My question is I have the Rick Steves Switzerland book and I am trying to figure out how to adapt his 2 week trip to the 3 days and it recommends Berner Oberland. My girlfriend and I will be arriving in Zurich and going from there. We will be there in early July and arrive in Zurich late Saturday afternoon and would hope to leave either late Tuesday/early Wednesday for Paris. We should have 3 days but then we go on to Paris. My main question are logistically where should be stay each night and also what is the best way to get to Paris from Berner Oberland area? I am hoping to travel either via train or plane. Thanks for your help.
Answering the last question first. You can either get an early morning train from Interlaken Ost (main East station) and get to Paris in about 6 hrs with one change at Bern, if you leave at 7am. (I just picked a random Wednesday in July, the 8th). A 1st class ticket (one way) runs around $201 (US) and 2nd class around $135. If you have various discount cards the rates will be less.
I was in that area (Berner Oberland) and spent time in Grindelwald and took the Jungfraujoch (http://www.jungfraubahn.ch/en/DesktopDefault.aspx/tabid-8//183_read-808/). It was an expensive ride ($100 per person?) to the top but the view from around 12,000 feet was amazing.
In Interlaken there are a variety of things to see and you might just want to google it. Grindelwald is a ski resort and much smaller town.
Getting from Zurich to Interlaken is pretty easy 2 hr train ride with a change in Bern. Bern was a nice place to sight see.
Depending on your budget you could easily spend a couple days in Interlaken and a night in Grindelwald or somewhere similar and take the Jungfraujoch. Then the next day spend it in Bern and take the train straight to Paris.
If you can handle early mornings, you can stay in Lauterbrunnen the last night in the area, catch an early (6:30 a.m.) train to Interlaken and be in Paris around 1:00 p.m.
Though I loved Lauterbrunnen on my previous visit, I would probably stay in one of the upper villages the other nights in the Berner Oberland. Murren looks like a nice play to stay. I will know for sure next week as I'll be there on an RS tour.
(Looks like I was writing my message at the same time as Eric. I agree with him) I would suggest that if you want the best views and a great feel for the Swiss alps, a good central location would be Lauterbrunnen. It's a 20-minute train ride from the Interlaken Ost station. Lauterbrunnen is centrally located in the valley and has the local train station that is the launching area for Wengen, Gimmelwald, Murren and the two mountain tops. If you have a bit more time to move up and down the gondola system, I would recommend staying in Murren. It's everything you would expect in a Swiss alpine village. Small and picturesque at 5,200'. Richard has described the train run from Interlaken Ost to Paris nicely.
I have a few comments to add to the others. First, regarding the trip from Interlaken to Paris, it's very easy as the others have said. The last time I made that trip, I used regional trains from Interlaken Ost to Lausanne, where I boarded the TGV. From there to Paris was very quick (understandable at 300 kmH)! As I recall, the TGV arrived at Gare du Lyon, but it was easy to get to my Hotel using the Metro from there.
My choice would be to stay in either Gimmelwald or Murren (depending on whether you'd prefer the more "informal" atmosphere of a small farming community) or more of the quintessential small Swiss village (with more tourist facilities). If you get an early start on the day of your trip to Paris, staying in either place should work well.
Eric, Hope you have a wonderful time on your tour!!! I'll be heading out in a week or so for the RS France tour.
Richard mentioned taking the train through Bern to Interlaken. That's one possibility. I'd also check out the route through Lucerne. I do not remember how long that takes, but the route from Lucerne to Interlaken Ost is incredibly scenic--more so than the Bern route--because it goes over mountains and past beautiful lakes. My guess is it's longer than 2 hours; but if you've got the time and want a very scenic train trip, it's worth it. It also passes through Meiringen and along Briensee.
I second Larry's and Ken's suggestion about staying in Murren. There are lots of accomodations there. If you want a truly untouristy alpine village, check out Gimmelwald (Rick Steves' died-and-gone-to-heaven village). Hotel Mittaghorn, Mountain Hostel, and Esther's B&B with Sleep in Straw are lodging possibilities.
Though I admit that I haven't done the research, I'm guessing that staying Interlaken might be more expensive than Lauterbrunnen or the upper villages.
But more importantly, while Interlaken is nice, Lauterbrunnen and the villages are, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful places I've ever been. I think you might regret staying in Interlaken when other options are so close by.
Thanks for all the great information everybody. I will definitely start looking into all this stuff. We will arrive at the Zurich airport late afternoon on Saturday, July 4th and then hopefully take a train directly to Bern or wherever we end up that night and then eventually leave on late Tuesday July 7th or early Wednesday July 8th so we can make it to Paris by early afternoon if possible. I just got to figure out exact plans for those three days but everyone here has given great suggestions. Thanks.
One other question, given our limited time I was thinking of just going from Zurich straight to Interlaken and staying there the whole time. Then just spending the day in Lauterbrunnen/Gimmelwald, etc. Money is a bit tight so I was think that Interlaken may afford a few more options and also maybe get a little lower cost by staying at least 2 nights there. My other thought was what was suggested earlier about maybe 2 nights in Interlaken and then a night in Gimmelwald or something. Any suggestions?
Matt, Unless you're staying at Balmer's Herberge or other low cost accommodations, I think you'll find it would be far more expensive to stay in Interlaken! It used to be a favoured spot with the wealthy and aristocracy, and some of the Hotels there are still in that price range.
Anywhere in Switzerland is often a bit pricey, but I think you'll find a greater selection of "budget" accommodations in Lauterbrunnen, Murren or Gimmelwald. The absolute lowest cost accomodations in the area will probably be The Mountain Hostel in Gimmelwald (which gets very high ratings by those who have stayed there - it's small but fun!). Esther's B&B would be another good choice.
Good luck and happy travels!
I'd go to Murren or Gimmelwald also - spent a week there last summer and tho I've traveled a good bit in Switzerland, this was my favorite - so much more out-of-the-way. Interlaken is a tourist town, would be a shame to stay there when you could sleep to the tune of the cowbells! If you're like me, you'll change your itinerary and stay in the B. Oberland longer - wonderful walks/hikes.
OK, so my thinking is for our trip we will probably stay either in Lauterbrunnen or Gimmelwald or around there. My main question is whether to get the Swiss pass or not?? I will be arriving in Zurich, taking the train to the Lauterbrunnen valley and want to take some of the lifts up to Gimmelwald, Murren, etc. We plan on spending most of 3 days there and then early in the morning the 4th day leave for Paris. My question is what is the best option, buy individual train tickets for all these or get a Swiss Pass if only for a 3 day trip? My other question is do I need to get a separate ticket to go to Paris if I get a Swiss Pass--i.e. can't this pass basically get me to the border so I don't pay as much money for the ticket into Paris? Thanks for your help.
You will definitely save money with a Swiss Pass. It will pay for it's self with the discounts you get on the high mountain trains and cable cars; like the Schiltorn and Jungfrau(click the "railpasses" tab at the top of the page for all the details). Train is your best option to Paris, high-speed TGV trains make the run; you can check schedules at the Swiss Rail site: www.sbb.ch/en. Most of these trains exit Switzerland at Basel. So with a Swiss Pass it would be easier to take the regular inter-city train from Interlaken to Basel, and purchase a separate ticket for Basel to Paris.
Unless you plan on going to the two mountain tops, you might be able to squeeze by with P2P tickets. Aside from entering and exiting the country, it doesn't look like you will be doing a lot of traveling around. You might look into the Swiss transfer ticket. Its designed to take you to one place in Switzerland and then exit. This ticket cannot be purchased in Switzerland according to the Swiss website. I believe that you will fully covered for all transportation from Zurich Flughafen (airport) to your destination and then you will be covered on your exit from that location to the French border. Tim from Knoxville can check me on this but I think that the ticket will cover 50% of all other transporation fares up to 30 days between your entry and exit. I've had other Swiss passes but not this one.
Well, thanks for the info so far. Part of what I was thinking is getting the Saver pass because I will be traveling with my girlfriend everywhere together. My one question about that is she is considered a youth because she is under 26 years of age. Can we get the Saver pass with 1 adult and 1 youth?? From various webistes it seems unclear to me. I guess I was wondering if we can get 2 saver passes, one 2nd class adult and one 2nd class youth? I only see an adult price listed for the saver pass which is why I am asking.
Also, if we decide to get a Swiss Pass when we leave Lauterbrunnen or that area should we use the Swiss Pass all the way to Basel and then buy an individual ticket to London. I am asking because I want to get the cheapest ticket I can to Paris while getting the most mileage out of my swiss pass.
The saver pass assumes that two or more people are traveling together. I don't think it will work for one if your girlfriend goes for a youth pass. As for departing the B.O. for Paris, you don't have to go all the way to Basel. You can get shorter runs that require a train change at Bern and then you go to Paris with stops at Lausanne and Geneva. Your pass will cover you up to the Swiss border. You can buy the ticket to Paris at the train station at Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken. They will credit your Swiss portion and charge you only for your travel in France.
Great, thanks for the info Larry. So you think it would be best to wait and purchase the ticket to Paris while in Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken? My only concern is I don't want everything to Paris to be sold out or extremely overpriced. It is really important that I make it out on one specific day (it will be mid week in early July) which is why I am asking. Thanks for all your help.