Driving from Zurich to Geneva - where to visit?

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oricanada
oricanada
21 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2018 - 8:05 AM

Hello everyone, thank you so much for having this awesome forum.

This is my first trip to Switzerland. I will be arriving to Zurich on April 4th and flying off from Geneva to Prague on the 11th. Im going to be travelling with mom, and we would like to have the freedom to go to near villages without thinking about schedules of the trains and buses, that´s why we decided renting a car, I know most of the forums say that the train is the best way to go, but we will be having 4 pieces of luggage and I don´t think it would be that confortable to travel by train (if you have any suggestions please share).

We were thinking about in this itinerary:

  • Zurich- 1 night (arriving at 8 am from Paris) 4-5 april
  • Interlaken area (still deciding between murren, wengen, grindelwald,lauterbrunnen)- 2 nights 5-7 April
  • Bern area- 2 nights 7-9 april
  • Geneva- 2 nights 9-11th

Any suggestions on the itinerary?. if I am being too vague please ask, we are really blind in this country and any advice will be appreciated.

Lucas
Lucas
9609 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 5, 2018 - 2:26 PM in reply to oricanada

Hi Oricanada and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Certainly a car has its merits and can work well for you. Just keep in mind the price for gas and parking in the cities is quite high!

It will be hard to advise you on the itinerary without knowing what you may want to see and do while you are here.

Bern is a very lovely city and the Jungfrau region (around Interlaken) is full of spectacular mountain scenery. Zurich and Geneva are good if you want the "city" experience: fine dining, shopping, museums etc.

Let us know and we will be happy to help further! Have a look at the following pages here to get you started: What to do, About Switzerland & Where to go.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4022 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2018 - 9:54 PM in reply to oricanada

Hello oricanada,

Some random thoughts and an attempt to get you to change your mind about driving.

My wife and I travelled around Switzerland by train for over 3 weeks with 2 suitcases and 2 backpacks. It was no problem at all. Public transport is fantastic and very relaxing. Stay at hotels near the main stations.

I would not contemplate driving especially at the tail end of winter. Although perhaps your name implies you are from Canada and therefore familiar with icy roads?

But with a Swiss Travel Pass (www.myswissalps.com/sw isstravelpass) you can hop on just about any train and not have to worry about buying tickets. Spend a bit of time studying the Swiss Railway timetable (www.myswissalps.com/ti metable) once you have a rough itinerary to get an idea of travel times. For example a day trip to Bern from Lucerne or Interlaken is simple and much better than changing base.

Skip Zurich and go direct from airport to Lucerne. It’s only 1 hour away by train. Spend a few nights there. Plenty to do - see (www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne). Try not to change base more than 3 times then you only need to worry about baggage on a few occasions.

Watch out for some mountain trains and cable cars being closed in the Jungfrau Region at that time of year. See www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/gondolarail-access-to-mountains-in-aprilmay-2018

Take Golden Pass Line Lucerne to Interlaken.

Take very scenic Golden Pass Line Interlaken to Montreux. Consider Montreux as a base in preference to Geneva. Only 1 hour by train from Montreux to Geneva.

I could go on but will see whether you have been converted first. 😎

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5163 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2018 - 11:23 PM in reply to oricanada

HI Oricanada-

<<"freedom to go to near villages">>

Could you amplify what you mean by "villages." ?

I always stay in inns in small villages, and sometime use trains/buses which are frequent, and sometimes drive a car. I almost never drive in cities , and if I have park overnight in Luzern, for example, I expect to pay 55-60 CHF each night. Parking in villages is often free and always cheap.

I concur with Rockoyster about Luzern instead of Zürich.

Zürich is my favorite city in Switzerland, but it is not for typical tourist attractions. No mountains of any consequence,. Limited scenery. Nice old town, but so has Luzern.

I go to Zürich for culture - museums, concerts, and good sophisticated restaurants. Not cheap. If you want to shop on the Bahnhofstrasse, that is common reason to visit Zürich, too.

Slowpoke

oricanada
oricanada
21 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2018 - 3:54 AM

Hello!!! thank you for your promptly response.

To Lucas:Basically I can describe what we want in 3 words, ¨Views, chocolate and cheese¨. We would like to see beautiful mountains and villages (not into fancy and gourmet restaurants, not into shopping) we would like to maybe go for small hikes if posible, I'm not sure how bad the weather could be at this time of the year.

My mom and I are originally from Venezuela but I live in Vancouver- Canada ( so i am familiarized with snow but I wouldn't consider myself an expert).

To rockoyster :. The reason why we would like to drive is because time is gold in this short trip, I don´t want to spend hours on trains and connections, we also have luggage and I am assuming that might be a bit uncomfortable to walk from the stations to the hotels. However, seems like it pretty unanimous the train option and skipping Zurich, we might be reconsidering the train option ( so I guess i am almost converted)

To slowpoke:thank you for the tips about what to expect from Zurich (def not hat we want in this trip).

Could you amplify what you mean by "villages." ?

I was thinking that driving would safe us time when traveling from one town to the other, Im sure there are smaller villages but it might take a bit longer to get there. But it seems train might be the best way to go then.

Now that we figure out the train option. what would be the best places to stay?... 1 night in Luzern, 2 night in the interlaken area, 2 night in bern and 2 nights in Geneva sounds good?

thank you so much for all of your replies. I´ll look into the train options then.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4022 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2018 - 4:02 AM in reply to oricanada

Glad you are nearly converted.

How about 3 nights Lucerne, 3 nights Jungfrau Region, 2 nights Montreux? Chocolate and cheese are everywhere you don't need to travel far in Switzerland for those!

In Lucerne I stayed at the Hotel Continental Park which was 50m from the train station.

oricanada
oricanada
21 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2018 - 4:24 AM in reply to rockoyster

Thank you rockoyster. I haven't looked into Montreux, but that sounds like a good plan. The reason why i put Geneva at the end is because that's where we are flying out. Maybe 2 night in Geneva and a day trip to Gruyere and Montreux? does that sound feasible?.

It seems like there's no way around it. Train it is, hehe...

Any suggestions on the jungfraujoch top of europe. is it worth the 200CFH per person?

rockoyster
rockoyster
4022 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2018 - 4:33 AM in reply to oricanada

Hooray - another convert. 😎

Skip Geneva - just another big city. You can get a direct train from Montreux to Geneva Airport and it takes just over 1 hour.

"Any suggestions on the jungfraujoch top of europe. is it worth the 200CFH per person?"

Not for me it wasn't. But a lot of people think it is. You can of course get a reduction (25%) with a Swiss Travel Pass or a better one (50%) with a Swiss Half Fare Card.

Now that you are a convert time to start reading www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass

oricanada
oricanada
21 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2018 - 5:05 AM in reply to rockoyster

Thank you. I already read it. And I think the swiss travel pass for 8 days would be better so I dont have to worry about buying more tickets and it gives us freedom to go anywhere.

it only gives us 25% for the Jungfraujoch but I'll keep reading more about.

Thank you for being persistent. Hehe

Lucas
Lucas
9609 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 6, 2018 - 7:15 AM in reply to oricanada

Hi OriCanada,

Nice to see another Vancouverite on here!

Trains are pretty great - just try and keep your luggage to a minimum (1 suitcase and 1 backpack / large purse) and your connections as well (give yourself time to connect to the next train you need to connect).

My mom comes from Victoria to visit every Christmas and we travel around Europe somewhere always by train (of course I'm there to help her with her luggage and we take lots of elevators). It has been fine for her (even with two new knees a couple years ago).

As an alternative to Jungfraujoch look at the nearby Schilthorn - free with the Swiss Travel Pass!

Last modified on Mar 24, 2018 - 1:37 PM by Arno
oricanada
oricanada
21 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2018 - 7:35 AM in reply to Lucas

Hey Lucas. Thank you very much for all the information.

We will try to keep the luggage to a minimun, its hard because we are women. HEHE

I'll keep looking for other mountains to explore, I guess I was too focussed on the jungfraujoch because its more popular I guess.

How is the weather around mid April? And wengen or murrren?

sorry if Im asking too much.

Oriana

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5163 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2018 - 10:49 AM

Hi Oriana -

<<"Could you amplify what you mean by "villages." ?

I was thinking that driving would safe us time when traveling from one town to the other, Im sure there are smaller villages but it might take a bit longer to get there. But it seems train might be the best way to go then.">>

I think that means that your travel will be mostly to major cites, and the nearby environs, and not to small country villages. In that case, the value of a car for poking around in the rural areas pretty much disappears. For intercity, you can't beat the convenience of trains...get you right to the center of town, and you don't have to worry about what to do with a car. And, they are frequent. The SBB has been remaking itself as a primarily intercity service, and tries for relatively fast trains -not so many local stops - every half hour between major cities

<<"How is the weather around mid April?">>

www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland/nature

Mid April is just the beginning of Spring in the lower altitudes...such a Luzern. Montreux gets a lot of sun ( think vineyards) and will also have a bit earlier Spring.

In the Jungfrau region, the snow is not so good for skiing in many places, so there are few skiers, if any, and the hiking trails are still blocked with snow at higher altitudes. So, in mountain villages such as Mürren, Wengen ( my favorite), Lauterbrunnen, and the more commercial town of Grindelwald, many but not all hotels, restaurants and mountain cable ways are shut down for vacations or maintenance.

Good report about the region:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim/page/3

Check this thread;

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/gondolarail-access-to-mountains-in-aprilmay-2018

Late April to early May is the maximum shutdown period.

The major sight seeing rail road to Kleine Scheidegg, with the branch to the Jungfraujoch runs all year.

Rockoyster suggested Schilthorn. They do maintenance in April, I recall:

<<"Operation hours winter-facilities 2017/2018

Continuous operation: from 16th Dezember 2017 until 22nd April 2018

Weekend operation: (in good snow conditions)

28./29.04.2018

Reduced service: from 3 April 2018

Operation hours winter-facilities 2017/2018">>

schilthorn.ch/en/Infos /Live?ra=1#winter

Pick a date and check the time table from Mürren to Schilthorn.

Re - Jungfraujoch -

I have traveled to Switzerland about 80 times from the northeastern part of the USA. I have stayed in the Jungfrau Region many times. I like to take easy hikes, and a lot of photographs. I like to look at he Jungfrau - and, even more, the famous Eiger - from a distance. See attached photos. So, as is the case with Rockoyster, the Jungfraujoch excursion has never been worth the cost for me. However, it is for many others.

Since you live in Vancouver, you know what mountains are, which can also influence the values of people who come from places where mountains are scarce.

<<"Maybe 2 night in Geneva and a day trip to Gruyere and Montreux? does that sound feasible?">>

Depends on what time you leave Geneva. If it is an AM flight, you can still catch if from Montreux, but you'll be less nervous if you stay near Geneva. If it is a flight after, say , noon, you can stay in Montreux or anywhere in between with plenty of time and lots of choices of trains to make it the airport with little nervousness.

When I worked in the US, I had job responsibilities very close to Geneva. After one or two looks around the city, I always went elsewhere in my spare time. For me, the rest of Switzerland was more appealing. However, many others have enjoyed Geneva. Some go to see the UN. I won't be as blunt as Rockoyster - those of who live in the USA aren't quite that blunt, although it may seem so to the more genteel Canadians among us - but I'd agree with his recommendation that Geneva is not a prime destination. Some have described it as French city but with a lot with more banks (on every corner).

Gruyere is a bit more easily accessible from Montreux than from Geneva. Hmmnn, I recall some track work on the line in April well above Montreux...buses fill in a 10 km gap.

This thread discusses that partway down:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/please-help-to-plan-short-switzerland-holiday

The timetable will tell you if you test a train ride through that route.

Looks like it would not affect a trip by that route, since it on the stretch between Montbovon and Chateau-d'Oex, so if you go via Montbovon then north to Gruyeres, you ride the most scenic part of the Golden Pass Route, just above Montreux.

The other route (more likely from Geneva, I'd guess) is via Lausanne, Romont, Bulle and a choice of train to either Gruyere or Broc ( chocolate factory tour). Both are near Bulle. You can see both in one day. Cheese and Chocolate!

A good way to visualize the train lines is to use Map.search.ch

If you zoom in to the right degree, the train lines are very clear. And, the menus under "Points of Interest" are quite useful for travel planning.

map.search.ch/?pos=574640,160856&z=32

Slowpoke

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oricanada
oricanada
21 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2018 - 5:53 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke. I see why ypu are considered an expert in this matter, you really know your stuff and Im very grateful for this valuable information.

<<"For intercity, you can't beat the convenience of trains"

Yeah I think there's no way around it, I guess I'm fully converted. Hehe.

I saw some pretty good hotels really close from the stations. There is a particular hotel that called my attention in Murren, Hotel Alpina, seems like it has a very nice view. And around Lucerne I'm thinking staying 3 nights and making a day trip to bern and thun.

I was thinking to stay in Murren in case we do go to Schilthorn, it might be the best way to do it. It looks amazing as well and it is included in the Swiss travel pass.

Regarding the weather for skiin, thats ok not having snow (actually I prefer not having that much snow), we are originally from Venezuela so never skied before.

We do have pretty awesome mountains around Vancouver so maybe I'll skip the Jungfraujoch this time and try Schilthorn.

Our flight leaves at 7 pm from Geneva, so maybe Montreux is an option.

Now that I know Im getting the Swiss travel pass I see that the glaciar express is included. I know its lots to cram in, but do you think its worth it?

my trip is finally taking shape thanks to these awesome tips.

Oriana

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5163 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2018 - 6:10 PM in reply to oricanada

Hi Oriana-

"Worth it " is up to you. You have the tools to figure out how much work and time it will take. We enjoyed it, but we did get tired of looking at mountains. ;-)

www.myswissalps.com/gl acierexpress

<<"saw some pretty good hotels really close from the stations. There is a

particular hotel that called my attention in Murren, Hotel Alpina, seems

like it has a very nice view. And around Lucerne I'm thinking staying 3

nights and making a day trip to bern and thun.">>

This may help:

www.myswissalps.com/ac commodation

Thun is quite close to the Jungfrau region.

This is a useful map:

map.search.ch/?pos=629568,186496&z=4

Zoom in to see the rail lines. You could take the fast route to Bern, return via Thun and Meiringen and Giswil, on the slower route which is partly on the Golden Pass route.

Also, it shows hotels...under Points of Interest/Gastronomy in the menus.

Slowpoke

Lucas
Lucas
9609 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 7, 2018 - 9:52 AM in reply to oricanada

When you get to the Jungfrau region you'll see that the Coast mountains around Vancouver (Grouse, Seymour, the Lions etc) don't compare to the Alps - its a whole different level here (literally, by 1000's of meters). Schilthorn (similar views as Jungfraujoch and almost as high) is a great option especially at the price!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5163 posts
expert
Jan 7, 2018 - 1:42 PM in reply to oricanada

Hi Oriana-

Lucas wrote:

<<"your connections as well (give yourself time to connect to the next train you need to connect).">>

The trains routinely schedule very tight connections, but they are all possible. Standard connection time is 4 minutes.. If it is shown to be longer than that in the time table, it may be for a large station.

If it is less than 4 minutes, it is almost always because the inbound and the out bound are on opposites sides of the same platform, making for a very short walk.

Slowpoke

oricanada
oricanada
21 posts
new member
Jan 7, 2018 - 5:21 PM

Hi Lukas

"When you get to the Jungfrau region you'll see that the Coast mountains around Vancouver (Grouse, Seymour, the Lions etc)"

I'm sure you're right. They do look impresive, specially when driving up to whistler. But I'm pretty sure theres no comparison.

Hi Slowpoke

"The trains routinely schedule very tight connections, but they are all possible"

That's good to know. I need to study the train options and routes. Thank you for the information.

Ok. So here's the update. I booked the hotels for:

- 3nights in Lucerne ( the hotel is in front of the station, next to the one thay rockoyster recommended)

-2 nights in Murren ( booked the hotel Alpina, just for the view)

-2 nights in Montreux ( close to the train station with view of lake Geneva)

last thing I need to get is the Swiss travel pass and I'm done. Hehe

Thank you so much for all the help. Im not sure if there's a section in this website to share your experience after the trip, I think it would be awesome.

Oriana

rockoyster
rockoyster
4022 posts
expert
Jan 7, 2018 - 7:44 PM in reply to oricanada

Hello Oriana,

That sounds good. Have a great, car-free trip.

Look forward to you reporting back here www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/tripreports

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5163 posts
expert
Jan 7, 2018 - 10:08 PM in reply to oricanada

H Orianna-

<<"Ok. So here's the update. I booked the hotels for:

- 3nights in Lucerne ( the hotel is in front of the station, next to the one thay rockoyster recommended)">>

That will be really convenient.

I or we have always been willing to walk a bit with my/our luggage...or some of it....and so we have stayed on the side of the river across from the station. Recently, I have been using the Hotel des Alpes, on the Rathausquai, one of the ones recommended by the forum.

map.search.ch/?q=hotel+continental+pa rk+luzern&near=666657, 211309&pos=666114,2114 71&z=512

The rooms on the back side, toward the old town, are not at all expensive by Luzern standards. The rooms facing the river are rather expensive...but they have a view similar to the attached. It was actually taken from the Hotel Schiff, which has closed and is now apartments. So, the angle and the direct view of Pilatus is not so good. But, the view is the justification for the higher room prices.

The Bahnhof is about 200-250 meters to the left of the church, to help you place it.

Most restaurants along the Rathausquai and Unter der Egg have outdoor seating under the arcades, and along the river in nice weather. Who knows, you might be lucky in April.

A restaurant that has stood the test of time, and even improved with new managers in the past couple of years, is the Rathausbrauerei:

www.rathausbrauerei.ch /en/

Watch the pictures that show on their home page. They should change every few seconds, as a short slide show to show the environment.

The food is good, and they have a variety of dishes, from simple and fairly cheap to fancier and more expensive. As their name suggests, they brew their own beer.

By the way "Rathaus" means council house or townhall., in case your German did not extend to that translation.

The restaurant is in the lower level of the old town hall. The main entrance to the town hall building is up a few meters from the quai, on the other side of the building, on a plaza in the old town.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 7, 2018 - 10:10 PM by Slowpoke
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