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Itinerary Help for September 2020

My husband and I will be traveling to Europe in September. I need advice about the order and the # of nights spent in each area of our itinerary. We plan to travel to each destination by train.

  1. Fly into Frankfurt, Germany at 0730. Bus to Cochem. Hike/tour Eltz Castle. Spend 2 nights in Cochem.
  2. Train from Cochem to Colmar, France. 3 nights including a full day wine tour
  3. Train from Colmar to Zermatt, Switzerland. 3 nights. Do as many day hikes as possible.
  4. Train from Zermatt to Lauterbrunnen. 5 nights in Murren. Hiking in the mountains/ seeing the lakes at Interlaken
  5. Lauterbrunnen to Luzern. 2 nights. Hopefully, hike around Mt. Pilatus
  6. Train to Zurich to get ready to head home 1 night. Leave Zurich.

Originally, I had us visiting Lauterbrunnen, first, then Zermatt. But after reading some comments on various forums, it seemed like a better idea to reverse the order. I didn't know if 3 nights was too much for Colmar and/or Zermatt? Do you think we would benefit from a Swiss rail pass? Am I missing a site that would fit into my itinerary? I considered Appenzell and Engleberg. Would they be better than Zermatt?

Thank you in advance for your input!

Posted by
9487 posts

Looks good as far as the Colmar and Switzerland portions to me. (I have no experience with Cochem.)

3 nights is, IMO, a minimum for Colmar and Zermatt. I am so happy to see you have 5 nights in Lauterbrunnen! One of my two favorite places for hiking in Europe. I am certain a pass will help you. Probably a Swiss Half Fare Card (HFC) and a Berner Oberland Regional Pass. The only way to know is to run a spreadsheet based on your plans, but we have used that combo several times when we visit locations across Switzerland. The BO Regional Card is exceptional for the entire Berner Oberland. It covers from Brig (where you will change trains on the way from Zermatt) to Luzern. You’ll get a further discount on the pass if you have an HFC and the HFC will serve you in all your other travels.

Posted by
1241 posts

On Zurich -- if your only reason for staying there is to be close to the airport, then you're in luck. Luzern has a direct rail link to the Zurich airport that takes 70 minutes. Departs every half-hour. Thus, you could spend your last night in Luzern and not have to spend a night in Zurich. That would free up a day to spend elsewhere. Bern also has such a rail link.

However, if your flight from Zurich leaves super early or you really want to see Zurich then disregard the above or file away for another time.

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you for your responses! It turns out that I may not be able to change the order of Lauterbrunnen/Zermatt without paying a fee, so I may just stick with my first booking of Murren first, then Zermatt. Thank you, also, for the suggestion of staying one more night in Luzerne because they have a direct route to the airport. We WERE just staying in Zurich to get a shuttle to the airport, but if we could spend another full day and night in Luzerne, that might be a better idea. Thanks again!

Posted by
15 posts

Reading on this because we are finally setting our schedule and was going to spend a night in Zurich to see it before flying back to Paris to fly home instead of staying in Luzern. Would you not suggest this for those who have been? This is our first trip

Posted by
1241 posts

I find Luzern more scenic and interesting than Zurich. It's also a better springboard for mountain peak excursions if you are so inclined.

Posted by
24 posts

Do you think it is better to stay toward the center of town in Lucerne at a hotel such as Des Alps? We were also considering staying at Seehotel Pilatus because it looks nice, but it is more removed from the center. We are interested in doing the Mt. Rigi loop via the ferry to Vitznau. We also need to consider that we have an 11:45 flight from Zurich on the day we leave. Any other suggestions of places to stay in the $200.00/night range? Thanks again for all the help.

Posted by
1241 posts

I have stayed at Des Alps twice and found it to be excellent. It's centrally located and within walking distance of the train station and ferry docks. The city's buses and trams will get you to other parts of town quickly.

With an 11:45 am flight departure, you'll want to be at the airport by 9:45, so I'd catch an 8:30 train. Check sbb.ch for the actual train schedules.

Posted by
1241 posts

You're welcome! I'm totally jelly because I doubt I can travel this year.