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Switzerland - 5 days

Hi All,
I've been planning a trip with my parents (both above 60) to Europe. I posted in the General Europe thread and got many great suggestions on this thread (https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/traveling-through-europe). Now, I am planning the things I want to see per city-in each country. So, here are the places that I'd like to see in Switzerland.

Of all the countries, I found this to be the hardest as there seem to be spectacular views everywhere. But, considering I have around 5 days (2nd Sep morning - 6 Sep evening) I had to pick and choose a lot. In the end, here is what I came up with - in short it's a town/landmark per day. Do let me know if this works.

Arrive from Paris on 2nd Sep morning..or maybe 1st Sep night...not yet sure..

2nd Sep - Rhine Falls and Zurich city (just walk around Zurich and look at its streets etc)
3rd Sep - Bernese Oberland and surrounding area
4th Sep - Arrive at Interlaken, then visit the Jungfrau :)
5th Sep - Grindelwald OR Montreux
6th Sep - Geneva (Spend the day here and leave by an evening flight to Rome)

Normally I wouldn't do so many cities (1 a day) .. but its Switzerland and there are trains everywhere... and I feel like peeking everywhere.

I plan to stay at Berne or somewhere nearby (which is cheaper :)) as that seems central to all of these places. I'll come to Berne once I finish seeing Zurich on 2nd Sep in the evening, and check out on 6th Sep morning, go to Geneva and leave from there.

What do you think? Is this doable? Do let me know. If not, what do you suggest I drop? Apart from the Jungfrau and the Rhine falls :)

Thanks
Arvind

Posted by
16463 posts

There is not too much to the Rhine Falls. If you want to see a similar falls, just go to Patterson, NJ. I think Interlaken might be the most central spot to stay in the Berner Oberland. Easy, short train rides to Grindelwald. You could also use Grindelwald as your base as you can get to the Jungfrau from there, (its right underneath it). And there is nothing too special about Zurich if all you want to do is walk around. Bern would fit the bill for that experience. Ditto Geneva. Its out of the way for your itinerary. I'd cut a day in Switzerland and add one for Italy per your post in the "Italy" section.

Posted by
12040 posts

The 3rd through the 5th don't really make sense. All of the destinations except Montreux are a part of the Berner Oberland. It would be like writing "Day 1: Eifel tower. Day 2: Arrive in Paris."

Also, don't pigeon-hole your Jungfrau excursion to a specific day. Bad weather can turn it into a very expensive trip into zero-visibility fog. Rather, keep a flexible schedule, and ascend at the first opportunity with good weather. If the sun is shining on one day, you can never guarantee it will still be out on the next.

Posted by
12951 posts

Arvind, take a look at this Swiss rail map so you can see the relative positions of the places you want to see:

http://www.swisspasses.com/railpass/overviewmap_en.pdf

It makes the most sense to spend two nights in Luzern (much mre charming than Zurich) and three in the Berner Oberland.

The Rhinefalls are at Schaffhausen and a bit out of your way. But you could spend a day going there and back from Luzern if you wish, and include a short visit to Zurich as well.

Then I suggest that rather than traveling in and out of the Berner Oberland each day from Bern, you spend 3 nights IN the Berner Oberland. Lauterbrunnen makes a nice convenient base and offers lovely views right from your hotel. (The valley looks a bit like Yosemite). There are places to stay that are not overly expensive.

On Day 6, take the train from Lauterbrunnen to Montreux and store your bags in a locker. Visit Montreux and Chateau de Chillon. Then reclaim your bags and continue on the train to the Geneva airport if that is how you prefer to travel to Rome.

Posted by
137 posts

Thank you all for your opinions.

@Sam: I see. Are there any other waterfalls that you personally enjoyed? Maybe in Interlaken or somewhere else, where it is easy to get to? I just wanted a nice waterfall as Mom enjoyed Niagara Falls the last time ... a lot.

@Tom: Ha. I thought that was a place too. I see it's a collection of villages though. I guess I will stay at Interlaken then as everyone here and online seem to say it is central. Great great point about the Jungfrau - I'll do it at the earliest opportunity - hopefully there is a lot of sun when we go there.

@Lola: Thank you - I will study the map. It looked like Bern was central on the map, hence I chose that as a base. But I guess it is not, and Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen work better. Yes.. flights from Geneva to Rome seem super super cheap.. hence Geneva.

Posted by
12951 posts

Arvind---Lauterbrunnen has lots of waterfalls. They say 72, but that includes the whole area. But there are two right at the town. One can be seen right from most hotel rooms or balconies:

http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/lauterbrunnen.html

The other, Trummelbach Falls, is across the valley and cascades down inside the mountain. It is amazing.

http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/lauterbrunnen.html

You pay an entrance fee but that includes a ride up an elevator so you can walk down on a very safe path, close to the churning water. It is well worth it.

I highly recommend you stay in Lauterbrunnen for the best Berner Oberland experience. It is between Interlaken and the Jungfrau trip: also between Interlaken and Gimmelwald which is a fun cablecar trip.

Posted by
137 posts

@Lola: That sounds awesome. I will plan accordingly and definitely dump Rhine falls now :). Thanks a lot.