Need help with Swiss Alps (end Nov) itinerary!

Need help with Swiss Alps (end Nov) itinerary!

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frmercury
frmercury
9 posts
new member
Oct 18, 2015 - 3:32 AM

Hey guys

My partner and I (we're in our 20's!) will be travelling from Singapore to Zurich on 26 Nov, and we will arrive in the early afternoon. We are keen on exploring the Swiss Alps during the Switzerland leg of the trip, which will be from 26 to 29 Nov, after which we will be departing to the Black Forest in Germany.

We've been browsing through this website, which has been great! But we are at a loss cause we don't know how to narrow everything down to a short 3/4 days. Was wondering if anyone can provide any advice on where we can go, and where we can stay (to stay in one base? or bring our stuff around and change accommodation everyday?).

We really just wanna explore the area (no specific activities in mind), but seeing snow would be great! Any advice?

Thanks :)

Annika
Annika
4418 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 18, 2015 - 8:46 AM

Hi frmercury, and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Well, there are quite some options, but here are some general thoughts. For a rather short stay, you can best focus on just one region and base town, or two at the most. Otherwise you'd have a full itinerary and you'd be spending too much time on transfers between towns/hotels. It's good to realize that November is still low season, so not all cable cars and mountain trains are running. Therefore it's best to visit an area with a some (nearly) all year round top attractions, and that's located at a high altitude to increase your chances of snow.

Regions to consider are:

  • the Lucerne area, which is close to Zurich. Lucerne itself isn't located that high, but you can visit a few high mountain tops like Titlis (closed for maintenance in early November, so no problem for your travel dates), Pilatus (only accessible by cable car from Kriens during your stay) and Rigi (no restrictions during your stay).
  • the Jungfrau region. The Jungfraujoch will be accessible, the Schilthorn unfortunately not.

If you'd like your resort to be in the snow as well, you should look for ski resorts like Zermatt or St. Moritz, but both are quite far off from Zurich and the Swiss/German border.

Once you have an itinerary, make sure to look into rail passes: myswissalps.com/train/ ticketspasses/practica l/chooserailpass.

Does this help you out?

Last modified on Oct 18, 2015 - 11:53 AM by Annika
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Oct 18, 2015 - 9:25 PM in reply to frmercury

Hi frmercury.

I'm a chemist, so I use chemists shorthand for mercury and the symbol for the element, which is Hg, from the Latin Hydrargum.

frHG is easier to type.....;-)

Annika has given good advice. Luzern is a very good place at which to begin.

I'd take the train from the airport directly to Luzern....two per hour, approx 1 hr trip, depending on whether you have to change at Zürich main station. You'll have time to walk around, see some of the famous sights.....

The timetable and a map will be helpful:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

map.classic.search.ch/

I'd stay the night of the 26th and spend the 27th in or around Luzern. I'd take the train to the Jungfrau region on the night of the 27th or the morning of the 28th. If you go in the morning, you'll see the sights. The scenic route via Meiringen, can be selected in the timetable; otherwise, the faster route via Bern will be selected automatically by the timetable software.Adjust that time as you please. From your comments, I cannot tell exactly when you must leave... perhaps the 30th, from some Swiss city? The Black Forest is not that far away.

I'd stay at one of Wengen, Grindelwalld, Mürren, with Lauterbrunnen a good alternative on the valley floor. Interlaken is more of a transfer point than a destination for sightseeing.

You can take the cograil train from Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, or Grindelwald to Kleine Scheidegg. Great scenery. At KS, the line has a branch (quite expensive) up to Jungfraujoch.

Many of the "ski" lifts in the region will not be running until approx. December 15th. Hotels may be closed until then as well. At the time of your trip, it s a few weeks before the ski season really starts, so alpine resorts are often closed for maintenance, repairs, and getting ready for the Christmas rush. Luzern is wide open.

You can do a little looking at webcams to see how much snow there is....by the end of November, there will be quite a bit at higher altitudes. The major mountain pass roads shut down for the winter due to snow depth in the first week or so of December.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/service-aktuelles/webcams.html ?lc=de&cc=

Google for other webcam sites.

Trains run, mostly, so that you can count on them while you are there, even if there is snow.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Oct 19, 2015 - 6:46 AM by Slowpoke
frmercury
frmercury
9 posts
new member
Oct 21, 2015 - 4:29 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hello guys

Thanks so much for the awesome responses!!!! Really appreciate the detail involved. I'll post here should I have more :) Once again, thanks for the information, really appreciate it!

frmercury
frmercury
9 posts
new member
Nov 8, 2015 - 3:53 PM

Hello all!

I roughly have an outline (please critique it as much as possible!):

On 26 Nov, we'll arrive at Zurich at about 12.30 pm. After checking out of the airport and some short walking about, we will head to Lucerne via the Golden Pass Scenic Train. For the rest of the day, we will do some exploration of the Lucerne old town. If we are not too tired, I guess we could do some ice skating.

On 27 Nov, we will be going onto the boat cruise around Lake Lucerne. For this part, we have not chosen a destination per se (because we don't really know the differences between the various destinations yet! We're hoping that we can decide when we arrive.. Will that be too late?) We've decided not to embark on the popular Mt Pilatus/Rigi trails because we will be opting for Jungfraujoch later on.. Is this a big loss? After this cruise ride, we will pack up and head over to Grindelwald where we are staying! (We took your good advice here and did not opt for Interlaken haha)

28 and 29 Nov are interchangeable depending on the weather. If 28 Nov presents itself as a good day, we will be headed to Kleine Scheidegg, and from there, to Jungfraujoch. We will spend the whole day there before descending.

After that, on 29 Nov, we will be heading to First and exploring the area. Will it be too repetitive, considering we have been to Jungfraujoch? I was looking into some cultural activities in the area but it seems more of a place for adventure! We're fine with that but some variety would be nice :)

On 30 Nov, we will be departing for the Black Forest! Right now our plans in Switzerland are still pretty tentative.. I haven't looked into the travel tickets yet because I haven't worked out a full itinerary yet. However, I've chosen my accommodations (Lucerne + Grindelwald) so these will be my limiting factors! We are open to new suggestions for activities as you guys are the experts! We have chosen what we have thus far based on suggestions on these forums and google in general haha. Thanks guys!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Nov 8, 2015 - 5:12 PM in reply to frmercury

Here is a small part of the answer. More later, in particular regarding Lake Luzern.

<<"On 26 Nov, we'll arrive at Zurich at about 12.30 pm. After checking out of the airport and some short walking about, we will head to Lucerne viathe Golden Pass Scenic Train. For the rest of the day, we will do some exploration of the Lucerne old town. If we are not too tired, I guess wecould do some ice skating.">>

The Golden Pass does not run from Zürich or Zürich airport. Two regular trains per hour from Airport to Luzern, which stop in the main station of Zürich. One is a change of trains.

Lookiong at Zürich -

There is nothing to see near the Zürich airport. If you wish to see a bit of Zürich, then take any train - many per hour - from the airport to Zürich main station. Get off, walk a bit of the old city. Go back to the station and catch the next train to Luzern. They leave from track 5.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Here are some ideas for parts of Zürich that are nice to walk in. You don't want to spend a lot of time, I'd guess, so stick to the part nearest the station, near the Lindenhof and Bahnhofstrasse.

See attachment.

The station is a couple of hundred meters north of the area I have circled.

Or, skip it and go right to Luzern.

Sunset is around 5 PM.

Slowpoke

Please login to see the attached documents
frmercury
frmercury
9 posts
new member
Nov 10, 2015 - 5:27 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hey thanks for the link! And yeah I made a mistake the golden pass indeed doesn't run there :( I'll probably just grab lunch and head to Lucerne right away :)

frmercury
frmercury
9 posts
new member
Nov 11, 2015 - 4:15 PM in reply to frmercury

Hey guys

So does the rest of my itinerary sound okay?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Nov 11, 2015 - 6:09 PM in reply to frmercury

Hi FrHg ( chenmistry again ;-) )

I se that you found JaneQ's thread. There is some stufff about Luzern in it.

Lake:

Here is the lake boat schedule for winter -

www.lakelucerne.ch/fil eadmin/lakelucerne/con tent/Dokumente_Downloa ds_PDF/01_Fahrplan-Preise/01_Fahrplan/Sai sonaler_Fahrplan/2015_ Fahplan_Winter_mit_Zei chenerkl%C3%A4hrung_A4 .pdf

here are some ideas -

1.- Usual lake boat to Alpnachstad is not running, and the cograil up to Pilatus is not. So that is not available.

2.- The Rigi is a very very different mountain from the Jungfrau. It has trails, woods, villages, restaurants, hotels of various kinds at various places.

You can go up via frequent t rains to Arth Goldau, go up the Rigi Bahn to the top - "Kulm" , walk an hour or so down to Rigi Kaltbad, good views over the lake, especially by Känzeli, assuming no snow on the Hohenweg ( or ride the other part of the Rigibahn train system down to Rigi Kaltbad - direction Vitznau..) then take the scenic cable car down to Weggis (every 20 minues or 30 minutes until about 6 or 7 PM, roughly) , and walk downhill about 15-20 minutes to the boat dock and catch a boat from Weggis to Luzern. Combines good views on a clear day .

If you are pressed for time, skip the walk and return the way you came. But, the route back through Weggis is very scenic, and gives you a pleasant lake boat rude.

3.- The best part of the lake for me is the southernmost part. It is called the Urner see. (Kanton Uri)

You can take train from Luzern to Flüelen, ride the boat back up part of the lake at 1200, 1300 or 1600 only to Brunnen, catch a train at the Brunnen Train station ( shuttle bus or walk 10 minutes) back to Luzern.

Or, you can ride the boat all the way to Luzern -about a 3 hour trip. Restaurant on board.

If you study the schedules, you can also reverse either of those journeys.

Any other boat ride on the lake will be nice; I describe the ones I like.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Nov 11, 2015 - 6:18 PM in reply to frmercury

<<"After that, on 29 Nov, we will be heading to First and exploring the area. Will it be too repetitive, considering we have been to Jungfraujoch? I was looking into some cultural activities in the area but it seems more of a place for adventure! We're fine with that but some variety would be nice :)">>

I don't know if the lifts are running. At that altitude, you need to check for snow.

There areamany many ways to look at the Jungfrau region, from First, from Mürren, fromSchilthorn, from Wengen, from Männlichen, from just above Sulseewli above isenfluh, from Schynnige Platte, etc.

Although all are somewhat similar, each has a different character- the viewing angle, inn, mountain hotel, luxury hotel, hut, etc. It might be that some are npot accessible on your dates. Betweeen seasons.

First is a fine idea; if it is not available, ask at the train station in Grindelwald about options.

It is a good idea to allow two days in the area, as you have done.

The itinerary should work, and you can change your mind on the spot, because of the flexibility of the travel system. ( May cost something, of course.)

It will be a good deal colder than Singapore. ;-)

Slowpoke

Last modified on Nov 11, 2015 - 6:20 PM by Slowpoke
JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Nov 11, 2015 - 6:24 PM

Hello Frmercury!

haha I understand the dilemma when it's your first time to Swiss. I felt the same too! Was stuck between deciding to take the jungfraujoch region or take the scenic train ride from zermatt to St Moritz. Given that u only have 3 days, I'd agree with the advice given so far to visit places that are nearer, i.e. Lucerne/Junfraujoch region as its closer to Zurich (so u don't spend too much time travelling; daylight is also shorter during winter). One option u may wish to consider is (if you dare to try it out) skydiving! Since u plan to stay at Grindelwald, u may wish to do a day trip to interlaken for skydiving. It's cost abt 430 CHF and above though. But I bet it must be a hellava view up there.

Another resource u can try looking up is the lonely planet books! U can easily borrow them from the public libraries in Singapore, never mind that they may not be the most updated copies. The guidebook is organised according to regions, so it's useful to plan your day trips since it gives u a quick overview of what is there to see in each place/region. Then at least u know what u may wish to prioritise and do more research on :) I recommend lonely planet because they are pretty comprehensive, but other guidebooks will also do (though I'm not as familiar with them).

Of course, u may also use my itinerary as a reference if u like :) Hope this helps!

Jane

frmercury
frmercury
9 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2015 - 1:19 PM in reply to JaneQ

Hello Slowpoke!! My username was inspired by Freddie Mercury from Queen but FrHg is cool too :) And I'm a chemist/pharmacist in Singapore too!

And thanks for the great advice! Rigi looks enticing but I am just worried about the lack of time. On 27 Nov, I will be embarking on my boat trip, and I hope to be back in the afternoon, at Lucerne old town where my hotel is located: to grab my luggage, so I can travel to Interlaken then Grindelwald, all before sunset which presumably is early (unless travelling after sun down is safe and easy?). I guess what I'll do is I'll try to squeeze Rigi into my plans but do with a quicker visit to the area. But then again I took a quick peek at Urnersee on google and it looks amazing too! I'll just keep my options open for now I guess :) But I'm really grateful for the ideas.

I guess I'll also be keeping my option open for my spare day in the Jungfrau region, thanks!

Thanks JaneQ too! Yeah I did draw inspiration from your itinerary too :P But I don't think I'll be skydiving (that takes guts which I lack haha). Anyway I got a 2015 Switzerland guide for a steal in a bookshop at Holland Shopping Centre ($15)- go check it out!

JaneQ
JaneQ
23 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2015 - 1:26 PM in reply to frmercury

Hi frmercury,

Nice, 15 bucks is a steal! :) Have a safe and awesome trip!

Jane

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Nov 12, 2015 - 2:13 PM in reply to frmercury

<<" I guess what I'll do is I'll try to squeeze Rigi into my plans but do with a quicker visit to the area.">

After you go back about 5 times, you begin to run out of different choices. ;-)

I just wanted to make sure you knew the options. In deed, if you want to leave before sunset, you'll have trouble doing justice to the Rigi.

There is always to much to see and do. The country has so many beautiful sights.

Traveling after dark is safe, in Luzern and Grindelwald. You just won't see the sights between Luzern and Grindelwald. And, don't wave your money around on the streets, of course. I've been going there since 1980, and there is no doubt that petty crime has increased in the cities, but you'll be OK as long as you take normal precautions for any city. The Swiss are quite law abiding. But, you'll see a fair amount of concern about the number of foreign residents...something ike 20% or more of the residents of Switzerland are not Swiss.

Would you mind letting me know what hotel you are using? I'm trying to figure out where to stay in Luzern, ever since they cl0sed the Schiff. Des Alpes is nice hotel, but the kitchen is ordinary. Braurei Rathaus, by the river, almost next door, is actually quite good.

www.braui-luzern.ch/

Slowpoke

frmercury
frmercury
9 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2015 - 3:38 PM in reply to Slowpoke

I think I'll do Rigi then :) I'll skip the Golden Pass line from Lucerne to Interlaken so I can spend more time at Rigi!

Yup and thanks for the tips though! Feel so relieved now that I know travelling past sunset is an option- given that time is really tight!

I'll be staying at the ROESLI Guest House- but I chose that primarily because it is located in the old town. It is but a place for me to keep my belongings safe. Doubt I'll spend much time indoors! Maybe you should explore other options (your Schiff Des Alpes looks great!)- I'll post in the itinerary forum on this site about how my trip went, and I'll include the part on accommodation :)

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2657 posts
expert
Nov 12, 2015 - 4:25 PM in reply to frmercury

Don't go up on Rigi if there is a cloud layer.

The Urner See works as long as any clouds are up a few hundred meters above lake level. Nicer with sun, but you don't need it.

Last time I was up on the Rigi in June, we had cloudy rainy weather in Luzern. Took the lift up from Weggis to Rigi Kaltbad and broke through the clouds at 1400 meters, just below Rigi Kaltbad. We then took the train up to Rigi Kulm, where it was clear into the distance, but we only had limited viewing downward. Quite a few mountaintops poked up through the cloud deck, but you want to be able to see the lake.

I have stayed near the Rössli, at the expensive but old and famous Wilden Mann. Looks like a good location....5 minutes from the station, more or less. I'll watch for your review. I'll be surprised if it not clean and neat.

Slowpoke.

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