25 days in Switzerland

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kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 13, 2017 - 4:30 AM

Hi, my husband and I have 25 days to spend in Switzerland. We fly into Zurich. We will be traveling by train. I am wondering do I purchase a 15 day Flexi pass or 8 day? I wAs also thinking to base ourselves in Interlaken for at least a week (should we also stay at Lucerne or just visit there from Interlaken? Then Geneva for 5 days to also include a day visit to Annacy in France and explore cities around the lake and a day trip to Chamonix.Then stay at Lugano 4 days to visit Lake Maggiore and the Domodossolas and maybe Lake Como. St Moritz 2 days and visit Tirano, then back to Zurich. What do you think of this draft and do you have suggestions? We usually go on organised tours and we only speak English.

Lucas
Lucas
9211 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 13, 2017 - 8:37 AM in reply to kriseyre

Hi Kriseyre and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

Its hard to suggest which pass for you to go for. It really depends on how many days of travelling you anticipate doing in Switzerland on your trip. Take a look at our Swiss rail and tickets page for more details to help you choose.

It is about 2 hours from Interlaken to Luzern (local German spelling) so a day trip or two is certainly possible. Both towns are fairly small and easily explored in a day. I would choose where to stay based on where you intend to do the most hikes and exploring to the mountains nearby (which I'm guessing is why you want to stay in Interlaken for a week)? See our Interlaken page and Luzern page for details on the town and areas nearby.

You are certainly criss-crossing the country and will be seeing a lot but you do have the time! What are you wanting to see and do in these towns/areas? It is hard to recommend where you should go before we know what you want to see and do.

I haven't been down to the Italian area yet myself, but a nice option for you on your return to Zurich would be the Bernina Express which you can take from Tirano or Lugano (Tirano to Lugano section by bus) and then on to Chur on the Bernina Express train and then a regular Inter-city train back to Zurich.

Here are some links for you to look at for more details on the towns you are thinking of visiting.
St. Moritz
Geneva
Montreux

Hopefully that gets you started on your planning and do let us know if you have further questions or concerns on areas you want to visit or activities you want to do.

Lucas

kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 14, 2017 - 4:04 AM in reply to Lucas

Thanks Lucas, I will get back into researching. We are interested in seeing as much as we can without breaking the budget.

OHGeologist
OHGeologist
95 posts
active member
Jan 14, 2017 - 12:27 PM

Hi...just an fyi...I recently purchased a 15 day swiss travel pass flex for travel the end of june and july. The website folks where I purchased it emailed me yesterday that it cannot be printed and sent to me (flex passes I guess cannot be emailed) until 2 months prior to my trip. This is no problem, but just thought folks might like to know...or perhaps it was just the site I used...HappyRails?

OhGeologist

Arno
Arno
11265 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 14, 2017 - 12:42 PM in reply to OHGeologist

Thanks for your feedback OhGeologist! Indeed, the Swiss Travel Pass Flex can't be printed at home, regardless of where you buy it. As for the shipping: it's quite common that web shops ship passes which were ordered well in advance a bit later. The pass will arrive in time, and in this case you have saved money as HappyRail.com is cheaper than others at the moment (you can compare the options here).

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5072 posts
expert
Jan 14, 2017 - 11:55 PM in reply to kriseyre

Hi Kriseyre-

Comments about your plans can be relevant only when we know when you plan to travel.

www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland/nature

www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit

Advice for May would be dramatically different from advice for July, for example. We would have to factor in altitude, at different seasons.

Also, what would you like to accomplish?

Ski? Hike? See museums? See the Alps? etc. Take the special train rides? Ride the lake boats? Visit some of the "less touristed" Swiss countryside? Fine dining with excellent wines? Country inns? Walk in the historical parts of the cities..."old cities" or, in German "die alten Städte"

www.myswissalps.com/ac tivities/scenictrips/t rain

Even without a guided tour, you can actually do all this quite easily. Basically, do what you proposed, but adjust the time in various areas to fit in the things you most want to do. Switzerland's travel system makes it easy .

And, you can do it at your own pace.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 14, 2017 - 11:57 PM by Slowpoke
kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2017 - 7:20 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thank you, we would like to do the special trains, a little hiking, boats on lakes, buses, not the fine dining, Switzerland is already too expensive. I have just booked some accommodation at Ascona, Locarno to visit Domodossla, Lugano, Como and Lake Maggiore. Any tips?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5072 posts
expert
Jan 24, 2017 - 8:36 AM in reply to kriseyre

Hi kriseyre-

When are you going?

Slowpoke

kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2017 - 8:59 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Start Zurich 28/6, then Interlaken for a week, Geneva 4 days, Zermatt 2 days, Ascona 5 days, St Moritz 3 days, back to Zurich 2 days. Depart 24/7/17. We are hoping to utilise the free transport, when we purchase a Swiss Travel Flexi Pass. Any suggestions?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5072 posts
expert
Jan 24, 2017 - 9:45 AM in reply to kriseyre

Thanks. Good time of year to visit the Alps.

Many people are asking about May or early June, and that is "low" season in the high Alps. Advice in the Alps for May is very different from advice for July.

www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland/nature

Consider a scenic village nearer the Jungfrau instead of Interlaken.

Check out regions and cities here:

www.myswissalps.com/wh eretogo

Since you have a lot of time in the area, you may find this useful:

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

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5072 posts
expert
Jan 24, 2017 - 9:53 AM in reply to kriseyre

<<"Any suggestions?">>

I'd find time for Luzern.

I used to work in/near Geneva, so perhaps I am not excited about going back. ;-) After several visits for work there, I got in the habit of exploring the rest of Switzerland in my spare time.

Lucas gave you some good links. His comment about the size of Luzern is correct, for the city itself, but there is a lot more than the city itself to visit/do close to Luzern. We have based at Lake Luzern at towns around the lake as well as Luzern itself) for a week or more at a time and did not run out of things to do or see. We do like to hike or walk:

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

and:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/itinerary-advice-15-day-swiss-train-pass-20-sep

where you can check the comments about Hammetschwand, with more here:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/the-hammetschwand-lift

Actually, recent visits to Geneva have been quite enjoyable, but I still enjoy central Switzerland and the Alps more than Geneva. That is a very personal reaction, and the cities around the lake are quite nice. Montreux is also a good base

Check out the cities and the region on the Where to Go tab on the home page.

The lakefront at Lausanne ( "Ouchy" ) is also quite nice and the Olympic museum gets good reviews.

Slowpoke

kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2017 - 10:24 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thank you. When we stay at Interlaken we plan on doing day trips to Luzern, Bern, Pilates. Also visit Wenger, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Grindelwald, Jungfrau. Also on the lakes to Thun and Brienz. When in Geneva we hope to visit Annecy in France and also visit the other cities on the lake by boat. Maybe a day trip to Chamonix. I hope most of the transport costs will be covered by the Swiss Rail Pass. Do you think that is correct?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5072 posts
expert
Jan 24, 2017 - 4:00 PM in reply to kriseyre

You have set up quite a full schedule. You can do most of those things, depending on how much time you spend at some of them.

When you use the timetable to determine travel times, please make sure to use the correct spellings - Wengen, Pilatus.

The Swiss rail pass (to be precise - The Swiss Travel Pass) will cover the trip to Chamonix via Martigny, but not trips in France in general. Should work on the boats on Lake Geneva, but I'm not 100% sure.

If you try to visit very many of the lakeside cities, you will run out of time,because of frequency of connections. Most are pleasant but not special destinations. One exception is Yvoire, and of course Lausanne and Montreux. Vevey would come after those in priority.

Check coverage details at :www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses.

Specifically -

www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass/validity

Slowpoke

Removed user
Removed user
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Jan 24, 2017 - 5:25 PM in reply to kriseyre

>> Geneva for 5 days ... Lugano 4 days to visit Lake Maggiore and the Domodossolas and maybe Lake Como. St Moritz 2 days and visit Tirano, then back to Zurich. What do you think of this draft and do you have suggestions?

Hi kriseyre, my suggestion would be to cut back on your time in Geneva and Lugano (if possible) and add it to St Moritz. If you were able to do that, I would recommend setting aside one of your St Moritz days for a day trip to the village of Guarda and/or the town of Scuol. Some pictures of Scuol are here:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/scuol

If you think you might like to go to Guarda, I will post some photos from there as well.

Boats on Lake Lugano are covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, as is the bus trip from Lugano to Menaggio on Lake Como. However, boat trips on Lake Maggiore and Lake Como aren't covered. Here is the website for the company that runs the boats on these two lakes. You can find details about fares and timetables here:

www.navigazionelaghi.i t/eng/index.asp

Lake Maggiore is pleasant enough, but I wouldn't worry about missing it if you don't want to pay extra. I went all the way from Locarno to Stresa, and personally regard it as nowhere near as beautiful as the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne).

Lake Lugano is also a pleasant trip. If you do that trip, are there at a suitable time of day, and have time, there is a lovely "grotto" (traditional rustic restaurant) on the far side of the lake from the city of Lugano.

It is called "Grotto dei Pescatori" (Fishermen's Grotto) and can only be reached by (infrequent) boat. So you need to check the timetables carefully to avoid being stranded!! They stop serving lunch mid-afternoon, so don't get there too late either. I have attached some pictures from my visit there in September last year. The same boat stops at Gandria. I didn't get off at Gandria on that occasion, but it looks like a nice village to explore. Some pictures of Gandria taken from the boat are also attached.

Tirano is not a particularly interesting place to visit in my opinion, but of course it is the end station of the Bernina railway, and not going all the way to Tirano would mean missing out on the wonderful Brusio circular viaduct. I would plan on getting the next available train back though, perhaps stopping off at Alp Grüm on the way back, to view the Palü Glacier and the Palüsee (lake) if the weather is clear. There is a restaurant there too, but you would need to check the opening hours. I have attached some pictures of the view from Alp Grüm, and here is a link to the restaurant website:

www.alpgrum.com/restau rant-alp-grum/

For travelling between Lugano and St Moritz, I can recommend the lovely Palm Express PostBus route. It is covered by the Swiss Travel Pass, but reservations are compulsory (and free). Reservations can be made online. It was included in one of my trip reports, which you can read here (about half way down the page) if interested:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/trip-report-late-august-to-mid-october-2016

What do you mean by "the Domodossolas"?

Hope this information is useful to you.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jan 24, 2017 - 5:35 PM by Removed user
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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5072 posts
expert
Jan 24, 2017 - 5:53 PM in reply to Removed user

<<"What do you mean by "the Domodossolas"?">>

I suspect that Kriseyre means the Val di Centovalli rail line. I hope that she does not mean the Dolomites. We'll see. She wrote-

"I have just booked some accommodation at Ascona, Locarno to visit Domodossla,">>

I support your recommendations for Geneva and Lugano. Chamonix would be worthwhile for skiing....but I did not read about interest in skiing.

Slowpoke

kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2017 - 8:54 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thank you both for your tips links and photos. I think I will change my accommodation from Ascona to Lugano. No I did not mean the Dolomites. No no skiing.

Kris

kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 24, 2017 - 9:31 PM in reply to Removed user

Thank you so much for your info. This trip is the first one I have organised myself, we usually go on tours. I am feeling very overwhelmed by it all. I don't want to mess it us because it is so expensive. What part of Australia are you from?

Kris

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5072 posts
expert
Jan 24, 2017 - 11:04 PM in reply to kriseyre

<<"Thank you so much for your info. This trip is the first one I have organised myself, we usually go on tours. I am feeling very overwhelmed by it all.">>

It makes you realize how much work a tour manager must do. However, as many contributors on this forum have demonstrated, it gets easier with each try, and you develop a sense of how to put things together because you have been there before.

My technique is to develop a framework of named locations onto which - figuratively - one can stick Post-its with notes for that location. When we did that for England a couple of years ago I bought a map and mounted it on a poster board, so that I could see the geographical relationships, and actually stuck real Post-its onto it.

For Switzerland, you can use the online map I gave you, or get a paper map and keep it open on a table.

The advantage of Mapsearch.ch (linked to above) is that it shows the train network if you zoom in, as well as transport stops/stations if you turn them on in the menus.

Once you have a flow for your trip that avoids too much repetition of the same routes, you can use the timetable to get times and route options between to locations. You can also cross check against the "scenic trains" I linked to. An example of reducing duplication is to include the Val di Centovalli as part of one of your routes into or out of the Ticino, rather than going back and forth on it in one day. At least, that is what I think you intend.

For example, you can do that as a one way trip on your way from Zermatt to Ascona or Lugano. Of course, you will have to haul your luggage, which you do not have to do for a day trip.

Since you are planning multiday stays in various locations, you could use the SBB's luggage transfer service. If you don't need overnight service, it's not terribly expensive to ship a big suitcase or two ahead of you when you leave one place, then pick it up at the destination on the day after you arrive there. We have done that many times. Inside Switzerland, it is safe and reliable.

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/lugg age-and-flight-luggage/luggage.html

I know that you have set up a route flow. We have commented on aspects...cut back on Geneva, add Luzern, more time in the Engadine (near St. Moritz)

You are now at the stage where you can use the time table and a local area map to check out timings for the various things you want to do at any base location. My impression is that you are trying to fit too much into each location. But, I stop to take a lot of photographs. And, you may not want or need to spend a lot of time at some of the places.

You can rough out a day's itinerary, with possible timings, after you list out ideas for one day at one base, as you have done for the Jungfrau regions.

Someone who has done that is Ines - check her later posts in this thread, as well as Darrel's comments on how to find transport modes and times for planning purposes.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/help-choosing-a-base-town-in-ob-for-two-nights

It is hard to follow that planning process which I have just described when you don't really know which thing is "better" or "worse" for you. (Chamonix is for skiing....) All the places you have mentioned have more than enough available to fill the days allotted, especially if you add in day trips. So, it is not going to destroy your trip if you spend a day too much or a day too few at any of the places. And, once you have a first plan laid out, with some of things you want do associated with each day, and times estimated, then you can start to eliminate one thing as you add another.

It is a lot of work, and for me,because I know Switzerland, I can do a lot of it in my head. But, when we went to England, we used that method, and it helped a lot.

Once in awhile we just said: "We'll spend the day in York," and filled the day with what ever seemed to work (based on the previous night's or earlier reading), as we were on the spot. You can do that too, but I think you have not yet put times on some of the things you want to do, in places where you want fit in a lot of individual activities or places.

Anyway, that's how we reduce confusion and become less overwhelmed. The best remedy is to come back a few times, and the process gets a lot easier. ;-)

And, the Swiss Transport System is really organized to make it easy for you, compared to all other European railroad have used. Many other come close, but the Swiss really work at making their trains easy to use. As you use the timetable, you 'll see that it tells you which platform a train arrives at or departs from. There are station maps for larger stations. If you are worried about a connection time of 2 or 3 minutes, you'll often find that it is so short because the incoming and outbound trains are on two sides of the same platform. That is one example of making it easy.

Slowpoke.

That allowed me to set up a sequence of trios which

Removed user
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Jan 25, 2017 - 1:27 AM in reply to kriseyre

>> Hi, my husband and I have 25 days to spend in Switzerland. We fly into Zurich. We will be traveling by train. I am wondering do I purchase a 15 day Flexi pass or 8 day?

If you will be in Switzerland for 25 days, but have a Swiss Travel Pass that covers only 8 or 15 days, what will you be doing on the other days when you have no pass coverage?

If walking or hiking, will you need to catch local transport (bus, train, cable car etc) from your accommodation to the start of your walk, or back from the finish? Local public transport is free with the Swiss Travel Pass in many towns and cities, including the following ones that you have mentioned in your posts: Zürich, Luzern/Lucerne, Interlaken, Geneva, Lugano, St Moritz, Locarno, Zermatt, Bern, Lauterbrunnen. Some cable cars and funiculars are free with the pass, others are discounted.

>> We usually go on organised tours

One of the benefits of organised tours is that they take care of your luggage and get you to and from your hotels :) When you have to get yourself and your luggage to your hotel, location of the hotel becomes more important. Before you book, Google the address of your intended accommodation to find out how far it is from a railway station or bus stop. If relying on a bus, find out what the evening and weekend service is like by using the SBB timetable.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

>> We are interested in seeing as much as we can without breaking the budget.

In that case, I would definitely stick to places that are covered by the Swiss Travel Pass. I know it's tempting to try to squeeze in an extra country or two, especially if you are travelling a long way to get to Europe, but there is so much to see and do in Switzerland, and so many areas of great natural beauty, I don't think you would regret confining your travels to areas covered by your pass.

For alternatives to eating out in restaurants, check out the ready-to-eat food options at Migros and Coop supermarkets. However, don't discount the idea of eating in mountaintop restaurants - that is a special experience, and there are usually very affordable options on the menu. Larger railway stations usually have plenty of fresh take-away food available, even late in the day. I always travel with a set of lightweight cutlery and a plastic dinner plate to make do-it-yourself meals more convenient.

On my 7-week trip to Switzerland in August-October last year, I kept costs down a bit by spending about half the time in youth hostels, choosing only those that offered private ensuite accommodation and were very close to public transport. Hostels are not for everyone, but if that option interests you, I could provide some more details of my experiences in them.

>> Start Zurich 28/6, then Interlaken for a week, Geneva 4 days, Zermatt 2 days, Ascona 5 days, St Moritz 3 days, back to Zurich 2 days. Depart 24/7/17.

Is that the order of your travel? What are your plans for getting from one place to another i.e. what route will you take? What time of day do you arrive in Zürich on your day of arrival? What are you planning to do in Zürich on your last 2 days? By providing these extra details, you could get some good suggestions from people.

One of them might be: don't spend so long in Zürich ;-) As Slowpoke suggested, finding time to stay in Luzern (rather than visiting as a day trip) would be a decision you definitely would not regret, and it is a good destination for your day of arrival unless you arrive late at night.

>> This trip is the first one I have organised myself, we usually go on tours. I am feeling very overwhelmed by it all. I don't want to mess it us because it is so expensive.

For your first self-organised trip, you couldn't have picked a better country. Switzerland is so easy to travel in. Practically everywhere is so accessible: you will really appreciate this if you come from Australia, where so many places are difficult or impossible to get to by public transport - not to mention distance and travel times.

Public transport in Switzerland is frequent, coordinated, clean, safe, reliable, and goes practically everywhere: including the most beautiful parts of the country such as mountain tops, mountain passes and lakes.

If you can incorporate a PostBus trip into your itinerary, so much the better. They are easy to travel on with luggage - it goes into a compartment under the bus.

A trip on a PostBus through one of the many mountain passes can be quite a thrill, and you will love the sound of the PostBus horn, warning oncoming traffic of the approach of the bus: usually the bus will need all of the available road space to get around a tight curve, and other traffic will have to give way.

Examples that might fit your itinerary are Brig to Domodossola over the Simplon Pass, and the Palm Express from Lugano to St Moritz, which incorporates Lake Como and the Maloja Pass.

Also, with so much time in the Interlaken area, the round trip from Meiringen through four passes of the Central Alps might interest you. I did it last year and it was superb! It is free with the Swiss Travel Pass, but reservations are compulsory (and free), and can be made online.

www.postauto.ch/en/exc ursion-tips/central-alps-passes-grimsel-nufenen-gotthard-susten-pass-route

The online timetable gives you all sorts of detailed information about getting around, once you learn how to use it. And you couldn't have picked a better forum to ask your questions!

One reason why you are feeling overwhelmed might be that there are so many beautiful places to go that it is hard to make decisions about where to go and what places will have to wait for another trip (if you are lucky enough to be able to return another time).

One way to overcome this is to start working with the timetable and plan the actual trips you would like to do on each day. You will quickly find out what is doable and what isn't, which will help you narrow down your choices.

Happy planning, and keep the questions coming as you refine your plans!

>> What part of Australia are you from?

I'm from Melbourne.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Jan 25, 2017 - 11:26 AM by Arno
kriseyre
kriseyre
18 posts
new member
Jan 25, 2017 - 3:32 AM in reply to Removed user

Thank you so much. I will check out the timetable. I live near Newcastle NSW.

Kris

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