I will have a couple of extra days while in Zurich. Can anyone recommend a scenic small town to visit via train for a two day stay?
For me it would be Murren in the Berner Oberland area of the Alps. The most incredibly scenic place I have ever been to. It blows Yosemite out of the water imo.
I agree, Murren or Lauterbrunnen which as access to Murren and Wengen. We stayed 6 days and it is one place to would like to visit again.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley in the Berner Oberland. Comparable to Yosemite Valley here, some call it "Yosemite Valley on steroids." It even looks good on Google Earth, you can fly through it in Google Earth.
Bruce, I definitely agree with the others - the Lauterbrunnen Valley would be a good choice! It has everything from rugged mountains (Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau included) to quintessential Swiss Villages (Murren is a good example). Nearby Interlaken (which you'll have to pass through) also has lakes for boat tours, etc. You could also stay in Gimmelwald, which is a big favourite! It's essentially a small farming village which also offers lodgings (and there a number to choose from). There's not much to do there except hike or relax and enjoy the scenery. Check The Website for details (the "Fotoshow" will provide images of the area, and there's also accommodation info.). You could also take the Cable Car to the famous Piz Gloria Restaurant at the Schilthorn, where the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed back in the '60s. It was one of the world's first revolving restaurants, and for the adventurous (depending on time of year), you might try Paragliding while in that area. Happy travels!
In addition to great hiking (even for beginner level - paved paths and cable cars that can take you back up if needed) and relaxing, you can rent bikes in Lauterbrunnen or Murren. We did and it was very fun. What I like about Murren (and Gimmelwald) vs Lauterbrunnen (in the valley) is that you are at appx 5,000 ft elevation with the Alps surrounding and enveloping you. We've been there twice, staying many days each time in Murren, and it's an incredible experience that stays with you forever.
I wholeheartedly agree with everyone above, but in addition, I would recommend checking out Lago Maggiore in Ticino to the South. Very different Swiss vibe there, but so beautiful (especially the Madonna del Sasso church on the hill) and the food is wonderful. I can't go to Switzerland without doing both!
Heidi, Just to clarify, are you referring to the Sanctuario della Madonna del Sasso Franciscan Church in Locarno? If so, I agree it's very beautiful and well worth a visit. However, referring to the criteria in the OP, I'm not sure Locarno would be considered a "scenic small town". Cheers!
I have no argument with any of the suggestions so far. You should also consider my favorite place in Switzerland, Zermatt. The scenery is stunning and there are good walking routes and restaurants. It takes an hour or so longer to get there from Zurich compared to the Bernese Oberland.
Bruce, when are you going to be in Zürich? that makes a big difference in the recommendations. Deppending on the time of year, Mürren/Wengen/Lauterbrunnen may or may not be a good choice.
I've spent time in the Vevey/Montreux area on Lake Geneva.....vineyards and lake views are spectacular and it is great for walking. Also, I went to Lucerne this summer and did the Golden Round Trip up Mt. Pilatus. There are so many beautiful areas.... luckily there is a great train and bus system and most areas are close in distance. Some day I'll get to Murren. Let us know what you did and how you liked it. Have a great trip.
Ken, Yes, that is the church I was thinking of.
And, you are right - Locarno is not a small village. When I go there, I often stay with my relatives in the small towns of Monte Carasso and Gubiasco, and there are so many picturesque villages on Lago Maggiore, like Ascona, that it has a small town feel to it. But, Bruce - I think if I only had 2 days, I would head to Murren/Grindelwald first.
Thanks to all of your ideas on where to staylooks like Lauterbrunnen is a good bet. I'm in the process of making reservations for Hotel Staubbach. Look for me over there....I'll be holding onto the orange Rick Steves bag. PS- this is a great service. It's always nice to hear from people who have experience in what I'm trying to find out. bd