My wife and I are traveling to Europe in April. We will land in Amsterdam and spend 3-4 days, then travel to either Munich or Switzerland (Zurich & Lucerne) for another 3-4 days, then Venice, Cinque Terre (possible), and finish our trip with 4-5 days in Rome. Ideally I would love to see both Munich and Switzerland but I don't want to put too much into our itinerary. If you guys had to pick either Switzerland or Munich for 3 days, which would you choose and why? Thanks!
Jeremy, to me its the difference between see in big city cultural things (Munich) or the mountains and great outdoors (Switzerland). April might be a bit cool for Switzerland.
As the last poster noted, if your reason for going to Switzerland is to enjoy the Alps, April is probably the single worst month. Too much snow and mud for hiking, not enough snow for skiing, skies are often overcast, and most of the tourist infrastructure in the mountains shuts down temporarily. Save it for another visit. Munich is a safe bet any time of year. You will see the Alps anyway as you transit through to Venice.
I love Switzerland ( have been there 5 times now, usually for two weeks). But in April I would definitely choose Munich.
A bonus is that travel to Venice from Munich by train is very straightforward, and quite inexpensive if you book well in advance on bahn.de.
While it may be "cool" and not ideal weather, my suggestion would be to forget Zürich and spend three days in Lucerne. That provides not only lots of day trip possibilities (if the weather is good), but also some good indoor activities if the weather is not-so-good. I quite enjoyed the Museum of Transport and spent almost a full day there. Lucerne also makes it reasonably easy to get to the Cinque Terre, although it will be about a 7.5 hour trip with two changes (using Monterosso as a sample destination). Travel from Munich to the C.T. will be considerably longer.
From the Cinque Terre, it's very easy to get to Rome using one of the direct trains from La Spezia Centrale (travel time about 3.5 hours).
In the "Money is no object" Department, lodging and dining will be about 25% to 40% more in Switzerland than Germany.
As others have said both ciities are very diff in sights and of course costs. My vote would be Lucerne skip Zurich. Enjoy the mtns, mt pilatus, mt Rigi if weather is ok otherwise enjoy the beauty and tranquity of Lucerne itself. I plan to be there this summer. And i have been there 2 x already.