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shaunwarnock Jan 3rd, 2014 07:54 PM

A vignette of Switzerland - how to get the most out of 35 hrs
We will be arriving around 4pm one mid August day at Zurich International and have the next day to enjoy whatever is practical before leaving the following day around 9am. Options we are currently considering are.
1. Stay in Zurich city, spend the first evening catching what we can of city sights before spending the bulk of the next day on a scenic train trip and staying again in Zurich.
2. Getting a Swiss Transfer Pass to a scenic village, maybe on one of the lakes allowing for a lake cruise to feature and staying there both nights before returning directly to airport for the outward connection.
3. .... Waiting on the wisdom about to flow from fellow travellers in response to this request.

Thanks in advance

swandav2000 Jan 3rd, 2014 09:23 PM

Hi shaunwarnock,

I recommend you head to Luzern, just about an hour by direct (0 changes) train from the Zurich airport.

Luzern has a bit of all of Switzerland: lakes, mountains, history, nearby countryside, and interesting museums. For that reason, you can get a quick overview from that one spot. You can cruise the lakes and visit lakeside villages, and pair that with an ascent up a mountain, for instance.

More information at

Have fun as you plan!


neckervd Jan 4th, 2014 05:11 AM

I vote for Lucerne too.
The alternative could be Berne (1 1/2 hrs by train from ZRH airport), with a daytrip to either
the Jungfrau area,
the Zermatt area
or the Riederalp-Aletsch Glacier area,
all about 2 hrs by train from Berne.

shaunwarnock Jan 4th, 2014 12:17 PM

Thank you both for your help. Do you have any accommodation suggestions? We used B&B on our last trip (10 years ago) in UK and Ireland.

swandav2000 Jan 4th, 2014 09:39 PM

Hi again,

What's your price preference? I really enjoyed the 4-star Des Balances, which sits right on the river.


shaunwarnock Jan 5th, 2014 04:59 AM

Yes, I liked the look of that one but it's probably out of our range. I have spotted a couple places which might be more to our budget. Thanks

WeisserTee Jan 5th, 2014 11:07 AM

Ok, for the sake of variety (and because I'm not a big fan of Luzern), I'm going to suggest another option: Zug.


It's closer to Zurich and you have a very short trip. The direct trains (no changes) from Zug to the airport take 42 minutes.
It's also on a lake with view of the mountains. The lake is smaller than Luzern's (which is huge). The lake cruise takes less time.
If it's a hot day, you can swim in the lake
The old town is pretty and compact, easily explored within your time frame. There are small hotels right in the old town.
It won't have the tourist hordes that Luzern will in August.
If you want to go to the top of a mountain, from Zug it's a short hop to Arth-Goldau and from there you can take the Rigi mountain train.
For dinner, there are some congenial restaurants (Domus has a very good wine selection) where you can dine on the terrace and watch the sun set over the lake.

I go to Zug fairly frequently and always enjoy myself there. Despite its renown, Luzern just doesn't appeal to me that much any more.

PalenQ Jan 5th, 2014 12:46 PM

2. Getting a Swiss Transfer Pass to a scenic village, maybe on one of the lakes allowing for a lake cruise to feature and staying there both nights before returning directly to airport for the outward connection.>

The Swiss Transfer Ticket which gives a trip from any airport or border point to any place in Switzerland and back would not be a good deal for you unless you literally went to Zermatt or Geneva or St Moritz - with that shor of time I too endorse going to Lucerne - a cheap ticket from Zurich airport and doing a boat ride on lovely Lake Lucerne, to me the most gorgeous lake in Switzerland and all of them to me are lovely.

For more about Swiss trains and the Transfer Pass which I do not think is of value to you - nor any pass - check out these IMO superb sites:; ; - all have lots of ideas on where to go not too far from Zurich.

and you can get direct trains early in the morning from Lucerne to Zurich Airport or you could stay in Zurich and do the whole day as a day trip to Lucerne. Maybe at a Zurich airport hotel for convenience and guaranteed easy and early access to the airport itself.

shaunwarnock Jan 10th, 2014 01:13 PM

Thanks to you all! I really appreciate your time. We are looking at both Luzern and Zug now! We had worked out that the Transfer Pass wasn't the way to go for our plans but it was good to have it pointed out. Easy things to miss when planning from afar.

PalenQ Jan 10th, 2014 02:33 PM

Trains from Zurich to Zug or Lucerne are cheap - yes forget about any pass. I stayed in Zug once and it is a lovely town - on a lake if I recall - a nice low-key place.

swandav2000 Jan 10th, 2014 09:45 PM

Hi again,

Yes, I agree that Zug is another good option. I've visited there two times for a few days each, and it's an absolutely lovely town with a pretty lakefront walk and a very interesting old town. They also offer free bikes to explore the town -- you leave your i.d. and can head off on a bike. There is a rental "bus" at the lake.

My only negative comment is that the mountains are not as high as those near/around Luzern, so the "wow" factor might not be as great. And while Luzern has four lakes in its lake system, Zug has only the one.

Also, I've found hotels in Zug to be more pricey than at other spots in Switzerland. Once I splurged and stayed at the Löwen right on the water, and it was dreamy. The second time I actually stayed in neighboring Baar at the Ibis.

Have fun as you plan!


WeisserTee Jan 11th, 2014 01:20 AM

"And while Luzern has four lakes in its lake system, Zug has only the one."

And given the shortness of their trip, the one lake in Zug is really all they'd have time to explore. Plus, it's not like the lake is ugly -- you go past villages, castles and farms.

The rates for Lowen or the Ochsen in Zug in August would be about 250 to 275 francs per night for a double (possibly with breakfast). If that's too expensive, the Ibis is a good option as is the non-chain Hotel Lorze in Cham. I strongly suggest avoiding the SwissEver Hotel. It's a fine property, but farther out and impractical without a car.

The mountains around Luzern are a little more spectacular, but IMO, that's counterbalanced by the crowds and group tour buses swarming through the town in August. And the views from Rigi are still pretty swell.

shaunwarnock Jan 24th, 2014 11:09 PM

Thanks to all of you. Yet to decide but the arguments for both Zug and Luzern have been great brain fodder!

PalenQ Jan 25th, 2014 07:39 AM

Well Zug is nice but Lucerne is extraordinary, talking of beauty and setting plus has many more things to see and do. Zug is a nice ordinary town on an ordinary (nice) lake but Lucerne is on IMO the most beautiful lake in Switzerland - do a boat ride on Lake Lucerne - up its fjord-like arm to Fluelen, take the train from there back - perhaps get off at Vitnzau to take the mountain train up to Mt Rigi for one of the most celebrated lookout points and views in all of Switzerland and also to hear those darned alphorns being blown incessantly!

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