Planning a 10 day trip to Switzerland in April

Planning a 10 day trip to Switzerland in April

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taylcapital
taylcapital
8 posts
new member
Jun 21, 2017 - 5:28 PM

Hi all,

I am planning a trip to Switzerland in April 2018, came across this forum and I must say there is a wealth of information here which is very helpful. Kudos to everyone who came forward to share their experiences and tips.

Some background on myself and the people on the trip.

Country of origin: Singapore

Total pax: 3 (myself and parents)

Purpose: 80% sightseeing, 20% light hiking and walking around towns to look at architecture / monuments etc.

I'm just in the beginning stages of planning the trip, so here's a rough skeleton of what it might be like, feel free to throw in any suggestions.

Things to get when I land in Zurich Airport
(i) Swiss Travel Pass
(ii) Salt store prepaid SIM card for CHF 10 with CHF 20 credits.

(iii) other miscellaneous tourist stuff - train maps, guides etc.

(a) Day 1: Land in Zurich Airport at approximately 9am, take a train to Zermatt, if all goes smoothly in terms of way finding and hotel check in, should have everything settled by around 1:30pm-2pm in Zermatt.

- For this timing, will it be ideal to go to Gornetgrat via the Matterhorn railway? If so, I was hoping to do some hiking along Riffelberg and Rotenboden, but the suggestions seem to point Rotenboden > Riffelberg, correct me if I am wrong, isn't that a reverse hike? But the forum's guide: www.myswissalps.com/hi king/rotenboden-riffelalp - seems like it's an upward hike towards Gornmergrat. Is anyone able to clarify this?

- If the timing is not ideal, we intend to go to the Gornergrat the next day since we will be spending 1 night in Zermatt. Alternatively, we figured exploring Zermatt by foot, see what's there to eat and stuff, however is there maybe a short scenery trip perhaps we could squeeze in within half a day's time?

(b) Day 2 - 3 or 4: After visiting the Gornergrat, we intend to continue our journey towards Interlaken, should be arriving by nightfall. Haven't really researched on this area yet, feel free to pop any suggestions in! Although Jungfraujoch has crossed my mind, I haven't really gotten to looking at the routes yet.

(c) Day 3 or 4 - 5: Continue our journey to Lucerne, I read somewhere in this forum that it'd be a great idea to take a bus ride from 1 point, alight and take a boat across the river for a really nice view, then take a train and loop back into the city, all within Lucerne. And also visit Chapel Bridge.

(d) Day 5 - 6 or 7: Probably head back to Zurich or maybe Winterthur to do some light hiking, saw somewhere in this forum that someone mentioned Winterthur was great for hiking. Either that or we might extend our stay in Lucerne slightly longer.

(e) Day 10: Head back to Zurich Airport to Singapore.

I know my itinerary seems really choppy, but feel free to throw any ideas you have into the mix.

And also, is there a place I could get detailed maps of the places I want to visit. I mean I know google maps will do the job just fine for the most part, but my rationale is that since I don't speak the language, it'd be easier if I could get hold of a map which is visually easier to read.

Thanks in advance for any ideas thrown in.

Cheers!

AlanPrice
AlanPrice
177 posts
active member
Jun 22, 2017 - 11:11 AM

Hi

Unfortunately, April is still the ski season in Zermatt and most of the hiking trails will be closed. You can still visit the Gornergrat, but you won't be able to hike back. Alternatively, you might be able to try snow shoeing. I haven't tried it, but it looks like fun.

Lucas
Lucas
5654 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 22, 2017 - 11:23 AM in reply to taylcapital

Hi taylcapital and welcome to MySwissAlps!

I would recommned buying the Swiss Travel Pass online -here. That way you don't have to deal with going to the SBB office at the airport and waiting in line. It will be emailed to you for printing at home - this way you can just jump on the first train to Zermatt and go.

Keep your plans on the first day flexible - whether you have the energy to go up the Gornergrat or not you won't know until the Jet lag sets in. In any case as AlanPrice notes, hiking there won't be possible.

We have a list of suggested activities in the Interlaken area here, and the Jungfrau region in general here.

There is a lot to see and do in Luzern, click here to read more. You can combine a lake cruise with a trip up to Mt. Pilatus which is quite nice.

I haven't been to Winterthur for more than an hour so can't comment on the hiking. I would advise spending more time in Luzern before ending your trip in Zurich though - much more outdoor activities there.

There is a small tourism office at the main arrivals area at Zurich airport you could look for maps etc. English is very widely (and very well) spoken in Switzerland, especially in larger towns and tourist areas - so no worry there!

I hope that helps refine your plans - let us know if you have more questions as you adjust your itinerary!

Lucas

taylcapital
taylcapital
8 posts
new member
Jun 24, 2017 - 5:50 PM

Thanks for the info Alan, will check out snowshoeing.

Hey Lucas, thanks for sharing all the suggested activities, will take a thorough look at all of them.

I do have some general questions regarding Switzerland, as follows:

1) How many types of railway/trains are there? Is it difficult to get around? Are the signs in english? I tried looking through the train schedules online, but they don't seem to have the information I need. For example, is there a train which stops at the major stations around Switzerland? i.e. Zurich/Lucerne/Bern/Lausanne/St. Gallen/Zermatt/St. Moritz/Basel etc. Or is there only 1 type of train which covers across all major and minor stations? The map I am looking at is: <www.sbb.ch/content/dam /sbb/de/pdf/freizeit-ferien/ferien-kurztrips-schweiz/internationale -gaeste/sts-geltungsbereich_en.pdf &gt; Will the announcements / instructions be clear on how I should go about switching stations in order to get to my destination?

2) I know food is generally slightly pricier in Switzerland, thus can I check what are the more economical options available? I know there are Migros and Coop. How about in terms of eateries / places where the locals go to have their regular meals?

3) We plan to depart for Interlaken after Zermatt, and from what I have gathered, the fastest route would be from Zermatt > Visp (switch to InterCity, IC train) > Spiez > Interlaken ost railway station. Can I check that upon reaching Spiez, will it be easy to find which platform the train is departing for Interlaken? (That's kind of actually my main concern with transport: the ability to easily find the trains to switch in between rides to arrive at our destination).

Interlaken

4) Upon arriving in Interlaken, our plan is of course to visit Jungfrau. Therefore, we have allocated 1 day for this activity. We will start our day at probably 9-10am, take the train from Interlaken > Grindelwald > Wengen > Kleine Scheidegg > Jungfraujoch. Then probably spend about 2-3 hours enjoying the scenary, taking photos, making our way through the tunnels etc. After that we'll probably head down the other way, Jungfraujoch > Kleine Scheidegg > Wengen > Lauterbrunnen > Interlaken. We plan to spend the night at Interlaken, however is it worth it to instead, spend the night at Grindelwald or Kleine Scheidegg instead? For the scenery and stuff?

5) We also plan to spend 1 more day at Interlaken, and we are split between 3 options: Schilthorn / Boat trip to Thun / Boat trip to Brienz. For both the boat trips, we intend to take the train back to interlaken. Will this likely be a half or full day activity? Or will it be possible to cover the Schilthorn + 1 boat trip? After which we will spend another night at Interlaken, and then head to Lucerne. For which I have not looked in detail which areas to visit.

Thank you very much in advance for your ideas and suggestions!

Last modified on Jun 24, 2017 - 5:51 PM by taylcapital
Arno
Arno
10361 posts
expert &
moderator
Jun 24, 2017 - 6:29 PM

Hi taylcapital,

1) Traveling by train is very easy and efficient. Please have a read at myswissalps.com/train/ practical/howtotravel, it will probably answer all your questions. Types of trains, various transport companies (SBB and many others), etc. are not relevant for the average tourist, only for train enthusiasts. You will like the system I think. Please use the map here on our Swiss Travel Pass page. It is nearly the same one but with one correction.

2) Cheaper supermarkets are Denner and ALDI. You'll find money saving tips here.

3) Finding the next train is very easy if you know the departure time of your next train. Spiez is a small station. No problem at all. You'll be used to the system once you've changed trains once or twice. The route you mentioned is indeed the fast one (see the timetable). Alternatively you can travel via Brig and Kandersteg for the slower but more scenic route. It takes you to Spies too.

4) Interlaken itself is not very scenic, but it is a practical and centrally located town. You'll find lots of details on Interlaken and the smaller towns on our Jungfrau region page, so you can see what you prefer.

5) The boat trips are likely half a day. Schilthorn can be a whole day if you like to explore the area and take it slow. If you start early you can do both in one day.

I hope this was useful!

AlanPrice
AlanPrice
177 posts
active member
Jun 24, 2017 - 10:56 PM

Hi taylcapital

I like your itinerary, you're giving yourself enough time to enjoy things without having to race around.

One small point, when you travel from Interlaken to the Jungfrau, you can go either Interlaken - Grindelwald - Kleine Scheidegg - Jungfraujoch, or Interlaken - Lauterbrunnen - Wengen - Kleine Scheidegg - Jungfraujoch. If you're going via Wengen, you have to change trains at Lauterbrunnen, not Wengen. Most importantly, the train leaving from Interlaken Ost splits in 2 at Zweilutschienen - one half goes to Grindelwald and the other goes to Lauterbrunnen, so make sure you get on the correct section when you board.

Rather than spend the second night in Interlaken, I'd suggest staying in Grindelwald as there is a lot more to see in the village than there is at Kleine Scheidegg (KS is really just a rail junction with a couple of hotels).

As far as language issues go, as a rule of thumb, pre-recorded announcements on trains, public places etc will be in several languages including English, but live announcements are usually only in the local language. Signs at railway stations are usually only in german (or french, or italian, depending on where you are), but they include a pictogram to help explain what the sign says. You can download an offline version of Google Translate if you want to understand things a bit better. You don't need an internet connection once it's downloaded. Or simply ask someone. Just smile and ask if they speak english. Just about everybody who has to deal with tourists as part of their job will speak excellent english, other people such as railway porters etc may not be as fluent.

This is the link to download Google Translate

support.google.com/tra nslate/answer/6142473?co=GENIE.Platform%3DAn droid&hl=en

Cheers

Alan

taylcapital
taylcapital
8 posts
new member
Jul 3, 2017 - 5:25 PM

Hi both, thank you for your replies. I think we will just do the following at Interlaken:

1) Upon arriving in Interlaken, check in and settle down at hotel (at Grindelwald maybe). Take boat trip to Thun and train back to Interlaken. Then allow some time to explore the city and stuff.

2) Next day, will be our Jungfrau itinerary outlined above. After which, we spend 1 more night in Interlaken, and set off to Lucerne the next morning.

Lausanne / Montreux

We intend to travel to Lausanne / Montreux after our stay in Zermatt. Therefore, our travel route will tentatively be: Arrive in Zurich > travel to Zermatt > Lausanne / Montreux > Interlaken > Lucerne > Zurich.

However, looking at the map, Lausanne / Montreux seems to be out of the way, but we really want to experience the Glacier 3000. Is this route all right? The number of traveling days has not been set yet, therefore I am not sure how many days we will spend in each area. But most probably a minimum of 2 days for each city/area. Therefore the 10 days is flexible. Ok, back to the topic on Lausanne / Montreux:

Upon arriving, we intend to take a trip to Rochers-de-Naye, since a good deal of the day has gone by due to traveling from Zermatt. So we figure this trip will be ideal since the timing should fit right into the evening to enjoy the sunset and scenery across Lake Geneva, French and Swiss Alps. After which we descend back and explore the town, and prepare for the next day for Glacier 3000.

Glacier 3000: We intend to allocate a full day to this, activities we plan to do are, Ice express chairlift / Peak walk by Tissot / Alpine Coaster / Dogsled with Huskies.

Here are the queries for my itinerary in Lausanne / Montreux

1. Will be it better to book a hotel in Lausanne / Montreux? Since both activities we will be doing are nearer to Montreux.

2.Is there a faster way from Montreux to Glacier 3000? I tried searching via google maps, and the suggested journey was: Montreux Gare > Gstaad > take bus 180, 22 stops > Col-Du-Pillon, Glacier 3000 (2 hours). Is this the only way there? If this is the only way, logically we should book a hotel in Montreux yes? Since the journey from Montreux to Lausanne is about 30 minutes away, which is a more flexible journey should we choose to go back to Lausanne to look around after our Glacier 3000 trip.

3. On the Glacier 3000 website, under tickets and prices: www.glacier3000.ch/en/ information/tickets-and-prices#activities, the activities that we are interested in doing are available, and it mentions that it is "included in the aerial ropeway ticket" Can I check what type of ticket is that? Do I have to purchase those tickets online? Or can I buy them on the spot? Will these tickets be subjected to discount to holders of Swiss Railway Pass?

Once again, many thanks in advance for your suggestions. Feel free to throw in your ideas if you think they might improve my itinerary.

I will be back with my Lucerne itinerary soon enough!

Cheers,

Wilson

Uallin
Uallin
84 posts
active member
Jul 4, 2017 - 1:36 AM

HI Wilson,

No need to wait till Zurich for the maps. Check out brochures.myswitzerlan d.com/en/home/?p=1&stItem=87081

Swiss Tourism SG. I just ordered the free Travel Pass Map. There's a ton of town/city maps available too. I'm waiting for the 2018 ones to be available for order. We're going in late Feb too😁

Happt planning!

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2137 posts
top member
Jul 4, 2017 - 5:18 AM in reply to taylcapital

Hi Wilson,

>> 1. Will be it better to book a hotel in Lausanne / Montreux? Since both activities we will be doing are nearer to Montreux.

I would say Montreux. In my opinion, it is a nicer town, and is closer to the activities you want to do in that area.

>> 2.Is there a faster way from Montreux to Glacier 3000? I tried searching via google maps, and the suggested journey was: Montreux Gare > Gstaad > take bus 180, 22 stops > Col-Du-Pillon, Glacier 3000 (2 hours). Is this the only way there?

There are two ways there from Montreux: one via Gstaad, one via Aigle. Via Aigle takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on connections. Via Gstaad takes about 3 hours (see attached map showing transport routes).

I recommend you use the Swiss Timetable for planning this trip, but you will need to plan using a date before 10 December 2017 for now. The 2018 timetable will probably be released around 18 October 2017, so you can check again then for exact connections for your date of travel.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Alpenrose

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