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going to Switzerland on mid Aug

My husband and I are going to Switzerland on Mid Aug. We can have four days there. We are going from Paris by train and leaving from Zurich by plane. We hope to visit Geneve, Interlaken, Luzern and Zurich. Can you please give us some advise on the trip planning?

Posted by
1 posts

Hello,

I used to live in Switzerland for a few years, so I have travel quite a bit. First off, I would strongly suggest going to Lausanne instead of Geneva. Geneva is nice, but it is more of a metropolitain city, and lacks the swiss charm. Lausanne is more charming and has much better views of the mountains. In Lausanne, I would suggest taking a long walk by the lake (there is a pathway that travels right next to the lake for miles). You could also walk through the vineyards, which are a unesco world heritage sight.

Both Interlaken and Luzern are nice. Zurich is a bit more metropolitan, but the old section is very nice.

Because these places are not too far away and the Swiss train system is amazing, I think four stops in four days is actually doable (normally I would never suggest this). Have you looked in to the price of the train tickets for traveling to all of these places? Use SBB.ch to look up the prices. You can also find info about train passes, but I would crunch the number before you buy one (I have never found them to be worth it for me). When you are in Zurich, you absolutely should go to this Hiltl. http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g188113-d697846-r76044891-Hiltl-Zurich.html#photos. The chef is absolutely amazing, and the diversity of the food was incredible. I should also say that I am not vegetarian, and neither were any of my friends, and we all still loved it.

Posted by
5 posts

Your advise is for logging in different places for each night? Will it be possible for us to stay in just one or two places as the base?Thanks.

Posted by
7205 posts

I definitely think you should come from Paris - bypass Geneva and head straight for the Lauterbrunnen Valley (Interlaken Area). Do not stay in Interlaken as it's not what you're coming to Switzerland to see. I'm guessing you want to see the beautiful alps, and the Lauterbrunnen Valley is where you'll find that. You have 4 days. Does that mean 4 nights sleeping in Switzerland or only 3 nights?

If you have only 3 nights I would spend 2 in Lauterbrunnen (or the surrounding alpine villages of Murren or Wengen) and the last night you could spend near the Zurich Main Train Station or actually you could spend it in Lucerne which is only 50 minutes by train to Zurich.

If you have 4 nights then I'd spend 3 in Lauterbrunnen and 1 in either Lucerne or Zurich.

Geneva is not the quintessential Swiss City, Interlaken is best used as a hub of rail connections, stay in Lauterbrunnen instead and change trains at Interlaken Ost to get there.

Posted by
31471 posts

It's your trip but I most definitely agree with the others. Unless you have some specific reason to visit the places you mentioned, I'd skip Geneve, Interlaken and Zürich. One other point to consider is that if you have only four days, you won't have time to really see all four places. It would help to know what you're most interested in seeing in Switzerland?

Without having more detailed information, it's difficult to make specific suggestions but something like this might work.....

  • D1 - Train from Paris to Lauterbrunnen. One of the quickest trips will be a departure from Gare de Lyon at 10:23, arriving Interlaken Ost at 15:28 (time 5H:05M, one change at Basel SBB). From Interlaken Ost you'll transfer to the small Berner Oberland Bahn for the short 20 minute trip to Lauterbrunnen. Be sure to check the digital display on the side of the car for the destination, as that train sometimes "splits" at Zweilütschinen, with the end cars going to Grindelwald.
  • D2 - Sightseeing (trip to Mürren, Gimmelwald, Schilthorn or Wengen and Jungfraujoch). You'll probably only have time for one side of the valley.
  • D3 - Train to Lucerne (1H:51M direct from Interlaken Ost), sightseeing (Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument, lake cruise).
  • D4 - Sightseeing Lucerne
  • D5 - Depending on what time your flight is, you should be able to travel to Zürich airport from Lucerne. There are direct trains from Lucerne to the Zürich airport with a travel time of 1H:03M. If you have a late morning / early afternoon flight, that would save changing hotels and staying in Zürich for the last night.

Good luck with your planning.

Posted by
11288 posts

Remember that mountain weather is both unpredictable and rapidly changing. So, you want to spend as much time in the Alps as possible. If you go for one night and it rains or is cloudy, you will not have a good experience.

Do try to stay in Mürren, or at least Lauterbrunnen, instead of Interlaken, unless you must have a casino and a "Paksitani" restaurant (yes, that's what the sign said). Interlaken is near the Alps, but these other places are in the Alps - big difference in the experience.

If you can, get a copy of Rick Steves Switzerland. He has great tips for these areas, including agreeing with the posts above that time in Switzerland is best spent in places other than Geneva, Zurich, and Interlaken.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all the advises.

We have only four days three nights in Switzerland. The flight from Zurich back home is at night of the 4th day. We hope to cover Berner Oberland and Luzern, but don't want to be too rush either. From Paris, should we go straight to Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Gimmelwald or Schilthorn? We hope to go to Luzern after that, so which one will be the better place to base for two nights? Or should we just stay there for three nights and go direct to Zurich and forget about Luzern?
In mid August, should we prepare winter clothing for the trip?

Posted by
7205 posts

Paris to Lauterbrunnen then stop for the night or Paris all the way to Murren. To me once you arrive in Lauterbrunnen you're practically in Murren.

Paris -> Lauterbrunnen 5.5 hours
Paris -> Murren 6 hours

Posted by
27752 posts

Lia, with only 3 nights, you are really pushed for time.

If you don't want to be rushed then don't rush here and there.

By the time you have checked out of your place in Paris - after breakfast? - and reach and board the TGV, and after 6 or so hours of travel, that's that day done.

You can go straight through to Muerren and take your welcome drink out onto the balcony and enjoy the fabulous views over to the Monch, the Eiger, and the Jungfrau which seems so close you could reach out and touch it, and watch the sun go down. You will never forget it.

Then there are so many things to do in the area you won't run out of interest in the short time you will be there.

Then on your last day ride the train back down the hill to Lauterbrunnen and then down to Interlaken Ost. You don't say when in the late day your flight from Zurich is, but can we assume that you have time for a nice train ride on the way?

If so, depending on your preferences on the day, and the time you have available, you could ride over the Brunig Pass on a cog railway to Luzern - it is really really beautiful - and take the train to the airport from there.

Or if you have a bit more time you could take the lake steamer along the Brienzersee (Lake Brienz) and collect your same train at Brienz, and continue to Luzern for the airport.

Or if you have even more time, you could leave your luggage at Luzern station and walk the extremely short distance into Luzern, probably over the old (recently restored after a fire) covered bridge and have a look around, then back, collect your bags and off to the airport.

That would mean missing Geneva and missing an overnight in Luzern and missing most of Luzern and all of Zurich, but I am willing to bet that you would have a trip to remember for the rest of your life, and a relaxing one.

Posted by
5 posts

We realized that our flight back home from Zurich is actually in the morning at 11.45. We are thinking to leave Paris one day earlier, so we can have 5 days four nights in Switzerland. The itinerary you suggested sounds fun, but we are a bit worried about all the train changing on the way to Murren with all our luggage....

Posted by
31471 posts

liao,

Changing trains in Europe is generally fairly easy, even with luggage. Of course, packing light is definitely an advantage. The trip from Interlaken Ost to Mürren is not difficult at all, as the Swiss have an exceptionally efficient transportation system.

Posted by
16836 posts

Flying out of Zurich at 11:45 am, you can definitely stay in Luzern. There is a train at 8:10 am that will take you to the airport at 9:13. In Muerren, just have clothes to keep you warm in the evening. The mountain top stations can be cool and windy, and be prepared for rain. Unlikely to see anything colder than 10 deg C (50 deg F).

Posted by
7205 posts

Once you get to Interlaken Ost the next train changes get smaller and smaller and smaller.