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Switzerland itinerary

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Apr 17th, 2016, 08:21 PM
  #1
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Switzerland itinerary

Hi all...
I'm planning a trip to Switzerland end of May/beginning of June and would really appreciate any expert feedback you may have based on the places I'm interested in visiting. I love to enjoy beautiful scenery, cute quaint towns, culinary adventures and shops.

I am planning to fly from the U.S. into Geneva and begin there exploring the rest of the country by train. The cities I'd like to visit are Lausanne, Montreux, Bern, Interlaken, Gruyeres, and Lucerne. Also I am interested in riding the cheese/chocolate train and also visiting a famous chocolate factory. And perhaps the Bernina Express? I will also be visiting Lake Como after the Swiss itinerary is completed. I would really appreciate any feedback at all about which cities I should actually book hotel stays and which are feasible as day trips only. Also any advice on how to arrange the sequence of stops. Thanks so much in advance for all of your participation, time and assistance!!
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Apr 17th, 2016, 08:23 PM
  #2
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One additional note to make, I would like the entire trip not to exceed 7-8 days!!
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Apr 17th, 2016, 09:57 PM
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Hi marbelllaa,

Do you mean the entire trip in Switzerland will be 7-8 days, or the entire trip of Switzerland and Lake Coma will be 7-8 days?

The Chocolate Train includes Gruyeres and the chocolate factory at Broc-Fabrique, so if you do that, you'll get rid of 3 of your wish-list items. The train leaves Montreux at around 9 in the morning and returns at around 5.30 pm, so it is an all-day event.

I personally don't like cities, so I would do Lausanne as a day-trip; I think you could spend 2 or 3 nights in Montreux to do the Chocolate Train and to see Lausanne. You should also spend an afternoon or a morning in the beautiful old town of Vevey, and you should see the vineyards of the Lavuax (between Lausanne & Vevey), and you probably ought to see Chillon castle as well (about 45 minute walk outside of Montreux). You would need at least 3 nights to do all this.

I assume when you say you want to see Interlaken that you intend to use it as a base for trips into the mountains -- that you will actually be seeing the Jungfraujoch peak, maybe the Schilthorn, and the mountain villages around? You would probably need 3 or 4 nights for that. You can see Bern as a day-trip from Interlaken. You can also see Luzern as a long day-trip from Interlaken; the travel will be around 1h50 in each direction.

Unfortunately, the Bernina Express is on the other side of the country -- it runs from Chur to St. Moritz to Tirano in Italy. You could take that route for your transfer to Lake Como, but you will need about 2 or 3 nights to make it worthwhile. You could do this if you decided to spend your time in the Engadin instead of around Interlaken/Bern/Luzern. Otherwise, you'll need to add more days to your trip.

You can check out the travel times using the Swiss rail site at

www.sbb.ch

and you really should take a look at a map so you can see where each of these places is in relation to the others. Just take a look at google maps.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Apr 17th, 2016, 10:23 PM
  #4
kja
 
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With that time frame, I think you will need to make some difficult decisions about what to include and what to exclude. I recommend that you try marking up a calendar: Identify the things you most want to see in each location, check their opening/closing times on the internet, estimate YOUR time requirements, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.).

You might find some helpful information in my trip report -- just click on my screen name to find it.

Enjoy!
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Apr 18th, 2016, 02:56 AM
  #5
 
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Day 1:
Land at GVA. Trains to Lausanne - Montreux at least every 30 min. Historic lake Geneva paddle steam boat to Lausanne and Montreux at 10.15 (Saturday/Sunday only).
Day 2:
chocolate train to Gruyeres and Broc chocolate factory
Day 3:
Golden Pass train Montreux - Gstaad - Interlaken - Lucerne, may be with some stop overs in the case you should be interested in the Swiss Alps
Day 4:
Day trip from Interlaken or Lucerne
Day 5:
Lucerne dp 9.18 - Andermatt ar 10.24 dp either 10.28 by slow train - St. Moritz ar 15.03 or 10.54 by Glacier Express - St. Moritz ar 16.03.
Day 6:
enjoy Upper Engadine
Day 7:
St. Moritz dp 9.30 by Bernina Express - Tirano 12.00/12.08 - Varenna/Lake Como ar 13.36
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Apr 18th, 2016, 10:25 AM
  #6
 
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Sorry - but you are doing so much in the towns that you are almost ignoring spending time in the mountains, which is the true beauty of Switzerland.

I would cut some of the towns and spend several days in the foothills of the Jungfrau to explore all of the beauties of that area - from the majestic mountaintops to the lovely lakes/waterfalls.

We did visit the cheesery at Gruyere on one of our trips (by the way an adorable town with a great castle) and based on that there is no way I would go to a chocolate factory. Much as I love eating it I feel no need to see it being made. Of course you may feel it is a must do - but for me there is no way it measure up to mountain peaks or goregous lakes with charming towns to explore.
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Apr 18th, 2016, 11:07 AM
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If doing all those places or half of them in eight days check out some kind of Swiss Pass - like an 8-consecutive-day pass which covers nearly all trains, postal buses, lake boats and gives free entry to over 470 Swiss museums and 50% off most gondolas or trains to mountain tops - great sources of info:

www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.

The Bernina railway is way out of your rest of your itinerary - forget it for this time - too much to see and do in central Switzerland - spend at least a few days in the Interlaken-Jungfrau area - to me and many the absolute highlight of Switzerland for those novice travelers seeking the awesome Alpine Wonderland you've been dreaming about in Switzerland.
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Apr 18th, 2016, 12:43 PM
  #8
 
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Also I am interested in riding the cheese/chocolate train and also visiting a famous chocolate factory.>

Well the train takes you right to the Cailler Chocolate Factory doors - the Chocolate Train that is - a special train from Montreux that goes both to Gruyeres (visit cheese-making place) and the Nestle chocolate factory - but you can do either or both by regular trains.

The Chocolate Train is a spiffy vintage Pullman car thing - with a Swiss Pass you have to upgrade to first class as this is first-class only.
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Apr 19th, 2016, 01:53 PM
  #9
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@swandav2000 -- thank you so much for your response. Only my Swiss portion would be 7-8 days, Lake Como and another region in Italy will be another 10 days most likely thereafter. I did plan to visit the Chillon castle and will definitely consider the options you gave as far bases/day-trips! Yes definitely have the map open the entire time as I configure all this

@kja -- yes you are right, something's got to give with the limited time since I do have plans to go elsewhere after. I will definitely check out your post, thanks so much!!

@neckervd -- wow you literally got my itinerary all planned out, thank you! I'm trying to understand how many cities I would actually be booking hotel stays in? According to this how many bases would I need to book?

@nytraveler -- thanks for the feedback re the time spent in towns/factory vs mountains, I do love beautiful scenery and one of the reasons why I wanted to go here so definitely will consider your suggestions to hopefully be able to have a hybrid of both!

@palenq -- I definitely wanted to somehow make it on that famous Bernina express but as you stated I too noticed it's on the opposite side of where the majority of my itinerary is and may need to pass this time. I was just hoping since I am going to Lake Como after may somehow make it work to go through that route. Wishful thinking perhaps I was also considering the pass so it's good to hear that might be a good way to go for all these trains and I think I'm gravitating more towards the chocolate train for that specific ride!

THANKS AGAIN EVERYONE!!!
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Apr 19th, 2016, 02:11 PM
  #10
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Based on everyone's feedback I drafted a sample itinerary with stays/stops.. Please feel free to add/omit/edit anything you might suggest, thank you!!!

1) Geneva – 2 nights
2) Montreux – 3 nights
a.Day trip to Gruyeres & Broc (via chocolate train)
b. Day trip to Lausanne
c. Day trip to Vevey / Lavaux Vineyards
d. Day trip to Chillon Castle
3) Interlaken – 2 nights
a. Day trip to Bern
4) Lucerne – 1 night
a. Depart to Lake Como from here (I would’ve loved to go through St. Moritz for this and perhaps even spend a night there however it seems like it’s a very long train ride to go this route into Lake Como)
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Apr 19th, 2016, 02:14 PM
  #11
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**I really wanted to add Jungfrau also as suggested but wasn't sure at which point it would be feasible or if that would require an additional stay?
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Apr 19th, 2016, 03:00 PM
  #12
 
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Reading this post because I am also traveling first timer to Switzerland on the beginning of June. You can add Jungfrau from Interlaken but that will take a whole day from the two you have in Interlaken. I am also going to Jungfrau but from Lauterbrunnen. Have a nice trip!
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Apr 19th, 2016, 05:07 PM
  #13
kja
 
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Maybe I'm misunderstanding your plan? I read it as:

5 nights, meaning 4 days, for Geneva + Montreux, during which you plan to take 4 day trips -- and so have basically no time for Geneva. But maybe you could combine c and d?

2 nights in Interlaken, which means 1 day, which you plan to spend in Bern?

I'm confused!!!
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Apr 19th, 2016, 10:44 PM
  #14
 
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Hi again,

I'm not sure why you included 2 nights in Geneva, as there's nothing on your wish list that's near there. Since you have such limited time, I think you should skip it for this visit.

You show 3 nights in Montreux, and that's two full days. The Chocolate Train is a full day, as I explained above, so you have only one full day left. You can do Chillon, Vevey, & the vineyards in one day, but I don't see how you'll fit in Lausanne.

If it were me, I would move directly from the airport to Lausanne and put my bags in a locker there, then explore the city for a few hours. After that, collect your bags and continue to Montreux for 4 nights. That will give you sufficient time to explore the vineyards (half a day for a walk between Lutry and Rivaz, for instance) and Vevey (half a day to get lost in the old town, pop into several shops, find a lakeside restaurant, etc); to explore Chillon and the lakeside promenade; and to do the Chocolate Train.

That would give you an additional night to add to Interlaken, which you'll need to get to the Jungfraujoch.

Have fun!

s
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Apr 20th, 2016, 08:38 AM
  #15
 
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Geneva is a nice modern boring to some city (for Europe) and I agree with swandav that I'd put that time to better use elsewhere - like going to Montreux that same day and spend a day or two more in the Alps. Lausanne is a neat modern city too and a few hours here would be enough for most - unless you want to take in the Olympic Museum - and Lausanne is only a few few minutes by train from Montreux-maybe go to your hotel first, dump the bags and grab a train or bus to Vevey or Montreux (Swiss passes valid on buses as well as trains and lake boats) - many folks seem to prefer Vevey a bit more than Montreux but you can't go wrong.
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Apr 20th, 2016, 12:28 PM
  #16
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Thanks for the tip Nancy_41pr I'll looking that option too.

Kja, I am confused too believe me! Lol.

Guys I want to spend a couple days in Geneva not to be on the rush constantly with all the trips as you can see I'll be doing the entire duration of time. A friend of mine will likely be visiting Geneva too same time so I wouldn't mind just dining at the hotels or some nice cafes visiting the jewlery stores etc, (I still have to do so much research as far as the actual restaurants, cafes etc I'll be going on the whole itinerary aside from just deciding the city/town names).

Hopefully I can get done as much as possible and enjoy the various aspects of the country!! Many thanks again to everyone's contribution, much appreciated!!
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Apr 20th, 2016, 01:14 PM
  #17
 
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Geneva has its pluses - be sure to take the boat tour of the lakeside villas of rich and or famous long gone and still here and the Red Cross if can be toured - interested in CERN - the particle accelerator of world-wide fame - the huge tunnel in a circle in the ground is just outside of Geneva and has tours like you'll never see elsewhere in Switzerland - you can even go into France as CERN straddles the border.

Geneva has a neat old town with cathedral too - it's a nice city but most prefer to base in a Vevey or Montreux but if friends coming of course - Geneva can be fun too.
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Apr 20th, 2016, 02:34 PM
  #18
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PalenQ- Thanks so much for letting me know about that tour to view the villas, I think that's something I'd definitely enjoy! I'll look into both tours you mentioned, thank you!!

As for Geneva, I noticed based on my own research there wasn't much in terms of sight seeing there but figured it'll be nice to just take it easy immediately upon landing then start the nonstop movement thereafter
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Apr 20th, 2016, 04:35 PM
  #19
 
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I would replace Interlaken with Lauterbrunnen. Once you are there you will understand. Lauterbrunnen is just 20 minutes from Interlaken by train but is a whole new world.

I can still remember the first time I got off the train in Wengen and looked at the view back down into the valley. I was amazed a train station could have such a fabulous view.

I also agree that Switzerland is about the country side and not cities.
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Apr 20th, 2016, 06:01 PM
  #20
kja
 
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I enjoyed Geneva and completely understand that you might want to include it.

But from what you've said of your interests, I think MikeS makes a good suggestion: Lauterbrunnen would potentially make more sense then Interlaken. If Bern is of interest -- another placed I enjoyed! -- you can see it on your way to or from Lauterbrunnen, or if weather is bad, as a longish day trip from there. JMO.
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