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Switzerland - 16 nights in mid September 2012 - Itinerary Plan

Switzerland - 16 nights in mid September 2012 - Itinerary Plan

Feb 12th, 2012, 10:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 157
Switzerland - 16 nights in mid September 2012 - Itinerary Plan

I am getting excited about our Switzerland and Northern Italy trip in Sept 2012! We fly from Halifax, Canada to Zurich (with just one connection in Frankfurt) and return from Florence to Halifax, Canada. We have 16 nights in Switerland and will spend the remaining 6 nights of our vacation split 4 nights in Venice and 2 in Florence (it's not our first time in Italy, and we have plans for our time there).
What I am hoping to get some ideas on are the best places to spend our time in Switzerland. We typically like to spend 4-5 nights in an area and take day trips to see as much as we can.
A very loose itenerary is below, but other than starting in Zurich and ending in Venice 16 nights later, we're exploring all options. The towns/cities I've indicated below are also meant to see the surrounding area by train or car (depending on which is more appropriate)
Zurich (2 nights ?)
Should we skip Geneva?
Montreux 4 nights
Lauterbrunnen 4 nights (we'd like to do some small hikes around here)
Bern (2 nights)
Bellinzona 4 nights (from here we would head to Venice)

Sadly this is just a small glimpse of what we could see, but given the time frame, what should we do differently to see as much as we can?
As for accomodations we like to have a mix of apartments and hotels. However, given the prices we've been seeing, we'll stay in either, and are hoping to keep a very modest budget of about 100-150 CHF per night for accomodations.
As always, comments and thoughts and suggestions from the great Fodors community are very welcome!
Jenn_Mitch is offline  
Feb 12th, 2012, 01:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 3
Haven't you considered to visit Zermatt area? I think that Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and Weisshorn are worthy, maybe reducing your stay in Montreux.. but it depends on what you're planning to do there!
4 nights in Bellinzona seem quite a lot. The city is very nice with its castles, but small: I think that one day is sufficient to visit it. What are you planning for the other days there?
Bellinzona is close to Italy: maybe I would suggest you to spend some nights in the Lake District; it would also reduce the costs of your trip! I think that Valsolda or Porlezza (on the italian side of Lugano Lake) could be a surprise for you, with its landscapes and works of art.
Moreover, it could also be great to reach Sankt Moritz, maybe on a day trip from Bellinzona or from the Lakes: the town is too much expensive and snob, but the mountains and lakes all around it are really beautiful!
LucaGSala is offline  
Feb 12th, 2012, 02:44 PM
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These are exactly the kinds of suggestions I am looking for! We have nothing tying us to any of the itinerary stops I have listed above in the original post. Based on where we decide to stay and what places we plan on visiting as day trips will also help decide what type (if any) rail pass we end up with.
Thank you LucaGSala for your thoughts!I will keep them in mind - and am looking forward to some more research I need to do on the Lakes district - my interest is peaked!
Jenn_Mitch is offline  
Feb 12th, 2012, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 6,491
Why do you want to visit Zurich?

Zurich really is a very boring city for tourists. Unless you want to shop in stores that have goods with pricetags that would give even Mark Zuckerberg the shivers or you want to eat chocolate torte at Sprungli with snobby matrons then skip Zurich.

It would be different if you had to fly into Zurich to visit Luzern, but you aren't going into Luzern.

You should fly into Geneva, spend some time in Vevey, Monreux, and Lausanne, then go to the Bernese Oberland.

On the way, you could stop in Gstaad for one night or two.

From Interlaken, you could take the train into Bern for a day trip.

You need more than 4 days in Lauterbrunnen. You need at least 6 days to see everything. And I wouldn't stay in Lauterbrunnen, I would stay in BEAUTIFUL car-free Wengen!

Pepper_von_snoot is offline  
Feb 15th, 2012, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
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You must be flying Condor to Frankfurt? They really squish you in but the prices are good!

How lucky you are to be going in September. My Switzerland experience is limited to Lucerne. We had a wonderful short stay there last fall and I would highly recommend it.

In late September there is a World Band Festival in their large modern concert hall. We went to the Swiss Folkmusic Gala concert and it was terrific. Here’s a link if you’d like to check schedules:

As you know, accommodation in Switzerland is expensive so we opted to stay at a B&B with shared bathrooms. It was clean and comfortable and just a short bus ride to the centre of town.

In case you’re not aware, if you collect “Air Miles” you can book Best Western hotels with miles or redeem miles for BW gift cards. I know there is one in Wengen and two in Lucerne and presumably lots of others. (You can redeem for other chains as well but your hotel choices might be somewhat limited to the larger centres.)

A highlight of our trip was seeing the Swiss cows come down from the mountain and parade through a nearby small town wearing their decorative bells. The German word is Alpabzug or Alpabfahrt. The one we went to had alphorn players and lots of great street food. I think we might have been some of the only tourists from away. The organizer seemed surprised to meet Canadians. I had done extensive googling to find one near Lucerne on our dates but had come up empty until someone on Fodors mentioned this one in Kerns. When I asked about these events at the TI in Lucerne the woman said, “yes, there are a lot of those, I don’t have a list.”

In our short time in Switzerland we saved money on food by getting take-out pizza and buying sandwiches and snacks at the Coop supermarket. We took one of those Sobeys insulated bags for grocery store or market purchases. If you can find self-catering accommodation in a nice locale for a week or more that might be a good way to go. I agree with the poster above about maybe moving some of your days to Italy. Or perhaps Austria? It might stretch your dollar further.

In your shoes, I think I would not spend too much time in larger cities like Zurich or Geneva unless you had a particular interest in them. Also, I would investigate all the possible swiss rail pass/card options and check for deals. I think a rail pass is the way to go when their public transport network is so good. Last September they had 2 for 1 regional passes for the Lucerne area. We purchased them at the TI – there was no need to buy in advance. Okay, I did a quick search and this came up – maybe you’re already aware of this but here it is:

Another couple of sites where you may find info on local events:

Have a great trip!
reddun is offline  
Feb 19th, 2012, 04:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 157
Thanks so much for the helpful comments - all good ones for sure!
reddun- yes - we are flying Halifax to Frankfurt - we were so excited to have a direct shot from Halifax to anywhere in Europe, we thought we should take what we can get!
Pepper - we can easily leave Zurich out - nothing tying us there except ariving by plane.

All of your advice is truly appreciated!!
Jenn_Mitch is offline  
Feb 19th, 2012, 04:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,521
I agree skip Zurich and fly into Geneva then stay out in Lausanne/Montreux/Vevey along the lake. Actually I like Vevey the best of those three as far as which town to base your overnights.

Don't miss the weekly farmers open air morning street markets (Tues & Sat in Vevey and Fri in Montreux). They are fabulous.
suze is offline  
Mar 5th, 2012, 08:02 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Sorry that I didn't meet you there, reddun! I think that I was the one that posted about it here... I too had a great day attending the moo-ving of the cows in Kerns!
joannyc is offline  
Mar 5th, 2012, 09:13 PM
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You could combine Zurich and Bern into 2 nights staying in Zurich. On day of arrival, see Zurich's sites. Next day, take roundtrip train to Bern as a daytrip.

As much as some people hate Zurich, it's not a bad place to get over jet lag and see some of Marc Chagall's stained glass windows, in addition to some other sites.

Then, move onto Lucerne for 2 nights.
joannyc is offline  
Mar 5th, 2012, 09:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Agree that Montreux/Vevey are lovely areas, too.

I stayed in Montreux. Visited the Castle de Chllon! Took the train to Vevey and walked around, had lunch, took some photos at the lake front.

If you can, visit Gruyere... have a true fondue lunch!
joannyc is offline  
Jun 5th, 2012, 12:38 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1
Hi Jenn_Mitch,
I see that you're in Halifax. I have an opportunity to visit Halifax in September for 1 week with my husband. Could you advise me what there is to see and whether 1 week is too much time - another option for us is to fly into Toronto and spend a few days there first, and reduce the number of days in Halifax. I'd appreciate your input.
Thanks, Mel
MJ2 is offline  
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