My husband and I are wanting to do a 7 day tour through the Berner Oberland area of Switzerland in July. Any ideas where we should fly into? Also we will be traveling to Birmingham, England after this trip for business. Any suggestions on a fun way to do this? Thank you...would welcome any ideas for must-sees in Switzerland.....we have never been there.
Zurich airport is the main international hub for Switzerland. There is a train station right at the airport. Basically 2 trains every hour connecting to Interlaken for a 2+ hour trip.
Must sees, anything your eyeballs alight on in the Berner Oberland.
Jane, I would suggest flying into Zurich. At the Zurich airport train station, which is directly under the building across from the main terminal, you can buy a Swiss Transfer Ticket. This provides 1) a free ride to your single destination, which in this case is somewhere in the Berner Oberland, 2) 50% discount on all transportation while in the B.O. Includes a 50% discount on transportation to and from the tops of the Jungfrau and the Schilthorn, and 3) free transportation back to the airport. Not bad.
From Zurich to Birmingham, I see that Swiss Air will fly you there non-stop for $1,690. Ouch! Alternatively, I see flight costs of as low as $171 if you are willing to spend 11hrs to 13hrs on two different airlines with one stop and a plane change in the middle somewhere. British Airways can get you London from Zurich but they have no flights from London to Birmingham. Oddly, Air France and Air Lingus do with intermediate stops in their home countries. This second method with 2 different airlines may be the only reasonable way. Third, you can fly BA to Heathrow, take the bus to London Victoria Station and then take another bus from Victoria Station to Birmingham for 10GBP. Trip takes about 3hrs. Maybe Nigel has a better solution.
Thank you Larry for your quick response!
It does look like flying into Zurich might be the best bet. We are considering taking a train to Birmingham....do you know if there is one? What about the Chunnel?
We have rented cars in Italy, Germany and Austria so that is not new to us. Some people suggest trains only in Switzerland.......your feelings on this?
Jane, for your time in Switzerland, you will experience trains, gondolas, possible buses if you plan on visiting the Berner Oberland. All are excellently timed to work with each other. You will enjoy all of it. As for a train to Birmingham, from Switzerland via the channel tunnel, you will need to get to Paris first. It's about a 6.0hr. train ride from the B.O. to Paris via a train change in Basel. Your Swiss Transfer Ticket will work for your Swiss exit at Basel. At Paris, you will have to change train stations from Gare de Lyon to Gare du Nord to pick up the Eurostar train to St. Pancras. Note two things about the Eurostar train. 1) by buying early, you can get some really great fares. You will need to plan well as you will be locked into these tickets. 2) you need to be checked in by 30 minutes before the departure time.
Now you are at St. Pancras. For the train to Birmingham, you have to get to the London Euston train station. Guess what? When you walk out of the front of the St. Pancras train station, you will be on Euston Road. How lucky can you get. Turn right and walk 4-5 blocks to the London Euston train station. Here's a link to a picture of three train stations along Euston (Kings Cross is the 3rd).
As you walk southwest on Euston to the train station, the first large building you will pass is the fabulous British Library. Hope you have time to visit. The Magna Carta is in there along with some 1st editions of some of the greatest books ever. Nice cafeteria on the second floor as well. Hope you have some time for a visit. The train ride to Birmingham takes about 90 minutes. Fare is about 52GBP.
You're looking at about 10 hours by train from Basel. 4 hours to Gare de Lyon, 1 1/2 hour transfer and check in allowance to Gare du Nord, 2 hour 17 minutes to St Pancras, 25 minute transfer allowance to Euston Station, 1 1/2 hours to Birmingham New Street. SBB is quoting 190 chf as far as London St Pancras non refundable.
As the others have mentioned, flying inbound to Zürich is probably the best solution. There's a rail station right at the airport, and your trip to Interlaken Ost will be ~2H:15M with one or two changes.
After spending three or four days in the Berner Oberland, you might consider spending the remaining time in Lucerne. It's a beautiful city and while there you could take a day trip to Mt. Pilatus or one of the cruises on the lake. Be sure to walk along the historic Chapel Bridge!
For the trip from Switzerland to Birmingham, one method you might consider is to travel to Basel-Mulhouse (EuroAirport). The trip from Interlaken Ost will be ~1H:30M with one change (the last leg will be via Bus). EasyJet has flights to Manchester on Mon-Wed-Fri-Sun, most of which are afternoon flights. As I recall, there's a rail station at Manchester Airport and the trip to Birmingham New Street will be ~2 hours with one change. I'm not familiar with the stations in Birmingham, so Nigel or one of the others will have to clarify which is the correct station.
EasyJet also offers daily flights to London / LGW, all of which appear to be morning flights. The trip from LGW to Birmingham will be ~2H:30M but a bit more challenging as you'll first need to travel to London Victoria and then transfer to one of the other London stations for the trip to Birmingham.
After arrival in the U.K., another option might be to use National Express Coach from the whichever airport you use to Birmingham, but I haven't checked the details on that. I also haven't checked other budget airlines, as there may be additional options.
In this case, two short rail trips and a budget flight seem like a better solution than a long torturous rail journey.