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7 days in early to mid October in Switzerland

Looking for suggestions of a 7 day self driving itinerary starting in Zurich. We like seeing mountains, waterfalls, quaint villages, and lakes. Is this possible at this time of year? BTW we are not skiers.
Would appreciate and suggestions

Posted by
8889 posts

Linda, yes, perfectly possible. First some questions which might affect the answer:

  • "starting in Zurich" - do you mean Zürich city, or picking up a car at the airport after flying in?
  • Where is this 7 days ending?
  • Is this 7 complete days, or do you loose parts of the first and last day because they are your travel days?
  • How many of you is this?
  • Finally, why are you driving? Is there a reason you are not taking trains, or is driving just your default choice and you haven't considered anything else.

And my suggestion, with the caveat that the answers above may change my recommendation.
Disadvantages of Driving:
1) Parking. Do not assume hotels have parking without checking. And parking usually costs.
2) You cannot drive into cities, you need to park on the edge of the centre (pay), and public transport or walk into the centre.
3) Some mountain locations are NOT accessible by road, but are by train (Mürren, Wengen, Zermatt and others).
4) The driver doesn't get to see the views.
Advantages of driving:
1) You can over-pack.
2) You can drive over the high Alpine Passes -but they may get blocked by snow in late October.

My suggestion:
A) Go straight to Luzern for 1-2 nights. Skip Zürich.
B) Move onto Berner Oberland for 2-3 nights, stay in Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. These two are road-accessible, you then take trains up the mountains.
C) Drive over the top of the Alps (Grimselpass, Furkapass). Overnight somewhere. Where exactly depnds on where you are headimg to next.
See this video about Grimselpass (lots more on YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Fch4Ts5PI

Posted by
2 posts

Hi Rick,
thanks for your quick response.
We will be flying over from the USA and are trying to decide whether to fly into Zurich or Geneva to make the best use of our time in Switzerland. We also need to be in Venice by October 17th for travel with friends. There are SO MANY beautiful places in Switzerland and I know it's not a big country it's just trying to see as much as possible without getting too tired before the next location. I would also like to day visit Liechtenstein while there just because. lol
The Interlaken/Grindelwald area looks amazing and we hope to go to that area. Is it possible to rent a car in Switzerland and leave it in Venice?
I've read about most towns not allowing cars and we have discussed how the driver doesn't get to see near as much. But we like the freedom of having a car to stop or detour where we want. Being from the SW part of the USA we aren't familiar with using train systems so not sure how much freedom there is to those as far as getting on and off and the places they go to.
There will be 2 of traveling together for this part of the trip.
It would probably be 7 days including travel time

Posted by
486 posts

First i would like to point out that your previous response was not from Rick as he does not frequent these forums. The response was from a fellow traveler.

You can rent a car in Switzerland and leave it in Venice, but that is usually pretty expensive because someone has to take the car back to the car's home country and that is not cheap. On such a short trip you don't really have as much time to stop and detour and the trains are really efficient. The website i linked below will have a lot of information on using the trains.

https://www.seat61.com/Swiss-trains.htm

Posted by
8889 posts

Linda, I'm not Rick. This forum is sponsored by Rick Steves, but the answers come from volunteers like me who just do it for fun.

It would probably be 7 days including travel time

As you are flying from the USA, you probably have an overnight flight, then you won't arrive in Zürich until day 2 of your 7 days, and you will have to cope with the time adjustment.

Is it possible to rent a car in Switzerland and leave it in Venice?

Yes, probably but very expensive. Doing a one-way rental to a different country has a large surcharge because somebody (a paid employee) has to drive it back. One way rental within the same country is usually minimal or no surcharge.

But we like the freedom of having a car to stop or detour where we want. Being from the SW part of the USA we aren't familiar with using train systems so not sure how much freedom there is to those as far as getting on and off and the places they go to.

At the risk of offending you, I guess you have said "Fly then rent a car" because that is what you always do, and it is the only option where you live. The places you have chosen are perfect for travelling by train, and NOT using a car.
It won't restrict where you can go, because cars can't drive up mountainsides, they can't go on lake boats and Venice is one place you definitely can't drive, unless the car floats ☺
So I suggest:

  • Land, go direct to Luzern for 1-2 nights. Train from Zürich airport to Luzern takes 70 minutes, and runs twice per hour.
  • Take train to the Jungfrau region.
    • This is a scenic train line, the "Brünig line" (google it)
    • Stay in Mürren or Wengen for 3-4 nights.
    • For info and hotels see here: https://jungfrauregion.swiss/en/summer/
    • These places cannot be reached by car, train only. (click here for photo). You can see down to Lauterbrunnen in the valley bottom, which is where the road ends. Note the waterfalls.
  • Finally train to Venice. Long run, bring food and drink with you. Look out the Window as the scenery goes by, no traffic jams. Sip a little wine.
    • The train arrival in Venice is one of my favourite scenes. You walk out the front of the station, and in front of you is Venice "main street", the Grand Canal. (click for Google streetview).

If you are train newbies, you need to climb a learning curve about trains.
Start here: https://www.seat61.com/Swiss-trains.htm
then here: https://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Switzerland.htm#Switzerland-Italy
And when you have any specific questions, come back and ask.

Posted by
651 posts

Chris is right. I would have given almost exactly the same advice.

Posted by
199 posts

I live in Kansas City, and I’m also unfamiliar with riding trains. My daughters and I spent two weeks in Switzerland last May traveling exclusively by train and bus. We were able to see everything we wanted to see. As Chris mentioned above, I think we were successful because we traveled light with luggage that we were each able to manage easily by ourself. You might consider skipping Lichtenstein on such a short trip.

Posted by
651 posts

Liechtenstein "just because" is fine IF you were over there for 2 months, but you will only have 7 days.
Spending a day over to Liechtenstein will just be robbing yourself of Swiss scenery that is 50X better.