We will be coming from Paris and can't decide if we rather spend one night in Geneva or Bern before moving into the rest of Switzerland. We plan to stay in Zermatt, Lauterbrunnen or Murren/ Gimmelwald area and maybe even Lucerne. Any ideas would help we would like to see different scenery in Switzerland. Probably will move on to Germany from there. Thanks!
Bern is closer to all of those. Geneva never thrilled me.
Absolutely Bern. Relative to other Swiss cities, Geneva ranks in the middle, at best. It is even more expensive than other Swiss cities. If you like physics, CERN is amazing and free, but other than that, I see no appeal. Bern has a very interesting medieval old town with an incredible clock tower and fascinating fountains. The Einstein museum within the larger history museum is excellent. If you like art, the Klee museum has the largest collection of Klee in the world. Visually, Bern is very unique relative to other Swiss or European cities.
Thanks! I think Im leaning towards Bern. The only thing that appealed me about Geneva was the lake but I can get that in Lucerne. any suggestions of best train rides to take to get from Bern to Zermatt, Lauterbrunnen and Lucerne (in no particular order). I was hoping to be able to do some scenic train rides like the golden pass train or the chocolate cheese train possibly... any thoughts?
Since I lived in Geneva for a time, I'll stick up for it. There's John Calvin's church (climb the bell tower for a great view of the city), the Red Cross Museum, free bikes for rent (www.geneveroule.ch), free small zoo and botanical garden, the Jet d' Eau, Science museum, and cheaper restaurants if you look for them. (Lots of to-go food at the stores.)
Perhaps consider staying in Lausanne for a lake experience. Ouchy is right on the waterfront and has a pretty promenade walk to the Olympic Museum.
any suggestions of best train rides to take to get from Bern to Zermatt, Lauterbrunnen and Lucerne (in no particular order)
You can look up the train routes at www.sbb.ch/en.
The "standard" fast route from Bern to Zermatt would be Bern to Visp, then Visp to Zermatt. This route uses the relatively new Loetschberg Base Tunnel that goes completely under the Berner Oberland mountains between Bern and Visp. There is an older route that goes mostly over the mountains using the old Loetschberg Tunnel that is slower but more scenic. There is the hourly "Loetschberger" train from Bern to Brig where you change to the train to Zermatt. To see this route on the SBB site, specify via Kandersteg using the trip planner. You could use this route either to or from Zermatt. Sit on the right side to Zermatt, of the left side from Zermatt.
Going back, you get off at Spiez and change to train to Interlaken Ost, then to Laterbrunnen. To Luzern from there, train back to Interlaken Ost, then change to the hourly Interlaken-Luzern Express that goes over the Brunig Pass and is quite scenic. This is the eastern third of the Golden Pass route.