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South of Switzerland

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Jan 31st, 2015, 03:59 AM
  #1
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South of Switzerland

We are planning a trip to the south of Switzerland, starting 27 Feb for 10 days.
The tentative plan is
Feb 27: Arrive in Milan, Feb 28 After a day in Lake Como/ Lugano and finding way from there to St Moritz via Bellinzona on Mar 1, take a day there.
with a side trip to Vals therme on mar 2/3, take the glacier express to zermatt. view the matterhorn mar 4/5 n find way to lausanne(mar 6/7) with a side trip to mont blanc. take flight back from Milan
Couple of ques:
1. Are 10 days (8 clear days) too little for all places?
2. If we do lake como, can we skip lugano? which one is better of d 2?
3. Is St Moritz worth a trip? or is it just another resort for the rich ones?
4. The Glacier Express from St Moritz to Zermatt is expensive? are there scenic trains better than that one?
5. Checked accomodation in Zermatt to be super expensive. do we need to stay there? or a day trip by staying in brig or visp better?
6. If we have seen Matterhorn, can Mont Blanc be skipped or its a diff experience in itself
7. Lausanne or Montreux- which one is better?

Thanks in advance for all your advice and inputs. Much appreciated

R
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:30 AM
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Well you're headed into the mountains in the height of ski season - so everything is likely to be crowded and expensive (in resorts many places require a week's stay). Not sure why you would want to do this trip know - versus warmer weather with grass, flowers and outdoors being much more pleasant - unless you want to do some other sort of winter sports.

At Lake Como and other Italian lakes many places will be closed for the season and lake transit may be limited/nonexistent.

Also be aware that the mountains may not have clear weather on the one day you ar at each - but fogged or snowed in.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 05:59 AM
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You'll find a lot of your train questions - Glacier Express, etc - answered perhaps in these info-laden sites: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com - and about the cost you may well want to get a Swiss Pass if you do all those trains in several different areas of Switzerland - vAlid on the Glacier Express with a reservation fee and on not only trains but lake boats - postal buses, and gives discounts off gondolas and trains to mountain tops.

It is very hard to do a day trip to Mt Blanc from Lasuanne - the Jungfrau Region around Interlaken is in many ways more awesome - and lots more varied things to do - and is only 4 hours or so by train from Milan - to many the absolute highlight of Switzerland - to me more awesome than any other Alpine area.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 08:15 AM
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If I were you I would take the train from mid-lake Como up to Tirano and change there for the Bernina Express into Switzerland. IME it is more spectacular than at least parts of the Glacier Express but that's subjective.

Do you have something against "rich people?" St. Moritz, the village is, IMO, about as sterile as it gets.

Zermatt and the Matterhorn viewing will depend on whether or not it is clear from the viewing points; staying in Brig will be cheaper and you can make your way up to Zermatt and back by rail easily.

Lausanne vs. Montreaux: they are two entirely different sorts of places other than both being on the lake. We usually stay in Lausanne but I suspect you'd enjoy Montreaux more. If there, take the rail trip up to Rochers de Naye for absolutely spectacular views.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 10:17 AM
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The Bernina Pass Railway is my top scenic railway in Europe - bar none! Wellworth the detour and yes IMO much of the marathon-long Glacier Express train is, for Switzerland, ho-hum - nice river valleys but except at each end and a small part in the middle - same ole same old lovely Swiss scenery but not awesome - folks often get into the tilting wine glasses more than the scenery by trip's end IME.
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Jan 31st, 2015, 11:49 PM
  #6
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Thanks nytraveler, PalenQ and Dukey1 for your replies

nytraveler: I am aware that it might be crowded, fogged out and all. but there is a reason I am doing it in end-feb, mar-begn than later on . And since I am aware that there would be crowds and expensive I am seeking out places which would not be (crowded or expensive) and also since it might fogged out, plan 2 days at a place than one, rest is all on our luck IMO

PalenQ: I have been to BO region and Jungrau 2 yrs back. also been to Bern, Luzerne and Geneva almost 6 yrs back. It was this region, the south of Schwiez which was left out and hence when I am making this trip, I thought I would do this one. If Lugano is much more scenic than Como, we can ditch Como and take bernina express from Lugano to St Moritz. You mentioned Bernina Express better than Glacier Express, so do you think we shud ditch that one completely?

Dukey1: No, i have nothing against rich ppl. but being not as rich if it isnt really worth for small ppl, i can give it a miss, just like monaco- a playground for a rich, but was told for ppl like us there is nothing very spell-binding
As I mentioned I anticipate fog ruining the best-laid plans, they did even when we came in may last. our view of jungfrau was abs ruined. but then its all on luck i guess. i was confused between lausanne and montreux. if montreux is better and closer to mont blanc, gruyeres and can take a side trip from there to chillon, i wuld prefer that to lausanne. or do we base ourselves in martigny?

Other ques were:
1. do we stay in proper st moritz or villages on outskirts?
2. stay in zermatt or base in brig and do a day trip to matterhorn?3. Last ques was about Therme Vals. If thats a bit out of place, are there any thermal spas closer to zermatt/montreux/martigny?

Thanks again for all your valuable input
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Feb 1st, 2015, 12:46 AM
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Hi capricious28,

I also prefer the wonderful Bernina Express over many scenic trains in Switzerland -- it is really diverse and beautiful. Starting in the lush and green (in summertime) Poschiavo Valley, it climbs up to the peaks and over Alp Grüm, then trundles down again to the Bernina Valley on the other side. It's really spectacular.

On the other hand, I was underwhelmed by the Glacier Express. Most of it was just what one would expect on any train ride in Switzerland -- rolling hills, green valleys, sweet villages. The only spectacular part was its highest, the part between Andermatt and Disentis. But -- I always prefer to get my scenery first-hand, without any intervening glass, with the sun on my face, etc. I would never consider doing the 8-hour trip again just for that one nice part.

Yes, I would stay in a village or town outside of St. Moritz rather than St. Moritz itself. I stayed in Zuoz (quite a way away actually), and I liked the looks of Silvaplana right on a lake. Others have liked Pontresina and Samedan and Celerina.

As far as choosing between Montreux & Lausanne, I far prefer Montreux -- but then I just don't like cities. In Montreux, you're more likely to be able to find a hotel on or nearby the lake, and the lakeside promenade there is stunning imo. Yes, Montreux is better for excusions to Chillon (45 minute walk, then return by town bus) as well as a trip to Gruyeres. Don't neglect Vevey, where you can get lost for a few hours in the narrow, winding streets of its old town right next to the lake. Your hosts in Montreux will give you a Riviera Card that makes the busses free, and bus #201 links Montreux & Vevey.

No, don't stay in Martigny just for the sake of one day-trip. Stay on the lake.

I liked Brig more than Zermatt; I generally prefer car-free villages, so it's saying a lot for me to say that. Zermatt was overbuilt and overcrowded imo and lacked charm. On the other hand, little Brig is often overlooked by English-speaking tourists heading to Zermatt or just passing by on the Glacier Express. It has a lovely central square ringed by cafes, with streets lined with boutiques and shops radiating off. You can take nice trips to Bettmeralp and Riederalp from Brig as well as to Zermatt.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Feb 1st, 2015, 01:42 AM
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Definitely stay in a village around St Mortiz vs in it, particularly if budget is a concern. Plenty of villages to choose from that give easy access via train (and in some cases bus).

I rather liked St Mortiz which felt a whole lot less glitzy to me than Gstaad, but time of year might have been a factor.

I adore Switzerland in the winter and would never discourage anyone from visiting that time of year. All those snow covered mountains, what's not to like?

You might also consider staying in Tasch, which is five km from Zermatt, right on the train line.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 01:46 AM
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Regarding thermal pools, you'll find mineral baths in Scuol, which, if memory serves, is less than 90 minutes from St Moritz.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 03:37 AM
  #10
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Thanks Swandav2000 and Melnq8 for your replies

So you suggest I skip Glacier Express completely?
I would like to stay on outskirts of St Moritz if i can. how do i find the accommodation there? any sites? or booking.com/ tripadvisor can be used?
I was suggested 2/3 days in St Moritz. its worth that much time? what all can be seen around it?
should I skip staying in Zermatt and stay in Brig and do a day trip to see the Matterhorn? I was thinking staying 2 days, in case one day is ruined coz of bad weather. makes sense?
I shall make Montreux/ vevey as base and do places around like chillon, gruyeres, vineyards as suggested. 3/4 days or lesser?

Thanks Melnq8 for the thermal pools near St Moritz. I was suggested some near Montreux. Are St Moritz one better than Montreux one?

Thanks again
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Feb 1st, 2015, 04:21 AM
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The mineral pools I referred to are in Scuol, which is about 90 minutes by train from St Moritz. Whether or not they logically fit into your itinerary will depend on where you decide to go.

Info here:

http://en.graubuenden.ch/wellness-an...ina-scuol.html

I found planning a trip to Upper and Lower Engadine quite confusing, but it helps if you look at a map of the area, such as this one:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=...lectedIndex=12
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Feb 1st, 2015, 09:40 AM
  #12
 
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Hi again,

Well -- if you are visiting the St. Moritz area and the Brig/Zermatt area as well, then, yes, it makes sense to take the Glacier Express.

I do hope you take the Bernina as well!

s
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Feb 1st, 2015, 02:19 PM
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If going between Zermatt and St Moritz all in one day the only way to do that is to take the Glacier Express - a marathon 8 hour trip or so with so-so for Switzerland scenery much of the way - the best scenery is right before St Moritz when the train goes up the Albula spirals, a World Heritage Sight (UNESCO) and the Zermatt to Visp portion that you will have already done.

Consider breaking your journey around Andermatt - a lovely area.
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Feb 1st, 2015, 02:22 PM
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Don't stay in St-Mortiz, concrete buildings. Rather stay nearby in charming Pontresina.
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 06:59 AM
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Yes Pontresina has a rural feeling - St Moritz a glitzy modern large resort town.
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 10:33 AM
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Thermal baths:
May be you have a look at
http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/thermal-baths.html

Switzerland IS more expensive than italy. But if you want to visit Southern Switzerland, do it!

There is much more people in and around Lugano or Locarno than at the smaller villages of lake Como.
Budget hotel at Lugano: http://www.montarina.ch/
have a look at booking.com too

Visit the medieval castles of Bellinzona.

End February: tons of blooming flowers in the gardens along the lakes; deep winter with a lot of snow in the mountains. All itineraries from Lugano/Bellinzona/Locarno to Northern Switzerland will be journeys from spring into winter. The Bernina railway line is the most spectacular of all.
You can reach it from Lugano by train via Monza - Tirano, or - on a more scenic itinerary - by bus up to Menaggio, by ferry across Lake Como to Varenna and finally by train.
Tirano - Bernina - Pontresina trains run every hr, with immediate connction to Scuol Thermal spa, one of the most scenic Engadine villages. Direct trains from Scuol to Landquart (connections to Zurich) - Ilanz (bus to Vals) - Disentis (connecting trains to Andermatt - Brig or Lucerne).
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Feb 2nd, 2015, 01:12 PM
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A neat way to go between Zermatt and St Moritz without suffering thru a marathon train ride many IMe find tedious after a while is to break it up into two segments not involving the GE:

Go Zermatt to Brig - take the train thru the Simplon Tunnel to Domodossola - then hop the cool Centovalli scenic train ("100 valleys") to Locarno and go by train to Lugano - stay overnight or the whole next day.

Then take the Majola Pass bus - one of the most dramatically scenic in Switzerland from Lugano to St. Moritz.

A really neat and interesting route vs all day on the GE!
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Feb 3rd, 2015, 10:06 AM
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And an alternative to the GE marathon train would be of course to go Visp to Zurich and then up to Chur for St Moritz - not sure how long that would take but probably less and you at least get off changing trains to stretch your legs. (If you get my take that the GE ain't worth going out of your way for yes - as a utilitarian means of getting between Zermatt and St Moritz yes. This is Europe's most hevily overhyped train IMO.
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Feb 4th, 2015, 09:10 AM
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GE is extemely popular with people from overseas, much less with Europeans and not at all with Swiss people, a bit like Gimmelwald or Jungfraujoch.....
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Feb 4th, 2015, 12:14 PM
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Yes the GE graces so so many brochure covers and gets so so much hype - folks who know diddily about Switzerland (not meaning the OP) know about the Glacier Express - to me there are about several trains more scenic and not nearly so suffering long - take it if it is the utilitarian way to go between two points but not because you've heard about it.

Many have not heard of the Bernina Express - called the world's slowest express trains I've heard - or Bernina Pass Railway which to me is not only Switzertland's most scenic railway but Europe's too.
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