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nycgirl212 Dec 10th, 2013 06:15 PM

Please help me plan my birthday trip. We are a group of 3 girls in our early 30s and are going to Switzerland for a week in March for skiing, sightseeing and fun! We land in Zurich in the morning and plan on taking the train to Geneva right away, exploring the city and spending 1 night in Geneva. Then in the morning/afternoon, we will leave for Verbier. I was told the best way to go is to take the train to Martigny. From there we plan on taking a taxi to Verbier. We still spend 4 nights in Verbier. After the 4th night, we plan on leaving Verbier in the morning and taking a train to Zurich, spending the day and 1 night there. Our flight is the following day at 5pm so we will have a bit of time in the morning to see Zurich. Does one day and one night in Geneva and Zurich each sound reasonable? I wish we had more time in each but thats all we'll have time for.

Can anyone recommend a good area to stay in Geneva and Zurich? Any must see sights/restaurants/bars/clubs we should go to?

Thanks you for reading!

joannyc Dec 10th, 2013 07:50 PM

Why fly in and out of Zurich? Seems Geneva would be more convenient.

Then I'd spend my extra time in Yvoire, Montreux and Vevey. Gruyere also if you can fit it in!

michelhuebeli Dec 10th, 2013 08:02 PM

Forget Geneva - no fun, especially in winter, just a regular old city full of bureaucrats. Waste of time and money. Go straight to Verbier and have fun! From the train station underneath the Zürich airport you can be in Martigny in just over three hours.

See - no need to reserve, buy your tickets right in the airport building after exiting from customs and following the signs “To Trains”.

No need for a taxi. From Martigny you take the St. Bernard Express up to Verbier, via a quick stop in a place called Le Châble. Takes about an hour, there is one leaving about every hour.
For the timetables from Martigny to Verbier, download the .pdf called “Trains and Buses - Verbier” from this web page:

It is current until Dec. 14, 2013 - in other words, the new timetables are about to be published, so look again in a week or so., But even for just now, this gives you a good idea - nothing may change at all, who knows.

What you’ll want to see and do in Zürich will have to depend on the weather a lot. Look up and, and in a few days download the winter timetables for the lake cruises on public boats from

For creature comforts and pampering look at

Zürich nightlife is not my forte currently, I don’t spend enough time there going out - there must be some nice places. Be aware that there are lots of not-so-nice places along the Langstrasse and its sidestreet - too many drunks, streetwalkers (prostitution is legal) and rowdies.

Then again, you may not experience anything untoward, and annoying things can happen anywhere, but the Langstrasse area (“Kreis 4”) has more such potential than others.

I hope some experienced Zürich night owls can advise you better.


VerbierKev Dec 11th, 2013 04:16 AM

As above no need for a taxi from Martigny, get the train to Le Chable, then either get the bubble up, the bus or maybe a taxi. (Maytaxi are good).
Once in Verbier some good bars, Fer a Cheval, Hotel Farinet lounge bar and Apres Ski and the Pub Mont Fort.
Cool restraint, Le Dahu )On the piste at La Chaux), Chez Danny.
Night clubs Farinet lounge bar, Twin Peaks.
Other fun stuff Ice Karting in the sports centre.
Ski hire - I use Ski Service.

Shout if you need anything else..

PalenQ Dec 11th, 2013 05:04 AM

check out the Swiss Pass or Half-Fare Card in comparison to regular fares (at - Swiss Passes can be surprisingly cost effective if traveling around much and some every day - in addition to trains they cover 50% off gondolas and are valid on city trams and buses, postal buses and give free entry to 40+ Swiss museums - though you probably won't go to any of them it seems unless in Zurich.

they also pass on boats and even in March there is limited boat service on Lake Geneva I believe.

Anyway do your research and see which is best - check out these IMO fantastic sites for lots on Swiss trains, passes, etc -; www.ricksteves and A saverpass is for 2-5 people traveling together and is cheaper than solo passes and not all members need be on the train or conveyance for others to use the pass

Tulips Dec 11th, 2013 06:28 AM

VerbeirKev & Michel; you seem to know Verbier well. Has the new W hotel opened? How is that? We were thinking of going in January or February.
Thanks for the info on transport!

nycgirl212 Dec 11th, 2013 09:27 AM

Thank you for your responses!

joannyc - we found a good price on flights to Zurich so that part is already booked. Flying to GVA would have been ideal.

Is Geneva really a waste? We just wanted to hit up a city on our way to Verbier. We figured 4 nights in Verbier would be enough.

Is there another city we should try or go straight to Verbier?

michelhuebeli Dec 11th, 2013 12:26 PM

"Hit up a city" - which one depends on what for?

If it's to see a city with a typical historic center (going back to 1200) that still functions as a business and government center, not as a "museum" - then stop over in Bern, the Capital of the Swiss Federation. It has the train station right at the edge of that "Altstadt" (old city center), with pedestrianized streets flanked by arcades so window shopping even on rainy days is fun. Good views from the terrace-garden called "Rosengarten" (rose garden - but no roses in winter of course), and from the platform park outside the cathedral (called "Münster") and outside the Parliament Building (called "Bundeshaus"). Read up on Bern and see.

If it's for nightlife, stay in Zürich.

If it's for picturesque location and surroundings, with a lake (of incredibly warped shape) and good views, make it Lucerne.

Geneva has only a tiny little bit of all three above characteristics but, really, in winter you don't want to go there. Too far, too boring, too expensive.

On use the "via" line to figure out how to make such a stopover between Zürich and Martigny.

PalenQ Dec 12th, 2013 06:59 AM

Bern to me is one of Europe's most unheralded cities by tourists but in actuality is a gem - like michel describes above - I loved the old center - there was a big volleyball tournament going on last time in a main square - loved the Bear Pits and bears and the rushing river below it - Vern just a neat net old town - to me the nicest city I've seen in Switzerland - all Swiss cities are 'nice' but some are too sterile for me - not Bern however!

PalenQ Dec 12th, 2013 09:00 AM

Is Geneva really a waste? We just wanted to hit up a city on our way to Verbier. We figured 4 nights in Verbier would be enough.

Is there another city we should try or go straight to Verbier?>

though Geneva IMO is not a waste but a pleasant city in most regards many folks enjoy Lausanne, Montreux or Vevey, all on a train line from Geneva to the Verbier area and all on lovely Lake Geneva. Many would prefer their first night in a more romantic and smaller town than Geneva - Lausanne is a big town cut Montreux and Vevey much smaller and more intimate.

michelhuebeli Dec 12th, 2013 09:55 AM

Geneva in winter has so little to offer, it's not the same as in summer when the streetside cafés and the lakeside promenade and the jet d'eau and the boats coming and going give it a certain ambiance. In winter - with early darkness (no daylight saving yet in March) and rain and brisk temperatures and everybody hurrying to and from their office jobs - it's no fun for these girls.

Montreux is pretty, I lived there for a year, but winter was again not the same even though it tends to have a milder climate than other parts of Switzerland.

These nycgirls are best off spending the few days they have in Verbier, with half a day shopping in Berne on the way through (only takes a few hours coming off the train before picking up another) and one night clubbing in Zurich which has by far the most options, being the largest city and of a less conservative nature than, say, Bern and Basel.

It won't be NYC but it will do nicely.

PalenQ Dec 12th, 2013 11:58 AM

And they can shop to they drop or run out of money on Zurich's glitzy Bahnhofstrsse, often called the world's most luxurious shopping street.

Zurich has a neat old town that yes is more lively at night than many IME somnolent Swiss cities where the sidewalks literally get rolled up at night.

michelhuebeli Dec 12th, 2013 01:24 PM

Ah yes - the Bahnhofstrasse, where - if you're a dedicated shopper - the credit cards in your pocket burn a hole through the fabric as you stand and gawk at the shop windows, even more so than on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan...

Even NYC girls could be in for a surprise, although, having just been to the Big Apple again and looked around, I doubt it...

neckervd Dec 14th, 2013 11:44 AM

Forget the taxi from Le Chable to Verbier. There are continously running (no waiting time) gondolas from Le Chabele railway station to Verbier until 19.30 as well as buses at 19.50, 20.50 and 21.50

PalenQ Dec 14th, 2013 02:22 PM

A Swiss Pass would cover the buses in full I think and if a cable way connects two towns it is also covered in full - if only to a mountain top then it's 50% (which could be better with a flexipass than using a 100% covered travel day).

neckervd Dec 15th, 2013 04:33 AM

Televerbier (gondolas Le Chable - Verbier - Ruinettes - La Chaux - Col des Gentianes - Mont Fort, Tortin - Col des Gentianes, Tortin - Col de Chassoure, Ruinettes - Les Attelas - Mont Gele, Verbier - Savoleyres - Tsoumaz/Mayens de Riddes) is NOT integrated in the Swiss Travel System.
A Skipass covering the whole area up to Nendaz and Thyon (95 lifts, 420 km of prepared pists) costs 70 CHF per day, 200 CHF for 3 days and 400 CHF for a week. Half fare for children.
(1 USD = 0,90 CHF)

PalenQ Dec 15th, 2013 09:20 AM

Nevertheless Le Chable-Verbier-Tsoumaz gondolas do get a 25% reduction with a Swiss Pass according to the Swiss Pass validity map I have just looked at.

But if staying in that area most of your trip then the pass neckervd talks about would be best - if traveling around to various parts of Switzerland then look at either the Half-Fare Card or Swiss Pass.

neckervd - do you know if the Half-Fare thing covers though cables as well?


neckervd Dec 15th, 2013 12:21 PM

Palen: we have obviously not the same map.
I get my map trough the link (area of validity) at the bottom of

PalenQ Dec 15th, 2013 02:12 PM

I am look at a 2013 Swiss Pass map published by Clearly shows lines to those places in dotted black - which it says gets 25% off with a pass. I am not saying I know anything more - just reading the map.

PalenQ Dec 16th, 2013 04:42 AM

neckervd - I could not find any map on your link even though there is a thing to click on for a map of coverage but it won't pop up - where did you see a map of Swiss Pass coverage indicating no discount on those? And again I do not know but wish to know just to know for sure.


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