Planning train trip from Zurich for parents

Planning train trip from Zurich for parents

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sbarot
sbarot
8 posts
new member
Mar 9, 2016 - 3:51 PM

Dear SwissAlps,

My parents are coming to visit me from USA and would like to visit Switzerland for about 3 days in April. I am unsure if I will be able to join them due to work so I want to plan the trip for them to make it very accessbile and easy. They want to see the natural side of Switzerland more, rather than the city. If they fly in to Zurich, what are some nearby locations they can go to via the train and see more mountains? What train passes should they get for the trip?

Any and all suggestions would help.

Many thanks

Regards,

SB

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
Mar 10, 2016 - 8:50 AM in reply to sbarot

Hi Sbarot

Welcome to My Swiss Alps.

Hope you have time to spend some time with your parents.

Are you in or near Zürich? Would you like them to stay someplace close by where you live? Will they stay with you?

Are they walkers/hikers? Closer to nature that way.

Absent any further information, in April, I'd probably not send them up in the Alps....very much low season, and definitely late winter.

When in April are they coming? As you know, the climate changes quite a bit from the beginning to the end of April.

Luzern could be a really good base for city and nature (nearby) and some close by mountains. It is low enough altitude that they might have spring weather.

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne

The old city is attractive and small enough to walk around, and they could take a train or lake boat (limited schedule in April) to get out from the city.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Mar 10, 2016 - 9:00 AM by Slowpoke
sbarot
sbarot
8 posts
new member
Mar 10, 2016 - 10:25 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Dear Slowpoke,

Thank you for the quick reply. I am very much looking forward to spending time with them. Sorry about the confusion, I live in London so they would be traveling from London to Switzerland for a few days. I said Zurich simply because I assumed it would be the easiest airport from London. The dates we are looking at are mid-april. Either April 15-18 or April 18-20 (depending on if I can join them or not). They are not hikers, but they are walkers and can take part in other excursions such as boat rides, etc.

I have been to Luzern for 1 day and it is indeed beautiful. If they keep their base in Luzern, is there another place they can visit for a day via train/bus? I have heard Interlaken and Engelberg are other close by natural places but not sure if it is possible to go there for 1 day.

Lastly, should they consider getting any rail passes considering the trip from Zurich-Luzern-somewhere else? When I visited for 2 days I remember thinking it might be cheaper to get some sort of a pass (I am also from USA and was shocked at how expensive everything in Switzerland was! :D)

Thank you- your help and advice is very much appreciated.

Regards,

SB

Shreya

Arno
Arno
7707 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 10, 2016 - 1:36 PM in reply to sbarot

Hi Shreya,

The Lucerne page Slowpoke linked to provides lots of options for day trips. Please have a look to see if anything fits your parents requirements. They can either do things independently or book guided tours, whatever they prefer. Suggestions are on that page as well. Once you have a plan, you can pick the best rail pass for that plan, as explained here. The Tell-Pass or Swiss Half Fare Card may work, but you first need a plan.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
Mar 10, 2016 - 3:21 PM in reply to sbarot

Hi Shreya -

For information about the Luzern vicinity, check the link that I gave you. In addition to the usual tourist destinations for dat trips, there are all kinds of easy or difficult walks around Lake Lucerne, many connecting to the lake boats.

Engelberg is easy.

Interlaken is a stretch, making a long day, especially since you really need to go on to Lauterbrunnen and Wengen for the scenery. But, mid April is not he best time to visit that area. Between seasons; many tourist services are not open.

I am discussing Luzern with someone else and have just posted information about a day trip to the Rigi, with a nice easy very scenic walk, as long as the weather is nice. Look in the last posts in this thread:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/rough-itinerary-for-may-12-24-trip-to-switzerland

and :

www.myswissalps.com/ri gi

There are some discount airlines that have varying schedules for Geneva, Zürich or Basel airport, often from Luton or Stansted.

Zürich is the easiest to use for access to the middle of Switzerland, but Basel is only an hour from Luzern or i hour 13 minutes by frequent trains .......,after you take the shuttle bus from the airport to the downtown main station in Basel. Anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours including the shuttle bus. Z252rich airport to Luzern is an hour twice per hour. One of those trains requires no change at Zürich, the other does.

Geneva has good rail links,including very scenic but slower ones, to Luzern. Fastest go through Bern; 2 hrs 57 minutes. A nice ride with pleasant scenery.

I'd go as late as possible in April.

Check the timetable:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

( Caution - the time table shows fares that are already discounted by 1/2, because essentially all Swiss Residents have a "Halb Tax" or "Halb Abo" discount card.

That helps explain why travel is less expensive for the Swiss than for those who pay full fare.)

And, it defaults to fastest route. To force it to a slower route, you need to put in a "connection" or "via." From Geneva to Luzern, that is Zweisimmen, for example.

April is not a busy season in Luzern. Even so, hotels are more expensive there than in the countryside. After all, that is where all the tourists come to spend money....;-)

www.myswissalps.com/pl antrip/doityourself/sa vemoney

I stay in inns in the countryside or small towns. Some have excellent kitchens and good wine cellars, and are much less expensive than the hotels in the cities. Hard to set that up for a first time traveler, though. That is why I suggested Luzern.

Slowpoke

sbarot
sbarot
8 posts
new member
Mar 11, 2016 - 10:39 AM

Dear Slowpke,

The thread regarding Luzern is very helpful, thank you! And so are the other links for the timetable and hotels. Once I know how long my parents want to stay, I can get the Swiss Half Fare Card or another travel card (perhaps Tell-Pass?) for them since that would cover the train journey to/from Zurich/Basel airports and the local day trips to Rigi and possibly trip Engelberg. I am glad you told me about the weather not being ideal to visit Interlaken.

I agree about the hotels being more expensive and if my parents are going on their own for the first time, it would make more sense to stay in a hotel even though it will be expensive.

Also, any suggestions for vegetarian restaurants in Luzern? I remember there being a few when I went, but if you have suggestions for threads that discuss this, it would be great.

This weekend I will finalize the dates with them-and once the flights are confirmed either to Basel or Zurich, I can fine-tune the trip.

You have been amazing - thank you for your help!

Regards,

SB

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
Mar 11, 2016 - 1:16 PM in reply to sbarot

Hi SB -

Glad I could help.

For vegetarian restaurants in Lucerne, I'd do a Google search. Most Swiss reataurants offer vegetarian dishes. The menus ar usually posted by the door.

For what it is worth, there is a famous long-standing vegetarian restaurant in Zürich, called Hiltl.

www.hiltl.ch/en/

<<"This weekend I will finalize the dates with them-and once the flights

are confirmed either to Basel or Zurich, I can fine-tune the trip.">>

That is the time start looking at rail discounts.

Arno and Annika, the forum moderators, are the experts on those.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
2648 posts
expert
Mar 11, 2016 - 6:47 PM in reply to sbarot

Hi SB-

Not sure how adventurous and/or fit for walking a few miles you and your parents are.

Selective use of information in this post about the Swiss Path , choosing segments that are easy or harder, and which start and finish with public transportation, might be of interest.

If it is of interest, it may take a bit of work to sort out the best fit for your interests. Certainly, if nothing else, the Urnersee ( as shown in the link) offers particualrly scenic boat rides. If you want to fit in a walk, spend some time with maps to make sure you have the height profiles and distances under control. Also, if you plan to use lake boats, keep an eye on the schedule, because the full summer schedule does not start until May 28.

www.lakelucerne.ch/en/ timetable-fares/timetable/

Make sure to scroll down to the different seasonal schedules...your dates could fall on one or another.

Links for the hike(s) are provided in the post I am about to provide.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/the-swiss-path-and-southern-lake-lucerne

Slowpoke

sbarot
sbarot
8 posts
new member
Mar 18, 2016 - 11:21 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Dear Slowpoke,

My apologies for being "slow" in responding - my internet was not working at home. But my parents have managed to book their hotel and flights which would make it easier for me to plan the trip. They land in Zurich on Sunday, 17th April at 11:35 pm and have a flight back from Zurich on Wednesday April 20th at 5:05 pm. I was thinking Monday and Tuesday they can do day trips to Mr. Rigi or Pilatus and another day to Engleberg. I think in terms of exploring Luzern and doing the boat trip arond Luzern, they can do that on either Sunday or Wednesday (I will check the timings of the boat trip to make sure). Perhaps catching a later train to Luzern may even allow them to explore a bit of Zurich on Sunday?

They are not really hikers so I think they would have to make most of the trip by doing scenic train rides and boat rides .

I will reach out to Arno and Anikka regarding the most cost effective rail pass to get if they want to do the above in the 3 days and if there are any particular discounts for that time period.

As always, thank you for the help!

Regards,

Shreya

Annika
Annika
4415 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 19, 2016 - 5:58 PM in reply to sbarot

Hi Shreya,

There's a couple of rail passes your parents can consider. Good options are:

  • a 4 day Swiss Travel Pass. It includes free urban transportation in Zurich and Lucerne, train and boat trips and the entire trip to the Rigi. Lots of museums are for free as well. Mountain trips, like Titlis and Pilatus, are 50% off;
  • a 3 day Tell Pass. It provides excellent coverage for the Lake Lucerne region. The trips to and from Zurich and further trips/transportation in Zurich aren't covered though. If your parents don't plan to focus on Zurich that doesn't have to be a problem. If they do, an additional ZurichCard may come in handy.

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