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Best City To Visit

During a 14 day trip visiting Germany, Austria, France and England, we are planning on a stop in Switzerland. I have heard many people say that Zurich is not worth the time and that other cities were more authentic. Would anyone have any suggestions? Is Lucerne a better place to visit? If it helps, we will be driving from Austria thru Leichtenstein into Switzerland and back out to Germany via France.

Thanks!

Posted by
650 posts

I agree. Luzern all the way. Stayed 5 nights this past September and could have stayed longer.

Posted by
6850 posts

Don't forget to pickup toll cards in both Austria and Switzerland or you could face substantial violations.

Eastern France is pretty, but it's not the absolutely knock dead scenery you're going to see in the Austrian and Swiss Alps. I'd bypass it unless you have a good reason to go there.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks David. Can you elaborate on toll cards? If this is something common, I am sure that our friends that live there should be aware of them. Eastern France is just a drive through back to Germany. We are spending 4 days in Paris then 4 days in London before coming home.

Posted by
12040 posts

How is Zürich, the largest city and the chief economic engine of one of the richest countries in the world not "authentic"? Because it doesn't fit some out-dated folksy stereotype of yodeling cow herders kept alive soley for the benefit of tourists?

Sorry for the rant... when I lived in Germany, a friend of a friend who was staying with me on a visit made ridiculous comments to my neighbor about how the village where we lived was not "authentically German" because it didn't fit her fairy tale preconceptions.

But anyway, the "toll cards" are vignette stickers that you buy at the border. You need them to drive on the Autobahn networks in Switzerland and Austria.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks Tom for the information on the toll cards. As for Zurich, from what I have been told, unless you are very fond of banks or have never seen an American major city, skip it. I am now planning on visiting Luzern based on the information provided to me.

Posted by
1055 posts

I think Zermatt (where the Matterhorn is located) or Lauterbrunnen would be a good choice.

Posted by
650 posts

"I think Zermatt (where the Matterhorn is located) or Lauterbrunnen would be a good choice."

The OP specifically mentioned cities.

Posted by
270 posts

Lucerne. As far as cities go this is probably what you are looking for.

Zurich, meh. Expensive, loud, lots of people (perhaps too many). If you haven't seen NY or Frankfurt then sure, visit Zurich to get that big-city feel. Just instead of a big American or German city it is a big Swiss city. Some great bars, good music venues, museums even. Still a big city.

I enjoy my time in Lucerne more. A good place to both see things (the lake and the boats thereon, the Lion, the transportation museum--that rocks, the peaks around the lakes, the bridges, the night and street life that is vibrant) and relax and recharge.

Also, the badges/stickers for driving in Switzerland--get them at the border. They pretty much look at your car, inform you that you do not have one (if you don't), and tell you how much you are going to have to pay them (right then) to get one that they then affix to your car window.

Posted by
27461 posts

They pretty much look at your car, inform you that you do not have one
(if you don't), and tell you how much you are going to have to pay
them (right then) to get one that they then affix to your car window.

You can get them ahead, if you wish. The Swiss Vignette is available by post, the Austrian at many filling stations approaching the Austrian border.

The Swiss Vignette costs CHF 40 and is valid for up to 14 months - from December in the previous year, all the named year on the Vignette and through the following January, or from when you buy it through the remainder of the printed year plus the following January.

The Austrian Vignette can be for as short as 10 days; last year it cost €7.90.

Posted by
27461 posts

By the way, you may be driving through Liechtenstein to cross off another country on the list but don't get your hopes up too high. There are plenty of other places in Switzerland with more impressive vistas.

When you use the word "city" do you mean actual large agglomerations of people in a place called a city, or do you mean towns and villages as well as cities in the more general sense?

Posted by
270 posts

When you use the word "city" do you mean actual large agglomerations of people in a place called a city, or do you mean towns and villages as well as cities in the more general sense?

If you just mean 'large agglomerations of people' places like Chamonix, Saas Fee, and Zermatt do pop into the picture. A LOT of PEOPLE, just relatively (extremely?) strict building codes and in some cases no cars...

Posted by
2412 posts

I enjoyed a day trip to Lucerne but I'm not sure there's enough to do for several days.

I'd recommend Bern as a city that's easy to handle and has stuff worth seeing and doing.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you all for the replies!

Yes, to be honest we are going through Lichtenstein for the passport stamp and a quick visit. As for the toll cards, our friend and driver lives in Germany and should have that taken care of. When I refer to "city" I am talking in a general sense. I am looking to visit towns, villages as well as cities such as Munich, Paris, London, Brussels, etc.

Posted by
16883 posts

Luzern is great city for visitors, with mountain and lake access, museums, etc. If you want a smaller-town Alpine experience, you could head into the Berner Oberland. You could find a hotel with parking in the valley at Lauterbrunnen, or use public parking if you want to stay further up the mountain in Muerren. We consider the Alps to be the highlight of Switzerland, whereas larger cities built on the flatter land are less special for tourists.

Posted by
27461 posts

You can check off countries on your list, but I'm afraid your passport will remain pristine. No stamps as you cross borders in the Schengen area, including Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Posted by
15 posts

Nigel - regarding the passport stamps, if you know is it possible to ask for the stamp? I know when we cross into Canada there are no stamps, but if asked, they will stamp your book.

Posted by
31435 posts

Mike,

I would also enthusiastically recommend Lucerne. It's a beautiful city and there's lots of great sightseeing in that area.

Posted by
4645 posts

There are no such things as borders between European countries any more. When you drive into Liechtenstein, it is like driving over a state border in the US. In other words, there is no one to even ask for a stamp at the border. If you want to get a souvenir, you can go to the visitor center and they will put a stamp in your passport for money. Seems like a waste of money to me.