We arrive in Zurich from the states at 1:35 in the afternoon. I would like to travel to Lauterbrunnen the same day for a 3 night stay. However, my travel agent thinks that is unrealistic because of time that it would take to get there after we arrive. Any suggestions on places to stay in Zurich near the rail station or possibly a short train ride along the way to Lauterbrunnen... I am thinking Lucerne or Interlaken. I am not looking to do much sight seeing just a place to lay my head down and sleep after that long flight.
Forget Zurich and go straight from the airport on the train to Luzern and stay there; the train only takes an hour. I would not want to go all the way to Lauterbrunnen after getting off a flight either.
My suggestion is to fire your travel agent, who is obviously clueless about train travel in Switzerland. If you land at 1:35 pm, there is a very good chance you will be standing on the platform at Lauterbrunnen station at 4:55 pm, and certainly by 5:25 pm. Train connections every half hour at Zurich airport. Buy a ticket and get on the next train.
You are arriving at Zürich airport, which has its own station.
It should take you about an hour to disembark and get through immigration, Zürich is an efficient. That makes approx 14:40. Even allowing for the plane to be up to 1 hour late, that is still only 15:30. That gives you the following trains to choose from:
Zürich Flughafen dep 14:46 2 h 39 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 17:25
Zürich Flughafen dep 15:18 2 h 37 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 17:55
Zürich Flughafen dep 15:46 2 h 39 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 18:25
Zürich Flughafen dep 16:18 2 h 37 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 18:55
Zürich Flughafen dep 16:46 2 h 39 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 19:25
Zürich Flughafen dep 17:18 2 h 37 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 19:55
Zürich Flughafen dep 17:46 2 h 39 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 20:25
Zürich Flughafen dep 18:18 2 h 37 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 20:55
Zürich Flughafen dep 18:46 2 h 39 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 21:25
Zürich Flughafen dep 19:46 2 h 36 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 22:22
Zürich Flughafen dep 20:46 2 h 37 min, Lauterbrunnen arr 23:23 <-- Last connection of the day
No reservations on Swiss trains, just walk from the terminal undercover to the station, buy a ticket and get on the next train.
I would get a new travel agent.
Have you flown to Europe from the states before? If not, you actually may want to take your travel agent's advice and stay a night in Zurich, just in case you're exhausted and didn't sleep at all and don't feel like navigating trains upon landing. Every single time I've flown overnight to Europe I have not slept a WINK and thus I don't like to do anything when I land except take a short taxi or train ride to my hotel. A lot of it depends on how long you have to travel, though - can you afford to take that first night just to veg in Zurich, or do you need to be on your way because you only have a few days' vacation? Also, who are you traveling with? Kids? Elderly adults? That makes a difference, too, as to how much you push yourself. We flew from Barcelona to Geneva after a cruise and our flight was delayed by 2 hours. We then took the train from Geneva to Bern as a stopping point for the night before heading to Murren the next day. We were so glad we stopped as my 8-year old had had enough by that point; don't think he could have done 2 more hours on a train without a major meltdown. So yes, CAN it be done in one day? Certainly. Do you WANT to? That's a different story and only one you can answer!
Unless you have some sort of medical condition that will render you incapacitated after a few hours flying...fire that silly travel agent and hop on the train from Zurich airport and be in your way to Lauterbrunnen. I think you will exert more energy to check into a Zurich hotel and out the next morning than you would exert by just getting on the train and going to Lauterbrunnen.
I agree with the suggestion to go straight to Lauterbrunnen from Zurich airport, that's what we did in mid-June. Be sure to buy your train ticket to Lauterbrunnen from Zurich via Lucerne, the scenery on the Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen route is spectacular!
Yes, via Lucerne is definitely scenic, but it's also a much slower route. I
How much slower via Lucerne?
Going through Bern is about 2 hours and 38 minutes with 2 departures per hour. Going through Luzern is between 3 hours and 39 minutes and 4 hours and 10 minutes. Although there are 3 departures per hour from the airport to Luzern, there is only 1 train per hour from Luzern to Interlaken Ost where you get the train to Lauterbrunnen.
I was advised on this forum before our trip to go via Lucerne to Lauterbrunnen. That was excellent advice. The extra hour that it takes to go via Lucerne, gives you more time to appreciate the spectacular natural beauty of Switzerland - isn't that the primary reason you are visiting the country?
I've found that usually pictures of tourist attractions look more attractive than the reality. When we passed the village of Lungern and it's lake on this route, the reality looked more scenic than any picture postcard that you could buy. What month are you traveling?
I have done the train trip to my destination in Switzerland (in my case Kandersteg, 2 hours from Zurich) after the long flight from the US west coast, arriving Zurich at 5:25 pm. I was traveling solo ( unusual for me) and recovering from cancer treatment. It was not a problem at all. Your travel agent is not giving the best advice.
While we sometimes do spend our arrival night in Zurich, that is when we are moving on to Italy, 4-5 hours away. For you, I would recommend either heading to Luzern for one night ( one hour), or taking the fast ( and less scenic) route directly to Lauterbrunnen so you have your full three nights there. It is your choice, depending on your travel style, and what you have planned to do in Lauterbrunnen.
The scenery on the longer route pales in comparison to the scenery in the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
Would definitely not stay in Zurich. Seems like a waste of a perfectly good afternoon and evening. While you could go all the way to Lauterbrunnen, Luzern would be a good compromise. Very nice small city, with just enough to do on that first day. You could take a nice boat ride on the lake, walk around the city, see the two covered bridges with their artwork, and really feel like you are in Switzerland. Train connections both in and out are easy!