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tongsa Jul 22nd, 2003 02:16 AM

Help on spending 8-9 days around Zurich
We are going to be in Zurich in September with our 3 yr old.

Gathered from the posts: Will do Rappersweil/Engadine/Lucerne/Engelberg/Zug/
Shauffsen. It seems that most of these are day trips. And now my long list of questions:

1. Does it make sense to stay at one/any of these places overnite? Car or train?
2. If I dont go to Interlaken and Grimmewald/Wengen - am I missing too much? 3. Where else can I go/do without making it too tiring for a toddler plus doing stuff she will enjoy?
4. Can one do farmstays/homestays in Switzerland - I liked the idea of waking up to cowbells/boating at the lake/train journeys....
5. Which train journey would be doable and recommended?

Thanks for the advice in advance.

jmw Jul 22nd, 2003 06:12 AM

Hi, tongsa. From your list, I'd say yes, the Engadine. It's a bit far for a day-trip. I won't go into the Oberland question, because I'd imagine that you'll receive many replies from devotees. Re the homestays, there's a site called (I think) and many of the accommodations there are in the country; you might take a look if you decide to travel by car. I love trains, myself. J.

tongsa Jul 22nd, 2003 06:27 PM

Thanks jmw. I rechecked the map. Guess, If I am coming as far as Engadine or was it Engelberg, I should stay on for 2 more days and do the Grimsel Pass or Grimelwald (sp?) area and then return to Zurich from Interlaken by train. Does that make sense? Should I do the Golden Pass scenic route?
Or should I leave that whole part for another trip....

jmw Jul 23rd, 2003 06:13 AM

Hi tongsa, I find all the rail routes in Switzerland to be scenic, so I'm no help there. I can't remember if you said how many nights you'll have in all? Don't want to hop around too much, I should think. Rapperswil, Lucerne, Engelberg, and Zug are all possible daytrips from Zurich (trainwise; you can check possible schedules at -- click on English at the upper right, then timetables).

The reason I ask about the length of your stay is that you might want to save the Engadine for another trip if you are only able to give the Engadine and the Oberland two nights each, and if you've heard so much about the Oberland that you're afraid to miss it. You'll spend a lot of your first day on the train getting to each location. On the other hand, I would think the Engadine would be quieter than the popular Berner Oberland. And maybe you could get closer to the cows. I'm not much help with decisions. But I'd say pick a small town in the Engadine. There's plenty of mountain scenery. You might want to read S' trip report at the Engadine thread. J.

It's really

jmw Jul 23rd, 2003 06:16 AM

duh, your total days are in the title. I've only had two cups of coffee. And as for the "it's really . . . " well who knows?

teachersue Jul 23rd, 2003 07:06 AM

Last summer, my husband and I based ourselves in Zurich for 5 nights (Marriott points=free stay), then went on to the Lauterbrunnen Valley based at the Staubbach Hotel. What a wonderful trip! We bought a Swiss FelxiPass before we left and used it for day trips to: Lugano, Lausanne, Bern, and Luzern. From Luzern, we took a boat ride to Weggis and all the way to Mt. Pilatus. You can see a lot of each region based out of Zurich! We were quite impressed with all of those destinations. We're both history buffs and can walk forever without tiring of what we may discover. Our hotel van dropped us off at the train station (free) each a.m., then we arrived back in Zurich each night at around 9 p.m. to be picked up again and taken back to the hotel. We wouldn't have wanted to miss any of the cities we saw, as they were all so different. I regret not seeing Zermatt or Geneva only. The Lauterbrunnen Valley was a great base for hiking, gondola rides up to Murren, Wengen, and the Schiltorn (sp). We used our rail pass to get discounts! From the Valley, the trains to Interlaken, Grindlewald... are all easy and short trips. I felt we saw as much as possible in 9 days. We came back to Zurich in the end and flew out. We did not do the easiest day trips to Rappersweil, Shauffsen... but from the guides, I just didn't read about a lot to see in those places. If you are to stay in Zurich the whole time, you'll still have a wonderful time. With a 3-year old, you can still make 3-hour or less ride day trips to some of the larger cities I described above, can't you? First class seating was calm and cool, with wide spaces and tables. Other than Grindlewald, there just weren't that many tourists. I hope my trip review answers a couple of your questions, albeit in a roundabout way.

Clousie Jul 23rd, 2003 07:48 AM

Hi tongsa,

We just returned from 2 weeks in Switzerland, and will give you my opinions for your trip.

Personally, I think 8 days is too long to spend in Zurich and do day trips each day. Although the trains are very easy to use, travel time does eat into a lot of your day and can get tiring everyday. Think in your own mind of day trips you've taken at home. Would you want to be in a car for 3 hours, get out and sightsee and then do 3 hours return. Now before I get attacked, I know trains are a bit more relaxing than being a passenger in a car, but it gives one the idea of time. We loved the trains, and wouldn't even consider driving in Switzerland, but some days I just liked going out on treks from our hotel.

Although I'm not too impressed with Interlaken, it is a bit more centrally located for day trips to Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, Bern. Boat trips from there would also be relaxing, I think, with a 3 year old. Perhaps Teddyland would be fun for her(?) as well as a very scenic trip for you up to Scheidig Platte.

Don't know much about home stays, but cows and sheep, all with bells, were located very close to some of the Hotel Garni where we stayed. Perhaps by September, even more of the animals would have been brought back lower from the alps.

Teachersue: Wow! I'm amazed that you took day trips to Lugano and Lusanne from Zurich. Did you have much time to spend in each area?

teachersue Jul 23rd, 2003 02:13 PM

We felt like we had plenty of time, except in Bern. I guess I should say that we're the type of travelers who don't feel like we have to go to a lot of museums if we only have one day in a place. With a Swiss FlexiPass, we had to travel in 4 consecutive days, so we didn't have much choice. We read up on the history ahead of time, then, armed with coies of tour book pages, saw everything we can. Of course, Zurich itself was pretty cool. Going back to tongsa's original post, I definitely wouldn't have wanted to miss the Berner Oberland region. It's that part of the trip that stuck with me the most. I've posted before that the alpine vistas always make me tear up.

Intrepid Jul 23rd, 2003 03:35 PM

Just to give you an idea of some of the timing involve, let's say you wanted to travel a good distance from Zurich to Zermatt to see the very highest peak, the Matterhorn. You could do this with only one change of train from Zurich (depending on which train you took) but the one way trip would take almost 4 hrs and 45 minutes. The other places you've mentioned are much more doable by train (less time) from Zurich.
I find rail travel much more relaxing in Switzerland than driving and it is a lot easier for everyone including the person who would otherwise be doing the driving to enjoy the passing scenery. BUT, train travel doesn't always afford the total flexibility that having a car gives you in case you want to impetuously stop along the way. I think the trains are excellent and easy but perhaps a bit better if you have one particular detination in mind for the particular day involved.

tongsa Jul 24th, 2003 11:52 PM

Thanks for the inputs - will mostly go by train and maybe drive to Schauffsen or Engelberg. More advice needed!

I agree that 8 days in one place with day trips seems too, where should I go if I want to stay 2 nights away from Zurich. Seems to me that Engadine is closer/quieter... Or should I go to the Oberland? I dopnt want to spend more than 3 hrs each way in travel....And, then where to stay?

jmw Jul 25th, 2003 05:38 AM

I think you'll like Swiss trains, tongsa. As for where to spend your three nights away, we're sort of back where we started. I find that doing image searches at Altavista for individual towns gives me a feeling for the visual aesthetics of a place. There's a good Engadin trip report here somewhere, maybe "Engadin GTG"? And heaven knows, there are beaucoup threads raving about the spectacle of the Berner Oberland.

Perhaps if Ursula or Ingo or S' see this, they'll give you their suggestion for the best places to wake up with cowbells. You can find them at the Support Group for Those Who Love Switzerland thread if they don't pop in here. J.

Ursula Jul 25th, 2003 05:44 AM

Well I am torn between the Bernese Oberland (but then the Gstaad area rather than the famous Grindelweald/Wengen/Muerren neighbourhood) and the Engadine and I can't give the ultimate answer, sorry!
It's really too individual like wanting to compare Paris, Rome or London.

Oh, and then, some people feel bothered by cow or church bells, you know! :)

Ingo Jul 25th, 2003 08:11 AM

Here is a link for farm stays in Switzerland:

Most farms offer rental apartments and require a stay of 1 week minimum.

Like Ursula, I don't know which region to recommend. I must admit the Engadine is my favourite, but for a first time visitor the Bernese Oberland is maybe more impressive scenery wise.

In the Engadine I can recommend Pension Val Tuoi in Guarda - a quaint village with lots of cows and good hiking opportunities. (German only)


swandav2000 Jul 25th, 2003 09:14 AM

Hi tongsa,

I'm having trouble, too, giving you my subjective advice. The good point to remember is that you just can't go wrong; either the Berner Oberland or the Engadin will be great.

I do have some considerations that are worth noting, especially because you may be going by train with a toddler. I'm assuming that you'll have all your hands, arms, and fingers full as you try to keep track of bags, bundles, and baby, right? So choose a train journey with fewer connections, say a maximum of two changes. I think that getting to the towns or villages of the Engadin will require more train connections, so it may be less convenient for you. You CAN send ahead your cases for about 10 chf per bag, so this consideration isn't necessarily a show-stopper. It's just a, you know, consideration. You can check out the train schedules at

It's difficult to pinpoint the places where I've seen cows and heard cowbells. Certainly did in Zuoz. Saw a goat behind the village in Guarda. Saw a cow parade in the middle of Gstaad. Otherwise, I'd say simply aim for a smaller town or village and then go for a walk into the fields. Maybe a place like Weggis or Brunnen on Lake Luzern or a place like Iseltwald or Brienz (jw, did you see any grazing beasts there?) on Lake Brienz. Didn't one Fodorite name Chateau d'Oex as a wildflower-and-cowbells place? I don't accurately remember.

Well, maybe do some photo searches on these places and cross-reference with the train schedules to narrow down your options.

Hope this helps!!


ps, Ursula . . . hmmm!

tongsa Jul 27th, 2003 06:05 AM

Thanks -- More I read, more difficult is the choice....I remain as undecided as ever! Also, just to clarify - cowbells is a good idea but it is of paramount importance. Just thought that my little one would be happier in a farm atmosphere, away from the city life and all!

Though must admit, am leaning towards Engadin or "hanging around" the Luzern area or Lake Brienz(?).

Have heard about the Chateau d'Oex - but thought it might too far out -- on the map, looks to be beyond Interlaken, i.e longer travel.

Thanks for the tips - will explore each and then.Of course, come back for more advice!!

Until then...


jmw Jul 27th, 2003 06:55 AM

Hi, S', I don't recall seeing or hearing cows/bells in either Brienz or Iseltwald. Brienz is pretty popular by now, not as quiet as when we stayed there. Can anyone speak about Schwanden or Hofstetten above Brienzersee? or Wilderswil just above Interlaken? or Aeschi or Wimmis above Thunersee? If you do decide upon the Oberland, tongsa, be sure to visit the outdoor museum, Ballenberg near Brienz. Surely they will include something of interest to children. Another thought closer to Lucerne: Can anyone think of a cow clustered village along the Brunig Pass line? I hold the view of Lungern and its lake affectionately in my memory, but can't vouch for cowbells. I can, however, say that one of my loveliest memories is of the little church and cemetery in Altdorf (southern end of Lucerne's lake) with dark green hills just behind and, sure enough, the sounds of cowbells. Oh, and for goodness sake, just to muddy the waters a bit, don't forget Appenzell! Cow country! Love to all, countdown 4 minutes to techno-projects, bah. J.

tongsa Jul 27th, 2003 08:31 PM

Ooops! That was meant to be "cowbells are a good idea but NOT of paramount importance"! Chalets will do just as fine...Am sure you thought I was one mad cow!!!!

jmw Jul 28th, 2003 06:10 AM

I've really enjoyed your threads, tongsa, and I do hope you'll reward our encouragement by coming back with a really detailed trip report! It will give me something to anticipate near the end of September, yes? Here's hoping the heat breaks before you reach Switzerland. J.

tongsa Jul 28th, 2003 06:28 PM

Moo to ye all!

Okie,Thanks for all the tips - Here goes tentative itin.

Day 1: Zurich Town (landing early afternoon)
Day 2 to Day 4/5: Train ride to Montreux/Chateau de'Oxe and stay put.
Stay in Lucerne and do that area well. Incl Pilatus etc.

Day 5: Zug/Zurich and Rapperwil

Day6 to Day 8/9: Engadine and stay 2 nites or so.

Day 9/10: Shauffchasen

Sound good?

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