Swiss 8 day itinerary - Need advice

Swiss 8 day itinerary - Need advice

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puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
Apr 23, 2014 - 5:59 PM

We are a family of 4 with an older child and a 5 year old son and we have charted out the following itinerary for travel early June.
Day 01 drive to Fribourg and reach Lauterbrunnen in the night. We will probably spend an hour in each location at the most. Do you think this is doable?? Lauterbrunnen is our base for most of the trip.
Day 02 Do paragliding, do attractions like Schynige platte and Harder Kulm and if time permits do Seil Park.
Day 03 train to Jungfraujoch (do ice palace, and would they have dog sledding in June ??), then train to Grindelwald and do the hike to Bachalpsee lake then return and do the gondola ride to First Bahn. Would we have time to even do Glacier Gorge ????
Day 04 - Lauterbrunnen sights like Staubbach and Trummelbach falls, then head to Murren via Grutschalp and do the hike to Murren and then do Schilthorn
Day 05 Wengen and hike to Kleine Schiedegg
Day 06 Drive to Thun, then Bern and Gstaad
Day 07 Drive to Brienz and then Lucerne and drive to Zurich
Day 08 – Spend in Zurich.

Do you think the above is doable? any tips?

Is it easy to find parking in Geneva and other cities?

Since we are having Lauterbrunnen as base, we will be taking train journies from there, is it easy to find parking at the station?

How cold does it get on top of Jungfraujoch? Do we need Winter Jackets?Thanks in advance..

Annika
Annika
4355 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 24, 2014 - 6:21 PM

Hi puneetgup,

It looks like you have thought this well through! Here are some additional tips and thoughts:

There's no dog sledding at the Jungfraujoch, but there is a Snow Park for sledging, snow boarding and skiing. See the Jungfraujoch page for more information and links.

Day 4: the best order would be to take the cable car from Lauterbrunnen up to Grütschalp and walk to Mürren. Then take the cable car to the Schilthorn. Take it back down to Mürren, and further down to the valley floor near Stechelberg. Then walk to the Trümmelbach Falls, and finally walk to Lauterbrunnen. You will pass the Staubbach Fall just before you reach Lauterbrunnen.

A car would not be needed for your plans. I would definitely not recommend to drive in the larger cities like Geneva, Bern, Lucerne and Zurich. It can be hectic if you don't know your way around, parking can be hard to find and is always quite expensive. The train takes you directly to the city center, which can best be explored on foot. Many parts of the Jungfrau region can not be reached by car, but you may be aware of that already.

Lauterbrunnen is very small. If you arrive by car you can probably park it near the hotel and leave it there for the next days. There's a large parking garage near the rail station (paid).

Day 6: just a suggestion is to take the boat from Interlaken West to Thun, explore the town center, then take a train to Bern. This would already fill the day. Adding Gstaad would be too much to my taste.

I would personally spend more time in Lucerne and less in Zurich.

See the links for all additional information about the towns, hikes, and hotel suggestions. I hope this helps!

puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
Apr 24, 2014 - 6:57 PM in reply to Annika
Thanks a lot for the reply. Any ideas on whether one would need Winter Jackets up at Jungfraujoch? We will not be doing any hiking on top. Also when you say parking in the big cities is expensive, any idea on how much approx.?
Annika
Annika
4355 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 24, 2014 - 7:37 PM

I'm glad to help! The Jungfraujoch page I referred to explains about clothing (basically dressing with multiple thinner layers is fine). Parking rates vary but CHF 4 per hour in Zurich is no exception. In Lucerne it would cost about CHF 50 per 24 hours to park near the central rail station. This is public parking. Hotels may have their own parking place, either free or paid too (in larger town centers).

puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
May 1, 2014 - 3:38 AM in reply to Annika

Thanks again for all your help. Still a bit confused on the pass to get (Half Card vs. Jungfrau rail pass). Tried to so some math from Jungfrau.ch/en but had a few questions. Does the Jungfrau pass cover rides from Lauterbrunnen to Jungfrau 100% or 50%. Does it also cover ride from Murren to Schilthorn?

Annika
Annika
4355 posts
expert &
moderator
May 1, 2014 - 8:06 AM

Hi puneetgup,

The Jungfrau Railways Pass includes free traveling to Kleine Scheidegg. From there it's 50% off to the Jungfraujoch. Mürren to the Schilthorn is not included. A Swiss Half Fare Card would also offers discounts to the cities, whereas the Jungfrau Railways Pass is not valid for anything beyond the Jungfrau region, except Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

kim11
kim11
320 posts
top member
May 1, 2014 - 4:34 PM

With your itinerary I think a Half Fare Card would bring you the most value.

Many of your days are far too ambitious. Consult www.sbb.ch to understand how long it takes to get from one place to the next. Also, some of the walks you are planning will likely not yet be accessible in early June.

>Day 02 Do paragliding, do attractions like Schynige platte and Harder Kulm and if time permits do Seil Park<

Paragliding will take several hours. It takes 1.5 hours to get from Lauterbrunnen to Schynige Platte then, of course, another 1.5 hours to get back. It is just under an hour to get to Harder Kulm from Lauterbrunnen, so 2 hours round trip. This is transport time only, no time to enjoy the area once you arrive.

>Day 03 train to Jungfraujoch (do ice palace, and would they have dog sledding in June ??), then train to Grindelwald and do the hike to Bachalpsee lake then return and do the gondola ride to First Bahn. Would we have time to even do Glacier Gorge ????<

Trip to Jungfraujoch from Lauterbrunnen is 1 hour 45 mins each way. Train back down to Grindelwald is 1 hour 45 mins. Walk through Grindelwald to Firstbahn, about 20 - 30 mins if you don't stop along the way. Firstbahn up to First is about 20 mins. Walk to Bachalpsee is 3 hours round trip. However, it is very likely that this walk will not yet be opened due to snow.

Annika's recommendation re: your Mürren, etc day is exactly what I would suggest as well. Any day you want to go up one of the peaks needs to be a clear day AND you need to go in the morning as clouds often come in during the afternoon and will obstruct the views.

The cities in the region pale in comparison to the Alps. I would not spend time driving to visit these cities when you are based in paradise! Brienz is charming but is easily (and more fun) accessible via a boat cruise on Lake Brienz. I recommend dropping the Berne, Thun, Gstaad plan and spending the day on the boat hopping on and off to various quaint villages. Or go look at Brienz and continue on to the Ballenburg Open Air Museum which you can easily reach via bus from Brienz. The staff at the train station in Lauterbrunnen can sell you tickets for the entire outing and help you with the schedules.

Then Day 7 relocate to Lucerne for 2 nights. Lucerne is the loveliest town in the region. It is only about an hour to Zurich airport from Lucerne so you could spend your last night there before flying out of Zurich (?) the next day.

A car is not advisable for this journey. It is all easily do-able via public transport. Many of the places you want to go are not accessible by car anyway.

puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
May 1, 2014 - 9:14 PM in reply to kim11

Thanks, yes we started to look at the travel times including the train times and realized that we had an over ambitious itinerary specially since we have a little 5 yr old with us. Looking to revise based on the excellent suggestions and will share once done. 3 quick follow ups, 1. Where can I find out the exact train/gondola times in English. 2. Once we do finalize the itinerary, if we do go with the Swiss Half fare card, how and where does one purchase the tickets? for e.g sbb.ch/en only gave options for May, 2014 and did not factor in the Swiss Half fare card for pricing. 3. Where can I find a map (if one exists) that would lay out all the swiss pass and other regional pass options for coverage? Thanks!

kim11
kim11
320 posts
top member
May 1, 2014 - 9:31 PM

>1. Where can I find out the exact train/gondola times in English.<

For most, www.sbb.ch, look for the EN symbol at top of page. This site defaults to half fare. Without a discount card you must double the price.

Some mountain transports are not included at the SBB site. For those:

>if we do go with the Swiss Half fare card, how and where does one purchase the tickets? for e.g sbb.ch/en only gave options for May, 2014 and did not factor in the Swiss Half fare card for pricing.<

You can buy the Half fare Card at any train station. For train, lift, etc tickets, buy those as you are getting ready to board. There is no advantage to booking in advance (the price is the same), only disadvantage (as you are required to take the exact train/time/day you have booked). You should NEVER book in advance for a peak excursion because these are weather dependent. For most of the lifts, gondolas, etc it is impossible to buy in advance anyway.

The sbb site gives you options for at least 3 months out. And, as mentioned above, it does factor the Swiss Half Fare card into pricing, those are the prices you see.

>3. Where can I find a map (if one exists) that would lay out all the swiss pass and other regional pass options for coverage?<

This site does a very good job of that, just look up top under "how to travel". There you will also find links to validity map. But save yourself the mental gymnastics. I've been to the region 16 times in 17 years. The Half Fare Card is the best deal 99% of the time. The only time it is not is if there is a special 2 for 1 offer on another pass. Not likely that you will find one of those during your travel times. And they would already be promoting it now if one was available.

puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
May 2, 2014 - 4:20 PM in reply to kim11

Thanks again for the response. I am pretty sure it is just me but having a hard time finding out ticket prices for advance travel on SBB.CH/EN. Looks like it only allows 1 month in advance. is there an alternate site to help understand the price of the individual tickets?

Arno
Arno
7339 posts
expert &
moderator
May 2, 2014 - 6:22 PM

Hi puneetgup,

Tickets in Switzerland have fixed prices for a full year and won't change until mid December 2014. The 5-step process to select the best pass is explained in detail here.

The timetable page also explains about ticket prices.

puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
May 7, 2014 - 12:35 PM in reply to Arno
Thanks again for the response. Have reworked the itinerary based on the advice and have come to the conclusion that either the Jungfrau rail pass or the Bernese Oberland 6 day pass will probably be the best. I however cannot figure out the diff between the two in terms of coverage. Does the BO pass also cover Luzerne and ride to Pilatus by any chance?
Arno
Arno
7339 posts
expert &
moderator
May 7, 2014 - 12:43 PM

Hello puneetgup,

As for the Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland: just download the map like Kim explained and you can see what's covered: Luzern is, Pilatus is not. As for the Jungfrau Railways Pass: see the Jungfrau website. We're planning on adding it our website as well.

puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
May 7, 2014 - 12:57 PM in reply to Arno
Thanks I did download the map but could not figure out the diff and hence the ask.
puneetgup
puneetgup
23 posts
new member
May 8, 2014 - 8:24 PM in reply to puneetgup
is it possible to buy the Bernese Oberland pass at any train station including Lauterbrunnen once we arrive there? or can it be bought online without additional charges? Also do I need to get a family card for my 5 year old?
Arno
Arno
7339 posts
expert &
moderator
May 9, 2014 - 10:27 AM

Hi puneetgup,

Please see here for an up to date overview of points of sale. Currently you can either buy it locally at manned stations (that includes Lauterbrunnen) or online through the Swiss railways website. The price of the pass is the same, but there's a shipping fee depending on where it has to be sent to. You can have it sent to your hotel for example for CHF 6.

The Family Card does not work with the Regional-Pass, but the Junior travelcard does. However, this is all for children from 6 years old. If your child is 5 during the trip, you don't need any ticket or pass, just a passport with the birth date in it.

Last modified on May 9, 2014 - 10:28 AM by Arno
swisscat
swisscat
18 posts
new member
May 31, 2014 - 12:06 AM in reply to kim11

I have no idea how to PM you on either this site or trip advisor but would love your article about the Bernese oberland/Wengen area if you could advise me on how to PM!

Arno
Arno
7339 posts
expert &
moderator
May 31, 2014 - 7:11 AM

Hi swisscat,

There is no private messaging on our website, but documents can be shared by attaching them to a forum post (members only). See my May 17 comments in this post. Alternatively, if a document is e-mailed to us we'll be glad to forward it.

geniewho
geniewho
25 posts
new member
Jun 4, 2014 - 11:30 PM in reply to Arno

Hi arno

I am getting regional bernese oberland pass for my group of 2 adults and 2 children (aged 7 & 9) and we also will have a swiss flexi pass and family card. In my case I thought I will just need to buy 2 regional passes for the adults at CHF 175 each and there is no need to pay for children as they travel free w Family pass. Isn't my understanding correct? Cos I am a bit confused based on what u mentioned about the Family card not working with the regional pass. Grateful for your clarifications. Thanks

Arno
Arno
7339 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 5, 2014 - 11:23 AM in reply to geniewho

Hi geniewho,

The Swiss Family Card can only be used if the parents travel along with a "Swiss Travel System" pass such as the Swiss Flexi Pass. The Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland is not a Swiss Travel System pass. You need Junior travelcards for the children if you're traveling without such a pass (e.g. with a Regional-Pass). It's explained on the pages below:

www.myswissalps.com/swissfamilycard
www.myswissalps.com/regionalpassberneseoberland/price
www.myswissalps.com/juniortravelcard

So in your case you need this:

  • 1x Swiss Saver Flexi Pass for the adults;
  • 1x Swiss Family Card for the children;
  • 2x Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland for the adults. This will be discounted if you have a Swiss Saver Flexi Pass that is valid during the period of traveling;
  • Junior travelcard for each child.

All of this can be purchased from the Swiss Railways webshop. The cards for the children will be offered when you order the adult passes.

It may seem a bit complex, but as a result children under 16 travel along for free, or nearly free (the Junior travelcards are only CHF 30), so it's worth it.

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