26 April 2015 at 14:10:58 #807131
hi, me and my family are planning a trip to switzerland for a month next april-may. We’re 6 adults and a 2 year old baby. We plan to stay a week per town. I was wondering where to go first and where to end our trip. What towns can you suggest? We love nature and the alps but somewhere also with shopping. Is it convenient to ride the train with a baby or is it better to rent a car? thanks hope to hear from you soon 🙂
26 April 2015 at 23:39:51 #842697
I wish I could spend a month in Switzerland!
Lots to do, many interesting places. Using a base city for a week will work well on the trains, and the 2 year old will be fine. More room to move around than in a car.
At that time, the alpine regions will not have open hiking trails at the higher altitudes…even most easy ones. Mid-June is the usual opening,with some closings on an doff for the first weeks.
It is between seasons, and many hotels and cable cars will be closed. Not just in the Alps, but throughout the counry. Of course, in major cities, hotels will not shut down for the between seasons.
Can you travel later?
Travelling at the moment, but I can add some specific ideas next week.
Lucern should be on your list.
Do you have special interests? Hiking? Museums?Trains?
I noticed “shopping.”
Any specifics about “nature” ?27 April 2015 at 2:31:37 #842698
hi thanks for the reply! unfortunately we wouldn’t be able to travel later since school starts at june for my sister 🙁
We just want to try living like locals for a month. Do what the locals do. We love exploring public markets and maybe go to some parks? We also love anything nature in general like lakes or waterfalls or mountains. We were planning to visit the jungfrau region, is it worth the trip?
this is our temporary itinerary:
arrive at zurich, stay overnight. Next day take the train to geneva and stay for 7days. Take train from geneva to interlaken and stay for 10 days. Take train from interlaken to luzern and stay for 7 days. Go back to zurich and stay for 5 days.
thanksArnoModerator15041 posts27 April 2015 at 11:41:29 #842699
It’s wonderful that you get to spend a whole month in Switzerland. I would not spend that much time in Geneva and Zurich. Both towns are not in the mountains. They’re worth a visit if you like city trips, but you’d better spend the majority of your time elsewhere. Montreux and Vevey are on Lake Geneva as well but closer to the mountains and more centrally located. A day trip to Geneva can easily be done from there.
The regions below are wonderful as well and certainly worth spending a week there. You can cover them in the order presented or the other way round. The Valais and Graubünden are connected by the Glacier Express.27 April 2015 at 12:35:21 #842700
Hi arno, thank you so much for the information. I will check those places out 🙂29 April 2015 at 16:12:54 #842701
The focus of this forum is the Swiss Alps. The managers are experts, and they are particularly strong on the Alps (the Bernese Oberland/ Jungfrau region) and travel processes.
The Berner Oberland is probably the single best, most spectacular tourist destination in Switzerland.
Lucern ( I spell it Luzern because it is in the German language region and that is the way they spell it there 😉 ) is also near several nice mountain areas and has a beautiful lake worth some time.
However, Switzerland is extremely diverse.
Three major and one minor national languages; regions that have some French character, or, some German character, or Italian character, but are not the same as the countries named because of the Swiss “improvement” that makes the regions uniquely Swiss. Cuisine varies from region to region. The “old cities” are old. They were not rebuilt after WWII bombing like so many in continental Europe. Country inns with excellent kitchens dating back to the 1300’s in some cases.
And, it is all connected by an excellent public transport network. So, your plan to base in four or so cities is the best way to get a sampling of all of Switzerland, in addition to the mountains.
I think if i were exploring the French-speaking region, I might choose Lausanne, rather than Geneva for a base. Geneva is quite close. Geneva on its own has a lot of history , but it is on the “end of the line” so to speak. Lausanne puts you more in the middle. Easy access to Montreux ( and the Rochers de Naye) the vineyards around Lausanne, Vevey, and Montreux. Mountain villages such as Villars ( above Bex) , Fribourg and the old town by the river, Murten/Morat – a nice walled medieval village, Gruyers, and numerous smaller places.
Luzern has nearby mountains, the lake, which is , I beliiee , more beautiful and varied than Lake Geneva (not all will agree) , many easy walks and more strenuous ones, easy access to Basel and to the Emmental countryside., spectacular museums….attractions like The Lion of Luzern, the Bourbaki Panorama, and a nice old town.
I have to go now, but I’ll come back later with some comments about Zürich and eastern Switzerland, St. Gall, Appenzell, Lake Constance. A base in Zürich could make sense for these.
All of these regions offer very different scenery and local cultures. None of the cities are “Big Cities” like New York, or London, or Paris.29 April 2015 at 22:46:43 #842702
Slowpoke, thank you so much for your very detailed help! I appreciate it very much. 🙂29 April 2015 at 23:20:50 #842703
If i had spare time in Luzern, and wanted to get a flavor of a different region of Switzerland, I would seriously consider a trip to the Ticino. Not close buy, but different.
The train ride through the Gotthard pass is one of the best train rides in the world.
You could go to Locarno, which we like, walk along the lakeside gardens. have lunch at one of the restaurants along the lake side, take the funicular up to the Madonna del Sasso ( do not miss this) and return for a nice day trip.
Lugano has more to do, but the lake front is a bit farther from the train station.
There are walks along the lakeside, boat rides, etc. Very Italian feeling .
Both Locarno and Luganop are 2 1/2 to three hours away, so it is a long train ride, but a nice one.
Bellinzona ( along the route) is pleasant secondary destination.
Added in editing_
The Ticino has different climate patterns from the rest of Switzerland. Warmer.
So, if it is grey and rainy in Luzern, Locarno or Lugano may be better.
Each morning from about 0630 to about 0800, the TV Channel SF1 gives weather information. Their maps show the different regions of Switzerland, and that can give some general guidance. East and West may be very different, for example
Of course, the local news papers give that information, too, but you nee a little bit of German (or French, or Italian) to get the fine details.
I use the TV weather maps in the AM to make choices about where to go for the day, if i have options.3 May 2015 at 17:03:44 #842704
Arno has referred you to the Grabünden, including the Engadine (Inn Valley).
Most of his suggestions are in the Upper Engadine, including St. Moritz, Pontrsina, some famous train rides, and also nearby valleys – the Albula , etc. This is certainly the best known part of the region, for good reason. There are many attractions, including those suitable for your child. A horse drawn wagon-ride up the Val Rosegg could be one. The cograil ride up to Muottas Muragl, and the generally easy walk from Muottas Muragl to Alp Languard with ski lift down to Pontresina, could be another.
The Lower Engadin, also part of the Graubünden, has fewer tourists, and is less well known.
After several years of staying in or near St. Moritz, and exploring the Upper Engadine and the surrounding area, including St. Moritz, Tiefencastel, Preda, Bergun, Pontresina, Champfer, Val Rosegg, Brgaglia/Bergell…..we now tend to go instead to the Lower Engadine, at the other end of the Valley, near Austria.
Fewer tourists, more access to nature ( including the “forever wild” Swiss National Park) –
That region may have hikes that are difficult for a 6 year old, so look at the maps carefully.
One that might be good for a 6 year old is to walk along the ridge top from the lift station above Ftan to Motta Naluns, or the reverse. Great views.
Access at one end is a lift near the Scuol Bahnhof, up to Motta Naluns. Walk moderately down hill to above Ftan ( at Prui or Nateas) and take the lift down to Ftan, then catch the bus back to Scuol Bahnhof.
There is a usually herd of free-range goats at Motta Naluns which will likely please the 6 year old, as well as the rest of you.
There are beautiful old towns, such as Guarda, Ardez, and Scuol.
Some pictures are attached
This region is not usually included in a first trip to Switzerland, but you have a generous amount of time and might consider it in combination with the more famous Upper Engadine (St. Moritz.)
A comment on nomenclature.
The Engadine strictly speaking and narrowly defined is the valley of the river Inn ( En, in older dialect.) The term often includes the region.
“Graubünden” refers to the entire canton, and means “Grey League”, a name that dates back to the early history of the region. It includes Chur. It is the region in which the fourth Swiss national language (Romansch) in all of its local variants is still preserved from the middle ages and spoken.12 May 2015 at 14:20:55 #842705
I really like Zürich.
It is not as spectacular as, for example, Luzern or the Berner Oberland. But, it is a very cosmopolitan city with excellent local transport. It has a an easy mountain – Uetliberg. You can see the TV tower, sightseeing tower, and restaurant/hotel on the Uetliberg ridge above the city as you come in from the airport (on the right.)
Their small zoo is very well done.
The museums are exceptional – both art and history. Lakeside walks on both banks are quite pleasant. On a clear day, you can see to the southwest down the lake to the Alps, but it has none of the mountainous beauty of Lake Luzern.
It is a good central point for day trips, since it is a major rail hub. Basel and Bern are in easy reach: the fastest trains are under one hour, and the ones with more connections/changes/intermediate stops run a bit longer. Several per hour.
A less common tourist destination is Schaffhausen, but it is near the Rhine falls ( not bad) and not far to Stein am Rhein, a really attractive old town .
If you are ambitious, walk up the hill and have lunch in the castle. Good food, great views. Fewer tourists up there. The place is a famous destination for tour groups, for good reason.
From Stein-am-Rhein eastward the wider parts of the Rhein merge with Lake Konstanz ( the Bodensee.) this area has a very different feeling from mountainous Switzerland. I stay frequently in Steckborn, a pleasant small town, for a lakeside stay and fresh fish and local wines.
Lake boats from Romanshorn (and, I think , from Konstanz) on the lake go to Friedrichshafen in Germany. The Zeppelin museum there right by the boat dock is worth the trip. Food on the boats.
Might be good for the 6 year old.
St. Gall has a very nice old town. The church and baroque library are a major tourist attraction.
Th Abbey library (Stiftsbibliotek) is a stunning example of baroque construction. There are not many pictures readily available on line, but is is overwhelming in the quality and quantity of magnificent carpentry. Glorious.
here are a few images:
In that part of Eastern Switzerland, Appenzell is a town with a lot of very Swiss character.
Appenzell is one of the few Swiss towns that still have an annual town meeting as a major part of the their government process. There is a financial penalty if you (as a citizen) do not attend and vote.
Nearby mountains worth a visit are Ebenalp ( for the chapel on the cliffside, and the many paragliders who sail from there.)
and Säntis is a serious mountain.
I hope these comment sgive you some ideas about a part of Switzerland that is a bit different from the usual best first choices – Luzern and the Jungfrau region.