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Solo in Switzerland--My Trip Report

Last year was my first trip to Europe (Switzerland) with my sister and her husband. I feel in love with Switzerland before I even got there and thought it would be the perfect place to try my first solo trip this June. And it was. 😊

MONTREUX--5 NIGHTS

Arriving in Zurich, I took the train to Montreux for my first 5 nights, staying at the Grand Hotel Swiss Majestic. While I wasn’t impressed with the hotel staff, this hotel has a great location right outside the train station with great views of Lake Geneva. As convenience is very important to me, I would stay here again.

After checking in, I hopped on a boat to and from the Chillon Castle and explored the area outside the castle. This is a great place to walk around away from the crowds. I planned to return at a later date to see the inside, but never got the chance.

I had planned to take a day trip to Zermatt and the next day looked like the best weather day. So, I took an early train (6:43) to see the Matterhorn. And did I see the Matterhorn. 😊 I love the Swiss trains and did not consider the 2.5 hour ride to be too long, especially considering the gorgeous scenery in this part of the country. And the train station is right in the town center. I wasn’t really expecting to see the Matterhorn as I had read it’s always in the clouds. I guess I lucked out as I had perfect blue skies. My first glimpse was just the peak over the buildings. So, I kept walking and walking until I was out of the town center and had perfect views. I have so many great pictures of the Matterhorn, pine trees, and wildflowers. After about 100 pictures or so, I had a great walk back towards the train station to find the Gornergrat station. A great train ride up and there was even more of the Matterhorn. Still blue skies with a few white wispy clouds. Made for some great pictures. I would have loved to spend more time here, so it’s on my list for a future trip.

The next day I took the 7:50 golden panoramic train to Gruyeres. It was another gorgeous train ride as this is a beautiful part of the country. I arrived before the crowds as it was just me and a young couple from the US and all of the workers and their vehicles getting ready for the day. I just wasn’t that impressed with the actual town as it seemed to be mostly souvenir shops (loved the surrounding area) so I didn’t stay very long. Back in Montreux, I walked along the lake to the castle. I’m not big into flowers, but even I was impressed with all the flowers along the lake. Later, I took my favorite mode of transportation back to the hotel—boat of course. I should mention too that there is a great little café near the castle which I ate at multiple times. Café Bryon.

The following day, I had an early morning walk along the lake. I’m a morning person which is great for avoiding crowds. It seems things don’t start to get crowded until noon or so. I took the first train up to Rochers and it was just me and the marmots. A little cloudy, but still great views. The highlight of the day though for me was St. Saphorin. What a fabulous little village nestled between Lake Geneva and the Lavaux vineyards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieFwmKNncL8&t=661s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUm-3ehmfek

From there I took a quick train to Lutry to explore that old town. Not a must see but I enjoyed walking around with no crowds.

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For my final day I headed to Vevey super early and wandered the old town (lots of construction) and lakefront. I enjoyed the old town but much preferred Montreux’s lakefront with all the flowers. Also, Vevey was larger than I expected. After a quick stop back at the hotel, I went to Sion to explore that city. Like Lutry, not a must see, but I enjoyed walking around away from the crowds. There is a nice hill top castle which I did not walk up to see. And finally, back in Montreux, I decided to check out that old town. It was an uphill climb but nice views from the church. And not a single tourist in sight.

NOTE: In my experience, there were not as many English speakers in this part of the country. And many of the signs and menus were in French only.

WENGEN--5 NIGHTS

Finally, time to get back to the mountains!! 😊 I stayed at the Hotel Schonegg (recommended by cchapin) and it did not disappoint. Well, maybe the included breakfast wasn’t the greatest, but the views from my balcony more than made up for that. I will definitely stay here again. I sort of went a little crazy and went all over the place after dropping my bags off. It’s like I needed to see that everything was still there. I walked through Wengen back towards the train station and was happy to see that the ice cream guy from last year was still there. I then took the quick 10-minute fabulous train ride down to Lauterbrunnen. Then took the cable car and train to Murren. Stopped at Hotel Edelweiss for my fav apple strudel and hot chocolate. Walked down to Gimmelwald (I didn’t do this last year and it’s one of my new favorites) and took the cable car down to Stechelberg and the bus to Lauterbrunnen and train back to Wengen. I ended the day at my favorite restaurant in Wengen—Pasta and More—for the chicken caesar salad.

The next morning, it was a little cool outside, so I headed down to Lauterbrunnen and walked to Trummelbach Falls. I saw the Falls last year (and was super impressed) so decided not to take the time to see them again. I was eager to return to Mannlichen, my absolute favorite from last year. It was a little early in the season for all the cows to be out roaming around and I did miss them as they make the Mannlichen experience so magical. I decided to take the cable car down to Grindelwald as that was one place I did not see last year. I hadn’t planned ahead of time on taking the cable car so I got a little goofed up here until I figured out that I needed to take a train from the cable car station to the other train station in town. Definitely more crowded and busy in Grindelwald, but great views.

For my second full day in Wengen, I took an early train/bus to the Ballenberg outdoor museum. I enjoyed walking around and looking at and taking pictures of all the old buildings. I arrived before any of the demonstrations started, so I missed those. It was a nice setting, mostly in the woods. After a couple of hours, I took the bus to Brienz to have lunch and wait for the boat to Hotel Geissbach to see the hotel and waterfalls. What I wasn’t prepared for was the incredible color of the water. A sight to see in person as pictures just can’t do it justice. I debated walking to Iseltwald or taking the boat to Interlaken. I decided I had to get back on that lake, so the boat ride won out.

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The next day was a little cloudy (I guess I can’t have perfect weather all the time) so I headed over to Murren to take the funicular up to Allmendhubel. A lot of construction up here so not as peaceful as last year. Then I decided to do a repeat of my new favorite walk—the walk from Murren to Gimmelwald—to see how it looked with clouds. I tell you, the clouds make for some darn good pictures!!! Do not ever be discouraged with a cloudy forecast in Switzerland. I love this walk. It’s so easy as it’s all downhill and the views are absolutely amazing!! And there’s always paragliders. I think I walked this route 3 times and rarely saw any other people. And once in Gimmelawald, you have the option of taking the cable car down to Stechelberg or up to Murren. After this walk, I headed back over to Wengen and took the cable car up to Mannlichen, this time to walk down to Klein Scheidegg. This is another walk I did not get to do last year and was looking forward to it. I was lucky that it had just opened as it usually stays closed until mid June for snow. I can see why this walk is a favorite of many here as it is now one of my favorites. It’s an expensive walk though, as it cost $9 up to Mannlichen and $19.60 down to Wengen from Klein Scheidegg. But definitely worth it!! It was still cloudy, but I got some great pictures with all the clouds. And I think the clouds kept the people away as I only ran into a few.

For my last full day in Wengen, I decided to check out the Jungfrau. Even with taking the first train up, I was not able to avoid the crowds and crowds there were. What a most unpleasant experience. And very unusual for Switzerland (perhaps it was an off day), the trains were not timed correctly. After getting off the train in Klein Scheidegg we had to wait outside in a huge line for about a half hour to board the next train. And once up there, you have all these people walking together. It just was not for me. I found the Schilthorn experience last year way more enjoyable. And much preferred Titlis (more on this in the Luzern part). I had to get off that mountain as quickly as possible and decided to see what the walk from to Mannlichen to Klein Scheidegg looked like with clear skies. A few more people this time.

WENGEN WALKS: When I wasn’t running around all over the place, I did take a couple of the named walks in Wengen—the Staubbachbaenkli and the Mönchblick—and very much enjoyed them both as they were mostly in the shade of the forest. Stop in at the TI to get a brochure and map of all the walks.

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LUZERN/LUCERNE--3 NIGHTS

Off to Luzern I went for my final 3 nights. I had stayed here last year so was familiar with it. I stayed at the Des Alpes in the old town, a RS favorite, and the only negative was the no a/c as it was heating up in Switzerland.

I arrived early so I could do one of my favorites from last year—the boat/train ride up to Mt. Rigi. It’s still one of my favorites and I got some great pictures with all the wildflowers. Also saw a paraglider take off right in front of me. But the highlight of the day was the fabulous parade I happened to stumble upon when walking in the old town. What a treat that was!!!! There were horses, old military garb, marching bands, and the Swiss National guard. I went a little overboard with the pictures and videos. I was already over my data limit at this point so there was no point stopping now. 😊

For the next day, as the mountain sun was really getting to me, I decided to take the train to Stein am Rhein. The best part of this day was meeting fellow forum member Sally and her husband on the train. It really is a small world full of RS travelers. I liked Sein am Rhein but was just too tired to enjoy it. I should have stayed closer to Luzern. So, once I had my break from the mountains, I headed back to Luzern for, you guessed it, another mountain. 😊 This time the Stanserhorn, recommended by Pat and free with the Swiss Travel Pass. What fabulous views!!! I can’t wait to do this one again.

For my last day, the grand finale was Mt. Titlis, which I absolutely loved!!!! This was on my list from last year, but we never had time. It was a way more enjoyable experience that the Jungfrau had been. It starts with a pleasant train ride to Engelberg. There you can take the waiting bus or walk to the cable car station. And unlike waiting for a crowded train to Jungfrau, there was no wait time. There is a constant stream of little cable cars coming in and you just hop in one. You then change to another small cable car or can get out and walk around. Stage 3 is a larger cable car, with a small wait, and you are then taken up into the clouds. And this cable car rotates, so there is no bad place to stand. The views from bottom to top were incredible!!! Nice and sunny on the bottom and then you keep going up into the clouds. The ice cave I wasn’t that impressed with, but I loved the suspension bridge. I even walked on it, part way. 😊

Next morning, easy train right into Zurich airport.

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SWISS TRAVEL PASS (STP): It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the STP. I love the convenience of not having to buy tickets. Last year I had the 2nd class STP, this year the 1st class STP. If you can afford 1st class, get it!! You will enjoy the no crowds, more spacious seating (with plenty of room for luggage) and larger windows. Also, 1st class seating on the boats is upper deck, which I loved!! And, as you can see from my trip report, I was all over the place and definitely got my money’s worth from the STP.

WEATHER: Do use the metoswiss app which is very accurate. Do not use the weather channel app which tends to show rain every day for Switzerland. The mountain sun is hot!!! Do wear sunscreen and a hat. One of these days, I will take my own advice and buy a hat. 😊 The mountains are cold in the am. I did not bring my puffer coat and I could have used it for the early mornings in Wengen. That is my one packing regret.

FOOD: I’m not a foodie and prefer not to spend too much time on sit down meals. This is easy to do when traveling solo. I love my morning oatmeal and just bring along instant packets with my collapsible travel bowl. Quick, easy, and cheap. When I’m near a Bachmann’s bakery, I will stop in for their chocolate bread (schokobrotchen). Lunch is often a take away salad or sandwich with the paprika chips. For dinner, I often enjoy a pizza margherita or chicken caesar salad. I also enjoy the swiss chocolate and ice cream. I eat mostly vegan at home, but definitely not when on vacation. 😊 I don’t drink alcohol, just ice tea or water. The food in Switzerland tastes great and eating the way I did kept food costs way low.

COST (In USD as that’s what appears on my credit card statement): Roundtrip airfare with seat reservations $1243. 5 nights at Grand Swiss $1106. 5 nights at Schonegg $786. 3 nights at des Alpes $528. 15-day 1st class travel pass $697. Food, souvenirs, cable cars not covered with Pass and misc. expenses $1433. I also used some cash that I didn’t keep track of. Maybe 200 - 300CHF.

SOLO TRAVELING: I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I now think I was born for solo traveling. 😊 I live by myself, so I’m comfortable being alone. I’m very independent and love being on my own schedule. I’m a big researcher and planner, so that helped my comfort level. The Swiss Travel Pass really makes traveling so easy. I was on the SBB app all the time checking schedules. I have found the Swiss people to be very kind, but they leave you alone. I never had to worry about anyone bothering me. And I felt super safe in Switzerland. So, if anyone is considering solo travel, I think Switzerland is the best country to start with. Ok, granted, I haven’t been anywhere else yet to compare. 😊

NEXT UP: Austria (with 3 nights in St. Gallen, Switzerland) with my sister in Sept. 2022. Italy in March 2023 (with 3 nights in Lugano, Switzerland) with my sister and brother-in-law. Edinburgh solo (unless my sister tries to come along) in May 2023. Belgium and the Netherlands solo in Sept. 2023. For 2024, I’m starting to think Chamonix, Zermatt, and Wengen. I would to love to go to the Dolomites if I can figure out a good way to get to and from.

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A very fun report to read. Glad you had such a good time traveling solo.

If you are interested in the future in exploring the Dolomites, you might post on Italy board. I recall reading that you can take a train to Bolzano and then a bus to Ortisel. Then there are buses included in accommodations that take you around to different places to hike. In other words, you can do without a car!

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Thanks for the great report from another solo,female traveler. I am interested in Switzerland especially the area around Valais.
Re: Bolzano, I will be there in August using Bolzano as base. Many short (1.5 or less by train or bus).
I will report back!

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Carrie, thx for writing this. You do express yourself well, and I love your helpful travel insights. So happy that your adventures went so well!
Isn't it interesting what isn't included in the RS Guidebooks- no section on Engleburg, and our RS tour did go there a few years ago , (itinerary since changed.) And nothing on Stanserhorn,neither. I know, the guide books cannot include everything, but these would have been useful additions.
Ps-
And I think you said you have a dog- so you had a warm welcome home.

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Hi roubrat, I did see that fork in Vevey. So, weird. And there are no forks in any of my pictures. 😊 I think for a first time trip, you can’t go wrong with Luzern and Wengen (or Murren or Lauterbrunnen).

Hi beth, I’m more trying to figure out how to get to and from the Dolomites from one of the airports I can get a nonstop flight to. I think my best options are Zurich or Munich. So, I would need to combine the Dolomites with something else.

Hi cafetista, I would love to hear about your experience in Bolzano when you return.

Hi pat, the Switzerland guidebook certainly has room for more pages. I loved Basel last year and would love to see that in the book. But, RS intent is not to cover everything, that’s why I have 8 other travel guides on Switzerland. 😊 I had a dog, a jack russel terrier, for 17 years which is one of the reasons I never traveled until recently. Now that she’s gone, I’m free to roam. And it’s always fun to see the jack russels in Switzerland because they don’t dock/cut their tails there. So, all the Swiss jack russels have these cute long tails.

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Carrie, great report. Glad to read that you enjoyed Switzerland so much even though you had been there fairly recently. My planning for our trip coming up is proceeding, and we will be repeating alot of what you just did, with some extra days for Stresa and the Baden part of German Baden Wurttemberg thrown in.

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Carrie, what a wonderful trip report and encouraged that you enjoyed traveling solo! We have been to Wengen and vicinity, and your descriptions brought back lovely memories! I’m at the Rome hotel airport finishing up a solo trip, and I do think traveling independently and doing lots of your own research can spoil us for other types of traveling! Well done!

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Oh, this sounds like a dream trip! I love solo travel and have done it many times. I have only ever been to Zurich and Luzern for a few days, so haven't seen much of Switzerland at all. I am saving your post for future travel planning!

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Loved this trip report. My husband and I are looking at spring 2023 and my husband suggested Switzerland but I think it’s too early in the year. You made me want to rethink and move to June—or stay longer!

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Carrie, I love your trip report, such great information. My husband and I have been thinking about a trip to Switzerland for a couple of years now; we just wanted to give things another year to settle down. What I really liked about your plan is that you stayed 3-5 nights in 3 places so you had a good base for each area. That gave you options to plan those days more on the fly based on weather. Also the STP is a stellar idea so you could use train, bus and boat for all of your transportation. Those are so helpful if we decide to do this next year. We have been to Europe three times now, different countries on each trip and I have done all of the planning in great detail over several months. It has always worked out really well by my willingness to spend that time. I bookmarked your report for future reference, thanks so much!

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Thanks for the report - it has me excited for my trip this October!! I'm from Chicago too, by the way. I fell in love with Switzerland about five years ago when we stayed in Sion for a music event. I took lots of side trips (thanks to recommendations from this forum), as well as the scenic trains, and absolutely fell in love with the country. This will be my first time back and I can't wait! Staying in Mürren rather than Wengen, but plan to see everything in that area that I can. Then we're off to Italy and France (I had to compromise because I'm traveling with my elderly mother who is in love with France). Anyway, thanks again, and it's nice to know there is a fellow Swiss fan living near me! :)

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Carrie, thank you for your great trip report, which is very helpful to me in starting to plan the day to day details of our trip in September. if you'd only had time, while in the Lucerne area, to go to either Mt. Titlis or Mt. Rigi, which would you pick? Mt. Rigi is fully covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, whereas the STP only provides a 50% discount on the cable car from Engelberg to Mt. Titlis. With insufficient time to do both, we have to choose. If the Mt. Titlis is the bigger "do not miss" experience, we'd like to consider it, even though there will be some added expense.

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We took a 3 night side trip into Luzern while we were in France. You can get the Tell Pass for that area, 2 or 3 days, and all transportation in the area (boats, some trains, buses, cable cars, gondolas) is covered. We used it for Rigi, Titlis and Pilatus - just flashed our pass everywhere. We got it for 3 days since adding on the 3rd day was a very good value. Lots of other options to go around that area depending on your interests.

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Thank you, Carrie, for a fun and detailed trip report! Your descriptions pushed me over the edge and I will sign up for the RS Switzerland tour likely in 2024 since I just signed up for the South England tour in 2023. For years Switzerland has been a vague desire but reading your report made me realize I definitely want to go!
Thanks and I’m glad you had such a lovely time.

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Rob, I’m ready to go back now. 😊 There are still so many places I haven’t been. There are a couple of places that Lola and Laurel go that I’d like to check out.

Jean, I can’t wait to hear about your trip. And I’m curious how you found traveling Italy on your own. I have it in my head that the people there might be a little too friendly for my liking.

Kayla, it really was a dream trip. So much so that I’m starting to wonder if I was really actually there. 😊

Patty, I definitely suggest June if you can.

dpalmier53, I do think that planning ahead makes a huge difference. And I love doing all the research ahead of time.

melanie, it was quite a shock to return to Chicago after 2 weeks in Switzerland. My sister picked me up from the airport and I asked, “where’s the cows and the mountains.”

Vickie, tough question. For me, Rigi is still my favorite. I just love the boat/train ride combination. And in Sept. there should be plenty of cows up there. But as I was on my way up to Titlis, I thought, I think my sister and brother-in-law would have preferred this one. The ride up to Titlis seemed more dramatic. And I know my brother in law would have loved the suspension bridge.

goanywhere, the passes in Switzerland sure do make traveling so easy. I wish more countries would offer them.

Judy, you will love Switzerland!! I guarantee it. 😊

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We have a family friend who lived in that part of Switzerland for years and her daughter and son-in-law still live there. French is very much needed as it really is the official language-but it is a beautiful area. You are right to say the Swiss are friendly but reserved, they very much keep themselves to themselves-which can be good or bad if you're an expat there. Will also that due to the prices many Swiss make meals at home. If you want a cheap meal, it's a lot easier to buy from a supermarket and have your own meal.

And yes, the Swiss trains are probably one of the best in Europe. That said, I'm glad to meet another solo traveler lover. Always feel that it forces me to come more out of my shell rather than rely on others. Enjoy your travels.

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As I said earlier, choosing a favorite Swiss mountain is like choosing your favorite child or pet. They all have their own unique features. You just can't do it . You must experience and love them all.

Titlus is much higher than Rigi or Pilatus, so you have year-round snow, and the travel takes longer (Carrie, how long?) I agree, the boat and cogwheel train to Rigi is very nice, and you have the option of coming down the other side via gondola- or reverse. Rigi is also open in the winter, so I've been there summer and winter- quite a treat!

Such wonderful decisions to have!

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Thanks for this wonderful trip report!

Congrats on completing your first solo trip! Yay!

Wow! You have some great trips planned for the future.

Let me know if you’re interested in the list my daughter compiled of her favorite places to visit, and places to eat in Edinburgh.
She lived there for 5 months while studying at the university.

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2780 posts

Carrie, thanks for sharing your your solo adventures. My trips to Switzerland have always been with others, before I started traveling solo - and your report made me want to go back on my own.

I love that you have favorite spots that you went back to and some new places. You've given me some nice ideas for places I was near, but didn't see, the first time.

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Thanks so much for the Trip Report...not sure how I missed it last week. I love that you hiked on your own. I've been to the Lauterbrunnen Valley twice on RS tours and loved the hikes in that area which seemed easy enough to do on one's own...which you've now proved, lol!!

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Phone data update: Turns out I did not go over my data usage with my Verizon international plan. I just realized the data usage tracker on my phone is not reset each billing cycle. I have to manually reset it. So, the data usage I was looking at was all my usage since purchasing the phone in April. 😊 Was a nice surprise finding that out. I just added a note to my pre-travel check list—reset data tracker on phone. 😊

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Carrie, What plan did you use on your phone? We are headed for My Way Alpine tour in a few weeks.
Love your reports..

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Hi Carrie,

Thanks for such a detailed solo trip report for Switzerland was planning a solo trip for Austria.Now I'm thinking maybe can also accommodate Switzerland.Will surely make your report as my itinerary and will not forget to visit St. Saphorin. Can I know how much did you end up spending for the entire trip??

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Hi TravelNana, the plan I had from Verizon is called the international monthly plan. It is $100 for a month. They also have a plan called the travel pass that is $10 per day. You can find info on both of them here:

https://www.verizon.com/plans/international/international-travel/

I’ve used the international monthly plan twice now in the last year and it was perfect for me. My phone worked just as it does in the US. For example, when I called my mom, I just clicked on her name from my contact list. No need to worry about country codes or adding the + or anything.

The my way alpine looks like a great tour. I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous time!!

Hi wisetravel526, Switzerland is such a great country for solo travel. I felt completely safe and it really is super easy to get around the country. I estimated the total cost of the trip to be approximately $6000. This incudes airfare, hotels, travel pass, my international cellphone plan, travel insurance, covid tests (which I ended up not needing), food and misc. expenses.

Austria and Switzerland would make a great solo trip if you are able to add some time for Switzerland. I’m headed to Austria in a couple of months and can’t wait to see how it compares to Switzerland, especially the transportation.

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Carrie, so wonderful to read about your return this year. I think especially so for all of us Swiss 2021s who braved all the obstacles last year and formed a bond over what we had to do to get there for each of our individual trips.

I am also SO happy to see you are incorporating Switzerland into the future trips. Between business travel and vacations I have been to 52 countries and people always ask me what are your favorites. Honestly the pull of Switzerland remains as strong today as it did the very first time. I NEVER get tired of it. So can’t wait to hear more on your next trips.

We’re still figuring out next year and where we’re going. In 2024 doing a radical and going back to Fiji where we got married for our Major anniversary. But next year….hmmm…MOO???
All the best, Chris from the 2021s.

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Carrie! So happy to read you returned to Switzerland this year! I followed your trip last year as we prepared to go to Switzerland last October. We too saw the Matterhorn without clouds, it was such a treat! Sounds like you had a wonderful time and you provided a great trip report that I will use for our future trip planing as you went to a number of places we have yet to see.

You mentioned Basel and that it is lacking in Rick’s guidebooks so you use 8 others. Would you please share the name of the guide book you found the most information on Basel? We are thinking of including a stop there on our next trip to Switzerland.

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Hi BMills, Frommer’s has 20 pages on Basel. Rough Guides’ has 14 pages. DK eyewitness has 11 pages. Fodor’s has 10 pages. The Michelin green book also has a handful of pages. I had ripped out some of the pages to take with me. So, I can't say for sure which was the most helpful.

Basel has a great tourism website and you can order printed brochures that they will mail to you. Looks like some of them can no longer be ordered, but looks like you can view them online. The city guide has a good map. The walking tours cannot be ordered. But take a look at that one. you can zoom in on that one. you might be able to print it from home.

https://www.basel.com/en/tourist-information/brochures

We stayed at the Schweizerhof Hotel which so far is my favorite hotel in Switzerland. The entire staff was just fabulous!!!

I was a little nervous about getting around, but the trams were super easy to figure out. Just use the SBB app. The hotel you stay at should give you a pass good for free transportation in the city. And of course trams are covered with the Swiss Travel Pass which we had.

Glad to hear you are also planning a return to Switzerland. It’s hard to stay away, isn’t it? 😊

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Carrie, thanks so much for the info!! Yes Switzerland is such a delight to visit, last year was our second trip and we repeated a few places such as the Berner Oberland (who could resist? It’s where we saw a cow parade through town in Wengen in 2016!). But last October we added Zermatt and Lausanne and spent more time in Luzern. And I agree, I love the Swiss train pass and so easily traveling through the country including going to the mountains and seeing all the cows.

Your trips for the next two years sound very exciting, hope you will share your travel adventures!