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Second thoughts on Lucerne as base

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Aug 24th, 2016, 02:10 PM
  #1
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Second thoughts on Lucerne as base

I had planned to have Lucerne as a base for my 3 days at Switzerland - the starting days of October this year.

Now the constraints - I will be coming from Venice, reaching Milan by 9 AM. the original plan was to head to Lucerne straight and then fly out of Zurich on day4 (This ticket already booked).

The original plan:
day1: kinda free, get the feel of the city
Day2: Mt Titilis
Day3: Option open to the other mountain trips from Lucerne/ countryside day trip

But now the BO area looks so fascinating - lauterbrunnen, murren and all and visit to jungfraujoch.
I am not much interested in cities, museums and stuff but in these 3 days would want to explore the countryside and soak in the Alps feel, be in the snow.

Should i think of changing the base.?

What is most recommended, with October being the travel season

If Lucerne is indeed the most sensible base, how best to make use of my time. Should I try doing a long winded scenic train ride from Milan to Lucerne to get here (went through some forums, the number of options available, phew!!). In my case what will be the best route so that I reach Lucerne by evening.

From Lucerne, make countryside trips to Brienzer Rothorn, Meirngen etc.?

In short how best to use these 3 days with my interests in mind.

Thanks
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Aug 24th, 2016, 07:59 PM
  #2
kja
 
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I admit that I'm no expert on Switzerland's weather, but if your goal is to "explore the countryside and soak in the Alps feel," then the Bernese Oberland may indeed make more sense for you than Lucerne.

Lucerne is lovely, and it can be a great base, but it is a city.

With only 3 days, you will not be able to see everything either area offers. And some of your choices will be limited by weather -- for example, the trip to Jungfraujoch is often ill advised because of cloud cover -- so you need to be flexible.

If you haven't already done so, get a copy of the Michelin Green Guide or consult one at your local library.
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Aug 24th, 2016, 08:03 PM
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Sure you could change your plan, but Lucerne is just as good, and a much shorter ride to ZRH airport. And - as you seem to know - the Brienzer Rothorn is not far and a good idea. www.brienz-rothorn-bahn.ch/en/welcome.html

On Day One, I would definitely make Milan a stopover between trains, leave your bags at the station (Deposito Bagagli service), and walk to the Duomo (the huge cathedral), and go up on the roof!

Grand views all the way to the Swiss Alps on a clear day, and an amazing mass of wacky statues that your camera will love from many angles.

You either walk up (narrow spiral stairs, free the last time I was there) or take a lift for a few Euros. Access to both is from the outside of the building.

Nearby is the fabulous and elegant glass-topped shopping mall - hold on to your credit card, it will start hopping around in your pocket, Milan is a fashion capital...

A short walk away is the opera house La Scala, take a selfie while humming an aria... Have a nice lunch along the way, and take a later train, that makes it a memorable day.

In Lucerne itself there isn't all that much to walk about - the wooden bridge for sure, but otherwise go outside and take a boat trip (public boats run frequently) and appreciate the meaning of the "Rütli" meadow (the place where the Swiss Federation was founded) while you marvel at the views up above.

Aside from Titlis also explore Rigi! https://www.rigi.ch/en

Your few days will go by in a jiffy!

Enjoy!
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Aug 24th, 2016, 08:06 PM
  #4
twk
 
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Lucerne would be fine for a base, and, unlike the mountain towns in the Berner Oberland, is close enough to ZRH that you don't need to spend the night in Zurich for a morning flight. So, assuming that is the case for you, I think I would stick with Lucerne. October also isn't quite the optimum time for a visit to the mountain villages. So, while I loved staying in Wengen, with your time constraints and time of year, Lucerne makes a lot of sense.
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Aug 24th, 2016, 09:13 PM
  #5
kja
 
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I found LOTS to see just walking around Lucerne, certainly not "just" "the" wooden bridge (there are two) -- JMO.

I believe that trains from Lauterbrunnen to the Zurich airport run about every 1/2 hour and take about 3 hours, so whether you would need to move to Zurich for the night before your flight depends on the time of your flight.

You don't have a bad choice here, IMO, just a difficult one.
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Aug 24th, 2016, 10:09 PM
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Hi vinit,

There is yet a third option -- stay in a town or village (or even a mountain village) nearby Luzern. That way, you would get the convenience of being closer to Zürich and the airport, to Luzern and the lakes, and all the delights of staying in a small town (quiet, peaceful, uncrowded, closer to nature).

You could stay in Weggis (I visited there for 4 nights one year and loved it) or in Vitznau, both delightful little villages right on the lake. Or you could stay in Brunnen, a larger town right on the lake. Weggis & Vitznau are connected to Luzern by ferry boat or by bus, and Brunnen is connected by train or by ferry.

Or you could opt for Engelberg, situated on the Titlis mountain, about 43 minutes from Luzern by train.

http://www.engelberg.ch/en/

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Aug 25th, 2016, 05:31 AM
  #7
 
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We have spent time in Lucerne and the Berner Oberland. There is no comparison. Lucerne is a pretty lakeside setting. The BO is filled with breathtaking scenery. The Berner Oberland is worth much more time than Lucerne.
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Aug 25th, 2016, 06:27 AM
  #8
 
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Fastest timing Lauterbrunnen-Zurich Airport is about 2 hrs 39 minutes. I think you can make it unless your flight out is very early.

Love Luzern but the BO scenery is far, FAR more spectacular in every way.
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Aug 25th, 2016, 06:28 AM
  #9
 
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Get up at 6AM for a change.
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Aug 25th, 2016, 12:49 PM
  #10
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Thanks for your replies. Still a difficult choice, not made easy.

Here's what I am thinking.

One way to decide is Mt Titilis vs Jungfraujoch. And I am keen to be in the snow, have glacier walks etc. For this Mt Titilis seems a safer and prefered bet, considering the time of visit. or am i wrong here?

If indeed I stay in Lucerne, considering my interests what next should I think for - Mt Rigi or Mt Pilatus for day3. can either be done in half a day and something else be planned for the remaining half? Considering the views and cogwheel train charm, i am leaning towards Pilatus. Good choice?

@swandev
I did indeed think of Engelberg - 1 night there and 2 nights in Lucerne, that was the plan but then pics of BO seemed so seductive, just forgot about it.

Considering my dilemma now, think it is a very good option, basing all 3 nights in Engelberg - day 1, monastery visit, some hike, day 2 Mt Titilis and now the more crucial part - what about Day 3, is it easy to do Mt Pilatus from Engelberg.?

Honestly, haven't done much research on BO/Lauterbrunnen, so don't know how the 3 days in BO will look like, can anyone help by painting a quick picture?

And more importantly, is there a scenic yet somewhat convenient way to make Milan to Engelberg/Lucerne?BO journey. Don't want to spend on the fancy panaroma trains but the local ones along similar route will work great. And I will be having luggage. So dont want to lug it the whole day. Read that I can do it via Tirano and then to Chur to Lucerne or else via Lugano. Any easy option or taking the faster train makes best sense.

I know it sounds like total confusion, but any inputs will help.
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Aug 25th, 2016, 01:14 PM
  #11
 
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I can tell you that the trip up to Titlis can easily be done in 1/2 day. That would not include any sort of exploration of Engleberg itself but rather the train (nice journey) up; walking over to the three-stage cableway; ascending; descending; walking back to the station for the trip back to Luzern.

I've done that trip twice and enjoyed it both times and the views from the "top" at Titlis are great BUT even that does not, I say again, not, compare with the various views you would get up in the Jungfrau region.
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Aug 26th, 2016, 08:40 PM
  #12
 
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OK I've been to Engleberg and Luzern and Mt. Titlis and there is no comparison to Murren and that area. You sound sort of like someone who likes nature and the outdoors. While I do like Luzern and Engleberg there is no comparison. We stayed at a little mountain sort of old cabin that I found on the internet for Murren for about $30. a night, and it was amazing.Maybe 15 years ago It was owned by an English lady. this little village had 12 waterfalls all around across from us, now this might have been the time of year that you see waterfalls, I'm not sure, but Murren was just lovely. It is sort of the old Switzerland, really charming. While I do like cities at times, this was a very special area. You leave a car at the bottom of the mountain and take a cable car or two up the mtn. I vote for this area. You can write to the Swiss railroad on the INternet and they can help you figure out the train schedules/time between places, etc. Sue
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Aug 26th, 2016, 10:49 PM
  #13
 
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Hi again,

Of course you won't need to write to the Swiss railroad to get the train schedules and timings; you can use the Swiss rail site and get all the information you need:

www.sbb.ch

According to that site, yes, it's easy to get to Pilatus from Engelberg. It will take less than 2h with 2 or 3 changes.

The trip from Milan to Engelberg will take around 5h to 5h30 with 1 or 2 changes (Luzern or Bellinzona & Luzern). I wouldn't worry about trying to get a scenic journey -- to me, trains are about transport, and scenery is a separate thing. Scenery is what I do AT my destination, and it usually entails a walk or hike or bike ride, or at least a cable car ride!! It will likely take you longer to fit in a scenic journey. For instance, going via Tirano (for the Bernina Express route) will take 10 or 11 hours with 3, 4, or 6 changes.

Whether to go to the Jungfrau area or to Engelberg is, of course, an entirely personal thing. I've been to the Jungfrau area a few times myself, and to me, it's not the most beautiful Alpine scenery -- to me, that's at/around Gstaad. But everyone is different, and people like different things. Maybe you should take some time and compare photos of the two places -- try comparing images using google images or go to the library and look for picture books of Switzerland.

You can't go wrong with your choice; either one will be spectacular.

Have fun!

s
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Aug 27th, 2016, 02:34 AM
  #14
 
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I would take the time of year into consideration also. Lucerne gives you some indoor options if the weather doesn't cooperate.
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Aug 27th, 2016, 02:01 PM
  #15
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Thanks guys, for the inputs. This is such a great and responsive forum.

Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald, Murren, Gstaad- all look stunning and I am already tempted to plan my second trip, but right now I can pick only one, and that too keeping fingers crossed wrt the weather.

How about Bettmeralp? The Aletsch Glacier looks stunning. We are not hikers or pro trekkers but wouldn't mind if there is some easy trail, a couple of hours so that we can actually 'be on the glacier'. possible?
Again I have done a cursory read, and unfortunately not much info available on net. So will need your inputs on below planning

30th Sept: 9.30 am to 1.30 PM train from Milan to Bettemeralp. Possible to explore glacier that day? In that case should I think of heading to Lucerne that same night.
But a better option seems - soak in the village feel, go up to the lake, forest and keep the glacier visit for next day. Or if half day is enough and weather is good, should I rush for the glacier upon arrival itself. I think better to have an overnight halt at some hut, options or suggestion welcome?
1st Oct: Glacier visit(if it didn't happen the previous day) or anything else possible nearby and then reach Lucerne by evening.
2nd Oct: If weather good, do Titlis in morning and visit old town in evening. Else plan for Mt Rigi - I believe Rigi ain't that weather dependent.
3rd Oct: Fly out from Zurich
This way I keep two days as option for the glacier, taking weather into account and do Titilis/Rigi again depending on weather.

If not Bettemeralp and glacier, I am leaning towards Gimmelwald and Schilthorn/ or worst case might just stick to Lucerne this time
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Aug 27th, 2016, 06:37 PM
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Have you considered staying in Interlaken?
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Aug 27th, 2016, 09:23 PM
  #17
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Helsie, yes I thought about it but because anyways I have to be in Lucerne to make the train to zurich for my flight and also because I am keen on giving a shot for Mt Titilis, weather permitting.
so alpine village + Lucerne sounded better than Interlaken + Lucerne, IMO
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Aug 27th, 2016, 10:20 PM
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Hi again,

I spent 4 or 5 nights in Brig a few years ago, and from there did a day-trip to Bettmeralp (to walk to Riederalp). Bettmeralp itself is absolutely tiny; for both Bettmeralp and Riederalp I got the impression of a huge cruise shop moored in the mountains. I mean, there was nothing else there but hotels and vacation apartments and sports shops for the guests and restaurants for the guests.

I didn't opt for the walk/hike to the glacier itself but stopped in Riederalp. According to the Bettmeralp tourist center, the easy hike to the glacier takes 2 1/2 hours.

http://www.gps-tracks.com/cgi-bin/U0...jq23sioni2.pdf

More information on getting to the glacier:

http://www.aletscharena.ch/nature-en...w-point-hikes/

More information on view points of the glacier:

http://www.aletscharena.ch/cableways/view-points/

If you decided to do this, you would probably have to leave your luggage at Brig and then return to Brig as you continue your journey.

Or, were you more thinking of seeing the glacier on the Titlis rather than going back to Brig/Bettmeralp on 1 Oct?

Oh, and I think folks are suggesting that you stay in the Jungfrau region instead of staying in Luzern, not in addition to. So if you did that, you would skip Luzern for this trip. Note that folks above have given you the train schedules from Lauterbrunnen to the airport, skipping Luzern.

Have fun!

s
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Aug 27th, 2016, 10:21 PM
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Sorry, that should be: "huge cruise SHIP . . . " not cruise shop. lol.

s
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Sep 19th, 2016, 12:45 AM
  #20
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Thanks folks. Got held up with the visa process. Now the trip is on, and after days of confusion for my 3 days at Switzerland, this is what I have planned, compared to the confusion for these 3 days, the 7 day Italy plan got chalked out in a jiffy!!

day1: Train from Venice to Brig, drop luggage, go upto Aletsch, do some hike (2-4 hours), if not hiking, then come down and visit the Bettemersee lake, Gom's bridge and leave for Lucerne
(On the dates I am there, the glacier guided walks are not available, big disappointment)

Day2 and Day 3: Devote to Engelberg and Titilis for one day, depending on weather. The other day am free as of now, will choose between Rigi, Pilatus,Rhine Falls, just some boating and relaxation depending on the mood that time! Any suggestions welcome.

Skipping BO for this trip, difficult decision, but I guess BO needs a separate longer trip, so next time.

Now depending on my plans, pls give some pointers as to which rail pass will be best. am traveling as a couple. a 2 day Tell Pass? or taking into account plan for day 1, something else more advisable.

Also should I buy it online now, or at the stations.

And thanks again all, this is the best community, out there!
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