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Need advise regarding my Switzerland itinerary

Hello,

I would like some suggestions/opinions regarding the following itinerary I planned for next June 2022 to Switzerland.
Please correct me if I have made wrong choices in creating this draft itinerary. If this is feasible and optimal.
I follow Rick's blogs and TV shows for may years now, and used his guide books as my primary planning tool in my previous visits to Europe.
i created this plan based on Rick's Switzerland guide book. I will be travelling from New Jersey USA.

day-1: Fly into Milan - reaching Milan early morning - sleep in Milan

day-2: Milan whole day sightseeing - sleep in Milan

day-3: Morning train to Varenna - rest of the day in Varenna - sleep in Varenna

day-4: Varenna whole day - boat trips on lake - sleep in Varenna

day-5: Morning train from Varenna to Tirano - board Bernina Express at Tirano to Pontresina - sleep in Pontresina

day-6: Pontresina - visit St Moritz - sleep Pontresina

day-7: Glacier Express from Pontresina to Zermatt - reach Zermatt late evening - sleep in Zermatt

day-8: Zermatt - Matterhorn glacier Etc - sleep Zermatt

day-9: Zermatt to Interlaken early morning train, and onward to Gimmelwald - sleep in Gimmelwald

day-10: Gimmelwald - sleep in Gimmelwald

day-11: Gimmelwald - sleep in Gimmelwald

day-12: Gimmelwald to Lucerne early morning train - sleep in Lucerne

day-13: Lucerne whole day - sleep in Lucerne

day-14: Lucerne to Zurich early morning train - rest of the day in Zurich - sleep in Zurich

day-15: early morning flight from Zurich back to USA.

Thank You

Partha

Posted by
2287 posts

Hello!
This is a well-researched route, I only have minor comments.
The first is that St Moritz itself is not worth a visit. The view is good, but the town is uninspiring (lots of concrete and luxury shops). It is better to hike around Pontresina (many options), and/or go to Muottas Muragl for the view (or Diavolezza).
The second, is that Gimmelwald is very tiny. Not much going on there. I would much rather stay further up in Mürren.
The third, and last, is that sleeping in Zürich is optional if your flight is later than 10 or so. The train from Luzern to Zürich airport takes barely longer than an hour and is very, very reliable. If possible I would skip Zürich sightseeing altogether and add a night in Zermatt, to increase chances of good weather there.

Posted by
1297 posts

Be flexible with the dates in the mountains, particularly with the nights set in Zermatt. For example, if the weather forecast for Zermatt on days 8 & 9 is poor but the forecast for the Lauterbrunnen valley is better, then swap the dates for the two. Not much point in going to Zermatt if the weather is poor.

Posted by
39 posts

I'd cut out Zermatt (very long train ride) and instead stay 2 nights in Pontresina. If you stay at least for 2 nights you usually get a train pass from most hotels that is valid for all the trains, buses and for most gondola in the region. Hence, you could see the glacier in Diavolezza up close or go up on the Corvatsch mountain which is almost as high as the Jungfrau Joch and enjoy amazing views. If you run into bad weather there's a spa in Scuol which is not that far. The Engadine is very different from the rest of Switzerland in terms of food (try the Capuns, barley soup or Pizokels), culture, architecture and language (you might hear some Rumantsch).

Posted by
64 posts

I'd agree on the comment about the weather. Spending certain time in specific areas can be risky as the weather is quite contrary. We're on our second week in Switzerland right now and our itinerary was somewhat flexible - and I'm so glad it was! We've had only 2 clear days and the rest have been considerably cloudy or rainy. We've had a wonderful time, but some of the hikes would have been better had they been in better weather (cloudless weather).

We are currently in Zermatt (arrived about 3 hours ago from Interlaken area) and there's not much here if you don't have good weather. Hiking and shopping is all you can do outside of ski season and it's raining today so... yup. Can't even see Matterhorn currently. Thankfully tomorrow will be somewhat clear, though mostly cloudy still.

We've had to make a few adjustments to our plans due to weather. Lauterbrunnen area has a lot to offer in terms of views and I'm so glad we spent a full week there. But it's all about what you like and what you're going for. I don't care much for cities so I've enjoyed the hikes, mountain views, etc.

My only advice though is to be flexible based on weather! (And enjoy Switzerland - it's gorgeous anywhere!)

Posted by
1357 posts

I agree with the above-
-skip Zermatt,
-don't stay in Gimmelwald. Unless you have a B&B with breakfast and dinner, not sure where you would eat. I think there's only one or two cafes that I can think of. Gimmelwald is lovely, but very quiet and usually best for a hike from Murren. We just returned from four days in Murren. We had two beautiful days and two cloudy days. One can hike on the drizzly overcast days, but can't see anything from the summits. We you hoping to see the Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch?
- slow down a bit, you have mostly two night stays. Add a day to Varenna, Pontresina, and the Berner Oberland [Murren, Weggen, or Lauterbrunnen .] You will need some rest- and maybe laundry- time, and the Berner Oberland is great for that.

I just finished my Trip Reports for Lucerne and Pontresina, haven't done Murren yet. Just do a Search, or click on my name. Perhaps they will be helpful.

Have a great time planning!

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for providing all the helpful insights. Really appreciate it.

Based on the recommendations, I am making a few changes to my itinerary:

  1. Pontresina: I decided to stay a day more (total 2 days in Pontresina). I would like to know what are the pros and cons of staying at the Romantik Hotel at Muottas Muragl. I believe it is on the ledge above town. Would it be a problem taking the funicular for going up and down every time.

  2. Murren: As suggested, I am planning to stay at Murren (instead of Gimmelwald, which I realized is a very small place with hardly a few B&Bs or eateries). Also maybe stay full 3 days since this part of Switzerland is rugged and gorgeous (Berner Oberland). Any opinions on Hotel Edelweiss, which seems to be at the edge of the cliff with breathtaking views.

  3. Zermatt: From the suggestions above, it looks like Zermatt has a pretty unpredictable weather. But still I may have to take my chances. I will be visiting Switzerland first time, and would very much want to see the Matterhorn. Lets see what is in store for us.

  4. Flexibility: I am not sure how to make it more flexible. I will be making reservations at hotels, and also on the main scenic train rides (Bernina and Glacier Express). I don't believe those can changed very easily at the last minute.

Thanks a lot to balso, FastEddie, Aniol, Jamie Lynne and Pat for the thoughtful insights and suggestions

Posted by
2287 posts

The Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl is excellent, as long as you can afford a room with a valley view! Not worth it otherwise. The food is truly excellent (both breakfast and dinner) and the rooms are stylish (but small), in a very contemporary mountain style. In 2019-2020 they had half-board packages for three nights, which were excellent value.

As for the isolation: my stay was in winter, when it is even more isolated, and yet I did not mind at all. There is an excellent summer hike to Alp Languard that actually starts from Muottas Muragl, so that's one day sorted already. And the funicular down is quite quick if you time it well (obviously harder to time it on the way back, but this is less of a problem). But it is a drawback, not going to lie!

In a nutshell: unforgettable stay if you can afford the view.

I should really stop advertising it, otherwise I will never be able to go back!

Edited to add, that we were upgraded to a room with a terrace when we went. Even though it was -10C outside, it was a nice "plus" and it does positively affect my perception of the hotel, perhaps unfairly.

Posted by
44 posts

The views from Hotel Bellevue in Murren are spectacular, the food is excellent and the only laundry facility in Murren is down stairs.
It is our favorite hotel.

Even if you don't stay there, at least have a beverage on their patio. It is very difficult for me to believe it is real even while sitting there. Bonus - the paragliders often take off from a hillside visible to the right.

We have only walked by Hotel Edelweiss so I can't comment on it.

Posted by
1357 posts

Partha,
pls read my Trip Report on the Bernina Express. Everyone here recommends the non-posh Regional trains, not the panoramic trains. I followed that advice and was very happy. The regional trains run on the same tracks, and no reservations required. You also have more options schedule-wise.

I also did a Trip Report on Pontresina. haven't gotten to writing the Murren one yet.

You have done a great job reading input and really integrating it into your trip. We all LUV to help folks who actually use SOME- not all, of course- of our advise.

We stayed the the Hotel Bellevue in Murren. We booked directly with them, and received a nice RS discount. We had a small standard room with a small balcony and view of the mountains, but not the Eiger. In retrospect, I do wish I had splurged on a bigger room , maybe even a corner room, with a view of the Eiger. That way, if it rains, you can sit in your room and still see those infamous mountains.

You have an incredible trip in your future!

Posted by
11263 posts

I stayed at the Hotel Edelweis in September 2014. It was great; my room faced the mountains, and even though it didn't have a balcony, the view was fantastic. I'd certainly stay there again.

If you have any difficulty walking up from the train station to the hotel, they have a vehicle that can pick you up. Note that while Muerren and some of the other villages like Gimmelwald are car free, that does not mean vehicle free. There are tractor-like vehicles on the roads, and they often operate late at night - be careful walking back from dinner!

Posted by
34 posts

I support your decision to keep Zermatt in your itinerary - still will be interesting if you don't see the Matterhorn and if you do it is amazing! Also, not clear if you have already decided to skip a day in Zurich, but I would recommend that. Maybe a night there if flight schedules require it, but better to spend your time in your other wonderful locations! Also, I acknowledge the reality that travel plans and reservations are not as flexible as they used to be, since everyone books ahead via internet now whereas we used to arrive on the day or maybe call ahead by one day to make a reservation. Sigh. But just make your plan and make the best of it!

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks a lot for the insights and recommendations.
I have been writing emails and checking out on properties based on the advice in these forums and Rick's Switzerland guidebook

Based on @balso recommendation (and feedbacks from a few other friends), I managed to book the same roof-top terrace view room at Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl.

I pretty much booked all my stays. Got a room at Hotel Edelweiss in Muerren with a balcony with the view of Jungfrau.

Hotel Albergo Milano in Varenna. Heard that there may be a lot of steps to climb up to the 2nd floor, but I was awestruck seeing the view from the balcony.

Hotel des Alps in Lucern next to the lake.

And finally Hotel Spadari Al Duomo in Milan (from where I am planning to make a side trip to Cinque Terre.

Regarding my train travels in Switzerland, I will check out the local trains (timings/reservation requirements Etc) instead of the touristy trains as recommended by @Pat.
For the part where I am travelling from Pontresina to Zermatt, it looks like I have to change trains a few times if I go local. May be Glacier Express will be a better option just to sit on one train for the full journey.

Also please advise on whether it is economical and wise to buy the Swiss Travel Pass beforehand, and/or any other option to save on train tickets and also convenience.

Posted by
25766 posts

For the part where I am travelling from Pontresina to Zermatt, it looks like I have to change trains a few times if I go local. May be Glacier Express will be a better option just to sit on one train for the full journey.

Maybe, but I wouldn't. My legs get stiff and tired just sitting immobile for long times. Getting up and down and breathing fresh air, not the recirculated air from the sealed carriages of the special trains, would let me experience the route more, and stretch my legs. Also, on the local trains (hourly) the windows open on many carriages - much better for photos. Because the seats aren't all reserved and packed out you can often move from side to side or even to the vestibule to make the most of the scenery.

But they certainly are not as posh and don't have the tilted wine glasses.

Based on the hotels you have chosen maybe you would be happier in the posh environment, even with what was said here.

Your trip of a lifetime, not mine.

Whichever you choose I am sure you'll have a great time....

Posted by
2287 posts

Regarding Glacier Express: Yes, if you take other trains, there will be many connections. Off the top of my head: a station before Chur, Disentis, Andermatt, Brig or Visp.
But these stations are small, and it means you can take a break!
In particular, if you can get to Disentis for lunch, it is nice to stop there for a little bit - even with luggage (I don't think there are lockers there), the village is so small anyway.

Posted by
1357 posts

If you buy the Swiss Travel Pass in advance, you can print multiple hard copies along with your phone copy receipt [kept in your iPhone wallet], so no fear of loss of Pass. If you buy after you land, I think you'll only have that one hard copy, [unless something has changed.]
The Pass is not stored in the SBB app.
You are so well-organized. I'm assuming you booked the hotels directly, saving a little more money?
Safe travels!

Posted by
5 posts

My stay/travels in Switzerland would be around 3 weeks.

After looking at all the Swiss Travel Pass options (in www.sbb.ch) , I am thinking of getting the 1-month GA Travelcard (about CHF 420 2nd Class).

Please let me know if I am choosing the right option, and also any other better options out there.

Thank You

Posted by
594 posts

Just landed in Atlanta after our 2 week trip to Switzerland………Lauterbrunnen, Lucerne and Zurich. We bought the first class Swiss pass when it was on sale in July….and are so glad we did! This was our first experience training the entire trip…..and it was shear joy to consult the SBB app and decide the train to take and just hop on the train…..no waiting in lines at the ticket booth, no hurrying to make a train cause we did not plan earlier……if for nothing but the convenience it was well worth it……download the app and get used to using it before you leave….you will bo so glad you did! You have to remember that it does not completely cover the “mountain” trains….only takes off 25%…….but it covers everything else!!!

Posted by
18 posts

Just returned from our Switzerland trip and here is a little input. Stayed five nights in Lauterbrunnen. We visited Murren for the day on our last night there and ate dinner at hotel edelweiss. The views were amazing and if I visit again would book a couple nights. We stayed at Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen (very happy with it) which was five minutes from the train station, trains run every 30 minutes. We bought Swiss travel pass on arrival in Switzerland at an SBB office and were using it 10 minutes later. You need a paper copy and I didn’t want to spend money beforehand due to Covid travel uncertainty. I was frustrated to learn it doesn’t cover everything in Jungfrau region, but we got a 3 day top of Europe pass at 1/2 price - 149 chf - that covered use of all the gondolas and trains in the area and included jungfraujoch. For what we wanted to do it felt like a good value.

Posted by
1357 posts

jbmmckinney-
I was never sure- does the Top of Europe Pass cover 100%, or is it a discount pass? We were just in that beautiful country and stayed in Murren, had a fantastic day at the Jungfraujoch, had the STP, but was confused by the other passes. Just for future reference- for the NEXT trip.
Thanks.

Posted by
19 posts

Just want to chime in thanks for posting this question! I'm getting ready to plan our next trip and we're doing Switzerland for the first time along with Italy again. I know in general what we want to experience in Switzerland but all of these comments are super helpful as I start to figure things out. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
5 posts

Hello all,
Thanks a lot for the very useful inputs and tips.

@jane -
As you mentioned, I downloaded the SBB app and was checking around.
Is there a way to know when the Swiss passes go on-sale?
Also when you buy it online, do you get the red SwissPass card ?

I am thinking of getting the 1-month GA Travelcard (about CHF 420 2nd Class).
I am assuming that it will cover all the local and tourist trains (Bernina, Glacier Etc.).
I may have to just pay the reservation costs.
Also it may give me some discount on cable-cars/funiculars Etc. where applicable.
Please let me know if I am going wrong here.

Posted by
1357 posts

I had not read anyone here getting the Red Swiss Pass, so I just looked it up- I think it's designed for residents, as the minimum is 6 months. See below.

"Minimum duration of contract.
Every GA Travelcard has an initial minimum contract term of six months, regardless of the payment interval. After that, you decide whether to continue your travelcard or cancel it at the end of each travelcard month, giving notice of one travelcard month."

Hope this helps. Maybe a Swiss resident can add some info.

Posted by
18 posts

Pat - yes, the Top of Europe pass covered everything that the Swiss Travel Pass did not cover in the Jungfrau region. Once we had it we intentionally rode the cable cars (gondolas) from Grindelwald to Wengen rather than take the train. We are snow skiers, and the Mannlichen cable car from Grindelwald was the nicest one we had ever been in -- until we rode the Eiger Express!! Seats 26 people and has two video screens in each car! We were lucky the day we rode it weather was clear and the view of the Eiger was incredible. The Manlichen-Wengen cable car has the option of a "royal ride" where you ride on top of the car!! We did have to pay 5 CHF extra for that, but it was incredible (again, crystal clear day with blue skies).