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Interlaken or Bern - please help with itinerary!

Interlaken or Bern - please help with itinerary!

Old May 6th, 2008, 01:55 PM
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Interlaken or Bern - please help with itinerary!


My husband, his brother and I are going to Switzerland for 6 days. Below is our tentative itinerary. My question is-- which is better..Bern or Interlaken?

May 19 morning- arrive in Zurich, rest and walk around
May 20-21 - explore Zurich
May 22 - pick up rental car and drive to Lucerne. Stay overnight in Lucerne.
May 23-May 24 - ?? INTERLAKEN or BERN? Drive to Zurich at night
May 25 - drive to Zurich airport, return rental car and fly to Barcelona.

Please let me know which would be better. We were originally thinking of doing day trips in both but that might be too rushed.

lilladki is offline  
Old May 6th, 2008, 02:08 PM
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Too much time in Zurich IMO. It's a nice enough city, but you could see the major sights on May 19 and leave by noon on May 20.

For such a short time, I'd just travel by train.

I'd give Luzern at least one full day (2 nights).

To advise between Bern and Interlaken, we'd need to know why these two? What interests you in both places? Would you hike in the Interlaken area or train to the top of the Jungfrau?
Jean is online now  
Old May 6th, 2008, 02:19 PM
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I agree. Except for Luzern I wonder about the other 3.

I have been through, in, and around Interlaken each year for the past 6.
For me it is mainly a place to find a rental car, shop in a large super market, and change trains for Lauterbrunnen.

Bern? Sort of interesting for a rainy day.

Zürich? Rich city. Nice shops. Need a $20,000 watch? Good place to find one.

The beauty of Switzerland is in the mountains and a few very nice cities, e.g. Lausanne and Luzern.

bob_brown is offline  
Old May 6th, 2008, 05:54 PM
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Zurich is primarily a business city. cut back there and add to Lucerne - which is great for touring - the city itself, the museums, the lake steamer going to cute little villages and up one or more mountains - Pilatus, Titlis or Rigi.

Bern - we found it to be a yawn.

Stayed in Interlaken - which was OK - but mostly because it was central and we were doing a bunch of nearby towns by car.
nytraveler is offline  
Old May 6th, 2008, 07:26 PM
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I agree you could spend a little less time in Zurich -- maybe depart on the 21st instead of the 22nd? Also, I am not a train person but I highly recommend them in Switzerland. I just got back last month and the trains could not have been easier, cheaper, or more pleasant. Loved the views! And most rail passes include entrance to museums and other sights. . .
abbydog is offline  
Old May 6th, 2008, 08:58 PM
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I guess I'm in the minority, but I like Bern. I admit to being a museum junkie, and there are several in the city, including the striking Paul Klee museum (opened in 2005). I also enjoyed a tour of the Swiss Parliament and the nice views from the Rose Garden and top of the Clock Tower. Compact, attractive historical center (on the Unesco World Heritage List) with charming fountains throughout.
Jean is online now  
Old May 6th, 2008, 09:03 PM
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I'd have to agree with taking the train instead of driving, unless you have a distinct reason for driving.

Get a flexisaver train pass, and I'd recommend getting it from Budget Europe Travel Service http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/
They were so helpful and knowledgable about the trains I was to take in Switzerland back in March.

As for Zurich, to each his/her own. I found that I could have spent more time exploring Zurich, as every street had something interesting to me(architectural details, fountains, statues). Depends on what you like. But Zurich is definitely a $hopper'$ paradi$e. For a quick sandwich on the run, go to Kauffmann's on Banhofstrasse, which has these too-pretty-to-eat open faced square sandwiches. If you want cheap eats and a place to sit, head over to Coops department store, top floor. For a relaxing sit down tea/coffee, head over to Sprungli's cafe, and order some of their famed luxemburgerlis with your drink.
mcnyc is offline  
Old May 6th, 2008, 10:27 PM
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Those opinionated Fodorites!

Of course, your itinerary depends on your interests.

- Beyond shopping, Zürich is a beautiful city with a quaint old town, vibrant night life and outstanding museums.

- Bern has a spectacular location on a rock, surrounded by a river, and also an old town which could easily serve as the backdrop of a medieval movie. Also, as others have said, excellent museums.

- Luzern is the quaintest of all Swiss towns (and is, hence, overrun by American tourists), has a spectacular location with lake and mountain views, but few museums and other attractions. Luzern is a good starting point for boat trips on the Vierwaldstätter See and for a cable car ride on top of the Pilatus mountain (breathtaking view).

- Interlaken as a town is not too interesting but gives access to some spectacular mountains.

You can easily combine everything, like this:

May 19 Zürich, as planned
May 20 Zürich
May 21 drive to Luzern, make a little detour via Einsiedeln (monastery), Schwyz, along the lake via Weggis
May 22 Luzern: boat trip, Pilatus
May 23 Berner Oberland (Interlaken): from Wengen cable car ride up to the Männlichen
May 24 Bern
May 25 back to airport

Distances in Switzerland are short. You may either rent a car or take the train. Matter of taste.
traveller1959 is offline  
Old May 7th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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In Switzerland i would take the train - sit back and see the scenery not eyes peeled on the roads

unless you take freeways (have to buy a pricey decal as well to use them) the sideroads IME are very slow going

trains go everywhere and postal buses and gondolas go everywhere trains don't

and places like the Jungfrau area above Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen (like Wengen and Murren) are off limits to cars as is Zermatt and some other Alpine resorts

and the Swiss Flexipass remains an absolute bargain for most rail itineraries
PalenQ is offline  
Old May 9th, 2008, 04:34 PM
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Thank you all for your input so far!

My husband and I are 28 and 27, and his younger brother is 20. In Zurich, we are not counting the 19th since we'll be jetlagged from our overnight flight from the US. Therefore, we're thinking we'll just walk around and enjoy the city on the 20th and 21st. Let me know if that's too much time.

Does it make sense financially to take a train vs. driving? We got a rental car for $195. I would think 3 train tickets for each route would total to more than that. Plus, if you get a rental car, do you still have to buy a pricey decal?

We are interested in architecture and just walking around and enjoying the atmosphere. Is the hike up the mountains in Interlaken intense? We are not into museums much (especially art museums). We were thinking of going to these other locations more just to get a different perspective of Switzerland outside of Zurich.

What would be the ideal itinerary?

Thanks again for everyone's feedback.
lilladki is offline  
Old May 9th, 2008, 06:01 PM
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>I would think 3 train tickets for each route would total to more than that

You can look up the prices yourself at www.sbb.ch

>Plus, if you get a rental car, do you still have to buy a pricey decal?

Most probably not, but you have to buy gas and pay for parking.
Additionally, you have the hassle of city driving and search for parking space - which is very scarce in Lucerne (as wellas in Bern)

altamiro is offline  
Old May 9th, 2008, 06:11 PM
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It is a matter of taste. BUT! Interlaken is so close to Lauterbrunen and Lauterbrunen is great jumping off point to explore the Berner Oberland for a day or two. If you're not a hiker, (I'm not) there are easy but stunning walks high up in the mountains. I find the Swiss Alps stunning. However in May the weather may still not be ready for beautiful walks high up in the mountains. The thought of walking those paths with the cows and their bells and the whole Heidi- in - the - chalet thing is hard for me to resist.
chevre is offline  
Old May 9th, 2008, 06:56 PM
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May 20 is a bit early for the Alps. The extended forecast for Grindelwald, which is near Lauterbrunnen and Interlaken is for rain and clouds through the 18th of May.

Highs will be less than 60 at valley level and around 40 at night.

Perhaps by the 20th things will start to warm up a little more because the sun is climbing higher each day.

The summer season does not begin to kick into gear until after June 1.

I never plan to be in the mountains until mid June or afterwards. This year we have reservations for early July.

I think you will go when you can.

Luzern is a pretty city and the transportation museum there is very nice.

Another good attraction south of Luzern near Meiringen, east of Interlaken, is the Museum of Swiss Life. It is an outdoor museum that had reconstructed houses and a recreation of farm life in Switzerland from 150 to 100 years ago, and more.

All the different styles of architecture and farming are interesting to some people.

The name of the location is Ballenberg. It is very close to the village of Brienz, which is known for its wood carvers.

A lake ride in both Brienz and Luzern can be very nice.

Most of the high passes will be closed in all probability because snow is still falling at higher elevations.

The Brünig Pass between Brienz-Interlaken and Luzern is low enough that it most likely will be open.

bob_brown is offline  
Old May 10th, 2008, 06:37 AM
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Agree with Bob about not being certain about snow on passes

One early Sep i was planning to take the three pass bus ride from Meiringen and showed up for the ride to find the bus canceled because of snow up in the passes

and in Murren that time there was ice on the sidewalks during the day and in Grindelwald too
PalenQ is offline  
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