Switzerland - where to for this trip?

Apr 12th, 2015, 08:00 PM
  #1  
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Switzerland - where to for this trip?

We land in Zurich on 29 March 2016 and had planned to go to Zermatt for 2 days, do the GE to St Moritz and stay in Pontresina for 3 days before going on to Austria. My question to the experts is have we picked the best area to explore or do you have other recommendations? I am asking because I have read a lot of negative comments about the GE and as other posters have mentioned the advertising in our part of the world (New Zealand) really pushes Zermatt and the GE. We are in our early 50's and although we don't do any snow sports we especially enjoy going up the mountains on funicular trains, gondolas, etc and having lunch at the top with views.
On previous trips we have explored the areas of Lauterbrunnen , Wengen, Basel, Zurich, Lucerne, Grimmelwald, Murren, Engleberg and their surrounding mountains and lakes. We did the Berlin Express last time and loved it. We are not keen on cities and don't do snow sports but love going up the mountains, beautiful scenery and exploring villages. We travel by train and not by car. We prefer to base ourselves in one place and do day trips rather than moving from hotel to hotel. Thank you for your help.
jinz is offline  
Apr 12th, 2015, 08:10 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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I loved the area in / around Pontresina! You might consider getting there by regional trains, rather than the tourist train. You can use the sbb web-site to identify your options.
http://fahrplan.sbb.ch/bin/query.exe/en
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Apr 12th, 2015, 09:49 PM
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Hi jinz,

Yes, it sounds to me like you're ready to experience a new area of Switzerland, and I (like kja) adore the Engadin Valley. I've been two times, once stayed at Zuoz for a week, and then stayed in Scuol for 4 nights. It's a different feeling from the Oberland area, but the mountains are just amazing, of course.

A friend of mine has what I think are the best tourist information pages on the valley -- here they are:

Upper Engadin
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/a88f9/

Lower Engadin
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/a8885/

He has some great photos that should help to whet your appetite to see the area.

I do agree that the GE is over-rated -- I thought it was about 6 hours too long, lol! But if you are going to see Zermatt and the Engadin Valley, the GE is a good way to move between the two. I would never see the GE itself as a tourist draw.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Apr 12th, 2015, 11:11 PM
  #4  
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Thank you so much for the fast replies kja and swandiv. The Engadin area it is! It sounds perfect for us. Would you recommend we don't bother with Zermatt and rather go straight to the Engadin Valley from Zurich? It seems we would get the mountain experience there too so wondering if Zermatt is worth it, especially as we now not too fussed about the GE. Swandiv the links are great, thank you. How lucky you all are to be able to go often.
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Apr 12th, 2015, 11:14 PM
  #5  
kja
 
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"Would you recommend we don't bother with Zermatt and rather go straight to the Engadin Valley from Zurich?"

I haven't been to Zermatt, and so can't speak to its merits. I can say that I found MORE than enough to keep me happily busy in the Engadine, where I visited both the upper and lower valleys.
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Apr 12th, 2015, 11:23 PM
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Hi again,

I spent a week skiing in Zermatt one time and didn't like it much. I went back for an afternoon to see if my first impression might have been wrong or influenced by horrible skiing weather -- and my reaction was the same. I just don't like it.

My biggest problem with it is that it is just overcrowded, with both tourists and buildings. The town sits at the end of a valley, so there's no more room to build on, yet they keep building. The "chalets" seem to be tumbled one atop the other in a hodge-podge that I didn't find sweet or appealing at all. And of course there were crowds of people -- everyone there to see and be seen and to shop and to see the Matterhorn.

Having said all that -- tons of folks love Zermatt and return every year. You may want to find some photos online or in your library or walk the streets with google maps to see if it draws you at all.

If it were me, I would spend the entire time in the Engadin Valley -- half for the Upper (higher) end and half for the Lower end.

I don't think you could go wrong, whatever you decide.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Apr 12th, 2015, 11:33 PM
  #7  
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Thank you so much! It is really expensive travelling from New Zealand so the help is much appreciated. We are going to forget Zermatt and spend the whole time in the Engin Valley. May I trouble you for a little more advice. So that we do get in some scenic train travel would you mind recommending a route from Zurich to the Valley. We will probably not want to get off the train - other than to change trains.
Thank you again.
jinz is offline  
Apr 13th, 2015, 11:08 PM
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Hi again,

Well, I personally don't like to look for "scenic" trains -- I would rather get to my destination as quickly as possible, then then go outside for my scenery!

I took a look at the SBB site, and after I got the connections, I used the "map" feature to see the routes. Whether you go to Scuol (Lower Engadin) or Pontresina (Upper Engadin), you'll go via Chur. It looks like you'll be going by Lake Zurich on the southern shore and also by the Walensee -- I do think that's a nice route.

I think you may want to try to see Chur a bit, which I've heard is a nice spot. I need to put that on my list to see the next time I'm there!

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Apr 15th, 2015, 09:28 AM
  #9  
 
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If you want to go to the highest mountains and longest glaciers of Switzerland, you must go to the Zermatt area.
The mountains and glaciers of Bernina (close to Pontresina) are fine too, but the area is somewhat smaller and the highest peak (Piz Bernina) is only 13300ft high.

You will certainly see more mountains on your way to Austria, as the usual (and most scenic) route goes from St. Moritz/Pontresina to Guarda - Scuol - Nauders - Landeck - Oetztal - Innsbruck ....
or to Ofen Pass - Mustair monastery - Gluorn walled city - Meran - Bolzano/Bozen - Bruneck - Lienz in Osttirol - Lake Millstaettersee - Villach .....

The Glacier Express train ride is scenic, but very long. People should stop over at one of the many really interesting places along the itineray (Aletsch Glacier, Grimselwelten, Furka Ice cave, Andermatt-Gemsstock, Disentis monastery, Vals mountain spa, Flims, Chur, etc.)
neckervd is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 03:22 AM
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Hello Nekverd, If we added 2 days in Zermatt would that be enough? I have almost cut our Germany from this trip so that we can make sure we explore Chamonix and the Engadin Valley properly. We could add Zermatt for 2 days and not do Germany at all on this trip. We could do the route you describe to Austria and then fly back to NZ from Vienna.
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Apr 20th, 2015, 04:14 AM
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Hr
Huggy is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 06:14 AM
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We did the Berlin Express last time and loved it.>

You mean Bernina Express? As for the GE - if going between St Moritz area and Zermatt it is a utilitarian way to get there - the only way to do so by rail in one day - for many it gets tedious with great scenery at the start and finish but for Switzerland so so in between - nice but after several hours - can you break up the journey or here is an alternate route that would take two days:

Take the Bernina Express St Moritz to Tirano (if you have not taken the Bernina Express do so - it is the most scenic train in Switzerland IMO - awesome) take it to Tirano then the BE bus to Lugano - stay in that pleasant town - next day take the Centovalli scenic train to Domodossola, Italy and then train thru the Simplon Tunnel to Brig to catch the train to Zermatt.

anyway for lots of good stuff on GE and Swiss trains - www.swisstravelsystem.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. And if relocating across Switzerland a Swiss Pass could be a great deal and useful once in the area too.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 20th, 2015, 06:55 AM
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Zermatt offers several aerial gondolas and mountain trains that you like - and a neat day trip form there goes to Saint-Niklaas - by train and postal bus - another Alpine wonderland to explore with more thrilling gondolas once there.
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Apr 21st, 2015, 05:23 AM
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Yes you take the train from Zermatt to St Niklaus then switch to postal bus to Saas-Fee - thanks for the correcto!
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Apr 25th, 2015, 09:15 AM
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Either you take the train from Zermatt to St. Niklaus, the Post Bus to Graechen and the gondola to Hannig and hike from there in about 6 hrs to Saas Fee (June - Oct)
or
you take the train from Zermatt to Stalden-Saas then switch to the Post Bus to Saas Fee.
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Apr 25th, 2015, 11:59 AM
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OK got it now - did it in reverse - took train from Visp to Stalden-Sass then postal bus that went along a fairly narrow ledge to Saas-Fee.
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Apr 25th, 2015, 02:52 PM
  #18  
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Hello, my apologies for being a little confused. Hiking is not possible for me (I can walk for a couple of hours at a time but not steep climbs) so it would have to be buses and trains. Yes I did mean the Bernina Express. We did take this train two years ago but as part of a very long train ride so we would love to do it again. Would it be better though to do it as a day trip and then just get from Zermatt to St Moritz as quickly as possible or do it as part of the route? Time will be a bit of an issue as we have added time into our time there. Thank you.
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Apr 25th, 2015, 03:16 PM
  #19  
kja
 
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I'm not sure what you are asking. But FWIW, if you are taking the Bernina Express (or riding the same regional tracks), then you might consider getting off for a stop at Muottas Muralg.
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Apr 25th, 2015, 04:35 PM
  #20  
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Hello Kja, Thank you for responding. My question is to PalenQ and Nekverd related to advice they have been giving me on the best route between Zermatt and St Moritz. Thanks to the great advice from them and Swandiv we have planned 3 days in Zermatt and a week in Engadine Valley and 4 days in Chamonix. The last posts were advice on how to get from St Moritz to Zermatt (or vice versa depending on the order we do the different places).
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