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3 days in Switzerland

Hi,
We will be in Switzerland (5 total with 3 kids) for 3 days in August and travelling by train to Italy on 4th day. We would like to see Interlaken (Jungfraujoch, Schithorn), Lucerne, Bern/Zurich in terms of priority. Can someone please provide some recommendations please.

  1. We land at 12:30 pm in Zurich. Should we spend time in Zurich or should we travel directly to Lucerne and spend the rest of the day there. Stay in Lucerne that night and head to Interlaken, early the next day.

  2. Travel to Interlaken 2nd day and travel to Grimmelwald and see Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch in the next 2 days. Will we have time to see Bern. How should we break this time down?

4th day - We plan to travel to Italy possibly by Bernini train. unless there are other options. We do not want to spend the whole day travelling.

Any recommendations on how we should plan this are appreciated.

Posted by
4249 posts

I wouldn't spend any time in Zurich and proceed to Lucerne. You will end up not having much time in Lucerne and its a wonderful city. However, sometimes I rationalize these things in terms of how close a city is to an airport I anticipate using a lot and then hope that I'll be able to spend more time in that city on a return trip. Ditto Bern, its relatively close to Zurich. I think you'd want at least a half day in Bern and additional time for travel so that is a huge chunk out of Berner Oberland. I think you should concentrate on Berner Oberland and stay in Lauterbrunnen, Lauterbrunnen Valley, Wengen or Murren. I really like Gimmewald and will stay there on a return trip, but for many, there may not be enough services in Gimmewald even though it is relatively handy to Murren.

Posted by
8889 posts

3 nights in August is not a long time. 1 night Luzern + 2 nights Jungfrau Area is not enough, so you don't have time for anywhere else. Skip Bern and Zürich isn't worth visiting, you want to see mountains.

  • Zürich airport to Luzern is 70 minutes by train, go direct there for your 1 night. You have a few hours to explore the town.
  • Luzern to Interlaken by train is the scenic Brünig pass route - enjoy. Official website: https://www.zentralbahn.ch/en/interlaken-express
  • "Grimmelwald" doesn't exist, you are conflating Gimmelwald and Grindelwald, both in the Jungfrau area. Also options to stay in the area are Mürren, Lauterbrunnen and Wengen. For info and hotels in the Jungfrau area, see here: https://jungfrauregion.swiss/en/summer/
  • Where are you heading for in Italy? The Bernina Line is at the far east of Switzerland, opposite end to Interlaken. All rail routes end up in Milan. Starting from the Jungfrau area you don't have time to do the Bernina line and get to somewhere in Italy in the same day. You would be better off going direct to Milan.
Posted by
13 posts

Hi,

Thank you for the replies.

Sounds like I should just go to Lucerne from the airport and Interlaken area. I was thinking Bern so that I can get to Italy from there via connections. Sounds like Bernini express is not the right approach. Do you see any other scenic routes that we can take from Interlaken to either Rome or Florence.

Posted by
8889 posts

There are only 3 rail routes in Switzerland across the Alps to Italy. From east to west:

1) Bernina Line. Very scenic but in the far east of Switzerland, so not convenient unless you are in the area,

2) Gotthard line. Includes the new Gotthard tunnel, longest in the world. Route from Zürich or Luzern to Milan.

3) Bern - Lötschberg - Simplon route (BLS).
Full route: Bern - Spiez - Lötschberg tunnel - Brig - Simplon tunnel - Domodossola - Stresa - Milan.
Spiez is near Interlaken, this is where you would pick up this route. This is medium scenic, you see lots of mountains.

You can look up train times on the SBB website ( https://www.sbb.ch/en ). Enter From: Lauterbrunnen (or wherever you are staying), To: Milano Centrale (or wherever you are going in Italy), and a date and time, and click on "Search".

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks for the responses. This really helps us with the planning and not driving ourselves crazy during a vacation.
I am assuming that the Lucerne to Interlaken route and the Seige to Milan route will be scenic enough.

Posted by
13 posts

Hi,
I had a few more questions.

Once in Interlaken, does it make sense to go to both Schilthorn and Jungfraujoch. Is it doable in 2 days and also walk around in some of the areas like Murren. How would you recommend I split that plan up?

Posted by
4249 posts

I think you need to remain flexible and watch the weather and the video of the mountain tops. I spent four days in the area and it was never clear on the Jungfrau. Jungfrau is really expensive and I think only worth it if you can see the mountains. If you have a Swiss Travel Pass, Schilthorn is included, and its cheaper to begin with. There are James Bond exhibits if you are into the movies. So it might be worthwhile to go to Schilthorn in marginal conditions. When we went to Schilthorn we spent about a half day. We had lunch at the restaurant at the top. The gondola to Schilthorn starts in Murren so you can use the remainder of your day to explore Murren and Gimmelwald.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks. That makes sense. We are more inclined to spend more time in Lucerne Murren and Schilthorn instead of adding Jungfrauhoch.
Another issue we are facing is that there are no available (reasonably cost) hotels in Lucerne and Murren lauterbrunnel area in August 2018.

Have we missed the dates to book the hotel I wonder. We were looking for something close to the station and the cable car place. The hostels are also unreasonably high as well and we don't think that is a good option with kids.

Any suggestions. I had read somewhere that the rates go down and availability increases in August but that does not seem to be the case.

Posted by
4249 posts

I know there is an Ibis in Luzern near the train stations. Ibis is usually reliable and clean, albeit sterile and boring. We stayed at Drei Konige in Luzern. Its affordable, clean, helpful staff and a fantastic breakfast. I would say its about 10 minutes to the river in a nice more residential area. https://www.drei-koenige.ch/de

Posted by
4249 posts

For Murren, check neighborhing Gimmelwald. (no "R" ) or Airbnb for Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald, Stechelburg and Murren,

Posted by
715 posts

Chris has good advice, as usual. Skip Zurich and Bern. There's 10 days worth of stuff to do in the Lauterbrunnen area, all Kid-friendly. I'd also skip the Jungfraujoch excursion as it is pricey for 5 people and chews up most of one day. Instead, consider the great hikes and animals in the area. I'll send you a list of our (my 3 kids and me) favorite hikes in the area. Just click on your name in the upper right to read the forum mail.

Availability of rooms gets better around the last week of August. You can also check out the possibility of renting a trailer or bungalow for the family at

www.campingjungfrau.swiss

Posted by
221 posts

one summer, I stayed with family outside of Bern. The train connections are amazing in Switzerland. Frequent and right on time. I have visited both Lucerne (including Mt. Pilatus and the Alpine slides the lake, and Lucerne itself) and Lauterbrunnen to Murren/Schiltorn as day trips originating from outside Bern. If you don't mind to start and end your day with the train ride, Bern is a very doable base. Also, look at Interlaken, Spiez, and Thun to see if you can find affordable accommodations that are closer to Lauterbrunnen Valley.