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marvin65 Dec 26th, 2005 10:32 AM

a homebase in switzerland
We exchange homes. We are planning 3 weeks in Switzerland in June,July or Aug. Can you tell me 3 or 4 cities in switzerland where my wife and I should stay? This city would act as a springboard as well, to see other places,either in or out of switzerland Marvin

susanteach Dec 26th, 2005 11:07 AM

My husband and I adore Switzerland. We felt our 2 weeks in Aug. a few years ago was well-spent basing in Zurich for 5 nights. We took day trips (hotel van dropped us off free at main train station every morning) using our Swiss Rail Pass to: Luzuern, Bern and Lugano. Of course we also spent time just getting to know Zurich itself. For the second week, we based out of Lauterbrunnen Valley upon Fodor advice. We took train trips all around the Berner Oberland region and I could have died and gone to heaven. The train trips, hiking and beer drinking were awesome and our breathtaking hotel balcony view alone made us die-hard Swiss fans.

Out of both places, besides the cities I mentioned, we really used train/bus transport to see most German and Italian-speaking cantons. We missed the Geneva, but did have a nice time in French-speaking Lausanne, as there was an outdoor music festival going on.
So, I recommend day trips from Zurich and the Berner Oberland region, then perhaps another week out of Geneva? One week in each and you can experience all 3 cultures that make Switzerland so magical.

kleeblatt Dec 26th, 2005 11:31 AM

I didn't realize home exchanges were so prevalent in Switzerland. Can you really choose your home base?

If I were you, I would decide on:
Car or train transportation? Many people live in places that rely on car transportation.
Which language (or does it matter)?
House or flat? (or does it matter)?
Mountain, valley or flatland?

Almost anywhere in Switzerland is beautiful but the Lucerne/Zürich area is especially good for a home base if you want to travel. Many people will recommend the Interlaken area too.

swandav2000 Dec 26th, 2005 12:13 PM

Hi marvin65,

I agree with the above posts --

And I want to add that you should start thinking of "regions" of Switzerland instead of "cities."

For instance, I think you should think about the Berner Oberland and see if you can get a home in one of the smaller villages or towns like Thun, Lauterbrunnen, Unterseen, Wilderswin, Brienz,Oberried, etc. (If you can, try to get a home in the great villages of Wengen, Grindelwald, or Muerren).

Another area would be central Switzerland, or the area around Luzern.

Finally, the third area might be western Switerland, or the Romand (around Lake Geneva and north through Neuchatel and Biel to Basel).

I hope you come back and tell us where some of the possibile homes are located; we may be able to help you prioritize them.


WallyKringen Dec 26th, 2005 12:14 PM

If it's for the entire duration, then I would look for the most central place that provides all the big-city comforts and easy access in all directions.

If you pick Bern, you get all that - give or take a few minutes, by train it takes 1 hr to Zurich or to Luzern or to Interlaken (springboard for all of Berner Oberland's destinations) or to Lausanne (on the lake of Geneva in French-speaking Switzerland) or to the clock- and watchmaking valleys of the Jura mountains or to Basel on the German border. A look at a map will convince you.

Bern itself is a modern city, the seat of the Swiss federal government with the house of parliament in the middle of the historic city core, you walk and walk along pedestrian-only streets flanked with arcades, full of great shops and lots and lots of restaurants, outdoor markets twice a week, and an international flair because of the embassies and the tourists that nevertheless don't manage to overwhelm the city.

The train station is right where this old but lively city center starts, and where all the trams and buses end up, running every few minutes from all the suburbs.

I can't think of a nicer place to be based in - if it should rain, the city provides shelter under those arcades, and has good museums etc. to amuse you right there. On a hot day you go down by the river Aare and swim in a pool or - if you're game - join the locals in walking upstream and floating (quite rapidly, it's exciting) downstream before grabbing on to a railing and hauling yourself out. The brisk water temperature will cool you down even in the heat of summer, the glaciers from where the water came are not too far away... Much fun!

Bern also has a network of postal buses that go into the adjacent regions where trains don't go, and you can take wonderful hikes over hills and through valleys, along the famous network of paths called Wanderwege, on days when you don't want to stray too far afield, but still want to get out and stretch those legs. Good Wanderwege maps and guides are available right there.

Make sure you leave room in the planning and budget for a few overnight stays at the further ends of Switzerland - in the Italian-speaking Ticino near either the lake of Lugano or the "major lake" Lago Maggiore; look at going from Lugano with the Palm Express ( to St. Moritz in the fabulous Engadin region, and back through and over the top of the center of the alps with the scenic train, the Glacier Express ( that connects to the regular train in Brig to get you back to Bern.


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