Help with itinerary: Switzerland and Austria 20D

Help with itinerary: Switzerland and Austria 20D

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chyna106
chyna106
31 posts
active member
Jul 3, 2017 - 5:15 PM

Hello All,

Thank you so much in advance for taking the time to read my post and offering any tips or recommendations you may have. I’ve been working on this itinerary for quite a while and it’s making my head hurt. I’d have to say this is probably one of the most difficult trips to plan for and I would deeply appreciate your help! I will be travelling with my 81 yr old father. He’s is fairly healthy but cannot walk long distances as he has bad knees. (He needs to rest after walking 10-15 m – so I’m thinking I would bring a portable stool with us! =) ) I’d like to make this trip as comfortable and memorable for him as much as possible as he has always wanted to see the Alps and go where the Sound of Music movie took place. =)

Our goal is to see more nature and scenery rather than big cities, places where he can easily move around, and places that will have easy access to buses and trains without walking long distances. Can you help me with the following questions below?

- Does the number if days/nights seems ok for each destination? I’d like to not rush being that I with my father. The difficult part that I have to admit is getting to Montreux to Salzburg (at the end of Golden pass trip) which requires an overnight in Montreux and Zurich back to back in order to take the train to Salzburg. Is there an easier way than that? We don’t really have an interest to see Zurich other than to rest before taking the train to Salzburg the next day.

- Does the order of the itinerary seem the most efficient to see the destinations? Seems a bit zig zag but this was suggested to me by the Swiss tourisim office based on where I wanted to visit.

- Can you recommend what part of town/neighborhood to stay in that is not too expensive, clean and comfortable, easy access to transportation?

- I also have questions below asking how any hours to spend in the specific location and as to whether that location would be ok for my father to walk around.

ITINERARY

Fly into Milan 9/12: 8:20AM

LUGANO/TICINO (4 nights) – Recommendations on what part of town to stay in?

9/13: Milan -->Lugano (~2 hr)

9/13: Lugano: Boat Tour, explore Lugano

9/14: Lago Maggiore/Ascona/Locarno – how many hours to explore?

9/15: Verzasca Valley (Lavertezzo) – how many hours to explore? How can I get there from Lugano? I read it wasn’t that easy.

9/16: Lugano, boat tour, anything else?

LUCERNE (2 nights)

9/17: Lugano -->Lucerne via Gothard Express (5 hr)

9/17: Lucerne eve; chapel eve, old town – how many hours to explore?

9/18: Pilatus Golden Trip (5hr)

BERNESE OBERLAND (Wengen) (3 nights)

9/19: Lucerne --> Wengen (via Golden Pass + train) (2.5 hr)

9/19: Wengen – how many hours to explore? Would it be ok for my 81yr old father to walk around?

9/20: Grindelwald / Schynige Platte – how many hours to explore? Would it be ok for my 81yr old father to walk around?

9/21: Lauterbrunnen/ Murren – how many hours to explore? Would it be ok for my 81yr old father to walk around?

MONTREUX (1 night)

9/22: Wegen --> – Salzburg (2 nights)

ZURICH (1 night)

9/23: Zurich eve

AUSTRIA – Salzburg (2 nights)

9/24: Zurich --> Salzburg (5.5 hr)

9/24: Salzburg eve

9/25: Salzburg – Sound of Music Tour

9/26: Hallstatt

VIENNA (4 nights)

9/27: Salzburg --> Vienna (2.5 hr)

9/27: Vienna eve

9/28 – 30: Vienna

10/1: Vienna --> Milan

10/2: Milan --> NYC

rockoyster
rockoyster
504 posts
top member
Jul 4, 2017 - 3:03 AM in reply to chyna106

Hi Chyna106 and welcome to MySwissAlps

Looks like you have already put a lot of thought into your intinerary.

I just wonder how Montreux snuck in between 9/21 and 9/22? That takes you in the wrong direction from Salzburg. Was there something you particularly want to see over on the French side?

You can get to Lavertezza on a 321 Bus from Locarno (or Tenora which is nearer to Lugano).

I'm sure others will be able to assist with advice on many of your other questions. In the meantime you might want to have a look at my trip report of Lugano at www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/the-reluctant-travellers-swiss-adventure-part-5

chyna106
chyna106
31 posts
active member
Jul 4, 2017 - 3:28 AM in reply to rockoyster

Hello Rockoyster, Whoops! Good catch! That was a typo. It was supposed to be below. The plan was to take the scenic Golden Pass train from Interlaken to Montreux. I read that that direction was better than going from Montreux to Interlaken. Is that true?

MONTREUX (1 night)

9/22: Wegen --> Montreux (via train + Golden Pass) (3.5 hrs)

9/22: Montreux – chateau de chillon

9/23: Montreux --> Bern (a few hrs) --> Zurich (~6hr)

And thanks so much for the tip to Lavertezza! :) I will read your report. BTW, how long in advance did you book your accommodations and train tickets? The good places seem to be booked pretty quickly!

Thanks!

Last modified on Jul 4, 2017 - 3:31 AM by chyna106
rockoyster
rockoyster
504 posts
top member
Jul 4, 2017 - 3:30 AM in reply to chyna106

No worries. Your Montreux plan now makes sense.

I haven't been over that side of Switzerland - next time. But from what I've read the view going towards Montreux is pretty good.

rockoyster
rockoyster
504 posts
top member
Jul 4, 2017 - 3:37 AM in reply to chyna106

Oops - I meant Tenero not Tenora! See attached . . .

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rockoyster
rockoyster
504 posts
top member
Jul 4, 2017 - 3:40 AM in reply to rockoyster

And from Lugano . . .

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chyna106
chyna106
31 posts
active member
Jul 5, 2017 - 5:57 PM in reply to rockoyster

Thank you so much! :)

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
895 posts
top member
Jul 6, 2017 - 7:41 AM in reply to chyna106

Hi chyna,

>> I will be travelling with my 81 yr old father. He’s is fairly healthy but cannot walk long distances as he has bad knees. (He needs to rest after walking 10-15 m – so I’m thinking I would bring a portable stool with us! =) ) I’d like to make this trip as comfortable and memorable for him as much as possible as he has always wanted to see the Alps and go where the Sound of Music movie took place. =)

I’ll concentrate on some tips in relation to your father’s mobility. With bad knees, I suspect he might have difficulty with stairs and downhill slopes in particular.

If he does not already use a walking stick, I would recommend he gets a folding one, or a lightweight hiking pole. Even better, a set of lightweight hiking poles. These will help with stability on cobblestones, uneven ground and slopes.

Re your idea of bringing a portable stool, I would recommend you try it out before your trip to make sure it is not too low for him to comfortably sit down on and get up from.

>> Can you recommend what part of town/neighborhood to stay in that is not too expensive, clean and comfortable, easy access to transportation?

You can use Google Maps to check the address of all hotels you are considering, to see where the nearest railway station or bus stop is. The cheaper options often have poor access to transport and local attractions unfortunately.

You might want to make sure all your hotels have a lift - many older ones, especially in historic town centres, do not.

Wengen has a lot of steep roads. The most level, central part of the village, is in the main street (Dorfstrasse), from the station to just before the Hotel Schönegg. Choose a hotel in this area if you can manage it.

>> I also have questions … as to whether that location would be ok for my father to walk around.

Wengen

As I mentioned above, Wengen has a lot of steep roads. Dorfstrasse in Wengen is level and easy to walk along, but is not very long: about 10-15 minutes at a relaxed pace takes you from the station to the Hotel Schönegg, where there is a short, steepish hill.

To get to the best viewpoint in Wengen, you follow Dorfstrasse up that hill where the Hotel Schönegg is, before turning left on a level path towards a church. There is a hand rail to assist on the hill. I have attached a map showing how to get to the lookout, and a photo showing the view from the lookout area. There are seats there.

Mürren

Mürren also has some steep roads, but has a long fairly level road through the village from one end to the other. For a level walk, Mürren provides a better opportunity than Wengen I think, but I wouldn’t skip going to Wengen. The views from both villages are superb, but very different.

Lugano and Locarno

The lakeside promenades are level, well paved, good for strolling and have beautiful views. Some of the lanes in the old towns are steep and have steps, but you can avoid them if need be. The stone surface in Locarno’s Piazza Grande could be a bit hard on your father’s knees (see photo), but there might be a route around the edge of the square on flat, even paving.

Ascona

Ascona has a very nice level waterfront with lots of restaurants. You can get there by local bus or boat. Buses are covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, but the boats on Lago Maggiore are not. However, for the most convenient access to the waterfront, I would recommend getting the boat, as I’m not sure what the terrain is like between the nearest bus stop and the waterfront. (Maybe someone else knows.)

Luzern Altstadt (old town)

In Luzern, to get from the riverside promenade (Rathausquai / Unter der Egg) to the main lanes and squares of the old town means mostly going up long flights of stairs. To avoid stairs, you can access the old town from streets that run parallel to the river: e.g. Kapellplatz / Kapellgasse at the Seebrücke end and Metzgerrainle at the Reussbrücke end.

Lavertezzo

What are you planning to do there?

Pilatus

At Kriens, there is a 10-minute walk between the gondola and the bus stop. From the gondola station to the bus stop it is a gradual downhill walk; and therefore gradually uphill from the bus stop to the gondola station. If you think your father might find this a bit much, you could go both ways by cogwheel train.

Schynige Platte

There is about a 200 metre walk along a wide paved path that leads gradually uphill from the station to the restaurant and viewpoints. If your father can’t manage this, there is a café at the station with outdoor seating, but the views are not as good from there.

Montreux – Chateau de Chillon

From memory there is plenty to see without climbing any of the many flights of stairs. The riverside promenade in Montreux is good for strolling and has wonderful views.

Hallstatt (Austria)

Are you getting the train to Hallstatt station, then the boat across the lake to the village? There is a path leading downhill for about 70 metres from the station to the jetty. A small boat meets each train, but doesn’t hang around long. If they can see you coming, I’m sure they would wait, but you might have to wait for the next boat if your father can’t walk down there in time.

The Hallstatt cemetery is not to be missed, but (from memory) involves a steep climb up narrow stone stairs. This might be a good time to settle your father into a café or on a seat with a view over the lake while you see a few sights that he might not be able to manage.

Gondolas, cable cars and funiculars

Access to many cable cars and funiculars is up a flight of stairs. You might have to ask whether there is a lift, as it will often not be well signposted. When boarding and alighting from gondolas, they do not actually stop, but continue to move very slowly. This can be a challenge for people whose mobility is not the best, especially getting out. I would recommend you get out first and be ready to assist your father. Keeping both hands free (e.g. by using a backpack) will help. Cable cars and funiculars are stationary for boarding and alighting.

I hope this helps you plan a comfortable and enjoyable trip with your father.

Alpenrose

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rockoyster
rockoyster
504 posts
top member
Jul 6, 2017 - 8:39 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Respect! 🤓

chyna106
chyna106
31 posts
active member
Jul 6, 2017 - 7:16 PM in reply to Alpenrose666

WOW Alpenrose666! Thank you so much!!! This will be very helpful in planning my trip!

re: Lavertezzo, I was thinking one day to check out the Verzasca Valley.

Also re: my itinerary, is 4 nights in Lugano too long? is 2 nights in Lucerne too short? And the rest are ok? And again THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! :)

rockoyster
rockoyster
504 posts
top member
Jul 6, 2017 - 10:21 PM in reply to chyna106

Hi again Chyna

I made all our bookings for accommodation through booking.com. If nothing else their map based view highlights hotels close to stations which was a priority of ours.

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
895 posts
top member
Jul 7, 2017 - 5:46 AM in reply to chyna106

>> The difficult part that I have to admit is getting to Montreux to Salzburg (at the end of Golden pass trip) which requires an overnight in Montreux and Zurich back to back in order to take the train to Salzburg. Is there an easier way than that?

You could consider adding a day to your stay in Wengen, and do the Golden Pass trip to Montreux as a day trip, then go straight to Salzburg from Wengen.

I have attached a PDF showing how the Golden Pass day trip could work, incorporating your preferred 12:25 departure from Zweisimmen on the panoramic train with VIP seats. Travel time would be 4 hours 10 from Wengen to Montreux, you would have almost 3.5 hours in Montreux, then travel time of just over 3 hours back to Wengen by the fastest route. It would be a long day though.

If going direct from Wengen to Salzburg is too long a trip for you to do in one day (about 8.5 hours), you could break your journey at Zürich or Innsbruck.

If you break your journey at Innsbruck, there is a hotel adjacent to the railway station (Ibis Innsbruck), that would make the stopover very easy. Despite being a rather ugly modern building on the outside ;-) it is clean, comfortable, reasonably priced, has a lift and is accessible directly from the lower level of Innsbruck railway station.

Alpenrose

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rockoyster
rockoyster
504 posts
top member
Jul 7, 2017 - 6:20 AM in reply to chyna106

Hi Chyna,

Just picking up on what Alpenrose said about getting to Salzburg from Montreux here's a suggestion from left field.

Ditch Montreux altogether and instead catch a train to Zermatt and stay a night there. You'd probably have time to do the Gornergrat in the afternoon. See attached timetable extract (there are earlier trains).

Next day 9/23 take Glacier Express from Zermatt to Chur. The from Chur and on to Zurich for overnight. You'll be heading ever closer to Salzburg AND going through some pretty nice country.

If you are dead keen on going to Montreux then instead of overnighting there you could go from there to Brig 9/22 and catch Glacier Express from there 9/23.

Lots of ways of skinning a cat.

I've never done the Golden Pass to Montreux so can't say how unmissable it is but there are so many things to see in Switzerland it is really hard to choose. 🤓

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Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
895 posts
top member
Jul 7, 2017 - 7:46 AM in reply to chyna106

>> Also re: my itinerary, is 4 nights in Lugano too long? is 2 nights in Lucerne too short? And the rest are ok?

There's no simple answer to that :-) It all depends on what you want to see and do in each area, what your priorities are, and what you would be willing to drop from your itinerary if necessary. No matter how long you stay in any of those places, you won't run out of wonderful things to see and do!

Alpenrose

chyna106
chyna106
31 posts
active member
Jul 9, 2017 - 7:14 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Thanks for the recommendation Alpenrose666 and @rockoyster! but it seems like it will be much of a longer trip and you will still have to go Zurich to take the train to Salzburg anyway. Although it would be a really nice scenic route taking the Glacier Express. The train from Montreux to Zurich should only really take 3 hours.Another easier option I was thinking was after the overnight in Montreux,to fly straight to Vienna (1hr 35m). This versus the 3 hour train ride to Zurich plus another 5.5 hr train to Salzburg. The only caveat would be that we would have to do a day trip to Salzburg from Vienna. And yes, sometimes too many ways to skin a cat! haha. Thank you both so much! This will definitely help me with my planning :)

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