A few friends & I will be in Switzerland (from a river cruise in Basal) the last week of April. We thought we'd finish the day in Basal and then have 2 full days before we fly out from Geneva in the AM on the 3 rd day. Question - how should we spend our time. We want to do Bern and I'd like to at least go to the Alps (be prefer to stay there). Any suggestions and towns/areas, sights, agendas? I see rail passes but also rail & hotel accomodations from the railroad. We are interested in sightseeing, shopping, Swiss culture, nature. Any info and tips would be appreciated. Thanks.
Bonnie, With only slightly more than two days and given your preference to see the Alps, I'd suggest skipping Basel as (IMO) the time would be better spent elsewhere. The Berner Oberland outside of Interlaken is one possibility to consider. That's normally the "slow season" but in the last week of April a visit might be worthwhile. Another really good location to consider would be Lucerne. It's a beautiful city and only an hour by train from Basel. There should be more than enough to keep busy with for two days. You could (for example) take one of the lake cruises (although that might not be too appealing after a river cruise), visit the fantastic Museum of Transport, see the famous Lion of Lucerne or take a ride to Mt. Pilatus which would provide some time in the mountains. If a visit to Bern is important, you could travel there from Lucerne on a day trip (about an hour each way) and look around for a few hours. I'm assuming you'll have to go to Geneva the day prior to your flight? The trip from Lucerne to Geneva is about 3 hours. Happy travels!
Late April is one of the worst times to visit the Alps, due to most of the tourist infrastructure being closed and poor visibility of the mountains. If you plan for an Alpine stay, don't be surprised if you get three days of foggy, rainy weather with no views of the mountains. I would advise you to plan on staying in a city near the Alps (Bern or Luzern), and take a day trip if you get good weather.
I would definitely dedicate at least half a day to Basel. Basel has a beautiful medieval old town area. You should see the very unique Spalentor, the red Town Hall, and the Muenster. River crossing the Rhine via those cable attached ferry boats is fun. There are very many museums also if you are interested in that. Basel is a center for contemporary architecture (for example Herzog & De Meuron that have buildings worldwide) and some of the buildings are err. let's say intriguing. I think the city has a lot of energy though. Interesting Jean Tinguely and Giacometti exhibits. Basel is ignored in the RS guidebook which is a shame. Further up the Rhine you have the Rhinefalls which are neat and Schaffhausen. Then nearby there is Stein-Am-Rhein which is a not to be missed medieval town with frescoes on buildings. It is sometimes called the Swiss Rothenburg.
Thanks everyone! All very useful information. I'll meet with my girlfriends and decide what we will do. I really appreciate the advise! Have a great weekend!