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Switzerland for first time - 8 days

Hi Swissfan
I am vivek, and I request your kind advise on our trip..We are couple with 12 yr old kid

We are coming into Europe - via Vienna (27th April), and exiting via Zurich (11th May).

Will spend the initial 4-5 days in Austria.

Need your kind advise to plan my trip from Innburk onwards (2nd May) ..

Since I am exiting from Zurich, need to plan it for last leg of our journey

On though was to go to Moritz, and take glacier train to Chur/ disembark and go to lausanne for 2 days

Next 2-3 days in lucerne / Lauterbrunen area

Last leg at Zurich

I am not sure this is OK

Pls guide us

regards
Vivek

Posted by
31627 posts

Vivek,

Could you add more detailed information on your plans. Some comments and questions....

  • where are you spending your time in Austria?
  • is Innsbruck your last stop in Austria?
  • I'm not sure St. Moritz will be the best choice (for one thing, it's very expensive).
  • I'd suggest choosing another destination than Lausanne. While it's a beautiful city, IMO your time would be better spent elsewhere, especially with such a short time frame.
  • the weather in early May could be "variable" in the Lauterbrunnen area.
Posted by
5 posts

Hi.. Real appreciate your print reply..

Ok my itinerary is as follows:
1) 28th land in Vienna
2) spend 2 days, move to inssburk on day 3 via Salzburg
3) Innsbruck 2 days (which will include Tyrol visit)

I may skip Salzburg if we require additional day in Switzerland.

So on 2nd may (day 6) move to Switzerland. My flight out of Zurich is on 11th May

Now I am completely open to suggestions on how to plan my trip from here.

I am looking at relaxed holiday and also not averse to driving if required.

However, not sure how to plug in glacier express into the trip

Request your kind support pls

Warm Regards
Vivek

Posted by
16966 posts

Here is my suggestion.
1. From Innsbruck, take the Railjet train to Landeck-Zams, then a bus to Martina, Switzerland, then a bus to Scuol-Tarasp, then train to Samadan, then train for the short leg into St Moritz. Stay 1 or 2 nights.
2. Take the Glacier Express all the way to Brig, then a train to Lausanne. If you want to stay over a night in Chur, take a night away from St Moritz. Stay 2 nights in Lausanne.
3. Take a train from Lausanne to Montreux, then the train to Zweisimminen, then a train from there to Interlaken Ost, then the train to Lauterbrunnen. Stay 3 nights in Lauterbrunnen.
4. Train to Interlaken Ost, then train to Luzern. Stay 2 nights.
5. Early morning train to Zurich airport for your flight home.

You can look at the schedules at www.sbb.ch
First day can also be done by all rail for a little more time, but the stretch Chur to St Moritz will be repeated later in the other direction. The bus route covers some different views in an area that even the rails don't cover, the upper Inn River valley.
Best value will be to get 2 one-month Half Fare Cards and the free Swiss Family card so your kid can travel with you for free. The Half Fare Cards are 120 CHF per adult, then all train fares are half price. The Glacier Express does have a mandatory reservation fee which is not discounted. Its 33 CHF per person including your child. Thus it is advantageous to use this train only once and not break up the trip.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you once again..really obliged to see your response so quickly

It seems the first leg of inssburk to St. Moritz will be very complicated, and may be difficult for family.

I understand you suggested the same because of my request for Glacier express experience.

Also, in last reply you had mentioned to skip Lausanne.. But included the same in the recent reply..I understand again the same was done based on my previous suggestion of including the same.

May I request if there is an alternative that can involve lesser amount of changes in transportation etc.

Is there any alternative itinerary, if we have to skip glacier express..

Please feel free by suggesting what you would have done..

Hope I am not bothering you by my perisistent questions..

Hope it's not too much of a bother.

Posted by
16966 posts

First, you received replies from two different people, Ken was the first, while you made your first reply, I was composing my reply. I assumed you had some reason to visit Lausanne, so I included it in the suggested itinerary.
Regarding the first leg from Innsbruck to St Moritz, the route with fewer changes would be to stay on the Railjet train to Sargans, then a train to Chur, then a train to St Mortiz.
The Glacier Express would allow you to get to Lausanne with only a single train change at Brig. It is the premier scenic train journey in Switzerland.
The route I mentioned from Lausanne to Lauterbrunnen is called the Golden Pass, and is also a major scenic railway journey. Faster would be a train to Bern, then a train to Interlaken Ost, then a train to Lauterbrunnen.
A certain number of train changes in Switzerland are unavoidable, since most of the railways in the high mountains are narrow gauge. Narrow gauge lines would be Chur to St Moritz, St Moritz to Brig. Montreux to Zweismminen, Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen, and Interlaken to Luzern.
So download a Swiss rail map pdf from this page on the right hand side, "Map of Validity" http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/holidays--short-breaks-in-switzerland/swisstravelsystem/swiss-travel-pass.html

so plan what and where you want to go. The on-line scheduling function will give you the transportation options. www.sbb.ch

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Sam and Ken for your replies..

Appreciate your inputs..

Will consider the information provided, and plan my travel accordingly.

Can I get back to you once I have decide something based on your feedback pls ??

Warm regards
Vivek

Posted by
31627 posts

Vivek,

If I'm reading your reply correctly, here are some suggestions and comments.....

  • Apr. 28 - D1/N1 - Land in Vienna
  • Apr. 29 - D2/N2 - Vienna
  • Apr. 30 - D3/N1 - Train to Innsbruck via Salzburg
  • May 1 - D4/N2 - Innsbruck
  • May 2 - D5/N1 - Train to Switzerland (depart Innsbruck at 07:40, arrive Chur at 10:48, time 3H:08M, 1 change / transfer to Glacier Express which departs at 11:26, arriving Visp at 15:53 - disembark at Visp / transfer to regular train to Lausanne, time 1H:39M direct. You could also disembark in Brig, which is one stop before Visp. May 2 will be a long travel day, but you'll be on a scenic train for part of it, so it should be reasonably pleasant.
  • May 3 - D6/N2 - Lausanne
  • May 4 - D7/N3 - Lausanne
  • May 5 - D8/N1 - Train to Interlaken Ost (depart 09:20, arrive Interlaken Ost at 11:28, time 2H:08M, 1 change at Bern - transfer to Berner Oberlandbahn for short 20 minute trip to Lauterbrunnen).
  • May 6 - D9/N2 - Lauterbrunnen and area
  • May 7 - D10/N3 - Lauterbrunnen and area
  • May 8 - D11/N1 - Train to Lucerne - numerous departure times available - travel time 1H:51M direct - take walking tour (details at the Tourist Info office in the rail station).
  • May 9 - D12/N2 - Lucerne - possible day trip to Mt. Pilatus, cruises on the lake
  • May 10 - D13/N3 - Lucerne - visit the incredible Museum of Transport, see the famous Lion of Lucerne.
  • May 11 - D14 - Depending on what time your flight leaves from Zürich, you can travel by train directly from Lucerne to the Zürich Airport - time ~1H:03M, some trains direct and some with a short change at Zürich Hbf.

I included Lausanne since that was on your original list, although perhaps your time would be better spent elsewhere. The Itinerary can easily be adjusted if you decide to skip Lausanne. I kept at least part of the Glacier Express since you wanted to take a scenic rail route. If you want to spend a night or two in Zürich prior to your flight home, you'll either have to reduce time at one of your other destinations or increase your time.

I had to do some "cutting & pasting" to put this together, so hopefully I haven't made any mistakes.

Posted by
31627 posts

Vivek,

There are many possibilities to see "the best of Switzerland" but with such a limited time frame, you'll only be able to see a few places. Based on the comments in your other note, I've started with a "clean slate" after Austria, but included some the sights that you wanted to see such as the Glacier Express. I tried to minimize location changes so that you'll be able to focus more on touring and seeing the sights, rather than wasting time moving from one place to another.

The first part of this Itinerary is the same as the previous version.....

  • Apr. 28 - D1/N1 - Land in Vienna
  • Apr. 29 - D2/N2 - Vienna
  • Apr. 30 - D3/N1 - Train to Innsbruck via Salzburg
  • May 1 - D4/N2 - Innsbruck
  • May 2 - D5/N1 - Train to Switzerland (depart Innsbruck at 07:40, arrive Chur at 10:48, time 3H:08M, 1 change / transfer to Glacier Express which departs at 11:26, arriving Brig at 15:40 - disembark at Brig / transfer to regular train to Interlaken Ost, depart 15:49, arrive 16:57, time 1H:39M, 1 change in Spiez / transfer to Berner Oberlandbahn for short 20 minute trip to Lauterbrunnen.
  • May 3 - D6/N2 - Lauterbrunnen and area (one point to mention is that the weather at that time of year may not be perfect, but it should be reasonably nice).
  • May 4 - D7/N3 - Lauterbrunnen and area (some of the activities you could consider - explore Mürren and Gimmelwald, cable cars to the Schilthorn which was featured in the James Bond movie "On Her Majesty's Secret Service", hiking, visit Trummelbach Falls, take the expensive trip to the Jungfraujoch if your budget will allow or spend a day in Interlaken and perhaps some lake cruises and finally if you're adventurous take a tandem Paragliding flight).
  • May 5 - D8/N1 - Train to Lucerne (numerous departure times, travel time 1H:51M direct - I'd suggest arriving in Lucerne in the early afternoon as your hotel room should be ready by then).
  • May 6 - D9/N2 - Lucerne (some of the activities you could consider - Museum of Transport, lake cruises, walking tour, day trip to Mt. Pilatus, see the famous Lion of Lucerne, visit the Chapel Bridge, shopping).
  • May 7 - D10/N3 - Lucerne *(possible day trip to Bern to have a brief look and visit the Bear Park or other sites - train is about an hour each way to Bern.
  • May 8 - D11/N1 - Train to Zürich, numerous departure times, travel time 50 minutes or so depending on which train you use.
  • May 9 - D12/N2 - Zürich (you can get some ideas for touring from the official tourism website.
  • May 10 - D13/N3 - Zürich, shopping?
  • May 11 - D14 - return flight

This provides three slightly different places to see along with one scenic train ride, while minimizing transportation times to some extent. I wasn't sure whether Zürich would be the best choice as it's somewhat expensive, however as your flight departs from there it will give you a few days to enjoy some of the sights. There are many possibilities for your Itinerary, and this is just one suggestion.

Depending on which of the mountain lifts or other transportation you plan on using, you may want to buy one of the Swiss Passes, perhaps the Half Fare Card. I'll leave that question to the others.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you Ken.. For a wonderful itinerary.. I will revert back in case of any doubts. Appreciate your time on the subject..

Just one thought in case of not opting for glacier express.. Would it be possible to reach Lauterbrunen faster .. Just a thought

Posted by
16966 posts

Vivek,

You can find answers at www.sbb.ch. Put in From: "Innsbruck" and To: "Lauterbrunnen" and your travel date. Then you will get a list of all of the fastest connections. Takes a bit more than 6 hours.

Posted by
31627 posts

Vivek,

If you'd rather go directly from Innsbruck to Interlaken, one of the fastest trips will be a departure at 09:44, arriving at 15:28 (time 5H:44M, 2 changes at Zürich and Bern). While the scenery on that route may not be as spectacular as the Glacier Express, it will still be very nice.

One important point to note is that there are two stations in Interlaken, east (Ost) and west. For the ongoing trip to Lauterbrunnen, you'll want to use the Ost station (that will be the second stop - when the train arrives at Interlaken, there's a five minute stop at Interlaken West - remain seated for that one and then disembark at the Ost station, where you'll transfer to the Berner Oberland-bahn for the trip to Lauterbrunnen).

Before boarding the Berner Oberland-bahn, be sure to check the small digital display on the side of the car to ensure that the destination for that car is Lauterbrunnen. In some cases, the train "splits" at Zweilütschinen with some cars going to Grindelwald.

You can check rail solutions on the website that Sam mentioned or on the Bahn.de (German Rail) website which has information for just about all of Europe.