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Where to visit/sleep last day before Zurich flight?

Traveling to Switzerland mid-August with husband and 18-year old daughter. I’m trying to figure out where to stay the day/night before we fly home. We have a 1pm flight from Zurich to U.S. We are taking the train everywhere (no car). Here’s our itinerary prior to that day:

  • Arrive Zurich and take train directly to Lucerne
  • 2 days/night in Lucerne
  • 3 days/night in Wengen
  • Checking out Saturday morning with no place to go!
  • 1pm flight out of Zurich

Since we will have already "been there/done that" in Lucerne, I'm looking for somewhere different. I first thought we’d store our bags at the Lucerne train station, take a day trip to Engelberg, and then stay overnight in either Lucerne or Zurich. Is Engelberg worth a visit?

Or would it be crazy to stay overnight in Interlaken, and then catch an early morning direct train to Zurich airport? It appears there are direct trains from both Ost and West stations that are just under 2.5 hours.

Alternatively, is there somewhere interesting between Interlaken and Zurich that might be fun to explore and stay? We are more interested in scenery/hiking than history/museums.

Thank you! These message boards have been so helpful in planning our trip! Our daughter suggested this trip to “go hiking in the Alps” and we were going to visit during her school spring break in April. I quickly learned that April is not the best time for that!

Posted by
2311 posts

Unless your flight arrives late into Zurich, I would go immediately to Wengen, and move your time in Lucerne to the end of the trip. Take the train from Lucerne to the airport on your departure day.

Posted by
262 posts

Totally agree with travel4fun-luv Wengen
-went twice last summer- and easy train from Luzern to Zurich airport … get the BO pass and half fare card.

Posted by
4 posts

This makes sense! I will have to see if we can shift our accommodations in Wengen. In the event I can't change our reservations, any ideas?

Posted by
20056 posts

Hate to say it, but if you cannot change your lodging arrangements, I'd say go back to Luzern for your last afternoon and evening. There has to be something you left out from your first 2 nights, There is more to do than 1 1/2 days worth of things to see in do in the Luzern area. Your first day is bound to be a little tiring with jet-lag anyway.

Posted by
16215 posts

The mention of Winterthur reminds me of our intent to visit Schaffhausen on one of our visits to Switzerland. This is just a bit further from Zurich Airport than Winterthur, but also by direct train. The Old Town medieval architecture lovely, and one can walk to see the Rheinfalls less than 2 miles away.

https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-us/destinations/schaffhausen/

https://rheinfall.ch/en/

There are hourly direct trains into Zurich airport, taking 50-57 minutes. And many others with a change en route..

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you! These are great suggestions that I will explore further. Anyone have thoughts on Engelberg, or is it just not worth the energy to go there? As I mentioned in my original post, we are more interested in hiking and the outdoor experience than museums/cities.

Posted by
20056 posts

Engelberg is an easy day trip from Luzern. Hourly trains taking only 43 minutes. I'd say do it.

Posted by
383 posts

I'm not sure if you're getting Swiss Travel passes or half-fare cards or?? Engelberg is a nice day trip from Lucerne, but some of the hikes there requires additional costs to use the mountain lifts etc. Maybe not a deal-breaker, but just fyi to check.
If you have the passes, you might want to pick Rigi for a day trip instead because your pass will cover transportation up and down the mountain plus getting there and back either by boat or train. There are great views over the lake and mountains and lots of hikes of different lengths and difficulty. Another great (and less-visited) day trip for hiking with included mountain transport is Klewenalp. Just check options based on your actual hiking experience and fitness levels to make sure there are hikes you can manage - some places can have a lot of elevation gain (or steep downhills that will kill your knees!).

I agree with those who suggested to flip your trip if possible and end in Lucerne. Either way, there is a lot to do there and in the surrounding areas, plus you may get a rainy day or two that keeps you out of the mountains (afternoon thunderstorms are common in August). I doubt you will feel like you've seen it all after 2 days. You could look at staying along the lake if you don't think you want more time in town.

Posted by
20056 posts

Was at Rigi Kulm Friday. Easy peasy with the STP. There is some good hiking there (downhill, my kind of hiking) but the weather was not good, (wind and rain), so I had a beer and a bowl of soup in the cafe and took the next train down. Despite the weather, views were spectacular.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you so much for these great suggestions. Especially to flip-flop our destinations. I was able to change our accommodations, so now we are heading straight to Wengen from the airport and will be there 4 days/3 nights, then we will head up to Lucerne for our remaining 3 nights. This will also reduce the number of times we have to check-in/check-out/transfer.

I am notorious for trying to do too much in too little time, so this trip is meant to be more go with the flow and just enjoy the fact that we are in one of the most beautiful places in the world! Also gives us the excuse to return for more!

hopper18 - I think we will have Half Fare Travelcards and Berner Oberland Passes.