My husband and I are thinking of including some days in Switzerland on our May/June trip to Europe. We are interested in traveling by train and would appreciate suggestions. What routes have you traveled and would recommend. What villages, towns, or cities are on your "must-see" list. I imagine we will have 4 or 5 days, but we are at the beginning stages of our planning. I do know we will travel from Switzerland to eastern France and then on to Luxembourg, also by train.
We flew to Zurich from Seattle last time and took the trains immediately to Wengen. We stayed at Wengen for four nights - so much to do there with Jungfrau, etc. in the area. In our case, we headed to Stresa, Italy after Switzerland.
When we took the RS Germany, Switzerland, Austria trip we stayed at Lauterbrunnen, at the bottom of the valley below Wengen. We much preferred staying up in Wengen. Such an amazingly gorgeous area!
In 2014, we visited the Lauterbrunnen valley and stayed for 4 nights- simply a stunning area, if eye-wateringly expensive like the rest of Switzerland. Some prefer to stay in Murren or Wengen (on either side of the valley), but as we had a car and a 3-year-old, we chose to stay in the valley and it was lovely. From there, we did easy day trips to both Murren and Wengen. We also day tripped to Grindelwald and did the Mannlichen-Kleine Scheidegg trail, which was a pretty easy hike/walk that takes you right up in the mountains. I don't know about train travel to the area since we had a car, but my understanding is that it is easy to do.
Donna, it is better to count nights rather than days. If you have "4 or 5 days" is that 3, 4 or 5 nights you want to spend in Switzerland?
If it is 3 nights, I would say you want one location only, if it is 5, you can split it 3+2.
Also affecting the choice is where in eastern France you are coming from. Some places are easier for getting trains to Switzerland from, and this could affect your choice of location.
Getting to Luxembourg thereafter is no problem. You will probably be routed north from wherever in Switzerland, via Basel and Strasbourg.
The standard first time visitors choices for Switzerland are Jungfrau Region and Luzern.
If you have time for only 1 location in Switzerland, pick one in the Jungfrau region, Mürren, Wengen, Lauterbrunnen or Grindelwald. All these are reachable by train (Mürren and Wengen are only reachable by train, not by road). Info about these places here: https://jungfrauregion.swiss/en/summer/
If you have time for 1 or 2 nights in a second location, add Luzern.
You can look up train times and prices on the SBB (Swiss Railways) website: https://www.sbb.ch/en/
Swiss rail offers a few specific sightseeing routes with specially designed routes.
I have taken the Glacier Express and the Berniba Express. Both excellent.
People will jump on to let you know you can take a regular train on the same routes for less money. However, the sightseeing trains have specially designed windows for viewing and make photo stops.
This coming May I will be my first trip to Switzerland, with a return to Paris at the end. My plan is flying from San Francisco through CDG (France) & ending in Zurich (Air France). Purchase my Half Fare Card & train ticket from Zurich Airport to Murren BLM. Spend 4 nights in Murren & depending on weather visit Jungfrau, Schilthorn, Lauterbrunnen valley & just enjoy the scenery. From Murren purchase my train ticket to Luzern (Lucerne) and spend 1 night there. Then take the direct train to Zurich HB & travel by train to Paris and enjoy a week there.
For my travels w/in Switzerland just purchasing the Half Fare Card works for me. I'll be purchasing my Zurich - Paris train ticket on SNCF at the end of this month for the cheaper rate.
Enjoy your trip.
Luzern (Lucerne) and spend 1 night there. Then take the direct train to Zurich HB & travel by train to Paris
brushtim, That's the long way around. Go to https://www.sbb.ch/en and look up Luzern to Paris for your desired date. It will route you Luzern - Basel - Paris Gare de Lyon, which cuts the corner off and saves about 1 hour.
All of your responses are helpful and appreciated. I definitely notice the same places being recommended and will check those out. Brushtim, what is a "half-fare" card?
Donna, A "Half Fare Card" is a discount card you can buy which allows you to get all transport tickets in Switzerland (Train, boat, bus) at half price (Children's price). The tourist version costs CHF 120 for 1 month. Details here: https://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/travel-in-switzerland/international-guests/swiss-halffare-card.html
When Travelling in Switzerland as a tourist there are 3 options
1) Pay full fare for each trip
2) Buy a Half Fare Card and pay ½ price for each trip
3) Buy a Swiss Pass and pay nothing extra for unlimited trips.
Depending on how much travelling you will be doing, the cheapest option could be (1), (2) or (3).
Unfortunately you have to list out and price up all your trips to work out the best option.
The "from" price on the SBB website assumes you have a Half Fare Card, as most Swiss residents do. You need to click on the price to find the full fare.
That is super helpful. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Here’s what Rick recommends: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/switzerland/itinerary