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Hi again,

Yes, I really agree that Luzern would be the perfect spot for you for this short trip -- it's close to your entry & exit point, it's gorgeous, and it's got plenty to do to keep you busy.

You truly don't need a car in Luzern. It's a compact city, and you can walk from the train station to anywhere within the tourist area -- the old town, your hotel, the waterfront. You should rely on the ferries to carry you around the lake and the trains & cable cars to carry you up the mountains. Truly, a car would be a hinderance in this city.

Some site to help get you oriented -- www.luzern.org for sightseeing & hotels, www.rigi.ch, www.pilatus.ch for the mountain peaks and mountain railways, and www.lakelucerne.ch for ferry schedules. An alternate type for the English pages of the Swiss rail is www.rail.ch.

Good luck!

swandav2000 is online now  
Mar 11th, 2007, 04:32 PM
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If you choose to make your base Luzern, you definitely should skip the car. Parking here in the city is horrible and expensive. I have seen some of the parking violation fees (from $50-$80- it's ridiculous). Luzern is small enough to walk and enjoy it. I have walked from one end of the city to the other in about 40 minutes.
freeman0819 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 04:55 PM
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I must come to the defense of driving a car. It's the ONLY way to go (well, not 100%), and you can stop in small villages, park, walk the streets etc and enjoy the countryside. But I guess I am thinking in terms of 7-10 days in Switzerland.
For YOUR trip the train would probably be the best. You'll really only have 2 days "out" as the night of day 4 you might want to be back in Zurich, look around Zurich, and be at the airport by 10:00 or so the next morning.(though many people will say you can "train" in to Zurich one hour, staying outside the last night. But if you want to see Zurich you would need to come in on the 4th day.)

OR: you could drive to Interlaken and stay there the two(or 3) nights; drive over to Grindelwald, and Wengen (beautiful on the cog train from Lauterbrunnen)............and catch Lucern on the way back to Zurich.

Lucern is "just" a big city,,,but a beautiful and interesting one at that...and would also make a good base for a couple of nights. No, you wouldn't need a car...but with the train you do need to like walking and lugging suitcases....unless you taxi to hotel or B&B. We stayed in Luzern with a car in a lovely modern multistory Best Western just a block from the lake....and it had it's own parking below.
Parking in Interlaken was no problem at a lovely very MODERN B&B just a few blocks from city center, and it is a much smaller city.
mari5 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 05:10 PM
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If you truly wish to spend each night in a different place, I would suggest something like this: first night you spend in Zürich, since you are arriving in the evening. Hotel Kindli is charming and romantic:


Or, there are places along the lake, but they are further from the center of town.

Next day, train or drive to Interlaken, or better yet, Lauterbrunnen. Day 3, travel to Brienz, park the car (if you are driving), take a boat across the lake to Giessbach, and ride a short funicular up to the very romantic GrandHotel Giessbach:


Spend the last night in Luzern. If you have a car, turn it in there, because it is only an hour or so to the Zürich airport by train from there.

enzian is offline  
Mar 11th, 2007, 10:23 PM
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The national tourism website,
www.myswitzerland.com has lots of information about taking public transportation.
lovisa is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 03:16 AM
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Luzern has several hotels with lovely Pilatus/river/lake views. None are cheap, but, in ascending order of price, you might consider

the Hotel Des Alpes a short walk from train station; http://www.desalpes-luzern.ch/ ~ $195/nt for double

Hotel Schiff--a longer walk or take a cab. http://www.hotel-schiff-luzern.ch/

Hotel Des Balance--more than I wish to pay (~$325=/nt for river view)

At none of these hotels will a car be to your advantage. You will need to park several blocks away, as they are in a pedestrian zone.
JN is offline  
Mar 12th, 2007, 03:17 AM
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Oops--here is the Des Balances web address: http://www.balances.ch/
JN is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 09:32 AM
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OK guys. I think of doing the following:
Day 1: Zurich (evening)
Days 2,3: Either train or drive to the mountains area spending 2 nights. I've got two hotel quotations from Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen and Hotel Alpin Sherpa at Meiringen.Both seem to suit my budget (Enzian, the GrandHotel Giessbach seems beautiful but too expensive, I'd love to find a romantic hotel that I can afford)
Day 4: Traveling to Luzern , spending the night there and train back to Zurich airport the next morning

As for the car drive I'm still not determined ... but I tend take the car in Zurich and return it in Luzern.

So here are my questions: Any suggestions regarding where to stay in BO area? I'm a bit confused where to base. Is the weather in May a consideration here ? I'm relying on (very) short and easy hikes as well as some scenic drives/observations, depending on weather.
Any suggestions/comments regarding the hotels I mentioned?
Should I spend more time in Luzern area?
I guess my main difficulty is that I'm still not sure to which attractions/places I should try and dedicate this short trip... This off course should help me planning where to spend the nights.
Shilo is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 07:54 PM
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I personally would not go to the BO in mid-May, your "hikes" are either going to be rained out, or in snow or mud. It's really not spring at all there. It tends to be quite foggy, which means no views of the mountains or from the mountain heights. Ferries are running, on a very abbreviated schedule, and it it is cold out on the lakes still at that point. The better hotels are closed in May.

If I were you, and you want something romantic (which to me includes good dinners) I would go to the Lake Geneva area, which will still be a bit brown, but which will be warmer, has lovely lake and Alp views (its not in the mountaints), lovely little villages, vineyards (and wine tastings), great hotels, the Chillon Castle, some musuems if you get bad weather, and some of the best restaurants in Europe. If you can fly into Geneva, that would be better. Otherwise, you can take a train from Zurich ariport to this area in about 2.5 hours. You can rent a car from there if you want.

I used to live in Switzerland and the Lake Geneva area is one of my favourite places, and certainly in May. Save the mountains for the summer or the winter, not the in-between time.
Cicerone is offline  
Mar 21st, 2007, 08:54 PM
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I understand completely about the price at the Giessbach. It does look romantic, though. Maybe ride the boat over for lunch?

Choosing between Meiringen and Lauterbrunnen: Cicerone is right about the weather in May in the BO. But Lauterbrunnen can be beautiful even in cloudy or rainy weather. It sits in a valley that looks like Yosemite---high cliffs on both sides, and a large waterfall. It would be a longer drive than Meiringen, so you would see more countryside, including the lakes around Interlaken.

I haven't been to Meiringen yet---that's for the next trip. But if you are Sherlock Holmes fans, Reichenbach Falls is right near there, and many people like to visit that. I see the Alpin Sherpa listed as a 4 star hotel, so maybe it has a nice romantic ambiance?
enzian is offline  
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