My first family trip to Switzerland

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Apr 2nd, 2018, 01:15 AM
  #1
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My first family trip to Switzerland

Hi,

I will visit Switzerland with my wife and my son (16 years old) this June. As it is our first family visit to this beautiful country, I have tentatively draft a itinerary for the 8-day visit as below:

20/6 : Arrive in Zurich in the afternoon. Will pick up a car and go to Airbnb from airport direct. Zurich will be my base for the following 2 days.
21/6: Visit Schffhausen, Rhienfall, St Gallen region (such as Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen)
22/6: Visit Appenzell, Maienfeld (Heididorf)
23/6: Drop off car at Chur in the morning. Take Glacial Express from Chur to Andermatt. Pick up another car from Andermatt and stay at Interlaken.
24/6: Visit Berner Oberland. Starting from Interlaken, plan to go to the following places: Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Mannlichen, Grindelwald, and finally back to Zweilutschinen. Is it too ambitious to do it in one day?
25/6: Leisure walk around Interlaken, may take a boat ride.
26/6: Drive to and visit Lucern.
27/6: Drive back to Zurich. Visit the city.
28/6: Go to the airport in the morning and fly to London.

Any comments and suggestions are most welcomed.

Ambrose Lam
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Apr 2nd, 2018, 06:49 AM
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24/6- car cannot visit most of those places - only to Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen - suggest just taking trains from Interlaken - won't have to pay for parking up in hills. For lots on trains and transports in area check www.sbb.ch; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.

Not much in Interlaken of interest but a boat trip on either lake bookending Interlaken would be sweet and each lake has its own lures -I think Lake Brienz may be more spectacuclar in the sights along it.
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Apr 2nd, 2018, 02:14 PM
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I agree that a car is completely unnecessary after Chur. Trains and connecting buses go to all of your itinerary sites.
I highly recommend a boat cruise from Interlaken Ost (east) end, disembarking at Brienz. Take the connecting bus from behind the very small train depot up to Freilichtmuseum Ballenberg, an outdoor 'museum', showcasing various old houses, moved to this site from differing swiss regions.
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Apr 2nd, 2018, 02:20 PM
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And yes, 24 June is too ambitious, particularly if it should be a bad weather day.
The Brienz lake cruise +visit to Ballenberg can be accomplished in 4-5 hours, leaving a partial day for a leftover "must-see."
Even if you decide not to visit Ballenberg, DO walk around in Brienz, up the hillside along winding narrow lanes, to see the dark brown, weathered chalets.
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Apr 2nd, 2018, 02:36 PM
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No car needed nor advised IMO from Chur either - from Andermatt you can take a very scenic up and over mountains bus ride to Meiringen, on Lake Brienz with trains to Interlaken. And take the scenic Golden Pass train from Interlaken-Ost to Lucerne up and over the Brunig Pass and in Lucerne cars a waste and in Zurich too.

But if driving mountainous roads excites you then yes driving the sinuous roads from Andermatt to Interlaken and Interlaken to Lucerne could be a thrill - but if not then take the bus and train and relax and see the scenery not clutching the steering wheel of a car.

Again in Interlaken area and Lucerne and Zurich cars are useless. Nice to have car to carry bags right to hotel I guess but you'll be paying a lot of money in car rental for that and if hotels don't have parking for that too.
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Apr 2nd, 2018, 04:17 PM
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kja
 
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Your day 24/6 is, indeed, packed and fully dependent on the weather. I see that you have the 25th, which could serve as a backup if the weather on the 24th is bad, but you are trying to fit a LOT into a short amount of time. I truse you realize that Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, etc. aren’t really places to visit – they are places to stay, and IMO, they would beat Interlaken – although if you only have 2 days in the are, it might not make much difference.

On 23/6, you are going a LONG way to what I consider to be one of the most beautiful sections of Switzerland, apparently by car (which will mean that the driver can’t really enjoy the views) only to leave ASAP without exploring that region of the country at all. It’s your trip and your call, but that seems like you are putting a disproportionate amount of time into transportation relatie to the time you will actually have to see anything of this stunningly beautiful country. JMO.

As already noted, a car isn’t going to help you much and could, instead, be quite an impediment. And if there is any chance that you will have jet lag, I would strongly encourage you to take public transportation for your first night or two. Although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience! And please be patient with me if you think I’m being overly adamant, but I know too many people who have died or been seriously injured in accidents to which jet lag was a contributing factor, and I know too many people who will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the knowledge that they were responsible for accidents that resulted in multiple deaths, including those of children, all because they were too confident in their ability to drive safely with jet lag. The issue has become a bit of a cause célèbre for me….

If you don’t already have it, you might want to get a Michelin Green Guide for Switzerland. And if you haven’t already seen it, you might find some useful infrmation in my trip report:
My delightful sampling of Switzerland’s gems, with many thanks
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 01:16 AM
  #7
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Thank you PalenQ
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 01:18 AM
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Thank you for your suggestion.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by PalenQ View Post
No car needed nor advised IMO from Chur either - from Andermatt you can take a very scenic up and over mountains bus ride to Meiringen, on Lake Brienz with trains to Interlaken. And take the scenic Golden Pass train from Interlaken-Ost to Lucerne up and over the Brunig Pass and in Lucerne cars a waste and in Zurich too.

But if driving mountainous roads excites you then yes driving the sinuous roads from Andermatt to Interlaken and Interlaken to Lucerne could be a thrill - but if not then take the bus and train and relax and see the scenery not clutching the steering wheel of a car.

Again in Interlaken area and Lucerne and Zurich cars are useless. Nice to have car to carry bags right to hotel I guess but you'll be paying a lot of money in car rental for that and if hotels don't have parking for that too.
It seems that I should drop the idea of hiring a car altogether. As we will be carrying two big luggage, could you help clarify if we have to drag the luggage for a way in order to catch the train or bus?
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 01:24 AM
  #10
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
Your day 24/6 is, indeed, packed and fully dependent on the weather. I see that you have the 25th, which could serve as a backup if the weather on the 24th is bad, but you are trying to fit a LOT into a short amount of time. I truse you realize that Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, etc. aren’t really places to visit – they are places to stay, and IMO, they would beat Interlaken – although if you only have 2 days in the are, it might not make much difference.

On 23/6, you are going a LONG way to what I consider to be one of the most beautiful sections of Switzerland, apparently by car (which will mean that the driver can’t really enjoy the views) only to leave ASAP without exploring that region of the country at all. It’s your trip and your call, but that seems like you are putting a disproportionate amount of time into transportation relatie to the time you will actually have to see anything of this stunningly beautiful country. JMO.

As already noted, a car isn’t going to help you much and could, instead, be quite an impediment. And if there is any chance that you will have jet lag, I would strongly encourage you to take public transportation for your first night or two. Although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience! And please be patient with me if you think I’m being overly adamant, but I know too many people who have died or been seriously injured in accidents to which jet lag was a contributing factor, and I know too many people who will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the knowledge that they were responsible for accidents that resulted in multiple deaths, including those of children, all because they were too confident in their ability to drive safely with jet lag. The issue has become a bit of a cause célèbre for me….

If you don’t already have it, you might want to get a Michelin Green Guide for Switzerland. And if you haven’t already seen it, you might find some useful infrmation in my trip report:
My delightful sampling of Switzerland’s gems, with many thanks
It seems that I should drop the idea of hiring a car altogether. As we will be carrying two big luggage, could you help clarify if we have to drag the luggage for a way in order to catch the train or bus?
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 01:29 AM
  #11
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Hi Kja,

Do you mean on 23/6, I should not drive from Zurich to Chur and take the train instead? As I intend to take the Glacier Express which departs from Chur at around 11:30, is there train early enough for me to catch that train?
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 06:43 AM
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https://www.glacierexpress.ch/en/tra...ng/timetables/

check the schedules - need to be there a few minutes early to board leisurely.

There are wheelie luggage carts in most stations - put a coin in and when return to rack by train entry get coin back.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 09:54 AM
  #13
 
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Are you going to Maienfeld because of the story Heidi? I am a huge fan of this story (from my childhood, to now reading the book to my daughters). That said, you can have the spectacular landscape that you see in the movie Heidi in the Bernese Oberland area (Wengen/Mürren) and consolidate your itinerary. I would not base myself in Interlaken but up in the car free villages in the mountain. I would change your itinerary to include 4 nights in Mürren or Wengen.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 10:20 AM
  #14
 
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You can alson send bags ahead by train to most train stations in Switzerland and even to the airport to wait there for your flight. If bags are a problemsimply pay about 15 CHF (Swiss francs) and pick them up at any station - can get rid of a heavy bag by sending it along to a place a few days ahead.

If taking trains however one drawback is bags and you have to pack ligjhter - yes you have train stations and trains to haul luggage around.
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Apr 3rd, 2018, 04:23 PM
  #15
kja
 
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No – take the trains!

And consider the options for luggage forwarding offered by Swiss Rail – easy and convenient, you just have to do some research on the sbb website – which also has full information about all public transportation in Switzerland. Other options for managing luggage include using the luggage storage options at various stations (often a manned desk, almost always lockers) and just taking what you need for your time in any given place. Again, the full information is available on the sbb website.
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