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Help with itinerary: Switzerland

My wife and I are going to Switzerland on March 22, 2014. We have 10 days(arrival and departure days are not included). I'm a photographer afficionado so our priority is sightseeing. We are not into museums or that kind of stuff. We are in a good shape for walking This is what I have in mind:
We'll arrive at Geneva on 3/23 around 2pm. We don't know if spend the rest of the day here and leave in the morning to our base town or go directly to base after arriving. We want to be able to see the best sightseeings in Switzerland for 7 days(3/23 thru 3/30)we are thinking a day trip to Lake Cuomo(is it possible?) and 3 days in Amsterdam(3/31 thru 4/2)We are taking the night train from Zurich on 3/30. We'll depart from Amsterdam back home on 4/3. Your feedback will be greatly appreciate it. Thank you

Posted by
12040 posts

Just be aware that late March is usually the tail end of the skiing season. Around this time, the hospitality industry in the mountains starts to close down for the spring shoulder season. It's usually a rather damp and cloudy time of year. This really is a lousy time of year for hiking and outdoor scenery.

Posted by
31435 posts

Gil, As Tom mentioned, March is probably not the best time to visit Switzerland for photographing scenery as the weather is often not too favourable. That time of year is when the transition occurs between winter and summer activities and some hotels and other facilities will be closed. The usual favourite with many here is the Berner Oberland and the Lauterbrunnen Valley outside of Interlaken. In good weather the scenery in that area can be stunning, and it has many trails of varying difficulty so it's also a great place for hiking. You could perhaps stop in the Lautebrunnen Valley for a couple of days (hopefully the weather is good), but your best bet would probably be cities like Lucerne, Bern, etc. as they provide more in the way of "indoor activities" that will keep you out of the rain. The Museum of Transport in Lucerne is incredible, and well worth seeing (IMO). BTW, I'm also a "photography afficionado". Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
31435 posts

Gil, One point I forgot to mention..... Lago di Como is some distance from Switzerland, so with such a short time frame you may want to skip it on this trip. Regarding the other areas, if the weather is good, it may still be possible to do some touring and photography in the more scenic areas such as the Berner Oberland. There will probably be a few hotels open or you could stay in Interlaken, which is a larger centre. Is there any possibility you could move your trip to May or June?

Posted by
2828 posts

Gil, considering it will be late winter season, I'd roll my dice and go for a higher-altitude place, like Zermatt, for 3 days, then pick a lakeside pristine location (always photogenic) in Switzerland or Italy for 4 other days, then go to Amsterdam. For the lakeside option, you can go two ways: pick something in Switzerland (Interlaken, Luzern, Lausanne are possible picks among other) or go to Ticino int the South (Locarno is a good lakeside base along Lago Maggiore). If you are going to Locarno from Zermatt, you can do so via the less well-known scenic Centovalli railway (Zermatt-Visp/Brig-Domodossola-Locarno). From either Locarno or any other of those lakeside cities, you can travel to Amsterdam with 1-4 changes. From Basel onwards the tip should be made on modern ICE day trains, they have 2 direct (without transfers) trains and others with an easy change in Frankfurt. Between Frankfurt and Koln trains reach 300km/h, the rest of the trip will be done mostly on 150-180 km/h tracks. Avoid the night train like you'd avoid the Greyhound night bus to Arizona... at best it is slow, at worst it is uncomfortable. If you don't want to travel to Amsterdam with daytime trains, than take a flight (Geneva, Milano and Zurich will offer most flights to Amsterdam convenient to where you'll stay, all accessible by rail).

Posted by
74 posts

WoW! How dishearten feeling. Do you think is better if we start planning other itineraies near Switzerland like Italy, Germany or France? We were excited and looking forward to a nice scenery in Switzerland but we still have time to change itineraries. Do you think those express trains like Glacier and Bernina rides are worth it during this time of the year?

Posted by
8 posts

Have you considered Interlaken? It's quite beautiful and a good home base for day trips around German Switzerland. Like the amazing train ride to Jungfraujoch aka the Top of Europe. It will be cold and late ski season. That's a lot of travel for 10 days. Maybe concentrate on closer destinations like Germany or Austria, or France this trip and do Italy in another.

Posted by
12040 posts

March simply isn't a very photogenic month in Europe in the Alps and to the north. It's generally pretty damp and overcast. You could get lucky and have a few clear days, but I wouldn't count on it. If natural scenery is your priority, plan to visit between the months of June and September. Between late October and May, much of Europe north of the Alps is cloudy and gray.

Posted by
9 posts

Hi GilAre you set on arriving in Geneva? If you arrived in Lugano instead or even Milan you could do Lake Como and then the southern part of Switzerland, the Ticino region. Lugano, Locarno and also Bellinzona (with the castles) are great places for hiking and sightseeing. Although, like others mentioned the weather is key. The train over from Locarno to Zermatt is also a beautiful ride. You never know what you are going to get. I was in the alps in Ticino in February and we had rain one day, snow 3 days and beautiful t-shirt sunshine weather 3 days. Major snowstorm the day we flew out and then snow for the next several days. You never know!