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Suggestions for 16 days in Switzerland

My husband and I have booked our 16 day trip to Switzerland next September flying in and out of Zurich. We know we want to spend several days in Wengen and we also would like to go to Lucerne, Zermatt, Rheine Falls, Chamonix (Mont-Blanc), & Bern. We are also considering spending some time in Bettmeralp. We want to limit our hotels to 5-6 if possible. Any suggestions for an itinerary? Would Bern make a good home base for a couple of days or should we just visit for a few hours in route elsewhere? We spent a few days in the Berner Oberland in 2005 and loved it there. We loved the hiking and the lifts.

Posted by
191 posts

My suggestion would be to follow a modified version of the "Golden Pass" route. You will probably arrive in Zurich first thing in the morning so I would spend the first night there to adjust to any jet lag and have a look around the city. Lucerne is a short train ride away so you could leave any time the next day. This city is worth 2 or 3 nights because there are nice day trips outside the city if you wanted. Then it is another short ride to Interlaken (Berner Oberland) that is worth 3 or 4 nights and you could stay in Murren or Lauterbrunnen if you wanted to be in the mountains. Don't overlook the boat rides on the Thunesee or Brientzsee from Interlaken. I would then go on to Bern for 2 or 3 nights, another nice Swiss city (if you buy a Golden Pass ticket, you will have to go back to Interlaken to pick up the train west). You will end up in Montreux on one end of Lake Geneva for another night or 2. Short train ride to Geneva for 3 or 4 nights since it is a short journey into France and Mont-Blanc from there. Can you "open-jaw" and fly home from Geneva? If not, it is back to Zurich (the longest train ride of the trip). I am always of the opinion vacations should be somewhat relaxing and trying to see the whole of any country in two weeks is too much packing up and time spent on traveling. On your next trip to Switzerland, you could do Zermatt, possibly the Lake Como region of Italy, St. Moritz and the Austrian Alps for two weeks. Enjoy!

Posted by
14 posts

Noma, How nice to have 16 days for Switzerland. I can tell you what we did with a week and we are headed back next fall for 2 weeks to hike the Alps haute to haute route. We flew into Zurich in the morning, checked our bags at the train station and toured around the city, including a boat ride on lake Zurich (covered with our Swiss rail pass).Trying to stay awake. Then we caught the train to Lausanne in the afternoon. We stayed 2 nights there and loved it. Then took the Golden Pass Route train stopping to tour Chateau de Chillon on the way to the Berner Oberland. We ended up in Lauterbrunnen and took the lifts, cog train, etc to Gimmelwald. 2 nights there (tons of hiking, took the lift up to the Schilthorn for breakfast and hiked back to Gimmelwald). Cable Car back down to Lauterbrunnen and up the otherside via train and hiking to Kleine Scheidegg. From there we worked our way to Appenzell region and stayed 1 night at Ebenalp, again more hiking and the views are amazing! Lift back down and hiked over hill and dale to Appenzell. Wonderful area, cheese factory, museums, luge tracks (some things covered by swiss rail pass) . Then we worked our way back to Zurich vie Rapperswill to catch the night train to Vienna. You have obviously time to do much more, but there is so much more to do! Enjoy

Posted by
2818 posts

It sounds like a great trip. I'm glad to see you include Bettmeralp. It is off the Rick Stevers radar screen, but I have been talking about it here for a year or so. Great hiking and views of the glacier.

You can include everything in a 16-day trip like this:

Land in Zurich ( morning) , take the train straight to Lucerne, a one-hour trip. Spend two nights in Lucerne. Then spend 3 nights each in Muerren or Wengen, Bettmeralp, Zermatt, and Chamonix, traveling in that order. Then had dad to Bern for your last night. You can easily reach the Zurich airport from Bern. One thing I left out is Rhinefall, not sure how to fit that in to this plan.

Now for the advice. That is a lot of moving around. You could consider leaving off Chamonix, so you would have more time for the others. Maybe spend your first night in Zurich and visit the Rhinefall on a day trip from there. Then proceed to Lucerne, etc.