June 30-July 15, 2022
Travel style: Relaxed pace, spending time in a few places, not trying to see everything. Only travelled in German-speaking portion of Switzerland. Traveled as a couple.
General recommendations (thanks to MySwissAlps for recommending all of the below):
-Traveller's wifi: For us, this was cheaper and more reliable than buying additional data from T-mobile. Fast internet- was great to have wherever we went, including while hiking or travelling.
-Swiss travel pass--We got a 15-day pass and used it on trains, cable cars, ferries and museums. One tip: Check the expiration time as well as the date. We got stuck buying a train ticket our last day because our passes had expired that morning. Given our itinerary, It's possible we would have been better off with the Bernese Oberland regional travel pass but we hadn't researched it ahead of time (you can, though).
-MeteoSwiss App for weather: We relied on this app while in the Bernese Oberland and it was surprisingly accurate e.g. in determining what time of day to go to Piz Gloria on the Schilthorn. We especially liked the animations of clouds and precipitation.
-Switzerland is every bit as beautiful, clean and efficient as we had hoped.
-Food was very expensive, especially in the cities. There was also more fresh vegetables than I had expected--we had many wonderful summer salads.
-Not as many people spoke English as we had expected--it would have been good to review some basic German before we went.
Arrived in Zurich and took train to Lucerne.
Planned 3 nights in Lucerne- 1 night was added because of last minute flight changes.
This was our place to recover from international travel and served as our introduction to Switzerland.
Stayed at Hotel Des Alpes, highly recommend for location. Good food, but not included in room rate. One downside was that the rooms were hot when the temperature rose over 80 degrees or so--the fan provided was not adequate.
-Spend time by the river at dusk, as the lights go on in the city.
-Go up to main tower of city wall at sunset--beautiful view of city.
-Day trip to Rigi--We took the ferry to ferry to Vitznau, cogwheel train to Rigi Kulm, hiked, took the cable car to Weggis and the ferry back to Lucerne. All of the transport was included in Swiss travel pass.
If there are any lap swimmers out there--we recommend Hallenbad Allmen--not only is it a beautiful pool with clean water, but has lovely views of the mountains.
We do not recommend Swiss Museum of Transportation (unless you have kids who are interested)--it was expensive and we thought that the exhibits were very much geared to kids.
We took the Golden Pass- Panorama train from Lucerne to Interlaken, then switched to other trains. We didn't reserve seats on the panorama train. We travelled on July 4 and there was no problem with crowds.
We were glad we stayed as long as we did--it wasn't until 3rd day that it was completely clear high in the mountains.
-Easy hike recommendation: Panoramaweg (Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg) --popular for a reason
-Instead of spending the money going to Top of the World--Jungfraujoch, go instead one stop up from Kleine Sheidegg--to Eigergletscher--5 CHF instead of 117 CHF with Swiss Travel Pass. Beautiful views, facility--restaurant, bathrooms, etc. We took trail from Eigergletscher to Kleine Sheidegg, and you could continue down from there if you wanted.
Stayed at Hotel Edelweiss: We could not recommend this hotel more highly. It was my favorite place that we stayed on the trip due to the friendly, welcoming atmosphere e.g. guests could make themselves at home- there was 24 access to tea/coffee, a TV room and a fridge to use, and every day the proprietor helped each guests with their plans for the day. It also had excellent fresh food--a breakfast buffet and an optional 4-course dinner with a menu that changed each day. We had a room with a balcony and a great view- on the third floor.
We couldn't decide between Wengen and Murren, so, like many people, we stayed in both. We enjoyed spending time on both sides of the valley- there are different views and access to different areas (we don't like taking long daytrips). There are better view of the mountains from Murren, and greater variety of hiking possibilities from Wengen.
Schilthorn excursion: We checked the SwissMeteo app for precipitation and cloud cover. The day we wanted to go, the app showed that it would be clear in the morning until about 10am. We took the first cable car up at 7:40 from Murren (there were only about 5 people on the cable car). Sure enough, the clouds came in just as predicted, around 10. We had brunch at the rotating restaurant--it was pricey but surprisingly good food and a fun restaurant to experience.
Stayed at Hotel Bellevue. We had a nice room with a balcony that had a beautiful view--the hotel is one block up from the main street which makes it a little quieter. If we went there again, we would look into half board--all of the restaurants in town had pretty much the same menu at similar prices (or at least that was our impression)--was it was easiest to eat where we were staying.
Below Hotel Bellevue was a small laundromat, I believe it was the only one in town. Open 24 hours, but you need to buy tokens for the machines at the hotel bar.
We went to the Alpine Sportscenter in Murren which has a pool and hot tubs--entry was free with a golden card from the hotel.
It took five connections on public transportation to go from Murren to Thun. Everything went unbelievably smoothly. We took the slow, scenic route which involved a 2+ boat ride on Lake Thun from Interlaken West (the boat dock is right across the street from the train station). It is a very scenic lake with 5 castles and worth going as a day trip from elsewhere e.g. Interlaken or Lauterbrunnen. You could take the boat to Thun and the train back.
Stayed at Hotel Schlossberg in Thun Castle- so special to stay in a castle. We stayed in one of the small "cozy" rooms, which did not have a view but was a comfortable modern room with AC. Breakfast (even scrambled eggs) was included. Amazingly, there is an elevator that goes from the castle level (on a hill) to the -7 floor in the old town (with parking floors in between).
We toured the Thun castle, and took a day trip by bus to the Oberhofen castle. One could also visit other castles on the same day. We chose instead to relax at the lovely restaurant by the ferry dock that is next to the Oberhofen castle--delicious salads and fresh-baked bagels.
It was good to see the capital city and learn more about its history and Swiss history in general. We did the walking tour described in the Rick Steves guide book. It was warm out and many people were swimming in the river--we didn't join them but it was fun to watch them from the bridges.
We recommend the Einstein museum (inside the Historical museum). It was a much bigger and better exhibit than we expected, it covered Einstein's life in historical perspective and had some in-depth explanations of his main theories. And, it is included in the Swiss Travel Pass.
Stayed at Best Western Plus Hotel Bern--highly recommend- great location near clock tower and has AC. It is a historic building, with an interesting history, and the hotel itself is modern.
At the end of the trip, we took a train from Bern back to the Zurich airport.