5 days in Thun - how best to explore the area

5 days in Thun - how best to explore the area

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bangkruai
bangkruai
9 posts
new member
Apr 12, 2018 - 11:10 AM

Hi there,

My husband and I are planning to spend our vacation in Switzerland during 22-30 April. We will be based in Thun. Yes we hold STPs throughout our 8-day visit.

Day 1: Arriving Zurich at 7:15 we head to Geneva to attend a brief seminar. If we have enough time in the afternoon we would like to see the Swiss Tulip Festival. Is the festival worth seeing? We will stay overnight in Geneva, Astoria Hotel.

Day 2: Move to Thun where we will stay for five days. During this while we would love to do all excursions as several one-day trips -- Zermatt/Matterhorn, Bern, Luzern, Mount Pilatus, Grindelwald and some lake cruises, some castles in Thun and nearby. Do you think we can accomplish all? We would like to have your advice for other attractions that we should not miss. We also wish to take a scenic train line. But I don't think we can take a complete route without staying overnight at a place along the route. Can we ride only a leg of a scenic route ? What is the best leg of which line that fits my situation? In case that we don't want to pay extra fees on a tourist express line, are there ordinary trains that follow the same lines of the premium one?

Day 7-8: Zurich

Day 9: Back home from Zurich airport every early in the morning.

This is our first time to visit Switzerland. All your advices will be very much appreciated.

Thanks and regards,

Sangsoam

Lucas
Lucas
8941 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 13, 2018 - 12:13 PM in reply to bangkruai

Hi Sangsoam,

Day 1: Can't give insights on the Tulip festival as I haven't gone! :(

Day 2-6:

  • Yes those trips can be done in a day from Thun. Use the Swiss railways timetable to see the trip durations and schedules for the train.
  • From Thun you could do part of the Golden Pass route (for sure going to Lucerne from Interlaken and/or to Zweisimmen and on to Montreux.
  • Another option is the Gotthard Panoramic Express which you could pick up in Flüelen or Erstfeld and on to Lugano and return perhaps via Domodossola and the Centovalli Express and then via Brig back to Thun.
  • In both cases regional trains do follow the same routes yes.
  • . I think you're initial list of things to do is a good one - I might add in Schilthorn (accessed from Mürren by cable car) as it is free with the Swiss Travel Pass.
  • Zurich isn't usually worth 2 or 3 days for first-time visitors unless you have something specific in mind you want to do here?
Last modified on Apr 13, 2018 - 12:13 PM by Lucas
bangkruai
bangkruai
9 posts
new member
Apr 13, 2018 - 11:41 PM in reply to Lucas

Dear Lucas

Your reply would make my days in Switzerland an impressive holiday. I've heard and seen a lot of information and great pictures of the must do and see in Switzerland. My problem is that I cannot group things to do and places to see together for a day trip. At Zermatt, do you think I can do peak to peak within a day? I'd like to visit Chateau Chillon. Should I do that on my trip to Luzern where I planned to see the dying lion, the wooden roofed bridge, and up to Mt. Pilatus? Among Pilatus, Rigi, and Titlis, which one is best visit? I've also heard about Vevey and Lausanne. Can I group these two with the Montreux trip?

It seems most Swiss attractions are mountains and lakes. Are there some other attractions featuring flower gardens or meadows or botanical parks?

Regards,

bangkruai

Lucas
Lucas
8941 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 14, 2018 - 6:37 AM in reply to bangkruai

Hi Bangkruai,

Using the timetable to plan out your trips will give you information to base whether you can do one or two things in a day. It is all about how much time you can spend traveling in one day (what you are comfortable with).

For one day in Zermatt (from Thun) I would do just one mountain trip - Gornergrat is popular.

Chateau Chillon is very close to Montreux an that is a nice day trip from Thun on the Golden Pass route.
You could visit Vevey or Lausanne when you go to Montreux...but I think Montreux is nicer and I'd spend my time there. You can't do everything unfortunately!

All mountains have their own charm and fun things to see/do. I think Pilatus is the most popular of the 3.

Annika
Annika
4992 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 14, 2018 - 4:31 PM in reply to bangkruai

Hi Sangsoam! If you're interested in Thun, you may like forum member Maggie's extensive trip report here.

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
618 posts
top member
Apr 14, 2018 - 11:05 PM

Hi Sangsoam

Annika beat me to it! We have stayed in Thun or nearby for several years now and find it an excellent base for the trips you are considering. You will need to check the weather forecast for Zermatt as it is a long way to go if the Matterhorn is hidden in clouds!

note that Chateau Chillon is near to Montreux not Lucerne.

You will find in my report we visit lots of places other than the obvious tourist favourites - just use the train timetable to work out how to get there and how long it will take if any of our trips appeal to you.

Maggie

bangkruai
bangkruai
9 posts
new member
Apr 15, 2018 - 9:34 AM

Hi Lucas, Annita, and Maggiehorswell

All of your advices are valuable for me to have a clear idea of how my husband and I can make our holiday zestful. Thank you, Annita, for your kind recommendation of Maggiehorswell's trip report for us. The reviews are thoroughgoing for all who are based in Thun. I hope that it would not rain much in the spring time there.

Maggie, allow me to past and copy some of your off beaten tracks into my itinerary plan -- Monday 4 Aug: Zweisimmen to Lenk / Cable car to Leiterli and walk to Flower trail, and Friday 8 Aug: taking gondola to Engstligenalp. I have a query about Flower trail: Is it full of flowers or just a name?

I will also take Lucas' advice to ride a part of Golden Pass Scenic route, Gotthard Panoramic Express with the return trip via Domodossola. Schilthorn from Murren by cable is something that I will not miss.

Million thanks to all of you,

bangkruai

Last modified on Apr 15, 2018 - 9:37 AM by bangkruai
maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
618 posts
top member
Apr 17, 2018 - 11:02 PM

Hi Bangkruai,

You are welcome to copy and paste anything you like from my posts! I have been writing reports to the forum on staying in Thun since about 2010 so if you have time to search for more of them for ideas then click on my name and it will give you all the threads I have been writing in and you can then find the reports and click on them!

Engstligenalp is one of our favourites! I note that you are travelling in April so you will need to check whether the gondola is running. We have usually travelled in July/August so some of our excursions may not be suitable/available in April. We did see quite a lot of flowers on the trail but April may be too early. We have never been to Switzerland so early so have always had the luxury of everywhere being open and running - you will need to check everything out for April.

Have a great time.

Maggie

1960man
1960man
530 posts
top member
Apr 17, 2018 - 11:17 PM

If you visit all the places you mention from a base at Thun, you will automatically travel on scenic railways, so I wouldn't bust a gut making special arrangements for any specific scenic lines.

Just taking a very ordinary day to day inter-city passenger train south from Thun you are running along the lake within a few minutes. Soon you will be at Spiez. This is the junction where three railways divide, one goes to Interlaken (along the lakeside), one goes up to Zweisimmen for the connection to Montreux, one goes over the Lötschberg.

Thun - Luzern is either via Interlaken and the Brunig pass railway, or via Bern and the Emmental (bucolic pasture land of cheese fame - very beautiful). I suggest going one way and back the other)

Thun - Montreux is via the Montreux Oberland Bernois railway (Goldenpass) (beware bus on one section due to engineering works). The descent to Montreux is scenic on a nice day (view across the lake to the French alps)

A mountain very often ignored not far from Spiez is the Niesen. The funicular railway opens on 21 April for the 2018 season, great views from the top. A great 'easy day' trip as it is only 16 minutes from Thun on the BLS railway Lötschberger local service (alight at Mülenen station). And also, don't miss getting off at Spiez station and walking across the road to see the great view along the lake. Trains are very frequent so you can time it as you see fit. You can then easily walk down to the lake boat landing stage if you wish. At Spiez station there is also a Migros supermarket for good value picnic requirements

Note that Chillon is nowhere near Luzern. Combining those two in one day doesn't work. However what would work is a round trip Thun - Zweisimmen - Montreux - Chillon - Visp - Thun

For Zermatt , note that:

  • to get to Zermatt from Thun, the fast train goes through the Lötschberg high speed base tunnel. This is a great time saver, but the old Lötschberg railway route (now served by Lötschberger unit trains) goes higher into the mountains before tunnelling through so has more scenic bits (eg the spiral at Blausee Mitholz on the 'north ramp' (ie the climb up to the Lötschberg tunnel from the north end), and the stunning views on the 'south ramp' from Goppenstein to Brig). A good way is to do the mountain route one way and the base tunnel route the other. I'd suggest the base tunnel on the way back when you will probably be tired and it won't matter if you miss some scenery

Regarding flowers and other flora, note there is a major Botanical Garden in Geneva 'Jardin Botanique' - 8 minutes from the Hotel Astoria on bus route 1 from gare Cornavin (the main station)

Otherwise, alpine flowers will be starting to grow everywhere if you stop off and walk through the fields

Last modified on Apr 17, 2018 - 11:48 PM by 1960man
bangkruai
bangkruai
9 posts
new member
Apr 18, 2018 - 4:11 AM in reply to maggiehorswell

Dear Maggie and 1960 man

One thing for sure is that Cogs to Pilatus will not be in operation during our visit. So, I will do Mt Rigi instead. I have learned that on our train ride from Geneva to Thun, the route is already picturesque. Am wondering if I can take some good photos from the train's window span. Great to learn from 1960 man that the funicular opens at Niesen, I will check it out on the very first day of my Thun holiday if the weather allows us.

I am quite sure that to follow guidance from both of you our holiday will be something distinguished from others' usual path. One more query: Is the Geneve station same as Cornavin station?

Regards,

Lucas
Lucas
8941 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 18, 2018 - 4:58 AM in reply to bangkruai

Yes, Geneva station is named Cornavin.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3928 posts
expert
Apr 18, 2018 - 6:22 AM in reply to bangkruai

Visit Niesenbahn for more info on that funicular.

bangkruai
bangkruai
9 posts
new member
Apr 18, 2018 - 8:38 AM

The video from Niesenbahn stunned me. Salute to the Swiss for their relentless pursuit of engineering effort that bring great bliss to tourists from across the globe.

Last modified on Apr 18, 2018 - 8:40 AM by bangkruai
maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
618 posts
top member
Apr 18, 2018 - 3:51 PM

Hi Bangkruai

I have just checked and the funicular to Beatenberg and gondola from there to Niederhorn will be running while you are there - not a long day and good views over Lake Thun. Take bus 21 from Thun to Beatenbucht to link with funicular. There is also a boat landing stage at Beatenbucht which you might be able link up with but boats only run limited timetable in Spring so might not be feasible. However instead of retracing your steps on way back down you could take bus from Beatenberg to Interlaken West - a scenic ride! Then return to Thun by bus or train. STP will cover buses and funicular and you get discount (50%) on gondola - not an expensive ride. Restaurant at top.

Maggie

1960man
1960man
530 posts
top member
Apr 18, 2018 - 11:20 PM in reply to bangkruai

Re: Geneve to Thun

Yes, Cornavin is Genève's main station (I first set foot in it in 1960...)

Geneve to Thun train ride.

You don't see much of the Lake (Lac Leman) on the Genève - Lausanne section but on the left hand side of the train you will see the Jura mountain chain (where I learned to ski 45 years ago...). However, you must sit on the right hand side of the train for the section out of Lausanne - as the railway climbs up through the vineyards (one owned by an occasional acquaintance of mine - lucky chap!). But sadly the section is quite short. Like all modern trains you get nasty reflections when taking pictures through the window, and on this section you are likely to be looking into the sun as the view is towards the south. Therefore the photos are unlikely to come out all that well, especially if it is hazy.

bangkruai
bangkruai
9 posts
new member
Apr 19, 2018 - 4:32 AM

I will take your advice, 1960 man: Seated on the left hand side upon the ride from Geneve-Lausanne, then move to right hand side when out of Lausanne. Hope that we would not be a bother to our fellow passengers.

I will add Maggie's funicular to Beatenberg into my Interlaken trip. Now all my bags are packed. I am eagerly looking forward to the coming wonderful vacation in Switzerland. Thnx to you all.

1960man
1960man
530 posts
top member
Apr 19, 2018 - 10:43 PM in reply to bangkruai

A last point or two if I may

In an earlier post you said:

It seems most Swiss attractions are mountains and lakes.

well, no, it isn't but on this forum it's the most popluar subject - this forum seems heavily biased towards the same five or six mountains which is why in many threads I try and add some balance by suggesting that lowland Switzerland has plenty to offer...and Luzern features very heavily on the forum (even though as I have mentioned in other posts the famous chapel bridge is to a large extent a replica as much of it caught fire in 1993)!

Beatenberg (another ride up a mountain) may now be in your itinerary.

Staying in Thun you will have the 'unique' opportunity to be different! I strongly suggest you take some leisurely time on at least one day and witness quintessential 'plateau' Switzerland which is very close by where you are. You just take the local train from Thun towards Konolfingen and change to an emmental train (S2 to Langnau or faster RE service)

I personally just get off at local stations and walk around the country villages and farmland, but I did a search for anything specific for you and found this:

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-gb/eggiwil-emmental-house-trail.html

Eggiwil is accesible by bus from Signau,

www.fahrplanfelder.ch/ fileadmin/fap_pdf_fiel ds/2018/30.271.pdf

Signau is on the S2 service mentioned above.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5013 posts
expert
Apr 20, 2018 - 12:35 AM in reply to 1960man

Hi 1960sman-

<<"It seems most Swiss attractions are mountains and lakes.

well, no, it isn't but on this forum it's the most popluar subject - this forum seems heavily biased towards the same five or six mountains which is why in many threads I try and add some balance by suggesting that lowland Switzerland has plenty to offer...">>

First, consider the customer..

I have posted many threads on the Emmental, der Dreiseenland, the Engadine, Scuol/Ftan, Skt Gallen, der Weg der Schwyz, Hammetschwand, der Urnersee, Schwyz and Bethlehem Haus, , die Suedrampe in the Rhonetal, Fribourg, to mention a few. Not many responses.

The fact that I like them usually has nothing to do with the interests of the customer..those asking the questions.

Motivations are not under our control.. Some wish to travel on as many scenic trains as possible, in order to "tick the box." For others, it is to see as many places with famous names as possible.

So, don't be surprised at the focus on what the customers want, whether we think that they are right or not. And, don't forget the unique value of the Jungfrau Region for a foreign traveler.

One definition of Quality is "fitness for use."

Slowpoke.

Last modified on Apr 20, 2018 - 12:37 AM by Slowpoke
Arno
Arno
11177 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 20, 2018 - 12:46 PM

Hi guys,

Many people here are one time visitors looking for the highlights, so indeed that automatically shifts focus to the well known towns and attractions. We have pages about the Bettmerhorn, Corvatch, Niesen, Rhine boat trips, to name a few, but there are hardly any questions about those. I guess it takes a couple of visits to move on to other sites. Which makes sense in a way.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5013 posts
expert
Apr 20, 2018 - 12:52 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Arno-

<<"I guess it takes a couple of visits to move on to other sites. Which makes sense in a way.">>

Sure.

We did that , too.

Although St. Gallen was on our very first trip, as well as Ftan and Beckenried.

We did a lot of reading before we planned our trips.

And, I kept a map handy.

Slowpoke

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