Switzerland in late February-help please

Jan 13th, 2015, 12:05 PM
  #1  
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Switzerland in late February-help please

My husband and I (mid to late 60s and active) have just been presented with an opportunity to travel thru Switzerland for 9 days in late February 2015- rather last minute but still time to do some planning. We will be in Zutich for three days and then will have from Thur the 19th until departing from Zurich on Sat the 28th mid morning to travel. We are thinking about Lucerne, the Jungfrau region and perhaps Bern. From reading past posts I would perhaps like to work in the three pass postal bus route, take one of the scenic train trips and of course go to the top of a couple of the magnificent mountains. We are not skiers or active hikers but do enjoy a good brisk walk on groomed paths or walkways. I am wondering about hotels and timing, is it best to avoid the BO area and other ski areas on weekends, etc. Any advise, suggestions and help would be appreciated. This is an unexpected trip and time to book is short, that is why I am coming to the experts! We have been to Switzerland once before , but only had time to see Basel before leaving on a Rhine cruise, so most parts are new territory to us.
Poconolady is offline  
Jan 13th, 2015, 12:19 PM
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The Three Pass bus tour will not operate in winter I believe due to snow blocking the Alpine passes - one mid-September I showed up for it and it was cancelled that day that early due to snow blocking a pass - so scratch that I believe.

I think Lucerne and gthe Jungfrau made a great pairings and you may want to take one of those iconic scenic trains - the Golden Pass between Interlaken and Montreux, on Lake Geneva (which may be warmer too at that time) - there are lots of neat places in and around Montreux to explore and it is a realtively short train ride back to Zurich via Lausane.

You can do easy hikes in the Jungfrau Region at that time if you have good shoes in snow - paths are groomed I believe but may wel be snowy, etc. The famous Ridge Walk Mannlichen to Kleine Schiedegg is a classic hike if possible.

Of course tkae the Jungfraujbahn to Europe's highest train station - the Jungfraujoch and a world of snow, glaciers and ice - ice grottos and you can walk to a nearby glacier - the Aletshc Glaciers upper tip - the longest in the Alps I do believe.

The Schilthorn is my favorite trip to a mountain top - to an icy outpose in the middle of nothing but show-capped peaks - Piz Gloria there is a famous revolving restaurant made famous in James Bond's movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service when the restaurant was still under contruction. a really long gondola ride takes your for miles to remote Schilthorn (from Murren).

You may find an 8-consecutive-day Swiss Pass to be a good deal if going over to Montreux - valid on many mountain trains such as in full to Grindelwald, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen and Murren.

To find more available hotels in that busy season consider basing in Interlaken if you can't find something reasonable up in the hills.

For lots of great info on Swiss trains, the Jungfrau Region, passes, etc I always spotlight these IMO superb sources: www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com - if only doing Lucerne (one of the loveliest cities in Europe IMO) and the Jungfrau you may look at the Berner Oberland Pass, valid in Lucerne and the Jungfrau regions.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 13th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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Two years ago we spent 6 days in Lucerne and made day trips to Berne, St. Gallen, Einseideln, and Wengen by train. Possible also to do day trip to Basel. And Lucerne itself is lovely. It would have added advantage of being more likely to provide lodging on short notice than a ski location which often has most rooms filled or requiring a 7 day stay, etc.

This year we're staying in Zermatt for 5 days, then 4 in Gstaad and back to Lucerne for 2. Have day trips from Zermatt planned--Sion, Sierre, Brig and hopefully to the Revolving restaurant and surrounds in Saas Fee. but I booked hotels in those places eons ago. Guessing it would be very difficult to find lodging there at this late date.
JulieVikmanis is online now  
Jan 13th, 2015, 02:01 PM
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You don't have to outright eliminate Berner Oberland or any other high mountain destinations which are usually also ski resorts. You need to see if there are accommodations available at acceptable prices.

While you can probe one recommended hotel after another individually, you quickly scan your odds by using a site like www.booking.com and look at the map view of the destination. For example, I just looked at Wengen in Berner Oberland. The map is mostly gray = no vacancies, as expected. As you might expect, desirable accommodations at good price points were taken long time ago. What's left at this last moment are something most people didn't care for: too expensive, too inconvenient, etc. But it really does not take that much time to assess your odds.

If you are flexible with your Zurich stay, it give you move latitude in looking for days with availability elsewhere.
greg is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 04:38 AM
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If you plan to stay 3 long days at Zurich, you will most probably be interested in the many museums of this town. Be aware, however, that there are famous exhibitions at Geneva, Berne, Basel and Lucerne too.
May be you are interested in the Basler Fasnacht, one of the most famous Carnivals of Europe, too.
http://www.baslerfasnacht.info/basel-fasnacht/index.php
neckervd is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 07:22 AM
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Another vote for the Fasnacht in Basel!!! YOu will not find a place to stay in the city at this short notice, though, so the Morgestraich at 4 a.m. is difficult to meet. There will be extra trains that night from other cities, though. But this means a sleepless night.
Anyway, there is more to Basel's Fasnacht - the Courtège parades in the afternoons of Monday and Wednesday are well worth seeing, too. They start at 2 p.m., thus can be done in a normal day trip at normal daytime travel hours.
quokka is online now  
Jan 15th, 2015, 07:06 AM
  #7  
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Easy Come-Easy Go---'the event that we were to attend in Zurich has been cancelled/postponed due to recent events in other parts of Europe. I am terribly disappointed, but I know that someday I will get to Switzerland! This is the third time that I have attempted to plan a trip there, and each time events beyond my control have intervened-- maybe someone is trying to tell me something!! Sure would have loved to have the international airfare paid for, though.
Poconolady is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 12:55 PM
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Julie Vikamis - you have only day tripped into the Jungfrua Region with a day trip to Wengen if so I think you are missing out on some pretty smazing things that the other areas you mention can't come close to having - the variety of mountain trains, thrilling gondolas, lake boats, easy to hard hikes - take a trip to the Jungfrau Region sometime for more than half a day IMO if you have not - to me and many the absolute highlight of Switzerland.

I have only transited thru Gstadd and stopped in the town for a few hours so I do not really know if they rival the Jungfrau Region in all that the Jungfrau offers but am pretty sure not. To me like going to New York State and missing New York City!
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 15th, 2015, 09:37 PM
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PalenQ,

JulieVikmanis doesn't suggest Gstaad as a destination, so I'm not sure why you think she is saying Gstaad is a good substitute for Wengen or that Gstaad could rival the Jungfrau region.

Gstaad imo does not rival the Jungfrau area for drama -- of course the high peaks and low valleys of the Jungfrau area are very dramatic. However, Gstaad is more beautiful imo because I love its green rolling hills. Gstaad does have thrilling cable car rides, dozens of lovely hikes, both through the mountains, down the valleys, and from town to town. There are also lots of nearby towns to visit, just like the Jungfrau has -- Rougemont, Chateaux d'Oex, Gruyeres, Saanen, Schönried, etc. These towns are more diverse than one sees in the Jungfrau area because some are on the German side and some are on the French side of that "Rösti Border." The only thing missing (aside from the drama) are the lakes.

I suspect that JV saw enough, in her half day, to know if she wanted to come back.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Jan 16th, 2015, 06:12 AM
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Well I would hate to choose sides in a debate between two of my favorite posters but I can add some info to explain why we will be where we will be. Our son skis and generally gets first call on the
overnight destinations--hence why we're in Zermatt and Gstaad this year. We get to choose the day trips out of those destinations while he's skiing. Last year we went to Wengen for a big ski competition while we were staying in St. Anton.

The only other time we were in or near Junfrau was in 1973 and 1976. So my recollections are pretty dim.

I think swandav may have hit the nail on the head, though, when he talks about cute towns. We aren't much for hiking and while we love vast vistas from train windows it's those cute little towns, and the rosti and the raclette that grabs us. I am definitely looking forward to making those visits swandav suggests out of Gstaad. It's getting close.

BTW Poconolady, so sorry for the cancellation of your trip. Sad to plan, get excited and then get let down. I still remember how we were at the airport in MSP on 9/11 and then got sent home and had to wait 5 days or so before we could be on our way to a long awaited trip to Tuscany. On this one to Switzerland, however, you may have been done a favor. We've been pretty excited about the good exchange rate with Swiss franc and US dollar and just today learned that the Swiss have changed how they peg their franc to the euro causing an 18 percent increase in their value against the US dollar. I guess that's another example of Easy come, Easy go.
JulieVikmanis is online now  
Jan 17th, 2015, 06:21 AM
  #11  
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Wow- that's quite a jump in the exchange rate! Switzerland is Always expensive, but that just doubles up on the problem. I guess its one of those places that you just have to bite the bullet, and perhaps, shorten the visit in order to make it affordable. I'll keep dreaming and someday we will get there' when all of the stars align.
Poconolady is offline  
Jan 17th, 2015, 08:40 AM
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I suspect that JV saw enough, in her half day, to know if she wanted to come back.>

Not possible - a rash judgment IMO if so and I do respect JV a whole lot - I'd say seeing Wengen is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg in this fabulous region with so so many varied things to see and do.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 17th, 2015, 08:54 AM
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The irony is that I would say the same thing about your few hours of transit in Gstaad . . .

At least the drama of the peaks is visible from Wengen and from the train ride up to Wengen. But imo some of the delights of Gstaad are not visible or apparent from the town itself.

s
swandav2000 is online now  

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