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Alsace/Switzerland plan

Hi there, we're leaving very soon for Switzerland/France and I'm feeling very unsure of our plan! I know we can't go wrong but would love some feedback. Given the time of year, we'd like to visit the Interlaken area, but are planning on focusing most of our trip on France. We are flying into Zurich and can fly out of Zurich or Stuttgart. Below is the high-level plan with where we are staying each night. We like exploring. The biggest concerns are if we should go to Bern or Anenncy and, if so, what we should leave out (maybe shorten time in Colmar or Strasbourg? Skip Stuttgart or Zurich on Saturday? Any advice would be so appreciated!

Sunday: Travel to BO, stay in Murren
Monday: Murren
Tuesday: travel to Colmar, stay in Colmar
Wednesday: Colmar
Thursday: travel to Strassbourg, stay in Strassbourg
Friday: Strassbourg
Saturday: Stuttgart or Zurich
Sunday: Flight home

Posted by
16883 posts

Are you traveling by car or train? Colmar and Strasbourg are only half an hour apart by hourly regional train, so it's not necessary to sleep in both. If you needed a night to use elsewhere, then I'd stay 3 nights in Colmar instead of 4 nights split with Strasbourg.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you!! I had no idea they were so close. That makes a big difference. We are planning on taking a train to BO/Interlaken and then renting a car there for the rest of the trip so we have more flexibility (it felt like that was the right point in the trip to pick up a car , but it looks like Bern is on the way, so maybe that's a better place to rent a car?). Sam: Home is in the US, but we make it to Europe pretty often, so I don't feel like we have to do everything all in one trip.

Posted by
166 posts

You mentioned that the focus of this trip is France (specifically Alsace), and that you get to Europe often. So perhaps with only 7 nights available on this particular trip, you may simply want to spend all your time in Alsace and leave the Berner-Oberland for another trip? I know that's a tough call, because it's such an amazingly beautiful region, but the "side-trip" to Murren doesn't seem like it gives you enough time to really do justice to that area and still give you enough time to do justice to your main goal of seeing the Alsace.

I'd skip Stuttgart altogether, especially if you plan on driving there, as dropping a car cross-border is ridiculously expensive. If you book your flight both into and out of Zurich, an itinerary like this might make sense:

Sunday: Arrive in Zurich, short train to Lucerne to get a "taste" of Switzerland while you adjust to time-zone, stay the night
Monday: Early day in Lucerne, perhaps go up Mt. Pilatus or surrounding area, pick up car, travel to Colmar, stay in Colmar
Tuesday: Colmar (either in town or tour surrounding area/wine region by car)
Wednesday: Colmar (either in town or tour surrounding area/wine region by car)
Thursday: travel to Strasbourg (train or car), stay in Strasbourg
Friday: Strasbourg
Saturday: Drive back Zurich
Sunday: Flight home

Posted by
27713 posts

A car rented in Bern or Interlaken is likely to only slow you down, and you can't take a car to the higher villages. The trains are faster, more scenic and more direct.

Posted by
16759 posts

I figured "home" was the U.S. But it is a big country. Only asking because it effects whether you should fly back from Stuttgart or Zurich.
If you want to rent a car, just rent for a few days while you are in Colmar. Even to visit Strasbourg, leave the car in Colmar and take the train. Strasbourg and cars don't go together. For a week, 3 days in Muerren and 3 days in Colmar with the last day near your departure airport.

Posted by
7124 posts

Colmar and Strasbourg are only 35mins apart by train, so choose one as your base. Colmar is the more logical choice as its closer for your travels to/from Switzerland (via Basel). That frees up a day for Bern, which is much easier to reach than Annecy in your tight time frame.
Sun, Mon - Murren
Tue, Wed, Thu - Colmar
(Visit Strasbourg as a day trip from Colmar)
Fri - Bern
Sat - Zurich

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you all so much! I'm adjusting the plans based on your advice. We are so excited!

Posted by
11805 posts

I didn't really see anyone say to train from Switzerland to Colmar. When you get to Colmar, rent a car to visit the small towns along the wine route (castles too if those interest you). The savings of renting on the French side of the border and no drop charge should be significant.

Posted by
444 posts

I agree with three days in Murren and three in Colmar. If not three days, the skip it all together and focus on France.

Posted by
171 posts

wdgerk first asked for advice on this trip last August and was planning on "leaving very soon". Maybe he/she could give us some feedback on how the trip worked out and what sights were the most memorable.

Posted by
23 posts

Sure! Such a wonderful trip! Started in Murren for 2.5 days (not long enough!!) and then spent the rest of the time in Colmar bopping around the region and going from town to town. We spent the final day and a half in Zurich and made a detour down to Lucerne - we wanted to squeeze as much in as we could and I don't think we needed more time in those cities - great for shopping and exploring but neither seemed to have world class museums, etc. Murren was the highlight by far - the views are breathtaking. It made it hard for Alsace to compete and I wish in retrospect we'd started in Colmar and then done Switzerland for that region. I also would have spent another day in Murren and less time on Colmar. I was a little disappointed to realize that Colmar and some of the local towns are recently rebuilt - they were burned down during the war. But some are still authentic. While in Colmar we drove to nearby towns and had a delicious meal at a Michelin restaurant. We also drove to visit Christine Ferbers jam shop in Niedermorschwihr, which was divine. The town is small but a good place to get lunch and 100% worth the diversion to get the worlds best jam (especially the apricot). Buy as much as you can fit in your suitcase!! My husband ordered more for me for Christmas. Planning note - we rented a car in Bern and drove the rest of the time. I'm glad we got to visit Alsace but I don't think we'll go again (crossed off the list), whereas I could be happy going to Murren every year for the rest of my life! Heaven!

Posted by
171 posts

Thanks for reviewing your experiences and letting us know what you enjoyed most. Murren's natural beauty is hard to beat and I can see why Colmar might be underwhelming in comparison. I liked Alsace because of its old towns. I particularly like Riquewihr and its Tudor-like buildings. But I did not realize that some of these cities had been rebuilt after WWII - though I knew that Strasbourg had been bombed by the Allies. In fact Alsace has a long history of being part of France or part of Germany depending on which country had the greater military strength at the time. As a result I suppose some of these cities may have been rebuilt several times over the last several hundred years.