Absolutely enjoyed my time in Switzerland. Combination of wonderful scenery, hiking and charming people. Safe traveling throughout.
i chose to travel with very little plans in place. i do a fair amount of research (thank you MY Swiss Alps) so im girded up with plenty of information of places that i wanted to visit. Also the weather was something that was impacting my choices and i needed to be flexible.
I started my my trip from Venice and it looked like rain for next couple of days and needed to chose place where i could hunker down until weather improved. took the train to Lugano while weather passed. it was pleasant enough city for stop but not any place remarkable. Stayed at the Hotel Splendid which had a nice indoor pool / sauna . it was pleasant enough holding place.
From Lugano - I took the Gotthard express train to Lucerne. it was a wonderful train with a concierge (Eric) who gave commentary along the way to Fluelen. From Fluelen took the boat to Lucerne. The whole trip was enjoyable — maybe total of 5 hours. The large panorama train windows made for great viewing on the train.
I found all the travel pass options a bit confusing and i decided the Swiss 1/2 Fare pass was best option for me. Seemed like it allowed the most flexibility for me. In Bernese Oberland area - i purchased the Regional Pass and did receive a discount with the 1/2 Fare. The Regional Pass really was a great discount and ease to have in the area. i used it for all trains, gondolas…etc. Some trips required small additional fee but most were included.
When weather cleared up and I decided to go to Grindelwald. It was really the great location for a base. I stayed at the Hotel Belvedere which i would highly recommend. Wonderful hotel and location. I booked 3 days and extended to 5. I started by taking gondola to First and took the Thrill Walk. amazing views. Must do. Took the gondola tooth and walked the rest of the way down to Grindelwald. incredible views down into town. spectacular. lovely cows along with the way.
I visited Gimmelwald which was absolutely charming. Amazing this type of place still exists. I loved the honor system with the local cheeses and dried sausages that display and available to hikers to pay for along the way. Murren and Wengen are definite visits . Spontaneously ,i met some people who were about to do the para sailing from Murren and i joined in. Phenomenal. And, if you are the adventurous type - highly suggest. I chose not to go to Jungfraujoch. Just seemed like a highly marketed and touristy thing for my taste, instead chose to go to Schilthorn. The 007 factor was pretty minimal. And although revolving restaurants definitely fall into the cheesy category, the Gloria restaurant was enjoyable and offered up views that were not accessible from some of the viewing platforms.
I stopped at Birg gondola stop for the thrill walk. loved it.
What I would recommend is to take the Eiger Express - get off and take train to Kleine Scheidegg and then hike the most glorious hike to Wengen, so beautiful. stunning! the views are unbeatable. That afternoon was one of my highlights.
I wanted to do the Glacier Express and decided to do it from Brig to Chur. It was 4 hours of beautiful scenery but my bad luck that was stuck in a car with a very noisy large tour group. so not peaceful. the meal was o.k…. just o.k. so, Id recommend but happy that I got off in 4 hours. It really wasnt some kind of high end meal service. Scenery was beautiful.
Last stop was Lucerne. Stayed at Hotel National which had lovely pool and sauna. beautiful hotel right on water right on the promenade with lively activity going on. Lucerne was great city to explore. Used it as base and took day trip to Bern. Good city for visit and i could see staying in Bern to explore more. Stumbled upon a gorgeous botanical garden: Botanischer Garten. One of those happy chance finds when traveling.
From Lucerne went to I Pilatus with incredible views (again). took gondola 1/2 and hiked down the rest. Restaurant/bar at top and good place to watch para sailers launch.