Aug 2012- 10 days in Swiss

Old Jun 28th, 2012, 09:53 AM
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Aug 2012- 10 days in Swiss

We are planning to travel to Switzerland this August for 10 days, we are not very fond of touristy places. So was wondering if there is an offbeat circuit of this beautiful country we can undertake. We have never been there, while we have heard of Matterhorn and Jungfrau and the pics look lovely we are very worried it may be very crowded in August.

So any advice in our trip planning is most appreciated. Please advice.

-Abi
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 10:21 AM
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My husband and I are planning our first trip to Europe in September, and we are spending 5 days in Switzerland.

From the research and advice I've gotten, we are spending our time in the Jungfrau area. We are staying in Murren up in the mountains and taking the Golden Pass Panoramic train upon our arrival. I hope that helps. And I do tihnk you need to speed up on your reservations, since for us, September was already full in some places, and I think Aug. is a bit more crowded.

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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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August can be very crowded in tourist meccas like the Jungfrau Region and Zermatt (Matterhorn) but even in these areas you can get away from the crowds - hiking trails for all levels of ability go everywhere so try to at least spend a few days in these spectacularly awesome places where the dreamy picture of Switzerland etched perhaps in your minds' eyes will be fulfilled - soaring glacier-girdled peaks lying above bucolic cow-dotted lush valleys and meadows.

In any case the train IMO is the best way for the average traveler to get around Switzerland - one of the world's denses rail networks - and consider some kind of Swiss Pass, valid on trains, lake boats, special scenic trains like the Golden Pass gracegv mentions as well as buses and trams in cities and also free entry to over 400 Swiss museums - basically everything that moves in Switzerland, just hop on - an 8-consecutive-day pass could cover everything between arriving in Geneva and leaving from Geneva

you say you have 10 days - well spend a day in Geneva to start and a day there on way out and use the 8-consecutive days of the railpass in between.

A Saverpass is one pass with two names on it - cheaper than two solo passes.

Check out these fantastic IMO sites for lots of great info on Swiss trains, specialty scenic trains, lake boats, etc. (boat rides on Lake Geneva and on either of the two lakes that bookend Interlaken are IME really nice treats and again with a pass just flash once aboard - great sites - http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id3.html; www.swisstravelsystem.com and www.ricksteves.com. And yes there are many neat places well off the beaten tourist path - so so many it would be hard to recommend one over the other.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 11:03 AM
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An example of beautiful mountain scenery off the beaten path: public bus from Lucerne to Stockalp, ski lift, hike (maybe 4 miles), gondola over to Engelberg then train back to Lucerne (4 to 6 hours).

There are many off the beaten path mountain treks in the BO region and a Swiss Pass with a lift pass here or there will be all you need for most of them.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 11:52 AM
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since most foreign tourists to Switzerland gravitate to the wondrous Alpine areas like those centered around Engelberg, Interlaken and Zermatt, most of the rest of the country is off the beaten tourist path - especially the French area apart from Lake Geneva.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 01:17 PM
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A very relaxing "offbeat" thing to do -- especially in August -- is take a break from sightseeing and spend a few hours in one of the outdoor pools found in most communities. Tourists tend to skip them, but on a hot summer day, they're really refreshing. They're inexpensive (5-10 francs for the day on average) and often in very attractive park-like settings. They usually have cafes as well and/or you can bring a picnic. Here's an example in Chateau d'Oex (not far from Gstaad):
http://www.chateau-doex.ch/fr/4Saiso...cine_printemps
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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If your wanderings take you from Zurich over toward the Engadine, you could stop overnight in Bad Ragaz, take in the spa (more pools!) and, more importantly, take in this year's outdoor sculpture exhibition, Bad Ragartz. They host it every three years; we went earlier this month and really enjoy walking around and seeing the very interesting works of art, many from artists in the Asia-Pacific region.
http://www.badragartz.ch/

I also give my biggest thumbs up for the Maloja Pass postbus ride from St. Moritz to Lugano. Great scenery.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 01:26 PM
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Here are photos of some of the works in this year's exhibition:
http://www.badragartz.ch/de-ch/trien...werke2012.aspx

You can wander around them on your own or take a guided walking tour.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 07:19 PM
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These are some awesome tips, will read up on the places you have all suggested and get back with a tentative itinerary and seek your advice again! Thanks everyone!
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 09:16 PM
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Hi abi_maha,

As PalenQ and gracegv have noted, most first-time visitors to Switzerland tend to go to the Jungfrau region. And that's great -- it's a wonderful place to see and visit.

But if you want to get away from the tourist throngs, you should avoid it.

I would suggest you consider staying in the Engadin Valley, mentioned above my FoFoBT. The Engadin Valley hasn't spent the money on PR as the Jungfrau region has, but it also has magnificent mountain peaks, Alpine lakes, and small, quaint villages. What it does lack is the lines of tour busses in the streets and the souvenir shops on every corner.

Most of the "tourists" in the Engadin Valley are repeat visitors and are serious hikers, mostly German-speaking. So, instead of seeing gaggles of confused folks trying to decide if they want to go left or right, you see happy and relaxed folks heading to a trail head. Well, that was my impression anyway.

If you'd like more information on this area, take a look at these sites:

www.scuol.ch
www.stmoritz.ch

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 10:05 PM
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Whatever you decide, in August, don't forget the sunscreen! The Swiss have one of the world's highest incidences of skin cancer -- the sun reflecting off lakes and high altitude snowfields can be intense. (FWIW, we use Vichy's 50+ for children spray which has Mexoryl XL covering UVA and UVB -- the kid versions are best for sensitive skin: http://www.docsimon.de/artikel/vichy...r-kinder-200ml )
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 09:15 AM
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Thanks Swandav2000 and FoFoBT. I am now furiously reading up on your suggestions!
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 12:02 PM
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First-time visitors should IMO go to a place like Zermatt or the Jungfrau Region or Engelberg as this is the picture of Switzerland etched in many of our minds' eyes and which is not as evident in most of the country. The Engadine does however has the Bernina Pass area but still there is no parallel to the other three regions IMO.
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 09:31 PM
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Hi again,

Well, if a first-time visitor wants to avoid crowds of tourists, then the Jungfrau region in high season may not actually be the best destination, PalQ.

The Engadin does have the picture of Switzerland etched in folks' minds; in fact, one year both Fodors and Frommers used the same photo of Guarda on the cover of their Switzerland guidebooks -- pretty iconic if you ask me.

As you note, the Engadin's appeal to you is only an opinion, and in my opinion it is at least the equal to the Jungfrau, and superior in many ways (energy of the other visitors there, far fewer souvenir shops, a feeling of finding a new place, helpfulness and genuine joy the locals have to help the odd American who's stumbled into the region).

The only thing the Jungfrau region has is a better-developed tourist infrastructure. So, if a first-time visitor is a little hesitant and unsure, then the Jungfrau area would be the best bet. But if a visitor can do without the hand-holding and wants to get away from the crowds, then the Engadin is a better choice. imo.

s
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 05:38 AM
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the Engadine is great - I have been there enough to know that but it is also much more remote from the parts of Switzerland most tourists run around in and there is just not the plethora of varied type activities in a concentrated area such as in the Jungfrau Region.

I am still adamant that the average first-time tourist will enjoy - will thrill in being in the Interlaken or Zermatt areas much more than in the off-the-beaten-track Engadine.

But you have stated the case for the Engadine very well - IMO you cannot go wrong no matter where in Alpine Switzerland you go.

but yes the apple in ones eyes can be very very different.

But again I advise the OP to go like most tourists yes and there is a reason the Jungfrau Region is so popular - yes go to the Jungfrau Region and if time Engadina-ringa-dinga-dong region as well.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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I certainly agree that anywhere in Switzerland will be a wonderful vacation with splendid scenery!

But I'm afriad that your thinking that "there is just not the plethora of varied type activities in a concentrated area . . " shows you don't know the Engadin very well.

Horse-drawn carriage rides, mountains, Alpine lakes, bike rides down the entire valley, hikes, rafting, wind sailing, cable cars .. . . geez, what activity do you think is lacking there?

s
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 07:37 PM
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We are well seasoned travelers in Europe, so a lack of tourist infrastructure is not something we are worried about. Reading up on Engadin certainly has us fascinated. It seems like we can spend about 3 nights in ST Moritz itself, we'd love to sign up for some hikes in the area. SO we are thinking about splitting up our trip into 3 parts- spend 3 nights in Zurich (we are flying in there), Another couple of nights in Lucerne and then head to ST Moritz and spend 3 nights there. Does that sound do-able? We can then plan what we are doing from each of these 'bases'.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 09:36 PM
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Hi again,

Well Luzern and Zürich are only 45 minutes apart by train, so you actually lose more time by switching bases/hotels (because of the time it takes to pack up and check out, then check in and unpack/get settled/get oriented again). I would just go to Luzern and use it as a base and make trips back to Zürich.

If you have to return to Zürich to fly out, then I would put that at the end of the trip to make the departure easier.

I think three nights in St. Moritz would be ok, but four would be better. I would do something like 3 nights Luzern, 4 nights St. Moritz, 2 nights Zürich (if you are flying out from Zürich).

If you want lots of information about this area, there is a poster at the Trip Advisor forums who lives in St. Moritz. You could post a message there and connect.

Have fun!

s
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 03:23 AM
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This is just my opinion, but I don't find St. Moritz to be a particularly attractive choice. There's something "hard" about it. Of all the ski/hiking resorts I've been to in Switzerland (Zermatt, Wengen, Grindelwald, Gstaad, Bad Ragaz/Pizol, St. Moritz, Davos), I found St. Moritz to be the most unfriendly (and Gstaad the friendliest) and most unwelcoming with the lowest charm factor.

Ingo knows the area better than me, but I would suggest Pontresina over St. Moritz.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2012, 09:43 AM
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I agree with FoFoBT - St Moritz is to me the most blah of all hot spot Alpine resorts - give me any Jungfrau place or Zermatt or Engadine anytime - St Moritz - and I've given it several looks over - just is boring to me - but again beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'll check out more rural Pontresina or other smaller towns than modern glitzy St Moritz.
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