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Swiss destinations: Summer honeymoon

Hi all,

First-time poster here looking for some high-level guidance on how to round out a ~12-day honeymoon this summer, likely in July.

My wife and I were planning on flying into Paris and doing about 3 days there, then taking the train to Strasbourg and doing a couple more in Strasbourg and/or Colmar. We'll have about a week to play with from there, and we'd love to spend it predominantly in Switzerland. The Berner Oberland is pretty much locked-in as a target for at least 3 days -- we had our eye on a place in Grindelwald, but would be open to other recs -- but we're not sure what to target other than that. Priorities include:

  • Good food/drink options: We're not clubbing types but are night owls and enjoy good beer/wine/cocktails.
  • Walkability: With the exception of occasional cabs to hotels, we're hoping to get around via train and on foot -- no rental car.
  • Access: Ideally not somewhere where it's horrifically painful to get to/from the BO.
  • Scenery: Would like some charm; mountain views ideal but not a requirement given that we'd also do the BO.

We've done some cursory research but would love some input from the crowds. Would the bigger cities like Zurich or Geneva be worth spending some time in? Are the fancy ski resort towns (St. Moritz, Gstaad) cool to visit in the summer? Are any of the other cities (Luzern, Lausanne, Bern, Thun) known to be fun, particularly for nice walks and restaurants/nightlife?

Any and all feedback is much appreciated, and I'd be happy to clarify plans/interests wherever it'd be helpful. Thank you!

Posted by
1878 posts

You all need to read a good guide book, preferably Rick's , watch his videos, and then ask your questions. We all here are snickering because RS doesn't like Geneva, St. Moritz, and rates Zurich rather low. [I actually like Zurich.] I'd also suggest reviewing all the online posts here under Switzerland , and review RS' Best of Switzerland tour itinerary for the highlights.

You will learn that the Swiss train system is second to none for ease of use and efficiency, and that the scenery is breath-taking. However, I've never known any OP boasting about Swiss nightlife.

Also- How many actual nights are you planning for Switzerland? I think most folks here would recommend more time in the BO.

Welcome to the Forum and you'll get some great advice after you've done some "homework." Congrats on the marriage!

Posted by
6500 posts

for only one other place, I'd pick Luzern. Big enough to have nightlife, but also beautiful, surrounded by mountains and a lake. Lots of choices for things to do during the day.

Posted by
7 posts

@Pat Thanks for the quick reply! We watched several of Rick's videos on the region back when we were originally planning the trip (this trip was postponed nearly 2 years due to the pandemic), which is what set us on our plan to highlight the BO. We haven't purchased the guidebook yet and will definitely do so before we go. Re: timing, we don't have anything locked in yet, but we're hoping to spend 6-7 days in the country. Noted that we may want to consider more time in the BO.

My reasoning for reaching out here was that I thought some folks with more experience in Switzerland might have insights beyond what Rick highlights in the videos -- similar to your own appreciation for Zurich, which I do recall he doesn't rate super highly. Apologies if that was a little too vague, or if more in-depth descriptions of the various cities are available in the guidebooks.

I'll continue to browse the forums and will definitely buy the guidebook at some point, and perhaps some more folks will chime in with personal preferences. Thanks!

Posted by
7 posts

@stan: Thanks for the input! We had read the most positive things about Luzern to start, and I really appreciate the additional point in its corner.

@Pat: Thanks so much for the link! This kind of play-by-play seems like it'll be very helpful in terms of getting a feel for different places and the logistics of getting around.

Posted by
725 posts

Paris and Strasbourg/Colmar are wonderful. From there, Switzerland is easy to get to. You can train through Basel, and onward to Zurich . I agree that Lucerne is the best option over Zurich. Zurich is lovely, but really just a place to walk around a bit, then be on your way. We love the BO, and Grindlewald is nice, but like the others, just a ski town which you will be visiting during the off season, so some things will be closed, and it can be relatively quiet. Would avoid the bigger cities. One place you mentioned is Thun. I would spend a couple nights there. It is an easy trip up the tracks to Bern for the day or half day. Thun is a beautiful little town with some decent restaurants, shops, and charm. It's about a 3 hr train journey from Strasbourg. From Thun you can go to Wengen, Latterbrunnen which are about an hr. by train, changing in Interlaken for some good hiking and scenery. While beautiful, it was a little too quiet for us. We spent the day and enjoyed it a lot. From there you could head on to Lucerne and from there, it all depends on where you are flying home from. Zurich? There is so much to do in the region, that you won't be bored. Just remember Switzerland can be quite expensive. Once you decide on your where, you can plan your activities from there.

Posted by
62 posts

With about 6 days in Switzerland, stay in Lucerne and Berner-Oberland. Gstaad would be boring and for St. Moritz you would probably need to give up either Lucerne or B-O as that would be too much travel between bases. In B-O, Grindelwald is more lively but has cars. Wengen and Murren are car-free. Wengen a bit bigger with more lodging options. Don't be intimidated by transportation issues - it may seem complicated but they are all easy enough to get in and out of, especially in summer with long days. Do some research and come back with more questions as you narrow things down. Happy planning!

Posted by
1767 posts

Your itinerary is nice so I would not add anything more. You can easily stay in Paris longer than three days and four days in the Berner Oberland. If I added anything else it would be Luzern not Bern which I found a disappointment.

Posted by
7 posts

@JR, Amy, Mary Pat: Thank you all so much for the valuable feedback! We've been talking over things tonight, and this has really helped shape our thinking.

I'll keep monitoring the thread in case anyone else chips in, but at this point I think we're leaning toward adding a night in the BO and possibly one last night in Luzern en route to the Zurich airport. Depending on how long we ultimately decide to stay in Strasbourg, we may check out Thun on the way down the BO.

Truly appreciate all the help. I'll chime back in with any further questions I have, and I'll do my best to pay it forward with tips on spots I've been in the future.

Posted by
432 posts

I am the big dissenter in this group on one thing which is that we did not like Lucerne. We have been to Switzerland 5 times, one of our least favorite places. Strasbourg is great but can also tell you we absolutely loved Colmar when we were there a few years ago, especially if you like wine. Small easily walkable town, very charming, great food and wine, very nice people. From there you can easily get to the BO. The BO is very outdoors focused, hiking and so on. There are bars and restaurants. But generally it’s all about being outside and generally getting up early and outdoors. We stay in Wengen at the Hotel Schönegg which has 5 star dining but again the area isn’t big nightlife. If you want active cities you could do Bern. Thun lovely but it is quiet. Again, I am another dissenter because we absolutely fell in love with Zurich much to our surprise. Great old town, many excellent restaurants for both lunch and dinner. Obviously if you like clubs this would have plenty but keep in mind things are generally quiet on the club scene everywhere you go in Europe in Covid times, comparatively speaking. Really go to Switzerland for the Alps and the outdoors, not the cities. Try to get your fill of that in Paris, anyway my 2 cents.

Posted by
432 posts

Meaning of course Lucerne was not our favorite. Switzerland is by far our favorite country.

Posted by
1878 posts

I love being in Lucerne and going up to Mt. Rigi and Mt. Stanserhorn. It's a comfortable, beautiful, and safe city. But as you can see, RS travelers have a variety of opinions, and we all agree to disagree sometimes.
Safe- and healthy- travels!

Posted by
1111 posts

I agree with both cchapin and pat on Lucerne. I found the old town area of Lucerne to be a little disappointing as it was very crowded. But once we got out of the old town area, we really liked Lucerne. The boat/train combo to Mt. Riggi was a favorite of mine. I plan to see Mt. Riggi and Mt. Stanserhorn (thanks to Pat’s recommendation) when I return to Switzerland in June. I’m also returning to the BO and staying in Wengen at the Hotel Schönegg (thanks to cchapin’s recommendation).

Like cchapin and pat, I really liked Zurich. It was a lot less crowded than Lucerne which was a big plus.

Watching videos on You Tube helps me visualize each location so I can get an idea of if I think it’s a place I will like. Everyone has their favorites in Switzerland, but I think most will agree that there is nothing like the BO area.

Have a great trip!!

Posted by
62 posts

We loved Lucerne as do most participants on this forum. For sure there are some travelers who have a different experience but I think the consensus is that Lucerne is a well-loved destination. Sounds like a great trip that you are planning and I think anywhere you go in Switzerland you will have a great trip!

Posted by
3589 posts

For a honeymoon, I would consider staying not in Lucerne proper (which is a pretty but busy city), but somewhere around the lake. Weggis, right at the foot of Mount Rigi, has plenty of hotels and is easy to reach by ferry from Luzern. Its south-facing location on the lake is very pleasant.

Posted by
836 posts

I think you have received pretty advice thus far. For a 12-day honeymoon, you have enough on your plate.

Some general comments about Switzerland: July offers the highest number of days with sunshine, but mountain climate is mountain climate. It's fickle. Sometimes, you can experience two to three (or even four) seasons within 24 hours. Rain can happen at anytime. So, have some flexibility in your schedule. Spending at least 3 nights in BO is a good idea because there may be a day or two with rain.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks to all the folks who have chimed in since I last checked! Really appreciate all the tips. To those who have mentioned it: We are almost certainly stopping in Colmar -- either as a day trip out of Strasbourg or on the way from Strasbourg to Switzerland.

After considering all the advice we've gotten (particularly regarding the fickle weather), we're currently leaning toward extending our stay in the BO by a day, then doing one day in either Luzern or Zurich before flying out of Zurich. Pretty ambivalent on which as of now, and I've heard good things about both from people on here who seem to know their stuff, so I'll read up on guidebooks
and see what the wife thinks of the hotel options.

My main remaining question is about which Swiss rail pass it makes the most sense to buy if we're looking at about five days in the country (mostly in the BO), but I suspect this has been addressed in other threads. I'll check back in if I can't find a good answer. Thank you all again!

Posted by
1878 posts

Having a Swiss Travel Pass is wonderful- no buying tickets for each trip, no validation, complete flexibility regarding when you want to hop a train. The STP completely covers the boat and cogwheel up to Mt Rigi, when staying in Lucerne, as well as Mt Stanserhorn. Mt. Pilatus is partially covered.

In the BO, STP covers trains up to Weggis and Murren; then the train companies change, and you have a discount.
If you are using the STP for a discount, it counts as a use day, so consider this if you're buying a pass that doesn't cover everyday.
In the past year, there have been discounts for the STP, so keep a look out here on the Forum- an OP will blast the news as soon as it happens.

Hotels- in Lucerne, Hotel Des Alpes is a RS favorite. Ask for a view room with a balcony, as you'll be right above the Chapel Bridge. Book directly with the hotel to receive a discount, and as of last Sept, they had a generous 48 hour cancelation policy. However, no breakfast package. On Saturdays, there's a farmers market along the river, so we bought fresh cheeses, yogurts, and breads that morning.

In Zurich, we loved the Zurich Marriott, and had a room on the 25th floor. I know, folks here don't like using chain hotels in Europe, but many of us have Marriott or Sapphire points to use. Our room was on the edge of the old town, close to the train station, and we had spectacular views of the river in both directions. Locals jump off the bridge nearby, to float down the river, and we had quite a show.

As you can tell, so many of us love Switzerland so much, so we are eager to share info.

Posted by
725 posts

You have some great advice here. Personally, we would spend our last night in Zurich - train to Lucerne for the day, and spend the evening/night in Zurich. It is such a lovely place at night along the river. Easy commute the following morning on the train to the airport.

Posted by
836 posts

I don't recommend Zurich Marriott hotel. It's in the west side, which is kind of a rough area. I almost got mugged there.

Posted by
1878 posts

Barkinpark,
I don't think we are talking about the same hotel. Marriott has several in Zurich. This hotel was right on the river, less than 1/2 mile form the old town and main train station. We felt very safe and comfortable in in the area. Could you be referring to the Renaissance Zurich Marriott which is further west?

Posted by
191 posts

I know this tread is concerning Switzerland but you did not mention exact dates & I just wanted to remind you that the big French national holiday (la fete Nationale or le quatorze Juillet) occurs on July 14th (what we call Bastille Day) & it is a blast to be in Paris that day. Crowded but we found a great spot on the pont de l'Alma bridge (Mo: Alma Marceau) overlooking the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower where the fireworks go off at dusk. It's one large day/night party all across the city.