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Ideas for a several days in Switzerland

We are doing a Viking river cruise and will arrive in Basel , Switzerland very early on the morning of June 4 (so we definitely have the entire day); we can leave to fly home from anywhere in the area (Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy) and plan to leave on the 7th but probably can stay till the 8th if we really want to. Looking for ideas on where to go for these 3+ days. Never been to Switzerland before and never to the far north of Italy. Lake Como maybe?? Stay in Switzerland and if so, what towns/cities? Or do Germany, France, which are so close to where we will be?? Open to taking the train but don't want to spend more than 3-4 hrs. getting to where we need to go, and hopefully, there will be a decent size airport from there that we can leave from. Totally open to all ideas! Thanks so much!

PS spending 3 days in Amsterdam before we get on the boat. Suggestions of what to see/where to stay?

Posted by
877 posts

For a possible three/four day loop - Basel is about 2 1/2 hours from Lausanne on Lake Geneva. We loved our stop there, and there are wineries along the Lake as well as first class reach-Swiss food, and of course, the Olympic Headquarters, if you are into sports. From Lausanne it is about three hours to Zermatt, which is a fabulous place in the heart of the Swiss Alps. And it about 3 hours from Zermatt to Zurich, from which it is easy to fly home to the US.

Or it is only about an hour from Basel to Zurich, or Lucerne, or Bern. You can easily find adventure in that area too, particularly the Bernese Oberland - but that deserves two days by itself to wander in the countryside.

check out for train connections.

Or do the Black Forest corner of Germany plus Strasbourg and Colmar.

Have fun.

Posted by
8656 posts

We took this cruise in 2018 and added three days on our own in Luzern. We did it independently for much, much less than the optional extension through Viking. We visited Mt Pilatus, did a lake cruise, and saw the sights of Luzern. Easy 1.25 hour train ride directly to the airport in Zurich. If you're doing your airfare through Viking, they will arrange the flight home from Zurich as a slight extra cost deviation to the included air. We took a cab from the dock in Basel (Viking pre-arranged cabs) to the SBB rail station, where we bought tickets for the 1 hour ride to Luzern (35 CHF pp). You dont have time for more than one destination with 3 days, IMO.

Posted by
907 posts

Lucerne is definitely a good choice if you only have a few days. Lovely , easily walkable city. You could also spend a day or two in Zurich before catching a flight home from Zurich. Just remember in Basel there are 3 train stations - Swiss rail, German and french. Make sure your taxi takes you to the right one.

Posted by
8651 posts

Luzern is nice, but it is the mountains that you really want to experience if you have just a few days in Switzerland! Go to the Lauterbrunnen Valley area.

Posted by
437 posts

Another option would be to go by train directly from Basel to Engelberg, and get up to Mt. Titlis if the weather cooperates. We stayed in Engelberg for 2 nights, followed by 3 nights in Luzern. It was so beautiful and quiet in Engelberg. We lucked out with a gorgeous day to go up to Mt. Titlis (3 gondolas!), and had a memorable snowy-mountaintop-in-July experience. We got off the gondola in Trubsee on the way down, ended up in a cow parade, and spent time by a gorgeous lake that had hammocks along the shores, and rowboats to use. It was a truly awesome day.

Either Engelberg or Luzern would meet your shorter distance needs. We flew home from Zurich, and took the train from Luzern the morning of our flight - right to the Zurich airport. It was very convenient.

This summer we will go to the Berner Oberland, after loving Engelberg so much, and reading so many rave reviews here on the forum for the Lauterbrunnen area. I am sure that area would be a great way to end your trip, too.

I think the north part of Italy might be a little far to go for your parameters, but it is also really beautiful. We visited Torino, Milan, Lago d'Orta, and Stresa on Lago Maggiore this past summer, and flew home from Milan. It was wonderful, and we'd love to go back there again.

If you're already in Switzerland, I'd lean towards exploring a gorgeous spot in that country - and you have the great train system to get you anywhere you'd like there, reliably and quickly. I think it is especially great that you can take the train directly to the airports in Geneva and Zurich.

Have fun!

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all so much! These are great ideas and based on what was said, we will stay in Switzerland and explore there rather than trying to go into northern Italy (will hold that for another trip). Thanks again!

Posted by
5160 posts

If you go to Luzern, get a hotel with a balcony right on the lake. You can then relax on your balcony, viewing the Chapel Bridge. With our RS Tour, we stayed at Hotel Des Alpes, and if I returned, I'd stay there again. [ It was a more upscale hotel.]
Based in Luzern, you could go to both Mt. Pilatus and Mt. Rigi as easy day trips: each involves about an hour boat ride, then a 30 minute cogwheel train ride. If you get one of the various Swiss Travel Passes, you will either have discounts, or for Mt. Rigi, full coverage of the fares.
Safe travels!

Posted by
32 posts

We did the Viking Rhine cruise last summer and got off the boat in Basel. Took a train to Lauterbrunnen. BEAUTIFUL area. I have been to Lucerne, and that is also a lovely place to visit. I would choose one of those two locations.

In Amsterdam you should tour the Anne Frank House. You have to get tickets online before you is a timed entry, but very, very well done. I had visited it many years ago, and it is much improved.

Enjoy the cruise...we loved it and are doing our second Viking cruise in July.

Again: Lauterbrunnen!! Stay in Lauterbrunnen...not Interlaken.