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Itinerary Help from Munich to Switzerland

Going on an Europe tour over the summer (July). Our tour will end in Munich in the morning. We (5 adults) want to visit Switzerland for 4 days. Should we start our tour in Zurich or Lucerne and what is the best way to reach that destination? We will need to fly back to CA and FL from there. Please help with the itinerary (rail pass, accommodations, activities, etc.) as I don't know where to begin. I was in Switzerland over 10 years ago and visited Mt. Stanserhorn but that is all a blur. I would like to go there again with my family. Thank you for your help!

Posted by
251 posts

Sorry to say it, but I think your question is too general to expect a lot of help from the forum.
It seems like you want to go to Switzerland but are not really sure why....

It is easy to take the train from Munich to Zurich, use thetrainline.com or some other consolidator
site to research train tickets and fares. To get to Lucerne, you will most likely need to pass thru or
connect in Zurich anyways.

If you are in Switzerland, I suspect Zurich is the best airport to plan to fly back to the US from.
If that is the only rail travel you plan to take, I suspect a rail pass (e.g Swiss half-price card) is
not worth getting. Just buy the tickets.

As for accommodations, activities, etc, you haven't given any idea of what your preferences are,
regions of interest, budget, etc. Adding that would, I think, give folks more specifics to help you.

Finally, 4 days is not all that much time, so I'd consider limiting it to 1 or 2 destinations at the most.

Posted by
409 posts

I disagree with some of the advise above. Do not use a ticket consolidator. Look at train options from Munich to Switzerland via SBB.ch - the actual Swiss rail website. I’d recommend training from Munich > Zurich > Luzern or the Berner Oberland and spending your 4 days there all in one spot. Either Luzern or somewhere like Wengen. There is plenty to occupy you in those areas for 4 days. For Luzern, possibly look into the Tell train pass or for the Wengen (Berner Oberland) area, look into the Berner Oberland pass. In looking at what those passes cover you’re going to see a lot of the great activity options to research to see what strikes your fancy.

Once you’ve looked into those options and see if either area feels like a good fit for you, then come back with some ideas and we can help refine your itinerary.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you for your inputs and insights. We are an older group of travelers in our early-late 50s. There was an interest in visiting Switzerland after our tour to Munich, Prague, and Vienna with a tour company. My family expressed interest in seeing the Matterhorn and I would love to take them on easy excursions that don't require them to be in top physical shape. I am interested in taking the funicular and the tram in addition to the trains. From my readings, Switzerland is a small country and you can travel to many destinations using the train (approx. 30 mins.-2 hours to many places). As I'm the unintended trip planner, the visit would mostly be a must-see of some of the most beautiful places in a short amount of time.

To put this specifically, we have a 9-day tour starting in Munich, to Prague, to Vienna. Our tour will end on 7/9/24 with a breakfast ceremony (LOL!). From there, we will be completely on our own. Thus, we need to travel from 7/9-7/12 or 7/13 giving us enough time to recover back at home before heading back to work.

Should we base our accommodations in Lucerne or Zurich, or should our accommodations change each day? We don't want to hull our luggages everywhere and would rather do day tripping and returning to crash each night. Any other suggestions? What transportation pass might be best? Is the Visitor Card only good for one area like Lucerne? Thanks again! We are not seasoned travelers so this will be our second time out of the country!

Posted by
1625 posts

Luzern is a good base, as there is a lot to see there. You could easily spend 4 days there.
But if you want to see the Matterhorn you need to get to Zermatt. You can easily spend a lot of time there as well.

Use www.sbb.ch to have an idea about travel times. But for tickets from Munich to Switzerland you are better off going to bahn.de
You can book a ticket there form Munich to Luzern or Munich to Zermatt, or Munich to pretty much anywhere in Switzerland.

Posted by
20032 posts

Hate to say it, but the Berner Oberland will give you the biggest bang for your short time, if you want to be surrounded by breath-taking scenery. Book into Wengen or Muerren for 3 nights, then go to Luzern for your last night. You can get a train to Zurich Airport in just over 1 hour on the 13th for your flight home.

Of course, Zermatt is a possibility, just a bit longer travel time to and from. And Luzern is the simplest logistics with lots of things to do and day trips from there. You mentioned the Stanserhorn, but you also have boat rides on the lake, ride up to the Rigi Kulm with 3 different ways to return. And the 45 minute train ride to Engelberg for the high Alps and a cable car ride to Mt Titlis.

Now, it is only a matter of deciding which one you want. Direct trains to Zurich from Munich are at 6:54, 8:54, 10:54, etc.

Posted by
2943 posts

Germany’s rail website is: https://int.bahn.de/en. Lately I’ve had problems with SBBs website.
You need five nights for the Lauterbrunnen Valley so I say go to Lucerne instead. From München Hbf (Munich’s central station) take a train to Lucerne that requires a transfer in Zurich (4h 45).

Posted by
251 posts

While I understand wanderweg's point, I would offer the following regarding purchase of
train tickets:

  • I didn't suggest that OP purchase tickets on trainline (although I think that's just fine), only
    to research times and options. The trainline UI and website are a lot easier to navigate
    and understand for a newcomer.

  • I may have used the term "consolidator" a bit too broadly. Rail Europe (which I would not
    suggest using) is different than trainline, which I think is great.

  • while the national rail sites are complete and accurate, we've all seen issues at times with
    things like credit card processing, translation, and knowing the local things like having/
    not having a Swiss half-price card.

For the small amount of surcharge that trainline charges, it does make things easier if you're
doing this for the first time and unsure of things. But if you can navigate the national sites
(it's fine with a bit of practice), by all means purchase from there.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you all for your help, especially Sam and Wanderweg. I have a skeletal outline of what to see and do. I'm still stuck on the transportation aspect still. We want to leave Munich as soon as possible. The earliest one on the ECE 196 train departs at 8:54. The journey would take us to Zurich HB arriving at 12:27. From here, we would need to transfer to Pl 32 and have 8 minutes to do so. I think that means platform 32?. The train departs at 12:35 and arrives at 13:25 in Lucerne. Is that enough time for us to haul ourselves and our belongings? We have never taken a train before.

Additionally, we will need to return to Zurich to catch our flight back home to the US. Do we need to buy another set of train tickets back or will the Tellpass or the Swiss Travel Pass cover that trip back? Thank you so much!

Posted by
20032 posts

No, you will arrive at track 32 in the underground section of Zurich HB. The train to Luzern should leave from upstairs. You take the escalator up one level to the Sihlquai Passage, a corridor with escalators up to each platform upstairs. Just walk to the escalator marked for your next trains Track. Take that up and the train will be right there waiting for you. Should take about 3 minutes. If you are late, there will be another direct train to Luzern in about 30 minutes. Just take that one.

PS I see you will be going to Track 8, which is almost directly above Track 32, so you will only have to walk about 30 ft in the Sihlquai Passage to the escalator up to Track 8.

To your last question, you do not need a Swiss Travel Pass if you get the Tell Pass. You buy your ticket from Munich to Luzern from Deutsche Bahn and the leg to Luzern is included. With a 3-day Tell Pass, you are covered to Zug, which is half way to Zurich, so you only need a ticket from Zug to Zurich. If you are staying at an airport hotel, then buy the ticket to Zurich Flughafen. You will have to change trains again, this time downstairs to Track 33 or 34. There are trains to the airport virtually continuously from there.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you again, Sam! Just when I think we're closer to this bucket list vacation do we find ourselves with another hurdle. We're trying to buy the Tellpass for July 10th for 3 days from the https://www.sbb.ch/en/buying site but it keeps showing up as "The offer you have chosen is unfortunately unavailable. This may be for the following reasons: the offer is currently sold out, or is not yet or no longer on sale." After trying for several hours throughout the day, we noticed that the cost for a 3-day pass is CHF 150 (approx. $169.00 USD). After trying for several hours, we were able to input the request for 5 people, totaling up to $1370 USD. That's an increase of over $500, or $104/person. Is this to be expected based on the fluctuation of the market? Is the Tellpass not a set amount? Why do we keep getting the message that the offer is unavailable? Are there limited tickets for specific dates? We'll be basing our stay in Lucerne for 3 nights/4 days. We just managed to understand how the trains work yesterday and bought our tickets from Munich to Lucerne. What am I not doing right??? Next best steps or options?

Posted by
20032 posts

I would buy from the Tell Pass site.
https://www.tellpass.ch/en/shop/ticketshop

The winter Pass is 150CHF for 3 days, but winter ends March 31, Click on the "summer" button on the left hand side of the page and you will see that beginning April 1, the 3-Day Tell Pass is 230 CHF. You say you are going in July, so that is most definitely summer.

1370 USD sounds about right for 5 adults for 3 day Tell Pass.

Right now: 230 X 5 X 1.13 = 1300, so there are some currency conversion fees in there.