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Itinerary feedback please and train questions for August trip

Itinerary feedback please and train questions for August trip

Feb 24th, 2014, 10:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 14
Itinerary feedback please and train questions for August trip

Hi all,

Could the experts please advise if the tour plan below is manageable in 8-9 nights? Keeping in perspective that day trips or sightseeing from each of these bases will take up one day itself. Also, in each destination please recommend a sight if I have missed something worthwhile. We are fyling into Zurich and out of Geneva.

Day 1- Zurich (see the city)

Day 2 - Zurich (Rhine Falls, open to recommendation)

Day 3- Lucerne (Mount Titlis)

Day 4- Lucerne (open to recommendation)

Day 5- Interlaken (Jungfraujoch visit)

Day 6- Interlaken (open to recommendation)

Day 7- Zermatt

Day 8- Montreax (Chillon Castle, what else?)

Day 9- Montreax (Chamonix, Mont Blanc)

Day 10- Fly back from Geneva

Train question-Can we take the Golden Panorama from Lucerne to Interlaken?

Sorry for so many questions, appreciate your advise and thank you very much in advance.
WonderWomann is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 11:36 PM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 33,525
The trip up to Engleberg and Titlis will take about 1/2 day from start to finish unless you hang around up there. Great scenery on the way and the views from the top (I assume you are going to ascend) are the usual stuff.

Zermatt? Why? I assume to view the Matterhorn. If so, be aware that the peak can easily be shrouded in clouds while the village below is clear. Unless you are absolutely dying to see it I would consider skipping it. Zermatt itself is kinda the "usual" ski village with the usual stuff for sale.

Montreux. Since you like ascents and views then definitely consider taking the rail trip up to Rochers de Naye. That "toonerville trolley" arrangement hugs the mountainside and the views over Lac Leman at the top are spectacular. Chillon is interesting, IMO, but kinda bare.

For the Golden Pass info go here: http://www.goldenpass.ch/?Language=EN
Dukey1 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 11:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Even if you don't change destinations, I think your activities are one day off. Mountains are best reached early mornings when you are likely to have clear tops. The way you planned it, you will be at the top of the mountains late mornings to early afternoons. This also include Chamonix. Look at www.sbb.ch. It takes 3 hours one way from Montreux. The earliest you can reach Chamonix-Mont-Blanc SNCF station is 10:10.
greg is offline  
Feb 25th, 2014, 12:22 AM
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thanks Dukey1- this will be our first trip to Switzerland and even if we arent lucky enough to glimpse it, want to at least try to see the Matterhorn. What do you think?
Greg- for the Chamonix tour we are taking a prepiad Viator tour but yes will plan so that we are up in the mountains in the mornings then- that is a helpful insight I hadnt thought of. Thanks!
WonderWomann is offline  
Feb 25th, 2014, 12:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi WonderWomann,

I also think you are trying to do too much in too little time. Remember that every time you switch bases, you lose about half a day of "outside" time because of the chores of packing up and checking out, then checking in and unpacking again. I know it may *seem* that you are seeing a lot of places when you are moving fast, but in fact you are seeing/experiencing little while only setting foot in a lot of different places.

With 10 days, I would have MAX three destinations, not five. Luzern and Zürich are very close together, so you can stay in one and do one or two day-trips to see the other.

If you see mountains in Luzern and Interlaken, you don't really need to go all the way to Zermatt just hoping to get a glimpse of another mountain. I would recommend you choose ONE of these mountain destinations, and give yourself enough time to actually get into the mountains to walk and explore and sit for hours at a mountaintop cafe.

There's lots and lots to see in Montreux, and it will be a great contrast to your other mountain destinations. So, again, I don't see the benefit for a loooong day of travel just to see yet more mountains. If you truly want to spend all those days in the mountains, just stay in Wengen for six or seven nights.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is online now  
Feb 25th, 2014, 05:51 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
Another concern: these mountains are not always clear, even in the mornings, even in August. It may be, with only one day slotted for Jungfraujoch, it'll be socked in that day. You don't have to take the expensive train up there if it's all cloudy; there are webcams showing conditions at the top. But you'll have missed your one opportunity for that mountain.

You do have an additional day in the Bernese Oberland; you could switch days. But even 2 days might not be enough.

You could gain a day by skipping Zurich, going direct from Zurich airport to Lucerne. Then, for Rhine Falls from Lucerne, it's only an extra 45 minutes or so by train.

But this program of now we see this mountain, tomorrow move on for another, might lead to Alp-overload. ABA, another bloody Alp. After all, you can always come back another time, maybe see some other part of Europe also.
Mimar is offline  
Feb 25th, 2014, 06:03 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,758
From Montreux, you can go to Gruyere for the castle, medieval town, and fondue. Then, on to Broc, for the chocolate factory! I was all alone in the tasting room, not even an attendant...Yummmmmmmmmm!!!
joannyc is offline  
Feb 25th, 2014, 06:07 AM
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Yvoire is a very charming medieval town along Lac Leman. It would take about 1 1/2 hours by train and boat to get there from Montreux. Don't know if there is any other more direct route.

joannyc is offline  
Feb 25th, 2014, 07:39 AM
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I agree it's best to have as few different overnight destinations as possible. Zurich and Lucerne are less than an hour apart. Lucerne is the prettier so I'd stay three nights there and do a day trip to Zermatt (I did that and it worked great).

Then you could add the extra night to Interlaken. If you read other current (and old) posts you'll see there is quite a bit of disagreement as to whether Interlaken makes a good base. It certainly lacks the charm of the smaller towns up in the mountains. But, as pointed out above, if the mountains are socked in clouds there's not much to see up there. If you base in Interlaken, especially if you have several nights, then your chances of getting a 'good' day are increased and you can go up to the mountains on the nice weather day and if you get a cloudy day you can go to Bern, or Thun or somewhere else where there is more to see in poor weather. There are webcams in Interlaken showing you what the view is like up top.

The same strategy works for trying to see the Matterhorn. One day in Zermatt (boring town I though) gives you one shot at seeing the Matterhorn, if it's cloudy you are out of luck. But if you base in Montreux all three nights you can hopefully pick a nice day and do Zermatt/Matterhorn as a day trip (I did it from Lausanne which is even further than Montreux and it worked fine) and the other days you can do the castle or something else.

The walk part way down from the top of Gornergrat with the Matterhorn right there in front of you was one of my all time travel highlights. www.pbase.com/annforcier/switzerland_2013 But I agree that if it's covered in clouds the trip to Zermatt would be a waste of time. Go as early in the day as you can. I got there around 10 am and it was bright sunshine. By 2 in the afternoon the top was covered in clouds. If you look at the photos you'll see some are totally blue sky and others are quite cloudy - those were all taken over the space of a few hours on the 'best' day I had (and I was in Lausanne for 6 days).
isabel is offline  
Feb 25th, 2014, 08:22 PM
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thanks everyone. We do want to see the mountains earliest possible in the mornings- so the plan is to take the last train out from the earlier destination? So for eg, if we take the last train out of Zurich to Lucerne (I am hoping there are trains in the evenings?) then we can sleep in Lucerne and next day go see the mountain first thing in the morning. Would this be possible please?
swandav2000- thanks, this is helpful advise. But if we take day trips out from one base isnt it the same thing/equally exhausting? For eg, why not just stay the night in Zurich and then go to Lucerne? This is our first trip there and there are just soo many things to see. Our leaves are limited so just want to ensure we arent missing out on anything "must see" per se.
WonderWomann is offline  
Feb 25th, 2014, 09:24 PM
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Hi again,

I limit my day-trips to 2h of transport in each direction.

If you only take day-trips, then you save yourselves the extra time packing/unpacking, checking in/out.

There are too many "must-see" places to see them all in a single trip. I've been going to Switzerland once or twice a year (most years) since 1996, staying 10 days or 2 weeks at a time, and I haven't seen it all. I recommend you prioritize what's important, and then see those areas well

swandav2000 is online now  
Feb 26th, 2014, 12:03 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,417
For train schedules within Switzerland, see
There is an AWESOME amount of information on this site if you take the time to look through it.

'Our leaves are limited so just want to ensure we arent missing out on anything "must see" per se.' I spent 28 days in Switzerland last June and did NOT see all the things that many people consider "must sees". As swandav said, there are too many "must-sees" in Switzerland to fit into a single trip. With only 8 or 9 nights, you will have to be extremely selective.

The good news is that you should be able to see some wonderfully memorable places!

FWIW, I found the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet among the most useful of the half-dozen guidebooks I used for this part of Switzerland.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Mar 18th, 2014, 07:11 PM
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Wonderwomann - Sorry that I just saw your post but you have gotten good advice already. I, too, have the drive to see as much as possible during what is likely to be my only trip to a particular country/region. It's a big world out there and I want to see as many different places as I can before my knees give out! We were on the go from early morning til we fell into bed at night, and if we had it to do over again, would have done a bit less, though it is difficult to say what we would leave out as we loved it all. Someday I hope to finish the report but that will have to wait until I retire, which I hope will be soon!

If you are buying a rail pass, it allows transport on just about everything that moves in Switzerland. Had the boat trips not been included on the pass, I don't know if we would have spent the additional money. But they were a lovely, relaxing way to see the scenery and slow down for awhile.

We only spent a half day touring in Zurich, and then only because that was our departure city. We saw the churches but didn't visit any of the museums, which I know would have been wonderful, but we primarily toured Switzerland for the scenery. We were in Zurich on a Sunday, and were fortunate that there was some sort of celebration going on, so there were lots of families out and about, and there were street vendors, carousels, etc, which made the afternoon delightful. Had we been in Zurich on a work day, I doubt that we would have enjoyed it nearly as much. We did love our morning outing to Stein-am-Rhein, taking the train via Winterthur, which took us through beautiful rolling farmland to a lovely town with Germanic influences.

I join others who have suggested that you head to Lucerne rather than spending time in Zurich. I wish we had spent more time there as it was a charming city. There was also a street fair when we were there, which added to the local color. Be sure to see the Lion Monument - very moving. The "golden round trip" to Mt Pilatus was beautiful and fun. I loved whooshing down the hillsides in the gondolas.

We found Lauterbrunnen to be a convenient place to stay, much more charming than Interlaken. The only lasting memory of Interlaken was getting a balcony table for dinner at the "high rise" hotel - the Metropole, I believe. The food was very mediocre but we loved waving to the hang gliders floating right above us as they prepared to land in Hohematte Park across the street. I would not do Thun again, and would only do the Lake Thun cruise, if either of them. We LOVED the Junfraujoch, mostly because of the snow as we live in a very hot climate and are snow-deprived. Gliding through the ice cave was fun.

We were pleasantly surprised at how much we loved staying in Montreux, perhaps because we had an absolutely gorgeous room with a balcony at the Grand Hotel Suisse. The Castle of Chillon was a bit of a disappointment if you have been to other castles, but the history of it is interesting and the boat ride was pleasant. We loved the day we took the train from Montreux to Vevey, a darling town that we loved and wish we had spent more time in; and on to Lausanne, where we enjoyed visiting the church and walking along the shore. Our favorite part was the boat ride back to Montreux past the Laveaux vineyards - not to be missed!

My husband wanted to go to Zermatt to try to see the Matterhorn, which was hidden by clouds, but we were again treated to snow while on the Gornergrat, which was a thrill for us. We found Zermatt to be quite charming.

It is always difficult to decide what to leave in and what to leave out when visiting a new place. I still wish we had been able to see Bern and do the complete Glacier Express. Simply riding the trains and watching the lovely scenery was a real delight for us.

I would encourage you, as others have, to whittle down the number of places you stay and do day trips from those. We are preparing for 19 days in Italy and are only staying in 4 places, with plans to stay put or day trip out as the spirit moves us. Whatever you decide to do, you will love Switzerland and bring back many wonderful memories.
drchris is offline  

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