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Switzerland in mid-May - 7 night Itinerary Ideas

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Nov 6th, 2018, 06:56 PM
  #1
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Switzerland in mid-May - 7 night Itinerary Ideas

We have 7 nights planned for Switzerland and have the following interests. Would like suggestions for other must-see/do activities based upon our goals. Also would like review and alternative suggestions for base locations and trip routing. Please let us know if there are any particular hikes that are redundant re scenery/experience and could eliminate from our itinerary.

Trip Goals:
  • Quintessential alpine hikes and scenery
  • Major Swiss cultural and historical landmarks (e.g. Swiss Watch Making, Swiss Cuisine, Swiss Banking, Lucern Chapel Bridge, etc...)
Interlaken & Wengen:
  • 4 days of hiking (Harder Klum, Lauterbrunnen Valley, Tranzbodeli, Mannlichen to Eiger, Schynige Platte)
  • Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn
  • Grindelwald 1/2 day trip - First Hike and Zipline
  • Zermatt Day trip (Matterhorn day hike) - is this redundant based upon our Jungfrau hikes?
  • Bern Day trip (Einsteinhaus)
  • Lucerne + Zurich Day Trip (Chapel Bridge, Zurich Financial Center, etc...)
Lac Leman Region:
  • Geneva Watchmaking, League of Nations, and Fondue
  • Lausanne & Lavaux Vineyards
  • Gruyere and Cheese & Broc Maison Cailler Chocolate - is this a worthy side trip?
Thank you!
DM
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Nov 6th, 2018, 07:47 PM
  #2
kja
 
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A few years ago, I was dissuaded from visiting the Bernese Oberland in May because the snowmelt at that time of year causes trail closures, etc. -- or at least that's my recollection. I waited until June, and had the trip I wanted.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 07:49 AM
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Alpine hikes:
in mid May, the snow line is usually around 1800 metres in the Bernese Oberland and around 2000 metres on sunny slopes in Valais. Valais is drier and less rainy.
Best watch making museum:
at La Chaux-de-Fonds (Jura), in the middle of nature and hiking trails.
Swiss cuisine:
there is not ONE, but different Swiss cuisines, according to the area. The traditional food of Ticino, for example, is completely different from that of Zurich. Almost every Canton has it's specialities.
Swiss Banking:
Swiss Bank buildings don't look different from other houses or from banks in other countries.
Schynige Platte:
the railway will run from May 30th until October 27th, the hiking trails to Faulhorn - First will open in June.
Maennlichen:
the gondola will start to run on May 30th. The trail to Kleine Scheidegg will be closed at least until then.
Jungfrau hikes:
what do you mean with that?
Matterhorn day hike:
what do you mean with that?
Zermatt day trip:
if you want to do some hikes around Zermatt, the journey will get long, may be like this:
Wengen dp 7.03 - Zermatt ar 10.14 (- Gornergrat ar 11.17); Zermatt dp 17.18 - Wengen ar 20.49. Hiking trails in the Gornergrat area will be inexistant (under deep snow), however.
Geneva:
don't forget the Red Cross Museum
Lausanne:
don't forget the big aquarium and the Olympic museum
BTW: Montreux area would be excellent for hiking (during hrs through endless fields of white narcissus flowers) at altitudes of around 1500 metres.
Fondue:
is popular all over Switzerland (except Valais where the local melting cheese dish is Raclette).
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Nov 7th, 2018, 05:13 PM
  #4
kja
 
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Originally Posted by dmiclat View Post
Gruyere and Cheese & Broc Maison Cailler Chocolate - is this a worthy side trip?
I'm a chocoholic -- and I found the Broc visit mildly interesting and a bit of a disappointment. I had seen cheese made before, so I didn't try any activities related to cheesemaking while in Switzerland. That said, I did enjoy my visit to Gruyères for its interesting castle, charming little town, and a bit of a walk in the area. With so little time in Switzerland, and so many things on your wish list, I'm not sure I'd make it a priority. JMO.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 05:29 PM
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We always visit Switzerland in the off season (going back in two weeks) and have loved every single trip. Our most recent spring visit was in late May 2017 - we encountered a heat wave! The flowers were beautiful, the streets quiet - I wouldn't hesitate to visit that time of year again, but if you're a first time visitor, you'll want to ensure that the activities you're most interested in will be up and running.

Your extensive wish list however, is entirely too ambitious for seven nights. You'll need to trim significantly.

My report from that May trip, which may or may not be helpful.

"Too Much Cows"
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Nov 7th, 2018, 08:04 PM
  #6
twk
 
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I went to the Berner Oberland in early June of 2016 (think it was June 10-16), and that proved a little early (that year) for the high mountain trails. Specifically, the Manliechen-Kleine Scheidegg trail did not open until the day we left. I'm told that was an unusually late opening for that trail, but May would be even more problematic. If you are locked in to May, you might want to consider some other, lower, areas. There's plenty to see in Switzerland to keep you occupied outside teh very highest areas of the Alps.
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Nov 8th, 2018, 09:18 AM
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In any case with all that travel in a week look at a Swiss Travel Pass - www.sbb.ch; www.swisstravelsystem.com and for general info on Swiss trains also www.ricksteves.com and BETS-European Rail Experts. Matterhorn is not redundant with things in Jungfrau Region but a long day trip and often Matterhorn is shrouded in haze or fog or clouds - I'd forget it as too chancey and again a very long day trip.
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Nov 8th, 2018, 11:27 AM
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Seven night equates to six full days. You can't do everything you list, even if the weather and other conditions are perfect.
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Nov 8th, 2018, 12:14 PM
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Yes and Wengen and Lucerne would make sense and eliminate lots of travel time - in this case investigate the Berner Oberland Pass valid on transports in both areas (but not to Zurich - very cheap) or Half-Fare Card, etc.
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Nov 8th, 2018, 05:03 PM
  #10
kja
 
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@ PalenQ -- given that several of us have noted that May is NOT a particularly good time for the Bernese Oberland, and given that the Maennlichen gondola won't start to run until May 30th and that the trail to Kleine Scheidegg will be closed at least until then, I wonder -- why do you keep recommending Wengen to this particular OP?
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Nov 8th, 2018, 08:30 PM
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For Lac Leman i'd replace everything except the vineyards with things in Vevey and Montreux instead. to me Geneva is a city that would be anywhere.
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Nov 9th, 2018, 09:19 AM
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Well I was just dwelling on transportation and yes May is not a wash out in Berner Oberland but Grindelwald may make a better lower-altitude base and yes cut back time there to a few days - do Jungfraujoch train. But later in May would be better - melanq8 found great weather. But yes Wengen too high up.
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Nov 9th, 2018, 09:48 AM
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We also had some decent (and not-so-decent) weather in April several years ago, but I fully appreciate that off season travel isn't everyone's thing.

April in the Alps: A Swiss Walkabout

Last edited by Melnq8; Nov 9th, 2018 at 10:00 AM.
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Nov 9th, 2018, 09:59 AM
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dmiclat: You have only 6 days and many (most) of your wish list is either impossible or not recommended. I think you may want to completely reorganize/re-think your plans. Concentrate on lower elevation areas.

Swiss Banking? That isn't something for tourists to 'see'.
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Nov 9th, 2018, 11:52 AM
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Swiss Banking? Well Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse has on it the headquarters of several Swiss banks - pop in to see these stately places perhaps but otherwise a quixotic quest. If you base in Grindelwald, lower latitude than Wengen by a few thousand feet you are just about 20 minutes from Interlaken and train connections to many places - day trip to Bern on funky weather days - boat rides on either lake bookending Interlaken are great fun and there are several neat places to stop and get off and on. Like the popular Ballenberg Outdoor Museum of Swiss Life around 1900.
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Nov 9th, 2018, 01:05 PM
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  • Gruyere and Cheese & Broc Maison Cailler Chocolate - is this a worthy side trip?
Well yes and no of course. Gruyeres is a simply lovely old ramparted town with a small cheese factory just outside its center - the town is worth the trip - the chocolate factory- do some research and see what the tour is like. The special Chocolate Train takes you to both Gruyeres and the gates of the Nestle Callier Chocolate Factory.

Montreux, a few-minute train ride from Lausanne is a neat base city for the Lake Geneva area - many prefer it and neighboring Vevey to bigger cities like Lausanne and Geneva. A short train ride or few-mile walk from Montreux is the Chateau de Chillon of Lord Byron fame and a neat seaside castle - lake boats are neat - can go even over to France and Evian-les-Bains for a taste of France and the local mineral water or even take to the waters in this spiffy spa resort.

Take the special scenic Golden Pass train between Interlaken and Montreux - a bit slower than mainline route via Bern and Lausanne but way more scenic as it trundles down a lovely Alpine Valley and thru famous ski resort towns like Gstaad. Sit in the panoramic virtually all-glass cars - fully valid with Swiss Travel Pass.

GoldenPass Panoramic: A feast for the eyes! - GoldenPass

For a real treat book one of the VIP seats that have you sitting next to the train driver's compartment so you can visualize driving the train! See official site above for details. The train does a slow descent into Montreux passing thru vineyards similar to those you reference in your Opening Post (OP) - it's neat to walk up thru them from Montreux or take a local train up and waltz down!
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Nov 11th, 2018, 10:39 AM
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If doing Interlaken area and Lake Geneva try to fly into say Zurich and out of Geneva - though to get back to Zurich would take only a few hours.
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Nov 12th, 2018, 07:31 AM
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In May your hiking will be limited to places where there is no snow. Don't count on anywhere over about 2000m and places between 1500m and that will be very muddy as a rule which makes hiking unpleasant. (We call May "mud season" in the mountains!) The other problem is that in May most hotels/restaurants in the mountains (and especially the mountain restaurants and huts) are closed. it is really out of season. Can you make this trip 6 weeks later? Then you would have more of a chance for nice hikes at a reasonably high altitude.

Since you want to see/experience quintessential Swiss things I strongly suggest that if you do stay in the Oberland you spend a day at the Open Air museum at Ballenberg which is near Brienz. They have brought chalets and farm buildings from all over the country to this place, arranged them by region and canton and the result is "Switzerland in a nutshell" - you can see all the architectural styles AND see craftsmen at work - potters, weavers, charcoal burners, smiths etc. it is a fascinating place. www.ballenberg.ch For chocolate - if you will be in Geneva or Montreux etc you might be able to arrange a tour at the Faverger factory in Versoix. They have tours but require 10 participants. Contact them and put your name on their list. This is a real factory tour as opposed to the more "Disney" tour at the Maison Cailler (mind you I like that too!). for "Swiss cuisine" - Switzerland is a very diverse country and each region/canton has its specialities. There is no real "Swiss cuisine" per se. So just go to smaller, older restaurants and see what they have on offer. (The Burgerstube at the Wilden Mann hotel in Luzern is a good place to start and you will be in Luzern anyway.) For Swiss banking - the headquarters of the UBS and Crédit Suisse are not on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich as someone said - they are on the Paradeplatz. And so is a large Sprüngli. I suggest you go there and try their "Luxembürgerlis" which are totally addictive macaroons! Watch making - do you mean actually seeing watches being made? In which case there is a tour company that offers tours of small factories but not in Geneva, in the Neuch tel area. www.swisswatchtours.ch Or do you mean watch museums? In that case the best one I know is at the Ch teau des Monts in le Locle. It is truly amazing!

When you go to Bern - check the opening times of the Einstein house in advance. It would be a shame to get there in an afternoon and then find it not open!
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Nov 12th, 2018, 09:06 AM
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Hambagahie - great info - new poster - may want to make more paragraphs to make reading easier. But great info and welcome addition to Fodor's Swiss experts.
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Nov 12th, 2018, 09:11 AM
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>>Hambagahie - great info - new poster << . . . >>But great info and welcome addition to Fodor's Swiss experts.<<

Your greeting is about 10 years late.
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