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3 nights in Switzerland Please Help!

I realize that 3 nights is not enough time to do this country justice but that is all we have. We are coming from Paris. Does anyone have suggestions for what we could accomplish in this short period of time? We are not interested in hiking on this trip and none of us have ever been to Switzerland. We will be leaving and continuing on to Austria. Any advice on whether we should take the train from Paris or fly to Geneva or somewhere else in Switzerland? I am really perplexed trying to plan this short visit. Please help.

Posted by
7205 posts

Hiking and you've never been to Switzerland and you only have 3 days and you want to see the best of the best??? Head for the Lauterbrunnen Valley (Interlaken Region). TGV Paris->Basel->Interlaken->Lauterbrunnen Valley. Soaring alps all around and spectacular scenery in all directions. Stay up in one of the car-free villages...Murren or Wengen. There is a plethora of fantastic hiking all around.

Posted by
31471 posts

April,

It would help to know when this trip is taking place? To answer one of your questions, taking the train will be a far better option. The high speed TGV travels at up to 300 km/h, and when all is considered that will be faster (and more pleasant) than flying.

It would also help to know whether you're looking more for an "alpine scenery" experience or more of a city experience?

Posted by
2833 posts

Tim---you misunderstood. She said they are NOT interested in hiking.

April, it would help a lot to know WHEN you are going, so people can make meaningful recommendations. But no matter when, I suggest you look at the eastern part of Switzerland since you are going to Austria next, unless you want to see the country from the train. Then you could take the train from Paris to Geneva and work your way east across Switzerland. But in no case would flying be Dvised. There are fast trains from Paris to several places in. Switzerland---Geneva, Lausanne, Basel.

Posted by
49 posts

So sorry. We are going in late September. I would like to add that we love to hike but don't think we have the time to do it! I wish we could stay at least a week but alas not this time. Thanks for any input you can give.

Posted by
13097 posts

The big cities of Switzerland like Geneva and Zurich are not what most visitors come to see---they come for the mountains, lakes, and small towns. If that is your wish as well, you can easily spend two nights in a mountain village in the Berner Oberland and then one in Luzern before traveling on to Austria. Here is how:

Paris to Interlaken Öst, gateway to the Berner Oberland, is only 5 hours by TGV train, via Basel. But do not stay in Interlaken; continue on to Lauterbrunnen a short ride away. This village is in a beautiful valley that looks like Yosemite, complete with waterfalls. You can stay there or upon oneofour the villages perched on the cliffs above. Rick loves tiny Gimmelwald but many of us find the village of Mürren has more to offer in lodging, shops and restaurants. You could do a half-day hike or spend the day visiting Trummelbach Falls and/or riding the cablecar up the Schilthorn. Watch the Rick Steve's program on Switzerland ( free on this website) for ideas on what you can see and do.

Then return to Interlaken Öst and take the train over the scenic Brunig Pass to Luzern. This lovely town on a lake has lots of charm---fun to just stroll the town or you can take a cruise on the lake. Or spend two nights here (leaving you one for Lauterbrunnen) and you can make a classic loop trip by boat, cogwheel train, and cablecar up one of the two mountains just outside town, Pilatus or Rigi.

Luzern has good connections for onward travel to Austria. To Innsbruck, 4 hours 41 minutes via Zurich; to Salzburg, 6+ hours, also via Zurich.

Posted by
49 posts

Would taking the Golden Pass Line to Montreux and getting off at Interlaken to see the Lauderbrunnen area be a good idea? Then maybe up to Lucerne? I know its not much time but maybe we can shorten our time in Austria and just see Vienna this time. This is a tough one to plan for me! Thanks again.

Posted by
13097 posts

If you want to do the whole Golden Pass route it would work best to start at Montreux. You can reach Montreux from Paris in 4 hours 12 minutes v via Lausanne) if you depart Paris at 7:57 am. I would spend the night in Montreux and you will have the afternoon to visit the Chateau du Chillon.

Next day take the Golden pass route as far as Interlaken, change there for the short ride to Lauterbrunnen and overnight there.

Next day return to Interlaken and pick up the Golden Pass route to Luzern for your third night.

Note that on this route you have a choice of designated Golden Pass trains, or regional trains which run more frequently.

Website for the Golden Pass scenic trains:

http://www.goldenpass.ch/en

For regional trains on the same tracks, use sbb.ch

Posted by
11289 posts

I agree with Tim's plan - it's a wonderful taste of Switzerland. And to clarify, "hiking" need not take place in the Berner Oberland. There are level walks, cable cars, buses, etc. I certainly didn't do what I would consider a hike while there, but I spend 4 nights there and had a great time. I took the Allmendhubel, the Schilthornbahn, the Jungfraujoch, and walked the valley and saw the Trümmelbach Falls. Staying in Murren, even just walking around town or looking out my hotel room window I had amazing views.

So, even if by "we are not interesting in hiking" you mean "we are not interested in strenuous activity or climbing," you can still have a great time in the Berner Oberland.

Luzern is very nice, but it can't compete with the Berner Oberland. I really liked my trip on Lake Luzern and up to the top of Mt. Rigi - but if I had done it after the Berner Oberland instead of before, I would have been disappointed.

Posted by
2833 posts

Not responsive to the question. She asked about seeing Switzerland and scenic train trips, not hiking--- she says they do not have enough time. So you send her to the Berner Oberland for the whole three days ( to do what?) and leave them with a long train trip to Austria after that.

Posted by
49 posts

A little update for all of you helpful friends. We will be coming from Bayeux to Paris and continuing on to Montreux on the same day.
Our travel partners want to fly from Paris to Geneva, then take the train on to Montreux. We like the train over flying but it seems like a big time difference to fly. However, I realize that with all the shenanigans of getting to and from the airport it may be a wash as far as time. Is the route between Paris and Montreux scenic? If it is I will definitely fight for the train over a flight.
Thanks again, you have all been so helpful.

Posted by
31471 posts

April,

If Montreux is your final destination in Switzerland, flying that route would not be the best or most efficient plan. If you're able to connect with a direct train departing Gare de Lyon at 12:11, you can be in Geneva in 3H:16M via high speed TGV (which travels at up to 300 km/h). From there you can transfer to a local train to Montreux, and total travel time will be 4H:51M. Flying will almost certainly take longer, once all is considered (and it will be a much more miserable and stressful experience).

One point to mention is that Switzerland is expensive so be sure to budget accordingly. Montreux tends to be somewhat on the "posh" side, so I'm curious on why that destiination was chosen?

Posted by
2833 posts

Paris to Geneva is 3 hours by train, which is actually faster than flying. (By the time you add the time it takes to get from the train station in Paris to the airport, plus two hours for security.)

Unless you are somehow flying from Bayeux to Paris?

Either way you go it is a short trip to Montreux from Geneva---maybe an hour, very scenic ride along the lake.