Basel and Lucerne

May 20th, 2014, 01:28 PM
  #1  
ita
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Basel and Lucerne

We are going on a river boat cruise between Basel and Amsterdam at the beginning of November. We can arrive in Switzerland 3 days earlier. I have been told the best airfares might be into Zurich and that it is easy to get to our destination by train. I am looking for suggestions on what to do. Should we spend 2 days in Lucerne or in Basel? What could we do there with our time. We are too old for hiking. What should we expect weather wise? Thank you in advance for your suggestions.
ita is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 01:31 PM
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"I have been told the best airfares might be into Zurich..."

From where?

It is easy to get from Zurich to Basel by rail. It is even easier to get to Basel if you fly there.

I assume this is a Viking River cruise you are taking?
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May 20th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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Basel is nice - vastly underrated IMO but Lucerne is exceptional - one of Europe's most gorgeous cities physically - set on what to me is the nicest of all Swiss lakes - take a lake boat cruise to nowhere or somewhere!

Maybe spend a day in each though Lucerne offers lots of neat day trips - like the thrilling mountain railway up to Mt Pilatus - return to suburban Lucerne by awesome aerial cable car - at Krens and take bus back to central Lucerne.

Zurich airport to Lucerne is probably less than an hour and probably direct trains. Many love Lucerne but many are non-plussed by Zurich, which however is also a very nice if much larger and more modern looking city.

Lucerne to Basel is an easy few hour at most train ride.

Just buy train tickets as you go along - no real savings I think for advance purchase on those type trains.

For great info on Swiss trains and lake boats, Pilatus, etc check out these IMO superb sources: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

Swiss trains are fantastic - probably twice hourly or more to Basel from Lucerne.
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May 20th, 2014, 01:39 PM
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ita
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we are flying from Canada. It is a Uniworld tour we are taking
ita is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 02:33 PM
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Thank you, Ita, for that information.

You could check the prices of airfares into Zurich vs. Basel by going to Kayak.com

If you have several days to spend in Switzerland you might also check fares into Geneva, too.

Luzern is more picturesque than Basel IMO and even better than Luzern would be a couple days spent in the Berner Oberland.

Have a great river trip.
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May 20th, 2014, 03:56 PM
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I would agree with spending time in Lucerne. It is really a beautiful small city, with lake/mountains scenery. Train travel is very easy in Switzerland. Lucerne is very easy to stroll around!

Enjoy your cruise. My husband and I have talked about doing that same route! Maybe next year............

It could be quite chilly in early November, and you will be on the water, so bundle up! Amsterdam will get dark very early. I really enjoy Amsterdam. We are typically there during the last week of November or very early December. You don't say whether you will have any time in Amsterdam. It has some wonderful museums, plus the canal boats, of course.
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May 20th, 2014, 04:48 PM
  #7  
ita
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we will spend 5 days in Amsterdam
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May 20th, 2014, 06:41 PM
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Lucerne without a doubt. This is a tourist city and there is a ton to do and see there and from there.

I must admit I may be prejudiced against Basel because I had a client there and was basically there on business - but it's a town where the sidewalks roll up at 6 pm - and although there is a cute center to the old town, if Lucerne is a 9 Basel is about a 3.
nytraveler is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 04:00 AM
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I would have seconded Luzern if you went in summer - BUT not in November. In November expect dark, drairy, cold, rainy weather. You will probably not see the mountains and the tram up to Mt. Pilatus will be out of service. And the moutain will be in clouds anyway.

However, distances are short and trains are convenient in Switzerland. You will even be able to see all three cities - Zürich, Luzern and Basel - within three days. If the weather is fine, you can spend a little more time in Luzern, if not, just stroll through the Old Town.

All three cities are nice.
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May 21st, 2014, 05:06 AM
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but it's a town where the sidewalks roll up at 6 pm>

this is true of most Swiss towns!

Yes November can be not the optimum time for Lucerne and the boat rides, etc - I failed to note November.
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May 21st, 2014, 08:53 AM
  #11  
ita
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I tend to roll up at 6p.m.also, so that is not a problem for me. I am now thinking that we should fly directly to Basel. Would it be interesting for 2 days. I am also having doubts about the time of year. This was the earliest we could get the cruise. Probably it will be more expensive in the Spring. What are your thoughts on the time of year we are travelling. I come from a very cold place, that doesn't scare me as much as the darkness and closure of sights.
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May 21st, 2014, 10:24 AM
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I would not go on a river cruise on the Rhine in early November. Too late for decent weather, too early for Christmas markets. Some sights will indeed be closed, main attractions in cities will be open.
Ingo is online now  
May 21st, 2014, 10:26 AM
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I think the darkkness and closure of sites may be an issue. When I said Basel rolled up the sidewalks at 6 pm I mean even a lot of restaurants - we had trouble getting a 7 pm dinner reservations. While in Luzern the restaurants operated normal hours and - as one would expect in a tourist town - many shops were open until 9 pm as well.
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May 21st, 2014, 01:54 PM
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I was shocked once at the Zurich main train station that the large shopping mall there closed up around 7 or 8pm - with very little open - normally station stores are open late - a sign of the times in Switzerland I guess - early to bed early to rise?
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May 21st, 2014, 02:46 PM
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To be honest - November is the very worst month for middle Europe. Believe me, I live here. Days are short, and it is cold, rainy and humid. Certainly not fun on a river cruise. If you have not booked yet, think twice about it. There is a reason why the fare is so low for a November trip.
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May 21st, 2014, 04:32 PM
  #16  
ita
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I live in Canada. It is either November or not at all.
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May 22nd, 2014, 06:49 AM
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Yup IME too that part of Europe can be very grim in November. Drk dark days - short days, etc.
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May 22nd, 2014, 07:15 AM
  #18  
ita
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I don't know what IME means
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May 22nd, 2014, 01:49 PM
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IME - in my experience
Ingo is online now  
May 22nd, 2014, 03:25 PM
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"When I said Basel rolled up the sidewalks at 6 pm I mean even a lot of restaurants - we had trouble getting a 7 pm dinner reservations."

This is such rubbish, I hardly know where to begin. I was out for dinner tonight with friends. We left at 10 pm and the restaurant was still going strong as were the other restaurants around us. There were plenty of people out and about. Most stores had been open until 8 pm.

Not to mention that a visit in early November means the OP will be in Basel smack dab in the middle of Herbstmesse, the large festival that goes on until well into the evening all over the city. Anyone who thinks the streets of Basel are rolled up at 6 pm during Herbstmesse should get a prize for cluelessness.
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