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Most breathtaking country/place for a two day trip from Switzerland!

Update: So, based upon the below I am staying in Switzerland but the recommended towns to see are literally right in the same area, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen, Murren etc. all easy to get to from Interlaken.
I am seeking two bases for an 8 day stay.
Any recommendations on the most scenic and easy access to other day trips from, such as Interlocken. I see people are down on that but it seems it gives you access to so much. Do the other towns provide easy train access to other destinations? Sorry I have no idea about Switzerland at all, thus the questions. I understand it is half the size of Florida. Just seeing those places seems like I would be staying just in South Florida for 8 days! True or not true. Thanks a million!

I am booking a trip to Switzerland in mid-June 2019 and plan on spending around 6 to 7 days in Switzerland with a base in Interlaken and one other. I want to experience a train ride to another country (not more than a 4 hr ride) that will take me to a spectacular place. Gorgeous scenery and quaint towns. Besides Paris, I hear the Sound of Music Tour in Austria in Salzburg is great but have no idea where else to go. I welcome your ideas.
I won’t be doing any hiking unfortunately.

For those who know Switzerland, where else should I base myself for the "feel" of the country, beautiful swiss chalets, cobblestone streets, cows in pastures with snow capped mountains in the background kind of stuff.

Thanks in advance to you all. I am so excited to be doing this!!

Also, any tips for travel in Switzerland as I am concerned about getting from a hotel to the train which is what I plan on using mostly.

Best wishes,
Lori

Posted by
20319 posts

Don't go to Interlaken, pass through it on the way to Muerren.

Other pastoral areas would be Gruyeres, French speaking and cheese and chocolate, or Appenzell to the east. From there you could take a short train ride into Austria.

There are hotels within walking distance of destination train/cable car stations.

Posted by
5950 posts

I agree, don't stay in Interloken. Stay further into the mountains--Lauterbrunnen, Murren or Wengen. Transportation is WONDERFUL in Switzerland. I either walked from train stations or took a bus. Buses were always plentiful and provide good coverage. Everywhere I've been in Switzerland has been very nice. My favorites would be Berner Oberland area (Lauterbrunnen, et. al) and Luzern. Though I like BO slightly better, Luzern is close to "having it all". Its an adorable town on a lake, with a river with very picturesque bridges surrounded by mountains.

Posted by
11354 posts

Agree. Do not stay in Interlaken. Stay up in the beautiful mountains-Grindlewald, Wengen or Murren.

Posted by
464 posts

We used Interlaken as a base in June of this year and enjoyed seeing the paragliders landing in the meadow park as well as the great choice of restaurants in Interlaken. We liked walking to the Old town area of Unterseen also. Since we did not plan to hike in the Berner Oberland this worked out well for us. We could walk from the train station to our hotel and it was easy to take the train from Interlaken Ost on a day trip to Wengen and Lauterbrunnen. My husband had just had rotator cuff surgery on his shoulder and we did not want to lift luggage onto more trains to stay in the mountain villages. We also felt that it was cooler and mistier in the mountain towns and less to do there in the evenings, so we were happy with our choice, though it is a matter of preference.

Posted by
1443 posts

If you are visiting Switzerland it would be foolish to try to leave the country looking for other breath-taking views. There is nothing within a 4-hour train ride of Interlaken that is more grand than the Berner Oberland. Perhaps there is something slightly more awe-inspiring, but nothing sufficient to justify a 4-hour train ride -- eight hours NOT spent in the BO's mountains.

The Engadine region of Switzerland is a superb rural area that deserves more attention.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all for your invaluable information.
I was told by a friend that from Interlocken you have easy access to so much!!
Will ditch the second country idea and listen to all incoming opinions, the more the better, to formulate my final plan!

Posted by
7209 posts

There is not much more of a breathtaking place than Lauterbrunnen, Murren & Wengen....none of which are in Interlaken. Yes, Interlaken is definitely convenient for train connections, but I doubt you came to Switzerland for train connections.

When you get to Interlaken Ost just change trains and head to Lauterbrunnen. THERE is where you'll be in the middle of breathtaking scenery. Don't hike??? Neither do LOTS of other people (including me) who stay in Murren every year.

Posted by
94 posts

I want to experience a train ride to another country (not more than a
4 hr ride) that will take me to a spectacular place. Gorgeous scenery
and quaint towns. Besides Paris, I hear the Sound of Music Tour in
Austria in Salzburg is great but have no idea where else to go.

Salzburg is far away. The Mont Blanc Express train follows a spectacular route from Martigny, Switzerland to Chamonix, France, giving you some language, country, and currency variety.

Posted by
768 posts

If you really want to go to Salzburg, then I'd suggest that from Salzburg it is easiest to go to Munich, then pick up a bus (like Flixbus) that will get you to Zurich in about 4.5 hours. By the way, in Saltzburg you could also take a tour to Hitler's Hideout above Berchtesgaden, or visit a salt mine, or go to Konigsee, or visit the Ice Cave ("Eisriesenwelt") above Werfen.

From Zurich, you can get your scenic train ride in by going from Zurich to Interlaken Ost, and ask to be routed via Luzern. You have to change trains there anyway, so you might spend a few hours there.

I agree with all the folks that say to skip Interlaken. The only thing I stop there for is to shop at the huge Coop store across from the train station. What they also say about the Berner Oberland/Lauterbrunnen is true. If you are curious why, take a look at my pictures from the area. Click on my name and there is a link in my profile.

Posted by
396 posts

You will get your great Alpine experience in Gimmelwald or Murren.
For a bit of an alternative maybe a visit to the Ticino. We loved the Val Verzasca, basing ourselves in Sonogno and hiking from there for several days. Not your text book Switzerland. They speak Italian. The houses are very unique traditional stone buildings. Lots of small villages along the valley, Corippo and Lavertezzo the best known of these. Tiny alpine farms up higher.
You can access most of the villages by bus. You won't get the stunning snow capped Alpine views but it is a lovely area.
To get there by train and bus you will go through Italy.
Sonogno is tiny, population less than 100 and has very little in the way of shops. Apart from the lady running the hotel we met no other people who could speak any English.
It isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea but we fell in love with it.

Posted by
1829 posts

If you wanted to see something else equally spectacular, still with mountains but different you could do 2-3 nights in Zermatt and the 4-5 other nights out of Murren or Wengen.
I have been to both areas and hard to say which is more beautiful because both are, Murren/Wengen seems like a place I would be comfortable staying for a longer duration.

Zermatt you need to go up the trails/lifts to have it feel less built-up. In Murren/Wengen you are already up the mountain and away from it all. There are a few nice hotels (pricey) up on the mountains in Zermatt for that similar feel.

I did not visit on the same trip though and doing so would be cost prohibitive. You will find the lift access in both areas is costly and discounted the more days you stay so there is benefit to staying in 1 rather than splitting your time between the 2.

Would give you the different experience though by splitting your time and seeing both places.
In Zermatt you will see Sheep instead of the Cows you see in BO area.

In BO area we stayed in Wengen but after walking through Murren a couple of times it seemed like Wengen is the 2nd best place to stay in that area.

Train service is great for both the areas I mention, no need/use for a car.

Posted by
11294 posts

First, get a copy of Rick Steves Switzerland, ASAP. His chapter on the Berner Oberland is one of his very best (other than its overemphasis on Gimmelwald), and that's where you want to be.

Your title question "how do I get to a beautiful place from Switzerland?" is like saying "how do I get to a big city from Manhattan?" or "I'm in Dubai - how do I get from there to a place with lots of skyscrapers and malls?" If you stay in the Berner Oberland (not near it as with Interlaken, but in it, using Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, or Wengen as your base), you will be IN the most beautiful place. There will be no need to go somewhere else to see beauty!

Interlaken has sex shops, casinos, jewelry store, lots of large hotels, and lots of Asian restaurants, including a "Paksitani" restaurant (that's what the sign said, like Punxsutawney Phil from Groundhog Day). Its large Coop and Migros stores are handy if you need something (my day bag tore, so I got an inexpensive replacement at Migros). If you want or need any of these things, you can go from Lauterbrunnen to Interlaken in 20 minutes, via trains that run several times an hour. Otherwise, no need to be in Interlaken longer than it takes to change trains.

And yes, you don't have to "hike" in the Berner Oberland - that's part of what makes it great. You can use buses, cogwheel trains, cable cars, etc to go up or down, then take flat or nearly flat walks, then get on the next mode of transit when you're tired or need to change elevation. There's tremendous variety, and if the weather is bad, there are options too, such as Ballenberg Open Air Museum, or the Valley Museum (Talmuseum) in Lauterbrunnen.

With only 8 days, the other great place to base yourself is Luzern. It's closer to the Zurich airport (70 minutes with direct trains every hour and other trains even more frequently), so it's handy on arrival or departure. While it's not as spectacular as the Berner Oberland, it's quite pretty, and you can take cruises on the lake and go up Mt. Rigi, Mt. Pilatus, and/or Mt. Titlis.

Posted by
5837 posts

Two days in Switzerland is short changng yourself.

If you fly into Zurich, Luzern is a good start for a Swiss Holiday. Luzern is an easy one hour train ride from the Zurich Airport. Luzern is both walkable and surrounded by scenic places to see.

The Bernina Express train ride goes through the Engadine Valley to Tirano, Italy. It's not a four hour ride, but we had breakfast in Klosters, lunch in Italy and were back in Klosters for dinner. (Multiple starts. We started in Klosteres-Davos). https://www.myswissalps.com/berninaexpress/gettingthere

There are a multitude of scenic Swiss train routes that I have yet to experince, but agan, not a 4 hour ride:

GoldenPass Line Luzerne to Lake Geneva in Montreux

Glacier Express St. Mortiz to Zermatt