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Help with 6 day itinerary in May

Hi all,

I've been reading various topics about Switzerland and I'm feeling extremely overwhelmed. Will be the first time visiting Switzerland for me and my 70 year old dad. We both like scenery (I think more so me), don't mind museums, both enjoy history. My dad is in fantastic shape given his age, but short hikes are ideal (2 hours-3 hours RT would be ideal).

We're planning on going to Switzerland from May 14th and leaving early morning of May 20th out of Geneva. We will be coming from Paris. Seems like Berner Oberland and Mt Jungfrau are must sees. Here are my questions in which I'd be SO grateful to in offering any advice.

a) Which would be the best city to arrive in from Paris (via Train)?
b) Which base would be better - Interlaken or Lucerne?
c) I was thinking of staying four nights in Interlaken, then doing one night in Lausanne and another in Geneva but I feel it might be too rushed. Would three nights in Interlaken, two nights in Lausanne and then one in Geneva make more sense? Or would there be a better itinerary that might offer some other views than staying in Lausanne before heading into Geneva?
d) I see people suggesting Interlaken as a base due to the questionable weather we might encounter mid May.

All questions aside, what would be the best itinerary for this trip?


Posted by
20461 posts

Best train route would be the TGV-Lyria train to Basel, then Swiss train from there to your destination. Lauterbrunnen might be a better base to visit the Berner Oberland. If you do wake up to a fine day, you will be there ready to hit it right away instead of riding the train from Interlaken. Weather can turn on a dime in that area. At least 3 days there, maybe your best weather will be on day 4 and you can get the Jungfraujoch in and still get to Lausanne that evening.

Posted by
139 posts

We were in the area from May 21 to May 24 in 2014 and enjoyed 'Chamber of Commerce' weather - almost literally it could not have been better - just a little rain early one morning with otherwise mostly clear skies. Having said that - having 3 days in the area was very handy because one day the cable cars to the Schilthorn were closed because of wind even though the skies were clear and blue. And the day that we did enjoy the Schilthorn - the Jungfraujoch was socked in with clouds (basically the cloud behind the flag in the middle of the picture)...having an extra day (or even two) to let mother nature run her course is very handy - and lets you get those stunning alpine views.

We stayed in Interlaken (in fact we've never stayed anywhere else in Switzerland :-) simply because we had stayed there before - but it does add 20 minutes (if you have a car) or more to any trip to either side of the Lauterbrunnen valley. Many folks recommend the town of Lauterbrunnen, but it is smaller and a bit harder to get to than Interlaken.

There are many easy hikes on both sides of the valley - take the cable cars or train up and then wander your way from village to village as far down (or sideways) as you like - have a pizza and meet new friends - then when you get tuckered out take a ride back to the valley floor.

Have fun!

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for both of your responses!! It will help a lot in deciding what to do. I shall go directly to Basel and then decide where to go from there. =)

Posted by
11488 posts

By all means stay in Lauterbrunnen! You will be right amidst the mountains and it is far lovelier and quainter than Interlaken. You'll save time each day when you head out to hike. Rick Steves' guide to Switzerland describes several easy hikes that are unforgettable.

Posted by
27419 posts

Geneva and Lausanne are just a bit more than 30 minutes apart by train, so in the absence of a compelling reason to overnight in both, I'd pick a hotel in one of those cities and stay put.

Posted by
4 posts

So the advice would be to stay in Lauterbrunnen instead of Interlaken despite the possibility of bad weather? I was reading another thread and they said it helped to stay in Interlaken and view how the weather is before heading out. If it doesn't really matter, then it does seem like Lauterbrunnen is the better choice.

I only thought of staying in Lausanne because it seems nicer than Geneva. We have to head to Geneva due to catching a plane at 9:45am in the morning. If there is no real difference and I can just head into Lausanne from Geneva I guess it will probably be better to stay in Geneva?

Thanks for everyone's input. It has been extremely valuable as I felt I was drowning in information. This gives a much clearer picture.

Posted by
139 posts

Speaking as someone that is comfortable staying in Interlaken (more than once) - I would say that staying in Lauterbrunnen gives you a head start on anything that you might want to do in the Lauterbrunnen valley/above the valley. If your preferred alternate 'things to do' ideas in case of weather are for things outside the valley then stay in Interlaken, but there are other things to do in the valley even if the weather is sketchy so I wouldn't stay in Interlaken just because of weather concerns. Just walking along the valley floor in the rain will give you some pretty dramatic views...

Also the weather often moves fast through the valley - example:
This was our view of the entrance to the Lauterbrunnen Valley from the window of our B&B at 0830.
This was our view from the Trummelbach Falls entrance toward the town of Lauterbrunnen and the valley entrance at 1130.
This was our view from the Schilthorn at 1330.

If we had chosen a Lake Cruise in the morning instead of visiting the Falls we would have missed a pretty good visit to the Schilthorn.

Lauterbrunnen is a village sitting in the middle of one of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet while Interlaken is a small town with bigger hotels that offers more 'town stuff' - that sits in the middle of some pretty darn good landscapes itself - it's only a tough choice because they are both excellent!

Posted by
11294 posts

If you're coming to Switzerland for large hotels, large supermarkets, sex shops, casinos, jewelry stores, or a "Paksitani" restaurant (that's what the sign said, like Punxsutawney Phil from Groundhog Day), then stay in Interlaken. Otherwise, stay in Lauterbrunnen.

If you do want to go to Interlaken for any reason (I went for a half day - the Tourism Museum was of some interest), it's only 20 minutes from Lauterbrunnen.

Geneva airport has its own train station, with direct trains from Lausanne, and they start about 5:15 AM, so there's no need to stay in Geneva just to catch your flight.

Do get Rick's Switzerland book. I know it's a bit hard to figure out his Berner Oberland chapter before you go, but once you're there it will all make sense. Other than his overemphasis on Gimmelwald, I found it one of his best books.