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Cinque Terre to Zurich

Hello all. I am looking for a place to visit in Switzerland. Here are my constraints. - I will be leaving from Cinque Terre around noon on 6/25 (haven't booked a train yet) - I will be flying out of Zurich on the evening of 6/27 (flight already booked) - I would like to visit Switzerland for the 2 days before I depart from Zurich. - I realize Switzerland is HUGE and I "can't do it in 2 days", but I want to use what little time I have to see what I can. - I was originally going to visit Interlaken, but since that seems like it would just split up my trip with more trains, I was thinking I'd go to Lucerne instead since it's just an hour from Zurich and I'd still be able to enjoy the morning/early afternoon before heading to the airport in Zurich. - I am 32, male, and travelling alone. Does anyone have any suggestions on where I can go, if not Lucerne. Or what to do in Lucerne? I'd like to check out the "Swiss Alps" as much as I can. I'm not as concerned with the museums and such in this short trip as much as experiencing Switzerland's environments (if that makes sense). Thanks,
Chris

Posted by
32272 posts

Chris, Given the circumstances, Lucerne would be an excellent location to spend a few days! There are lots of sightseeing opportunities in that area. Regarding "what to do" in Lucerne, check your local Library or Bookstores to see if you can find a copy of the Switzerland Guidebook. Although you don't have much interest in Museums, I really enjoyed the Museum of Transport and you could also visit the famous "Lion of Lucerrne" statue. Other options include the lift to Mount Pilatus or take one of the cruises on the lake. For further ideas, have a look at This Website. Happy travels!

Posted by
8700 posts

If you haven't checked the train timetables yet, you need to know that even going to Lucerne will require a minimum of three connections and the trip will take at least seven hours. From what Cinque Terre town will you be leaving? Knowing that will help us suggest how to book the lowest fares.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you so much, Ken. This information is exactly what I was looking for. Tim, I will be leaving from Vernazza. I realize there were be a couple transfers, but that is one of the reasons I decided to look somewhere a little closer to Zurich so I'd be able to spend more time once I get to my destination without having to worry about another half-day of travelling to Zurich airport. Thanks again both of you for your info. If you have any other suggestions, they are greatly appreciated! -Chris

Posted by
16936 posts

If I were 32 again I would choose Interlaken over Luzern, but I would travel just beyond Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen. Wherever you go in Switzerland you would start by heading to Milan. Travel time from Milan to Interlaken Ost is 3 to 3.5 hours, with 1 or two changes on the way (Yes, there are routes with more changes, but you can avoid those). Travel time to Luzern is 3.5 to 4 hours, with one change on the way. You can reach the airport from Interlaken in a bit over 2 hours; starting from Lzuterbrunnen adds 30 minutes but it is still easily doable if your flight is not until afternoon. We have traveled to Zurich airport on the day of our flight from as far away as Chamonix. I wouldn';t worry about the additional train change going to Interlaken (two additional if you go to Lauterbrunnen), so long as they are in Switzerland (like Brig and Spiez). Changes there are smooth and easy; just think of it as exercise. I would avoid the routes with an extra change at Domodossola. At lauterbrunnen you will bbe right IN the alps and you can use the full day you will have there to head up to one of the higher villages (Wengen, Müren, or Gimmelwald) for a hike and gorgeous views of the mountains. Luzern is a charming small city on a beautiful lake, with views of the mountains. but you are not in the mountains like you are at Lauterbrunnen. You'll have more of a "Swiss" experience in the alpine environnment of Lauterbrunnen and surrounding villages.

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4 posts

Lola, Lauterbrunnen sounds exactly what I am looking to do. I will definitely look into going there if timing works out with trains. "Je", you are correct, I have one 24 hour day. I also have the afternoon of the first day and the morning/afternoon of the second day. My only alternative is to go straight to Zurich and sit in the airport for those two days (48 hours), which, obviously I'm not going to do. With that, and my limited time, I would like to explore Switzerland as much as I can. Has anyone ever done the Golden Round Trip in Lucerne? Any feedback would be appreicated. Thanks,
Chris

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16936 posts

We haven't been up Mt. Pilatus, but we have been up rigi, the smaller mountain. We actually spent th enight at a hotel up there; it was very nice, with views over the lake from the hiking paths, and the sound of cowbells floating up from the meadows below. Here is the info on the Golden Round Trip: http://www.pilatus.ch/en/railway-cableways/ Note that the cost is 96 CHF for the loop (boat in 2d class). Actually, if you would like a fun and interesting journey, with your last night spent in Luzern, you could go up Rigi like we did. It would be the same route as going to Luzern, except that at Arth-Goldau, where you would change for the train to Luzern, you instead take the cogwheel train righ tup the back side of Rigi. there is a hotel at th etop (Rigi Kulm) and more partway down the other side (at Rigi Kaltbad or Rigi Staffel). The views from th etop and from the places partway down are beautiful, and there are hiking paths of all types. The sunrise from the top is famous (we did not get up early enough to see it). The next day, you would ride the cablecar from Rigi Kaltbad down to the lake at Weggis, and ride a boat from there to Luzern to spend you last night before going to the airport.

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8700 posts

If you decide on Lauterbrunnen, here's how to get there. Earliest route: Leave Vernazza at 07:32; connect in Levanto, Genova, Milano, Spiez, and Interlaken Ost; and arrive in Lauterbrunnen at 15:25. Vernazza-Levanto will be on a regionale train. No reservations are possible and there is no discount for advance booking. The 2nd class fare is €2.00. Levanto-Genova will be on an IC train. The standard 2nd class fare is €8.00. Booked well in advance on the Trenitalia site, you can get a MINI fare of €6.50. Genova-Milano will be on an IC train. The standard 2nd class fare is €17.50. Booked well in advance on the Trenitalia site, you can get a MINI fare as low as €9.00. Milano-Spiez will be on an EC train. The standard 2nd class fare is €59.50. Booked well in advance on the Trenitalia site, you can get a Smart fare of €19.00 or a Smart 2 fare of €29.00 (subject to availability). Buy your tickets from Spiez to Lauterbrunnen when you get to Spiez. The 2nd class fare is 17.60 CHF. Other departure times and routes are possible, the last one being leaving Vernazza at 14:29 and arriving in Lauterbrunnen at 22:22. See the German Rail for complete timetables.

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16936 posts

And if you decide on th erigi option, you would follow the same route outlined by Tim as far as Milan: depart Vernazza at 7:32, change at Levanto and Genoa for Milano Centrale. At Milano, take the 11:10 to Arth-Goldau. there are often discount "Smart fares" for this journey on Trenitalia, as low as 19 euros, but I didn't check for your specific date. Arrive Arth-Goldau at 14:09 and have an hour there before taking the 15:10 cogwheel train up to Rigi Kulm, arriving at 15:47. The later departures from Vernazza don't work for Rigi, as you get to Arth-Goldau too late for the last train up Rigi, which departs at 17:10. The later departures from Vernazza will work, on the other hand, for getting to Luzern. You can leave Vernazza at 10:32 (going norrth) or 11:05 (going south to La Spezia) and take the direct train to Milan, arriving there at 13:50 or 14:50, respectively. Either way you would catch the 15:10 to Arth-Goldau, arriving there at 18:09. There are several trains an hour heading to Luzern (18:14, 18:21, 18:48) , taking 30 minutes plus or minus, for the trip.

Posted by
1503 posts

Chris, we're doing 1 night in Lucerne and then 1 night in Zurich before our 10am flight home for the last 2 nights of our trip. I think 1 1/2 days is plenty of time to see the highlights of the area around Lucerne. Of course we are doing this after spending 4 nights in the Lauterbrunnen Valley. So, not sure what I would do in your situation. Probably save the Lauterbrunnen Valley for a future trip when I could give it the time it deserves, and spend the time in Lucerne:) Anyway, I'm sure you'll enjoy your 2 days however you decide to spend them.

Posted by
4 posts

@Je, thanks again for the useful information. I can see you're here to help. Everyone else, I REALLY appreciate all of your suggestions. Coincidentally, I now have an extra day to work with. I think I am going to take Lola's suggestion and try to get to Lauterbrunnen for a couple of days. So, I do have a couple extra questions for your guys. I was going to book my train from Vernazza to Milan on Trenitalia.com, though it says I can't book the tickets online. Do I just walk up to the stations and purchase there? Do they take credit card or do I need Euros? I should book my train from Milan to Lauterbrunnen on SSB.ch, correct? When I get to Milan I will have about 30 minutes to transfer to the train to Lauterbrunnen (Via Spiez - Interlaken Ost). Is this enough time to make that transfer? Thanks,
Chris

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16936 posts

Hi Chris-that is great you got an extra day for Swizerland. You might want to stay up above the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Wengen or Mürren. Check with Denise at Chalet Fontana B&B to see if she has a room available. You cannot buy tickets starting in Vernazzza yet as it is a regional train. But the regional train connects in either Monterosso or Levanto with the IC train to Genoa and Milan. You can buy those tickets now on Trenitalia. It would be a good idea as (a) you might get a discount and (2) you cannot count on being able to buy tickets in Vernazza. There may or may not be a ticket machine or station agent. Things are a bit unsettled there since the flood, and no one has reported back what services have been restored at the station. It is a tiny place. You can also buy these tickets at any station in Italy before you get to Vernazza so that is an optio too. For Milan to Spiez, only buy these on SBB IF they offer the "print" option. Some international tickets do not carry that option, and you have to pick them up in Switzerland (which won't work for you unless you will be in Switzerland earlier in your trip) or ship (expensive, 45 CHF). If those are your only choices, you can buy Milan to Spiez on Trenitalia (look for a SMART fare, 19 euros). You can still buy from Spiez onward to Interlaken Ost, etc. on SBB as those should be self-print tickets. Or you can buy them when you get to Spiez if you have 20 minutes or so for the connections. Thirty minutes is enough time to change trains in Milan if you already have onward tickets in hand. You don't want to be buying tickets at the station there; even the lines at the machines can be long.

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9 posts

This post has been helpful to me as I am planning a trip from CT to Interlaken also. I have a few questions to add: We will be there the end of AUG/beginning of Sept 2012. -We have allotted 3 nights in CT (which we haven't planned out yet, so room recommendations would be great too) -Leaving CT on Aug 30th, it looks like the only train options on the Trenitialia website are to leave Levanto in the late afternoon, would it be better to go part way and see Lugano or Locarno or another town to split up the trip? We have 5 nights in Switzerland before heading to Amsterdam. -Speaking of Amsterdam, any suggestions on getting from Interlaken area to AMD? Fly out of which city? Thank you for your insight. Michelle

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32272 posts

@Michelle, > Before making room recommendations in the C.T., could you advise if you have a preference for any one of the five towns? > The specifics of your trip to Switzerland on Aug. 30 will vary slightly depending on which town you'll be departing from. Using the bahn.de website, numerous departures are shown with one of the first being at 06:55 (I used Monterosso as the departure point and Interlaken Ost as the destination). I've made that trip before, and it's reasonably easy so I wouldn't bother stopping in any intermediate places (unless you really want to see them). > Regarding travel from Interlaken to Amsterdam, there are a few options: (1) Fly from a large airport such as Zurich (2) Use a budget flight. Your best option for that is likely an EasyJet flight from Basel / Mulhouse / Freiburg (flight time 1.5 hours, morning & evening departures, current prices ~CH$27.95). For travel from Interlaken to the airport, it will be via train and Bus. The shortest trip I could find was a departure at 12:00, arriving at the airport at 16:10 (one change, savings fare listed at €39). (3) Travel by train. The easiest trip departs at 08:00, arriving Amsterdam at 17:25 (time 9H:25M, one change in Frankfurt). While that's a long trip, it would probably be more relaxing than putting up with the air travel hassles, and I'm sure the scenery would be great. With that scenario, after arrival in Amsterdam I'd check-in at the Hotel, drop my kit and go out for a fine hot meal. There are some great Indonesian restaurants there (I had a fine meal at one last September, but can't remember the name). Happy travels!

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9 posts

Thank you Ken. For CT, I am open, though leaning towards Vernazza or Manarola. We will arrive CT aug 27th, is it too busy with tourists still to just show up and find a place to stay, or is it best to book ahead? Hoping to spend <$100 a night, is this reasonable? I looked at the DB Bahn website and see the morning departure time from Monterosso, it says no online tickets available. What is the best website to book train tickets? If we spend all 5 nights(4 full days) in Interlaken, would anyone have suggestions for favorite point to point hikes? Would you recommend staying in one town(which one) and going on day hikes, or are there hut to hut/town to town hikes that you would recommend? For the trip back to Amsterdam from Interlaken, I like the sightseeing train idea, again, which website is best to use to book best prices for that ticket? I wonder which will be more affordable, just the train or easyjet/train combo?

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32272 posts

@Michelle, A few comments, presented in the same order as your questions.... For travel in August, I would definitely suggest pre-booking accommodations in the Cinque Terre!!! If you can't find anything in Vernazza or Manarola, check the Guidebook for listings in the other towns. Regarding your budget for Hotels, US$100 is only about €80 so it could be a bit "challenging" to find something in that price range. The Deutsche Bahn website doesn't sell tickets for journeys outside of Germany (AFAIK). I don't generally book tickets online, but you could try the Trenitalia or Swiss Rail websites. In the same situation, I'd probably just visit the station on arrival in Monterosso, and buy tickets then. The Switzerland Guidebook has good information on hikes in that part of the Berner Oberland. You could also check the www.gimmelwald.ch website. Regarding recommendations for which town to stay in, I would suggest somewhere in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, rather than Interlaken. The towns you could consider are Lauterbrunnen, Gimmelwald or Mürren. It would be a good idea to book accommodations SOON! I haven't checked the prices on the costs of trains from Interlaken to Amsterdam, so don't know which option is most "affordable". I'd probably try to buy the ticket upon arrival at Interlaken Ost. I'd have to do some number crunching to figure out which is the most "affordable" option.

Posted by
16936 posts

Michelle, you can save some money on your tripmto Switzerland by booking Monterosso ( or Levanto) to Milan and Milan to Spiez well ahead on the FSitaliane.it website ( aka Trenitalia). As for hiking in the Berner Oberland, Mürren makes a good base for some terrific hikes. But if you want to hike inn to inn or hut to hut, the possibilities are too many to list. But a couple of good ones are Mürren to Griesalp over the Sefinenfurka, upmto Hohtürli( Blumlisalphütte) and down to Oeschenensee, then down to Kandersteg to pick up the train. This is a spectacular hike over high passes. Or you could take the train to Schynige Platte, hike the Panoramaweg to the Faulhorn mountain inn (www.faulhorn.ch&#41; and from there you can go in several direction-right down to Grindelwald, or over Grosse Scheidegg to Schwartzwaldalp ( mountain inn Chalet Schwartzwaldalp there) and on down to Meiringen, or via Axalp down to Giessbach on Lake Or you can hike from Grindelwald to Mürren, hiking up to Alpiglen ( Hotel des Alpes) and on up to Kleine Scheidegg ( hotels there ) and down to Wengen. This route is also served by train, but the trails are well away from the tracks. A good guidebook for inn to inn walking, although somewhat out of date, is Switzerland's Mountain Inns, by the Liebermans. It lists many inns in this area, and walking routes. Most have websites where you can get updated information.

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9 posts

What does bumping up mean? Sorry to be so slow on understanding the train tickets. I am looking at the trenitalia.com and the times have a *and say times apply to next day? So I am unsure of what exactly I am buying. I typed in Monterosso to Milan Central (right?, is this best for the transfer?), then I want to buy Milan to Spiez all ahead of time on the trenitalia site? Then once in Spiez, that's when i buy the last ticket to the cities beyond Interlaken? My first time to Europe, can you tell?! =-) Thanks for your help.

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9 posts

Okay, so I figured out how to book the day I wanted with out the * saying it was for the next day. If I want to book for Aug 30th 2012, the earlier post above mentions getting a Smart fare on the Trenitalia site for the milan to Spiez instead of paying the standard 59CHF. What does it take to get a smart fare? Is that a special discount card I need to buy? Is it better just to pay the 59CHF? The other legs of the trip are coming up with mini prices for booking early. The only other train travel in Switzerland will be while we are there from Aug 30th to Sept 4th. We plan to spend this time in the Interlaken area, then need to make our way to Amsterdam on Sept 4th. Either by train or Easy Jet from near by airport. Thank you for any tips...Michelle