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One week car trip advice

Hi all: Never been to Switzerland and am flying over for a week with my wife (from Boston area) in early September - meeting our adult daughter over there for a few days as she is on a longer trip to Portugal and Italy. I rented a car - started to second guess that with all the pro-train guidance, but think I will keep the car, just for the freedom. I'm trying to generate an itinerary of sorts, and if not too much of an imposition, thought I'd see if any knowledgeable travelers have any advice. We land in Zurich, and I had thought of taking a trip that would take us up into Appenzall area for a day or day and a half, then down to St Moritz area - maybe a few of those small towns near it - Sils, or the other direction, up by Martina? That would be a total of three days or so - we then have to head back to Zurich to meet our daughter and will head out to the Lake Lucerne and then Interlaken area for the last 4 days. Any thoughts on that general plan - is the drive from Zurich to Appenzall and then down to the St. Moritz area too much, and would I be better off concentrating on the Lucerne and Interlacken areas in your opinion for the entire week? Any advice appreciated - thank you!

Posted by
6921 posts

I would indeed focus on Luzern and the Interlaken area if you just have 7 days. You could spend 3 in Luzern, 4 in the Interlaken area (but not in Interlaken - stay in the mountains: Mürren, Wengen, Lauterbunnen or Grindelwald), then I guess you might need to spend a last night in Zürich if you fly out from there.
Your daughter can meet up with you in Luzern to head to Interlaken together.
For that side of the country, I would definitely not use a car.

Posted by
491 posts

I think that it depends on what you enjoy about traveling. If it was me I would absolutely do what you are suggesting. I think it sounds like a lot of fun! Just quickly looking at Google maps, each drive that you are suggesting is very short

Zurich - Appenzell 1h 22 min

Appenzell - St. Moritz 2h 12min

St. Moritz - Zurich 2h 33min

All of these areas area so different from one another, that is part of the beauty of Switzerland, so much diversity in such a small space.

Posted by
1221 posts

We recently finished up a couple weeks Alps loop out of Munich, renting a car this time for covid concerns instead of doing trains like we usually do. There are places that are indeed easier to get to by car than they are by public transit, but the flip side is often very narrow and very twisty roads- if you drive in US national parks, think like Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain or the route into Sequoia NP- so the person who is driving needs to be paying attention all the time. The person in the passenger seat navigates and is responsible for finding parking ,which is almost never free even in wee villages. (I think the only free parking we found in Switzerland was at CERN in the Geneva suburbs and at the Foundation Pierre Gianadda in Martigny)

Do not expect to go the speed limits on said mountain roads. The only folks who do are motorcyclists and the dudes driving super cars who will tailgate you all the way up the switchbacks.

So since it’s going to take you longer than you thought to get there, pick a place where you can enjoy more than one day. Switerland is awesome for a slow tourism approach and I’ll always find the freedom to just kind of randomly turn down an interesting looking road to be rewarding.

Also, when Apple Maps tells you that your route includes a car ferry, it’s not necessarily a boat over a waterway but rather you’ll suddenly find yourself driving your car onto a train so the train can haul iirc through a tunnel under the mountain.

Posted by
1442 posts

I visited Switzerland for ten days seeing the country from most of its scenic train routes and I think the best use of your time will be to visit Lucerne for two or three nights and going to Mt. Pilatus or Mt Titlis while in Lucerne. Then, drive to the lakeside town of Thun and visit its castle before continuing to the glacial-carved Lauterbrunnen Valley. Stay either in Lauterbrunnen with its waterfalls, or Murren with its views of the Eiger, Munch and Jungfrau peaks. Hike the trails, hike to Gimmelwald, drive to nearby Grindelwald and take the gondola to the First Glacier. Take a one-day Swiss Postbus ride to the central Alps mountain passes for some of the best mountain scenery in the country. The Postbus trips run through early October.
Have a great Trip!