Zurich or Geneva

Old Oct 30th, 2011, 07:56 PM
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Zurich or Geneva

We are thinking about spending a week skiing with friends in Zermatt at the end of February and, in planning our flight, found that we can fly into either Zurich or Geneva. Since we're going all that way, we will want to spend some time on each end of the ski trip sightseeing in Switzerland and maybe elsewhere. Which city would you suggest with the most charm and ease of navigating? Both within the city and to other locations. Thanks for your input.
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Old Oct 30th, 2011, 10:44 PM
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For me it's a toss between the two cities, though some people consider Geneva to be the least swiss in character. If you prefer French speaking and influence then choose Geneva, if German then Zurich.
Bus and train system are equally good in both cities in my opinion.
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Old Oct 30th, 2011, 11:09 PM
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Hi rcartinc,

Yes, because Geneva has been home to so many international aid organizations for so long, it does have more of an international than a Swiss ambiance. Many people prefer Zürich for its charm and beauty. I also think that Geneva and its lake are a better warm-weather destination than a wintertime one.

The travel time is about equal to get to/from Zermatt thanks to a new rail tunnel from Zürich.

Have fun on your trip!

s
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Old Oct 31st, 2011, 05:18 PM
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I flew into Zurich and out of Geneva... saves you from backtracking.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 06:30 AM
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Some thoughts and suggestions:

1. Zermatt is about the same in terms of train travel from either area, so it does not make a whole lot of difference in that respect.
Zurich is 3 – 3.5 hours and requires 1 change (Visp)
Geneva is 3.5 – 4 hours by train and requires 1 change (Brig)

2. If the choice is between Geneva and Zurich in February than IMO that is no choice. Zurich is the place to go. Charming old town, great museums, should be lovely Alp views, fireplaces, fondue. (If the choice is between Zurich and Geneva in other months, I have to say that Zurich would still win as far as I am concerned.)

3. I would also suggest you consider going to Basel for the Faschnacht celebrations, which are February 26 2012. (Fasnacht is the Swiss version of Mardi Gras or Carnival, the celebrations prior to Lent) Other Swiss cities celebrate this, but the one in Basel is probably the most interesting. They have guilds and bands and costumed celebrants. It’s quite over the top. Note that it is generally celebrated a week or so later than Mardi Gras/Carnival is celebrated in most places. Most places will be celebrating Faschnact on February 22. For info on Basel’s celebrations, go to http://fasnacht.ch/ and http://www.fasnachts-comite.ch/en/ (both only partly in English). A Google search for “Basel Faschnact” should also bring up photos so you can get an idea. I could suggest some hotels in Basel if you are interested. Basel also has a nice old town area, and some very good museums. For a 2-day break or so, it would be a nice little addition to Zermatt and/or other places if you have time.

3. If the choice is between Zurich and one of the extremely charming towns down the lake from Geneva (like Vevey, Morges, Montreux) then that is more of an even match, but in February for me it would still be Zurich. The lakeside towns would have preference over Zurich in most months, but February is not one of them. The vineyards will be brown, and the place will have a closed-for--the summer feel. This area is a bit of a microclimate in that it does not have as cold a winter as places like Zurich, so in February that would mean for rain and fog as opposed to clear days with snow. (Try to go to this area in the late Spring, summer or early Fall, really sublime. I would never choose Geneva over any of these places. That being said, someplace like the Kempinski hotel in Vevey in February would be hard to turn down even over Zurich. They have an indoor pool and are situated high above the city with access to walking trails and in February, you may be able to cross-country from there. You can then run down the charming funicular to see the old town of Vevey. The train trip up to Roche de Nayes is also quite spectacular, as are the views from there.)

4. Rather than the cities of Switzerland, you might consider other Alpine areas. The countryside areas of Switzerland are must more beautiful than the cities (charming as they are), and in winter IMO the countryside is even more beautiful than in the summer (hard as that is to believe.) The Jungfrau may work (3 hours from Zermatt but 4 changes), and also someplace like Château D’oex or the Gstaad area (both about 3.5 hours from Zermatt by train).

5. Also bear in mind that it is quite easy to get by train from a place like Milan and Zermatt, and that may work well for your trip. Its just under 4 hours to Milan. Florence and Bologna are 5-6 hours and require changes, but would work if you have a good bit of time to justify the train time. Rome and Venice are a bit far by train. Paris is 7 hours so that may not work. I would not suggest places like Lake Como, as in February it is not the best place to go. You could of course fly into someplace like Paris and then train down to Zermatt, as 7 hours one-way may be more doable.

If at the end of the day you decided to go to Zurich, run some searches here for things to do. I lived there for 4 years and posted fairly often on things to do. I’d be happy to give some suggestions as well.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 08:20 AM
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You could stay in Lucerne. It's only an hour by direct train to the Zurich airport. Likewise Vevey and Montreux are on a direct trainline to Geneva airport; it's a trip of 1 hour or 1 hour 20 minutes respectively. But, from what Cicerone says, it sounds like Lake Leman is not the best choice that time of year.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 06:22 PM
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IMO Lucerne will have the same drawbacks in February as the Geneva area. The ferries are not running, which are one of the main pleasures of Lucerne. It has weather more like Zurich in the winter, and you should have nice mountain views, but will need more time to get to them as you won’t be able to use the ferries. Lucerne has a nice old town and is one of the few places in Europe which still has part of its wall intact, but I have to confess it has never done a lot for me. For an afternoon I guess it is fine, but I run out of things to do there after a few hours. I prefer either the countryside or Zurich to Lucerne. (The far end of Lake Lucerne is the prettiest part of the lake, but again spring/summer/early fall months are better.)
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Old Nov 4th, 2011, 11:54 AM
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I'm a big fan of Geneva, not for the city per se, but because it's on beautiful Lac Leman, in the French-speaking part of the country, and you can stay in the smaller towns like Lausanne, Vevey or Montreux (and easily get to and from the Geneva airport by train).
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Old Nov 4th, 2011, 11:44 PM
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Hi rcartinc,

Just to correct something Cicerone posted above --

The ferries on Lake Lucerne do run all year round, though the schedule is reduced. Here's a link to a pdf with the winter schedule:

http://www.lakelucerne.ch/fileadmin/...1_05.04.12.pdf

Have fun!

s
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Old Nov 5th, 2011, 03:49 AM
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luzern.org prettiest for me

Zurich is very expensive lake area is nice though

Marriott.com riverside $80 bidding priceline.com for me last

Hotel Otter ok not great B4 that.

sort of industrial overall though food german sausages etc

Geneva more french food vibe which I prefer of the 2

Still quite expensive actually prefer Evian Les Bains

in France where most in the know stay for better food

prices spas etc... Home of Evian Water..so head there

If you elect Geneva booking.com otel.com
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Old Nov 5th, 2011, 03:55 AM
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Hilton Evian-Les-Bains in Lugrin, France.restaurants, attractions, things to travela.priceline.com/hilton-evian-les-bains-lugrin-haute-savoie-france-122045-hd

Good personal experience here join HHonors.com for free upgrades to best available club floor suites upgrades.
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