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Switzerland Itinerary and travel pass assistance

Switzerland Itinerary and travel pass assistance

Old Sep 28th, 2019, 01:16 PM
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Switzerland Itinerary and Travel Pass Assistance

BTW, this is my first post ever to any forum so please excuse any mistakes and other shortcomings.. but would love some urgently needed help to Switzerland starting next week for a 10 night trip arriving Zurich Oct 7th afternoon and leaving from Geneva on the morning of the 17th. The biggest assistance is how to navigate the itinerary, which cities and towns to stay in and for how long and which travel pass to get, something it seems many of us first timers need help with.

We are a couple in our early/mid 50's traveling to Switzerland for the first time (so forgive me if I am not correct on some/many facts) and would like to cover as much as possible but not moving everyday instead staying at 3 or 4 central locations/cities/towns covering the 3-4 different/distinct regions...Central part like Lucern/Interlaken (Lucern and Wengen seems like my favorite in this section after reading the forum) French part ( one of these possibly, Lausanne, Geneva, Montreux, Chamonix,, Zermatt etc) German ( Bern, Basel, or just do day trip from another city) and lastly Italian section possibly Lugano/Lucarno and visit Lake Como/Maggiore area. Obviously I know we will not cover all these cities but besides starting at Zurich on the 7th and ending in Geneva on the 17th I only now know that I would like to stay in Lucern and Wengen, an Italian section if at all possible and would like some wisdom/suggestion on how too efficiently navigate the rest of the itinerary (some day trips to key cities) and include at-least a small section (not the entire journey, but the most picturesque part) of 1 or 2 Panorama train journeys on GE, BE, Golden Pass Gotthard or others.

As far as excursions we would like to do Mount Pilatus, Jungfrau, possibly Matterhorn and visit chocolate/cheese tours around our itinerary.

What I am looking for is cultural immersion of small villages typical of what you think if Switzerland with lakes, mountains, sheeps grazing on the field etc. A few big cities such as Zurich/Geneva/ Lausanne is also fine but want to experience Switzerland in all it's glory. Cheese and chocolate factory tours with sampling as I mentioned above would be a bonus for my wife! We also love light to moderate hikes which we plan to do in Wengen area and whatever else you would like to suggest. Would be happy with a good 3 star or a 4 star hotel suggestion within $175-250 range if you have some suggestions.


I have read enough posts and guides to get some feel but now its crunch time and I need to book hotels, rail pass and other activities for the trip right around the corner...please help!

Last edited by tripleaaa1971; Sep 28th, 2019 at 01:38 PM.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 01:54 PM
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Ok, so you have 10 nights or 9 days.
I would choose no more than 3 home-bases (preferably 2) and take day trips. Will you be traveling by train?
Check out realistic travel times at sbb.ch/eng
to learn distances between cities (and ticket prices). You will have to crunch the numbers to see which is best for YOU. I personally get the Half Fare Card, but I can speak German, and you must buy tickets before each trip. For others, the convenience of the
more expensive Swiss Pass, either 4 or 8 days, or flexipass trumps all for the HOHO convenience.

Luzern is a lovely small city with good transport connections.
I would choose Luzern or Wengen from which to explore the Berner Oberland. It has a very good tourist infrastructure if you do not speak German.
Bern can be reached from Luzern in just one hour for exploration. Weather will be a deciding factor about whether it is 'worth' spending the big bucks for the mountaintops, whether here or in the Zermatt region. The more days you base in one town, the more likely you'll catch a clear day to go up.
That said, I personally would base the other nights in French Switzerland, not Montreux proper, but a nearby town like Vevey or Lutry to experience Lake Geneva and the UNESCO vineyards.
I, personally, would save Italian-speaking region for another trip!
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 01:55 PM
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First bit of advice - scale back. If I read your post correctly you have ten nights, departing on Day 11?

What time of day do you arrive on Oct 7? What time of day do you depart on the 17?

With ten nights, I'd suggest you choose three areas at the very most. That will give you three nights in each, two full days, with a night to spare, which you may want to spend close to Geneva, your city of departure.

I'd scrap Lugano/Lucarno, Lake Como/Maggiore - too much, too far considering your arrival and departure points.

I suggest you concentrate on Luzern, the Berner Oberland (which can easily fill ten days itself IME) and possibly the Montreux area, given your Geneva departure.

As far as passes, you'll need to crunch the numbers to see what works best for you, or just make your life easy and opt for the Swiss Travel Pass (keeping in mind it's only good for 3, 4, 8 or 15 days). The Swiss Pass is a good value if you hope to visit the Jungfrau and partake of other expensive alpine excursions.

The Half Fare Card is what we use these days, coupled, when possible, with SuperSaver Tickets for some of the longer journeys. The Half Fare Card is good for 30 days, and can also be very good value.

We've been visiting Switzerland on a regular basis since the 90's and we still struggle with the various Swiss train passes. Just when we think we've got it all worked out, they change them

SBB is your friend - take a look here:

https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html

Last edited by Melnq8; Sep 28th, 2019 at 01:57 PM.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:02 PM
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Mel:
Great minds think alike.
Ditto your advice, almost verbatim!

OP, BTW...Luzern, Bern, Basel, Interlaken all speak Schweizerdeutsch (German dialect).
Montreux/Vevey/Geneva west Sw. all French-speaking. Northeast Switz its the Romansch language. Southern of course Italian. Switzerland has FOUR national languages.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:03 PM
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mokka and I were posting at the same time. The Half Fare Card is easy - no need to speak German, but yes, you must buy tickets as you go (or book in advance, but this can be train specific and probably not the best option for a first trip as less flexible).

I suggest you download the SBB app on your phone for ease of booking as you go.

Last edited by Melnq8; Sep 28th, 2019 at 02:08 PM.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:07 PM
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:12 PM
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tripleaaa:
you probably already know that you can read Trip Reports by clicking on the poster's name (in orange) and scrolling down to their Trip Reports segment.
I have been to Switzerland 10 times (at least), as have many posters here. If you rapidly browse several of these, you are likely to get good suggestions for area towns/places to visit as day trips. But don't make the mistake if trying to cram too much into one trip.
Happy Planning!
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:12 PM
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Thanks, it seems (and I expected it) that I am trying to do too much..now it's been validated! I did look at the sbb site and crunched the numbers (difficult until one has a good itinerary) but still confused. Will try to figure out otherwise will get the half fare card. I will probably concentrate on Wengen and a french part of the country and as suggested leave the Italian section for another trip. I was keen on that because of Lake Como/Maggiore and being able to get on a scenic rail journey.

Can someone help with how to incorporate the scenic train journeys of GE, BE and others into this ten night journey. I would really like to take at-least 1 of these Panorama rides preferably the Bernini Express but only a small picturesque section as I posted in my earlier request. BTW, I am arriving around 5pm on Monday the 7th of October in Zurich and leave around 9 on the 17th of October from Geneva.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:39 PM
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Ok, looks like that last night should be in Geneva then.

The Bernina Express is indeed a great train ride. It runs from Chur to Tirano. Easy enough to do from a base in the Engadine or Italy, but otherwise, not-so-much.

We've taken it as a return day trip from Samadan and Zuoz.

If it's any consolation, the views from most trains in Switzerland are pretty spectacular.

Last edited by Melnq8; Sep 28th, 2019 at 02:46 PM.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:41 PM
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Ok, full disclosure:
I have traveled the Bernina Express route on the regular carriage trains, just a few years ago. Spectacular scenery of glaciers, and quite different than anything I had seen on my prior trips.
This train begins in the Upper Engadine-->St.Moritz (meh)-->Pontresina (beautiful)-->Poschiavo-->Tirano-->Lugano.
If this speaks to you more than the French bit, by all means, consider making your second region in the Italian area.
The Glacier Express travels from Chur To Brig. Brig is just 1 hr 17 mins from Zematt, if you wanted the make Zermatt/Matterhorn you second stay area.
The GOTTHARD Express travels Luzern to Lugano in about 5 hours. You could overnight (or longer) along Lake Lugano...
So many choices, you can't go wrong.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 02:53 PM
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You've already gotten some great advice! A few notes:
  • Could you please clarify: Departing Geneva at 9 a.m. (in which case, I would agree you should stay in Geneva the night before) or 9 p.m.? (I doubt the latter, but best to be clear).
  • IMO, one doesn't need to take a "scenic train" to have a scenic experience -- IME, many trains I took provided awesome views!
  • I agree that 2 or at most 3 locations make most sense, and I agree that the Ticino is not your best choice. Wengen and Lucerne for 3 or 4 nights each (how long depends on what, exactly, you want to do) would give you a nice range of scenic experiences and a bit of the charm of Lucerne itself. Depending on whether you actually need to be in Geneva the night before your flight and your willingness to relocate and your interests, you could look at Montreux or Vevey or even a night in Gruyeres (for your cheese and chocolate experience).
No bad options except, perhaps, trying to move around too much.
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Old Sep 28th, 2019, 03:03 PM
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Ah, yes Gruyeres...where I decimated a huge hunk of cheese (after eating my weight in chocolate in Broc). And almost got caught out in a train stopping blizzard. A memorable day indeed.

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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 12:21 AM
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Some more ideas:
Be aware that in October, it's often foggy in the midlands and sunny in the Alps, above some 1000-1500 metres of altitude. If this is the case, you may spend more time in the Alps. If the weather is bad everywhere, cities are the better option. Know furthermore that the weather in Ticino (Lugano etc.) and Valais (Zermatt, Sion etc.) is often completely different from the Swiss midlands.
May be you don't book all your accommodation days ahead in order to adapt your itinerary according to the weather forecast.
If the weather is fine, I would visit Lucerne first and then leave Lucerne at 8.06 by train to Meiringen and by Postbus (dp 9.25; only until Oct 13th!) through the heart of the Swiss Alps to Grimsel Pass (40 min stop) - Nufenen Pass (15 min stop) - Airolo (ar 12.56). Trains from Airolo to Lugano run every hr. Don't forget to visit the 3 castles of Bellinzona, the spectacular viewpoint Monte Generoso (cog wheel railway), and may be Swissminiatur, the copy of the Last Supper at Capriasca, painted by a disciple of Leonardo da Vinci and at least one of the 3 lakes (Lugano, Maggiore, Como, all connected with Lugano by train and bus lines).
Take then the scenic Centovalli railway to Domdossol (there is NO left luggage office) and the Swiss Postbus over the Simplon Pass to Brig. From there you can go either to Zermatt (direct train) or to Wengen (take the scenic train Loetschberger) and change at Spiez, Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen. I wouldn't stay at Lauterbrunnen or Muerren, because these villages have less sun in October than Wengen.
I wouldn't do Zermatt/Matterhorn Paradise AND Wengen/Jungfraujoch. Don't try to do both, you would not have enough time for that.
Reach then Montreux from Zermatt via Martigny (Roman theatre and fine musuems) or from Wengen via Gstaad (Golden Pass line). Gruyeres castle and Broc chocolate works nearby can be visited in a day trip from either Montreux or Montbovon (betwween Gstaad and Monteux).

BTW: Lugano is just 2 hrs by train from Lucerne, resp 2 1/4 hrs by train from Zurich
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Old Sep 29th, 2019, 11:39 AM
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Hi Mokka,

I came across this forum and you because of a post you made years ago referencing a hike you made where you saw Edelweiss in early October near Lucerne.

I apologize to the original posting that this is divergent from his/her post, but since there is no private messaging on this form (I think,) I wanted to ask you something.

When do you think the latest possible time is to find wild Edelweiss this year? I know that the temperature has been slightly above average this year. Does it grow longer (seasonally) up higher in altitude? I am planning a trip and would like to know if it would still be possible to find them in the wild during the 3rd week in October or later.

Thanks!
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Old Sep 30th, 2019, 11:30 PM
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Switzerland Itinerary and Travel Pass Assistance

So this is what our itinerary is looking after reading the suggestions..all travel on trains of course.
We are arriving Zurich 5pm 7th October (next Monday), leaving from Geneva 17th October 9am. 10 nights.
Zurich airport to Lucern. 3 nights in Lucern.. then 3 nights Wengen...then to Montreux/Lausanne/Vevey (not sure please suggest) for 3 nights and Geneva on the 16th before flying out from there on the morning of the 17th.
Would like to use the Golden Pass, both coming to Wengen from Lucern and from Wengen going to Montreux/Lausanne/Vevey via Interlaken, Would possibly do one day trip to Bern or Basel from Lucern? Mount Rigi or Pilatus the other day from Lucerne? Couple of hikes when in Wengen and we really want to do the Chocolate Train from Montreux to do chocolate and cheese tasting on Monday October14th (operates only MWF now).
What do you think, a decent plan? Should we add any other activity based on whats doable. Earlier we were trying to do a little much by staying a day less everywhere to add Locarno/Lugano because I was interested in the Italian Lake Como/Maggiore and the BE and the GE panorama trains but as everyone suggested that may be too hectic and I agree!
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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 12:04 AM
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Definitely a decent plan, IMO! Some notes:

You don't need to take the "Chocolate Train" -- you can go to the chocolate factory in Broc, outside Gruyeres, using regular public transportation, and as already noted, you can get some wonderful cheese in Gruyeres itself (and, of course, elsewhere, too).

Berne and Basel are both delightful, IMO, but I'm not sure you have enough time for either or both. FWIW, Berne is an easy back-up option if the weather is not conducive to hiking on one of your days in Wengen. (Well, it's easy to get there. Deciding what to do with only time for a day trip might be a bit trickier. )

Montreux, Lausanne, and Vevey each have their pros and cons, and are IMO surprisingly different from one another. I'd urge you to read a bit more to see which suits you best. If you don't already have a good guidebook, consider the Michelin Green Guide or Rough Guide.
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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 05:31 AM
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Hi tripleaaa1971,

I was a student in Montreux a very long time ago, and I am partial to it. I like it mainly for the very long flowered lakeside promenade, and there are a lot of hotels there at the lake's edge -- Eden au Lac (4 star), Bristol (3 star), Rene Capt Golf (4 star), Plaza (5 star I believe). The Bristol and Rene Capt Golf are actually in the suburb of Territet, away from the noise and bustle of town, but just a few minutes by (free) bus to the centre.

Montreux is very resort-ey and touristy, and most of the shops will be souvenirs, jewelry (watches!), cafes, etc. Vevey is more residential, with fewer hotels and more residential-type shops (dairy shops, bookstores, housewares, antiques, fashion). Vevey has a lovely square in the centre of town, with tiny, winding streets leading off on all directions. There is one lakeside hotel I know of, the Hostellerie Bon Rivage, 3 star, which actually sits in the suburb of La Tour-de-Peilz at the outskirts of Vevey (toward Montreux).

I'm never tempted to stay in Lausanne, mainly because I dislike big cities, but also because its town centre is about 1/2 mile from the lakeside, called Ouchy. It is linked by a metro.

To further what kja said about Broc.... Gruyeres is a quick detour from the train stop Montbovon, which is on the Golden Pass route. So if you take the GP into Montreux, you'll be repeating that journey. You can easily see Gruyeres and Broc while you are enroute between Wengen and Lake Geneva -- you can send your bags ahead, though it takes 2 days to reach you, and then make the detour from Montbovon.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 06:51 AM
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On our trip to Switzerland 2 years ago, we spent 4 nights in Lucerne and absolutely loved it. Took a day trip to Bern and another day went to Mt. Pilatus, which was just beautiful. Also spent several nights in Montreux, which we really enjoyed, and were able to spend time during that portion in Vevey. Really enjoyed walking along the lake (took the walk back from Vevey to Montreux which was lovely). Also went to Gruyeres, and as others have mentioned, it is a beautiful village, and the air really does smell like cheese--it's wonderful. Got to enjoy some wonderful raclette and fondue. We were also flying home from Geneva, so spent the last 2 nights there, and were able to check out that city a bit, go out on the lake, see the geyser up close. Enjoy!
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Old Oct 1st, 2019, 09:08 AM
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Travel Pass:
Impossible to answer. All will depend on the side trips you might do from Lucerne, Wengen and Montreux.And these latter will most probably depend on the weather.......If you plan to travel a lot in the Bernese Oberland (Wengen etc.), check the Bernese Oberland Pass which grants free ride from Lucerne up to Wengen and from Wengen up to Saanen (half fare from there to Montreux); half fare from Lucerne to Titlis and free ride on most railways, buses, boats and lifts in the Bernese Oberland (except Jungfraujoch and Schilthorn).
https://www.regionalpass-berneroberl...reich-2019.pdf
https://www.regionalpass-berneroberl...infos/pricing/
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Old Oct 2nd, 2019, 08:51 AM
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slapcorn:

Sorry, I don't know the answer to your Edelweiss question. IF I recall correctly, the ONLY Edelweiss I've ever seen while hiking was in the fall months around Rigi Kulm. I also saw spring-flowering tulips in the same vicinity-really unusual because it was Octoberish!
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