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Which swiss alps to visit? First time to Switzerland

Which swiss alps to visit? First time to Switzerland

Aug 1st, 2014, 10:31 PM
  #1  
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Which swiss alps to visit? First time to Switzerland

Hello all,

This is my first time to Switzerland.
I will be arriving to Zurich on 25 December 2014 and departing from Geneva airport.

During this period, I would want to visit 1 Swiss Alps - I am not a super adventurous person, therefore, probably not intending to do hiking or ski activities.
Rather, I would prefer to sit outside my hotel balcony to admire the beauty of swiss alps.

Initially, I thought of Matterhorn, Zermatt. But I would like to explore more options before deciding on which one I want to go.

Also, I would like to experience a scenic train ride during winter by bernina express or glacier express.

I hope you all can give me some tips or guidance on this topic.
celinehgl is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 10:32 PM
  #2  
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I am also planning to spend one night at the alps resort/hotel if possible.
celinehgl is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 10:45 PM
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Hi celinehgl,

How long will your trip be overall?

Most mountain resorts will be packed at Christmas time; many hotels in Zermatt require a 7-night stay, and some even require 2 weeks. You may be better off staying somewhere down the mountain and taking day-trips up to see the Alpine beauty.

The Bernina Express is at the eastern end of the country, so if you want to experience it, you need to base yourself in that vicinity, like St. Moritz, Pontresina, Sils, Silvaplana, etc.

The Glacier Express is an 8-hour trip that runs between the extreme west and extreme east of the country -- doing that one will usually require a few days at each end.

The Golden Pass is one of the best scenic trains in the country and quite easy to do, especially since you want to leave from Geneva. It runs from Luzern to Interlaken to Montreux, on Lake Geneva. You could easily spend a few days in the Jungfrau area, then a few days in/around Montreux, then depart.

Have fun as you plan!

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Aug 1st, 2014, 11:02 PM
  #4  
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Hi swandav2000,

Thanks for your reply. I will be spending 2 weeks in Switzerland in December.

By the way,is there any way we can see the tip of Matterhorn become orange during the sun rises?

https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=m...w=1242&bih=581

Of course, it is not possible for us to stay 7 nights because of budget and time constraints. I believe there are still hotels that offer one night stay right?

Any recommendation or feedback?
celinehgl is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 11:07 PM
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Hi again,

Well, you could try. Go to the town's website at

www.zermatt.ch

and input your dates. See which hotels are still available, and if some will be available for only one or two nights.

Since Zermatt is so popular, I would be surprised if you found anything --

My recommendation is as stated above --

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Aug 1st, 2014, 11:12 PM
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When you do your search at zermatt.ch, be sure to look for the location of the hotels/apartments that come up. Some will be in Täsch, which is a town down the mountain.

Also, being able to capture a photo like the ones you linked will depend, of course, on having clear skies. Unfortunately, that can't be guaranteed in advance -- and the longer you stay there, the better are your chances for clear skies.

s
swandav2000 is online now  
Aug 1st, 2014, 11:31 PM
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Hi celinehgl -

As mentioned by swandav, finding accommodation for one night in an alpine village over the holidays will be your biggest challenge. You'd do well to take her sage advice and look down stream of the popular villages.

Zermatt will be a zoo and I'd be really surprised if you can find a hotel with less than a week long minimum stay. You might have to look even further away than Tasch. Maybe St Niklaus, that might be an apt location at Christmas
Melnq8 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2014, 11:37 PM
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Or better yet, how about Engelberg, home of the Titlis? About two hours by train from Zurich Airport.
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Aug 2nd, 2014, 12:39 AM
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The very best place to see the sun rise over the Matterhorn is from the Kulm Gornergrat Hotel at the top of the Gornergrat railway that goes up from Zermatt. The views there are absolutely stunning (we've booked a stay there for our upcoming wedding anniversary) -- but if the weather doesn't cooperate, you may not see anything more than clouds and whirling snow.

There are hotels in the Alpine villages that will allow you to stay a night or two, but most of them are filling up fast. I just did a booking.com check on hotels in several of the villages I like and the hotels that still had availability were down to their last one or two rooms.

For the night of January 2, for example, I did find rooms available at the Hotel Alphorn in Gstaad and the Hotel des Alpes in nearby Saanenmöser. Both hotels had only two rooms left. Over in the Engadine, the Hotel Rosatch has availability around the same dates. Earlier (say December 29 to December 30) you'd have to stay in a different village like Samedan.

I suggest you go to a hotel booking site (I use booking.com but there are plenty to choose from), start checking for availability on various dates during your trip window and book something before the day is over. If you wait even a few more days, you will likely find yourself shut out. If you decide you want to try for the Kulm Gornergrat, I suggest you call them and ask if they have any dates open during your stay. FYI, their hotel rates seem high but they include breakfast and dinner.
WeisserTee is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 01:04 AM
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Hi all,

Thanks for all your replies.

Like what WeisserTee mentioned, Kulm Gornergrat would be a better view to see Matterhorn but it depends on luck.

Ya, their price is really very steep but will try emailing them on my dates. It seemed like there are no online reservation for this hotel?

WeisserTee, is there any train ride from Zurich to Gornergrat station? Any other stopovers you recommend to visit before heading to Gornergrat station?
celinehgl is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 01:17 AM
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From Zurich airport, there is a direct train to Visp, where you can pick up the train to Zermatt and from there the train to Gornergrat.

What do you mean by stopovers? Overnight, for lunch, for a brief wander around? The train from Zurich (airport or city) to Visp stops in Bern, Thun and Spiez. Bern and Thun are both worth a visit, even an overnight if you can fit it in. Bern is worth more than one night if your schedule allows. Spiez is also very attractive, but IMO, it's not worth an overnight.

FWIW, the trains to Visp actually continue on to Brig. I like Brig better than Visp, think it's prettier. It's a good place for a lunch break on your way to Zermatt. You can also catch trains to Zermatt from Brig.

Re the Kulm Gornergrat, I would suggest calling them instead of emailing. Their number if +41 27 966 64 00. If you do want to email them, the address is: gornergrat.kulm(at)zermatt.ch

You should be able to book online from their website:
http://www.gornergrat-kulm.ch/en/kulmhotel-gornergrat/

As I posted above, you're taking a bit of an expensive gamble if you book them for just one night. OTOH, if you get lucky, it's an amazing experience.

Good luck with your planning!
WeisserTee is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 01:42 AM
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Hi WeisserTee,

I saw their website, no dates for booking from October to 2015 yet. I have already emailed them, awaiting for their reply

As mentioned, I will be visiting Switzerland for 2 weeks. I will be arriving Zurich on the 25th Dec 2014 and leave Geneva on the 9th Jan 2015.

I want to plan it in a such a way that Geneva will be my last stop for traveling.

The stopovers I am referring could probably be an overnight stay or day tours.
Switzerland is a big and beautiful country; Bern is indeed in my consideration list.

Probably, I am planning to travel like this.
Zurich -> Bern -> Brig/Visp -> Zermatt -> Lausanne -> Geneva

Will this plan looked a bit too packed/rushed?
celinehgl is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 02:23 AM
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> I would prefer to sit outside my hotel balcony to admire the beauty of swiss alps.

Umm, you do know it is really cold in December in Switzerland, don't you? Daylight is short, it will probably be cold and overcast most of the time. Snow and ice, no green, lush meadows and definitely no sitting on the balcony in the mountains for longer than 20 seconds.

You would be extremely lucky if it would be a sunrise with orange light on the top of Matterhorn right that one day you're in Zermatt.

Otherwise I think it's a good itinerary - spending time in the cities is best, if you're not interested in hiking/skiing. Did you consider Basel? Great museums, churches and beautiful old town.
Ingo is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 02:45 AM
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Ya,I would love to do that too. However,like what you mentioned sitting on the balcony for more than 20 seconds will be very cold.

I am aware that it can be really cold in December in Switzerland. I am traveling to Iceland too so I believe Switzerland winter will be around that coldness.

I think I am really betting on my luck, hopefully to see the Matterhorn in the orange light. Otherwise, I will come back on some other time to visit it.

Anyway,I also heard Basel is a good place...oh man,so torn of my choices between all these beautiful places.

Zurich -> Bern -> Brig/Visp -> Zermatt -> Lausanne -> Geneva
Anyway, so this itinerary looks alright? By the way, I can travel these places via train or glacier/bernina express right?
celinehgl is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 03:05 AM
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You can easily travel by train between these places. I wouldn't pay the surcharge for any Express Trains (reservations required, like Glacier Express) and just take the regular trains. Also, these touristy Express trains only run once or twice per day in winter - and they run on the same railroads.

Bernina Express is out of the way, btw. Much farther east.

I hope you'll see some smaller towns, too, and a castle (Chillon!) or two.
Ingo is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 03:41 AM
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"I am aware that it can be really cold in December in Switzerland."

In the mountains, yes. In the cities, it's not that bad. Probably in the 40s (Fahrenheit), hardly frigid. We had a very mild winter in Basel this past year -- not a single snowflake that didn't melt immediately upon contact (most turned to rain before they hit the ground). There were December days when a sweater and light jacket were all I needed.

But who knows what this winter will bring -- it could be much colder. This summer certainly has been different from the norm. Normally, in August, people are out basking in the sun and floating/swimming in the Rhine. This year, the water is too cold and too dangerous for swimming. And sunny days have been far fewer than normal. T-storms and rain were more likely. In fact, we've got heavy t-storms on the horizon for this afternoon/evening and more rain later this week.
WeisserTee is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 05:04 AM
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Hi Ingo, I hope to catch some smaller towns but then again, I wouldn't want to end up in the rush. I don't mind spending time in less places and enjoy the scenic views of the places.

Do I need reservations for the regular trains? Do you have the website of the regular trains? Will the regular trains take more time than of glacier express?

Hi Weisser, I agree with you that weather changes a lot these days. ~Sigh...therefore, must prepare for really extreme weather. I am heading to Iceland first and I heard Iceland weather changes every 5 mins, so I guess need to be well-equipped.

By the way, the train to Visp/Brig, must we make reservations first or buy it on that day itself? Any websites?
celinehgl is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 06:05 AM
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You cannot even make reservations for regular trains. Don't worry at all about that. Buy the tickets and off you go. On the other hand, check out rail passes to save some money - standard fare is quite expensive.

www.sbb.ch for schedules and fares (English version available)

www.swisstravelsystem.ch for rail passes
Ingo is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 06:18 AM
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It might help people make recos if you would provide your whole itinerary. There are many different mountains in switz - and seeing any particular one on any specific day is a crapshoot - there is always a good chance it will be socked in (if cloudy the mountains are in the middle of the lower clouds). We had to stay in Interlaken for 3 days - in June - before we got one day that was clear at the top of the Jungfrau - so we could take the mountain train up. (Naturally there was a ot to see in the lowlands - Lake Thun and brienz, both those towns, castles, Swiss life museum, towns of Gruyere and Bern, etc.)

If we know how long you have we can make recos. But in one day your change of a good mountain view is very limited - and ski resort prices are VERY high - if you can find a place to stay for just one night.

As for the weather - mountain tops range from cold to very cold (can be less than zero - farenheit, not centrigrade). So you must have apporpirate clothing and warm lined boots with non-skid soles for walking on snow and ice.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2014, 06:30 AM
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And you might mention your budget. You seem to say that some places are beyond yours. You do realize that Switzerland is over all VERY expensive, and Christmas, perhaps even moreso because hotels will be full, and you won't have a lot of choice.
Gretchen is offline  

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