7 Night - Zurich, Lucerne, and Interlaken

7 Night - Zurich, Lucerne, and Interlaken

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JohnG
JohnG
4 posts
new member
Aug 3, 2015 - 8:14 PM

Hi, everyone. I am planning a 7 night trip to Switzerland with my fiance for our honeymoon in early September. I have a few general questions I hope I could have answered. We will be flying into Zurich, spending 2 nights in Lucerne, 4 nights in Grindelwald (south of Interlaken), and 1 night in Zurich before flying out.

We will be traveling entirely by train (and boat/bus) and have 8 day Swiss Travel Passes.

1) First question is about trains. I have looked at the sbb.ch timetables. How do I know which train to get on? For example, Zurich to Lucerne. I see options for IR or S1. What do these mean? I would like to take the Golden Pass route (don't care if were in a panoramic coach). How do I know which to take? What platform does this leave from? Can I only check at the station?

2) Second question is in regards to clothing. We are planning on doing a day or two of hiking and several mountain peaks such as Mt Rigi, Mt Pilatus, and likely Jungfraujoch. What can we expect for temperatures up in the higher elevations? Is a light jacket sufficient, or should we be packing heavier clothes? Again, this will be 1st-2nd week of September.

I'm sure I'll have others, but I'll start with these two. :) Thanks!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Aug 3, 2015 - 11:38 PM

<<"1) First question is about trains. I have looked at the sbb.ch timetables. How do I know which train to get on? For example, Zurich toLucerne. I see options for IR or S1. What do these mean? I would liketo take the Golden Pass route (don't care if were in a panoramic coach).How do I know which to take? What platform does this leave from? Can Ionly check at the station?">>

The time table is your friend.

Look further and deeper. You have barely scratched the surface.

Pick a train/time at random andclick on the "+".

It will give new menus. You can see all stops if you wish (open "intermediate stops") and a map. The abbreviations are meant to guide, not confuse. Somewhere the meanings are all listed. This is, after all, Switzerland.. ;-). Keep looking. Then, look again.

<<"I have looked at the sbb.ch timetables. How do I know which train to get on? For example, Zurich toLucerne. I see options for IR or S1. What do these mean? I would liketo take the Golden Pass route (don't care if were in a panoramic coach).How do I know which to take? What platform does this leave from?">>

The different trains have different levels of on-board service (look at the icons.) However, they differ mostly in the number of stops and/or changes. Some have restaurant cars- especially the Intercity trains. It is a network.. Compare durations, look at intermediate stops and changes. Some require change of trains, clearly visible in the time tables. Some make more stops.

"IR" is "Interregio." Loosely, it does a bunch of local stops at each end, and skips all but the main stops in between.

S1 is "S-Bahn" #1. S-Bahnen are commuter trains, and make most local stops.. They are based ina particular city -

"Bern S-1" or

"Zürich S-10"

They run on regular tracks.

A few stops are "halt on Verlangen" - stop upon request. If you are on the platform out in the woods, press the button or the train will go past you. If you are on the train, press the green button before you come to the station or it won't stop.

Arrival and departure tracks are clearly listed in the timetable. If you can't see them, try again with the full SBB site.

For the Golden Pass Route, enter start and finish stations, then, if that does not work, fill in an intermediate stop like Zweisimmen into the "via" box.

You can check all this stuff on the internet. If there is a change, it may be displayed on a chalkboard at the station, as well as on the overhead screens. You generally don't have to wait till you get to the station; you just have to dig more deepy into the tools you have already skimmed over.

Train staff are required to work in German, French, Italian, usually Romansch, and English. When in doubt, ask nicely if you can use English, please.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Aug 3, 2015 - 11:49 PM in reply to JohnG

<<"Second question is in regards to clothing. We are planning on doing a day or two of hiking and several mountain peaks such as Mt Rigi, Mt Pilatus, and likely Jungfraujoch. What can we expect for temperatures upin the higher elevations? Is a light jacket sufficient, or should we bepacking heavier clothes? Again, this will be 1st-2nd week of September.">>

What you need to wear and carry will depend on the seriousness of your endeavor. Day hikes on trails below 2400 meters...boots, windbreaker, fleece, rain hat, gloves,layers.

However, "A day or two of hiking " at 2400 meters and up- either hut-to hut or inn to inn -

Full mountain gear. No crampons, pitons or technical gear. The weather changes fast; be prepared.

It is very rare to have snow at that time of year.

www.rega.ch/en/home.as px

I belong to REGA. If you are in trouble, they will rescue you, and bill you later for the helicopter. They keep track.

Ahead of time, it cost 30-60 CHF for the insurance.

Do you have specific hikes in mind? Use this site.

map.wanderland.ch/?lang=en&p&etappe=25.04 &bgLayer=pk&layers=Wan derland&resolution=10& X=788761&Y=154467

Last modified on Aug 3, 2015 - 11:50 PM by Slowpoke
JohnG
JohnG
4 posts
new member
Aug 4, 2015 - 1:39 PM

That is a HUGE help Slowpoke. Many thanks!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Aug 4, 2015 - 2:52 PM in reply to JohnG

<<"That is a HUGE help Slowpoke. Many thanks!">>

You are welcome.

Have fun with the timetable. There is a lot more material on the main SBB site, including service hours and facilities at each manned station in Switzerland. Station maps, too. Various kinds of luggage transport. A ticket shop.

www.sbb.ch/en/home.htm l

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Aug 4, 2015 - 3:25 PM

<<" and 1 night in Zurich before flying out.">>

I always stay downtown the night before I fly out.

There are about 6-8 trains per hour from the main station in Zürich to the airport. There is a small pamphlet hand out with all those trains listed in it, available on the racks at the ticket office in the main station.. They run out of them now and then...ask.

The booklet is printed with its second half upside down, for regional trains around Winterthur or Kloten, So, If you don't see one, turn them over to look at the other part.

The trains leave from several locations in the main station. The tracks are not all in one place. Good signs, but the terminal has grown like topsie, so some tracks are down under, or, don't quite reach all the way to the railheads in the main hall.

If you choose to stay downtown you have a wider array of choices, and actual travel time to the check in may be faster than or similar to waiting for the hotel's own shuttle bus to come back after a run to the terminal.

If you fly out on Swiss or its partners (at a minimum; maybe some other airlines, too) you can check your bags in at check in #3. It is in the airport's train station, one level above the tracks. Saves hauling your bags over to the check in #1 or #2.

A taxi from airport to Downtown or vice versa is approx 65 CHF. Taxi's are expensive. Actually, very expensive. Actually, excessively very expensive. Tips are not required, or even common, but taxis often get enough foreigners for customers that they expect to get tips. ;-(

I round up to the nearest whole CHF, if things have gone well.

The luggage carts stored near the luggage carousels in the arrivals hall at the airport can go up and down the escalators all the way to the train tracks. No need to look for elevators. If you use them on the escalators, step back one step when you start, or the pivoting action as the cart enters the incline part of the escalator may swing the handle into your chest or face.

I always recommend the Zeughauskeller on the Bahnhofstrasse, at Paradeplatz, for newcomers. It is an old armory, converted to a restaurant. Swiss food- including some Swiss French as well as mostly Swiss German.

However, in early June it was closed for alterations.

www.zeughauskeller.ch/ home

Looks like it might be open again.

Don't worry about reservations for 2 of you, but go in before 1815 or after 2000 to avoid a 5-10 minute wait

If you want to leave a big bag in a locker overnight at the main station, you can avoid having to haul it to the station in the AM. Swiss coins needed.

JohnG
JohnG
4 posts
new member
Aug 22, 2015 - 3:54 PM

One more question...

We (my fiance and I) plan to travel with one larger bag ~40x20x20" (~100x50x50 cm) and two laptop-sized backpacks. What restrictions are there for luggage on the trains? I checked the sbb.ch site, and all that I found was an option to check in luggage, which I'd like to avoid if possible.

Thanks!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Aug 22, 2015 - 4:43 PM

<<"one larger bag ~40x20x20" (~100x50x50 cm) and two laptop-sized backpacks. ">>

Not all trains have floor level entry. Some have steps - and fairly narrow doors.

Newer cars have more luggage space, but all have some at the end of the car.

You will probably be able to fit that bag on the trains, but it will be awkward work.

However, what will it weigh?

There are weight/cost limits if you are coming in by air. Maybe, dimension limits.

If it weighs 35 or 40 kg, will you be able to handle it? You'll have to get it on and off the trains, and maybe down the aisle, but it probably won't fit between seat backs.

Everyone has there own style of traveling, but when you are trying to make fast connections, bulky luggage can be a real problem....for you and the other passengers that you are delaying.

Our own experience on many miles of Swiss trains is that a soft side (duffel) bag a bit smaller then 20 by 20 is easier, but we can get it on and off, if we have to. We have found over the years that having each of us carry a significantly smaller rollable bag, instead of one big one, works better for us.. The ones we use let us "stack" a smaller bag on "top" by the handle instead of over our shoulder if need be.

And, a bit larger backpack than "laptop" size is common and a convenient option to spread the load around a bit.

With a really large bag, and the multinight stay(s) that you project (particularly grindelwald which will involve smaller rail cars, I'd consider shipping a/the big bag ahead and retaining one day or overnight needs with you. The bag transfer system works well and I have used it many times.

There are different options.

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/bagg age.html

Slowpoke

JohnG
JohnG
4 posts
new member
Aug 22, 2015 - 5:01 PM

Great info. Thanks! The bag will easily be under 50lbs (~20kg) since that's the limit for our flight over. It is a soft-sided bag, kind of a large duffel bag with wheels and back straps if you want to use them. I'm sure our first rail trip from Zurich to Lucerne will be a learning experience and we can be prepared for our other trips when we will have all of our luggage.

We are thinking about going to see Zermatt and Mt Matterhorn if weather and time allows. Do you have any recommendations for which railway/location would be best for viewing? We have the 8-day Swiss travel passes.

Thanks again! This has been a great help!

Arno
Arno
7720 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 22, 2015 - 5:27 PM in reply to JohnG

I would suggest the cogwheel train to the Gornergrat. Please see myswissalps.com/ gornergrat.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2656 posts
expert
Aug 22, 2015 - 6:58 PM in reply to Arno

<<"I would suggest the cogwheel train to the Gornergrat. Please see myswissalps.com/ gornergrat.">>

No discount with the Swiss Travel Pass........?.......Correct?

Arno
Arno
7720 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 23, 2015 - 5:25 AM in reply to Slowpoke

There's a 50% discount for Swiss Travel Pass holders. Please see myswissalps.com/ swisstravelpass/ validity.

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