Quick trip to see the Alps in late November

  • Removed user
    52345 posts
    5 August 2015 at 1:19:51 #807697

    My sister and I are traveling to Paris in late November. It is unlikely we will get back to Europe in winter and know this is probably our only chance to see the Alps in winter. However, time is limited. We plan to travel from Paris on an early train to Belgium – hop off and grab some chocolate – then get another train to Amsterdam and spend the night. We would like to travel from Amsterdam to see the Alps. Spend a night and take a late train out the next day. Is this even possible? If so, where do we go and can we get back to Paris from there? We know this may not be the best idea, but we just don’t want to miss the Alps. Honestly, we are happy just to sit in a ski resort, have a hot chocolate and enjoy the scenery….even if just for a few hours. Thank you for any advice you can give us! We really appreciate it!

  • Annika
    7001 posts
    5 August 2015 at 7:37:12 #845033

    Hi ElleV, welcome to MySwissAlps!

    Well, it will be quite hectic, but it’s doable. Towns higher up in the Alps that can be reached from the north within a day are Wengen, Mürren and Grindelwald http://www.myswissalps .com/grindelwald for example. Do note that November officially isn’t winter and ski season yet, so there are no guarantees you’ll be surrounded by snow. However, if you take a cable car or mountain train up into the mountains on your second day, you’ll certainly get to see snow. As it’s off-season, not all cable cars will be running. A few all year round tourist highlights will, such as the train up to the Jungfraujoch: http://www.myswissalps .com/jungfraujoch. Some cable cars will already be running in the weekends of late November if snow and weather conditions are good, like the cable cars to Männlichen and First.

    There are direct train connections between Amsterdam and Basel. They’ll take about 7 hours of traveling and you’ll still have to get to your resort after arrival in Basel, but you will manage to get there in the afternoon. Night trains (City Nightline) can be used too, but I’m not sure if that fits your plans. The timetable at http://www.myswissalps .com/timetable allows you to plan your trips. International connections from Amsterdam and to Paris are listed there too. Getting back to Paris is quite easy, as there are direct train connections from Basel and Zurich: http://www.myswissalps .com/traintickets/fran ce.

    Depending on your exact plans, you should look into rail passes: http://www.myswissalps .com/swissrailpasses. A Swiss Transfer Ticket could work for you, as it grants a free trip from the Swiss border to your resort and back: http://www.myswissalps .com/swisstransfertick et. The Combi variant could work if you think you’ll be visiting an (expensive) mountain top on the 2nd day: http://www.myswissalps .com/swisstransfertick et/price. You’d need regular tickets for the Dutch/German and French parts of your trip. An alternative is the Eurail Select Pass for the 4 countries you’ll be traveling in, but you should calculate whether that’s cheaper: http://www.myswissalps .com/eurailselectpass.

    Removed user
    52345 posts
    6 August 2015 at 0:13:17 #845034

    Thank you SO much for the very detailed email. We have a lot to look over! I learned today that we may have a friend living in Zurich, so we may go there to visit. I understand it is the “Gateway to the Alps” so I am hoping to at least see the mountains! We hear there are also thermal spas, but I am horrible at geography so I will have to look at a map.

    Again, we appreciate your quick response and your guidance!

    7546 posts
    6 August 2015 at 17:24:21 #845035

    <<“I understand it is the “Gateway to the Alps” so I am hoping to at least see the mountains! We hear there are also thermal spas, but I am horrible at geography so I will have to look at a map.”>>


    And, a time table for the rail travel.

    Except that Zürich is not very close to the Alps. I suppose that from way out on the flatlands of the Netherlands, it might look like it, but Bern comes a lot closer to meeting that description, and, if I were asked what town fits that name. I think I’d pick Interlaken.

    Belgian chocolates are certainly excellent and set the bar high in any competition. Might be heresy to have this opinion on this forum, but I subscribe to the school of thought about chocolates that “Belgian is best.”

    However, Swiss chocolates are quite good. Perhaps you had heard that? It is a true fact. 😉 No one ever complains if I bring some back to the USA.

    So, I propose an alternative. Skip Belgian chocolates. Make a concession to the rigors of travel ( we all have to sacrifice sometimes) , and settle for Swiss ones. (The Dutch have a proud history of chocolate making, as well, I might add.) Skip the Dutch chocolates, too. (there are some very good ones.) Go from Paris directly to Wengen ( or Grindelwald, or Mürren.) Keep in mind the warnings about “between seasons.” A lot of hotels will not be open.

    There will be lots of choices of trains to get you there.

    Spend as much time as possible at the destination. Have your friend from Zürich meet you at the destination.

    As an option, stay with your friend instead of going to Amsterdam.

    Depart Gare de Lyon at 0723, arrive Interlaken at 1228.

    From Interlaken- 30 -45 minutes into the valley for your final destination.

    I like Wengen. Others like Mürren or Grindelwald. Or, Lauterbrunen.

    Here is a little bit of data about Wengen:

    http://www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

    Paris to Zürich depart same train 0723 arrive Zürich 1126. Have lunch. Meet your friend. Train to Interlaken – depart Zürich 1602, arrive Interlaken Ost 1757.

    At your meal at destination by -1900 or 1930.

    Have a Swiss chocolate after dinner.

    Or, stay overnight at your friend’s, and catch the 0521 from Zürich. Arrive Interlaken at 0728 At your hotel for breakfast by 0830 or 0900.

    Removed user
    52345 posts
    8 August 2015 at 18:47:45 #845036

    WOW, Slowpoke, you are awesome! Thank you for giving me a new option; I like how you think! I have a lot to research. I have heard of Swiss chocolate being excellent – of course, all of it is better than what we have in the US.

    Again, thank you.


    7546 posts
    8 August 2015 at 19:10:46 #845037

    <<” Thank you for giving me a new option; “>>

    A map and a timetable are the best way to expand your options.

    The European train network will give you a lot of flexibility. The Swiss network has a high density of trains and stations and routes. I t can help you get where you want to by various routes, while permitting you to expand your knowledge of geography.

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