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itinerary help for Switzerland trip please

I'll be arriving in Zurich Sept. 10 at 8:20 p.m. and departing 1:10 p.m. Sept. 23. I'm mainly interested in visiting the Berner Oberland region and have a few questions.

Should I head straight for Berner Oberland the next day (I'm thinking I should stay the night in Zurich since I get in in the evening and will be tired) or should I head somewhere else first to get over jet lag, see the sights before going to Berner Oberland and contending with altitude issues on top of jet lag? In the time I have, would you recommend I try to see any of Italy? I've been to Florence, but would love to see Venice and Rome. However, I don't want to try to pack too much in. I've never been to Switzerland before and don't know if I'd love the other areas besides the Alps as much as I would some places in adjoining countries. But, you're the experts! So I welcome your thoughts.
Thanks so much.

Posted by
889 posts

Hubby and I took a trip to Switzerland a few years ago. We flew into Zurich and made our Switzerland trip on a diagonal path from there to Geneva. We wanted to spend more time in the Berner Oberland as you are but felt we needed to see the rest of the country while there. We spent a night in Zurich, rented a car and drove to Lucerne........which we loved and stayed there for 2 nights. Taking the funicular up to Mt. Pilatus was a treat was well as seeing the Lion carving on the mountainside and eating in a restaurant alongside the old historical covered bridge on the river that winds through Lucerne....what a charming town! We drove to Lauterbrunnen and stayed 3 nights.....we stayed 2 nights in Interlaken but would not suggest it as we felt it was too touristy for our taste and you can spend a day there from your lodging in Lauterbrunnen and see all you need to see of Interlaken. Rent a scooter in Interlaken and drive around the 2 beautiful lakes that surround Interlaken......a great Sunday afternoon activity! The valley......Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, Gimmelwald........are wonderful. You can take multiple hikes and train rides out of these bases and thoroughly enjoy the valley. We drove on to Murten for a night (charming town) and on to Lausanne for 2 nights and then to Geneva. We drove to the Callier Chocolate factory right outside of Lausanne and loved touring it and enjoying lots of delicious chocolate. Geneva was a nice city but did not hold the charm of the other towns we had already visited in Switzerland......the Berner Oberland is the star in this trip but now feel like we got to enjoy Lucerne and see the rest of the country though if we go back we would only stay in Lauterbrunnen.

Posted by
7067 posts

There's no such thing as "should" when it comes to choosing places to visit. In 12 days on the ground I would not waste travel time to go to Venice or Rome.
The one thing that is quite doable, if Italy really calls you, is to head to Lake Maggiore or Lake Como for a few days. They are easily reached from the Berner Oberland or the Luzern areas.
But there is plenty to keep you busy for twelve days / thirteen nights in Switzerland. Example: 5 nights in the Berner Oberland, 2 in Zermatt, 3 by Vevey/Montreux, 3 in Luzern.

Posted by
889 posts

On our second trip to Switzerland we combined it with a few days in the Lake Como area......we always rent a car so we flew to Milan, stayed near Como for 3 nights and then drove to Berner Oberland. It was nice....the Como area is the end of the Berner Oberland days we turned in our car and trained to Venice for 4 nights. There are so many wonderful stops that are easy to get to near the Berner Oberland......I guess you just need to decide if you want a Switzerland-only trip or do you want a few days in Italy to add on to the Switzerland days. We were charmed by Venice!

Posted by
8632 posts

Dont be fooled by how close things look on the map. Switzerland has both mountain scenery and outdoor attractions, and city life of shopping, eating and museums. You have to decide your style.

Posted by
876 posts

The other poster's driving itinerary is also do-able by train quite easily, and I agree with the comments about the wonderful places. It covers the German and French speaking Switzerland very well.

If you want a taste of something different you could go to the Italian speaking Canton of Ticino (Bellinzona, Locarno, Lugano, Lake Lugano) that is just on the south side the Alps.

You can take the fast train through the Gotthard Tunnel to get there, or the Gotthard Panorama Express that includes the Lake Lucerne streamer to the south end of the lake and the slower train over the pass through the corkscrew tunnels. One day down and only a few hours back the next day.

You will have a great time.

Im not sure how to send a question;
We plan to have a driver take us from Lake Como to Milan.
We want the most efficient /easy train from Milan to Gstaad. But it appears we would have to change trains. We are elderly and difficulty with baggage.
Would it be best to take direct train from Milan to Montreux, Switz Or? and then have a driver pick us up and drive us to Gstaad?

Posted by
8889 posts

slchute3, you sound like a train newbie. Trains are designed to be an interconnecting network. You will rarely get a train from one place to another without changing trains, unless it is two big cities or two towns on the same line.
It is like saying "I want to drive from New York to Smallville, but I don't want to turn at any junctions, I want to stay on the same freeway all the way." not possible.

Handling luggage on trains is not as bad as some descriptions make is sound. And handling luggage when changing trains is no more difficult than handling it at your departure or arrival station.
Can you carry/wheel your luggage a hundred metres, up and down a flight of stairs and lift it up 2 steps into the train?

You can look up train times on the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) website:

A driver from Montreux to Gstaad would be painfully expensive.

"We plan to have a driver take us from Lake Como to Milan." - That begs two questions:
1) Where on lake Como (it is a big lake).
2) How are you getting to that place originally?


  • Do you actually want to spend time in Milan? Or do you think you have to get a car back to Milan to go anywhere? That may or may not be the case. If you just need to get from "undisclosed location on Lake Como" to Gstaad, there may be a better option.
  • How are you leaving Gstaad to go home? Train to xxx airport, or what? That would involve changing trains.
Posted by
3 posts

We just got back from Switzerland last week. We flew into Zurich and spent the first night there and then took the train over to Luzern. Zurich's old town is nice but we really enjoyed the Limatt river swimming right outside of the Marriott downtown. If you get a freak warm spell it's well worth it and free! It's a good way to hang out with the locals. We spent 2 nights in Luzern with one of those days doing a trip down to Mt. Titlis. The rotating gondola is fun but a little pricey to go all the way to the top. We did the Transportation museum the first day we were there due to it raining all day. The museum was, "meh"....After Luzern we headed down to the Berner Oberland region and stopped for a night in a town called Kandersteg. Beautiful little alpine town with a lake you can hike to and a really fun toboggan ride at the top of the mountain. Very nice. After Kandersteg we made our way down to Zermatt. We got lucky I guess and had 2 good days of clear, warm weather. Attempted the Hornli hut hike but came up a little short before turning back (next time!). Some people complain Zermatt is "touristy" but there is soooo much to see and do there. We rented electric mountain bikes (very fun) that can take you all over. Highly recommend. There's also a very impressive gorge to hike to. In addition to all of the outdoor activities, Zermatt has a plethora of restaurants and shops. Zermatt was the highlight of our trip.