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Switzerland itinerary - Need help/suggestions

Switzerland itinerary - Need help/suggestions

Old May 12th, 2014, 10:56 PM
  #1  
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Switzerland itinerary - Need help/suggestions

Hi All,

My husband and I are planning to visit Switzerland during the 3rd week of June. We have researched several potential itineraries on different websites, travel forums, etc. to come up with the following itinerary. We want to experience the countryside and also do some scenic tours. We would greatly appreciate your help/suggestions/recommendations.

Day 1 - Arrive at Frankfurt at 3PM. Rent a car and travel to Stuttgart (visit family and friends). Overnight stay in Stuttgart.

Day 2 - Start early morning from Stuttgart and drive by the same rental car to Lauterbrunnen. Tour the surrounding areas, villages, waterfalls etc. Check-in to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 3 - Start early morning for Zermatt. Spend the entire day touring surrounding areas in Zermatt, Matterhorn. Return to Lauterbrunnen for overnight stay.

Day 4 - Check out of hotel in Lauterbrunnen. Drive to Lucerne. Make a trip to the mountains (Pilatus or Titlis). Spend any remaining time exploring the area around mountains or Lucerne. Return to Lucerne and check-in to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 5 - Leave early morning to Chur to catch the Bernina Express, Chur-Tirano. Reach Tirano by 12PM. Take the Bernina Express Bus from Tirano - Lugano at 2PM and reach Lugano by 5PM. Spend few hours in Lugano before returning to Lucerne. (This is going to be the longest day of the tour with significant traveling)

Day 6 - Check out of hotel in morning. Start from Lucerne and drive by car to Zurich to just look around the city for a couple of hours. Start from Zurich by afternoon and drive back to Stuttgart. Overnight stay with family/friends.

Day 7 - Early morning start from Stuttgart and drive by same rental car to Frankfurt. Reach Frankfurt by 10AM, return rental car and catch next flight.

We are planning to book hotels where free parking is available for our rental car. We plan to buy Swiss passes for both of us since we think it will be cheaper than buying tickets for each point A-to-point B journey.

Regarding touring the Lauterbrunnen area, we plan to drive straight to the car park and leave it there until evening on Day 2 till we check-in to the hotel. The plan for Day 3 is tentative: if we feel like spending more time in the Lauterbrunnen area, we will stay there, else we would be doing the day trip to Zermatt.

Please post your comments/suggestions/changes to this itinerary.

Best Regards.
astar1 is offline  
Old May 13th, 2014, 02:53 AM
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First point, you are going to buy a Swiss Pass, then leave the car in Germany. Take the train in Switzerland, if only to give the driver a chance to see the views and parking in towns is difficult and expensive, then you can widen your choice of hotels. The itinerary looks good, you can check fares and train times on the Swiss Rail website www.sbb.ch/en this has a half fare default, it's also a good way of checking which Swiss Pass is the most suitable for your holiday, it's a pain but really the only way to make sure you get the best pass. \it will also give you a chance to compare the cost of using a car and using the train.
If you want a lovely ride to or from Zermatt take the old route through the Lotschberg tunnel going via Kandersteg, rather than the faster route through the base tunnel.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 06:50 AM
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From Stuttgart to Lauterbrunnen is a 4 1/2-5 hour drive.
From Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt is a little under 3 hours each way.

Maybe its just me, but driving 5 hours one day, and 6 hours the next would be exhausting and leave me little energy for sightseeing. Not to mention little time. I mean, those drives will get a little longer if you stop to use the bathroom and have a bite to eat.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 07:42 AM
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Yes leave the driving in Switzerland to the train and be able to see things not have your eyes peeled on the roads and in Alpine areas like Lauterbrunnen cars can't even be driven beyond the expensive parking lots where they must be garaged - ditto for other Alpine wonderlands like Zermatt.

Swiss trains are frequent and comfy - amongst the densest rail network in the world.

For lots of great info on Swiss trains, passes, etc check out www.swisstravelsytem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 07:57 AM
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Agree with those above - Forget the car. More trouble than it's worth. Getting a Swiss Pass? Then you'd be spending $$ on car and train. No reason to do this. And when you're driving in a foreign country you think it will take, say, 2 hours to get somewhere, and then you get lost and it takes 3 hours. And then there's the frustration.

As far as itinerary goes - R/T Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt can take up 1/2 of your day.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 09:29 AM
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I've just checked the Swiss Rail timetable and the journey from Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt takes 3 hours 45 minutes. Still I think a worth while day trip.
tipsygus is offline  
Old May 13th, 2014, 09:32 AM
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Sorry I mistyped the time it should be 2 hours 45 minutes.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 10:28 AM
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Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt now takes 2 h 40 mins - now that the new Lotschberg Tunnel is open, cutting an hour each way off the trip. (www.bahn.de/en says 2:40 for all links Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt - one way.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 11:26 AM
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Thank you all for the replies. I really appreciate your time in helping us.

I completely agree that the best option is to use the public transportation system. We plan to leave the car at the hotel parking lot and use trains/buses for all the days in Switzerland.

We decided to move our second base camp from Lucerne to Chur since we realized we have to start REALLY early from Lucerne to catch Bernina Express.

Best Regards
astar1 is offline  
Old May 13th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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Are you just staying one night in Chur? If so fine but if using it as a base I'd say somewhere in the St Moritz area would be better and then leisurely do the Bernina Pass rail line as a day trip - getting off at stations - like the classic Bernina Ospiz and Alp Grum - near the summit and walk around the glacier-fed Alpine lake and walk to the glacier itself - tough to do with baggage in tow.

From there a nice drive would go down the Maloja Pass - awesomely scenic Maloja Pass (the Palm Express postal bus goes the same route) via Lake Como to Lugano.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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We plan to leave the car at the hotel parking lot and use trains/buses for all the days in Switzerland.>

Not sure why you are even bothering with a car then - parking fees along will cost a fortune. I can see if you are on a driving trip - and the road paralleling the Bernina Pass Railway is just as scenic as the railway.

Only in a few Alpine areas are cars not allowed.
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Old May 13th, 2014, 05:07 PM
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@PalenQ, thank you for that idea.

We were actually planning to stay 2 nights in Chur. After checking out of the hotel in the Lauterbrunnen area, we would drive to Lucerne, park the car wherever convenient and spend the rest of the day doing a mountain trip to Pilatus or Rigi, and then continue onto Chur to stay for the night.

The next day, we would do the Bernina Express from Chur, the bus ride from Tirano, and then return Lugano-Chur. This is going to take the entire day. Would you rather recommend skipping the bus ride and explore areas around St. Moritz? Our concern regarding staying in St.Mortiz is that it is about 3 hours from Lucerne, so will have to leave Lucerne early in order to meet the check-in time deadlines for hotels, maybe 9PM or so.

We will check out of Chur the next morning, and still have time to explore something until we head back to Stuttgart in the afternoon. As of now, we are planning to maybe stop at Zurich for a few hours before going back to Germany. Both my husband and I prefer nature over museums/architecture,hence the short time in Zurich.

Best Regards
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Old May 14th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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Sounds good - the bus from Lugano - actually from nearby Bellinzona goes up and over the Splugen Pass and is one of Switzerland's fabled bus rides.

I would still consider taking the whole day on the Bernina LIne and getting off and savoring the Top of the World scenes rather than just rolling past them and then go back to Chur that day.

The Tirano to Lugano bus ride is not that great and Lugano is a nice enough city (though modern and rather boring to me) but just to see it for a fleeting time IMO is not worth it. Lots of time on buses.

Bt a leisurely day out on the Bernina Pass Railway that would be a highlight of your trip. Get off at those summit stations, walk to the glacier and around the glacier-fed Alpine lake, etc. Sit on the sun terrace at the station restaurants and get intoxicated on the whole scene.

to me beats a day of nearly constant trains and buses.

But yes I see why you are staying in Chur, a very pleasant town.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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an interesting way back to Stuttgart from Chur could well go via the ferry across the Bodensee (Lake Constance) - a rail route takes this way - something novel. Or you could go via Lindau and stop there - to me a really really neat old town sitting on a spit of land sticking out into the lake.
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Old May 14th, 2014, 08:19 PM
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@PalenQ, thank you for the great suggestion! We took your advice and will be skipping the bus ride. We will be doing only the Chur-Tirano onward journey via Bernina Express, and return via regular train routes, stopping at various points along the way. I am really looking forward to this trip. I saw some pictures of Lake Constance, looks marvelous.
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Old May 15th, 2014, 05:36 AM
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thanks for the thanks - really no need to ride the Bernina Express all the way to Tirano - oh the scenery going down is nice but not dramatic - I'd just go to Alp Grum or Bernina Ospiz and putz around there and head back, maybe stopping en route by the famous glacier whose name escaped me - maybe look around St Moritz a tad though that modern city leaves many nonplussed and night over in Chur.

The Albula Pass rail route to St Moritz.Pontresina from Chur is a marvelof railway engineering for 1900 anyway - a UNESCo World Heritage Site itself - the is on the way to St Mortiz/Pontresina from Chur.
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Old May 16th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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Does one have to take the Bernina Express? Aren't there regular trains that go this route? Also, I'm not sure it would make sense to get out at various places along the way. Looks like there are only two trains a day on the Bernina Express. Doesn't that mean that if you get out that you would have to wait a few hours for the next train or, depending when you catch the Bernina Express in the first place (at Chur), that the next train wouldn't be coming until the following day?
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Old May 16th, 2014, 11:51 AM
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kenav - there are about hourly local trains on that route as well in addition to the sporadic Bernina Express - that's why one could get off the official train at say the summit - after all the best scenery have been passes IME and putz around this awesome landscape and take any local train back to St Moritz or even Chur.

No need to take the Bernina Express at all IMO - does give commentary however and has 'panoramic' observation cars.
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Old May 16th, 2014, 10:35 PM
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Hi kenav,

I would suggest that you go over the hump (lol) and descend into the sweet little town of Poschiavo. Yes, Alp Grüm is a nice stop, but it seems to be to be incomplete without the descent into the lush green vegetation of the Poschiavo Valley. The contrast of the landscape north of the Alps, the crossing of the Alps, and the landscape south of the Alps makes a really interesting day.

On one of my trips on the BE route, I also stopped at Alp Grüm and wandered around. There are also a number of walking trails you could take, if you have the time.

And, yes, there are frequent local trains on the route.

Have fun as you plan!

s
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Old May 17th, 2014, 02:13 AM
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>

Yes. We did this via Regio train, had the entire car to ourselves.
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