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Looking for day trip advice from Zurich in early February

Hi - it's our first time in Switzerland and we'll be staying in Zurich for 3 nights (arriving late Friday and departing Monday evening). I'm reading Rick Steve's book on Switzerland and Zurich is towards the bottom of Rick's sightseeing priorities. However, we are stuck with it since it's my husband's business trip and we can't change the hotel at this point.
I'm thinking to spend Monday sightseeing Zurich but debating where to go on the weekend. It looks like it will rain in Zurich (and around it) the entire time we'll be there. Is it worth going to Berner Oberland during rain (obviously, not expecting to ski but for sightseeing)? Is a day trip reasonable? If so, I saw day tours on TripAdvisor that will take you there and back - are those good/worth it (they have decent reviews but they are around $260 per person)?
I'm also thinking of doing a day trip to Luzern and/or Bern, since they are much higher than Zurich on Rick's sightseeing priority list. Would you recommend one vs. the other?
Finally, I read the chapter on scenic rail journeys but was wondering if those are worth doing in February? Rick's book says that it's focused on fair-weather, not winter, which makes it hard to figure out what to do in February. Thank you!!!

Posted by
7079 posts

Oh my gosh - you do NOT need a tour group to take you on a daytrip to Bern or Lucerne or any other place in Switzerland. You simply walk to the ticket counter and tell them where you want to go. They'll sell you the correct ticket and then you just get on the train.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you so much Tim! But do you think it's worth going to Berner Oberland when it's raining or is it better to spend time in one of the cities? Thank you!

Posted by
8785 posts

It looks like it will rain in Zurich (and around it) the entire time we'll be there.
But do you think it's worth going to Berner Oberland when it's raining or is it better to spend time in one of the cities?

When is this? Do not trust a weather forecast more than 3-5 days in advance. And, it rarely rains all day. If it says all day in the forecast, that means it can rain at any time, but usually for ~1 hour then it stops,
And the weather is localised, especially in the Alps where it is different in different valleys. The weather gets stuck in valleys as the mountains each side are so high (I joke not). Also, it can be wet down in the valley, but the mountain tops can be above the cloud and clear.
CONCLUSION: Check the weather for the specific place you want to visit in the Berner Oberland the night before, and decide accordingly.

On the weekend, if you have the option, do not stay in Zürich.
Option 1 - Berner Oberland, if weather good.
Option 2 - Luzern if weather half good. Nice town and you can go on a boat trip on the lake.
If you want a city, Bern is good, as is Basel. All quick train trips from Zürich or Luzern.

If so, I saw day tours on TripAdvisor that will take you there and back - are those good/worth it (they have decent reviews but they are around $260 per person)?

Easier to do all trips yourself by train.

Posted by
575 posts

We were in Switzerland late November & early December, and the forecast was for 80% rain, everyday. In actuality, it rained early mornings, evenings, and at night. Daytimes varied between being cold /cloudy all day, to days with partial sun/blue skies.
I recommend a day trip to Lucerne, perhaps Saturdays, which is when we ran into a local farmers market in view of the Chapel Bridge. We then took an hour boat ride to the cogwheel train to Mt. Rigi. The train took 30 minutes to climb the mountain. Halfway up, the fog was so thick I didn't think we would see anything at the summit. Then, suddenly, everything cleared, as we were above the clouds. It was spectacular, and just as Chris F. described: the weather was below us. The skies were bright blue, the fresh snow about 2 feet deep [no paths shoveled], as the clouds met the snowline. Mountains peaked through the clouds. I am unable to describe how glorious the scene was.
The Swiss transportation system is so well organized and friendly; look into the various Swiss Passes.
Enjoy this wonderful country and safe travels!

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you both Pat and Chris F for responding! Based on your advice, I checked weather forecast for a specific location (I looked up Schilthorn on www.schilthorn.ch) and since it looked decent (sun/clouds and a chance of snow), we went to Berner Oberland today. It was a spectacular day -it was a bit cloudy on Schilthorn when we got there around 12:30 but we still enjoyed the view and lunch in the revolving restaurant. We also explored Mürren and Gimmelwald where it was sunny/cloudy with occasional drizzle (despite of forecasted 80% chance of rain). We bought Swiss travel passes and it was pretty easy to get there from Zurich (and some parts of the train ride were spectacular).
However, starting in January of this year, Swiss rail pass no longer takes you all the way up to Schilthorn - it only takes you to Mürren where you have to buy a separate ticket to go up (but Swiss rail pass gives you a 50% discount, so we paid 42.80 CHF per person). Also, when buying Swiss rail passes, we were asked for our passports, which we didn’t have with us. Luckily, we both had our driver licenses and they accepted those (otherwise, we’d have to go back to the hotel). I don’t know if this is a new requirement or maybe I just missed it in the book. Anyway, these were just minor hiccups in an otherwise wonderful day.
Now we are on the way back to Zürich and plan to visit Luzern tomorrow. Again, thank you to both of you for responding as I don’t think I would’ve ventured to Berner Oberland if it wasn’t for you!!!

Posted by
575 posts

Lena, I'm so glad you're enjoying Switzerland. Even tho I was just there, I can't wait to return. Hope the rest of your trip is just as exciting!