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help with switzerland blank canvas 10 days

help with switzerland blank canvas 10 days

Oct 22nd, 2009, 10:06 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
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help with switzerland blank canvas 10 days

Husband ( age 60) and I (58) are planning a trip for June-July 2010. He will spend 1 week on a bicycle ride in Holland finishing in Bruges. I will join him and from there we plan on visiting Berlin ( about 5-6 days) and then it is a blank canvas. We have never been to Switzerland so thought it might be a good place to go to from Berlin for about 10 days. I wouldn't even consider planning a trip without the opinions of Fodorites ( has always turned out well in the past) so my questions are:

1. Should we use rail or hire a car. We'd like to avoid anxiety if roads are difficult, and have used both in the past.

2 What is a good, first trip, Swiss itinerary.

We like walking ( actually strolling, so long as there is a good coffee at the end) but definitiely do not climb mountains, so please don't send us on anything overly strenuous.
irenen is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2009, 11:35 PM
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Airberlin has some great prices from Berlin to Zürich. I've flown with them before and they were very good.

Fly into Zürich and go to Lucerne

1-4: Lucerne
- Engelberg
- Ferry boat on lake
- train trip (and short bus trip) to Ascona (Italian part with palm trees)

5-10: Wengen or Lauterbrunen
- Jungfraujoch
- lots of other cable car trips (I'm sure other more knowledgeable Fodorites will join in here)
kleeblatt is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 07:52 AM
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My wife and I just did a ten day to Switzerland and we had a great time. Spent 3 nights in Luzern, 3 nights in Wengen and 3 nights in Zermatt. We did a few hikes at Jungfrau and Zermatt and with some pre planning all the hikes were mostly downhills.

The experts here can probably suggest a great itinerary for you but if you're interested in our trip report click on the link below.

Hanuman is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 09:16 AM
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I would absolutely recommend Wengen. It is a small town, but so much around it. I stayed 3 nights and it wasn't enough. I am returning in September 2010. This time I'll be staying 5-7 nights. I really loved the Jungfrau.

I also love Lucerne, but it is completely different from Wengen. It is much larger with lots of shopping and the most beautiful lake right in the middle of the town. If you stay there be sure to take the train up to Engelberg. There you can take cable cars up to Mt. Titlis.
scatcat is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:47 AM
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My husband and I just returned from Lauterbrunnen. From Wengen we took the gondola to Mannlichen and walked to Kleine Scheidegg, ending up in a wonderful outdoor cafe for a couple of beers before taking the train back to Lauterbrunnen. We could see the observatory at the "top of europe" from the table. The walk was almost flat. From the direction we took it was a slight downhill almost all the way. If you went from Kleine Scheidegg to Mannlichen you would have an uncomfortable uphill all the way, and no cute little restaurant at the end. It was an awesome walk.
grace44 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 10:51 AM
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Switzerland is one place where the train makes more sense for most tourists IMO - especially if going to car-free towns like Wengen, where you have to park your car at predatory rates down in Lauterbrunnen then take the train up to Wengen, which is a great base for this wondrous area.
Swiss trains are fantastic - twice an hourly going everywhere - even to mountainous areas like the Jungfrau Region, which to me is the one place first-time visitors to Switzerland should gravitate - awesome - just awesome views of ice-girdled peaks, etc. The Switzerland of the tour brochures etched in your minds' eyes - i would say invesitage the Swiss Pass, a real bargain IMO that covers trains, postal buses (going where trains don't), lake boats, city trams and buses - practically everything that moves in Switzerland, except cows. I have driven in Switzerland and found it tedious - driver can't take in the intoxicating views and unless you take the autobahns, which also require a pricey decal to use, the secondary roads can be very slow going. For loads on Swiss trains i always point out these info-laden sites: www.swisstravelsystem.com; http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id3.html; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com - lots on Swiss trains and railpasses as well as other options like the Half-Fare Card, Swiss Transfer Ticket and Swiss Card. Try to include one of Switzerland's ballyhooed specialty scenic trains in your itinerary - such as the Golden Pass, Bernina Pass, William Tell Express, etc. - these trains often have domed observation cars and commentary en route.
Palenque is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 12:06 PM
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I would not consider hiring a car in Switzerland, I do recommend travelling around by train.

I recommend flying to Zurich and taking the train to Lucern, and then to the Bernese Oberland area. If you are interested in seeing the Matterhorn, visit Zermatt too.

Check the weather before you purchase tickets to Jungfrau, it is not worth going to the top if the weather isn't good.

There is a train station at Zurich airport, it is easy to travel to/from the airport to/from Lucern and Interlaken.
justshootme is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 01:50 PM
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If hubby is into a different type of biking he can mountain bike in the Jungfrau Region - i walked down from Kleine Scheidegg to Wengen on a trail that mountain bikers were easily going down - can take bike up in train and roll down - quite a few folks doing that - rentals easily available.
Palenque is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2009, 11:02 PM
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The train system in Switzerland is excellent - I'd certainly prefer it rather than driving. We can recommend Lauterbrunnen (fell in love with it) and Lucerne. In Lucerne, a good day out is to take the ferry across the lake then the cog railway to Mt Pilatus, then cable car down again.
marg is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 01:20 AM
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Wow! what fantastic advice and tips. Thanks to everyone. Armed with this good advice, we will now sit down and work out an itinerary. The concensus seems to be train rather than hire car, so unless anyone has strong opions the other way, I think we will heed the advice.

If anyne has recommendations for good hotels (medium price) in Wengen, Lucerne and some of the other places worth visiting, that would be most helpful.
irenen is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 01:21 AM
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Oops. Sorry about the spelling errors. Best to preview first, I realise.
irenen is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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In September I stayed at Hotel Baeren in Wengen. It is a small hotel with their own restaurant. The food is really good, though I am not a foodie. The owner even arranged to prepare my meals at my request of no meat or fish other than chicken and pork. Great breakfast buffet. The half pension was only 20 CHF per day which is a real bargain in Switzerland. Free wifi in my room and also a computer in the lobby. My shower was perfect and of course, like all Swiss hotels where I have stayed, totally clean. I will be staying there again in September 2010.
scatcat is offline  
Oct 24th, 2009, 09:29 PM
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Hi irenen,

One tried and true route through Switzerland simply follows the route of the scenic "Golden Pass" train from Luzern to the Jungfrau region and onward to Montreux on Lake Geneva. You can see the exact route at this site:


This will give you an introduction to three different regions -- one city, one mountain area, and one French/lake area. Here are some more sites to help with your resarch:

www.rail.ch (Swiss rail site for schedules and fares)

www.swisstravelsystem.com (site for passes and discount cards)


I also love Wengen and really recommend you use it as a base for the Jungfrau region. I've enjoyed the Hotel Alpenrose two times:


Have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
Oct 25th, 2009, 08:09 PM
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Great info, swandav2000. I will check it out, as well as hotel recommended by scatcat.
irenen is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 06:52 AM
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Never heard of anyone over 40 or so who is disappointed with a Wengen sojourn - everyone not into youthful excitement simply falls in love with the place. And if staying there another reason not to go by car - you have to pay a lot to park your car down in Lauterbrunnen and take the train here anyway as private cars are not allowed into Wengen.
Palenque is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 01:09 PM
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Swandav2000's suggestion of three stops along the Golden Pass route is an excellent one for a 10-day trip. You'll get a good sampling with a beautiful historic city (Luzern), a mountain village (Wengen) and a lakefront town in the French-speaking region (Montreux, or maybe stay in Vevey nearby).

You'll be spoild for choice on your Wengen hotels, but the two already mentioned are both grea suggestions. They are quite different.

Alpenrose is larger, with a lovely lobby and rooms, lots of ambiance and charm, and more expensive. The Bären, where we stay, is basically a restaurant with rooms upstairs. There is no lobby and the reception is not staffed at all times. The rooms are simple and basic, but with a south-facing room and balcony, you'll hae the same view as you would at other hotels that cost considerably more.

The big draw at the Bären is the food, which is wonderful. Also the hosts. Frau Brunner will welcome you warmly at dinner, while Herr Brunner is busy in the kitchen preparing another wonderful meal for you.

I am still trying to duplicate the lime-ginger risotto we had there last time.

There is a world-class walk along the ridge above Wengen, perfect for people who like strolling rather than hiking. Ride the cablecar up from wengen to Männlichen and follow the trail to Kleine Scheidegg, with the Eiger and Jungrau right in your face. You follow a nearly-level trail that takes 1 to 2 hours. And at the end, you will find lunch, or coffee and pastries, or ice cream, or whatever you like.

We like to have lunch on the deck at the restaurant you will find on your left before you reach Kleine Scheidegg. If I can figure out the name I'll et you know, but it should be obvious from the situation. It has a little viewing platform that you can reach for the deck for a great view toward the Grindelwald side of the ridge.
enzian is offline  
Oct 27th, 2009, 08:14 AM
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The Golden Pass route from Interlaken-Ost (East station) to Lucerne is really sweet - first the train rolls along idyllic fjord-like Lake Brienz to Meiringen where the train's engine is un-coupled and transfered to the front to begin the trek up the Brunig Pass - at places with the help of cogs - the only cog-assisted railway of the Swiss Federal Railways and then after the Brunig summit the train descends to Lucerne, passing some pristine Alpine lakes glimmering in the distance - finally going along the shores of Lake Lucerne into Lucerne, where the station is smack in the heart of town.
Palenque is offline  
Oct 27th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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We loved Wengen and hope to return and will stay at Alpenrose again--a perfect location with incredible views and the meals there are excellent. We started our trip in Italy and made certain Zermatt would be included to see the Matterhorn--had a fantastic view of it from our room at the Daniela which I definitely recommend. We were flying out of Zurich and made an effort to stay a night in Montreux to see Chateau Chillon and were somewhat disappointed--not worth it IMO. We had Swiss Rail passes and definitely got our $$$ worth. Regarding hiking downhill, some hikes are very hard on the knees. We hiked from Murren to Stechelburg and this was a four hour hike down, hard on the knees, but our favorite hike--very beautiful. We hiked each day of our six day visit and most lunches were sandwiches bought at Coop--almost every little town had this grocery market. Lucerne was a nice side trip but Interlaken can be avoided except for changing trains.
nini is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 06:29 AM
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sferguso is offline  
Oct 31st, 2009, 02:40 PM
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Wengen Wengen Wengen! Ah Wengen! Love it!

I compiled a bunch of Wengen hotel info here:


The Mannlichen - Kleine Scheidegg is indeed lovely. Note that going in that direction it's ever so slightly downhill overall, whereas in the opposite direction it's ever so slightly uphill overall. This may seem like a small thing but it was ... shall we say a point of discussion amongst our group! We started the morning with the earliest trip to the Jungfraujoch, to get the best views (my understanding, if I remember this from two years ago, is that mornings are usually clearer and the mountains often cloud up as the day goes on). This meant that our most logical path for the walk was Kleine Scheidegg to Mannlichen rather than the other way around. Still a gorgeous walk.
suspire is offline  

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