3 nights in Interlaken or Lucerne in May 2020

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USTravelers
USTravelers
4 posts
new member
Oct 11, 2019 - 6:39 PM

My husband and I will be traveling to Switzerland for our first time in May 2020. We are older travelers (80's and 70's) - no hiking, but we are in good health and enjoy walking and experiencing the beautiful countryside. We will be staying 2 nights in Vevey before heading to Ennetburgen for 2 nights at the Hotel Villa Honegg. We have three additional nights that can be before or after Villa Honegg. Wondering if it would best to spend time in Interlaken or Lucerne? We are not wanting to bounce around with switching hotels and would rather stay the 3 nights in the same hotel. Suggestions on which area and what to do during our 3 days? Thank you for any and all input!

Anna
Anna
264 posts
top member &
moderator
Oct 11, 2019 - 10:11 PM

Hi USTravelers,

Welcome to MySwissAlps!

May is one of the best times to visit Switzerland in my opinion. So thumbs up for choosing the perfect timing :) Between Interlaken and Lucerne, they are both very touristy and very central so either one is a good option to pick as a base.

Interlaken is ideal if you plan to visit the Jungfrau region (Lauterbrunnen, Mürren, Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch).

Some useful links about Jungfrau the region:

Lucerne is best if you prefer to explore Central Switzerland especially around Lake Lucerne. There are lots of excursion options here: Rigi, Klewenalp, Pilatus and my personal favourite local mountain Stoos, a car-free village at 1,300m above sea level. The only way to get there is via a funicular from Stoos base station or the cable car from Morschach. The funicular is one-of-a-kind and claims to be the steepest in the world. It inclines 110% but you won't feel a thing because the cabin rotates as it goes up. My family and I do a lot of skiing in Stoos in the winter but it's nice to visit in the summer too. You could just walk around the village and soak in the fresh air, or take the chairlift up to Fronalpstock, where you'll get a sweeping view of the lake and the snow-capped mountains around it.

Some useful links on Lucerne and places to visit in the area:

Hope these links will help you refine your itinerary.

Cheers,

Anna

Last modified on Oct 12, 2019 - 4:33 PM by Anna
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6880 posts
expert
Oct 12, 2019 - 12:25 AM in reply to USTravelers

Hi USTravelers -

<<"My husband and I will be traveling to Switzerland for our first time in May 2020.">>

Thanks for that guidance. Seasonal weather patterns change significantly during May. It helps us guide you if we can know exact dates. Apart from walking and enjoying the countryside (easy to do in Switzerland), do you have any other special interests?

Villa Honegg sounds great. You might look into Hammetschwand while you are there.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/experiences/hammets chwand-lift-and-felsenweg-path/

A couple of pictures are attached. Some of the views from Honegg are similar.

Anna neglected to point out that the high Alps are in the very tail end of Winter during May. Things don't really open up until June. Many, but not all facilities in the Jungfrau regions are closed for that "low" season .

Altitude is everything. Are you from a mountain state in the US? If so, you know what I mean. If not, I'll simply say that the areas around Luzern will be very nice in May...all at relatively low altitude.

Ones simple example of the effects of altitude. My favorite easy and spectacular trail in the Jungfrau region does not open on average until June 15th, due to snow blocking one shady place. I'll note that I am in my 80's as well, and took that walk in September of this year.

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/maennlichen-kleinescheidegg

Pictures attached.

I always visit Switzerland in late May. I don't go up in the high Alps until my September visit.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Oct 12, 2019 - 12:41 AM by Slowpoke
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USTravelers
USTravelers
4 posts
new member
Oct 12, 2019 - 4:44 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

Thank you for all your helpful information. Our exact dates to be in Switzerland will be May 22 - 31, 2020. Our itinerary is looking something like the following (still in the planning stages).

Arriving from Milan 5-22 - 5/24 - Stay 2 nights in Vevey. Visit the village of Vevey, the Chillon Castle and explore Lake Geneva.

5/24 - 5/27 - Interlaken or Lucerne - I'm at a loss on which town / area to visit. Perhaps Lucerne would be better for us as my husband is not a hiker, loves to "ride" and likes walking and exploring towns, but we would like to take a cable car up the mountain. Also, we are not from a mountain town in the U.S., but rather we live at sea-level. I understand your comment about altitude. That might be another good reason for us to stay and explore in Lucerne at lower altitude.

5/27 - 5/29 Hotel Villa Honegg. Your suggestion of Hammetschwand sounds great, but it's my understanding that the Lift is closed until further notice. Will have to wait and see if it's reopened by next May.

5/29 - Travel to Zermatt to see Matterhorn. Stay one night.

5/30 - Take the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Stay one night in St. Moritz. We realize that much of Zermatt and St. Moritz will be closed due to "low season," however the Glacier Express appeals to both of us to be able to take a slow train through the Alps and enjoy the scenery.

5/31 - Depart to Lake Como.

With this information, any additional suggestions you have would be appreciated.

Thank you!

USTravelers
USTravelers
4 posts
new member
Oct 12, 2019 - 4:52 AM in reply to Anna

Hi Anna,

Thank you for your very helpful information. I will research all your suggestions to see which will work best for us. The funicular to Stoos village sounds fascinating. I wonder if we will have problems with the altitude? Living at sea-level in the U.S.

Warm regards!

CabinJon
CabinJon
54 posts
active member
Oct 12, 2019 - 6:04 AM

Lucerne is a wonderful town for exploring on foot or by bus. The hotel I’m staying in provides a free bus pass good for the area. If you buy a Swiss Travel Pass (STP) that would also cover all the buses, trains, boats, and free or discounted fares for museums and mountain cogwheel trains & gondolas. Frequent boats run on Lake Lucerne too, and make multiple stops. Mt. Rigi is very close to Lucerne (cogwheel train up/down), as is the Stanserhorn (cogwheel train & gondolas up/down). Neither are that high in elevation and both are free using the STP. Of the two, I like Stanserhorn better, but I don’t recommend walking the seemingly short distance to the peak since the altitude will let you know you’re not used to that. Pilatus is also very close the Lucerne, a bit higher, can be accessed by a bus ride and two gondolas from one side or a train and very step cogwheel train on the other side. STP provides a discount for that but not free. Stoos is about one hour away from Lucerne, requires train and bus to get there, and is free with the STP. However, if you are considering a STP, be sure to research what mountain trains/gondolas are included or are not covered, since some changes can occur with the new year.

No advice on the rest of your planned trip because I haven’t been to those areas. Sounds like you’ll have a great time!

By the way, the Stoos funicular incline grade is 110% (a little over a 47 degree angle) not 110 degrees.

Anna
Anna
264 posts
top member &
moderator
Oct 12, 2019 - 7:10 AM in reply to CabinJon

Yes CabinJon 110%. Thanks for pointing that out. Made the correction :)

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6880 posts
expert
Oct 12, 2019 - 8:06 AM in reply to USTravelers

Hi UStravelers -

Thanks for the dates. You are in good shape. At that time the Jungfrau Region will be starting to open up for Spring, and mountain cableways will almost surely be operating. If I were doing it myself...and it is definitely worthwhile even when services are limited....I'd move the Jungfrau region to the end of my stay. A few days at the end of May can make a noticeable difference in the region.

Here are some specifics, perhaps more than you need, which are simply to give a general feeling of how the Region wakes up from Winter in May and early June. Typically, the cableway from Wengen to Männlichen, and many other cableways around the region , close for lack of skiable snow or hikable high trails on the first weekend in April for maintenance. They begin Summer operation in late May. In 2017 it was May 20th. Don't recall 2018. In 2019 it opened earlier than usual, on May 11th.

www.maennlichen.ch/en/ summer/information/tim etable.html

Whether that was due to warmer weather (snow melted earlier) or to add capacity because access from the other side ( from Grindelwald) was constrained due to construction, I'm not sure. That construction will be complete next Spring, so it won't be an issue. You won't be able to get an exact timetable until after December 15th this year, when the 202o timetable will become available. If I had to bet, I'd bet that that really nice cableway will run starting May 23rd. And, if therer is a lot of snowpack, it could even be later.

I was concerned that you would get to the Jungfrau area and not be able to experience the best parts, as noted in my earlier post. In fact, the trail I mentioned won't be open till mid-June, but you could still ride up to Männlichen for the view and a bite to eat. Other mountain access should be available, too.

Mürren is a village requiring year round access so there are two routes which close for different maintenance times, one of which often extends into early May. Access to Schilthorn, going up from Mürren, became available on April 27th in 2019.

The cog-railway that serves Kleine Scheidegg (and the Jungfraujoch) runs all year.

This map gives a good impression of the area; Train lines pop up when you zoom in fare enough:

map.search.ch/?pos=639440,166280&z=32

and,

map.search.ch/?pos=641176,161908&z=64

Your dates not run into any problems with sightseeing by public transport. However, you won't be able to access even easy walks above about 1800 to 2000 meters. They'll either be snow covered or unsafe because of potential snowslides.

Interlaken itself does not have a problem with altitude. It is at low altitude and the snow will be gone by then. However, it is not much of a destination for tourism. It is basically a gateway town and commercial center for the rest of the Jungfrau Region, where the best scenery is.

More details on this page, comparing the villages. Scroll down, on the right:

www.myswissalps.com/ju ngfrauregion

Altitude effects.

The altitude effects that I have expressed concern about have to do with weather, especially seasonal weather, not altitude sickness.

Most conventional passenger jets set the cabin pressure at an equivalent of around 7,500 to 8,000 feet above sea level. That is about 2300 to 2440 meters altitude.

As a simple general observation, and I'm not a physician, if you don't feel discomfort from that "altitude" on your many hour long flight over, you likely won't be bothered at any altitudes of that range in Switzerland. Just for examples, Interlaken is at about 560 meters, and Wengen at about 1270. Männlichen is at 2230 meters, comparable to an airliner.

If you have impaired breathing...for example, emphysema, you'd better check with your doctor. Even with normal health, you will likely find that exertion at those altitudes...climbing steep ascents for even a few meters, for example, may cause you to walk slowly or pause to catch your breath. That is most noticeable on your first days at altitude.

The peak of Stanserhorn is at 1900 meters. Honegg is a around 950 meters. You are not likely to notice that altitude at Honegg , in my opinion.

Hammetschwand Lift -I'm certainly not suggesting that you walk up there from the backside, which could make sense from Honegg, if the Felsenweg and the lift are not open.

The lift usually opens sometime in May. I'm almost certain that it will be open when you are there.

Luzern-

<<"Perhaps Lucerne would be better for us as my husband is not a hiker, loves to "ride" and likes walking and exploring towns, but we would like to take a cable car up the mountain.">>

Pilatus will be open and is close by. Probably the cog-rail will be running. The cableway runs all year except for maintenance. Titlis (3032 meters) is accessible as a day trip, via Engelberg. There is snow up there all year long.

Luzern has really nice variety. The Jungfrau Region is spectacular.

Slowpoke

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USTravelers
USTravelers
4 posts
new member
Oct 14, 2019 - 12:17 AM in reply to CabinJon

Thank you to everyone for the very helpful information. Your responses and this website are full of beneficial information for anyone traveling to Switzerland. So thrilled that I stumbled onto this site! I am researching everything that has been posted and studying all the information. Because of YOU - we are going to have a fabulous trip! Very excited!! Thank you!!

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