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Bern, Lake Lucerne or Zurich?

Old Nov 7th, 2005, 05:55 PM
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Bern, Lake Lucerne or Zurich?

My BF and I are planning a 2-week trip to Germany in August, but my BF has decided that he would like us to also take a detour into Switzerland. I'm figuring that we may be able to allot 2 days in Switzerland. Which of the above would you recommend for 2 days only? Could you give me an idea of what there is to do/see in each area?

btw, we'd be coming from the Black Forest into Switzerland and then leaving for Munich. We will also probably be driving rather than taking a train.

Thanks!!
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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 06:19 PM
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Frankly I wouldn't go to any of them, and I used to live in Zurich. Assuming by "Lake Lucerne" you mean Lucerne, you've picked three cities (well smallish cities) rather than the glorious Swiss countryside. While Swiss towns are generally pleasant, unless you want to see art museums, I would not go to the cities. With only 2 days, and with a car and in August, I would go to the mountain areas or the Lake Constance/Bodensee area. Get out a map and take a look at the eastern end of Switzerland: the Engadine (Guarda, Scuol, Pontresina, Celerina, St Mortiz), Lake Constance/Bodensee (the little town of St Gallen), the Wallensee. All beautiful areas. Lots of walking or more strenuous hiking. You can take ferry rides on the lakes. Little towns, wooden chalets, Heidi country (in particular Maienfeld and Appenzell).

You could also get down to the beautiful Bernese Oberland and see the Jungfrau area, which is very popular on this board. Run a search.


As for Lake Lucerne, with only 2 days, I don't know that I would stay there, as you may as well just go up and be IN the mountains rather than looking up over to them. However, it is a beautiful spot, I would choose Weggis or Vitznu far over the city of Lucerne itself. I think Lake Thun or Brienz over in the Jungfrau area are more dramatic and beautiful and closer to the Jungfrau, but Weggis or Vitznau would certianly be pleasant for 2 days.



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Old Nov 7th, 2005, 09:36 PM
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If the two days include the driving into Switzerland from the Black Forest area (it's not really a forest as such, but a region of many quaint small towns and pretty scenery), and the driving out of Switzerland to Munich - that's two days of driving to get there, and you have no real time to do anything big *in* Switzerland to make the trip worthwhile. So I wouldn't bother if I were you, and leave Switzerland for the next trip.

If you can spare one more night, so that you have a full day to do stuff, then I'd strongly recommend that it be Bern (the historic city) on the way to the Berner Oberland (the mountain region called "Upper Bern-country)").

Let's say you stay the night in Freiburg im Breisgau, the nearest sizable city to the Black Forest area (or somewhere near there). To get from there to IBern takes about two hours if you keep the hammer down. In Bern you park above the main train station for a few hours while you walk the adjacent historic streets, have lunch, check out the view etc. - it's a unique city with an old core where everybody walks, but it's a fully functional modern city at the same time, and the capital city of Switzerland, seat of the parliament etc.

Then you carry on to Interlaken and pass the afternoon and evening with a boat ride on the lake or some such fun idea. Maybe you'll have time in the afternoon to first drive to the bottom of the Niesen and take the funicular to the top for awesome views. Then carry on to Interlaken and stay the night.

The next day you hit one of the big ones - the Jungfraujoch maybe, or the Schilthorn - awesome experiences and photo ops par excellence for bragging rights.

Another night, another dinner, and you're ready to head for Munich, with a feeling of having gotten just a snippet of the real Switzerland.

Make sure that your rental car has the sticker for the autobahn tax -either it's already on the vehicle, or you have to buy one, probably at the border.

Check out www.viamichelin.com for driving trips, distances, timings, maps etc.

WK
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 01:47 AM
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Hi. I think with two days I'd visit Stein am Rhein, Schaffhausen, then maybe Rapperswil on Zurichsee and the villages of Appenzell. With two days, even that is probably not workable. Cicerone, can you tell us more about Maienfeld? I don't think I've read a mention of that town before. I'll second the suggestion of Walensee, if you're interested in a less-traveled destination.

If, however, you're intent on going deeper, then WK's plan sounds good but tiring. Actually, if your BF pictures the high alps when Switzerland comes to mind, then my suggestion at the top won't satisfy. Stein am Rhein has fascinating painted buildings, Rapperswil is a lovely lakeside town with mountain views in the distance, and Appenzell is picturesque rolling hills and tucked-in villages. None of these is very far from Bodensee and Lindau, which you should not miss if it's not already on your itinerary.

On my first European trip, my friends and I spent three nights in Lausanne and took boat trips on Lac Leman to Chillon and the villages. From our b&b we could see the town tumbling down to the lake below us and the snow capped mountains far in the distance. That's the only stop we made in our independent 'European taste-of trip', but it was enough to capture our hearts. Good luck with your choice. J.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 02:15 AM
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I'm sorry. I guess I should have been more clear just how much time I think we can spend in Switzerland.

Wally - you're actually pretty close to our rough itinerary. We're thinking of spending the night in Freiburg and leaving for Switzerland the next morning (most of day in Switzerland that day?). I even have it in the rough draft to go to Bern, but didn't know if that was a good choice or not. We'll spend 2 nights in Switzerland and leave for Munich on the 3rd day. I will definitely take a look at the rest of your suggestion after visiting Bern as the timing would be the same as what I think we can manage. You say to stay the first night in Interlaken. Where would you recommend we stay the 2nd night? Or is the 2nd night in Interlaken also?

I don't really know too much of the geography of Switzerland, so I'll have to look up all of the cities / towns / areas everyone mentioned (which I will absolutely do).

Cicerone, Meersburg or Linden on Lake Constance in Germany were highly recommended to us, but I couldn't see how I could fit it into the itinerary. I may have to reconsider and maybe take your advice and stay in that area instead. Do you know how the German side compares to the Switzerland side?

btw, just how accurate are sites like viamichelin.com in determining how long it takes to get from one area to another? Are they pretty close? Or should I figure on adding X amount of extra time to what they give?

Thanks!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 02:54 AM
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Whereas Appenzell is a nice little town and St. Gallen has, according to some, the most beautiful church interior in Switzerland, I think you'll enjoy the scenery as a whole in that region as much as anything..in some places it is so "sterotypical" that it almost looks fake. No need to go as far as Lucerne, Zurich, or Bern IMO to get a taste of a part of Switzerland that many folks, unfortunately, completely ignore.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 03:00 AM
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Appenzell is wonderful! Urnasch has a really nice little museum too!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 03:33 AM
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Either Bern or Lucerne would be wonderful, they are both beautiful, I think I preferred Lucerne just a bit. But Bern is only about an hour (or less) from Interlaken and the mountain region so I would think it would be quite possible to spend two nights in Bern and do a day trip into the mountains. Also Bern is only a half hour from Morat which is a georgous little town with extensive ramparts. I think any of this would be possible in the amount of time you say you have. Of course, more time is always better, but what you are suggesting is not crazy at all. I think too many people don't do something cause they don't have the time to do it "right". But I think you have time to get a nice little taste of Switzerland.
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 02:39 PM
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Thank you everyone for your very wonderful responses!!

Isabel, thank you for your response. I figured that it was *possible* for us to spend a couple of days in Switzerland, but I was still debating whether the (short) amount of time would be worth it. Yes, I wish we had unlimited amount of time (and funds) to see EVERYTHING we want to see, at a much more leisurely pace. But, since we're not independently wealthy, we have to make choices. <Darn!> You've reassured me that our 2+/- days in Switzerland are not only do-able, but will be worthwhile and enjoyable. Now I'm excited!!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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So much to see there. Just pick a convenent place and go!

I like Luzern. And I don't think you will regret seeing it.

If you have a car, you can usually cover ground a little more swiftly than by train.

However, if you like the high mountains, the choice is amazingly simple: Mürren or Wengen, both of which can be reached easily from Interlaken.

The most eye popping ride? Take the gondola from Grindelwald to the station called First. Or any one of two or three or four others!
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Old Nov 8th, 2005, 09:05 PM
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I'd spend the two nights in the same place - it doesn't have to be Interlaken, it's not even that brilliant a place to look at, but its claim to fame is the easy proximity to the monstrously attractive places like Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn etc., and the abundance of hotels and restaurants and the two train stations. So it's a great place for people like yourselves who blow in, want to make the most of it, and blow out again.

But good points were made here - if you're after the high-mountain-peaks experience, with a historic city (Bern is dating back to 1191 down by the Nydeggbrücke, the bridge where it all started) thrown in for good measure, then you can just about follow my plan.

But there is of course much more to Switzerland - Murten/Morat with the ramparts, Appenzell with mountains and an entirely different way of building and decorating houses, and on and on. Each town and region has its own special culture. These are more subtle points, probably best appreciated during a longer stay - there is nothing subtle about the tall snow-covered mountain peaks when seen from the best vantage points, they simply bowl you over.

You can do a lot on the way to Munich - drive by the lake of Lucerne and stop, take a walk across the wooden bridge etc, - an hour or two are better than nothing. Then carry on heading east - you can still detour to a bunch of the places suggested by others, near the Lake of Konstanz (called Bodensee on maps with German names). Both the Swiss and the German side are picturesque - gallivant over to St. Gallen, park where you can and walk the old city center for an hour - this is all possible and you'll still be in Munich before dinner.

viamichelin.com is pretty much on the money, but you should build in a bit more of a cushion, of course, for stops, for taking wrong turns (it happens...), etc.

Have a great trip

WK
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