Please sign in to post.

Switzerland 7 day Itinerary help

My mom and I are planning to visit Switzerland for about 7 days in July. I’ve been going through my guidebook and researching online but there’s so much information that I’m a little overwhelmed. ANY help with our travel itinerary would be GREATLY appreciated!

Destinations we want to visit:
1) Zurich (We fly into Zurich around 10 AM and fly out 8 days later around 7 AM, so that last night HAS to be spent in Zurich.)
2) Berner Oberland is a must! Jungfrau, Murren, Lauterbrunnen, Interlaken
3) Luzern?
Any other ideas? Or would these places be more than enough for our first trip to Switzerland? My mom also wants to ride the Glacier Express, but I don’t really know how to fit that into our schedule… Is it worth it?

If we were to ride on the Glacier Express, I was thinking of taking a train directly to Chur or St. Moritz immediately after we land in Zurich (Since we’ll be spending a night at the end of our trip there anyways, we can always tour that city last). Spend maybe one night in either of those locations, then take the Glacier Express and get off at a stop near Berner Oberland (which stop would that be? Is there even a stop?). Then we’ll spend 2-3 nights in Berner Oberland (probably Murren or Lauterbrunnen) before going to our next location. Should we get back on the GE and go to Zermatt or go north to Luzern? Also, there’s probably no time to spend in Geneva right? 7 days isn’t a whole lot of time, so we’re trying to make the most of our trip.

Posted by
16883 posts

At http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/switzerland/itinerary or page 7 of the book, Rick lays out his top priorities that fit into 7 days: Berner Oberland, Luzern and side trips, Golden Pass scenic train to Lake Geneva area, and Bern. It is moving pretty fast, so fit it onto a calendar to see if you're comfortable with that much (or leave out Bern). This assumes flying in and out of Zurich or Geneve, but doesn't allot any time to those larger cities. The Golden Pass route runs Luzern-Interlaken-Zweisimmen-Montreux, making it a natural fit with your B.O. visit, and many call it their favorite, versus the Glacier Express which is further away and not our favorite of the marketed scenic trains.

Posted by
16834 posts

Well, if the Glacier Express is on mom's bucket list, and you skip it, you will never hear the end of it. "We went all the way to Switzerland, and didn't ride the Glacier Express. Oh well, maybe in the next life." Worth it? If you like a long relaxing train ride with beautiful scenery (if the weather cooperates), yes, if dropping a couple of hundred bucks doesn't bother you. Switzerland is an expensive country, so it may be best to get used to it. Agree, if you want to do the GE, take it from Chur to Brig where you can change to a train to the Berner Oberland. 3 days there, then 2 in Luzern, and the last 2 in Zurich should do it. You can skip Geneva.

Posted by
6644 posts

of all the places you mention, I think Zurich is the least interesting, so if you have to short change one place that would be the one. I think Chur is worth one night: St Moritz is glitzy but less historic. If taking the GE, you might as well go on to Zermatt ( I think Brig or Visp is the stop). Next stop, BO, and back to Zurich. All these places pretty popular in July.

Posted by
7205 posts

If you plan on visiting Jungfrau, Murren, Lauterbrunnen then you'll connect thru Interlaken by default...all trains to Murren and Lauterbrunnen will transit through Interlaken. Interlaken is not the destination you want to see - just pass on through and keep on going up into the Swiss Alps. When you arrive in Lauterbrunnen - that's where your experience will begin.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all the quick replies everyone! They were all extremely helpful!

I think I might try and convince my mom to take the Golden Pass route instead of the Glacier Express, especially if the views from the train are relatively comparable and a favorite of many. It might make the trip less hectic. Crossing my fingers I hope she goes for it. If not, based on all your replies, taking the GE from Chur to Brig or Zermatt should work too. If we were to stay one night in Chur, then take the GE all the way to Zermatt and stay one night there, then 2-3 nights in Berner Oberland, we can probably still spend one night in Luzern and then the last night in Zurich.

For an itinerary like ours, riding the Glacier express as well as all the other train rides and such in BO and between our other destinations, the Swiss Flexi-pass should be our best option for saving on transportation right?

Posted by
16834 posts

It sounds like you will be doing enough traveling to spring for the 8 day Saver Pass. Assume you and mom will be traveling together all the time, it will cost 354 chf each 2nd class. Looks like you will be travelling every day, if not from place to place, at least taking day trips in the Berner Oberland. I see you having at least 5 travel days, and at 328 chf for the Saver Flexi Pass, you might as well spend the extra 28 chf and travel whenever and where ever you want. You will probably get your money back. The Half Fare Card is guaranteed to save money at 120 chf each.

The only reason I'd skip Zermatt, is I don't see any point of going all that way and staying one night and then turning around and leaving the next day. The train ride from Visp to Zermatt is in a deep valley and you can't see any of the mountains until you arrive in Zermatt. I'd save days by spending more time in the B. O. and Luzern.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the tip Sam! If you really don't see much from Visp to Zermatt, maybe I will spend either more time in Berner Oberland or Luzern...

Posted by
5 posts

Although, where did you get 354 chf for a 2nd class 8 day Saver pass? I went on Rick Steves' Rail Europe page and the estimate for an 8 day 2nd class Swiss pass was $798... which makes it almost $400 per person...

Posted by
16834 posts

I got prices from the Swiss rail site. You can also get them from RS. 354 chf X 1.13 $/chf = $400

Posted by
2832 posts

The best part of the Glacier Express is early on, around Disentis. Ride it as far as Brig but skip the rest ( to Zermatt). We like Zermatt for hiking but you are talking about a journey and don't really have time. You also don 't have time for Bern, Montreux or Geneva.

As I see it you have eight nights. Land in Zurich and travel straight to St. Moritz to be ready for the Glacier Express the next day. Take the train ride as far as Brig. Spend the night someplace scenic near there. I can suggest two places, both we like and neither on the Rick Steves radar. Bettmeralp is a little village like Mürren, perched high above the valley and accessed by cablecar. You would backtrack 10 minutes and then catch the cablecar up. Wonderful views from the village and some nice short walks.

Www.bettmeralp.ch
The other would be Kandersteg, an hour from Brig on you way to the Berner Oberland. you can ride a gondola up to a beautiful lake and stay in a rustic mountain lodge right on the lakeshore. Heaven.

Www.oeschinensee.ch

Then take the train the rest of the way to Lauterbrunnen or Mürren and spend three nights. Ride the Golden Pass route to Lucerne and spend two nights. Last night in Zurich. If your plane is a 7, you could minimize stress by staying at the Radisson Blu which is in the airport terminal. No transport at all --- just head downstairs and go to check in. It is expensive but so is everything in Zurich. Prepaid rates often offer a good deal.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for the clarification Sam! I did forget to convert chf to dollars...

Thanks for the great tips Sasha! Unfortunately, I just tried making a reservation on the Glacier Express for our preferred date (6/30), and it's all sold out. There is, however, still seats in July going the other direction, so I think I'm going to have to reverse my entire itinerary. Go to Lucerne first, then Berner Oberland, then ride the Glacier Express.

Posted by
2832 posts

That is actually a better plan, in that your journey on the first day (to Lucerne) will be very short (one hour). Much easier after the long flight.