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8 Day Switzerland Itinerary Help

Excellent info in all these posts! We are planning a last minute trip for 1st week in November (a few weeks!). We fly into Zurich, but want to explore some of the top sites. We like to hike (easy/moderate) and love historical sites. Our thoughts so far (recommendations are welcome for each location!) - we will be traveling by car, but don't mind doing day trips or whatever via train as well:
1. Zurich (T-W). Staying in Old Town area.
2. Luzern/Interlaken. (Th-Sat) Can't decide if we should stay overnight in Luzern or just spend the day there - and drive to Interlaken end of day. Use Interlaken as home base for Lauterbrunnen/Monch/Grindelwald/Murren/Jungfrau area.
3. Zermatt. (Sun-Mon)
4. Zurich Monday night - leave Tuesday am.

Does this sound do-able? We don't want to be rushed, want to enjoy the local areas, etc. but we'd like to see the highlights for sure.

Thanks in advance

Posted by
5131 posts

You don't need a car for any of this, as the Swiss have an excellent transportation system, and many of these areas have pedestrian, car-free zones. Parking and gas is expensive , and theres also an unfavorable exchange rates against the dollar.
Don't stay in Zurich, go straight to Lucerne (easy 1+ hr train) , Lucerne is much more charming, so spend a few nights here.
Don't stay in Interlaken, it's a transit center, but actually sleep IN the Alps, Murren or Wengen.
Check which lifts are open, as you're in between fall and ski seasons, and some lifts shut down for maintenance.
Zermatt is a "one trick Pony", per RS, and if the weather is cloudy, you won't see much. I'd spend the time in the spectacular Berner Oberland area instead.
Have a great trip in this beautiful country, I can never get enough. Safe travels!

Posted by
531 posts

The Murren train is closed for maintenance/replacement of car right now so you’d have to take a bus+2 cable cars to get there from Lauterbrunnen. I’d recommend staying in Wengen. Definitely do a day trip to a Murren but staying there would be a hassle right now.

I second the notion that a car is really not necessary or ideal for Switzerland. It’s more hassle than it’s worth. You’d just be parking it all the time and rarely using it. Use the trains.

For 8 days, I’d recommend 3 days Luzern (Day Trip to Zurich or Bern if you’re interested) and 4 days Wengen. Zermatt is out of the way of the rest of your plan and too much to fit in in 8 days. You can go to Luzern immediately from the airport on a quick direct train.

Posted by
531 posts

I guess it comes down to your priorities. If you want to prioritize restaurants & shopping, Interlaken makes sense. When I go to Switzerland, I personally prioritize views, natural beauty and experiencing what’s unique about the Swiss Alps, such as being in a car free village with 360 degree views of the mountains. I could care less about having a longer list of shops and restaurants to pick from because I don’t fly across the world to shop so I would never prioritize staying in Interlaken for those things over the beauty of being up in the mountains. But to each their own. However, it is a reality that you’ve chosen to go to Switzerland during probably the worst weather part of the year. It’s too early to ski but late for a lot of hiking and mountain experiences, it can often fog in and obstruct views. There is a good chance of snow in Zermatt and up in the mountains. So you might want to extend a bit longer in Luzern to allow easy access to day trips where the views aren’t as important. Maybe 5 nights in Luzern and 3 nights up in the mountains. If by some chance you’re able to get refundable hotels and you see a few days before you leave that the weather up in the mountains is showing particularly good in a certain portion of your time you may want to adjust either doing BO first or Luzern First based on weather, as it’s a real bummer to go there and not see anything.

Posted by
4 posts

thanks to all the perspectives! We have modified our itinerary to go directly to Luzern for 3 nights; Interlaken 3 nights; last night in Zurich. We will definitely weave in all the recommendations. Appreciate the help!

Posted by
17 posts

you don't need a car. The Swiss train/bus app is fantastic! If you have kids (under 16 years old), it's cheap to get a Swiss Pass (kids are free). In Luzern, if the weather is not good, you can go to some museums, like the transportation museum. We also took a bus to a chocolate museum (an exhibition in a chocolate factory), only $10, and you can eat all the samples. If the weather is nice, you can go to Mt. Rigi. On the way to Interlaken, we stayed one night at Hasliberg (about 2 hr train from Luzern, 1 hr to Interlaken), way better than Interlaken. But again, Interlaken can be your hotel stay. You can take day trips from Interlaken to the mountains, or other day trips.

Posted by
16 posts

Interlaken would not be my first choice having just returned. We stayed in Lauderbrunnen for four nights and loved it. It is a much better "home base" in my opinion. We love to hike as well. We also spent two nights in Lucerne which I thought was plenty of time.
We also stayed two nights in zermatt and loved it there as well- much nicer town then Interlaken.

Posted by
11480 posts

Maureen makes a great case for staying in Interlaken at this time of year. Lots of flexibility and more restaurants to choose from. We like going to Interlaken for lunch when we stay in Lauterbrunnen as there are some fine non-Swiss restaurants: Lebanese, Thai, Indian. A pleasant change from fondue and sausages. 😉

Rick Steves has a nice Interlaken walk in his guidebook if you want to see something beyond the main drag between Ost and West.

Posted by
4 posts

thank you for the recent additional information! We are definitely doing the train. But now I am re-thinking Interlaken vs. Lauterbrunnen. Any hotel recommendations for Lauterbrunnen?