Xmas Swiss Itinerary Help

Old May 21st, 2005, 03:30 PM
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Xmas Swiss Itinerary Help

Any help on this Swiss itinerary would be MUCH appreciated. Currently I am planning a week in Switzerland over Xmas including Zermatt (then Paris for a week). I arrive into Geneva on 22nd. Is that the best airport or should we arrive into Zurich? Planning to spend the first night in either Geneva or Lausanne. Would Lausanne be prettier? Then head on the 23rd to Zermatt for 3/4 nights. Is the Montreux to Brig train section the same as the Glacier Express? I'm looking for the best scenic train route. Then I was thinking 2 more nights in Murren or Lucerne (w/ a side trip to Mt. Titlis). I visited Lucerne years ago and would love to go back, but heard that Murren is also spectacular. I guess I could also do one night in each. Any suggestions would be appreciated. The have heard that Geneva to Zermatt is about 4 hours and Zurich to Zermatt is about 5 hours. If I do include Lucerne does Zurich make more sense than Geneva? Or is the train scenery better from Geneva? Lots of questions!!! Any help would be great. Thanks so much,
Jeremy
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Old May 21st, 2005, 08:07 PM
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Topping this for you with a couple of comments.

Have you already booked your flight? You say you are arriving in Geneva on the 22nd but then ask if an arrival into Zurich would be better...not quite sure I understand this.
You can check train schedules using the GermanRail site

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

or the SwissRail site

www.sbb.ch

The route from Geneva or Lausanne to Zermatt is the same: along the northern shore of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) for a period and then on to Brig where you must change for Zermatt. Actually, depending on the type of train you take you can change for the train to Zermatt at Visp (the station immediately west of Brig although not all trains coming from Geneva/Lausanne/Montreux stop there (they all do stop in Brig, however).

The portion Montreux-Brig is not part of the Glacier Express route which runs from Zermatt-Brig-Disentis-Chur-St. Moritz.

You are basically correct about the timings; Geneva to Zermatt takes not quite four hours.

The trip from Zurich-Lucern takes about one hour.

Besides the train schedules you might also want to consult a map so you'll know exactly where these places are located in relation to one another.

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Old May 22nd, 2005, 06:58 AM
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topping for you. I have not had a chance to really study your questions, but the one I spot right away, for me, is easy to answer. I would definitely stay in Lausanne rather than Geneve. Later, J.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 07:45 AM
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I'd recommend Geneva or Montreux over Lausanne. To be rather straight forward I don't really enjor Lausanne that much. Montreux is far more relaxing than Lausanne, and Geneva has a unbelievable night life, especially duing December and January. From Geneve Aeroport there is train every half hour to Visp (Geneve-Nyon-Morges-Rennand
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 07:47 AM
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I'd recommend Geneva or Montreux over Lausanne. To be rather straight forward I don't really enjor Lausanne that much. Montreux is far more relaxing than Lausanne, and Geneva has a unbelievable night life, especially duing December and January. From Geneve Aeroport there is train every half hour to Visp (Geneve Airport-Geneve-Nyon-Morges-Rennand-Lausanne-Vevey-Montreux-Aigle-Bex-Martigny-Sion-Brig-Visp).

Luzern is also possible via Montreux on the Goldenpass which is absolutely worth trying, not only for the view but for the comfort. There are hourly trains on this route.
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 09:39 AM
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I recommend to fly in to Zürich.

Most international flights arrive in Zürich and there is a train-station linked to the international-airport (you do not need additional transport by bus or taxi).

From Zürich-airport you have very good train-connections to all major cities within the Switzerland.

You can find train connections from Zürich airport under the following link.

http://www.zurich-airport.com/ZRH/?I...evel2=11&a2=11
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Old May 22nd, 2005, 09:52 AM
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I am not familiar with Zurich, but have flown into Geneva 5 different trips. The airport and train station are connected so it is very easy to make that transfer. Personally I would choose to stay in either Vevey or Montreux (instead of Geneva or Lausanne). They are easily reached in ~1 hour from the airport.

Montreux has a festive street fair before Christmas so that might be fun to catch your first or second night. Have some local food and drink. See the city tourist information website at www.montreux.ch
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 12:10 AM
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Dear Intrepid1, to answer your question... I currently have a reservation to arrive into Geneva but have not ticketed yet. That was why I was inquiring about Zurich. Sorry I was not clear. Thanks to all for the suggestions about Montreux.
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 12:36 AM
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For scenic swiss train routes take a look into

http://usa.myswitzerland.com/en/navp...y-Express.html

http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/reiselust/i...ierexpress.htm

www.glacierexpress.ch/en/1glac_1.html

You will see, that the routing for the glacier express is only on a very limited section (Brig/Zermatt) the same as for all other trains.

I even would not recommend to travel to Zermatt during Xmas, as this is peak season and very often with poor snow. Another disadvantage during the dark season is, that you cannot see to much during scenic train rides.

Better travel time is march or April.



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Old May 23rd, 2005, 01:53 AM
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Understood about arrival in Geneva vs. Zurich. Either arrival city can be an easy jumping-off point. Geneva's airport has a train station (in fact, many of the trains originating in Geneva actually do so from the airport; trip into downtown takes about 5 minutes); but Zurich's airport also has a rail station (trip into downtown takes about 10 minutes).

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Old May 23rd, 2005, 02:18 AM
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I live in Switzerland and think it is a great place for Christmas. A few observations and suggestions:

1. Start booking soon, as Christmas week is a very popular week. Also, many if not all hotels in Zermatt, Murren and other ski resorts have a 7-10 night minimum stay requirement for Christmas week. You can sometimes get around this by offering not to stay on Christmas or New Years, i.e. stay from December 26 to December 30 or 31 and spend Christmas and New Years somewhere else (more on this below). You can also get on a waiting list and take a hotel as it becomes available, of course the risk here is that you won’t get your first choice or won’t get any hotel, or will have to move a few times. If you book through a travel agent with a package, you also may be able to get around the minimum stay requirement, and agents usually get the best deal on airfares. Run a search here for hotel suggestions, as Zermatt is a popular place. If you give me a price range, I can suggest some hotels Also look at the hotel reccos put together by Fodors, click on Hotels above. Frommers.com usually also has good suggestions.

2. As noted above, December and January are traditionally the two very coldest months in this part of Europe, so dress very warmly and be prepared. I was at Saas Fee and Wengen this Christmas and it was about -20F on several days; fine when the sun is out, but definitely a challenge, esp when skiing. This year there was a ton of snow, but I agree with the above poster that December is not always the best month for skiing as it is the coldest month, but oddly, does not have the most snow. If you are not there to ski, then this probably won’t bother you, as there will be enough snow to give the white Christmas experience. It does get dark early, but that is the same all over Europe in the winter months. Go to sunrisesunset.com for sunset times all year.

3. Going to Zermatt via Geneva will save you a bit of time versus going via Zurich. It will save you even more time if you stay in Lausanne for a few nights first. The train ride from either Zurich or Geneva to Zermatt is pretty but IMO there is no advantage in staying in one over the other to get a better train ride. I agree with the above posters that Lausanne is to be preferred over Geneva, although in December as the ferries will not be running and the vineyards will be quite brown, it will not be quite as spectacular is in other months and your activities will be a bit more limited, although walking is always an option and there are many good walks both along the lake and in the vineyards. You can to into Geneva for an afternoon very easily by train. You might consider spending Christmas in Lausanne or another lake town, as it may help get around the minimum stay requirement for mountain resorts motioned above. You can also see some of the Christmas markets, which you will not find in the mountain resort areas.

4. The train from Geneva/Mountreux is not over any part of the Glacier Express, that trip starts from Zermatt/Brig and goes east. I have done the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express and of the two the Bernina is much more spectacular, IMO, so I would not bother with the Glacier Express unless you wanted to use it as a way to get to St Mortiz, and then you could either do the Bernina Express, or take what I think is the most scenic train ride in Switzerland, from St Moritz to Zurich, esp the part between St Mortiz and Fillisur. (This part is also on the Bernina Express but you can do it on your own on the regular Rhatische Bah trains. Rhatische Bahn
operates both the Bernina Express and most trains in Graubuden Canton. Go to rhb.ch for schedules, the “regular” trains also show up on the rail.ch website.) You can also do the whole Bernina Express or just the Zurich/St Mortiz portion as a longish day trip from Zurich itself to. If you do the Glacier Express or the Bernina, I think you would have to skip Lucerne/Murren as getting to that area from the St Moritz area will take about 4 hours or more by train.

5. Your schedule has you moving quite a bit and looks quite hectic, esp staying only 1 night in Lucerne or Murren and Geneva/Lausanne. Going by train from Zermatt to the Lucerne or Murren is a bit of a pain as you have to go around the mountains. It is 4.5 hours to Lucerne and almost 5 hours to Murren. To go all that way to spend one night is not worth it, IMO. Murren is absolutely jammed at Christmas and the cog railway up there will generally be mobbed and is not a whole lot of fun with baggage and then getting to your hotel, you may have to wait for a while to get up, which again makes a one night trip a lot of hassle. And of course if you get a snow or foggy day, you won’t be able to see much, so 2 nights would give you a better chance that you will have clear weather on at least one day. I am not a fan of Lucerne, as it is not in the mountains, it just looks out at them. Also, Mt Titlus is nothing compared to the trio of Jungfrau, Monch and Eiger and the railway trip up to the top of the Jungfrau. I would skip Lucerne in favor of staying the mountains and also possibly spending some time in the St Moritz area (esp Pontresina or Celerena) and/or doing the Bernina Express from Zurich or Chur.

6. I think Zurich is a great place for New Years, there is a big street party and fireworks at midnight in town and all along the lake towns. You could fly from there to Paris or take the train, a great ride, esp the super-fast TGV portion.


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