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kenav Aug 27th, 2013 02:38 PM

Going to Switzerland in Jan. Got good advice. But now not sure...
Previously put it out to Fodorites about travel to Switzerland at the end of Jan-beg. of Feb for a winter vacation. Was suggested to me two places to split up our time - Gstaad and Wengen. So, OK, sounded good. (Been to Berne Oberland before, in the Fall, but never to Gstaad.)

However, I realize that the trip between the two is 3 hours with 3-4 train changes, and is also about that same amount of time to go from Zurich Airport to Gstaad. (And Gstaad hotels are damn expensive.) Then the same for Wengen back to Zurich.

Not sure if I want to spend 1/2 days just getting to places. So, now I'm wondering if in addition to Wengen or Gstaad, if anyone has another suggestion as to where to split my 8 days that might be closer to one or the other.

Dukey1 Aug 27th, 2013 02:44 PM

3 hours is hardly half a day

kenav Aug 27th, 2013 03:16 PM

True Dukey, but with checking out of the hotel, getting to the train station and checking in to another hotel, it would be more than that. Yes, I know that going from one place to another ALWAYS involves the hotel check out and check in etc., but I'm just asking for other possibilities.

Ingo Aug 27th, 2013 09:04 PM

In January it *is* a half day. If not more.

Why is this not tagged "Switzerland"?

swandav2000 Aug 27th, 2013 09:43 PM

Hi kenav,

Try Thun or Spiez. You can easily get to some of the best things in the Gstaad area from there (Wispile, Rinderbergg, Lauenensee, Saanen, etc), and they are right on the main train line. Spiez is lovely and closer to the mountains, though it sits in two halves really -- one half up at the train station and one half down at the lake harbor.

However, I would still go to Gstaad, despite the longer travel time. I just think the town itself is that pretty and that worthwhile. If you are worried about lugging your cases, of course you can use the Fast Baggage from the SBB to transfer your bags.

Anyway, have fun!


kja Aug 27th, 2013 10:32 PM

I am reluctant to comment because my experience of Switzerland is so limited, but I must admit that I thought Gstaad lovely in a seriously "touristy" way. Let me be clear -- I spent only about 1/2 hour there during a sunny day in early June. I remember thinking that it would be a good base for someone who wanted to ski in an area where everything met their image of what a Swiss ski resort should be. The chalets along the main street were beautiful and the street was lined with cafes and restaurants and hotels and high-end shops and statues of children playing musical instruments. Charming! I am glad I visited Gstaad, if for no other reason than I had always wondered what it was like. But honestly, I was not sad to leave after just an half hour. Of course, I don't know what I missed by leaving so quickly and my reaction reflects my personal interests.

I also spent some time in Graubunden (with stays in Mustair, Guarda, and Pontresina) and was absolutely awed. I won't try to compare Graubunden to the Bernese Oberland -- I found them both stunning. And I'm sure that visiting any of these places in winter will be quite different than my experience in June. But you might want to give this part of Switzerland another look.

Just a thought....

kenav Aug 28th, 2013 04:20 AM

Thanks kja - I would have to spend my whole time in the Graubunden and not split it with Wengen, then, as they are very far apart. Is there enough to do there for 6-7 days in the winter?

Ingo: "In January it *is* a half day. If not more." Exactly what my thoughts were, as the sun sets early in Jan., and thus my concern about travel time!

Swandav - Do you think, then, that it would be a good idea to split our time between Wengen and Thun?

Pepper_von_snoot Aug 28th, 2013 04:52 AM

What would you do in Thun in January?

If you are going to ski, why can't you just stay in one place?

If you want to ski in Gstaad why don't you fly in/out of Geneva?


kenav Aug 28th, 2013 05:51 AM

Pepper - I think Swandav suggested Thun because of the ability to go to other places easily from that as a base.

Checked travel time between Geneva and Gstaad and it's not much faster than from Zurich and I believe with my FF miles I can fly non-stop to Zurich but not to Geneva. However, if it would be better to fly into Geneva with a change of planes somewhere for whatever my final itinerary becomes, I would do it.

Ingo Aug 28th, 2013 10:07 AM

Seriously, I don't understand

a) why you want to split your time - only a week - and spend it in two bases and

b) why you want to pick two places that are VERY close to each other. You know, if you travel less than three hours from one to another then you could easily do day trips from one to another.

Because, anything close to Wengen in short travel distance is either very similar (think Mürren) or pales in comparison (think Thun). In January people go up into the mountains because they want snow, blue sky, holiday ambience. Thun - like any town in the plains or at the foot of the Alps - can be awfully grey, dull, dark, rainy in January. Not always, but very often.

I think Gstaad and Wengen are different enough so it makes sense to pick those two - IF you MUST pick two places. Sure you lose a half day (even more) when moving from one to the other, but that's the price you pay for two bases.

kenav Aug 28th, 2013 11:21 AM

Hi Ingo - Yes, I thought about how close Thun and Wengen are and whether that would make much sense.

Guess a few people had recommended Gstaad to me as being different from the B.O. and I thought it might be nice to be in a place I've never been. At the same time, I love the B.O, haven't been there in years and would like to spend time there. So I thought maybe I could split our time. Guess I should think again!

swandav2000 Aug 28th, 2013 09:22 PM

Hi again,

I didn't realize you had only a week; sorry, I should have asked.

Yes, with so little time, you lose too much time switching bases. I like to spend a week at a base, and for folks here at Fodors, I usually recommend at least four nights/five days.

Does the week in Switzerland include your time at your departure base? Are you leaving out of Zürich, or are you moving on to another place in Europe?


kenav Aug 29th, 2013 05:22 AM

HI Swandav - The week is all we have in Europe. It's a mid-winter vacation, something we've never taken before. I've always wanted to be in Switzerland in the winter.

We would fly into and out of Zurich. Either 7 or 8 days overall. The last night would be in Zurich so that we can easily get to the airport in the AM.

swandav2000 Aug 29th, 2013 05:44 AM

So -- I would have only one major stop in addition to the time in Zürich before your flight out. It's too much to do, to deal with jet lag and moving too often and finding your way around a new spot, etc. Having two bases in 7 or 8 days is about all you should do.


kenav Aug 29th, 2013 05:56 AM

swan - The big decision is now Wengen or Gstadd, or possibly somewhere else. I love the BO, but have never been to Gstaad so that might be nice. Wow, we should all have such terrible dilemmas!

swandav2000 Aug 29th, 2013 06:10 AM

I don't think you can go wrong with either place.

Of course, the mountains are higher, more dramatic, more awesome around Wengen. You can also see Bern, Thun, Thun's castle, Spiez, Lake Thun, the Ballenburg Museum, and of course the Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch.

Around Gstaad the mountain are (much?) lower, more rounded, less dramatic (I happen to think they are prettier . . . ). You can walk along the valleys to nearby towns (Schönried, Saanen, Lauenen), visit Montreux (Chillon) and Vevey, visit Gruyeres and its castle and its dairy and Broc-Fabrique and the chocolate factory, visit Chateau d'Oex, visit Rougemont, and visit Bulle and walk to Gruyeres.

It's a tough choice, but truly no losing on this one!


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