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Seeking help to plan a Christmas trip to Switzerland

Seeking help to plan a Christmas trip to Switzerland

Apr 8th, 2018, 05:18 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Seeking help to plan a Christmas trip to Switzerland

Hi there Fodorites,

I was wondering whether any of you might be able to help me. My mother is Swiss and has a significant birthday this year so weíre planning a surprise trip to her home country (we live in NZ) for Christmas with all the family.

Weíll start with about a week in Basel, where we have family, so thatís not a problem; but for Christmas itself weíre hoping to hire a chalet or apartment somewhere with the hope of snaring a white Christmas.

My issue is this: weíre a large group - 11 people all-up - and most places in the mountains have a minimum rental period of 7 days over the festive season. That in itself isnít a problem, however within the group some of us have been to Switzerland before and some havenít. The ones who havenít will likely want to do a bit more than just go wandering near the chalet, so Iím looking for suggestions for good places to consider that will:

a) Be elevated enough to hopefully have snow at Christmas;
b) Be close enough to good train connections so those who want to do sightseeing daytrips donít have to spend their entire day travelling up and down mountain valleys;
c) Be reasonably festive and have some Christmas spirit;
d) Have accommodation options to suit a large group.

I realise itís a lot to ask and I may have to adjust my expectations, itís just fallen to me to organise so Iím keen to find somewhere that suits as many of our group as possible. My husband, myself and our kids did the Berner Oberland a couple of years ago, which we loved so thatís an option, however Iím keen to see another part of the country too.

Within the group we have people who will enjoy winter walking, perhaps a spot of sledding, thermal baths, good food and drink and more general sightseeing/museums etc. Skiing, we can take or leave.

Thanks in advance for any assistance!
Frostyev is offline  
Apr 8th, 2018, 05:38 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
If going by train to any place like that - Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Gstaad, Emgadine check into the Swiss Transfer Ticket that gives a return ticket ticket from any airport train station or border station to any one place in Switzerland via the closest route and during the period you are there gives 50% off on everything that moves in Switzerland - just like a Half-Fare Card and kids under 16 get a free Family Pass where they never pay anyhing of conveyances on which the adults have a pass or ticket on.

So for the duration of your sojourn in one of those areas you can just pay 50% on day trips out, expensive cable cars and gondolas, etc.

Lots of good info on Swiss trains: BETS: Switzerland; www.sbb.ch; www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com also for lots of good info on Swiss transports.

Anyway, something to consider depending on your plans.

Last edited by PalenQ; Apr 8th, 2018 at 05:43 PM.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 9th, 2018, 12:33 AM
  #3  
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Thanks for that tip PalenQ. That could certainly be worth our while!
Frostyev is offline  
Apr 9th, 2018, 02:34 AM
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Welcome back to Basel! When were you here last? The city has changed so much in the 10 years we've been living here...mostly for the better, we think.
WeisserTee is offline  
Apr 9th, 2018, 03:17 AM
  #5  
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Hi WeisserTee! I last visited 2 years ago in summer and had a wonderful time. My kids loved exploring the city and catching the ferry across the Rhine. Itíll be super special to be there with Mum, Dad and all my siblings though. Itíll be the first time since Mum emigrated that sheíll be in her birth country with all her children (and grandchildren). She was pregnant with my youngest brother when we moved to back to NZ in the 80s. 🙂 We canít wait to tell her but have to try and keep it all a secret until her birthday. (Hopefully sheís not technically savvy enough to get on Fodors! &#128514
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Apr 9th, 2018, 07:04 AM
  #6  
 
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Friends just came back from Basel and enjoyed walking over the world's longest single-span pedestrian - bike bridge that links three countries!
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Apr 9th, 2018, 07:36 AM
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The bridge is interesting but in fact the views are pretty mundane, nice but not spectacular. More interesting views elsewhere in the city...
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Apr 9th, 2018, 12:53 PM
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Yeh the bridge is just a novel thing to do and only if in Basel a few days:

https://www.google.com/search?q=base...w=1920&bih=949
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Apr 16th, 2018, 12:48 PM
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Locations that spring to mind that might fit your requirements:

Lenk im Simmental
Kandersteg
Davos
Chur/Arosa/Lenzerheide
Engelberg
Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 17th, 2018, 04:07 PM
  #10  
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Thanks Melnq8,

Thatís really helpful. Iíd been looking at Arosa and Engelberg but hadnít considered Lenk or Kandersteg. I love the look of Grimentz or Gršchen but I think theyíd be a bit too isolated if weíre wanting to explore further afield... unless we can wrangle a shorter stay. Will investigate your suggestions further. Thanks!
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Apr 17th, 2018, 04:28 PM
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No worries Frostyev - we've visited Switzerland several times over Christmas. We were almost buried in snow in Lenzerheide last Christmas, although that's certainly not a given.

From Lenzerheide, you're just a bus ride away from Chur, so those wanting city attractions are well catered for as well as those who'd rather just hang in the mountains - plenty of sledging runs and groomed winter walking trails there. This trip report from our most recent Christmas visit to Switzerland might give you some insight:

The Engadine calls us back...again

We often visited Switzerland when we lived in Australia - never did get used to Christmas in the summer!

FWIW - Christmas is somewhat subdued in Switzerland - by that I mean it's much more sedate than you'll find in places like Germany (or Singapore for that matter), both of which can be a bit full on. We like subdued (and you may as well being from NZ), so it suits us well.

We've also spent a few lovely Christmases in Scuol, and this past year Ilanz. It's all good.
Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 19th, 2018, 03:28 AM
  #12  
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Iíve read a lot of your trip reports Melnq8 and theyíre wonderfully evocative. I love getting off the beaten track a bit too when travelling but thatís gone on the back-burner a bit now we have young kids. Iím keen to introduce them to that style of travelling once theyíre a bit older though 🙂.

I experienced a Swiss Christmas when I briefly lived in Basel in the mid-2000s, so know itís not as overtly festive as in some other areas of Europe, but that suits me fine too. Iím looking forward to the pre-Christmas markets and street decorations (and indulging in my favourite Swiss treats) though.

Engadineís definitely on my radar as a holiday destination (more so since reading your reports!) however with so many of us travelling together on this trip Iím just trying to strike a balance that suits everyone.

Mum and I had a holiday in Arosa together some years ago and I know she loves that part of the country but the size of our group - and range of ages from 3 to 70! - is really proving to be the main issue. We would prefer to all stay together in a chalet or something as the whole point of the trip is for us to have a special Christmas together, but I suspect our initial vague plan of ďa week in the mountainsĒ might turn into something more like 5 days in the mountains, followed by 5 days at a second base. (Assuming we can avoid the ubiquitous 7-day-minimum-booking periods!)

Anyway, Iím sure it will all come together... I tend to do hours of trip and accommodation research only to (often) end up booking the places that jumped out at me in the first place! 😂 But thank you again for your suggestions - I am keeping everything in mind at this stage.
Frostyev is offline  
Apr 19th, 2018, 10:12 AM
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Evocative, I like that!

If you haven't looked for accommodation here yet, you might want to. I always seem to run across places that accommodate large groups when I'm looking for a place for two:

https://www.e-domizil.com/

And this one, which I've just recently discovered myself:

http://www.bnb.ch/en
Melnq8 is online now  
May 6th, 2018, 01:29 AM
  #14  
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Thanks Melnq8,

I think our plans are starting to come together. Weíve booked our Basel stay and Iíve found a lovely looking chalet near Flims which I think will fit the bill nicely for Christmas. Just making a few more inquiries as - although we usually use public transport in Switzerland - we might need cars just for the week weíre planning on being at the chalet as they would give us a little more freedom from post bus timetables.

Thanks so much for the bnb website link - once Iíve finished organising the whole family Christmas part of the trip Iíll still have a couple of weeks to play with and some of the properties on that site look gorgeous!

Probably booking flights tomorrow so itís all starting to get real! (And so far, no oneís spilled the beans to Mum &#128578.
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