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Would love your input on our itinerary

Hi, we are traveling to Switzerland arriving early morning on 5/22 in Geneva. Will have planned the following overnight stays in this order:
Montreux - 3 nights
Lauterbrunnen - 2 nights
Lucerne - 3 nights
Zurich - 1 night

Those are set in stone. I've read Rick Steve's most recent Switzerland travel guide as well as other research. There are certainly a lot of option on how we spend our time. I am trying to be a flexible as possible in terms of what we see on what day due to changing weather conditions. Here are my current thoughts on activities:

Montreux (3 nights) - Castle de Chillon, Chocolate Train (already purchased tickets), Lausanne (Olympic museum? Hike near Lausanne through vineyards that is outlined in Rick's travel guide?), Freddy Mercury Exhibit. We are staying at the Fairmont and I love great hotels so that will be highlight for me. We are planning on Sunday brunch at the Fairmont.

Lauterbrunnen (2 nights) we plan to arrive in Lauterbrunnen (via Golden Pass line and a transfer to another train) by noon. We will then have the rest of that day, a full day the following day and then a full day the next day (we can store our luggage at the hotel upon checkout). So all in all 2.5 days. I am trying to decide between Schilthorn and Jungfrau. I think Schlithorn takes less time but I am afraid I will missing out on the holy grail if we don't go to Jungfrau. In addition I am thinking we should go to Murren and take one of the less strenuous hikes recommended in Rick's guide. Any must sees that did not mention that time would allow?

Lucerne (3 nights) - I am thinking we will have 2 full days and nights and one additional night only in Lucerne. I figure between site seeing and spending time on the lake, we can easily fill up those two days. I know it stays light pretty late so that may maximize our time. I am thinking possibly a side trip to Bern to see some of the are museums if the weather is not good. Does this sound like reasonable plan?

Zurich (1 night) - we are flying home from Zurich so hence the last night of our trip is in Zurich. We plan to arrive as early in the day as possible so we have time to sight see in Zurich.

Dining recommendations for any of the above locations would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
12040 posts

I would spend one more night in the Lauterbrunnen valley and take one away from Luzern or Montreux. Here's why- weather. There's far less to do in the Berner Oberland if the mountain weather gods decide to curse you with rain on the one full day you budgeted. Two days gives you a little more of a buffer, which is especially important during a marginal time of year like May. Luzern and Montreux can offer more rainy day options.

I am trying to decide between Schilthorn and Jungfrau. I think Schlithorn takes less time but I am afraid I will missing out on the holy grail if we don't go to Jungfrau. They're comparable. I see no reason to do both. And bad weather or high winds can shut down the lift to Piz Gloria anyway (if it's even open in late May), so the current conditions might make the decision for you.

Posted by
262 posts

My comments are for Montreux. The Fairmount Hotel is very nice, well located and has a great spa/pool. The train station is just behind the hotel so if you do not have nice weather, you can easily take a day trip by train. It is worth taking the train to the Historic Lavaux Vineyards. The majority of the pathways are paved and you can walk back towards Montreux through some picturesque villages with breathtaking views over Lake Geneva. The boat ride on Lake Geneva is lovely and offers some beautiful views, opportunities to get on and off. If you are here on a Saturday or Tuesday morning, you might enjoy visiting the marche in Vevey. It's a 10 min train ride away with lovely cobblestone streets, spots for a coffee or a meal. Most vendors at the marche start early, pack up around noon. A ten minute walk from Vevey is the Port of La Tour de Peilz. Follow the shore of Lake Geneva to the restored castle in the distance which is now the games museum. A beautiful little local port area to stroll around, even swim.

Posted by
11289 posts

The Schilthorn and the Jungfraujoch are very different experiences. If you only have time for one, pick the one that interests you more. If you're not sure, the Schilthorn is cheaper. And before doing either of them, make sure the weather is good (double-check the various webcams before you go). Neither one is worth the high fee if the weather is bad.

The Schilthornbahn takes you to a high viewing point with great views of the Eiger, the Mönch, and the Jungfrau mountains. If the weather is clear, it really is amazing. There's also an exhibit on the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service which was filmed there (I've never seen the movie, but the exhibit was more interesting than I expected).

The Jungfraujoch is the "saddle" (a glacier) between the Mönch and the Jungfrau mountains. Here you are surrounded by the snow and ice. This is also great - and totally different.

Neither one is the "holy grail," unless you are the sort of person who worries about what folks back home think when you tell them you didn't go up in the Eiffel Tower (a coworker of mine really worries about these kinds of things). If the weather is not good, don't waste money on them - do a walk or hike at lower elevations, which is still beautiful. If you want to get a taste of the Schilthorn view without the price or time expended, take the Allmendhubel from the "center" of Mürren. It's much cheaper than the Schilthornbahn, but unlike from Mürren itself, you can see the peaks of the three mountains.

I enjoyed all of these, and (to Tom's point) I was able to do them all because I had 4 nights in the area. I know you said your nights are set in stone, but I'd do whatever it took to get an extra night in Lauterbrunnen.

While in Montreux, do visit the Musée de l'Art Brut (Museum of Outsider Art) in Lausanne.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions, I really appreciate it. I am betting on that during our 2.5 days in the Berner Oberland area we will have at least one day of good weather. One of those days is not an overnight stay but we can store our luggage at the hotel and have the entire day, taking a train to Luzern in the evening.

The menus at the restaurants you suggested look absolutely wonderful.