My husband and I will be traveling from Italy to Switzerland in the second week of August. We are leaving Venice and have 3 full days before we have to be in Zurich (to fly home). I know you can't 'do' Switzerland in 3 days, but any suggestions as to where we go? I would love to get up in the Alps - possibly Interlaken or somewhere in that region. I have also hear Lucerne is beautiful. Any recommendations?
Shannon personal recommendation Interlaken, but if you can find accommodation in wilderswil or Unterseen or even Matten all areas of Interlaken you will be away from the main part of the town. As you only have three full days use the first clear day to go up to Jungfraujoch if you have mind. Do the trip as a round trip, going up via Lauterbrunnen and Wengen and returning via Grindelwald. The train tickets will allow you to stop off anywhere on the journey so take your time. Take a trip on either lake and again hop and off the boats and enjoy the lakeside villages and either Thun or Brienz and return by train. Check the value of getting a Swiss Rail pass of some kind, you have to do the maths and look on the website www.sbb.ch/en the lake steamer web site is also available at www.bls.ch and look for I think it is navigation. Another website to look at is www.myswitzerland.com
One of your three full days will be spent travelling to either destination. I personally would not make Interlaken my final destination. It is very touristy. You are surrounded by the Berner Oberland mountains which afford wonderful mountain lodging and magnificent views. So, continue from Interlaken to the Stechelberg lift which will take you up to Gimmelwald and Muerren in 10-15 min. I like to stay at Hotel Alpina in Muerren. Muerren is a small, car-free town with several pension/hotel possibilities and restaurants. There is also a small grocery and souvenir shops. Your second day could be spent either going to the top of the Schilthorn which is very expensive or maybe walking down to Gimmelwald and exploring the village. Check the RS tour book for ideas. He also has a walking tour of Gimmelwald explaining the different huts and homes. You then have only one full day left. You could either get to Lucern, spend the night then continue to Zurich for your flight (don't know what time your flight is). Or, head to Zurich and stay overnight there. Lucern is also a beautiful, small city. Yes, it's touristy but not as much as Interlaken. If you drive to Lucern that first day, the second day you could take the train, cogwheel and then rotating cable car up to Mt. Titlis. Pick up the RS Switzerland tour book to get more info on both of these towns. Have a great trip. Edit: Was not aware that the OP was taking the train--not driving. Therefore, I eliminated info on the Swiss sticker.
I asume you have a car. I agree w/ other posters see Lauterbrunnen Valley and villagwes there. Then stay at Zurich airport hotel on your departure. Figure you will go back the Swiss alps are gorgeous!!!
We actually don't have a car. We will be traveling by train. I have been looking into staying in either Murren or Gimmelwald. Would they be easy to reach if we were traveling by train? I was thinking maybe 2 nights up in the mountains then 1 night in Lucerne and then take the train from Lucerne to Zurich to catch our 5pm flight.
Shannon, I would just spend the whole time in the Berner Oberland. 2 nights in Gimmewald sounds good but as a practical matter it's only one day, and what if it rains? Of course that assumes your flight home is late enough to make that work.
Mürren and Gimmelwald are both easy to reach by the Swiss travel system (train, bus, cablecar), but either one would be a very long journey from Venice in one day. What I would do is this: Day 1, take the fast ES train from Venice to Milan, connect there with a train to Brig, and from Brig travel another hour to either Bettmeralp (carfree village perched high above the Rhone Valley) or kandersteg(charming alpine village on the main train line going toward Spiez when you connect to Interlaken and on to Mürren, etc.) You should be able to arrive by mid-afternoon and have the rest of the day to walk around and explore the scenery. www.bettmeralp.ch www.oeschinensee.ch Day 2 take the train/bus/cablecar journey the rest of the way to Mürren or Gimmelwald. You should be able to arrive by early afternoon and have the rest of the day. Day 3 travel to Luzern where you can spend the night before going to the Zurich airport, which is an hour away. This plan has you changing hotels each day (which we don't mind). The alternative is to go all the way to Mürren (or Gimmelwald) the first day and spend 2 nights there. However, Venice to either of these Swiss villages is a journey of 8 hours; not the way I like to spend a whole day. To either Bettmeralp or Kandersteg is still 6 hours, but that is more reasonable. There really isn't anything with less travel time unless you want to stay in Brig, not in th emountains. The alternative would be to head straight to Luzern (via Milan), a journey of about 6 hours, and spend all 3 nights there, with daytrips your two full days. You can see the Alps from Luzern but you are not "in" them.
Shannon, I totally agree with those recommending staying the three days in the Lauterbrunnen area. Lucerne is wonderful, but your time is too limited. My only caveat is that unless you are looking for the hostel/backpack type atmosphere, avoid Gimmelwald. There is NOTHING there. If pure rustic is your thing, then by all means choose it. If not, stay in Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, or Murren. All three are good choices, easily accessible by train/funicular/cable car. And, the Swiss transport system is as reliable as the clocks. Do not worry about transfer times of only several minutes.
I just did the Venice -> Mürren train trip in 1 day, and although it is a rather long travel day it is by no means unbearable. In fact I did it with 12 high school students and helped with their luggage, etc. So without 12 students to attend to, the trip would have been a breeze. In fact the destination of Mürren is so stunning I would DEFINITELY do the trip in 1 day just to get there as quickly as possible.
Only had 3 days in Switzerland - we spent 1 night in Spiez - daytripping to Murren, 1 day in Bern, but our hosts took us out of the city for a hike and really didn't see a lot of it, and 1 night in Zurich (our flight was out of there to London) - we really only had a half day in Zurich - had we not been flying out of there, probably would have either spent an extra day in Bern, or 1 day in Speiz and 2 in Lucerne...it is amazing country - the scenery - well, Venice is my fav city, but Switz is my fav country! Enjoy...
I have to say I am with Lola on this. It would drive me bonkers to spend 8 daylight hours on a train to get to Murren. What time did you arrive there Tim? According to SBb the earliest departure from Venice is 7:50 so the earliest you can get to Murrennis just before 4 pm, pretty late to do much of anything and the legs are all stiff from sitting on the train so long. The 6 hour trip to Bettmeralp is just enough better to give you part of the day to play. You arrive at 2:00 pm, with enough time left in the day to go for a short hike or explore the village. I have been there with my hiking club and have to say it is every bit as spectacular as Murren, especially if you ride the lift up the Bettmerhorn tom see the huge glacier below you.