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Lucerne and Murren?

Next month we'll be in Zurich for two days and then Lucerne for three days. Does it make sense to do a day trip to the Alps, like to Murren? It looks like nearly a three-hour train trip from Lucerne. We're willing to catch an early train, but that's six hours of train travel for four or five hours of sightseeing. Is it worth it? I'm thinking yes. Should I consider two days in Lucerne and one night in Murren or thereabouts? Complicating the plan is that from Lucerne we're moving on to Salzburg. That's already a long train day and I don't want to add to it by going from the Lauterbrunnen Valley all the way to Salzburg. So that would leave us with night 1 or 2 in or around Murren and night 2 and/or 3 in Lucerne. We might also just enjoy a leisurely stay in Lucerne. But I want to see the Alps too. This is all overwhelming. Train travel prompts more questions, but I'll post on that separately with a full itinerary. Any recommendations?

Posted by
33131 posts

Why spend time in Zurich when you want to see the mountains?

Posted by
7209 posts

It's a well documented fact you can't see "everything". So choose what you want to see more. Zurich - is NOT a destination so don't waste your precious Swiss vacation time there. Lucerne is beautiful. Murren is stunning.

Posted by
32244 posts

I agree with the others. Could you provide a bit more information about your trip? Is there a specific reason you need to stay in Zürich for two days?

Posted by
16 posts

Hmmm, not sure why everyone seems so down on Zurich. We thought after a long trip it would be fine to mello out for a day, get over jet lag, and see some of Zurich. I hear it's a fine city, albeit a city, and maybe ordinary compared to the beauty of the Alps. We also have SPG points for free rooms there, which are only available in the main cities of Europe. We figured one day we would spend going to Rheinfall and maybe see something else in that area. So those are basically the two days. Then we thought we'd move on to Lucerne, which seems more picturesque and maybe cap it all off with the majesty of the Alps. We were thinking this way we'd see both the real urban and the mountainous Switzerland and not just some romantic notion of the Swiss Alps alone. Others may choose the later option and that's great too.

Posted by
16 posts

So we really have a total of 6 nights and 5 days in Switzerland. I appreciate the feedback and we will discuss if we want to move a night from Lucerne into the Alps. We really wanted to avoid having to switch hotels and move the luggage every day.

Posted by
4554 posts

Nothing wrong with Zurich. Or Berne, which is what I used as a base. Especially if you have a free room with miles, that's hard to beat.

FWIW, I did a day trip from Berne to the Schilthorn and back, it was totally worth it and very simple because those crafty Swiss expected me to do it so all the trains and buses were timed to interconnect. I had a pass so that trip was free to Interlaken and discounted thereafter.

Posted by
1443 posts

I don't think people are down on Zurich. Heck, I'd like to live there. Since this is your first visit to Switzerland, there are much better uses of your very scarce time than Zurich since other areas of the country have more attractions. If you had 2 weeks, then two nights in Zurich would be good. A free Zurich room shouldn't factor into the decision unless you're on a tight budget - why trade an experience you really want (the alps) just to save a few hundred dollars?

My advice is after you land in Zurich, head straight to Lauterbrunnen or Murren for 3 or 4 nights. It's a 3-hour train ride. Nap on the way. Then relocate to Luzern for the next 2 or 3 nights. Then on to Salzburg.

Posted by
12040 posts

There is one key bit of information that hasn't been mentioned in any of the replies. Luzern is basically at the foot of the Alps! Particularly Mt. Titlus. If you want to see the Alps, why go all the way to Mürren? They're right there by Luzern, and not very far from Zürich either. And when you go to Salzburg, you'll basically be in the shadow of the Alps again. Plus, weather can change in the Alps by the hour. By the time you get to Mürren, what started as a sunny day could be overcast and rainy. From the locations you have listed already, you'll see Alps a-plenty. Mürren is nice, but it's just one of many, many places where you can get a good mountain experience, and despite what you read on this website, it really is not indispensible.

Posted by
1443 posts

I have to disagree with Tom. Luzern and Murren (and like towns near it) are not interchangeable in terms of alpine experience. Luzern is at the foot of a few mountains; it is not in the mountains. Murren, sitting a mile high, is within and entirely surrounded by the alps. I love both places but if you really want to inhale the alpine experience, Luzern is not a substitute.

Posted by
12040 posts

I'm not saying Luzern and Mürren are interchangeable. They are very different, indeed. I'm just trying to counter the perception that Mürren is the one and only place to experience the Alps in Switzerland. It doesn't make sense to me to shoot over to Mürren as a daytrip from Luzern, just to see the Alps, when Luzern itself sits right at the foot of the mountains. It's like if someone was staying on Sanibel Island but they wanted to take a daytrip to Miami just to see the beach.

Posted by
20 posts

I would suggest staying in Lauterbrunnen and doing Lucern as a lovely day trip by train, and you will be able to see the old town, the glacier museum and ride on the lake and walk the bridge before heading back with a scenic train ride. Then you will have more time in the mountains and not so rushed. See Rick"s notes that he recommends 3 days in the Bernese Oberland Rick"s notes

You will need day to see the Jungfrau Web cam and when staying in Lauterbrunnen you can catch the cable car to Grutschalp and walk 90min to Murren - super scenic, just classic, easy and flattish, then of course a slight walk down hill to Rick"s famed Gimmelwald and then you can catch the bale car up to Schilthorn - big day too. Schilthorn web cam

There re your 3 days :)

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you all for your wonderful replies, information, and links. We're going to change some plans. The webcams are so good, I don't need to go there now! Just kidding.

Posted by
1920 posts

Mjfuller, you must be my neighbor here in GB! I'd like to invite you to our travel club this Saturday at Panera Bread on Truxel at 10:00. If you look under Tips & Trip Reports scroll to the bottom and they list "travel group meetings" and you will see the Sacramento group listed there with the details. Larry is an expert in train travel and many of us have been to the places you are traveling.

Actually, I think the web cams don't give a true impression. It kind of reminds me of Tahoe in the winter. But, that is very, very far from an accurate representation. Hubby calls the Berner Oberland Yosmite on steroids. What is amazing about being there is that you are on the side of the mountain like in Murren for instance, and your eyes can see the valley floor all the way to the top of the mountains. It is unlike anything we've ever seen before. The alps are literary in your face! We have been to the Italian Apls, Julian Alps, Austrian Alps and mountains around Germany. IMO nothing is like the Berner Oberland.

I'm sure Zurich is nice, and I've heard Lucerne is nice, but they are cities. I'd hate to have you so close and miss really seeing the alps. The weather is very changeable though. We met a couple that went to Murren for one night. We stayed for 5 nights. The days before and after they were there were beautiful, the day they were there it was foggy and rainy. So, give yourselves at least 2-3 nights just in case. It would be a great place to overcome jet lag! But, if you are more city people then maybe you'd rather be Zurich/Lucerne.

Posted by
424 posts

We opted to stay in Engelberg for two nights, and explored Mt. Titlis to experience snow on a sunny July day. It was truly spectacular! Then we had three nights in Lucerne, and took an early morning train to Zürich for our flight home. It was a wonderful trip for us.

If we ever have a chance to go back to Switzerland, Murren and that whole region is definitely on our list from everything I've read here on the forum.

We settled on our plan after lots of reading here on the forum and decided against staying in Geneva and in Zürich, choosing Lucerne as our homebase after two weeks in France. No regrets!

Enjoy!
Laurie

Posted by
1010 posts

I agree with some other posts. There isn't much to see in Zurich. We have stayed there twice, but not overwhelmed by the city at all.