Basel to Interlaken - via Bern or Lucerne?

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Jenallan18
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Dec 19, 2017 - 6:56 AM

Hello. We are arriving in Basel by River Cruise and then traveling to Interlaken for 3 nights. I had read about the Lotschberger in a travel brochure but cannot find anything specific about it on this site. We will have 2 suitcases and each a small backpack. Would you recommend traveling via Bern (and the Lotschberger) or via Lucerne and the Golden Pass. We won't be stopping in either, just traveling through. We will do the other end of the Golden Pass to Montreux when we leave Interlaken. Thank you for your advice.

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Dec 19, 2017 - 1:37 PM in reply to Jenallan18

Hi Jenallan, and welcome to MySwissAlps!

>> Would you recommend traveling via Bern (and the Lotschberger) or via Lucerne and the Golden Pass.

Personally I would choose the Golden Pass route from Luzern to Interlaken, as it is more scenic in my opinion.

The best part of the Lötschberger route is between Spiez and Brig, rather than between Bern and Spiez. There is, however, a short scenic sector for about half-an-hour as you travel along the shore of the Thunersee (Lake Thun), shortly before arriving in Interlaken.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 19, 2017 - 2:03 PM by Chantal
Jenallan18
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Dec 20, 2017 - 12:26 AM

Thank you Alpenrose for your quick and helpful reply. Do you know the time and cost difference in travel between the two? Or perhaps point me in the right direction? Jenallan18

Peterli
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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:04 AM in reply to Jenallan18

Hi,

I too would recommend doing the trip via Lucerne, as it is more scenic. Furthermore, most of the scenic part of the route via Berne will be there for you to see when you continue on from Interlaken to Montreux, as the train goes west along Lake Thun, past Spiez, before turning south towards Zwiesimmen and on to Lake Geneva. What you will miss are the views from the city of Thun to just west of Spiez, but counter that with what should be many lovely views going via Lucerne. Of course, everything depends on the weather, so keep your fingers crossed.

As for the difference in cost of one route or the other, I suspect it will be insignificant, but I will leave it to some of the SBB railroad experts to reply.

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 1:05 AM by Peterli
Jenallan18
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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:07 AM

Thanks too Peterli. I think you have both helped me make the decision to travel via Lucerne. I appreciate your feedback.

Peterli
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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:14 AM in reply to Jenallan18

PS: Just passing through Lucerne ? That's too bad. Are you sure you couldn't fit even a two or three hour break in your ride from Basel to Interlaken ? The train station is an easy walk from some of the most interesting things to see. There are oodles of trains to get you there.

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 5:10 PM by Chantal
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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:19 AM in reply to Jenallan18

>> Do you know the time and cost difference in travel between the two? Or perhaps point me in the right direction?

Yes, you can work that out by using the Swiss Timetable. The timetable will give you the fastest route by default. To force a more roundabout option, for example to take in a more scenic route, you need to use the "via" option in the timetable.

So searching for connections "From Basel" "To Interlaken Ost" will bring up the fastest route, which is via Bern and takes about 2 hours.

Adding "via Luzern" will bring up the Golden Pass route between Luzern and Interlaken Ost (on the Luzern-Interlaken Express), which takes around 3.5 hours.

You can also get the prices from the timetable.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Have you considered whether it is worth your while to get some sort of travel pass? If you are travelling at a time of year when the mountain transport in the Jungfrau Region is operating, the costs will quickly add up without a pass.

www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 5:11 PM by Chantal
Jenallan18
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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:19 AM

Hi Peterli. I'm not 100% sure of the best thing to do at the moment. We will each have a suitcase and a small backpack to take care of. Would there be secure storage at the train station? I'm also not too sure of travel times etc. I suspect that we will leave the ship early morningish (~9am) and then we will catch up with a work colleague in Basel for a couple of hours. I've been to Lucerne before but my husband hasn't so I would like to stop there if logistically it works out. But don't know how long the travel times are between all of these locations and the ease of getting on / off trains, luggage storage, booking seats etc. What do you think? Jenallan18

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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:23 AM in reply to Jenallan18

>> Are you sure you couldn't fit even a two or three hour break in your ride from Basel to Interlaken ? The train station is an easy walk from some of the most interesting things to see.

I would agree with this suggestion, and add that you can leave your luggage in the lockers at Luzern station. They are located on both sides of the station alongside the first and last platforms. You'll need some coins. They come in 3 sizes (measured in centimetres), at different prices.

  • Small - 24.8 x 42.0 x 75.0 - CHF 6
  • Medium - 31.7 x 61.5 x 75.0 - CHF 7
  • Large - 44.7 x 61.5 x 88.0 - CHF 9

There are no steps to negotiate to move between platforms at Luzern, or from the platform to the luggage lockers - all level ground. You can also board the Luzern-Interlaken Express step-free - look for the door with the huge wheelchair graphic. Reservations are not needed for any of the trains between Bern and Interlaken Ost (or indeed for most trains in Switzerland).

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 1:35 AM by Removed user
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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:28 AM in reply to Jenallan18

>> then we will catch up with a work colleague in Basel for a couple of hours.

Why not invite him or her to Luzern with you? A walk across the Chapel Bridge, a stroll through the old town, and lunch at the Rathaus Brauerei (for example) would be a lovely way to enjoy each other's company!

www.rathausbrauerei.ch /en

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 1:30 AM by Removed user
Jenallan18
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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:30 AM

Thanks Alpenrose for those links. I'll check them out. I'm pretty new to the 'train booking' process. Yes, we purchased a Half Fare Card for the week. I have to be in Valens for a conference for a few days.

Our plans at the moment are: Sunday 16/09 travel Bern to Interlaken (now via Lucerne rather than Bern); 3 nights Interlaken with day trips to Jungfraujoch one day and Lauterbrunnen / Trummelbach Falls on the other; Wednesday 19/09 travel Interlaken to Zermatt via Montreux then up to the Gornergrat that afternoon / evening with overnight in Zermatt; Thursday 20/09 Glacier Express to Chur then on to Bad Ragaz for 3 nights with daily bus up to Valenz for the conference (my husband will be looking for things to do those 2 days he is in Bad Ragaz whilst I'm at the conference); Sunday 23/09 train to Zurich (hoping to go the scenic way via Gotthard) for flight home the next day.

I'm hoping that will provide us with a mix of sceneries and Swiss experiences, but am certainly open to suggestions. The only 'fixed' bits are arrival in Basel, the time in Bad Ragaz and then the flight home.

Thank you both for your advice. Jenallan18

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Dec 20, 2017 - 1:52 AM in reply to Jenallan18

>> my husband will be looking for things to do those 2 days he is in Bad Ragaz whilst I'm at the conference)

Well, there are lots of options, but this is a very special one in my view - a day trip to Guarda. He could be there in an hour and a half (see attached timetable PDF).

The trip there is very scenic, and Guarda itself is a national treasure!

If you are interested, there is information about Guarda in my trip report (with photos) on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/trip-report-lower-engadine-guarda-october-2016

A description of part of the route (in the opposite direction) is in my post of Feb 28, 2017 - 4:36 AM on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/chur-to-st-moritz-via-davos

Another suggestion would be a train trip to Arosa, and cable car up to the Weisshorn. He could be at the top of the Weisshorn within 2 hours.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 1:59 AM by Removed user
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Jenallan18
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Dec 20, 2017 - 2:04 AM in reply to Removed user

Oh Alpenrose that place looks beautiful! It will be hard for me to not skip the conference and go with him! What did you think of the rest of our itinerary? Ok or too much travel?

Peterli
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Dec 20, 2017 - 2:28 AM in reply to Removed user

Hi again,

Alpenrose666 asked "Why not invite him or her to Luzern with you?" That is a great idea if your colleague in Basel is keen. That way you can jibber-jabber on the train ride from Basel to Lucerne, and then visit Lucerne which, in my humble opinion is a far nicer place to be for a quick visit. I drive through Basel as quickly as I can when flying into or out of the nearby EuroAirport. It is just too big and commercial and industrial for my liking.

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Dec 20, 2017 - 2:32 AM in reply to Jenallan18

>> 3 nights Interlaken with day trips to Jungfraujoch one day

If you go up via Grindelwald and down via Wengen, I would recommend alighting at Wengen for a while and walking up to the lookout for a wonderful view over the Lauterbrunnen Valley. The lookout is about a 5-10 minute walk from Wengen station. Here are the directions:

From the station, head left up the main street lined with shops and hotels (Dorfstrasse), past the Hotel Silberhorn on the right, Männlichen cable car on the right, Hotel Bernerhof on the left, and uphill a bit past the Hotel Schönegg on the right and a chemist on the left. At the top of the hill, you will see a path on the left leading to the Swiss Protestant Church, where there is a lookout and seats.

I have attached a map and a photo of what you can see from the lookout.

>> and Lauterbrunnen / Trummelbach Falls on the other

You could also fit in a visit to the beautiful village of Mürren (and maybe also the Schilthorn) on this day.

>> Sunday 23/09 train to Zurich (hoping to go the scenic way via Gotthard)

Do you mean via the Glacier Express route from Chur to Andermatt, then to Zürich via Göschenen and Erstfeld?

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 5:15 PM by Chantal
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Jenallan18
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Dec 20, 2017 - 3:03 AM in reply to Removed user

Hi Alpenrose

Those are some good suggestions, thank you.

On the journey to Zurich, I meant via the Goulthard Panoramic trip. Yes, Glacier Express from Chur to Andermatt then take the Gouthard Panoramic that includes the boat ride on the lake over to Lucerne and then from there to Zurich. Is that worth the effort? or is there a better route?

Jenallan18

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Dec 20, 2017 - 3:13 AM in reply to Jenallan18

>> What did you think of the rest of our itinerary? Ok or too much travel?

Well, you do have some long days of train travel, but also several stays of 3 nights to balance things out a bit. In the end, its a personal choice. If you have a limited time, some compromises usually have to be made, and what they are will vary from person to person.

Your plans for 19 Sep are quite ambitious. However, if you left Interlaken Ost at 7:29, you could be on top of the Gornergrat by 15:21 (with a bit over an hour to leave your luggage in your hotel or in the station lockers at Zermatt). The lockers at Zermatt are down a flight of stairs. There might be a lift, but I didn't see one.

A shorter scenic route would be via the Lötschberger route between Spiez and Brig: if you left Interlaken Ost at 8:30, you could be on top of the Gornergrat by 13:21, including almost an hour to stash your luggage.

To get that route, put in "From Interlaken Ost" "To Gornergrat" "via Kandersteg" "via Zermatt" and next to Zermatt, put in a stopover time of 30 minutes (to stash your luggage). Even though you put in 30 minutes stopover, it will turn out to be almost an hour due to the departure time for the Gornergrat train.

It will only be worthwhile going up to the Gornergrat if the weather is clear. If it turns out that the Matterhorn will be in the clouds that day, you might prefer to skip the Gornergrat and take the longer route from Interlaken to Zermatt via the Golden Pass route.

This is a good site to check the weather:

www.meteoswiss.admin.c h/home.html?tab=overview

And here is a site with a webcam for the Gornergrat so you can see what the visibility is like:

www.zermatt.ch/en/Webc ams

You didn't mention that you would be trying to get VIP seats on the Golden Pass, but it might be worth mentioning in any case that they won't be available on your travel date.

From 3 Sep 2018 until an as-yet-undetermined date in 2019, carriages with VIP seats will be taken out of operation and renovated, so the train will just have the "ordinary" panoramic carriages in first and second class.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 5:17 PM by Chantal
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Dec 20, 2017 - 4:25 AM in reply to Jenallan18

>> I meant via the Goulthard Panoramic trip. Yes, Glacier Express from Chur to Andermatt then take the Gouthard Panoramic that includes the boat ride on the lake over to Lucerne and then from there to Zurich. Is that worth the effort? or is there a better route?

Well, it would take almost 8.5 hours, and would be repeating a large part of the Glacier Express route you had already taken on your way from Zermatt to Bad Ragaz.

The way I see it, the only real "added value" in taking this route would be the boat trip on the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne). The trip through the Schöllenen Gorge between Andermatt and Göschenen is also great, but is quite brief.

If you really wanted to do that boat trip, which is indeed beautiful, I would recommend taking the direct route from Bad Ragaz to Luzern, boat Luzern to Flüelen, train Flüelen to Zürich.

That would cut about an hour and half off your trip, and you would also get to see the Walensee, a narrow, very deep lake with the Churfirsten mountains rising steeply from the other side of the lake. Sit on the right.

Another very nice stretch (on the trip from Flüelen to Zürich) is between Arth-Goldau and Zug, when the train travels high along a hillside on the eastern side of the Zugersee, and you have scenic views down to to the lake, lakeside villages, and the mountains (including the Rigi) on the other side of the lake. Sit on the left.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 5:11 AM by Removed user
Peterli
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Dec 20, 2017 - 5:29 AM

Great advice from Alpenrose666 about which side of the train to sit on to get the best views. Definitely on the right side to see the Walensee and the Churfirsten (one of my favourite views) and later on, near the end of the trip, if the train has empty places, you might want to switch to the left to enjoy the views towards the south as you go along Lake Lucerne.

Last modified on Dec 20, 2017 - 5:31 AM by Peterli
Jenallan18
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Dec 20, 2017 - 6:19 AM

Thank you both very much for your messages today. I think I will be making some changes to our plans as a result. Basel - Interlaken (via Lucerne for brief stop). 3 nights Interlaken. Interlaken to Zermatt via Brig instead of Montreaux. Will purchase Gonergrat on the day if the weather is good. Overnight Zermatt. Zermatt to Chur and Bad Ragaz for 3 nights as planned. Then back to Zurich but I'm not sure yet whether to do the boat cruise and 'round about' journey or just go direct to Zurich for some time there before returning home.

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