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Help! Which two do I choose? Zermatt or Wengen or Lausanne or Geneva???

Help! Which two do I choose? Zermatt or Wengen or Lausanne or Geneva???

May 23rd, 2007, 12:06 AM
  #1  
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Help! Which two do I choose? Zermatt or Wengen or Lausanne or Geneva???

I've waited forever to see Switzerland, and am finding it incredibly difficult to choose between the different locations. We have 5 nights /4 days in Switzerland, currently split between Wengen (1 full day, 2 nights), Zermatt (2 days, 2 nights) and Geneva (1 day, 1 night). The travel time on Day 1 doesn't work too well with Wengen, so I'm leaning towards limiting our time to two rather than three destinations.

The choices seem to be between Wengen, Zermatt, Lausanne and Geneva. I'd be really grateful if I could get some advice on this. All suggestions appreciated!
MELSAL is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 12:42 AM
  #2  
 
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A couple of questions come to mind:

Your arrival city

Mode of travel within Switzerland

Kind of things you really want to see...and do

As to Zermatt. If you are going there to see the Matterhorn peak as well as to view the Monte Rose Massif which affords views of some of the highest peaks then it is a good decision. Be aware, however, that the viewing possibilities are subject to weather conditions and at times the views can be totally obstructed by clouds, etc.

The trip up to Zermatt by either car or rail can be pretty spectacular; the village itself is just that, a (some might say 'typical' "ski village" and the village itself is easily explored in less than a day.

If you want to do other activities such as hiking, etc., that will obviously take more time.

Geneva is a city which some feel to be rather impersonal; someone here (a frequent visitor to the area) recently described the place as "cold."

You may find locations such as Vevey, Montreux, Lausanne along the shores of Lac Leman somewhat more picturesque.
Dukey is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 01:10 AM
  #3  
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Hi Dukey, Thanks for the response provided.

We fly into Frankfurt, and the plan is to jump on a train and head to Switzerland asap. There doesn't appear to be a compelling reason to hire a car to get around; in fact, it sounds like travel by train is a pretty good option.

I don't want to go into a city for the sake of it. And am keen to take in as much scenery as possible. Some short-ish hikes would be good!

To be honest, I've been very focussed on where to go (not doing too well with the Switzerland leg) and booking accommodation, at the expense of 'what to do'. My 20 year old daughter is travelling with me.

It sounds like Geneva isn't the best option. Are Zermatt and Wengen alike? If so, which is the better option? Would it be better to split Zermatt or Wengen with a contrasting place such as Lausanne or Montreux etc?
MELSAL is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 02:54 AM
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Hi MELSAL,

No, Zermatt & Wengen aren't too similar. Though both are car-free and are perched at/in the mountains, they differ in ambiance etc. Wengen is a lot more laid-back with a more spacious feel and closer to how it was 100 years ago; Zermatt not so much.

I didn't care for Zermatt myself and haven't been back after my initial visit. I thought it was overbuilt with instant-chalets built atop one another in the very limited land available, and, in fact, I've read one poster refer to it as the "Manhattan of the mountains." Yet it has lots of fans because the surrounding countryside and mountains are so awesome -- another poster has said that one doesn't go to Zermatt for the village itself.

Geneva isn't a big draw imo. I've spent many weeks on Lake Geneva, but this isn't a quintessentially "Swiss" area. It's in the French section, so the architecture is Belle Epoque/Edwardian, not mountain chalet. It's also about 1-2 hours from any mountain destination. You should save Geneva/Lake Geneva for your second visit.

I'd say spend as much time as you can in the Swiss mountains. It's up to you which mountain destination. Maybe spend some time in a bookstore or library, or do a photo search online to help you see which one appeals to you more.

In four days, I think you should actually stick to a single destination and spend your time up in & around the mountains. Otherwise, you waste too much time in transit.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
May 23rd, 2007, 03:06 AM
  #5  
 
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I've been to Zermatt three times. other than skiing, the "attraction" for me has been the views of the peak, etc., and certainly not particularly the village which I don't think offers a whole lot.

I haven't been to Wengen yet so cannot comment on contrasts. Other than the peak viewing and possibly hiking you might be better off to concentrate on Wengen, the Bernese Oberland, etc. Up above Interlaken the scenery is absolutely unforgettable IMO and there would be much more to see and do than there would be in Zermatt.

I spent four nights in Geneva on my last trip but mainly did so because the folks I was traveling with wanted to use it as a base. We spent every day OUT of the city going somewhere else along the lake to include Montreux, Lausanne, etc.

I would most definitely agree that you can get to the places you want to see and in the time you have to do so by using the rail system.

I know there are people here who would rather rent a car because they don't want to be "tied to a train schedule" and a car would offer ultimate flexibility. However the rail system is fast, ultra efficient, and probably more economical because with car rental comes insurance (if you choose to), fuel costs, and the parking issues...plus somebody has to do the driving.
Dukey is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 04:40 AM
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I'm leaning toward 3 nights/2 days in Wengen and 2 nights/2 days in Zermatt. Just have to come to terms with the fact that it's impossible to do the country justice in the timeframe available.

I'm currently booked into the Caprice Wengen, and have opted for the mountain view. At a price. But I suspect it's worth it? In Zermatt, we've gone with the Hotel Europe. Any thoughts on either place? Haven't yet established whether I can rearrange the bookings in light of the proposed change to the itinerary!

Thanks for your help Dukey & s!
MELSAL is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 04:42 AM
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I would vote strongly for one or two stops at most.

We divided our trip last summer between Wengen and Lucerne (bookended by a stay in Zurich, where we visited friends). There is alot to do in the BO, and the access from Wengen is easy to other sights in the area.

I don't know if you've already ruled out a stop in Lucerne, but I thought our stay on the lake there (we stayed in Vitznau) was as beautiful as our stay up in the mountains. So, you could do four nights in Wengen and a night in Lucerne or one of the lakeside villages there.
skatedancer is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 04:48 AM
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You raise a really good point Skatedancer. I'd completely overlooked the lakes in Switzerland! Decision making at its hardest!
MELSAL is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 04:48 AM
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MELSAL,

Please explain...and I ask this fully realizing that everyone travels differently, has different desires, etc. but do you feel that Wengen and Zermatt are going to seem that different from one another as to justtify seeing both?

I ask this in light of your lament of not doing the country justice with a short stay. Absolutely agree on that but am wondering if you might be doing a lot of the same kind of stuff in two different places.

I cannot, unfortunately, comment on your hotel choice in Zermatt since I have always stayed elsewhere in the village.
Dukey is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 04:56 AM
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With 5 nights /4 days, I'd strongly urge that you keep to one general area, namely the Berner Oberland! (In the Alps you have to allow for frequent variations in the weather conditions.)
TuckH is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 05:01 AM
  #11  
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Dukey, The initial hesitation around Wengen & Zermatt was that they would be too similar. But I (rightly or wrongly?) got the impression that the differences were significant enough to justify spending all of our time in these two locations.

Having said that, there would obviously be a more significant contrast between a mountain location and a lake location. Or a mountain location and a city/large town. Is this where you are coming from?
MELSAL is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 05:05 AM
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My feeling is that other than peak viewing and unless you were planning to ski or hike, I think you'd find a lot more to see and do someplace like Wengen, the Bernese Oberland, etc.

I don't agree that you need to spend your entire time in one place but I think you could get basically plenty of "Alps fix" somewhere other than Zermatt and also spend a day or so in Lucerne or along one of the lakes.

I know it is hard to decide, especially if you have NEVER been there which a lot of us lose sight of when we give advice to others.

If I had to pick the Berner Oberland or Zermatt in terms of more and varied sightseeing opportunities I would have to rule Zermatt out.
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May 23rd, 2007, 05:22 AM
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Zermatt is is nice, but there are a few things working against it. As others have noted, the village is cute but touristy. Also, it really is a one mountain, one village town. Accomodations are quite expensive in town and there really isn't anywhere else nearby to find cheaper places to stay. It isn't terribly convenient to get to Zermatt from most places in Switzerland. Also, if you have bad weather, there isn't a lot to do. That said, high up in the mountains it is spectacular.

By contrast, the Bernese Oberland area has multiple peaks and valleys to explore. There are many small working villages that are easily reachable. In bad weather you can take walks along the river valley, expore interlaken or visit Ballenberg folk museum, etc. In sunny weather, the BO peaks are every bit as scenic as those in Zermatt, except none quite as recognizable as the Matterhorn. Since you have a choice of towns in which to base, accomodations are more reasonable in the BO. Interlaken, which is the gateway to the region, is easily connected to Lucerne and Berne by train regularly.

Personally, I would spend the whole time exploring the Berner Oberland area. To me, this is what Switzerland is all about. Swiss cities are nice, clean, etc. however IMO most don't rate compared to other great cities of Europe. The Swiss Alps, however, are second to none.
ripit is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 05:24 AM
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Ok. Progress is being made thanks to the valuable information provided by you all.

It sounds like 4 nights in Wengen and 1 night somewhere on a lake is the way to go. I've already looked into accommodation in Wengen. Any suggestions on accommodation in Lucerne/Vitznau/somewhere else?
MELSAL is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 05:28 AM
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Ripit, I'd posted my response before I'd read yours. Is a day trip to Lucerne viable from Wengen?
MELSAL is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 05:28 AM
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Perhaps you could go to Lucerne for a day - beautiful town - and then go the the BO (Wengen) for the duration of your trip. Don't know the train routes from Germany to Lucerne, so I could be way off here.
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May 23rd, 2007, 11:09 AM
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Lucern is bit less than 2 hrs. from Interlaken with direct trains running every hour or so. A day trip is easily doable from Wengen and would be a good rainy day option. Bern is another day trip option - less than 1 hr. from interlaken. If you are going to visit a Swiss city, I think either Bern or Lucern is the most enjoyable.

Coming from Frankfurt, you will probably need to change in Bern so you could make a quick stop over there on your way to Wengen. You can leave it up in the air once you get to Wengen whether or not you want to leave to visit Lucern as a day trip. If you don't make it to Lucern, at least you will have seen a Swiss city.
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