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One week in Switzerland, late April

We will arrive In Basel, driving and leaving from Zurich a week later, we would like to try for a couple of home bases then go out from there. so as to not spend all of our time checking in and checking out. Asking for suggested bases and sites we would be able to visit from them. At this time we are not looking to spend much time in either of above cities but are of course open to the suggestions we receive.

thank you all

Posted by
5837 posts

With Swiss run railroads and scenic train routes is there a pressing reason to be "driving"?

Posted by
192 posts

Scenic walks, not long hikes, short scenic train rides, mid evil castles etc, do not necessarily have to drive or maybe train to a base then drive some.very open to any and all thoughts. Thanks

Posted by
27360 posts

Keep in mind that Switzerland is the home of spectacular scenery, much of it mountain scenery. The roads, though well-engineered, sometimes require careful attention from the driver, who doesn't necessarily get to appreciate a great deal of what he went to Switzerland to see. If you let someone else do the driving, you don't have that issue.

Take a look at the yellow lines on this Swiss transit map. They are postbuses that head up valleys, etc., into territory where trains (red lines) don't go. Then there are the lake boats (white lines). You can get just about anywhere you want to go in Switzerland by public transportation, including places that simply cannot be reached by car.

Posted by
32244 posts

Jeff,

I'd suggest having a look at the RS Switzerland guidebook, as that will give you a better idea of the sights available in the different parts of the country. Some of my usual favourites are the Lucerne area and the Berner Oberland (Lauterbrunnen Valley, outside Interlaken).

Driving is not usually the most efficient method of getting around Switzerland, as public transit there is so efficient and quick. One other point to consider is that some places are not accessible by car, such as the town of Mürren which is another favourite. If you decided to stay there for a few days, the car would be gathering dust in a car park and incurring daily charges.

In order to fine tune your travel plans, you may find it helpful to attend the next meeting of the Denver RS group. Here's the details - https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/travel-meetings/denver-travel-group-meeting-november-18

Posted by
192 posts

Thanks everyone for your thoughts, our current thinking is to take public transport from Basel to Lauterbrunnen spent 3 or 4 days there taking in the sites, then public transport to Luzern for 2 days, final day to Zurich airport for flight back to US, does that sound like a reasonable itinerary for a week, any thoughts on flying out of Luzern to States vs from Zurich. or am I better off returning to Basel and flying out of there.? brief look at map anyone know time frame to get from Basel to Lauterbrunnen ?

Thank you

Posted by
27360 posts

Check fares from Zurich, Geneva and Basel. I don't think Luzern is an option. I've never noticed airfares into Basel, but from my origin there is often a big difference between Zurich and Geneva.

You can check train times on the SBB website. Note that the default fares shown are for people holding the half-fare card since most Swiss residents have one. You'll need to double the displayed fare to find out the full cost--though it might turn out that you, too, would benefit from buying a half-fare card.

Train times:

Luzern-Zurich Airport: 63 - 67 min.
Luzern-Geneva Airport: about 3 hr. - 3hr. 22 min.
Luzern-Basel Airport: 1 hr. 27 min. - 1 hr. 46 min.

Trains run frequently.

Posted by
219 posts

It takes about 2 1/2 hours to go by train from Basel to Lauterbrunnen.
Your basic itinerary sounds good for a one week stay. You won't need a car for any of it. Ken mentioned that a car would simply gather dust in a [Lauterbrunnen or Stechelberg] parking lot if you stayed in Mürren, where no cars are allowed. The same is true in most of the other mountain villages and trail heads in that area. It's all well serviced by trains, cog rail trains, cable cars, gondolas, and buses. And if you take the train to one of the big lakes nearby, those are serviced by ships/ferries.

Luzern is very walkable, but also well serviced by buses, trains, and ships/ferries. And the mountains nearby are serviced by cable cars and cog rail trains, as well as ships/ferries, buses or trains to get to them. (Although I haven't been there in April, which is off-season, and transportation schedules might be reduced then.)

As Jazz+Travels pointed out, you can't fly from Luzern.
But since Luzern is only about 40 miles from the Zurich airport, you should plan to fly home from Zurich. Trains can take you right into the Zurich airport, so no need to spend your last night in Zurich.
As you can see from the SBB transit link that acraven posted for you, starting at 7:10 a.m., each of the trains that leave the Luzern station at 10 minutes after the hour bound for the Zurich airport get you there in 1 hour 3 minutes with no change of trains. That's a nice convenience when you have luggage. There are other trains, too, but you'd have to change trains once to get to the airport.

Posted by
5 posts

Wonderful great info, thank you all. Any comments on what to expect weather wise the first week in May, are we better served by staying in Lauterbrunnen, and day trips to Gimmelwald & Murren. ?

Posted by
27360 posts

To get an idea of the range of weather you might experience during your travel period, I suggest looking at the actual day-by-day Historical Monthly statistics on wunderground.com. I've linked to data for Meiringen Airfield, which is fairly near Lauterbrunnen but not as high as Murren/Wengen/Grindelwald (so naturally warmer). Scroll down for a temperature graph and (farther down) a chart that also shows precipitation. You can change the year in the pull-down near the top. Wunderground has more than 20 years' worth of data. This will give you a clearer picture than a single person's report from one brief visit.

In my (not recent) experience, even in mid-summer and not up in the mountains, the weather in Switzerland can be chilly and rainy. Or it can be very pretty.

Posted by
219 posts

are we better served by staying in Lauterbrunnen, and day trips to
Gimmelwald & Murren. ?

Lauterbrunnen is the transportation center for that area, which includes Gimmelwald and Mürren, as well as the Schilthorn and Allmendhubel on one side of the valley, and Wengen, Männlichen, Kleine Scheidegg, and the Jungfraujoch on the other side of the valley. Public transit fans out from Lauterbrunnen to each side of the valley. Most hotels for that area are in Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, and Wengen.

The Rick Steves Switzerland guidebook has an excellent explanation of this area in its Berner Oberland section.
You might also find it helpful to call the local tourist information office in that region (They'll have someone who can speak English):
https://jungfrauregion.ch/en/summer/about-us/contact/

Posted by
192 posts

thanks again to all, decided on Murren