Planning waaay ahead (Switzerland)

Jun 9th, 2006, 07:47 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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Planning waaay ahead (Switzerland)

Everyone has been so helpful for my Italy trip in October--I love this forum.

I'd like to visit Switzerland for a few days the week between Christmas and New Years. It's still some way off, but I just want to have a few ideas planted.

Never been to Switzerland, I will likely be myself (21 year old female [actually I will be 22 by then!] from NYC, I do not have a drivers license and my french is fairly good) , probably for four nights. I'm interested in Geneva and the surrounding area.

Basically interested in something relaxing, scenic, maybe do a bit of shopping or visit some museums (I love history), and of course good food. I've never been skiing but would try it if I had the chance (but I don't want to base myself at a ski resort, I was thinking of skiing for just one day or one afternoon. Would this be possible on a day trip from Geneva itself?) Would I be better off staying someplace outside of Geneva (a friend of mine was in Lausanne last year and found it beautiful). My main concern is transportation; at least in Geneva I know I could get around with buses or tram, however I'm sure it's a much different story in towns surrounding it. Although you would know better than me! The other plus about staying in Geneva itself (have done some research on places on the lake, there is a place called Manotel something on the left bank I believe) is that it's easier for me to get to since I have limited time.

Anyway, Italy is first (October, although I'm getting anxious and may move it to the end of September!), but I always like to have an idea where I'm ending up each year.

Many thanks!

MissZiegfeld is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 08:37 AM
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Book as soon as you can! In the mountains, it is the highest of high seasons between Christmas and NY - many hotels don't accept short term booking. The problem in the Midlands (the stretch of lower ground between Geneva and Zürich) is that, in winter, there is a persistent fog layer on the top - so everything is grey and depressing. Unfortunately it includes most things in Lausanne, Geneva and so on. The fog has an upper border usually at around 1000 m, so staying above that would guarantee you nice sunny weather. There is no need to worry about city transportation - bigger cities (Lausanne is not much smaller than Geneva btw) have a good bus/tram network, and in small places you don't need public transport - everything will be reachable on foot. If you decide to stay in the midlands, ski resorts are reachable by train as an easy day trip from everywhere, so this should not be a problem. The problem with Geneva is that it is too far on the "fringe" of Switzerland - everytime you want to go somewhere you lose 1 h on the train each way. A central place like Bern would suit your needs quite good. Btw if you ike art, don't miss the new Paul Klee museum in Bern.
altamiro is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 09:58 AM
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Just realize that it gets awfully quiet over the holidays in the Swiss cities and even more so in smaller towns and villages.

12-25/26 and 1-1/2 are public holidays. This year that means that the shops will close maybe by mid-afternoon on Sat. and re-open on Wednesday! Many restaurants etc. will also close, it might be tricky finding places where you can get a meal, since only shops in and around the major train stations and airports will open.

The Swiss like it that way - the towns just feel like in a sleepy stupor, people stay at home, visit family, or leave town.

Some attractions may be open on some of those days, but more likely than not you'll deal with lots of closures. You need to read up on specific targets you might want to go visit, and then email or call them one by one to find out excactly what their openings will be if the websites don't spell it out in detail.

Up in the mountains where skiing rules, it's livelier, but crowded and hellishly expensive, of course. If you don't ski you'll feel out of place after a day or two.

Just thought you should know.

WallyKringen is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 10:19 AM
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Hi MissZiegfeld,

I concur with the two posts above mine -- no car necessary, and yes the towns do close down pretty well at Christmas time.

I would also suggest you consider Montreux or Vevey as a base; both are just about an hour from Geneva but offer a quieter pace and probably cheaper hotels on the lake. You could also take a look at the pretty little town of Morges.

If you want to sample the mountains, you could take a trip to Chateau d'Oex, Saanen, or Gstaad -- either for the day or to base there. Lovely towns about two hours from Geneva.

Here are links to my reviews (w/photos) of activities around Lake Geneva:

Montreux old town


Promenade Fleuri





Have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 9th, 2006, 11:16 AM
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Thank you for the advice! I think perhaps I will change my plans and go either the week before christmas or the week after (have a feeling it'll be cheaper the week after, but then again I have a nice excuse to go shopping if I go before christmas!)

Thank you for all of your suggestions
MissZiegfeld is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Swandav, those pictures are really beautiful, thank you for posting those links. I really wouldn't need a car in any of those towns?? That's my only fear, and probably why I tend to only travel to big cities, I always am afraid I will be stuck with no way to get around! (can you tell i am a new yorker?? LOL). Of course, those towns are probably small so I'm assuming walking is the best way to get around..would that be correct?
MissZiegfeld is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi again,

I can tell you that I've taken about 14 trips to Switzerland in the past 10 years and rented a car only on two of those trips (and regretted it both times!!).

No car for any of the places I mentioned. In Montreux, you can get around by train, city bus, or ferry; you can also get to Vevey or the Lavaux by bus, train, or ferry.

Saanen is about the size of a stamp.

Gstaad has one street that's about three blocks long!

You can get to both Saanen & Gstaad by train.

Rail schedules at There is a train station next to the Geneva airport.

No car. No car!

Have fun!

swandav2000 is online now  
Jun 9th, 2006, 11:52 AM
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haha, thank you for the reissurance! I'm doing a bit of researching just found this site:

I particularly am interested in Montreux and Vevey..we shall see where i end up!

many thanks
MissZiegfeld is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 12:10 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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My daughter lives in Lugano, in the Italian-speaking state of Ticino. She told me that, contrary to its generally conservative reputation, Zurich is her favorite city in Switzerland. At Christmas time, she said there is no place more beautifully decorated, and more inviting. She also said that there is a very "hot" nightlife in Zurich, again not widely known. It might be easier to get a room, and there will probably be lots more to do than in the mountain resorts. Zurich is German-speaking, but English is perfectly understood. Check it out!
pbgrapes is offline  
Jun 10th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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You might want to look through this trip report from out trip to Switzerland last Christmas and New Years - we were in Lauterbrunnen for the first Basel for New Years and found plenty to do - the link to my trip report follows, and I think you would be comfortable in any of the places we stayed there and in other places during our vacation.
escargot is offline  
Jun 10th, 2006, 09:14 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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I just came across this thread, unfortunately the title doesn't have "switzerland" in it, so you might have missed it, but it has some info on a hostel in Berner Oberland, and we saw this particular one and it was lovely - you might find singles your age - either way, you might want to read this thread:
escargot is offline  

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