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2 Week Itinerary Help - Switzerland to Croatia

Hi everyone!

My wife and I are planning a trip to Europe from 9/16 - 9/30 and are going to be breaking it into 2 countries, Switzerland and Croatia. We are an young and active couple that enjoys outdoor activies and would really like to do more scenic things as opposed to historical sight seeing; but would also like a few days to decompress once in Croatia. We haven't booked anything yet but here is the rough outline of what we are looking to do -
9/18 - 9/24 - 7 full days to explore Switzerland (we want to see LauterBrunnen, Murren, Gimmelwald, and maybe Lucerne)
9/25 - 9/29 - 5 full days to explore Croatia (we want to see Plitvice National Park, Hvar, Split, and maybe Korcula or Trogir. Thoughts on Korcula vs Trogir??)

Updated Itinerary as of 5/31: what do you think?

Switzerland:
FLIGHT: 9/16 - 9/17 - Home to Zurich (Depart Sunday 9/16, arrive Monday 9/17 @ 8:55pm)
9/17 - Arrive @ 8:55pm, Option #1: Travel to and stay in Lucerne (40-50 minute drive from Zurich), Option #2: Stay in Zurich for the night then travel to Lauterbrunnen in the morning.
Day 1 - Travel to Lauterbrunnen (transportation hub for that area), Explore Lauterbrunnen for the day
Day 2 - Stay in Lauterbrunnen (2nd day), Visit Murren and Gimmelwald (Check out Schilthorn)
Day 3 - Stay in Lauterbrunnen (3rd day), Visit Grindelwald
Day 4 - Stay in Lauterbrunnen (4th day), (Need Day Plans)
Day 5 - Stay in Lauterbrunnen (5th day), (Need Day Plans)
(Should we do this many days in Lauterbrunnen? Is it too much?)
----Maybe exchange this day for a day in Old Town Bern?
Day 6 - Travel to Lucerne, Explore the city for the day, maybe take a tour
Day 7 - 2nd Day exploring Lucerne before flying out to Zagreb @ 8pm

Croatia
FLIGHT: 9/24 - Zurich to Zagreb @ 8PM (Depart Zurich Monday 9/24 @ 8:05PM, arrive Zagreb Monday 9/24 @ 9:30pm)
9/24 - Stay in Zagreb the night we arrive, Rent a car
Day 1 - Drive to Plitvice National Park early in the morning (2 hours from Zagreb)
-- Drive to Split (3 hours from Plitvice National Park)
-- Stay in Split (5 hours of driving this day)
-- Return Car
Day 2 - Travel to and stay in Hvar (1st night in Hvar)
Day 3 - Stay in Hvar (2nd night in Hvar)
Day 4 - Day trip to Korcula, Stay in Hvar (3rd night in Hvar)
(Should we stay the night in Korcula?)
Day 5 - Travel back to Split (night in Split)

FLIGHT: 9/30 - Split to Home (Depart Sunday 9/30 @ 10:15am, arrive Sunday 9/30 @ 5:30pm)

At the moment this is where we stand. Once I get this locked in and booked, then I'll start making the hotel and internal travel accommodations. However here are my main questions...

  1. Is the 7 days in Switzerland and 5 in Croatia the right split (no pun intended)? It seems there is more to do and see in Switzerland so we're thinking a couple more days there..
  2. Any clue as to what kind of weather we can expect in late September in both locations?
  3. Any advice on the list of places we want to see: LauterBrunnen, Murren, Gimmelwald, and maybe Lucerne.....Plitvice National Park, Hvar, Split, and maybe Korcula and Trogir. Is this too many places?
  4. What are the crowds like at Plitvice National Park in late September? Is day #1 too much (Croatia)?
  5. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Thank you!!
Sean

Posted by
10052 posts

A week in Switzerland focused on the Lauterbrunnen area (which includes Muerren and Gimmelwald) is great. On 9/18 go to the Lauterbrunnen area and stay 4 to 5 nights. Transfer to Luzern for 2 or 3 nights. You can easily get to Zurich for your flight on the 24th.

I think you have an ambitious agenda in Croatia for 5 days. It is not the easiest country to get around. Maybe two bases, one near Plitvice and Split, from which you can day trip to Trogir and an island.

Posted by
8 posts

@Laurel - thank you very much! I agree - i'm thinking we stay in Lauterbrunnen for the majority of the time. Is it worth it to spend a night in Murren or just do day trips everywhere from Lauterbrunnen? Also, is there any other towns I'm missing?

As for Croatia, I'm really looking forward to visiting Plitvice, Hvar, and Split (in order of importance). I've heard Hvar is a cool/younger vibe to just relax and have a few drinks here and there. I'm thinking fly into Zagreb, do Plitvice the next day and see if we can get down into Hvar the same day, spend 2-3 days in Hvar then end Croatia in Split for a day or two. Maybe that makes it easier?

Thanks again!

Posted by
21026 posts

It is not a good idea to try to see Plitvice the day after you have such a late flight into Zagreb. Plitvice is very popular with day-trippers, to the point that it's dificult to fully appreciate the park's beauty. Think mobs of people moving in lockstep down the walkways. To avoid those conditions, you need to spend the night before your visit very near the park, then enter it when it opens the next morning.

Zagreb is a very nice city. It has a good-sized historic district, an active cafe culture, and a bunch of interesting museums. You could spend the morning and early afternoon seeing a good bit of Zagreb, then head for Plitvice.

Posted by
10052 posts

Lauterbrunnen is a great base from which you can visit both sides of the valley and all the way to Grindlewald easily. Muerren is lovely but there is added transportation time to go anywhere beyond Lauterbrunnen and the Schilthorn. We’ve stayed 3 times in Lauterbrunnen and once in Muerren. We will be back for another week in Lauterbrunnen this year if that tells you anything.

Posted by
8 posts

@Acraven - I was hoping it wouldn't be as busy in late September but yea, that is one of my dilemmas - trying to figure out how to get from Zagreb, to Plitvice, to Split & Hvar. Thoughts on Korcula vs Trogir??

Posted by
16 posts

If you goto LauterBrunnen, Murren, Gimmelwald. Grindelwald is right next door. Great mountain views and hiking. To me if you do Gimmelwald you must do Grindelwald as well. They are both Great!

When traveling to these mountain areas. In the event of bad weather I always have a plan B. like maybe Zermatt = "the Matterhorn" or St. Moritz. or even the Dolomites in Northern Italy.

Posted by
8 posts

@elvisparsley8 - Good call to have a backup plan but not sure how I'd book everything in advance then switch my accommodations last minute due to weather. Unless of course I can cancel my bookings once I'm there (hopefully no charge) then book last minute stays in places like Zermatt or St. Moritz.

Posted by
714 posts

Sean,

You asked for day plans for Lauterbrunnen and surrounding towns. I've sent you a private message showing our dozen favorite hikes in the region. Click on your name in the upper right to read your forum mail.

Posted by
10052 posts

Sean, Late September is great in Lauterbrunnen. We've been 3 times in late Sept to mid-Oct. No need for a back up plan.

Posted by
533 posts

I'm not sure why you have Gimmelwald and Grindelwald on the same day and Mürren on a different day. Gimmelwald is right next to Mürren, and Grindelwald is in the opposite direction.

Posted by
10052 posts

Where you say you need day plans in Switzerland, Rick Steves’ guidebook has oodles of ideas. By all means hike from Mannlichen to Klein’s Scheidegg and between Grutschalp and Muerren.

Posted by
6868 posts

Given the time of year you're traveling, I'm not sure you'll be able to get a timed ferry to Korcula for a day trip, returning the same day to Hvar. There may not be such a point-to-point ferry or the timing may not be such that it's possible as a day trip. I couldn't find great ferry synchronization when I went in late August a few years ago. If you want to make your life easier, pick one island and spend a day/night in Trogir. Where and on what date are you planning on dropping the car? It won't be of any help in Hvar and you really don't need a car in Split either.

Posted by
8 posts

Question - is Old Town Bern worth a visit? Seems to be a pretty popular place on Trip Advisor. Would it be worth it to lose a day in Lauterbrunnen and spend it in Old Town Bern? Or maybe skip Lucerne and do Old Town instead? How would you rate Old Town Bern vs Lucerne?

Thanks to everyone for all their suggestions! I've been updating the itinerary on the top as I'm going (still need to add the day hikes).
Sean