May Germany, Switzerland, and Iceland

Old Nov 19th, 2017, 03:17 PM
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May Germany, Switzerland, and Iceland

I am landing in Frankfurt, Germany, May 10 and then flying out of Geneva, Switzerland on May 19th. After that I have 2 day's in Iceland, landing in Reykjavik.

I am interested in hiking and exploring more than main attractions but still enjoy seeing them if they are conveniently located. I hope to explore the Swiss Alps a lot and enjoy the outdoors/mountains. I am an experienced hiker so the level of difficulty on hikes or long walks during the days are no problem.

I prefer to do things on the cheap: couch surf, hostels, or air b&b.

Any advice on an itinerary would be fantastic!

Also, I have never been to Europe before.
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Old Nov 19th, 2017, 03:26 PM
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May is not an ideal time for hiking in much of Switzerland, and Switzerland is a bit more challenging than some locations to visit on a budget. You might want to make sure that your plan for that country is feasible before finalizing your itinerary.

Do be sure to invest in at least one, if not several, good guidebooks. In comparison to the cost of your trip, the cost of a guidebook or two will be nominal, and you will benefit from having a wealth of information at your fingertips -- even the things you don't know to investigate on line. For budget travel, you might want to consider the Lonely Planet guidebooks.

Hope that helps!
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Old Nov 19th, 2017, 03:47 PM
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Well you have 8 full days on the ground.

I'd head straight away to Switzerland and the Interlaken area - a k a Berner Oberland or Jungfrau Region - as awesome as any Alpine area and easy to get to and travel around once there.

Hikes abound and there are plenty of nice hikes for all degrees of difficulty - many at lower elevations should be fine in May (though wet weather can set in anytime of year).

Grindelwald would make a perfect base -just 20 minutes by train from Interlaken (about 6 hours by train I'd say from Frankfurt) - and from your type of accommodations stated the youth hostel and Nature Friends' House (an all-ages communal type place with private rooms) can be very affordable.

Then maybe take train to Munich and spend few days in that nice city - great walks in Englischer Gardens - and back to Frankfurt.

Trains are great - check www.bahn.de/en for schedules and www.seat61.com for how to book your own discounted tickets for trains involving Germany - for general info on trains and where to go -www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

But really the Jungfrau Region is so awesome for several days of taking thrilling mountain trains, aerial gondolas and hiking:

https://www.google.com/search?q=jung...w=1536&bih=759
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Old Nov 19th, 2017, 05:11 PM
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Thanks for all your info!

So instead of Switzerland should I look at Germany, Austria, and northern Italy or what would you guys suggest?
My heart was pretty set on Switzerland but I do understand in order to keep it budget friendly that I will probably have to skip it. Would the Dolomites be a better option?

I really appreciate all of your help and insight!
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Old Nov 19th, 2017, 06:06 PM
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I don't know enough about hiking in the Alps to advise you (other than the aforementioned caution about Switzerland); you would, I think, do well to go to your local library or bookstore and consult the "when to go" section of various guidebooks.
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 12:48 AM
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All will depend on the weather and on the snow line. May is usually a mix of sunny and rainy days.
The Bernese Oberland is not the best solution for May (rather wet and rather low snow line).
For tons of blooming narcissus flowers and gemless gentian, check either the Jura Crest trail between Biel/Bienne (Grenchenberg) and Yverdon (Chasseron/Ste-Croix) or trails above Chatel St-Denis - Vevey - Montreux - Chillon.
The driest Swiss Canton is Valais, with endless water channel trails between Martigny and Brig. On sunny slopes in Valais, the May snow line can get up to 2000 metres.
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 02:40 AM
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Do you already have your flight out of Geneva?
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 05:34 AM
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I do not, I now am looking at still landing in Frankfurt on the 10th and flying out of Munich on the 21st. The flights I have been looking at are around $350
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 06:52 AM
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My heart was pretty set on Switzerland but I do understand in order to keep it budget friendly that I will probably have to skip it>

Again if staying in hostels or the Nature Friend's House in say Grindelwald and cooking own meals Switzerland can be as affordable - don't dismiss it for costs if you really want to go.

What is your budget - you could easily live on less than $100 a day in a place like Interlaken or Grindelwald staying in hostels or similar places.
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 08:11 AM
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So instead of Switzerland should I look at Germany, Austria, and northern Italy or what would you guys suggest?>

For hiking? One area in Germany that is nice would be the Bavarian Alps say around Mittenwald and Garmisch - lower elevations than Swiss Alps though weather in May anywhere above the Alps could be wet. Train to Munich - spend a few days there and go to rural areas around Bavarian Alps.

Dolomites in Italy are a long train ride from Frankfurt so maybe fly to Venice -spend few days there and head for hills which should have a bit better weather perhaps but are also harder to get around as public transit not nearly as good as Swiss Alps.
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 08:07 PM
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Hi, Don't dismiss Switzerland. There is a hostel in Grindelwald, that Rick Steves mentions in his books. You can get to small villages from there, such as Wengen, Murren. They are unbelievably gorgeous. Not sure about May, check weather. There is a grocery in Wengen, and some chalets that might rent out less expensive, small village with amazing views of Jungfrau/Monch Mountains and unbelievable hiking trails. Out of Wengen is the lift to the Mannlichen that is absolutley awesome..wide plateau to hiking trails with mtns overhead. Been to both Murren and Wengen, both are goreous. Research it. Dolomites cannot compare in my opinion. Sue However weather is important to check out.
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Old Nov 20th, 2017, 08:23 PM
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Seriously, check guidebooks and climate data.

IIRC, May is prime snow-melt time in the Bernese Oberland (which includes Grindelwald, Wengen, Murren, and Lauterbrunnen), so many trails could be closed, avalanches are not uncommon, many hotels and restaurants could be closed, etc. I could be wrong. I had originally planned to visit the area in May, and was convinced by experts to avoid visiting then.
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Old Nov 21st, 2017, 02:30 AM
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You shouldn't go to a place north of the main Alpine ridge as the weather there is unpredictable in May and you normally can't go hiking in heights of more than 1,500 meters or so. But the situation varies from year to year. IMO Southern Tyrolia would be a good place for hiking in May, but not the region east of Bozen/Bolzano, that is called the Dolomites, but the region around Meran/Merano. One advantage of Southern Tyrolia: It's nearly half as expensive as Switzerland.
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Old Nov 21st, 2017, 06:44 AM
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Many lifts also close for a few weeks in May in Jungfrau Region for maintenance in that off season.

Dolomites cannot compare in my opinion.>

I agree - in Jungfrau Region everything is so compact and easy to get to with its myriad of lifts and mountain trains. Dolomites are nice but much harder to get around in I think.
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Old Nov 21st, 2017, 04:23 PM
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I must admit that I don't understand PalenQ's last post -- that many lifts in the Jungfrau Region (aka, the Bernese Oberland) close for a few weeks in May is, IMO, a reason to NOT go there in May, no matter how compact and easy to reach.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2017, 09:26 AM
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Even if these lifts would run, May isn't a good month for hikes in the Jungfrau area.
I explained why in my post above and suggested much better alternatives.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2017, 09:42 AM
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a reason to NOT go there in May, no matter how compact and easy to reach>

I was suggesting OP consider that and that is a reason perhaps not to go there - sorry for confusion.

and my comparison with Dolomites was general in nature and not specific to May just that for average traveler much harder to get around and for OP to get to.

I gladly defer to neckervd and kja in regards to May advice and hiking -

If I had never been to Europe before and looking for a week or so I' eschew hiking nice as it could be in nice weather and head for say Paris - Amsterdam, Berlin, etc. I love hiking around cities like that.
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