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Switzerland - Itinerary help

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Jun 7th, 2016, 12:28 PM
  #1
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Switzerland - Itinerary help

My husband, myself and our two daughters (ages 11 and 9) will be traveling to Europe next summer. I have been mapping out our itinerary and am most unsure on Switzerland as I have never been there. Note Switzerland is sort of our way to get from Austria to France, and I decided to stretch it a little bit to see some of Switzerland, but I know we aren't spending enough time to really see the country.
We will be coming from Salzburg, into Zurich. Getting in around 19:00 (this is late May so sunset should be later?) Wander city and have dinner. Spend night in Zurich
Wake in the am and take train to Luzern. store bags in lockers, walk around a bit, grab lunch - head on to Vevey/Montreux (looking at hotel options). Dinner there and walk around.
Next day - day trip to Zermatt and back. Looks like Montreux - Sion - Zermatt. I have read if it is cloudy you can't see the Matterhorn. I'm wondering if I will know the weather in Zermatt before leaving Montreux? Can you still see some of it? Any thoughts on late May and likely weather? I've read 2.5 hours each way - which is a lot if we can't really see the Matterhorn. Our other option that day is the Chocolate Train (the 9 year old LOVES chocolate). Regardless - back to same hotel for another night in Vevey/Montreux.
Next day - if we did Chocolate Train, just spend morning on Lake Geneva before heading to Paris. If we did Zermatt - head to Broc ourselves and then on to Paris.

Appreciate any thoughts on what the day trip to Zermatt is like and anything else you want to let me know.

Thanks!
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Jun 7th, 2016, 12:29 PM
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Oh - And if anyone can help advice on the Swiss Rail pass - that would also be greatly appreciated. Do I buy it ahead of time? Thank you!
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Jun 7th, 2016, 01:26 PM
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Well with you several train travels a Swiss Pass is a no-brainer IMO - kids under 16 traveling with parents get a Free Family Pass where they never pay a dime to take any conveyance the adults use their pass on. For lots about Swiss Passes checkwww.swisstravelsystem.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com (I've bought passes for years from Byron at the last site - IME he will expertly answer any questions even if not buying - always good to talk to an expert.)

Between Lucerne if you go via Bern and Spiez you can take the Golden Pass scenic train - a little longer however than the more direct route.
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Jun 8th, 2016, 01:10 PM
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And if anyone can help advice on the Swiss Rail pass - that would also be greatly appreciated. Do I buy it ahead of time?>

You can buy it ahead of time here or you can buy it at any Swiss train station but prices often vary so check both sources and figure in any % charge on credit cards for purchases abroad. Look for specials to on the sites I mention above as these come and go.
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Jun 8th, 2016, 02:21 PM
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Next day - day trip to Zermatt and back. Looks like Montreux - Sion - Zermatt.>

It's a long day trip but neat - take a train from Montreux up the vineyard-strewn Rhone River valley to Visp, not Sion and change at Visp to trains for Zermatt - no reservations required nor needed but do not board the official Glacier Express trains that run that route and do require reservations and a supplement with your pass to use.

Regular trains go all the time.
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Jun 8th, 2016, 02:34 PM
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Thanks Pal. I've looked at some of the links you sent. It looks like on the Golden Pass Scenic train - I just grab that at the normal train station in Luzern, and then somewhere along the route I will want to change to the panoramic cars? I've also read different opinions on staying in Vevey versus Montreux. Any suggestions there?

Thanks again!
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Jun 8th, 2016, 03:07 PM
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It looks like on the Golden Pass Scenic train - I just grab that at the normal train station in Luzern>

Yup no special station- reservations are not required but in busy seasons are suggested if you want to sit in the glass-domed panoramic observation cars between Lucerne and Interlaken-Ost (very pretty going up and over the Brunig Pass) and the last segment Zweissimen to Montreux - the middle section I think only has regular cars.

Why changing so much? Because of differences in track width (narrow gauge and normal or wider gauge). Lucerne to Interlaken-Ost is narrow-gauge - you have to change at Interlaken-Ost because from there to Zweissimen is normal gauge and trains just cannot go from narow to wide gauge - at least not this one - then at Zweissimen you change back to narrow gauge to Montreux.

Everyone gets off one train and onto another usually waiting Golden Pass train.

There are plans to make the Interlaken-Zweissimen have both narrow and normal gauge so that in the future there can be thru running of trains like that all the way between Lucerne and Montreux without changing.
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Jun 8th, 2016, 10:13 PM
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Hi jkpark,

If you give your preferred budget and the preferences (view, service, number of stars) for your hotel in Montreux/Vevey, we can help you with some recommendations.

One of the best things about the area is the flowered lakeside path from Montreux to Chillon, so I would suggest you add time for that; I also like to spend a few hours getting lost in the winding streets of Vevey's old town.

Many folks prefer Vevey because it has a more residential feel while Montreux definitely feels and looks more like a vacation resort. But if you will see the lakeside promenade and Chillon, and if you plan to go to Gruyeres and Broc, then Montreux will be a good base for you. In May, it won't be very touristy.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Jun 8th, 2016, 10:35 PM
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Do you have to arrive in Switzerland that late? Look at www.sbb.ch

You can skip Zürich like this and go straight to Luzern:
Salzburg Hbf-Zürich Hbf 9:56-15:20 RJ160
Zürich Hbf-Luzern 15:35-16:25 IR2659

Or even push more and go straight to Vevey, arriving earlier than your current estimate of 19:00 in Zürich:
Salzburg Hbf-Zürich Hbf 9:56-15:20 RJ160
Zürich Hbf-Lausanne 15:32-17:40 IC724
Lausanne-Vevey 17:50-18:03 IR1829
(You will make a loop through Bulle-Broc-Gruyères-Montreux to do the last part of the Golden Pass)

Zermatt is a one mountain destination, no lake, no city. Not much to do in bad weather.
Luzern has three popular choices of mountains: Pilatus, Rigi, and Titlis; a lake; a city, and an accommodation and transportation base. More things to do if weather turns bad. You can visually see Pilatus and Rigi from the city for cloud cover.
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Jun 9th, 2016, 08:50 AM
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Montreux or Vevey?

Many seem to think Vevey more quaint but Montreux is neat too - both on a lovely lake but if going for just one night then since the GP train arrives in Montreux it may be best to just get a hotel there and save time of going to nearby Vevey.
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Jun 9th, 2016, 12:42 PM
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The Chocolate Train is neat, going to both Gruyeres and Broc Factory for the Willy wonkaesque tours there - you can do it by regular trains as well but it will take longer probably. The Chocolate Train does charge an upgrade to 1st class I believe from a 2nd class pass - they do give out something on the train - cheese and I thought wine by swandav corrected me on that.

swandav BTW is a real expert on the Montreux area having lived there for a spell I do believe.
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Jun 9th, 2016, 01:45 PM
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Swiss Pass covers hundreds of museums and sights - if probably covers Chillon entry but not sure - but always show the pass at any paying thing to see.

Boats on lakes are also fully covered.
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Jun 9th, 2016, 10:14 PM
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Hi again,

Well, I lived there when I was 14 years old, in 1968 . . . a lifetime ago. But I do visit regularly.

They don't really give out anything on the Chocolate Train -- just breakfast of coffee & croissant.

Please note that in May & June, the train only runs Monday - Thursday, so if you are there for your one day on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, you'll have to do it on your own:

http://www.goldenpass.ch/en/goldenpass/offer/view?id=15

http://www.goldenpass.ch/assets/medi...h_TdC_2016.pdf

Have fun!

s
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Jun 12th, 2016, 12:00 PM
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Zermatt can be tricky on most days if your primary reason is to see the Matterhorn. On the day we went, a few years ago, the skies were partly cloudy. We were constantly amazed at how often we could see a cloud-free patch coming towards the mountain; and the previous cloud would hang on the peak of the Matterhorn until the following cloud caught up! We did get to see the peak, but for only a few minutes.

Looks just like the pictures. ;^)
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Jun 12th, 2016, 12:12 PM
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<>

It does.

And I seem to remember also getting a discount on admission at Cailler.
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Jun 12th, 2016, 03:16 PM
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Thank you Melnq8 - somewhere on the www.swisstravelsystem.com site there is a list of things the Swiss Pass covers - but the pass technically has to be valid for that day - thus on a flexipass only on the day you are using it for unlimited trains that day - but on days in between no I think - but this could vary as to the sight.
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Jun 13th, 2016, 11:00 AM
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Thank you for all of this information. In terms of hotels in the Montreux/Vevey area, I would say at least 3 stars, clean and most importantly, easy to access. We will not have a car for this portion of our trip, so we will be getting to our hotel from a train station, on foot with our bags (on our backs). I'm budgeting 500/night for either one large room for our family, or two normal rooms. Friendly service and a clean room are more important than a restaurant or spa. We plan on being out and about so those other services aren't important. A view of the lake or mountains would be wonderful, but again - if I don't have a balcony with a view, I'll go wander in the morning for a spot to have my coffee before the family gets up. Thanks!
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Jun 15th, 2016, 10:44 PM
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Oh, sorry jkpark, I didn't see this for several days.

I like the looks of the 3-star Hostellerie Bon Rivage, which sits right on the lake in the suburb of La Tour-de-Peilz. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from the Vevey train station, but it is right at a bus stop. It says children under 12 stay for free, and it looks like they have family rooms.
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Jun 15th, 2016, 10:51 PM
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Having trouble posting these, so will try to post them in smaller bits to isolate the problem.

I've never stayed at the 4-star Suisse Majestic because I like to be right ON the lake, but it is very convenient for those arriving/departing by train. It sits just across the street from the train station, a few blocks uphill & inland from the lake. But half of the rooms have good views of the lake. They don't have a family room, but it looks like you could book the suite for around 500 chf per night, and they list it for 2 adults 2 children.

I also like the looks of the 4-star Golf-Hotel Rene Capt because it sits right on the lake in a quiet position in the suburb of Territet, but it is close to a bus stop. It says it will hold 2 adults and 2 children in a double room, but it doesn't show prices for it; you have to send an inquiry.

You may want to take a taxi when you arrive with luggage since you don't know where the hotel is, etc. It's just easier.

Hope you find a good place!

s
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Jun 15th, 2016, 10:52 PM
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Another option is the Au Fil de l'Eau Hotel, which also sits right on the lake in the suburb of Clarens. It's more like a B&B, and I don't know how many stars it has been awarded. I stayed at this hotel when it was under other owners and under another name. It's close to a bus stop. Though it is literally in Clarens, it's just steps from Montreux along the flowered lakeside promenade. It doesn't look like it has family rooms, though.

s
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