Need itinerary help Also: Train vs Auto

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kblaisel
kblaisel
4 posts
May 5, 2011 - 12:56 PM
Heres our itinerary:
Flying into Frankfurt 6/16/11
Taking the train (to Baesl?) or driving to Heidelberg the 1st night
Traveling via train or car to Zermatt. Staying 5 nights
Traveling via train or car to Grindelwald. Staying 5 nights
Traveling to ??? via train or car for 3 nights.
Flying out of Frankfurt on 6/30/11. Must arrive in airport by 12 noon.

We are a family of 3 (adults). We're not sure of the cost/benefit comparison of train vs. car travel. We plan on mostly hiking and climbing, but would enjoy seeing some interesting architecture along the way, such as castles.
Please respond with any ideas for the 3 last nights.

Train vs. car: Since we are flying into Frankfurt, should we rent a car to the border at Basel, then get a Swiss Pass? Should we buy the select Europass instead and take the train exclusively. If we buy the Eurail pass, do we enjoy the same discounts on mountain trains, gondolas, funiculars, etc.? Should we rent an auto and then buy the regional (Jungfrau and Zermatt) mountain passes?

Any ideas or help would be most appreciated!
Arno (moderator)
Arno
2761 posts
May 5, 2011 - 2:20 PM
Hi kblaisel,

Welcome to our forum! I would recommend to take the train to Switzerland. It's much easier (and I guess cheaper as well) than renting a car, turning it in again in Basel, and get on the train there. Frankfurt has a rail station at the airport that offers connections to Switzerland (check the timetable for details).

I can also recommend train traveling in Switzerland. It's an attraction in itself as you can fully enjoy the scenery. You could consider to spend your remaining 3 days in or around St. Moritz. Some great train journeys can be made from there (Glacier Express, Bernina Express). In that case it would be more logical though, to visit Zermatt first, then St. Moritz (via the Glacier Express) and finally Grindelwald.

A Swiss Pass covers the whole of Switzerland, so you don't need to buy several passes for several regions. A Eurail Pass includes less discounts, but you can best review the details yourself on the Eurail Pass pages and compare that to the passes specifically for Switzerland.

I hope this gets you started!
kblaisel
kblaisel
4 posts
May 5, 2011 - 3:40 PM
Thank you for your very prompt reply.
We have already booked our hotels in Zermatt and Grindelwald and cannot change them, so although I would like to travel to the eastern part of Switzerland, I'm concerned that we might not make it back to Frankfurt early enough for our flight home. We had originally thought we would like to visit near the National Park and had received a reply from the only hotel there. It just seems like it may be a little bit out of our way. There does seem to be some nice hiking in and around the National Park. However, after hiking in Zermatt for 5 days, and in the Jungfrau region for another 5 days, we may be ready to relax and take small walks and visit some museums/and/or castles.
The reason we were considering driving, is that I can't imagine what to do with our luggage once we get off the train in St. Moritz or Zernez? What do we do if we want to visit a museum or a castle? If we arrive early in the day, before we can check into a hotel, how would we wheel around our luggage? We plan on traveling light, with just a backpack and one suitcase each, but it seems as though it would be cumbersome to get off a train here and there and see the sites, while dragging around a suitcase. How do people manage this?
If we do decide to drive, we would still need the mountain passes or the half fare card. Which do you think would be best?
Arno (moderator)
Arno
2761 posts
May 6, 2011 - 10:10 AM
Hello kblaisel,

I see, and you're right: it's quite some traveling to the East, especially if you need to go back to Frankfurt. There are some beautiful castles along like Thun. You can cover them from Grindelwald. The website swisscastles.ch may be interesting for you to explore.

You can consider Lucerne and it's surroundings. It's a historical town, and there's beautiful scenery, Lake Lucerne and several museums including the Swiss Museum of Transport. Zurich is relatively close (for more culture, museums, shopping). There are direct trains that take you to the German border (Basel) in an hour.

As for your luggage: many rail stations have lockers. Also, you can have your luggage transported for you and retrieve it whenever you like. And there's also the option of going to your hotel first and ask the staff whether they can store your luggage until you check in later. Most hotels will do that for you.
kblaisel
kblaisel
4 posts
May 10, 2011 - 7:52 PM
Thanks for your reply.
We decided to rent a car, since we will be arriving at Frankfurt-Hahn airport, which doesn't have a train station and is an hour or so from Frankfurt. We would have liked to experience the trains in Switzerland. Maybe next time!
We will purchase the Hiking Pass in Zermatt and the Jungfrau Pass when in Grindelwald.
We are also planning to climb Via Ferratta while in Zermatt. Does anyone have experience in Via Ferrata? It looks like a great alpine experience.
Annika (moderator)
Annika
2539 posts
May 11, 2011 - 10:56 AM
Hi kblaisel. I don't know the Via Ferrata at Zermatt myself, but it's listed as quite difficult at several websites, and suitable for experienced mountain hikers only. You can't climb yourself there; you'll need a mountain guide. The website of the Alpincenter at Zermatt may help you out.

By the way, if you have further questions that are not closely related to the train vs auto issue, would you mind creating a new topic for them (for example: a new post on the Via Ferrata in the hiking forum)? This makes it easier for other forum visitors to search for topics, questions and answers. Thank you in advance :-)!

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