Traveling by camper in Switzerland for 2 weeks

Traveling by camper in Switzerland for 2 weeks

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Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Mar 30, 2017 - 7:36 PM

Mom, dad and adult son traveling in Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria for 3.5 weeks in September. Will rent small camper (we prefer the flexibility and non-transporting of luggage and did Norway for a month that way so are experienced) but have no hesitation in taking trains, tours, busses, staying in motels. Assume we would stay outside of town and take trains in. Fly in and out of Zurich. No particular budget.

Would especially like to stay high on mountains, do day hiking from lodging. Has anyone done that and where did you stay?

Maybe 2+ weeks in Switzerland, 1+ weeks in Austria, <1 week in Bavaria. Will not go to Vienna or Munich - that's a different trip.

Thought:

Zurich 0 days

Luzern 2-3 days

Interlaken 2 days. (Mt Titlis? Jungfraujoch?). Or skip?

Schilthorn - take gondola up, hike. Can we stay up there?

Zermatt 2-3 days (Matterhorn

St. Moritz 2-3 days

Any suggestions on tours in these places?

Should we add a day or so in the Dolomites on our way to Austria?

Should we see Mont Blanc? Lugano? Lausanne?

What else should we see/do? I'm lost in web sites!!

Any suggestions for Austria? Bavaria (son wants to see the castles). I'll research that separately.

Thanks for any help!

Jane Washington

Lucas
Lucas
3096 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 31, 2017 - 8:12 AM in reply to Washpark

Hi Jane and welcome to MySwissAlps!

I am not sure how difficult/easy it is to camp around Switzerland. Its not that there aren't campsites, butt here will be more restrictions as to where you can camp compared to Norway. The only real issue is that they might not be too close to where you want to be/visit and then have to train to your destination (Schilthorn, Mt. Titlis etc.).

Certainly, finding hiking trips to to in Switzerland will be quite easy :).
Some villages that you might like to stay in (or near with your RV) would be Mürren, Wengen (both are car free towns though) as well as Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen.

Mt. Titlis is closest to Luzern for visiting as are Mt. Pilatus and Rigi if you are interested.

Jungfraujoch (via Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen) and Schilthorn (via Mürren) are very impressive and very popular, I would try and see one of them at least.
Zermatt is also car-free so you will need to find a campsite outside of town and train in.

For some helps choosing regions to visit and what there is to do and see there, have a look at our regions of Switzerland page.

Even with a camper you will need to do a fair bit of trains during your stay and you may want to consider the Swiss Half Fare Card which, once bought, enables you to get 50% off transit tickets (trains, boats etc).

I think I would look at staying in or around Montreux for trips to to wineries and Chillon Castle etc.

I don't have any information about other countries here, Lugano is a nice area of "Italian Switzerland" to visit if you decide to go through Italy on your way to Austria.

I hope our links help to get your planning started. Let us know if you have further questions!

Lucas

Last modified on Mar 31, 2017 - 8:15 AM by Lucas
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Mar 31, 2017 - 8:43 AM in reply to Washpark

Hi Jane -

Welcome to My Swiss Alps.

There are a lot of questions in your post. ;-)

I'll start on answers to some of them.

Luzern is one possible good base, due to the variety of places one can reach from Luzern.

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne

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

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/walk-combining-trip-on-lake-lucerne

Another good base is the Jungfrau region....possibly Interlaken, although it is not really close to the nicest places, which cannot be reached by car...prohibited. I'm thinkiungof the viallages of Wengen and Mürren. You can take a car to Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen.... and park it.

You have noted that you plan to stay outside of cities. That is wise. Parking in the cities is very expensive and scarce.

The way that they keep spaces available is to raise the price until many people just don't use the garages. ;-)

You are probably aware that mush of the most scenic parts of Switzerland cannot be reached by road.

For example, in the Jungfrau region, you can park at Lauterbrunnen, Stechelberg and Grindelwald. Or, Interlaken.

I don't know about the density of rail and bus transport in Norway, but Switzerland has a dense network of frequent and effective public transport. It includes effective luggage transport, which works particularly well if you are based in a location for more than one or two days. (Fast luggage transport is available, but more expensive.)

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

When I travel in Switzerland these days, I rent a car, and use it to reach trail heads or get to a village where I will stay for a few days. Often, the car then remains parked for days in a row.

What I do not understand is where you would park a camper. That doesn't meanmuch. I've simply never looked for places to do that. I have noticed "No Parking " signs even at remote locations. And, even at the end of long winding mountain road to S-charl, on the backside of the Swiss National Park near Alp Tavrü the parking area has a "Zentral Parkuhr" - a fee for parking, with a machine to give you a ticket to leave on your dashboard.

map.search.ch/?pos=821739,177977&z=25 6&poi=default

I do know that there are campsites available.

This link might get you started. Check the links listed at the end.

www.myswissalps.com/ca mpsites

The menus in this map are helpful to understand transport and parking.

map.search.ch/?pos=637832,160552&z=32 &poi=bergbahn,halteste lle,parking,veloland,z ug

A good map for hiking trails and altitudes is:

map.wanderland.ch/?lang=de&route=all&bgLa yer=pk&resolution=250& X=664750&Y=219500&laye rs=Wanderland

In this link I have turned on "accomodation" and you can look along alpine trails

map.wanderland.ch/?lang=en&route=all&bgLa yer=pk&resolution=250& X=664750&Y=219500&laye rs=Wanderland%2CAccomo dation

Note that the Switzerland Mobility web site, in addition to the map just linked, has a wealth of information about hiking trails. It takes a bit of exploration to find your way into it, but once you have atrail located, you are presented with a detailed map, an altitude profile, and accomodations and points of interest along the trails.

There is longstanding traditon in Switzerland of "Mountain Hotels" many of which can only be reached on foot.

I am trying to think of a central "directory" or link to guide you,and this may give you a start:

www.myswissalps.com/ho tels/mountaintops

Here are random thoughts about some places with high mountain hotels. Some don't have much hiking nearby, others do.

Pilatus

The Rigi - Rigi Kulm, Rigi Scheidegg, Rigi Kaltbad, and other places on the mountain.

Kleine Scheidegg - a very traditional mountain hotel. often used by climbers.

Here is a good example along the route of a strenuous hike-

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/first-schynigeplatte

Here is one that is off the beaten path....and famous:

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/hiking-and-aescher-cliff-restaurant.html

Another, picked at random:

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/hotels/stchotel-12875.html

Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2017 - 12:03 AM

Wow..wow

Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2017 - 12:28 AM in reply to Lucas

The wow wow above is from my ipad - this web site doesn't work on my ipad, darn.

Thank you so much for all of the links, Lucas. I'm not at all worried about camping - there are many Campgrounds and we're happy to pay for them. We're not looking for wild camping. I don't think that will be an issue - and I'll research how to get from the campground to where we want to go by bus, train (are there taxis in Switzerland?) We'll be in a campervan so are self contained - shower, bathroom, etc. as well as breakfast and lunch as needed. We always eat dinner out. We camp in the western US/Canada all of the time so are pretty experienced.

Mostly I have to set the where to go first and then can fill in the blanks. We very much want to stay on the mountain and hike from there as much as possible. If we pay for a campervan as well as a motel, that's fine. Not strenuous hiking, easy does it. We live at 7,000 feet so are used to altitude. Any suggestions on mountains/huts/motels?

It looks like a counter-clockwise trip from Zurich to Luzern tthrough Interlaken to Schilthorn to Lausanne (great campground there) to Zermatt, Glacier express to and from Brig to Chur, to St. Moritz, maybe to the Dolomites, then on into Austria might work. I'm just wanting to know about any relatively comfortable hikes in any of those places as well as accommodations up on the mountain. (We're 69 but in pretty good shape). I'll research your links when I know where to go and then add in the what to do.

Any advice from anyone would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

Jane

Arno
Arno
9571 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 1, 2017 - 6:45 AM in reply to Washpark

Hi Jane,

Yes, there are certainly taxis but they're expensive. They're fine for an occasional ride with luggage, for example, but buses and trains get you everywhere for much less. The Swiss Half Fare Card suggested by Lucas is definitely useful.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Apr 1, 2017 - 11:18 AM in reply to Washpark

Hii Jane-

A taxi from Zürich airport to a hotel not far from the main train station downtown...15 minutes at most in light traffic...costs about 65 CHF.

Slowpoke

Arno
Arno
9571 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 1, 2017 - 11:29 AM in reply to Slowpoke

That's a good example. Now, to compare, a public transport ticket for the same ride costs CHF 3.40 for Swiss Half Fare Card holders.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Apr 1, 2017 - 3:55 PM in reply to Washpark

Hi Jane-

<<"I'm just wanting to know about any relatively comfortable hikes in any of those places as well as accommodations up on the mountain.">>

Once you name a place, as you did in the April 1, 12:28 post, you have the necessary resources to understand available hikes in each of those areas.

There is sufficient data to allow you to judge the difficulty and altitude profile of any hike ( or many) and accommodations nearby.

I gave you the necessary links in my post of March 31 at 0843.

Please follow the "wanderland" links. Enter a place name in the search box.

Or, zoom in on the map that IO linked from "wanderland"

There are a zillion hikes of varying degrees of difficulty all through out Switzerland. Anywhere you go, there will be hiking trails. They are called "die Wanderwege" in German. They have excellent trail signage.

www.alpenwild.com/stat icpage/trail-signs-in-the-swiss-alps/

The wanderland maps show them.

I did not link you to the very best map--very detailed - but I shall now. It has the color coding of the trails when you select the overlay for "Hiking Trails."

Yellow - sneakers ( although boots are better.) Red - "mountain trails...boots and a hiking staff. Blue - technical climbing. Alkl with signage.

You can also read altitudes in these maps..

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLa yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swiss tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=false,true&X=16 9797.24&Y=649107.69&zo om=4

Look just below the "h" in Faulhorn. Partly hidden by the red trail (in this zoom magnification) is the black rectangle for the mountain hotel that I linked you to previously. Turn off the hiking trails overlay and you can see it clearly, as well as the one at Schynige Platte and the one at Grosse Sheidegg. So, if you wish to take that strenuous trail there are three hotels available, none of them accessible by car.

That illustrates the use of the available tools- find a location, use that map or the mapsearch.ch map to find accomodations and transport stops.

And parking.

By the way, I'm sure there must be some, somewhere, but I have never seen a motel in Switzerland.

Slowpoke

Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2017 - 4:22 PM

Thank you Slowpoke! The Alpenwild site is exactly what I need! I appreciate the link!

I was using motel in an international sense. Maybe they're called Huts there? I'm not sure of the correct terminology but will check on huts. The point was to be high on the mountain as well as in the valleys and I would think reservations are needed for those. I just found a Swiss Alpine Club Hut web site that may help.

I sort of have a traveling route now so can start to fit in the pieces - campgrounds, hikes, huts, things of interest to us. I appreciate everyone's help with the route - that's the start of the trip!

Thanks!

Jane Washington

Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2017 - 4:24 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks! Pricy! I didn't realize just how pricy! Our plan is always to take the train/bus once we're settled in our campervan. Getting to and from the airport with luggage is the issue but I found a hotel near the airport with a free shuttle. That will solve a lot

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Apr 1, 2017 - 6:23 PM in reply to Washpark

<<"Getting to and from the airport with luggage is the issue but I found a hotel near the airport with a free shuttle.">>

A lot of people (including ourselves when we were still in our 70's), take the train with luggage. The Swiss have that pretty well organized. Then, if you stay in downtown Zürich (as we do on our last day or so after we have dropped our car, so that we visit with friends in Züri) you have a lot nicer experience in the evening before flying out. In the AM , there are 4 to 8 trains per hour from Zürich main station to the airport, and the time for the journey is as little as 10 minutes....faster and more frequent than many hotel shuttles.

When I go by myself, I still do that do that. I like to walk around the town in the evening...theree can be some good photographs.

The Swiss take their transportation seriously, do there best to make the entire system convenient to use for all kinds of travelers, and tourists benefit.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Apr 1, 2017 - 7:54 PM by Slowpoke
Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 2, 2017 - 6:24 PM

Thanks so much! We had planned on dropping our campervan off the day before we leave and using public transportation around Zurich for the remainder of the day. Our largest luggage, with a month of camping things, is just huge (i have free luggage on Delta) (other than that, we just use backpacks and travel lightly) and we'll just drop it off on our way to the rental place then take the train back. Yes, our flight leaves first thing in the morning and since it's international, we have to be there early, huge luggage included.

I just found a book on "100 hut walks in the Alps" which sounds just right for us. I'm looking forward to this part of planning for this beautiful country!!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Apr 2, 2017 - 8:00 PM in reply to Washpark

Hi Jane-

Drop the baggage at the airport on the day before and check in. You can check in 23 and a fraction hours before your flight, as you surely know. Or, drop the luggage at the left luggage office and pick it up to check in in the AM.

I have no idea what -

<<"Our largest luggage, with a month of camping things, is just huge">>

actually means,

but that is the technique I have used in the past when I had to haul stuff for business meetings and also for hiking and also family vacation taken after the business trip. Or, I have occasionally dropped a rental car at the airport and stored luggage or checked in for a later flight.

The parking garage at the airport is extremely close to and well connected to the terminal.

Where do you drop off the camper van? What town?

Also - if you are actually on Delta equipment when you leave Zürich, this is not a concern, but the European airlines in general (including at least one of Delta's partners) KLM, have imposed extremely strict limits for weight of carry-on luggage. So, if you fly to a connecting airport on a partner airline, then pick up Delta equipment, watch out. I try to avoid French airspace (possible from ZRH to AMS) and especially Air France. Great food, usually very nice staff, but unpredictable labor relations on Air France. So, since I also want to avoid JFK ( because of ground traffic, with typical arrival at rush hour and a drive afterward to near Hartford for which drive time can double in rush hours, not so much because of the arrival process) I either fly to Connecticut via ATL ( direct in and out of Zürich only in Summer months) or end up going back through AMS to ATL or DTW. That means KLM, and even on a codeshare flight, the local airline controls baggage policy.

And, I am serious about speed to airport from Züri main station.

I used to stay at the airport Hilton or the Mövenpick, once in a while at the Novotel. At the Hilton, which is about 5 minutes from the terminal,the shuttle ran every 20 minutes. Admittedly it is close to the terminal. At the Mövenpick, which is further away, I never could figure out whether there was a schedule.

Please see attached screen grab.

On a typical morning in September, there are 11 transport services from the main station to the airport.

The 48 minute ones are a tram (trolley). Ignoring those four, you have 7 trains in about 30 minutes. Typical of early AM. They start at around 0500 or 0530 .

The shortest regular run is 9 minutes. Sometimes they are delayed and take 10 minutes.

The trains stop at the rail station directly under the service building across the street from the terminal and are connected with elevators, escalators, tunnels, bridges for a fast walk to the check in counters and the Delta interrogation. There are free luggage carts of generous size stationed by the train stops which go up and down the escalators. Just don't pile the luggage too high; it can tumble off when the cart tips as it goes on the escalator.

Roughly 10 minutes, train to check in.

It used to be faster, but, after Delta screwed SwissAir a few years ago, somehow, their gates and other services are not right up front by Swiss Air as they used to be.

Believe me, after flying in and out of Zürich on business and pleasure for 35 years, I choose to stay downtown because it is a lot nicer, more choices, just as just as fast or faster if my luggage is already at the airport, extremely reliable, and cheap. I tried having dinner downtown, then going out to the airport on the night before an early flight, but when I got there after dinner, I usually just missed the shuttle bus to the Hilton, and had a wait of up to 20 minutes.

Whatever you choose, you'll find that the systems are designed to work effectively and efficiently. Except for the shuttle bus at the Hilton in those days, at least.

Slowpoke

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Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 2, 2017 - 8:35 PM

We'll

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Apr 2, 2017 - 9:30 PM

<<"We'll">>

We'll what? ;-)

Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 3, 2017 - 5:22 PM

So sorry - I do most everything on an ipad and they aren't supported on this web site or at least mine won't work on here. I typed one word and it sent it...weird. I have to boot up the computer to use this site, but that's ok.

We rent from McRent and the address is in Bulach. I'm not sure where that is but will know by the time we get there! it's north of Zurich and appears to have a train that runs there from the airport.

On the return, I had no idea I could check in 23 hours prior - JFK is 2 hours! That's what we'll do, check the big bag(s) there and not deal with it! Thanks for that valuable piece of information! We're nonstop Zurich to JFK on Delta and my travel info doesn't list another plane - KLM, etc.- so I assume it's a Delta plane. Unlike many, I do like JFK - we go in and out every three months so we're used to it and other than customs being long and Delta's new terminal 4, which this international flight won't use, being way too big, it works for us. We rented a car at the airport once for a kayak trip to Maine and the traffic was plain amazing. So we're LIRR fans and pick up rental cars at the destination (just did that on Long Island, also the Hudson River Valley). We fly on to Salt Lake City, Utah...we live in a little ski town nearby in the mountains, Park City, Utah, so just have to check our bags through customs, recheck, and are done with the US part of the trip.

Places like McRent for campervans charge for every little thing - all they really stock are pots and pans. They charge something like $15/day for "linens" and I'm not inclined to spend around $400 for a month of sheets and pillows so I bring them - they don't weigh much, so I'm ok on the weight limit, but are bulky. I can take 2 bags free, too, if needed. We have in the past just purchased things and may do that again but I pack for a complete camping trip down to the salt and pepper. It doesn't cost me to take it and is a lot less headache on the other end. If I had to pay for luggage, it would be a different story. We're different travelers from most but it works for us, and we travel and camp a lot, sometimes van camping, sometimes not, so are used to it. We've gotten pretty patient and flexible and are so looking forward to seeing Switzerland, Austria and Bavaria.

Wish I had gotten your advice on where to stay - can't remember where - but it says it's like 15 minutes from the airport, so we should be good with public transport.

My "100 hut hikes in the Alps" book comes tomorrow (love Amazon Prime!) so I'll be researching those this week, too. Found a blog on Fodors that has GREAT advice on campgrounds, too. Most just deal with tent camping, not campervan camping.

This website has been just wonderful for "on the ground" advice and I so appreciate it! Thank you so much!

Jane

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Apr 3, 2017 - 6:24 PM in reply to Washpark

<<"We rent from McRent and the address is in Bulach. I'm not sure where that is but will know by the time we get there! it's north of Zurich and appears to have a train that runs there from the airport.">>

Very close to the airport.

<<"On the return, I had no idea I could check in 23 hours prior - JFK is 2 hours! That's what we'll do, check the big bag(s) there and not deal with it!">>

23 1/2 hours is the convention in the USA, too. I get a notice from Delta by e-mail about 23 hours before flight time, saying "It is time to check in."

If you have any doubts, check with Delta.

<<We're nonstop Zurich to JFK on Delta and my travel info doesn't list another plane - KLM, etc.- so I assume it's a Delta plane.">>

Delta 408? Easy. Catch a train downtown at 0800 and your good to go. if your fussy, get one few minutes earlier.

<<" just purchased things and may do that again but I pack for a complete camping trip down to the salt and pepper.">>

Be prepared to be shocked at the prices.

Also, there are some border control regulations about bringing in a lot of foodstuffs. Probably meant to protect local businesses. And, may be more related to camper vans coming in overland from other countries. I don't know the details...my concern might be obsolete. You might want to look them up...or claim ignorance?

<<"Wish I had gotten your advice on where to stay - can't remember where - but it says it's like 15 minutes from the airport, so we should be good with public transport.">>

I don't understand why you do not want to stay downtown...at the same time/distance from the airport.

Cost vs. downtown?

The ambience downtown is rather nice.

And, don't let anyone ever tell you that the Swiss do not have a sense of humor...witness the last attached image showing the "World's Largest "pan-flute" Concert" held in the main station in Zürich once when I was passing through.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke

Last modified on Apr 3, 2017 - 6:25 PM by Slowpoke
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Washpark
Washpark
13 posts
new member
Apr 3, 2017 - 7:00 PM in reply to Slowpoke

I'm having a great chuckle over the PanFlotte concert! How fun. I've never seen those...flottes(?) before! We'd love it! We love unusual things so if you know of any others, please send them on! We're out of the way people, preferring small towns and interesting places/people. That's why we camp!

I'll call Delta. At JFK, I can check in for my flight online the day before but cannot check luggage more than 2 hours prior to the flight...go figure! I tried not long ago and was told it's so they don't have to keep track of it so I had to schlepp it up to the Delta Lounge, then all the way back down. Amazing.

I'll check on the foodstuffs regulations - thanks for the tip. I won't bring in any food, only condiments. We stock our breakfast and lunch locally. We found the same high prices in Norway as Switzerland (maybe higher?) so are prepared! That's why I bring sheets, pillows, and don't buy them there!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
3621 posts
expert
Apr 3, 2017 - 7:19 PM in reply to Washpark

Have you seen these? July is too late to watch them go up to the high pastures; they come down in September more or less.

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