4 days between Lausanne and Italy

Jul 1st, 2014, 11:48 AM
  #1  
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4 days between Lausanne and Italy

Hi,
My parents would arrive in Lausanne (from Paris) on Sep 14 at around 5PM. They would have to reach Venice by Sep 18/19th evening. They can walk about 4km on flat land. We would love your inputs on how to make the trip more memorable

Reading through various forum posts, I tentatively planned the following

Sep 14: Stay in Lausanne. Visit the Cathedral/Place de la Palud if time permits?
Sep 15: (start of 4 days Swizz Pass)
Take train to Montreux. Soak the views of Montreux. Take bus to Chillon Castle. 2 hours at Chillon Castle. Take boat back to Veyey and then train back to Lausanne. Collect luggage from Lausanne and head to Grindelwald. Night at Grindelwald

Sep 16: Jungfrau & cruise on Lake Brienz. Night at Grindelwald

Sep 17: Wengen/Murren/Lauterbrunnen

I am unsure about where to stay for Sep 17 and what to do on Sep 18. There are three options that I have thought of

Option 1: Sep 17: Stay in Grindelwald

Sep 18: Train to Venice via shortest route (not very scenic we have heard)

Option 2: Sep 17: Evening train to Zermatt
Sept 18: Matterhorn and train to Dommosodola
Sep 19: To Venice via the long route of Centovalli railway or the shortest route via Milan

Option 3: Sep 17: train to Chur and stay the night
Sep 18: Bernina express and train to Venice/Milan

Is there any other option?

Would love your inputs in resolving our dilemma.

Thanks
kyunbit is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 12:11 PM
  #2  
 
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Option 2 - taking the Centovalli from Domodossola to Locarno/Lugano is a big detour as you have to go back to Milan to get to Venice at some point - so go direct from Brig to Milan and Venice in the same day - or stop by cute Stresa, on the main rail line from Switzerland to Milan - spend a half day there going to the famous Borromean Islands just off shore.

Next day go onto Venice

Problem with just a few daylight hours in Zermatt is if you want to see the Matterhorn you may well not - kind of fickle as its famous visage could be in fog or clouds for hours so if going there just to see that I'd skip it - a big detour could be a wash out.

The other option yes is to stop by sweet Stresa, a smaller lakeside town on beautiful Lake Maggiore (a k a Lake Stresa) - there are hotels right by the train station in Stresa and any hotel would be a short stroll from the station in this smallish town.

I would stay in Grindelwald another night instead of chancing Zermatt - consider doing the fanstastic loop from Lauterbrunnen up to Murren and the Schilthorn, as awesome in its own way as the more famous Jungfraujoch train - one of the longest aerial cable ways in the Alps swings you up there from Murren.

From Lauterbrunnen you first catch a thrilling aerial cable car to Grtuschalp, from where a toylike train rolls you the few miles to Murren, a spiffy watering hole once a favorite outpost for Brits, - do the Schilthorn cables

and then once back in Murren take the cable way down to Gimmelwald (or do a sweet short few-mile walk on a paved walking path with views over the deep Lauterbrunnen canyon the whole way!

Gimmelwald is something else - a little farming hamlet out in the middle of nowhere - just such a different out of the rat race atmosphere there.

then take a heart-stopping for some gondola from Gimmelwald back down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley at Stechelberg - this one is like a plane landing it seems - then take a postal bus back to Lauterbrunnen for train back to Grindelwald - all cables and trains and postal bus 100% covered by a Swiss Pass except the Murren to Gimmelwald cables are 50% off.

In Lauterbrunnen be sure to go into Trummelbach Falls, a roaring water cascade fed by glaciers and snow melting up top the Jungfrau Massif, you put on rain gear provided and walk around it - kind of like Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls.

Anyway for a thrilling day I always recommend that excursion - save yourself the hassle of a long train ride to Zermatt, relocating, packing up, etc and stay another day in wonderful Grindelwald, my favorite base up in the hills.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 12:16 PM
  #3  
 
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Option 3: Sep 17: train to Chur and stay the night
Sep 18: Bernina express and train to Venice/Milan>

Well this one has a lot of potential too - but I would not stay in Chur, a nice but ordinary IME Swiss town - but stay in Pontresina by St Moritz, a perpetual favorite smaller town smack at the start of the Bernina Pass Railway - which to me is the most dramatically scenic rail line in all of Europe!

Pontresina has a special atmosphere - a bucolic one lacking in Chur (again a nice city but the Switzerland folks dream about ain't in its cities) - then the next day get up and easily board the Bernina Express or ordinary local trains passing the exact same scenery to Tirano, Italy for train to Milan - a long day to Venice but if you had time you could easily stop by Lake Como on this route - getting off the train at Varenna-Esino and staying there or taking a boat from there to famous Bellagio.

For lots of great stuff on Swiss trains I always spotlight these IMO superb sources: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.swisstravelsystem.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 01:47 PM
  #4  
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Thanks for the reply Palen Q. Do you think, My Day 1 (Sep 15) plan is okay?

Sept 17: The plan would be to follow your suggestion: Lauterbrunnen-Grtuschalp-Murren-Schilthorn-Gimmelwald-Lauterbrunnen loop

Regarding the options, I am cutting out Centovalli and Zermatt idea

Option 1: (7 hr train journey from Interlaken to Venice)
Sep 17: Night in Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald.
Sep 18: Lauterbrunnen-Stressa- stay and night
Sep 19: Stressa-Venice

Option 3: (14 hour train journey from Interlaken to Venice)
Sep 17 train to Pontresina and stay the night.
Sep 18: Pontresina to Varenna (is one night in Varenna worth it?)
Sep 19: Varenna-Venice

Option 3 requires a much longer train journey. But I am torn between the two options since the Bernina Express line is renowned for its beauty. Would love your opinions in deciding on the route.
kyunbit is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 03:43 PM
  #5  
 
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Sep 15: (start of 4 days Swizz Pass)
Take train to Montreux. Soak the views of Montreux. Take bus to Chillon Castle. 2 hours at Chillon Castle. Take boat back to Veyey and then train back to Lausanne. Collect luggage from Lausanne and head to Grindelwald. Night at Grindelwald>

Well a busy day but one like I love - two things - why not take your luggage to Montreux, put them in station locker and then putz around and then take the Golden Pass special scenic train all the way to Interlaken-Ost - takes maybe about an hour or so longer than the mainline route via Lausanne but is so so much more scenic - especially the first part when the train trundles up a steep vineyard-carapeted slope out of Montreux and then all the way via Gsaat to Zweissimmen where everyone changes trains because of a track-width (gauge) difference and heads to Interlaken.

Like the Glacier Express and such trains you get commentary en route and have special observation-panoramic cars too.

I'll try to give my 2 cents worth on other questions later and hopefully so will others!
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 09:38 PM
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Hi kyunbit,

I wonder why your parents are going from south to north then south again? The trains from Paris get to Basel in about 3h, and from Basel, they can continue onward to the Jungfrau area to enjoy it. After that, they can travel south to Montreux, and onward to Venice. One of the trains from Montreux to Venice is direct and only take about 6h.

So, if they haven't yet bought their tickets into Lausanne, it might be better to go in a direct line from north to south on the trip.

Oh, and yes, if possible, tell them to take the Golden Pass train between the Jungfrau area and Montreux.

They may also want to base in Montreux -- smaller town and more picturesque, I think.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 09:51 PM
  #7  
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@PalenQ I was actually planning for the golden pass route rather than the one through Bern. Good idea regarding keeping the luggage in Montreux. The reason I was planning otherwise is because of the possibility of Lake Geneva cruise from Vevey to Chillon. However, the time would probably be better spent cruising on Lake Thun/Brienz.

@Swandav The Lausanne tickets were half of the ticket prices to other cities in Siwtzerland. I agree the routing is not optimal. My parents would take the Golden Pass route between Montreux and Interlaken.

Thanks for the suggestion. I am still in dilemma regarding the 4th night.
kyunbit is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 11:31 PM
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You asked if one night in Varenna is worth it. IMO a lot depends on your time of arrival in Varenna, especially after all the spectacular scenery on the Bernina. However there is something very wonderful and peaceful about the mid-lake area of Lake Como, too.

If you have time you could take a short ferry ride over to Bellagio and even to Menaggio or perhaps somewhere else nearby.

The trip from Varenna onward to Venice can certainly be done in a few hours depending on timings. Varenna to Milan takes about 1.5 hours and you can take a fast train from Milan to Venice.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jul 1st, 2014, 11:53 PM
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Hi again,

Where did they purchase the tickets from? I suspect it was Raileurope, which jacks up the prices.

Using the French rail site (www.voyages-sncf.fr), I see tickets from Paris to Lausanne at 35 or 45€ while tickets to Basel are 59€, not that much different. They'll probably spend that 20€ savings going up and down Switzerland.

If they haven't already bought the tickets, it would be worthwhile to route them this way, I think --

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 12:17 AM
  #10  
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@swandav The tickets were bought earlier when the Lausanne tickets were all 35 Euros from SCNF. At that time our idea was to go from West to East in Switzerland. I totally agree with you that it was not a good idea; but, at present we are stuck with the ticket.

@ Dukey, they should be in Varenna latest by 2PM and would start for Venice ~1Pm the next day (if they go with option 3)

Thanks a lot. I should have posted this before booking tickets.
kyunbit is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 04:34 AM
  #11  
 
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possibility of Lake Geneva cruise from Vevey to Chillon. However, the time would probably be better spent cruising on Lake Thun/Brienz.>

hey hey - the cruise to Chillon Castle is just a short one with not that remarkable scenery - passing Montreux only - the boat rides on the two lakes bookending Interlaken however are IMO fantastic!
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 06:05 AM
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On the Golden Pass' first segment - Montreux to Zweissimmen you can book VIP seats - a handful on each train however so must be booked eons in advance - this has you sitting in a compartment next to the driver's compartment so you can make like you're driving the train. Check the official site for details. Some however are in the back of the train so you see out the back - not nearly as nice as in the front.

These tickets I believe are first-class so you'd have to pay an upgrade - difference between first- and second-class fares if you have a 2nd class pass or ticket.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2014, 11:26 AM
  #13  
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Thanks a lot for your help PalenQ. We dropped Lake Geneva cruise from the itinerary. I am looking into booking the Golden Pass.

Any comments on choosing the route to Venice?

Thanks a lot.
kyunbit is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2014, 10:36 AM
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Any comments on choosing the route to Venice?>

Option 3: Sep 17: train to Chur and stay the night
Sep 18: Bernina express and train to Venice/Milan>

Well though the Bernina Express is my favorite scenic train in Europe it is a long long haul to get there and then the next day a long long haul to Venice. You would take the Glacier Express to Pontresina (instead of Chur, a detour off the direct route and Pontresina is a lovely small town surrounded by sweet Alpine scenery - and the next day take the train to:

Bernina Express or local train to Tirano, Italy, change there for Milan - yup gotta go thru Milan or take an extra day or so! and in Milan change for Venice.

So that route is a long long haul and you will already have seen scenic trains, maybe not quite so awesome, in the Jungfrau and Zermatt areas. And the Glacier Express is a several hour long marathon run with, for Switzerland IMO, so-so scenery much of the way - many folks IME get bored quickly and dwell more on the unique tilting wine glasses than the scenery.

so if it were moi I'd just take the quickest route Zermatt to Venice - still a long haul as there are no high-speed trains on that route - via Visp, Brig, Domodossola (often changing there) and Milan - almost always changing there though I believe there are sporadic Domodossola-Venice thru trains.

If you had an extra day and want to break up the trip a bit Stresa, on gorgeous Lake Maggiore, is a stop on the main rail line Domodossola to Milan - train station near many hotels and town center.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2014, 11:22 AM
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The fastest connection from Visp takes 5 hrs 15 minutes but you need to be there from Zermatt before 10 AM.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2014, 01:56 PM
  #16  
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Thanks a lot for the replies. You points make sense, Pontresina is a long detour; without spending time in the area, it doesn't probably make much sense making the long journey.

I apologize for bothering you. I would love your opinions on one last set of options

Option 4:

Sep 17: Lauterbrunnen to Stresa (evening train 3.5hrs), night in Stresa
Sep 18: Late afternoon train to Venice
Sep 19: Extra day in Venice

Option 5

Sep 17: Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt, night in Zermatt
Sep 18: Zermatt to Stresa
Sep 19: Late afternoon train to Venice

Option 6:

Sep 17: Stay the night in Lauterbrunnen
Sep 18: Lauterbrunnen to Venice
Sep 19: Extra day in Venice

Many thanks
kyunbit is offline  
Jul 3rd, 2014, 09:40 PM
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I like option 6. I think one-night stays are counter-productive; what you get to see isn't worth the hassle (packing & unpacking & packing, checking out & in & out again) and the travel.

s
swandav2000 is offline  
Jul 4th, 2014, 08:36 AM
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I like options 4 and 5 better simply because the train ride from Lauterbrunnen to Venice is so so long - probably 8 hours with change time figured in and just to see Stresa or Zermatt for one day is a treat.

I do agree with swandav's take on packing up after just one day but in this case an 8-hour train ride at least for me would be much more insufferable.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 5th, 2014, 06:41 AM
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http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/que...&rt=1&OK#focus

Leaving at 8:37 or about 9 am means a journey of about nine hours Lauterbrunnen to Venice with 4 or 5 changes of train. The schedules are above - I would take the one taking slightly long because the first has you changing in Milan Pt Garibaldi and taking public transit to Milan Centrale station.

Option two skirts Milan all together and changes in Novara - in the same station.

But going straight thru nine hours to me is no fun.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 7th, 2014, 09:07 AM
  #20  
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Thanks a lot for the replies. Both of you had valid points. I modified the itinerary to:

Sep 17: Lauterbrunnen to Stresa (evening train 3.5hrs), night in Stresa
Sep 18: whole day in Stresa
Sep 19: morning train to Venice.

Does this sound like a good plan?

Quick question: How different is the Lauterbrunnen region from Zermatt? If you had to choose one, which one would you choose?

Thanks
kyunbit is offline  

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