Advice: base for 3-day trip of hikes, scenery!

Advice: base for 3-day trip of hikes, scenery!

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2 posts
new member
Jul 12, 2016 - 3:31 PM

Hi everyone,

My fiancee and I are planning a trip to Switzerland that is unfortunately way too short (3 days), but we are struggling to sift through all of the information to pick a convenient base for our hikes, scenery and cable car journeys up to mountains. Our current thoughts are Grindelwald, Interlaken or Lucerne. Maybe Gstaad?

Timing is early Sept. We land 5am Mon in Zurich and depart from Geneva 7am Thu. So, that's almost 3 full days and because it is so short, we want to just stay in one place. We are mid-30's, active & fit, love the outdoors and love FOOD. No need for fancy cities or anything - we want to see the beautiful Swiss scenery and countryside. We've been to Zurich before for work and have done some light hiking near Montreux (Rochers de Naye, I believe it was).

Key things we would love:

- great hiking/walking (no technical climbing) of varying lengths. A solid 4+ hour hike would be great along with some shorter ones.

- i'd prefer not to take a million different transfers to get to the hike. Is there a town where we literally grab our gear, and start walking/hiking somewhere? Maybe I'm asking for too much! We would of course be fine to take a short public transport to get somewhere.

- somewhat of a convenient town that has some restaurants, grocery stores, etc. (not for shopping, but we need to eat!) eg Gimmelwald seems to be too...small? is that inaccurate? Grindelwald seems to be a nice balance - not a city like Lucerne/Zurich/Geneva/Bern, but still picturesque and in the countryside.

- we'd also like to do the cable cars/cog trains up to the big mountains (eg Jungfrau, Rigi, Pilatus, etc) for some nice views, but I guess this can be done from nearly any city

- fiancee loves animals :)

- we plan to sleep near Geneva airport since our flight is so early on Thu, so town that has not too difficult a way to get there would be great. We are open to either renting a car or just using public transport.

Thanks everyone for your help and advice and please let me know if I can clarify anything. This is an amazing website of information!

Kind regards


2561 posts
top member
Jul 13, 2016 - 12:02 AM in reply to beanhead81

Hi Jake-

Welcome the My Swiss Alps and the forum

Short and sweet- you seem to have done your homework. Great time of year to visit the Alps.

Grindelwald would work for you: indelwald

So would Wengen: rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

Region overall- ngfrauregion

Hikes - mer/tourism/destinatio ns/kleine-scheidegg/hiking-trails/

Use public transport- scenic on the way there, the driver can see the scenery instead of worrying about the roads. In the Jungfrau region, most of the nice areas are car free.

Near Geneva airport - anything southwest of Lausanne by rail.

Check the timetable: l


You are on the right track, and we are now fine tuning.

Would you like a link to a really good topo map, color coded to match the trail difficulties? icpage/trail-signs-swiss-alps/


Last modified on Jul 13, 2016 - 12:06 AM by Slowpoke
4380 posts
expert &
Jul 13, 2016 - 9:46 AM

Hi beanhead81,

Here are some further tips and thoughts. Grindelwald indeed makes sense. I think it's a good mix of culture (you'll find plenty of restaurants there) and stunning scenery.

I too would recommend public transportation over car driving. A car won't be of much use once you're in Grindelwald. Train rides are the perfect way to enjoy the landscape during your transfers, and a lot more eco-friendly too. A rail pass will help you save money. Which is best, depends on your finalized itinerary. Right now I think the Swiss Transfer Ticket Combi (free transfers Zurich Airport-Grindelwald and Grindelwald-Geneva (Airport) plus a 50% discount on local trips) is worth looking into, but if you want to make sure you'd best follow this step-by-step process.

Hotels close to Geneva Airport, many of them offering a free hotel bus ride to the airport, are listed here.

2 posts
new member
Jul 13, 2016 - 2:07 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks Slowpoke and Annika for your replies!

After much more research, following your links, we've decided to go for the more quiet option, Wegen, which wasn't even on our radar. That document by Kim on Wengen is incredibly detailed and useful.

I was afraid the 3 transfers from Zurich to Wengen would be annoying, but after reading about the efficiency and helpfulness of staff, we will probably find it quite easy. I think it's worth the investment of time to get to a town that is right in the middle of the BOB. We won't rent a car.

We'll do some research on the various Swiss rail passes later to find the appropriate one.

We've decided to book the Hotel Alpenrose Wengen, which sounds to have a very friendly staff, tasty dinner (half-board option has a 5-course dinner and breakfast included) and a mountain view room. Price wasn't cheap - c.CHF300. They pick you up from the train station with an electric golf cart.

Plenty of hikes to be had from Wengen. Will come back here if I have any questions about rail passes and will definitely post a trip report for future travellers.

Kind regards


2561 posts
top member
Jul 13, 2016 - 2:59 PM in reply to beanhead81

Hi Jeik-

<<"We've decided to book the Hotel Alpenrose Wengen">>

Nice Hotel. We stayed there several years ago. Good views.

The price is somewhat more bearable when you realize it includes some meals.

I recall that the hotel catered to a large number of "repeat" guests.

And, that the meal service in the evening then was a fixed menu, served to everyone at a fixed time.

I am uncertain whether the kitchen is open during the day. If you care, you might ask.

Good thing that they will pick you up. The hotel is substantially below the train station....about 60 meters lower in elevation, as seen on the linked map. It can help with your hiking

The map is from SwissTopo (the best!) and I have turned on the hiking trails ( die Wanderwege) which are color coded to match the trail markers in the link that I posted before showing trail types. .00&Y=636967.00&zoom=1 0&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo .pixelkarte-farbe&lang=en&layers=c h.swisstopo.swisstlm3d -wanderwege,KML%7C%7Cht tps:%2F%2Fpublic.geo.a xBA8KWRD7A

On your journey from Zürich, you will find that the connections are easy (even if short) and clearly marked. Don't dawdle. When you come through Bern, the outgoing might be on the same platform, if not, the walkway connecting the tracks is overhead at the middle of the platforms, not at the end. The station at bern is not a terminal.

You can find out inbound and outbound tracks by working with the timetable. After you have selected a journey, click on the "+" sign to the left for more details.

At Interlaken Ost, I definitely recall from a few years ago that the stairwells and passage between the few tracks are narrow and can be crowded. Perhaps you should be at the exit door of the train with your luggage as you come into the station, if you see a very short connection in the timetable.

Departure times are sometimes slipped a little bit if passengers are still coming to the train, and there will always be another one shortly.


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