advice for Switzerland in August

Dec 1st, 2019, 07:07 PM
  #1  
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advice for Switzerland in August

My brother in law and I will be flying in and out of Zurich for 10 days in late August. While this was not the most ideal time, it was basically this or nothing. It will be another photography based trip mixed with tourism. My last trip to the Alps (Bavarian Alps/Innsbruck/Tirol) in May 2018 was plagued by overcast skies and drizzle so I'm back at it again. Our objective: Beautiful Alpine scenery, high alpine villages, cows, some light/moderate hiking, and hopefully people playing Alpenhorns in the mountains. We're planning on splitting time between Zurich and Lucerne as a base. Due to the nature of uncovering photo worthy scenics such as majestic mountain scapes, unexpected waterfalls, charming villages, etc. we'll be renting a car part of the time. So here is what I need advice on:

1.) More time in Zurich or Lucerne? Zurich's historic center intrigues me but the ability to take day trips for stunning snow peaked mountain views would take priority.
2.) What are some nearby beautiful villages you would recommend? Especially the kind that are available only by cable car?
3.) Can anyone recommend hikes that take you through lush valleys with snow capped peaks? A few examples below:
4.) We are also considering visiting Strasbourg France as a day trip. Is it likely to be unbearably hot? (My brother in law has a condition)
5.) What can we expect Swiss weather to be like in August?
6.) Where is the "money shot" you would recommend? The most beautiful of the most beautiful Switzerland has to offer?
7.) Are there any festivals we could see people in traditional clothing playing alpenhorns in the hills?
8.) Any other general advice/tips would be great.

Thanks in advance


examples of what I'm looking for
tailsock is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 08:55 AM
  #2  
twk
 
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These guys were at Schyniggeplatte in June of 2016. I suspect that they are up there regularly. This angle doesn't quite get the mountains (the mist was too dense), but for a few Swiss francs, I bet they would accommodate you. This was the view looking 180 degrees in the opposite direction.



I tend to think Luzern would be a better base for daytrips to the mountains than Zurich, but I'm not sure that daytripping from major cities is the way to go. The weather tends to be better in the morning, with clouds building up due to afternoon heating, so if you are starting out from Luzern or Zurich every day, you are going to miss some of the best visibility time because you will be in transit.
twk is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 10:32 AM
  #3  
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That's very important information, thank you for that. Are there places you'd recommend instead? We could get up earlier if we had to but it would probably be easier to "be" there as supposed to "get there". Even in Tirol (in early May) it seemed the only time I got to actually see the Alps was in the morning. In fact, the photo below would be the last time I'd have a view of them at all.



Alps with Brenner Pass
tailsock is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 12:54 PM
  #4  
twk
 
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I enjoyed my stay in the Berner Oberland (we stayed in Wengen), but there are multiple areas you could consider. If photographing mountain scenes is your objective, you could split time between the BO, Engadine, and Valais. The thing I liked about the BO was that you could go from there to the cities (Bern and Luzern, in particular) if the weather did not cooperate. When we were in the BO in June of 2016, we only had good weather about 3 days out of 7 (although it was an unusually wet spring for them and August should be drier, if I recall correctly).
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Dec 2nd, 2019, 01:03 PM
  #5  
 
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I've seen locals playing those alpenhorns at lots of local events (not "in the hills" though).

If you happen to have any time around Lac Leman, there's Marches Folkloriques de Vevey mid-July thru August.
suze is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 05:05 PM
  #6  
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great suggestions so far!
tailsock is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 07:10 AM
  #7  
 
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There will be tons of events with traditional Swiss music.
May be you will have a look at the link below. The list is by far not yet completed. There will be added other events in the next few months.
https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/...-09-06&noidx=1
neckervd is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 08:26 AM
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ad 1: Both, Zurich and Lucerne are too far away from the heart of the Alps
ad 2:
most beautiful villages/tiny cities of Switzerland:
Grimentz, Ernen, Evolene, Gruyeres, Orbe, Romainmotier, La Neuveville, St-Ursanne, Aarberg, Laufenburg, Bremgarten, Stein am Rhein, Ascona, Morcote, Soglio, Poschiavo, Guarda, Glurns and others;
villages and hamlets which can only be reached by train or cableway:
Champex d'Alesse, Zermatt, Gspon, Jungen, Belalp, Riederalp, Greicheralp, Bettmeralp, Fiescheralp, Muerren, Wengen, Niederrickenbach, Rigi Kaltbad, Rigi Scheidegg, Braunwald, Stoos, Golzeren, Rasa, Pila, Cardada, Monteviasco, Mornera, Baltico, Landarenca.
ad 3:
tons of trails in the Cantons of Valais, GraubŁnden, Ticino (Norhern part), Uri (Southern part), Vaud and Bern (alpine part).
ad 4:
the Upper Rhine Valley (Basel, Freiburg, Colmar, Strasbourg) is usually a bit drier and warmer (30-35 degrees Fahrenheit) than Zurich.
ad 5:
Be prepared to everything. In late August, temperatures seldom exceed some 80 degrees Fahrenheit. But they can go down up to 50 degrees (at noon, in the midlands) and snowfall in the Alps cannot be excluded. In some years, it's completely dry, warm and sunny during weeks whereas in other years there may be heavy rainfall during a longer period.
ad 7:
see post above
ad 8:
You can reach almost every point of Switzerland by public transport (rail, mountain railways, cableways, bus, boat). The usual interval between 2 trains/buses is 30-60 minutes. But public transport is expensive as long as you don't buy a railpass. Railpass AND rental car would be the most expensive solution, however.
neckervd is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 08:47 AM
  #9  
 
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Maybe just a few generic remarks re. photography in the Alps.

The Alps run West-East and form a weather barrier between the wet North Atlantic and the dry Eastern Continental climate on the North and the sometimes wet and warm climate from the Med on the South.
If you consider cold, rainy weather "bad weather" : this is the domain of the Northern ridge of the Alps. Especially in summer, bad rainy weather is more common on the Northern ridge, e.g. in Upper Bavaria or Tirol or Salzburg than, for example, in Carinthia or Ticino.
Summer (and winter) is the rainy season on the Northern side of the Alps. When you look at weather statistics, places like Salzburg have 14-15 days of rain in July and August. Zurich a bit less. Lugano, on the Southern side, much less. But still no arid climate.

On sunny days, you can use polarization filters to get rid of that "mountain haze" during the daytime hours.

If you look for motives with lower hills in the front and the high Alpine range as a backdrop keep in mind that this will require very early morning (or late evening) photography if you're located in the North as you will be taking pictures against the sun otherwise. Or find valleys that run West-East.

Otherwise, it's just hit and miss with the ever changing weather in the higher elevations. The most brilliant picture you find on the web could be taken the day after a massive downpour when the air is clean again.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 09:59 AM
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..and inneralpine Valleys like Valais have still less rain than Ticino
neckervd is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 11:16 AM
  #11  
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This is exactly the kind of stuff I need to know. Thank you so far everyone. We'll definitely be in Zurich for a few days at some point. Would it be smarter to add Lucerne as a day trip instead of a separate base? After digesting the feedback I've gotten so far I'm leaning towards making the 2nd base somewhere deeper in the Alps. (Just don't know where?) Maybe a medium sized city with a good selection of restaurants, shopping, and maybe a museum if it's rainy?
tailsock is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 04:35 PM
  #12  
 
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There are direct trains from Zuerich to Luzern taking approximately one hour.
mokka4 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 11:26 PM
  #13  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by tailsock View Post
TMaybe a medium sized city with a good selection of restaurants, shopping, and maybe a museum if it's rainy?
I can't speak to how it would fit your requirements for photography, by Berne would certainly fit that description IMO.
kja is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 11:48 PM
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Last time I stayed in Hasliberg, which is a plateau above Meiringen, the latter also home of the Reichenbach falls and the Aare gorge.
It had the advantage that I was halfway between the valley floor and the mountain tops at an elevation where I could scan the "cloud situation" from my balcony each morning and would know in which direction I should drive to have sunshine.

But that area of Meiringen may not offer enough other options for shopping and museums like Berne or Lucerne do.
It had just been a strategically good location as the weather further South had been quite volatile so that Grimsel pass had been "invisible" due to the clouds for 3 days until the weather changed completely and the South was sunny while the North got cloudy.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2019, 11:53 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
I can't speak to how it would fit your requirements for photography, by Berne would certainly fit that description IMO.
OK Thanks...... Bern looks like it will be a nice option for base #2
tailsock is offline  
Dec 8th, 2019, 09:15 AM
  #16  
 
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Brig, not more than 2 hrs by public transport from Milan, the Italian Lakes, Bernese Oberland, Lake Geneva, Aletsch Glacier, Saas Fee, Zermatt and the highest mountains of Switzerland, unspoiled mountain valleys like Loetschental, Val d'Anniviers, Val d'Herens, the thermal spas of Leukerbad, Moerel Breiten, Brigerbad, Ovronnaz, Saillon, Lavey, is the best base.for day trips to all climate zones.
https://www.brig-simplon.ch/home3.php
https://www.aletscharena.ch/destinat...photo-gallery/
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