Switzerland Itinerary!

Old Sep 2nd, 2016, 04:45 PM
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Switzerland Itinerary!

Hi all - The community here served my wife and I so well for our trip to Italy, that it only makes sense to ask advice for Switzerland. We are flying into Zurich on 9/20 and departing from Geneva on 9/27. Many years ago, I studied abroad in Switzerland and lived in Lucerne and have been to the major cities (Bern, Zurich, Basel, Lugano, Locarno, Geneva, etc). I missed Lusanne and haven't had a chance to see areas outside the cities, other that Mt. Pilatus and Jungfrau. My wife has never been so I would like for her to see the major spots but have an opportunity to see new things myself as well. How do you suggest we split the time given our entry and exit points? We are in our early 30s, fairly active and love food, beautiful scenery and art/architecture. Basically, we really want to leave feeling we got a good sense of the country and wouldn't mind a little relaxation mixed with the adventure. Thanks, all!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2016, 07:38 PM
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As much as I enjoy Lausanne and even though it could be "right on the way" to Geneva with only a week I would not include it. I really think a "major spot" has to include the Berner Oberland above Lauterbrunnen (which you will pass through anyway). I would do that as opposed to trooping up to Zermatt for the Matterhorn altho you could stick it in somehow.

I'm waiting for everybody (else) to start screaming about getting out of Zurich with its museums, churches, and cultural centers ASAP (give them time; they'll be along shortly).

Pal will chime in to tell you that the Glacier Express trip is "overhyped;" I would personally do Engleberg and Mt. Titlis as opposed to Pilatus but that's subjective and personal; I'd also recommend the abbey church and famous library at St. Gallen even though a lot of people have never heard of them; there's always the spectacular trip up to Rochers de Naye above Montreux; I'd save Geneva for one thing: leaving the country.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2016, 08:27 PM
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It really depends on what you want to see and experience -- the Alps? Swiss cities? hiking? cablecars? museum art or city art? classic examples of well known architectural styles or the unique traditional architecture of various parts of the country? etc.

One word of caution: Switzerland may be one country, but it has at least 4, if not 5, distinctly different regions (4 based on primary language -- French, German, Italian, and Romansch -- and as a possible 5th, the Bernese Oberland, which bears little similarity, IME, to the rest of German-speaking Switzerland). I do not believe that it would be possible to spend just a week in that country and come away with a legitimate belief that "you had a good sense of the country." I spent a month in the country (a week or less in each area), and thought that I got at least a bit of a sense of each area and how they differed from one another.

I strongly encourage you to get the Michelin Green Guide. You might also want to check my trip report -- just click on my screen name and then scroll down to find it.

Switzerland can be a glorious destination for each of the interests you describe -- enjoy!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2016, 08:13 AM
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Thanks for the replies!

Dukey1 - A quick google image search of the Berner Oberland has already convinced me. How do I get there? How about lodging? How many days do you think are needed? Looking for a good way to split the time generally.

As for the Titlis and Engleberg, what is the appeal over Pilatus? To the extent I can experience new things myself but still show my wife something great, I'm all for it. Agreed on Geneva!

Kja- Understood. Better stated, I am looking to get a nice and diverse sampling of the country. Everything you stated sounds great from the Alps to cultural sites to cable cars, etc. Our interests are really varied so wanted to get an idea from folks as to what really stood out to them on their trips and also makes sense for us from a timing and location perspective. I will definitely pick up the Michelin Green Guide.

Thank you both!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2016, 09:12 AM
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I too would say catch a train out of Zurich upon your arrival and stay two nights in Lucerne, three nights in BO (we liked Interlaken for convenience and which offered more options in case of non-clear skies), then perhaps the last two in Lausanne, from which you can quickly reach Geneva airport for departure. From there you can visit Montreux & Vevey. In the Bern Ob, of course you'll see Wengen, Grindenwald, Murren, and the Schilthorn. Believe we had 5 days in Interlaken, but you're alot younger and can pack in more! ! We had 10 nights I believe and wish we extended nights in Montreux and skipped Geneva entirely, we could have had dinner there while exploring other villages along the lake. I agree Zermatt is entirely skippable. We used trains exclusively which were totally convenient and easy to navigate. Bought our Swiss Pass upon arrival in Zurich and away we went. Once you decide on overnights, you can investigate train options, but PalenQ will advise you best on that for sure.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2016, 11:08 AM
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Hi, OK here are some more ideas. I have a week next summer and will take my adult son to Switzerland after a cruise.
We will spend a few days in Zurich, as I really like Zurich. Will do a little cruise on the lake, see the museums, some great food/beer halls, churches. Then train down to Zermatt, which I know is touristy, room facing the Matterhorn,see the alpine museum then train to Wengen, been to Murren and loved it, hope to see Grindelwald and Murren again. Will have couple nights in Zermatt and couple nights in Wengen and same in Zurich. Good luck planning. Zermatt is very pricey but a pretty city, but many do not seem to like it. Sue
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Old Sep 3rd, 2016, 09:13 PM
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Hi tonygabe,

I agree with the basic itinerary of Luzern/Jungfrau region/Lake Geneva; it's a pretty standard itinerary that gives you mountains & lakes, rural & urban, and German & French parts of the country. I've been to Luzern & the Jungfrau region a few times, but I've spent far, far more time on Lake Geneva. So, I'll let others guide you about your first two stops.

For Lake Geneva I recommend either Montreux or Vevey instead of Lausanne. I personally just don't like big cities, so that's the first reason I don't recommend staying there. But also, Lausanne is built on a hill, with the portion at the lake called Ouchy, and the rest of the city up on top of the hill. I think it's about 1 or 2 miles from Ouchy up to the city, but you can take a metro. I'm not positive, but I think it would be pricey to try to get a hotel at Ouchy.

Montreux & Vevey are smaller towns that sit on the lake, and chances are better for a reasonable lakeside hotel. Of course it's easier to stroll from the lake into the commercial part of town because it's flatter, and in fact the old town of Vevey is right next to the lake (the old town of Montreux is on a hill above the lake, and you hardly ever see tourists up there). Montreux has the nicest flowered lakeside promenade, a statue of Freddie Mercury, and it's closest to Chillon, while Vevey has funiculars up to the vineyards of the Lavaux, the Nestle foundation & museum, and the iconic statue of Charlie Chaplin. If you choose to stay in one of these towns, you'll get a Riviera Card making the busses free, and you can ride the bus easily between the two towns.

Montreux and Vevey are about 90 minutes from the Geneva airport, and some trains are direct (require no changes). So, you can easily stay there the night before your departing flight.

I personally would skip Zürich for this visit (see my earlier comment on disliking big cities in general) and spend more time in Luzern/Jungfrau/Lake Geneva. If you had more time, then, yes, Zürich deserves a look, but you simply don't have the time.

I'll also add that I'm betting that many hotels will already be booked up for this month, so it'd be a good thing to get the hotel reservations done asap.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 05:05 AM
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Thank you all! Yes, the trip was planned last minute so I am also a bit concerned about hotels but need to decide where we are heading first. I am assuming I have a better chance of finding a hotel in a larger city and then taking transport to the smaller towns. How does the below sound in terms of an itinerary? Keep in mind please we do like the occasional big city as we like going out at night for strolls and dinner (though I know even the cities in Switzerland can shut down a bit early).

Day 1 - Arrive 8:30 PM in Zurich Airport. Spend night in Zurich

Day 2 - Travel to Lucerne and spend the day there seeing the old town, church and lake. Spend night in Lucerne.

Day 3 - Get up early and take the funicular up to Mt Pilatus. (Q: Can this be consolidated into first day in Lucerne or too much?). Night in Lucerne.

Day 4 - Travel to BO and station ourselves in Interlaken. From here we could travel up Jungfrau or do day trips to Wengen, Grindenwald, Murren, and the Schilthorn. Spend night in Interlaken.

Day 5 - Night in Interlaken

Day 6 - Night in Interlaken

Day 7 - Travel to a Lake Geneva city or
town for the final day.

Day 8 - Depart from Geneva at 3 PM.

This itinerary likely needs a lot of work. Is this too ambitious? Not varied enough? While I've been to Switzerland many times, this will hit areas I haven't been to, namely the travel within Interlaken.

Could I add in any of the following?
1. Bernina Express or Glacier Express?
2. Trip to an Italian speaking region - Locarno or Lugano?
3. A little time in Zurich

Thank you!
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 05:30 AM
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The Glacier runs from southwest to basically northeast; the Bernina runs south. I would NOT try to add either of these on a week-long trip.

As to Lausanne; yes, THE most highly-rated and also one of the most expensive hotels in the city, and one of the most highly-rated hotels in Switzerland, the Beau Rivage Palace is located in Ouchy. If you stay in some of the Lausanne hotels you often will be given a pass to use on the local transport network including the so-called "String" which is Lausanne's automated "Metro" and which easily takes people up and down that "hill" which was mentioned upthread.

You could easily GET to the Geneva airport in plenty of time to take your flight out from the various locations along LacLeman by rail especially if you take one of the direct timings which ends at the airport itself.

I'm certain you will have a great trip
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 08:22 AM
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<Day 7 - Travel to a Lake Geneva city or town for the final day.>


Vevey or Montreux either one works for that. Very easy to get to the Geneva airport by train from those towns.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 01:36 PM
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Thanks, suze and Dukey1 for all the tips. Any other comments on the proposed itinerary or does that seem reasonable? Would like to know how to split up the BO too.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 02:14 PM
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I am sorry but I would NOT stay IN Interlaken; stay in at least Lauterbrunnen.

Yes, it is subjective.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 02:57 PM
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Okay - Any particular reason?
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 04:01 PM
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If you are going to go THAT far then simply go up a bit further. Much nicer surroundings and scenery; I just find Interlaken not all that pleasant; I mean it is OK but as I said, it is totally subjective.

Now, back a click or two: have you totally nixed Zurich because there is a way you could do the majority of the Glacier Express and then loop yourself back to Zurich for the night.
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 04:17 PM
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Okay, gotcha. Haven't nixed Zurich at all! Would love to incorporate it somehow and do the Glacier express. Trying to make sense of what to do with this itinerary. Also feeling a little tense since no hotels are booked and I get there on the 20th...
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Old Sep 4th, 2016, 04:32 PM
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Ditto what Dukey says about Interlaken - we made the mistake of staying there on our first trip to the BO, but learned...and have since stayed in Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Murren, and yes, even once in Grindelwald.

Sure, Interlaken has its charms, but for the full IN-YOUR-FACE Alps experience, I highly recommend you go (and stay) higher.

Which location really depends on what you want to do and how close you want to be to what you want to do. You really can't go wrong with any of them though.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 07:23 AM
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Sorry I only know Vevey and Montreux well (I have a friend who lives there so have visited her on 5 different occasions but haven't been in other parts of the country to comment).
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 01:46 PM
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Check out the 8-consecutive-day Swiss Pass that will cover virtually all of your travels except trains and gondolas to mountain tops and those are usually 50% off-for lots on Swiss trains and passes check www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com (check the Switzerland section of their free online European Planning & Rail Guide; www.ricksteves.com and www.seat61.com.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 02:36 PM
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Thanks again for the replies. I have made a revised itinerary below based on your comments. In short, I believe I will do a more traditional route of Zurich to Lucerne to Jungfrau region to Lake Geneva. Here's the expanded version:

Day 1 - Arrive in Zurich at 8:30 PM and spend the night in Zurich.

Day 2 - Spend the day in Zurich to see the city and museums. Travel to Lucerne at night. Spend the night there.

Day 3 - Spend the day in Lucerne seeing he old town and make. Spend the night in Lucerne.

Day 4 - Early morning wake up to head up to Mt. Pilatus. Night in Lucerne.

Day 5 - Leave to Jungfrau region. Stay in Lauterbrunnen? Wengen? I know many of you advised against Interlaken but want to make sure these other towns are not overly rural. We like the mix of beautiful views with a night life that allows for strolling and popping in and out shops.

Day 6 - Journey up to Jungfraujoch. Assuming it is cloudy that day, what's a good backup? If it's clear on Day 5, am I able to do that trip on the day I am coming in from Lucerne?

Day 7 - Leave to Montreux. The more photos I see the better it looks.

Day 8 - Leave from Montreux to Geneva airport for our flight at 3 PM.

While I think this is a really good framework, I see some issues:

1. Jungfrau is very weather dependent and I'm there only two nights so i am afraid it will be a wash. I could spend those days seeing Basel or Italian region instead but missing out on the BO seems like a missed opportunity.

2. Would love an extra night in Montreix as the photos look beautiful and it seems like our kind of town.

3. Any possibilities of including Glacier Express or Bernena Express in this itinerary? I am assuming I can use Swiss save pass for most of these trips. We won't have a car.

Any other suggestions or travel tips (accommodations even) would be most welcome! Thx!
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 02:44 PM
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I am assuming I can use Swiss save pass for most of these trips>

All of them including boats and city buses and trams and also free entry to 470+ museums and sights - 50% off Pilatus train or cable way (go up one way- down the other - take a boat to Alpnachstad to catch train - cable down to Krens in suburban Lucerne for buses back to the town center or the other way around and then continue by boat on Lake Lucerne - to me a boat ride on the lake is a must thing to do!

There is no longer any Saver Pass for two traveling together - just solo passes (presumably at a cheaper price the railways say!) an 8-consecutive-day pass for you is to me probably the best deal - just hop on anything that moves - no need to queue for tickets - except for 50% off of course.
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