My husband and I plan to visit Switzerland and Italy in 2013. We can travel in May or Sept/Oct. Which time do you feel is better, especially for Switzerland? I contacted Hotel Eiger in Murren and found that they are closed for May. Would like to visit when more hotels/trains are open and running. Thanks!
If you are going to the Berner Oberland, September is much better than May, which is still early/mud/ season in the mountains. Put Switzerland first in your itinerary, then head to Italy.
Thanks! Looks like September will be our travel month. Can anyone recommend a good place to stay for approx. 4 nights in Tuscany? We would like to use it as a base to do day trips to Florence and Cinque Terre. We may need a condo since my daughter and her husband may be with us that leg of the trip. Also, any recommendations on a good but reasonable driver? We might be employing them for 4-5 days.
If you choose Lucca as your base in Tuscany (well-located for visiting both florence and Cionque Terre as it is between them on the train line), you might consider this apartment: http://www.knowital.com/tuscany/lucca/casaolivieri/apartment1.html It is inside the city walls, nicely decorated, and very comfortable for 4 people (note that only one of the bedrooms has a "letto matrimoniale"; the other has twin beds. The kitchen is bright and colorful and well-equipped for cooking if you wish to do that. We did one night and had fun buying fresh ingredients at the little store up the street (pedestrian street, actually). It is a 15-minute walk from the train station; a 5-minute walk from the TI where you can rent bicycles to bike the walls. Paola, the owner, is very kind (and funny) and easy to work with in terms of reservation deposit and payment.
I am making the assumption that you are traveling by car. We have done both time periods over the years as well as July, and the vote is for Sept. If you include October in the Berner Oberland make it very early in the month lest you run into closed facilities again. Murren is a spectacular location, we stayed at the Hotel Alpina with a valley side room right on the edge of the valley. The room was tiny and we had to twist and turn to get out on our balcony but looking down from that balcony was a genuine OMG moment.(My wife doesn't remember how tiny the room was but the view lasts forever) That being said, the problem with Murren is that once you are there you are kind of stuck there. Lauterbrunnen is much better base of operations to take the Jungfraubahn, see Ballenburg, take a lake steamer on the Brienzersee or just wander some of the surrounding area. You could spend a couple days in Lauterbrunnen and then pack light for a one night stay and take the Schilthornbahn up to the Schilthorn and stop in Murren for a night on your way back down. You're going to my favorite part of the world, I wish you good weather.
You are going to spend several hours on the train if you base yourself in Tuscany and take the train to the Cinque Terre. Looking at the train schedules, it will take at least two hours, one way, to go from Lucca to Vernazza. To really enjoy the experience, stay in the Cinque Terre for at least one nightpreferably two. I think you need to decide on your preferences first. Do you want to see more of Florence or more of Tuscany and the hilltowns? You could base yourself in Siena, or the countryside, and take the bus into Florence. However, if you feel you want to spend a few days touring Florence, then it would be best to stay there. Also, a lot of the Tuscany towns are only accessible by bus or car.
Murren is fabulous. Enjoy! Cinque Terra is a long way for a day trip. I'd spend 2-3 nights in one of the cities there (Vernazza was nice for us). Our favorite Tuscan city was Sienna. That's where I'd start if I were to go back again.
Hotel Eiger in Murren is wonderful. We've stayed there twice. Great food too. We had a room with balcony and the view is incredible. Loved Murren and disagree with Irv, we did not feel "stuck" there at all. Quite the opposite. Lauterbrunnen is on the valley floor, Murren is 5000' up which we loved because there, you are enveloped by the Alps. We were blown away by that, and by Murren and the wonderful walks from there. So much so, we went back a second time.