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Switzerland - December 2015


I am currently considering to visit Switzerland around starting Dec 13/14, 2015. I will be arriving in Zurich and must return to Zurich for the outbound flight as well. The part I'm unsure of is the length of time needed (likely < 2 weeks overall).

I am not a skier so it'll more be visiting cities/mountains. My "preliminary" plan is:

- Rick's walking tour + stay overnight
- 1 day?

- travel from Zurich
- Rick's walking tour + Rosegart + Lake cruise possibly
- Mount Pilatus day trip
- overall 2 days + stay overnight including Pilatus?

- travel from Lucern
- Rick's walking tour + Paul Klee center + stay overnight
- 1 day?

- Rick's walking tour
- is it worth one day + stay overnight or return to Bern for overnight?

Here is where my itinerary gets fuzzy as I'm a non-skier, the whole Interlaken seems to not be worth it. I am trying to decide between Jungfrau and Schilthorn and will likely settle for Schilthorn.

I assume I'll need a "travel day" from Murtern/Bern to Lauterbrunnen and staying overnight here (or perhaps Gimmelwald/Murren) as Rick suggests. Next day, I'll do the Shilthorn up which I think takes one day up and down? I am also considering whether "joining a tour" is easier instead of doing this on your own (thoughts?). As such, overall Schilthorn exp = 2 days with overnight stay?

Next taken "golden pass" from Interlaken to Lake Geneva (Montreux) and then to Chateau de Chillon. I'm guessing I'll arrive sometime in the afternoon and 2-3 hours will be sufficient to visit the castle and then head to Lausanne for stay overnight?
- overall = 1 day?

- Rick's walking tour + Collection de l'art Brut + Olympic Museum and Park = 1 day
- interested in doing a vineyard exercusion as well (are visits in December possible?) = 1 day
- overall = 3 nights?

Travel back to Zurich from Lausanne + stay overnight for possibly shopping etc. or maybe National Museum

As such, total days appears to be 11 days total. Should I budget for 12 days for flexibility?

I am trying to come up with a rough plan as i need to book flights first and then I'll sort out my intinerary later on. Any advise on the above plan would be appreciated!

Thank you.

Posted by
16894 posts

Schilthorn does not take a whole day to visit, so you will have time for another village or two that day. The lift up from Lauterbrunnen, for instance, takes 1 hour. Views are often clearest in the morning and you may want to spend 2 hours there to enjoy photo opps and maybe breakfast or snack. To descend from the Schilthorn and then ascend the other side of the valley to Kleine Schiedegg takes under 2 hours. Lifts are reflected on train schedules through [or our DB link How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online.

Posted by
11445 posts

It seems you like walking! There are several trails for snow-hiking for non-skiers in the Berner-Oberland. They actually groom the trails for what they call "Winterwandern" so all you need is basic hiking shoes, warm socks. We find hiking pants that are wind and water resistant useful in winter walking too. You can take many of the walks Rick recommends in summer. See the TI for detailed suggestions. We bought a lift pass at the TI too, and rode the little trains and the lifts all over. Enjoyed four nights/3 days there in January 2014. We stayed in Lauterbrunnen which made it easy to go up both sides of the valley. We have also stayed in lovely Murren, but it takes longer to get to the other side.... personal choice!

Posted by
4543 posts

Yes, Schilthorn is easy to do as a day trip from Bern or even Zurich if you like. If you're already near Interlaken, it's a piece of cake.

Would not suggest getting off the Golden Pass and going straight to Chillon, unless you arrive around noon. It's not that far from the Montreux train station to the castle, but you need to transfer to a bus (or wait for a local train) and yes, the castle is surprisingly large and will take several hours. Then you need to get back to Montreux or Lausanne. It would be a long day. Better to go from Golden Pass either to Lausanne and spend the night or stay over in Montreux (not my recommendation, didn't care for that city). Also you're planning this in December and the tracks from Interlaken to Montreux go through hill and dale and tunnels and could be affected by snow. It's a great train ride BTW, don't be alarmed that halfway through you have to change trains it's just because the track narrows.

Posted by
12040 posts

Gimmelwald is snowed under and pretty dead in the winter. Don't bother... actually, I wouldn't bother most times of the year.

One of the advantages of the Berner Oberland for a non-skier in winter is that it has more winter hiking hiking and sledging trails than I've seen in any other Alpine resort region. For winter activities, though, I think the Wengen-Grindelwald side of the valley is far superior to the Gimmelwald-Mürren side.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks everyone for the tips.

I am considering to revise my itinerary probably somewhere along:

Arrive in Zurich & immediately travel to Lucerne as my base for 4 nights. I'll still do the Lucerence activities + day trips to Zurich & Bern instead (saves on moving hotels etc?)

Subsequently probably travel to Interlaken area and staying at Lauterbrunnen (easier with suitcases?) or Grindewald/Wengen (from comments) and then seeing which day to go up Schilthorn / visiting the small villages/surrounding areas.

Then golden pass from Interlaken to Laussane directly with trips to Montreaux/Chillon instead on subsequent days.

This would seem to reduce the moving around of hotels as much as possible and lugging them on the trains.

Does above probably make more sense?