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How to plan 4 nights in Bernese Oberland with getting to Zurich Airport

Hello All and thanks in advance for any advice on how to plan the last stop on our vacation for this summer. My family and I are heading to Italy this July. Most of our trip is locked down…we’ll be flying into Rome, then spending 4 nights in Ancona with relatives, 4 nights in Venice, 4 nights on Lake Como…and here’s where I need help. We’d like to go up into Switzerland for 4 nights and then fly home from Zurich. Ideally we’d like to stay someplace like Lauterbrunnen or Wengen, however I’m worried about being such a journey from the airport on the day of our flight home. Yet I think it may feel like too little time in the Alps if we cut it short to spend a night or so in Zurich or someplace close to the airport.

So any suggestions how to logistically do this? Or any ideas on a home base that would allow us to enjoy this area but also not be a long journey with several connections on the day of our flight?

Posted by
7921 posts

Go go for broke and add more time than 4 nights to the end of the trip since it will take up most of the day to get to and situated in the Berner Oberland area from Lake Como; I am assuming you have not bought your flight yet.

Posted by
1443 posts

You could spend your last night in Luzern. It has a direct rail link to the Zurich airport and takes about 70 minutes. Lauterbrunnen to the Zurich airport takes 2 hours, 45 mins.

Posted by
2724 posts

I’d suggest staying no further away from the airport than Lucerne on the day of departure. Lucerne does have some great mountains, but it in no way compares to the Berner Oberland area. Can you add an extra night or two to the trip as Jazz suggests? Then you could spend time in Lauterbrunnen or Wengen and then the last night or two in Lucerne.

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks everyone! At the moment, the flight we’d be on from Zurich leaves at 1:40 pm. We’re using credits from our Italy trip that was canceled in June 2020 so we will be flying Delta. I think Lucerne alone would fit nicely into our itinerary…we could do one day trip to Pilatus, another up to Rigi, then cruise around the lake on the third day and then be an easy trip to the airport on our last day…but something makes me feel like we’d be missing something if we don’t get up to the Berner Oberland.

For anyone who’s already been there, does Lucerne with day trips to Pilatus and Rigi compare in any way to Wengen, Murren, or Lauterbrunnen?

Another thought about finding extra time, is 3 nights on Lake Como enough? That could give us 3 nights in Wengen and 2 nights in Lucerne…

Posted by
16459 posts

You can indeed spend your last night in Luzern and reach the airport the next morning. There are direct trains from Luzern right to the airport, taking little more than an hour.

So how about 3 nights Lauterbrunnen (or Wengen or Mürren) and then your last night in Luzern? The train ride between the Lauterbrunnen Valley is quite scenic and not long ( under 2.5 hours from Lauterbrunnen to Luzern, with one change at Interlaken Öst).

Where are you staying on Lake Como? If Varenna, there is a very good connection departing Varenna at 13:35, with 2 changes (Milano Centrale and Spiez) and taking 5h 20 minutes overall. Everything else will take over 6 hours. This route uses a deep tunnel for speed, so not as scenic as the mulch slower route, but well worth it in your case.

Now to choose between Lauterbrunnen, Muerren, and Wengen for your village. We all have our favorites, and you will get lots of opinions (we favor Muerren for views and the car-free aspect). It may depend on whether your goal is lots of hiking, or riding lifts and cable cars, lake boats, or taking the train to other areas. Lots of options.

Posted by
2724 posts

I wish I could say Lucerne compares to the Berner Oberland area, but it really doesn’t. From the waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen to the trips up the mountains to Murren and Wengen, it really was like another world. And my absolute favorite place was Mannlichen, a quick cable ride up from Wengen. This video shows Mannlichen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsp2XG8lPyw

I loved the trip up Mt. Rigi in Lucerne, but I wouldn’t chose that over Wengen and Mannlichen. I haven’t been to Lake Como yet, but I like your idea to reduce time there to add more to Switzerland. But, I’m obsessed with Switzerland. It just depends on what your interests are and how much moving around you want to do.

Posted by
1443 posts

If the flight leaves at 1:40, then I would stay in the Lauterbrunnen area. You could leave at 8 am and get to the airport by 11. Luzern is nice but I wouldn't deduct from the Bernese Oberland to see it.

Posted by
16459 posts

I am not advocating for choosing Luzern over the Berner Oberland; I am suggesting it would relieve some travel stress to head to Luzern for the last night, to make it easier to get to the airport in plenty or time for their flight. They can take the train to Luzern after a full day in the Berner Oberland; as long as it is still light out they can relax and enjoy the very scenic journey along the lake (Brienzersee) and over Brunig Pass. There are hotels just outside the Luzern train station so it is not a long walk to the new lodging.

Can they reach the airport from Wengen, etc. in plenty of time for their flight? Yes, they can. But then they will likely be on the faster route via Spiez and Bern, and in summer that train can be very crowded, with no seats left

We experienced that in July 2018 when we were meeting our son’s’ family on the train between Bern and Spiez on our way to Muerren. We boarded in Basel and they were coming from Zurich, so they boarded our train at Bern. I had reserved seats for all 6 of us in Car 5, but the platform was so crowded they could not board that car, they had to get on the very last car and then try to make their way forward a very crowded train with their luggage and 2 6-year-olds. It took them half the way to Spiez to reach us, and in the meantime I had to get pretty fierce about defending their reserved seats, not knowing if they had even made it on the train (I could not spot them on the platform).

I knew to receive the seats on that Intercity train because we had a bad experience with a crowded train on our way to Zurich airport from Brig on a previous trip——I think it was our 2007 Swiss trip but could have been another. There was some big event in Zurich that day (unbeknownst to us) and tons of people were heading to the city for the day. We never did find seats—-we spent the whole ride standing in the open space at the end of the car.

And on yet another trip there was track work that required a substitute bus for part of the journey—-which meant getting off the train, boarding a bus for the transfer, and then getting back on another train to Zurich, changing at the Zurich main station (which can be a challenge). When I originally planned our route to the airport that day there was no construction noted on the website, and I chose a train that went directly into the aiprort from Bern. The best laid plans. . . .

The Swiss rail system is VERY reliable, and it is not that I don’t trust it to be on schedule—-but tourism has become so popular that the trains are much more crowded these days than they were when we first started going there for our hiking trips in the early 2000’s.

Of course with all the covid restrictions and fewer tourists (probably none coming from Asia), it was not crowded at all in 2021, but who knows what 2022 will bring?

Posted by
1078 posts

You guys are all braver than me! When I'm planning for my trip home after a long trip I have to stay fairly close to the departing airport because I've had to many times where flights were changed or other unforeseen events changed the plans. Lucerne would be fine, and I've taken that very train to the airport before to leave.

Most of the time I try to stay in the town of departure the night before a flight and sometimes I'll even get a hotel close to the airport just to make the morning connections easy. I don't like to be rushed when I'm getting to the airport and getting through all the lines and now days, getting Covid tested and eventually getting on the plane.

This is probably because I still work and I need to get back because I have to go to work the next day!

Posted by
1716 posts

You have listed nights in each city. Please keep in mind your travel time expended to get to your destinations. This eats into your sight seeing opportunities. Your trip from the Berner Oberland to Zurich airport (2:42) is the shortest trip you will have on your trip.

For example,

Rome to Ancona is a 3.5-4.5 hour train trip.

Ancona to Venice is a 4-4.5 hour train trip.

Venice to Como, for instance is 3-4 hour train trip

Como to Lauterbrunnen is a 5-5.5 hour train trip with several change of trains

I would only spend 3 nights on Lake Como and add a night in the Alps. Luzern is very nice, but you are already spending time on Lake Como. As someone stated, there isn't a comparison of Luzern and the B/O. The B/O is majestic.

As far as where to stay the night before a flight, I always stay right in the city from which I am departing. I shorten the distance to the airport so I do not feel rushed. I would leave the B/O the day before about 3:00pm, get to the Zurich airport around 6pm, check into an airport hotel, have a nice meal and relax until the next morning. Plenty of morning time to get packed, checkout and traverse the world of the Zurich airport in 2022. Good luck and enjoy.

Posted by
4465 posts

I'm voting with Donald, especially nowadays, too much can happen with a flight. Either stay the last night in Zurich or, even better, at the airport. You'll catch your breath, get some rest and be at the gate so GD early you'll meet the pilot. And if you get a last minute text from Delta, which is quite possible, you can adapt and improvise. Even Luzern to the airport is risky, too many variables. And if you miss a flight, well Delta is not likely to do you any favors. Or any other airline, all flights are packed full these days far in advance.

Posted by
3139 posts

We regard a night at a soulless airport hotel as a wasted night in Europe, especially if the flight doesn’t leave til afternoon. We don’t need a relaxing morning; there will be plenty of time to relax on the plane. Until then, I want as much time as I can get in Europe, not at an airport hotel.

And unless you stay in one of the hotels that is actually IN the airport (Hyatt, Radisson Blu), it can take as long to get to the airport check-in on the shuttle or taxi from a nearby airport hotel as it would from downtown Zurich (that ride is 10 minutes, +/- 1 minute) and there are trains every few minutes.

But Lucerne has a lot more charm than Zurich, and it is only one hour more—-an hour 10 minutes total. We are glad we took that option after reading about it here before our trip about 10 years ago. We stayed at a nice hotel in a room overlooking the river and famous bridge, and found a great little local place for our last dinner in Switzerland. And then a walk along the river to the lake on the lakeside promenade path (repeated in the morning as a run). A very nice ending to a perfect trip. I don’t remember the name of the little bistro but the Hotel was Hotel des Balances.

And it is so easy, with the direct trains from Lucerne right into the airport station. I looked at the schedule on SBB.ch and there are now two per hour.

Posted by
1820 posts

Can you shave a night off lake como? I would go to the Berner Oberland fo 4 nights. Leave early on last full day for Luzern. That gives you the rest of the day and maybe part of the next morning in Luzern. There should be 2 trains per hour to Zurich airport. One requires a change of trains.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you for helping me to figure out the end of our itinerary! Our hotels and airfare are all booked and I am so excited! We decided on 3 nights in Ancona, 4 nights in Venice, 4 nights in Menaggio on Lake Como, 4 nights in Wengen, then one night in Lucerne before heading to the airport in Zurich. I’m so glad we worked it out to include Wengen into the trip…I know it will 100% be worth the effort!

Posted by
2724 posts

Excellent choice on Wengen. You will love it!!! If you're not tired of Italian food after Italy, check out Pasta and More. They have a fabulous caesar salad. And there was a little ice cream cart in front of the Coop grocery store that had the best vanilla ice cream according to my bro in law. Have a great trip!!!