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Switzerland in September

How does this look? Senior citizens 62+ couple. Vegetarians. No heavy hiking/trekking.
Please suggest places to stay in Lucerne, Lauterbrennan area, Zermatt and St. Moritz area.
Thanks.

Day 0: Depart from the USA
Day 1: Arrive in Zurich, train to Lucerne.
Day 2: Mt.Pilatus
Day 3: Golden Pass to Lauterbrennan/Murren
Day 4: Jungfrau
Day 5: Waterfalls
Day 6: Train to Zermatt
Day 7: Matterhorn
Day 8: Gornergrat
Day 9: Glacier Express to St.Moritz (Stay in Pontresina or nearby)
Day 10: St. Moritz
Day 11: Bernina Express to Tirano, then to Lake Como area
Day 12: Lake Como
Day 13: Lake Como
Day 14: Milan
Day 15: Milan
Day 16: Back home

Posted by
6506 posts

I would suggest staying in Pontresina instead of St Moritz. Jut a short distance away so you can easily visit St M., but much more comfortable and less expensive. I'd rather stay extra days on Lake Como than in Milan, but you may have other interests.

Posted by
4211 posts

Day 4, both Jungfrau and Schilthorn have cameras at the top so you can see what the weather is like. Maybe it was a local TV station that was showing the weather live? In any case, Jungfrau in particular is quite expensive and I think pointless if it's socked in with clouds. It can be clear on one and there be dense fog on the other. I think in Berner Oberland and just mountains, in general, you tend to have better conditions right away in the morning. Schilthorn is on the Swiss Travel Pass, the last time I looked.

I would want more time in Lake Como.

Posted by
1890 posts

Regarding the STP, isn't the 15 day pass just a tiny bit more expensive, and perhaps there will be another 25% off sale.
If you show your pass for discounts for the Jungfrau or Schilthorn, it counts as a use day. The Schilthorn is not free with the STP now; you receive a 25% discount.

In Lucern, the Mt Rigi boat and cogwheel are completely covered by the Swiss Travel Pass.

I'd recommend more time in the BO, to account for weather changes, and less in Milan. Pontresina is a delightful place to stay. Most folks recommend skipping St. Moritz, as it's a sterile town with high-end stores that can be found anywhere. The Matterhorn really takes you out of the way, and you're gambling on clear weather for the short time that you are there.

Safe travels for exploring a beautiful country!

Posted by
1121 posts

You can see some of the top discounts with the Swiss Travel Pass here:

https://www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpass/validity

Rigi and Stanserhorn are covered 100%

Pilatus, Schilthorn, Männlichen, Gornergrat are covered 50%

Jungfraujoch - Top of Europe is covered 25%

To take full advantage of the Pass, I suggest looking over the discounts and incorporating as many of them as you can during your trip. The Pass will also cover you from Switzerland to the last stop before you reach Italy.

Looks like a great trip. Enjoy!!

Posted by
1121 posts

Also, here’s a somewhat easy way to see if the 15-day Pass is worth it without having to do too much math.

The 2nd class, 15-day Pass is 429 CHF. So, only 28.6CHF per day or 39 CHF per day if you only use it for 11 days. If you’ll be taking trains, boats, trams, buses most days and doing several of the mountain excursions, you will definitely get your money’s worth. And figure in the time you’ll save not having to buy tickets. That to me is priceless. 😊

The Pass prices were lowered for 2022 so it really is a great deal this year.

Posted by
48 posts

Is First Class worth the money? Luggage restrictions in 2nd class?? Considering we are senior citizens.

Posted by
1121 posts

I had the 2nd class Pass this past Sept. and did decide to go with the 1st class Pass for my upcoming June trip. I did run into several crowded trains where it was difficult to find a seat. So, that’s why I decided to go with 1st class for my next trip. There are no luggage restrictions in either class, but you do have to find room for the luggage. I assume this will be easier in a less crowded train car. Also, I’m switching to a smaller suitcase so it will fit in some of the racks above the seats. As far as comfort, 2nd class is very comfortable.

Someone made a comment not too long ago that convinced me to go for 1st class—if you can afford it, why not. The difference in price is not going to break me. But, I do feel a little guilty about it. My trip is in June and yours is not until Sept. I’ll be happy to report back and let you know if I think 1st was worth it.

Also, I did purchase the pass when it was on sale at the end of last year. It saved me 50 CHF over the reduced 2022 price. Because the prices are already reduced for 2022, I'm not sure there will be any sales offered this year. If I happen to hear of a sale, I will post the details here on the Switzerland forum. So, check back for that.

Posted by
4211 posts

Regarding the Swiss Travel Pass. Isn't it for consecutive days? Even if it isn't, on the day you go to Jungfrau or Schilthorn, you probably would be using the other transportation in BO anyway. So you'd use a day up regardless.

The Swiss trains are VERY nice. I wouldn't see any need for 1st class.

Posted by
432 posts

We’ve done both first and second. We always do first now, and especially glad we had it for crowded trains this last time with covid. It also comes with a few extra perks. Yes it is expensive. I seem to remember last time in Montreux (a few trips ago) and Brienz we got some additional perks on the lake boats by having the first class pass. And seems like we had a few other perks too. They were much less crowded this year! But we’re a bit on the getting older side so worth it for us. I would research both first and second and then see if the additional outlay of money makes it worthwhile to you, both for comfort and any small extras you may get. But as others have said Swiss trains are very nice. First class will def have fewer people.

Posted by
1121 posts

Regarding the Swiss Travel Pass. Isn't it for consecutive days?

There’s also a Swiss Travel Pass Flex that you can use on nonconsecutive days. It’s more expensive and not as convenient because you have to get day tickets for each day you want to use it.

Details can be found here:

https://www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpassflex

Posted by
48 posts

I know this is a difficult question to answer, but would anyone estimate how much this entire trip would cost (excluding airfares)? I am estimating USD250 per night hotel (total USD4000), USD1500 for 1st class 15-day rail pass (for a couple), USD100 per day food (for 2)?? USD100 per day other expenses (like 50% tickets etc)?? USD8500-USD10,000??

Posted by
4211 posts

I don't know if this is helpful, but we used trains in Poland. In the past, in every country we have traveled in, we were happy with 2nd class. After our 1st train ride in Poland, we decided to switch to 1st class because the seating was less dense and we felt it was safer in terms of COVID. I should say, that train tickets in Poland, even 1st class, are cheap.

My recollection of the trains in Switzerland is that they were very nice, and 2nd class was not crowded, except "rush hour" in Montreaux. You could pick either 1st or 2nd class on your first trip, and then scope the other out to determine how you want to go forward.

Posted by
1121 posts

I can help a little with the Switzerland part as I was just there in Sept. I kept track of my expenses. I was there for 16 nights.

Roundtrip nonstop airfare—Chicago to Zurich $885 (was on sale). $92 x 2 transportation to and from O’hare airport

Travel insurance $46 (this was just in case of quarantine as I have health insurance with my employer and cancellation insurance with my Chase credit card).

$300 for 6-self test covid tests to return to US.

$110 for an international phone plan with Verizon

4 nights in Basel $1348 (this was for 3 people as the room was shared with my sister and her husband).

5 night in Lauterbrunnen $976 (this was just for me).

7 nights in Lucerne $1755 (this was just me and at a more expensive hotel because my sister and her husband had hotel points to use. You can find cheaper. I have Hotel des Alpes booked for this June and that cost is $528 for 3 nights, 1 person.

Everything else (food, souvenirs, tickets not covered with the Pass) was $2200. I did spend a little more on food as I was helping my sister and her husband out. So, while we were trying to split those costs, I probably covered 50% of food costs instead of my 1/3 share.

Depending on your eating habits, your food estimates is probably too low. We easily spent near $100 on lunch for 3 people some days. I think our most expensive dinner was $150 for 3. None of us drink alcohol. That would be extra. But that being said, you can spend less on food. We often had sandwiches for lunch. We all like oatmeal so we brought some instant oatmeal from home and had that for breakfast maybe half the time. Two of our hotels had breakfast included, but we only took advantage of that a few times as we were often out and about before that started. And my sister and her husband like to eat, so I ate more on this trip than if I was just traveling on my own.

And while I think your food estimate might be low, your misc. expenses are maybe a little high. So, I think your total estimate sounds reasonable. And everything in Italy, especially the food, should be less expensive. I haven’t been to Italy yet, so I can’t say how much lower the cost would be.

Posted by
1890 posts

I agree that $100 day is way too low for a couple in Switzerland. Even if your hotels offer breakfast, which I highly recommend, you will have to work to keep food expenses down. We usually skipped lunch, as we ate a big breakfast, and often bought our dinner at the Coop grocery stores. It seemed like at the restaurants , the lunch and dinner prices were the same, as opposed to the US where lunch is usually cheaper, so we tried to avoid eating lunch out.

In Lucerne, reasonable food prices were found at the local department store, which had a great food court, and you could eat outside on the rooftop deck, [ I think it closed at 4pm.] The Lucerne Coop store also had a food court, which closed around 5pm. On farmers market days [Saturday and ?] you can buy really fresh cheese, bread, and yogurts for breakfast and lunch.

I'm not a big fan of Swiss food, and all the venison and fondue, but that is a personal quirk.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
4211 posts

Switzerland, indeed, is very expensive. But, there are ways to keep costs down a bit. I used VRBO or AirBnB for Lauterbrunnen and found rates were lower, there. The Coop stores are excellent with great prices. We like to picnic for lunch, anyway, and prices for bread and cheese, etc. were low. I loved their store brand chocolate bars and wine and beer are reasonable. Sometimes we were able to find delis in the Coop stores to get take out for dinner. The price for take out pizza seemed to be about the same as I pay in most cities. Also, so much of Switzerland is enjoying the outdoors which is typically free! I haven't been to Zermatt, but staying longer in BO will keep your costs down. Incidentally, we also did the Bernina Express after overnighting in Chur and then stayed three nights in Lake Como. We had a fabulous time. Also, just so you know, the train change in Tirano was very easy.

In terms of Luzern, it is a magnificent city. One of my favorite in Europe. Unless you are getting to luzern early morning, you really don't have enough time to enjoy Luzern. Perhaps you'd like to analyze how much time a Pilatus excursion would take vs. Rigi. We spent a bit more than a half day doing Rigi which was incredible.

Posted by
48 posts

Pontresina is not on the Glacier Express route. Please suggest a good hotel near St.Moritz on the Glacier Express route. Preferably with free pickup and drop-off from train station.

Posted by
1890 posts

Jules,
are you saying that Swiss chocolate bars are a meal staple? And why did you leave out the Paprika chips? I'm not a nutritionist , obviously, just asking ? :)

Posted by
1890 posts

PS. You can pick up the Bernina Express in Pontresina, with the regional train with the windows that open, and get on IN Pontresina at the " Stop by Request" station named Surovas, a five minute walk from town.
Safe travels!

Posted by
62 posts

Only addressing daily cost question. Sorry I don't have specific places to advise for you to stay as we have traveled as a family which is a totally different analysis than lodging for a couple!

I think $250/night is low for Switzerland, but that is not hard to check. I like booking.com but then I try to contact the lodging direct as they may offer a better deal. Also consider hostels if you are open to that. Many offer private rooms and bathrooms now so it might be worth looking into.

In terms of $100 per day for food for both of you, that is very very low. It is not difficult to spend $50 per person on a single meal in Switzerland. If you can get breakfast at your lodging that will help a lot. Don't do lunch at your lodging though since you will want to be out and about. Consider the picnic lunch of baguette, cheese and apples (cut with your swiss army knife). You can buy your supplies at the local Coop store that will be near where you are staying (they are everywhere). We add salami but maybe since you are vegetarian you can add nuts. Don't forget the chocolate.

Posted by
726 posts

Agree with Amy on cost of meals. Switzerland is expensive on meals. We went to dinner in Interlaken, just two of us, ordered pasta, and spent well over $85. Welcome to the country with the $15 Quarter Pounder at McDonalds. No kidding.

Posted by
1890 posts

We saw a Burger King in Bern offering 17chf burgers!

Posted by
27425 posts

I don't get these absurdly high prices quotes for a fast food burger in Switzerland. I have never experienced such a thing.

From the official website https://www.mcdonalds.com/ch/de-ch.html they are currently showing 2 Menu Medium plus Happy Meal for CHF25.90. That's $28.43 for two Big Macs, two medium fries, two medium drinks and a Happy Meal. Or leave off the Happy Meal and the same thing is CHF19.90 ($21.85) or $10.93 per person. More expensive than the US? Sure (or at least probably, but I didn't look), but nowhere near $15 for just a sandwich quoted above.

By the way there is an entire page of vegetarian food on the menu, and this https://www.mcdonalds.com/ch/de-ch/menu/GlutenFree.html entire page of gluten free, including several sandwiches and several desserts.

Posted by
48 posts

Thanks all. We are Vegetarians.
Is coffee available in Swiss hotels? Like our American hotels? If not when do coffee shops open in the Hotels?

Posted by
1890 posts

Nigel, if I knew how to post pix here, I would of the posted menu. The Burger King prices we saw were Sept, 2021, at a Burger King within one block of the main Bern train station. The fast food stands inside the train station were much cheaper.

Nigel, I just want to thank you for all of your incredibly helpful information you have provided us all here on the Forum.

Posted by
27425 posts

sorry Pat. Maybe because like Apple and Microsoft, we have preferences. I would never have looked at a Burger KIng price list. Probably why I never saw anything like it..... we'll need a report from somebody some time about it.

I always ate at the Manora near the station in Bern, and since it closed now have switched to tibits in the station - vegetarian and vegan for those who prefer, but even for us normal food eaters it is very very scrummy - and you have complete control over portion size.

Posted by
4211 posts

Pat, chocolate AND wine are lunch staples while on vacation! I lost weight in Switzerland. In contrast to Poland where gelato and donuts were daily snacks. At 1 euro each, it was hard to pass up.

Posted by
48 posts

Changed the plan a bit, eliminating Zermatt. Spending more time in each place. Hope this is better. I'd really appreciate hotel suggestions in Lauterbrennan area and St. Moritz area.
Sept 03: Day 00: Depart from the USA
Sept 04: Day 01: Arrive in Zurich around 11 AM, Train to Luzern (Hotel des Alpes, 3-nights, $867.24)
Sept 05: Day 02: Day trip to Mt. Rigi
Sept 06: Day 03: One more day in Luzern-Mt. Pilatus??
Sept 07: Day 04: Train to Lauterbrennan (Sunstar, Wengen, 4-nights, $1120.24)
Sept 08: Day 05: Jungfrau
Sept 09: Day 06: Schilthorn
Sept 10: Day 07: Grindelwald or something else
Sept 11: Day 08: Train to Pontresina (Hotel Walther, 2-nights, $733.70)
Sept 12: Day 09: Rest in Pontresina
Sept 13: Day 10: Bernina Express to Tirano, then to Varenna (Hotel Olivedo, 3-nights, $850)
Sept 14: Day 11: Lake Como
Sept 15: Day 12: Lake Como
Sept 16: Day 13: Train to Milan- Half day sightseeing (Hotel Glam, 2-nights, $595)
Sept 17: Day 14: Milan – Duomo area etc.
Sept 18: Day 15: Back home

Posted by
4211 posts

I think you have a good plan. You might think about whether you'd like to do both Rigi and Pilatus, or spend more time in Luzern. You can figure that out when you are there. We thought Grindelwald was nice enough. We liked Murren, Gimmewald and Wengen better. You can walk down from Murren to Gimmewald on an easy trail and then take the gondola down to the valley floor.

I'm sorry I can't help with hotels in St. Moritz (didn't go there) and Lauterbrunnen (used a VRBO). People seem to like the hotel in Lauterbrunnen that RS uses for tours, though I can't recall the name.

Posted by
1121 posts

Do you have the Sunstar already booked in Wengen? Or are you looking for additional recommendations? I have the hotel schoenegg in Wengen booked for my June trip based on a few recommendations from this forum. I have also stayed at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen.

If you are staying in Wengen, I highly recommend the cable car ride up to mannlichen. This was my absolute favorite thing to do on my recent Sept. trip. If you’re lucky, you will see lots of cows roaming around.

Posted by
1890 posts

Taurus, the latest itinerary looks great, with a reasonable pace and logical routes. You have a wonderful trip to look forward to.

Posted by
48 posts

Carrie, I have reserved Sunstar but looking for economical alternatives. Oberland does not do free cancelations. Chose Sunstar because of proximity to Train Station. Staubbach is a bit far from the Lauterbrennan Train Station. Looking at Silberhorn too.

Posted by
1121 posts

That’s right, I forgot that the hotel oberland changed it’s cancellation policy when the new owners took over the property. I have heard good things about the silberhorn and it has a great location near the Lauterbrunnen train station. You might want to try in Murren, a favorite of many here, but that might be more difficult with your luggage as it’s 2 additional connections. Personally, I prefer to spend a little more to be close to the train station as it makes things easier with luggage.

Posted by
48 posts

Carrie and others, I have reserved rooms in Sunstar, Wengen, Hotel Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen and Eiger Guesthouse in Murren. Will decide later. i am concerned about carrying luggage on the cogwheel train/cableway/narrow guage train to Wengen or Murren. Please advise.

Posted by
3395 posts

I have stayed at Silberhorn in Lauterbrunnen some years ago , very nice place . Staying at Silberhorn in Wengen this coming Autumn . Using the rack railway up to Wengen will present no issues . For a passenger , the rack mechanism has no impact .

Posted by
48 posts

Steven, how much luggage do you usually carry? Are there any laundrys we can use in these hotels (self laundrys).

Posted by
1121 posts

Regarding laundry, Lauterbrunnen has a couple of options that I am aware of. A place called Waschsalon that I did not use. And the Valley Hostel (located across the street from hotel oberland) has laundry facilities that anyone can use. I did use these. Detergent is included. I believe there were 3 washing machines and 3 dryers. I don’t remember the cost, but maybe 5 CHF to wash and 5 CHF to dry.

Posted by
3395 posts

Taurus , We pack very light . We each use a small roller bag ( 9"" x 12" x 22 " ) and a backpack ( perfect for meds , electronics , and paperwork ) We are away for nearly three months and this arrangement suits us to a T . The less you have to shlep , the better . We have no problems finding a laundromat ( waschsalon in German or Laverie in French ) or even better , a well priced service wash . This map ofWengen shows the location of one , right behind Hotel Silberhorn across from the train halt . - https://www.google.com/maps/search/waschsalon+near+Wengen,+3823+Lauterbrunnen,+Switzerland/@46.6052565,7.9210446,19.25z

Posted by
3395 posts

Just to add - The waschsalon in Lauterbrunnen ( attached to the Valley Hostel ) that Carrie mentions , was one we used on a previous trip . I remember it well . . At that time , it was not very good , particularly the dryer did a lousy job , However I was looking at recent pictures of it , and it seems quite improved and upgraded . New machines , both washers and dryers , and the floor is newly tiled. While condensing dryers are common in Europe ( They don't do a very good job of really getting things bone dry ) the ones here are good , being vented , and will really do a good job

Posted by
48 posts

Steven/Carrie, if you don't mind please suggest a roller bag and a travel backpack. (as if you were shopping for yourself). We usually travel to India, and only have huge suitcases at home.

Posted by
1121 posts

I just bought the Travelpro Maxlite 5 Softside Lightweight Expandable Upright Luggage, Carry-On 22-Inch found here on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Travelpro-5-Softside-Lightweight-Expandable-Burgundy/dp/B08HZGV9YC/ref=sr_1_2?crid=4W54H4G0BSI&keywords=Travelpro%2BMaxlite%2B5%2BSoftside%2BLightweight%2B22%2Binch&qid=1642948856&sprefix=travelpro%2Bmaxlite%2B5%2Bsoftside%2Blightweight%2B22%2Binch%2Caps%2C64&sr=8-2&th=1

I recently traveled with the same suitcase, but in the 26-inch size and was very happy with it. I decided to try the 22-inch for my next trip as I will be traveling solo and will have to manage luggage on my own. In a lot of the trains, the luggage storage is above the seats so I need to make sure I can lift the suitcase up. I plan to check the bag, so I can’t speak to if it meets carry-on requirements on planes.

I carry on two bags. One similar to this
https://verabradley.com/collections/travel-bags/products/lay-flat-weekender-travel-bag-24735481?variant=34433730412588

and the second bag is this one, which I also use as my day bag when out and about:

https://www.tombihn.com/products/parental-unit?variant=19611298247

I also highly recommend some packing cubes if you don’t already use them. I use these by eagle creek.

https://www.eaglecreek.com/shop/packing-cubes/pack-it-reveal-cube-ec0a48z4?variationId=340

I have a large one for my folded pants and an extra fleece. I have a medium one that I use to keep my rolled shirts. And a small size for socks and underwear.

Posted by
3395 posts

My backpack is similar to this model -https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/121112?page=deluxe-bookpack-iv&bc=50-816&feat=816-GN1&csp=f&pos=1 Bean's doesn't show any models similar to ours in a rolling bag . The issue that is paramount for me on the rolling bag , is one with two wheels ( heavy duty roller skate wheels , not spinners ) Moving around on cobbled streets , which are ubiquitous in Europe , spinners are more vulnerable to damage ,and not as easily maneuverable on uneven pavements . Spinners are far more popular these days , so the only ones I see with two wheels on Beans's are this model Osprey -https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/124773?page=osprey-farpoint-wheeled-travel-pack-36-liters&bc=50-516673&feat=516673-GN1&csp=f&gnrefine=1*BRAND*Osprey&pos=5 The last issue , is that you take to heart Carrie's comments about packing cubes . They are absolutely invaluable for keeping things accessible and organized , I have about a dozen of them in various sizes ,and wouldn't be without them .

Posted by
3395 posts

I just took a look at the roller bag Carrie listed on Amazon - looks like a winner !

Posted by
48 posts

they are not making the 26" ones anymore. Now the current popular one is the 25" spinner.

Posted by
48 posts

Ok, based on some comments, here is a new draft. Eliminated Bernina Express and Italy. Added Zermatt and Glacier Express. 15-days in Switzerland. Will justify 15-day Travel Pass. how does this look? Maybe add one more day in Wengen and remove one day in Zermatt?? 3 days in Wengen is good enough, I guess. We are 62+ and not big on hiking etc.

Cannot extend trip.

Sept 03: Day 00: Depart from the USA (12:28 pm)
Sept 04: Day 01: Arrive in Zurich Airport 8:55 am, Train to Luzern. About 1hr travel time. Reach Luzern by 1 pm hopefully. Chapel Bridge/Lion Monument in the evening
Sept 05: Day 02: Mt. Rigi
Sept 06: Day 03: Chill in Luzern (Lake Lucerne)
Sept 07: Day 04: Morning train to Interlaken. (Less than 2 hrs travel time). Afternoon Lake Brienz
Sept 08: Day 05: One more day in Interlaken (Harder Kulm/Lake Thun/Brienzer-Rothorn Railway)
Sept 09: Day 06: Morning train to Wengen (1 hr travel time), Stilthorn/Murren in the afternoon.
Sept 10: Day 07: Jungfrau or some other activity.
Sept 11: Day 08: Lauterbrennun Valley
Sept 12: Day 09: Train to Zermatt (dep: 10:13 am, arr:1:14 pm)
Sept 13: Day 10: Matterhorn if weather is good, else something else.
Sept 14: Day 11: Gornergrat
Sept 15: Day 12: Glacier express to St. Moritz/Pontresina. Sleep in Pontresina.
Sept 16: Day 13: Chill in Pontresina
Sept 17: Day 14: Early train to Zurich. Walk around Zurich. Night in Zurich
Sept 18: Day 15: Flight back home.

Posted by
1121 posts

I like that you are staying just in Switzerland now. You will not be disappointed.

I’ll let others speak to the revised itinerary as I haven’t been to all those places yet. One question though, are you staying in Interlaken and Wengen? I know for sure everyone will advise to stay just in Wengen. It’s super easy to get to Interlaken from Wengen, so you might want to save yourself from having to change hotels. Plus, I think you’ll be a lot happier in the mountains.

Posted by
1121 posts

Speaking of justifying the Travel Pass, you might want to visit this place too—the glacier garden in Luzern. It’s free with the Pass you will have and near where the lion monument is.

https://gletschergarten.ch/en/visit/admission%20fee

I didn’t get a chance to check it out, but I read about a new underground geological hall they have, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

https://gletschergarten.ch/en/adventure/felsenwelt

The Stanserhorn mountain near Luzern is free with the Pass too. I have it my list for my June trip .

https://swissfamilyfun.com/stanserhorn-luzern/

Posted by
48 posts

Carrie, I know folks would say "Why don't you just stay in Wengen?". But I felt that spending sometime on ground level (as opposed to mountains) is a must because i am going in September. I have heard people say "Switzerland is not just Mountains". And after a long day in Interlaken, getting back to Wengen would be tiring. Remember we are 62+ :-)

Posted by
3395 posts

" getting back to Wengen would be tiring. Remember we are 62+ :-) " It's your trip , obviously , but I was 65 when I did this the first time .. Interlaken to Wengen is 30 minutes , easy ride on the BOB ( Berner Oberland Bahn ) cross platform switch at Lauterbrunnen to the WengnerAlpBahn . Going back this coming Autumn , I'll be 76 then .

Posted by
3395 posts

Just to allay some of your trepidations , this video ( rhe first ten or so minutes ) , shows the train configuration at Lauterbrunnen - the red train coming in is from Wengen , across the platform is the yellow and blue train from Interlaken . As the Wengen train climbs up you see Lauterbrunnen in the valley below https://youtu.be/WaPWD1eku5E

Posted by
3595 posts

I respect that you do not want to travel back to Wengen at the end of a sightseeing day around Interlaken.
But in that case, I would much rather stay on lake Brienz, either in Brienz itself, or on the other shore at Giessbach falls (great hotel, if a bit expensive) or Iseltwald. The latter two are linked by ferries so make for slower travel, but you might find it more relaxing than a stay in the town of Interlaken.

By the way, I find Switzerland to cater very well for vegetarians (though not for vegans, but where does?). Much better than France, for instance.

Posted by
48 posts

My final itinerary (as of now :-))

All travel between cities is by Train.

Comments on hotels welcome. Criteria: Free Breakfast, Free Cancellation, Free WiFi, Coffe/tea maker/kettle

3 nights in Luzern: Hotel des Alpes - No Breakfast. Please suggest economical Vegetarian alternatives. Restaurant is expensive. How to get there with luggage?

3 nights in Interlaken: Hotel Bernerhof. Breakfast included. (Short walk from Interlaken West Train Station)

3 nights in Wengen: Hotel Sunstar-Wengen. Breakfast included (Short walk from Wengen Train Station)

3 nights in Zermatt: Hotel Ambassador. Breakfast included.(Hotel can pickup/drop off from/to Train Station)

Glacier Express from Zermatt to St.Moritz/Pontresina

1 night in Pontresina: Hotel Bernina. Breakfast included. (Hotel can pickup/drop off from/to Train Station)

1 night in Zurich: Hilton-Zurich Airport.(Free Airport Shuttle)

Posted by
6506 posts

3 nights in Luzern: Hotel des Alpes - No Breakfast. Please suggest economical Vegetarian alternatives. Restaurant is expensive. How to get there with luggage?

The hotels back entrance is literally across the (admittedly wide) bridge from the rail station main entrance. Our travel partners were struggling with their bags, so we wanted to get them a taxi, but the driver refused to take us the short distance, just pointed at the hotel, saying "its right there". Through the restaurant and up the elevator to lobby.

For breakfast, you might want to pick something up at the bakery or shops in the rail station to have the next morning.

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1121 posts

I’m staying at the hotel del alpes in June and have the directions already noted:

You can walk to us from Lucerne train station in 3 minutes.

  1. Exit the station through the main portal

  2. Cross the pier

  3. At the first traffic light after the bridge, turn left into the old town

  4. Go to the shop "Les Ambassadeurs" and turn left into Furrengasse

  5. You have reached the hotel entrance

I either ate my instant oats for breakfast or picked something up from one of the grocery stores (Coop or Migors) or one of the bakeries. The Manor department store, not far from your hotel, has a restaurant/cafe, but I can’t speak to their breakfast offerings.

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1121 posts

Here are some more Lucerne food options:

Brezelkonig in the train station, the same floor as the trains. They have a very good avocado sandwich. My sister and I really liked this one.

On the bottom floor, they have a very good bakery called bachmanns. In addition to pastries, they had a refrigerated section with prepared sandwiches. I know my brother in law had an egg sandwich. I’m not sure if you eat eggs. There is also a coop grocery store on the bottom floor with some prepared sandwiches and salads. There are some other fast food restaurants on the bottom floor, but I am not sure if they have any vegetarian options. There is a holy cow, see menu linked below, and they do have several veggie burgers and salads. I’m not a big foodie, so I can’t help with more fanciers dinning options.

https://www.holycow.ch/en/notre-carte/

And in Wengen, our favorite restaurant was Pasta and More. We ate there multiple times. My work computer for some reason is blocking their website, so I can’t link the menu. But if you google pasta and more wengen, you can find their website.

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12921 posts

The Hotel des Alpes website actually says 5 minutes to walk from the train station. That is using the very busy traffic bridge, not the beautiful Kapellebrücke pedestrian bridge you see in the photos.

https://www.desalpes-luzern.ch/en/hotel/directions/

It is a nice hotel, with many rooms having a nice view of the river and the bridge. But if you would like something less expensive, closer to the train station for an easier walk, and including breakfast, take a look at the Waldstätterhof, which is right outside the station. The refundable rate for 3 nights in September, breakfast included, is 580 CHF. The rooms do have a kettle.

https://www.hotel-waldstaetterhof.ch/en/

There are other hotels close by as well. Just look on Google maps, satellite view, to see them. And check out the walk to Hotel des Alpes as well.

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1121 posts

Lola, that’s funny, I copied my directions above from the hotel website too about a month ago. Maybe with all the flooding Lucerne had last year, the ground shifted, requiring an additional 2 minute’s walking time. 😊

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3595 posts

Re. vegetarian options in Luzern: I enjoyed the Tibits train station buffet. Vegetarian, varied, relatively affordable, and a much more pleasant location than it sounds!

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48 posts

Lola, Hotel Waldstätterhof is CHF864 (USD924) for 3 nights Sept4-7, 2022. Cancellable rate, with breakfast.
Not bad, but need to compare hotel quality compared to Hotel des Alpes.

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419 posts

taurus: (I think you have the same birthday as my husband)
I've been following your posts because like so many who are answering your questions, we were in Switzerland last September and also stayed at the Hotel des Alpes. We also traveled by train, and so from the train station, it was a very pleasant, easy walk to the Hotel des Alpes....and we are in our 70s! If possible I like walking to our hotels, because it gives me a chance to 'get my bearings.' And it feels great to walk after riding on the train and breathe in fresh air (no masks).
The rooms at the Hotel des Alpes are quite small, but it was our hotel of choice because our requested balcony room overlooked the Chapel bridge. There is a wide pedestrian walkway between the hotel and the river, with many outdoor eating places, adjacent to the river. I know you are vegetarians, but for a couple of breakfasts, we went to Starbucks...adjacent to the hotel, along the river because it was quick and the breakfast sandwiches were filling.
Your Lucerne itinerary:
On the day of arrival: You'll be able to walk to the Lion Monument, which is what we did...and if you stay at the hotel des Alpes, you'll be right at the Chapel bridge. So, you'll probably have time to wander to more places.
Mt. Rigi: to get there, you'll probably take the boat...and so will have experienced Lake Luzern.
I'm saying that because we went to both Mt. Rigi and Mt. Pilatus...and Mt. Pilatus was our favorite! But we love mountains! Of course, Mt. Pilatus is dependent upon the weather. It is so magnificent at the top; you can even see the mountains surrounding the BO area from the top. We had lunch while feasting our eyes on all the surrounding mountains. The day we went to Mt. Pilatus we took the train, rather than boat because the first boat did not run until around 10:00 a.m., and we wanted to get an earlier start. So for breakfast that morning we ate at the train station, after first purchasing our "round trip" ticket to Mt. Pilatus from the TI at the train station. We didn't want to buy tickets ahead of time in case the weather was bad.

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419 posts

Luggage: you asked about luggage earlier. Since you are traveling mainly by train, I would highly recommend smaller suitcases. Both my husband and I travel with 22-inch Travelpro suitcases (which we check), as well as RS’ Euro bags, which slip over the handles of our suitcases. We can travel for a whole month with just the contents of those two bags.
I was able to lug my own suitcase onto and off trains. I told hubby not to help me unless I asked for help.
…and the suitcases fit on cable cars as well as trams, and were easier to manage in tiny hotel rooms.

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419 posts

Air conditioning: Hmmm. Not sure. Probably not. Did not need it. It was cool while we were there in September…. And we hardly spent any time in the room. We opened the sliding glass door for ventilation.

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48 posts

We will be arriving in Lucerne straight from Zurich Airport after a transatlantic flight of about 14 hrs. I do't think we will have the stamina to do much on Day 1. Maybe just stroll on Chapel Bridge and old Town area a little. On Day 2 we will do the Mt. Rigi trip, and then if we are not tired, we could go to the Swiss Travel Museum. On Day 3, maybe Panorama Boat trip around Lake Lucerne or something else in the city. I don't want to go to both Mt. Rigi and Mt. Pilatus. I will be staying in Wengen for 3 nights and in Zermatt 3 nights, so we will have enough mountains, I guess. I will have the Swiss Travel Card, so will probably do just Mt. Rigi.

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77 posts

Hi - Sounds like a great trip. I've traveled to Switzerland 3 times (all in September) and stayed a total of about 30 nights, mostly in the Berner Oberland with side trips to Luzern, Bern, Zermatt, Thun and Lausanne. My wife and I are in our early 70s, and I was 70 on the last trip. Two suggestions: (1) unless you have physical limitations, I'd really suggest that you try a couple of the easier hikes around Murren, Mannlichen, Wengen, Grosse Scheidegg, or Grindelwald, and (2) I'd eliminate the hotel stays in Interlaken (or limit to one night) and spend as much time as possible in Wengen or Murren or Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald (has the most restaurants of the four villages). Basically, I think the hikes are just spectacular. I wrote a trip report (on website here) that described a bunch of the easier hikes. Also, I found Interlaken -- an easy day trip from Wengen -- to be very interesting with some great restaurants (check out Citta Vecchia (Italian)). Have fun!

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48 posts

Thanks Bill and Nigel. I have saved the link to your trip report in my gmail. It will be handy in September. We are not big on hiking but will definitely consider a couple easy ones. Steep incline/decline is a no no for us. I am still lost on where to spend more time - Interlaken vs Wengen. Maybe 2 nights in Interlaken and 4 in Wengen. As i have stated in this thread, i do not like the idea of travelling from Wengen to Interlaken for day trips.

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48 posts

How do I do this trip?

Wengen to Mannlichen Cable Car , Mannlichen to Grindelwald Town, Grindelwald Town back to Wengen by Cogwheel Train via Kleine Scheidegg.

Do I need to buy separate tickets for each ride? Pricing info with Swiss Travel Card?

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3595 posts

Swiss Travel Card gives you 50% off the rides you need to take for that loop. And apparently, a Wengen-Männlichen-Grindelwald ticket does exist; you will probably have to ask about it when you purchase the ticket.
This said, in my opinion you do not need to go down to Grindelwald. The hike from Männlichen to Kleine Scheidegg is relatively mild, mostly downhill with some ups-and-downs. 2 hours on a wide path with glorious scenery - more interesting than the village of Grindelwald, in my opinion, even if you are "not big on hiking".

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1121 posts

The ticket agents are all very nice and helpful. When you get to the ticket booth at Männlichen (which you walk to from Wengen), just show them your Swiss Travel Pass and tell them what you want to do. They'll help you decide what ticket you need.

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12921 posts

You can find the prices on the Männlichen website, for last summer anyway. Look under Information, then the information for each side ( Grindelwald and Wengen) separately.

https://www.maennlichen.ch/en/summer.html

They price various options separately, most including the hike between Männlichen and Kleine Scheidegg. If you want to do the rides over to Grindelwald and back as stated, without the panorama hike, you would combine a Wengen—-Männlichen—-Kleine Scheidegg RT (50 CHF) with a Grindelwald—Männlichen—-Kleine Scheidegg—-Grindelwald RT (62 CHF), then take 50% off for your Swiss Pass.

If you just do the Wengen side and walk the panorama trail as Balso suggests ( it is an easy walk) you would pay 50% of the 50 CHF.

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1121 posts

Here’s a great video that shows Mannlichen and the walk to Klein Scheidegg:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsp2XG8lPyw&t=52s

He has other videos too on Lauterbrunnen and Wengen. Should give you a good sense of what walking in those areas is like.

This one starts at the Lauterbrunnen train station and goes through town:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xqgW2Ha7kg

Lauterbrunnen further down the valley:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI3IH6KJjFY

Wengen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDtdPELvSiY

He doesn’t have one for Murren, but does have one for Grindelwald:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hig6ITpntro

and finally, Interlaken:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZGTsgExc4Y

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12921 posts

That photo and the description are completely accurate. It is an easy walk on a wide and well-graded, nearly level path. If you can walk 3 miles you can do this; No special equipment or hiking shoes needed, but make sure you carry a jacket for wind and possibly rain.

If you do the walk in the recommended direction (for the best views) from the Wengen cablecar to Kleine Scheidegg, you will pass a small restaurant with view terrace on your left, about 15-20 minutes before you reach Kleine Scheidegg. This is a great place to stop for lunch.

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48 posts

Interlaken: Arrive in interlaken around noon, drop off luggage at Hotel/Train Station. Half day Schynige Platte,
Next day: Harder Kulm+Lake Brienz+Brienzer Rothorn+Lake Thun Boat tour
Can this be done?

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62 posts

Such a great trip you have planned!

  1. laundry? no! underwear is small! re-wear everything else (choose stain-hiding clothes - laundry is for home!!!!)

  2. For sure do the Mannlichen to Kleine-Sheidegg "hike" when you are in Wengen. It is basically flat and is spectacular!

  3. As another poster mentioned, check out the Manora dept store food court in Lucerne (top floor outdoor eating area with views!) for somewhat less expensive food (not sure about breakfast - we did dinners there).

  4. When we were last in Lucerne in 2019, there was an open air grocery market (what we might call a farmer's market) near your hotel with fruits and veggies - might have some breakfast options. It is basically where the Rathaussteg bridge meets the Unter Der Egg river walk, across from Restaurant Pfistern. You'll easily be able to find it on Google maps by using those locators.

  5. How to get luggage to Hotel Des Alpes? Rolling bags! You will need to be able to wheel and haul your own luggage in Switzerland but it is not far at all from the main train station to Hotel Des Alpes.

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432 posts

Ok here is a completely different take on this. One thing to consider is how much travel do you want to do between locations? Pack, repack, move? Have to get out of hotel by 10-11 but can’t check into other hotel until 2-4? Here’s a different take:

All travel between cities is by Train.

3 nights in Luzern: Hotel des Alpes - No Breakfast. (Sounds like plenty of time in Lucerne)

3 nights in Interlaken: Hotel Bernerhof. Breakfast included. (Short walk from Interlaken West Train Station)
3 nights in Wengen: Hotel Sunstar-Wengen. Breakfast included (Short walk from Wengen Train Station)

Instead of this consider 6 nights in Grindlewald. While Grindlewald isn’t someplace we would normally stay since we are big hikers, if you want a relatively flat and very easy town to get around, plenty of options for hotels and very easy transport to all the places you want to go, this is a good option. There were some folks on here last year in their 70s that were concerned about if something went wrong physically how to get out of the mountains to a hospital quickly and were advised that Grindlewald is the best bet. Roads actually go there. You can do all of the Bernese Oberland very easily from here, get to the Interlaken Lakes for boat trips quickly, get up to the mountains easily and so on. Your pass will carry you on trains, gondolas, funiculars, etc. You can easily get to Lauterbrunnen and do a great FLAT walk/hike down the valley. Take the bus back whenever you get tired, see Trammelbach Falls. Also this will give you room to see exactly what day will be good weather for Shilthorn, etc. because it is not worth going there without clear skies.

3 nights in Zermatt: Hotel Ambassador. Breakfast included.(Hotel can pickup/drop off from/to Train Station)

This is fine, train about 3 1/2 hours from Grindlewald to here.

Glacier Express from Zermatt to St.Moritz/Pontresina
1 night in Pontresina: Hotel Bernina. Breakfast included. (Hotel can pickup/drop off from/to Train Station)
1 night in Zurich: Hilton-Zurich Airport.(Free Airport Shuttle)

Anyway just another idea based on your prior comments. Something like this will save you a lot of hassle just going from point A to point B and wasting precious siteseeing time, my 2 cents.

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1121 posts

One thing to keep in mind, is make plans, but be flexible. I suggest making a list of things you’d like to do and then prioritize them. When you have a nice day, you’ll want to be outside in the mountains walking. If it’s raining, that might be a good day for some shopping. If someone is tired, a boat ride is a good option. My sister hurt her knee towards the end of our trip, so that changed some of the things I had planned. And, we ended up doing Schilthorn and Mannlichen in the same day to take advantage of the great weather we had one day.

You might find that things take longer or shorter than you think. So, that’s another reason to get the things you really want to do done when you have the chance. And have some extras planned in case you have some extra time. There was a nice park by one of our hotels, so we spent some relaxing in the park, something we hadn’t planned for, but really enjoyed.

I’m a huge researcher and planner and I quickly learned I needed to be flexible. Switzerland is such a great place that you will have a wonderful time no matter what you do. And if you aren’t able to do everything you’d like, it might be a good excuse to plan a return trip. That’s what I’m doing. 😊

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48 posts

@chapin100. Thanks for your advice. I actually have 2 nights in Interlaken (Hotel Bernerhof, 496 CHF) and 4 nights in Wengen (Sunstar, 1028.40 CHF).
Sunstar in Grindelwald for 6 nights costs 1905.40 CHF. Not sure if the extra 381 CHF is worth it??
If I stay in Sunstar Wengen for 6 nights it would be 1461.60 CHF (Double Room Standard).
Difference between Grindelwald and Wengen is 443 CHF.

Posted by
77 posts

Nigel - Thank you very much for your kind words and posting the link to the travel report.

Carrie - Great videos! I hadn't seen them. Brings back lots of memories. Thanks!

Lola - Is it correct that you were referring to Restaurant Grindelwaldblick (on the left and close to the end of the hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg)? I've had lunch there several times -- always very good food and the views from the outdoor deck are incredible. The Eiger seems like it's right next to you.

Another lunch or dinner option = Hotel-Restaurant Stechelberg (at the other end of the valley from Lauterbrunnen). I try the apple strudel every place we visit, and so far this place has won the prize. It's served with whipped cream and a large amount of warm vanilla sauce in a gravy boat. Yum!

To all - Any recommendations for restaurants in Interlaken? Our favorite is Citta Vecchia (in the Unterseen neighborhood section of Interlaken) -- great pasta, pizza, desserts, lots of choices!

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3595 posts

There are many more hotels in Grindelwald, so you could shop around.
But unlike some other posters, I think that with 6 nights in the region, it is not a bad idea to switch locations - mountain/valley.
As for your Interlaken plan: Lake Brienz + lake Thun in a day is too much. Focus on Lake Brienz, because the Brienzer Rothorn trip is amazing!

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48 posts

On day 4, is this doable?
Sept 07: Day 04: Train to Interlaken Ost. Lucern dep:10:06 am, Interlaken Ost arr: 10:55 am. Store Luggage in Train Station. Lake Brienz+Brienzer Rothorn. Proceed to Grindelwald in the evening.

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3595 posts

The train timings seem off to me.
You should travel to Brienz from Luzern via the scenic direct train; you can leave luggage there (all info here: https://www.zentralbahn.ch/en/node/294).
Then you keep going by train from Brienz to Interlaken Ost, then Grindelwald.

Or, if you stay in Interlaken, with the same train ("Luzern Interlaken Express), you can travel to Interlaken, leave your luggage at your hotel, and visit Schynige Platte that afternoon, then go to lake Brienz the next day.

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432 posts

Taurus you could go from Lucerne all the way to Grindlewald in one day easily. Check into your hotel, then hop a gondola to Klein Scheidegg or do lots of other options. Then if you did decide to do all 6 days there you could easily do your boat trip. We have done the Brienz boat trip one day when it was raining in the mountains. Took the train down and hopped the boat in Interlaken, ate lunch in Brienz and then the skies had cleared somewhat so we walked the lake part way back. Anyway point being you will be settled in one place for almost a week and your pass will get you all over. And very easy to get around. But you’ll have the freedom of being done hauling luggage and checking in/checking out and free to use your days and passes as you like and as weather dictates. The reason I suggested Grindlewald is you mentioned wanting a more flat area, and also there are a LOT of hotels and BnBs to choose from there so you could likely find something in your budget. It’s more touristy but not as touristy as Interlaken. And it would be a good gateway to the BO and other areas.