8 Days in Switzerland for the non skier

Dec 26th, 2014, 05:54 AM
  #1  
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8 Days in Switzerland for the non skier

My 20 year old daughter and I are planning 8 days in Switzerland in February. We would like to select 3 base cities to stay in during this time. We are considering 2 urban stops and 1 in a mountainous location. We were thinking about Lausanne for 2 nights, Zermatt for 2 nights, and Lucerne for 3. Any thoughts on whether this is a good plan or if we should choose other cities? We are avid travellers and are open to culture, outdoor pursuits, and just enjoying the scenery.
cincytraveller is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 07:27 AM
  #2  
 
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With 8 days I would suggest just picking two areas.

Perhaps Bern, which I love, as you can do day trip to areas to Lake Geneva and Lucerne. From Lucerne you can go to Engleberg for 1/2 day. Beautiful area for mountains, even if you don't ski (which I don't). You can also go up to Pilatus or take a Lake cruise. (Check if steamers are running at that time of year.)
Dianedancer is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 07:31 AM
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Ooops. Didn't mean you could do a day trip to Lucerne from Bern. If you're going to stay in Lucerne as one of your cities (as I suggested) you obviously don't need to do a day trip there! I meant that you can do a day trip to Lausanne, which is on Lake Geneva. You could also go along Lake Geneva for a day from Bern. If the lake steamer isn't running on a schedule you like, there are buses and the fantastic Swiss trains. easily done.
Dianedancer is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 08:35 AM
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OK, if you want my very VERY honest opinion, for the "non-skier" Zermatt offers exactly one thing: a view of the Matterhorn (and hopefully the peak will not be obscured by clouds). And you have to take the cableway or the Gornergrat railway UP to the viewing area (easily done). The rail trip up to Zermatt is interesting.

So, NO, I would not spend two of my days doing Zermatt (unless you also want to spend lots of money in those somewhat overpriced stores in the village).

I agree with Luzern and the 1/2 day trip up to Engleberg and then the cableway ascent to Titlis: spectacular views from the top.

If you want "views" then I'd go somewhere in the Berner Oberland above Lauterbrunnen. Even if you aren't skiing the views are spectacular.
Dukey1 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 08:55 AM
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Yes the Berner Oberland IMO is the absolute highlight of Switzerland for first-time visitors - even if you don't ski there are a plethora of aerial gondolas and mountain trains going off in all directions - you can take a train to Jungfraujoch, western Europe's highest train station and a sea of ice - walk to the glacier on groomed foot paths - sheer glacier-girdled peaks soar thousands of feet above lush meadows - pick a place like Grindelwald or Wengen for the most fab views and best central locations from which to do the Jungfraujoch or other day trips - if traveling by train to three different regions and once in those regions check out the Swiss Pass which not only covers trains but lake boats (limited service in winter though), postal buses and gives 50% off on most gondolas and trains to mountain tops.

The Shcilthorn and Piz Gloria is another awesome day trip from any base - Schilthorn is an icy old post in the middle of snow-capped peaks - James Bond's film On His Majesty's Secret Service was partly shot here in the revolving restaurant.

Anyway for some great info on Swiss trains, the Jungfrau area, passes, etc check out www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

Zermatt is yes for the non-skiier in winter IME very limited to taking a train up to the Matterhorn which alas can always be fogged or clouded in - there is a much larger variety of things to do in the Jungfrau Region where I would stay a minimum of three days and do day easy day trips each day.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 10:26 AM
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Lausanne is a nice large city but many here rabve about staying in lakeside Montreux or Vevey - two smaller towns that will much more fulfill your idea of old-world romance IMO than nice but modern and most bustling Lucerne.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 12:45 PM
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I think the Montreux-Lausanne area is a tad warmer in winter than much of Switzerland and of course in the Alpine resort areas as it gets the warm air coming up the Rhone River valley from southern France. Consider taking the Chocolate Train - one of the spiffy Swiss specialty trains from Montreux up to Gruyeres - perfectly walled old town where you tour a cheese factory before rolling onto the Broc Factory train station to do a Willie Wonkaespque tour of the Nestle Chocolate Factory - wine and cheese are served in route and vintage Beaux-Arts Pullman cars are used. You can take regular trains over the same route sans problem for a much cheaper price.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 01:51 PM
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kja
 
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It really depends on your interests, but FWIW: I really enjoyed Lausanne, but liked Bern even more.
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Dec 26th, 2014, 05:36 PM
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Wow! We really appreciate all of the input! Our plan is to sit with a map of Switzerland and rethink our itinerary based on the great ideas.
cincytraveller is offline  
Dec 26th, 2014, 09:40 PM
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Hi cincytraveller,

I have to correct the information that Pal wrote about (I've corrected him before, and I do wish he would read these and stop making these mistakes).

The Chocolate Train does not run in winter; in only runs from May - October. So since you are travelling in February, you won't be able to take advantage of this tour package. However, you can easily do the pieces of the trip independently; if you want to do that, just ask, and we'll tell you how.

Secondly, the Chocolate Train does NOT serve wine and cheese on board. It serves coffee and croissant.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Dec 27th, 2014, 10:01 AM
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OK - I missed the Feb part and the Chocolate Train for years on its site advertised wine and cheese en route - it may not now and I will change that after checking with the sight.

swandav has said that regular trains to those places carry the same Belle-epoquew Pullman cars as the Chocolate Train does so that is still an option as I believe those run all year.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 28th, 2014, 02:13 AM
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Hi Pal,

I've been traveling to Montreux about every year or every other year since 1996 (for one to two weeks), and I've never seen advertising for wine & cheese enroute. Yes, you can order from the restaurant, and they do offer wine & beer (saw some snacks but no cheese), but it's not served complimentary.

You can download the brochure or the catering menu here:

http://www.goldenpass.ch/CMS/default.asp?ID=414

And this is what is printed right on the opening page:

"The Chocolate Train runs every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from May to October and every day in July and August.

Reservations are compulsory and can be made at Montreux train station or at your travel agency.

The package includes coffee and croissant on the train, bus transfers, as well as the visits of the demonstration cheese dairy and the chocolate factory."


I always download and check the brochure when I respond to this question -- because I don't want to give out wrong information. But it's really getting tiresome.

Yes, please do check the site and the brochure, and only recommend what is actually there.

There is a new Cheese Train that only runs in the winter (Dec - April) that goes to Chateau d'Oex. The price includes the cheese demonstration and cheese fondue, both at the restaurant in Chateau d'Oex, not on the train.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Dec 28th, 2014, 01:25 PM
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swandav - I don't make those things up as you seem to think but for years that was advertised as such and even in 2013 one description of the Chocolate train says:

The cheese

The train may be called the Chocolate Train, but the excursion gives equal time to cheese and chocolate: it’s cheese before lunch, with chocolate saved as an afternoon treat.

That's from this site: http://travelingwithsweeney.com/2013...ocolate-train/

But I suppose they are wrong and as usual you are right - be it Interlaken or this or anything - I give the best info I know and don't make it up - that said I may be wrong but I resent your attitude that I PURPOSEFULLY do so. Get off your high horse and correct folks in a more pleasant less haughty way pleeeeze!

There may not be wine served but it seems cheese is at least to that suource.

Q - Have you EVER ridden the Chocolate Train or get your knowledge only from the web site?

Cheers and hoping for a more collegial attitude from you.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 28th, 2014, 06:05 PM
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Hi
I posted a recent outline of a trip my husband and I took in Sept with a 5 nights stay in Lausanne.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...witzerland.cfm

We used Lausanne as a base and did day trips (we're not skiers either) and this part of our 6 week Europe trip was a highlight. Our day trips included:
- Geneva (we did the day we arrived, visting United Nations, Red Cross, having a walk along the lake and an early dinner).
- Monteux and Vevey area (Chillon Castle, lunch on the lake in Montreux, train ride on the Lavaux Express through the vineyards).
- Matterhorn and Zermatt (cable car to the summit and lunch in the town. Little to no snow but scenery was beautiful and the town is gorgeous)
- Gruyere (amazing little town, Gruyere Castle, cheese factory and then a short train ride to the Cailler Chocolate Factory)
- Lucerne (walk around the city and lake). We were going to do the Mt Pilatus Golden roundtrip but a portion was closed and we decided one mountain was enough for us (Matterhorn), but thoroughly enjoyed walking around Lucerne.

I'm already planning our 2016 holiday which will include another 5 nights in Switzerland. We will base ourselves in Zurich this time and do our day trips from there.
rellie2 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2014, 09:59 PM
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Pal, I never, ever implied that you made it up!! I assumed that you were confusing this information with another train or tour deal. I assumed it was an honest mistake. My goodness. But, yes, I am getting a little weary of posting my comments (and corrections) repeatedly.

I also think that my correction was not at all impolite!! I simply stated the case without any inflammatory language or name-calling Unlike you, who use impolite language here:

"But I suppose they are wrong and as usual you are right"
"Get off your high horse and correct folks in a more pleasant less haughty way pleeeeze!"

You have always used insulting language with me any time I correct your posts or post a different opinion -- yes starting with Interlaken.

No, I've never taken the Chocolate Train, but I almost did about a decade ago. However, I've been reading the brochures for the train forever. I do take my information from the horse's mouth, the folks who run the train, not other tourists' or tour operators' sites.

And according to the site you quote, yes, there is cheese before lunch -- that is the train's stop in Gruyeres. And chocolate after lunch -- that is the train's stop at Cailler. So, no, there is no cheese served on board the train.

Now, I really would appreciate an apology for your language and your attitude.

For rellie2, unfortunately, the Lavaux Express is another train/tour that only runs in the summertime. However, it's possible to walk through the vineyards any time (take the train to Chexbres and walk downhill); it's especially pretty in wintertime after a light dusting of snow.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Dec 29th, 2014, 07:42 AM
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I accept your apology and offer mine! Nuff said - we both try to give the best possible info - your tone just came across as a bit too severe. Sorry for overreacting perhaps.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 09:05 AM
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I would vote for spending a few days in the Berner Oberland region. I personally like Lauterbrunnen, but all the towns are great. Two years ago I was there in March as a non-skier and really enjoying hiking in the snow and watching the skiers. Just be sure that you look "up" the slope for skiers coming down when you hike across ski runs! There are lots of other activities, such as taking the train to Jungfraujoch which is really spectacular.
Marti324 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 10:27 AM
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From Lauterbrunnen takaing the long long aerial cable way to The Shcilthorn and Piz Gloria (revolving restaurant and supply building) - it is as awing as the Jungfraujoch to me in its own way and swarmed with tourists. Take the cable from Strechelberg to Murren to Schilthorn - the longest or one of they say in the Alps.

I mentioned this above but gave more detail on it here - at The Shcilthorn you also have ice grottos and an observation platform smack out in the middle of nowhere. A must do from a Lauterbrunnen base and you can take the aerial cableway from there to Grutschalp and even in winter walk on groomed trails or take the train to Murren then catch the Shcilthorn gondolas from there - don't miss stopping in Gimmelwald on the way back - the cableway stops there for a change of cars before its plunge to the vlaley floor at Stechelberg. All free with a Swiss Pass except Murren to Schilthorn is 50% off.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 12:43 PM
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One drawback to Lauterbrunnen is it is in a deep gorge and the views of the Jungfrau Massif is thus obscured - there are views over the end of the valley but a Grindelwald, my favroite base, or Wengen, the favorite of many Fodorites, offer much more sweeping vistas - especially of skiiers.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 29th, 2014, 12:54 PM
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I said: "wine and cheese are served in route>

And according to the site you quote, yes, there is cheese before lunch -- that is the train's stop in Gruyeres. And chocolate after lunch -- that is the train's stop at Cailler. So, no, there is no cheese served on board the train.

If you want to react with high dudgeon make sure you quote me correctly - I did not say served on board - but in (en) route - if quoting me do it correctly - we ALL make mistakes! And I will drop the wine being served at all - but it was your words "on board the train" not mine.

We all make mistakes, even you!
PalenQ is offline  

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