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Driving itinerary Hergiswil, Gruyeres and Lugano

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2 posts
new member
Apr 15, 2016 - 1:32 PM

Hi, I am arranging a trip to Switzerland at the last minute (due to another 7 day destination we had to cancel). Bit stressed as usually spend months researching etc before booking but anyways here I go.

This is the plan so far.

14th may arrive by train into Zurich pick up hire car and drive to Hergiswil (3nights booked there).

Plan to visit Lucerne,Rigi or Pilatus (cogwheel etc) Open to other suggestions here???

17th drive to Interlarken( thought it was a good place to day trip from)? stay 3 nights (haven't booked accom here yet)

Day trip to Gelmebahn, Gotthart Pass/Tunnel info centre (unfortunately tours are all booked out), Furka Pass (if open)

Day trip Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, Jungfraujoch and Grindlewald.

Open to suggestions for other day??

20th Drive through Spiez ,Thun to Bern then to Gruyeres

Overnight Vevey or Montreux or open to suggestions ???

21st Our last day, we need to drive to Lugano to drop off hire car by 2pm So would appreciate suggested routes and what to see that day?

O/night Lugano Have a hotel booked here by the station.

22nd we are getting train to Milan.

I would appreciate your input as to it there are any gaping holes or glaring mistakes of must sees we have missed or glitches about driving I have missed etc etc.


7567 posts
Apr 16, 2016 - 8:55 AM in reply to shelleyp

Hi Shelleyp-

A few quick comments.

High passes such as the Furka will not be open.

Hergiswil is a good start.

You have not allowed enough time in the Jungfrau region, even though it is not yet Spring at the higher altitudes. And, the region is mostly car free. Weather is variable and most people stay a couple of days at least to help with finding a clear day.

If i were doing that trip I'd work that itinerary to use trains in the early and middle part at least. If you are driving, you cannot watch the scenery roll by as easily as on the trains. The views from the trains are a rewarding part of the trip intheir own right.

You can ride the Gotthard pass train to Lugano.....forget the drive. You don't need a tour to appreciate the train ride.

That's a start.


Last modified on Apr 16, 2016 - 8:56 AM by Slowpoke
2 posts
new member
Apr 17, 2016 - 8:31 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hmmm I have already booked the hire car as the men in our party have an aversion to lugging suitcases about from train to train and to hotels! So Zurich to hotel in Hergiswil would mean 2x train changes ie 3x trains that day!

The area through to Bern,Gruyeres and Vevey will be good in a car though (won't it)

Guess I could re arrange to drop off the car at say Montreux?(if I can) and then do the last day through to Lugano by train as we are staying the final night in a hotel right by the station. But that does mean we will have our bags with us and so wouldn't be able to get off along the way, we would just need to go directly to Lugano.

I understand the use of trains in Switzerland is prolific, we aren't used to travelling that way and see driving as being a great benefit to be able to stop when we want and see something that takes our eye if we want to.

We drove all through the Rockies in Canada ourselves and it was great, but guessing Switzerland is quite different and has more train options.

I am trying to be flexible, but also am aware of the guys........

I have booked the 2nd last night in Vevey as looked a good alternative to Montreaux cost wise and size too.

So just have the middle 3 days accom to book and sorting through more specifics for each day.

Appreciate your thoughts and ideas.


15885 posts
expert &
Apr 17, 2016 - 9:14 AM in reply to shelleyp

Hi Shelley,

Driving will be much different than in the Rockies I guess. Although I didn't drive there, I did drive in the US and you probably find the roads in Switzerland busier and narrow. The driver must definitely focus on the road, not on the views. Indeed you can stop in a lot of places. In towns it might be more difficult to find a parking place, and it's nearly always paid. The bigger the town, the harder it gets. More information: myswissalps.com/ car.

I you want to try the excellent Swiss train system you could use the car to move from town to town but leave it there during your stay and take the trains for day trips. A car would be inconvenient for your day trip from Hergiswil to the Jungfrauregion, for example. Most of the region can't be reached by car, so you might as well take the Golden Pass line from Hergiswil to Interlaken and enjoy the train ride with its nice large windows. Then do a round trip in the region by train and cable cars without the limitation to get back to where you parked the car.

By the way, luggage can be transported for you, at a cost: myswissalps.com/ train/practical/ luggage.

Have fun!

Last modified on Apr 17, 2016 - 9:22 AM by Annika
7567 posts
Apr 17, 2016 - 1:56 PM in reply to shelleyp

Hi Shelley -

Arno has made some important points.

I'll add that the last time I drove high Alpine pass roads there were many stretches with no guardrails. Theory is that if you have a license, you know how to drive. Interesting; perhaps even un-American.. The driver should not watch the scenery. There are very few places to pull off and look, but there are some.

I live in Connecticut and have driven in most states in the USA. Swiss main roads are very heavily used, and driving in cities, even with a GPS, is difficult and confusing. Without it, the intersections come up very quickly, and the streets signs are not in English....Sort of like driving in Boston...where they paved the cow paths. Street grid? What's that?

Swiss cities have active programs to discourage car usage in cities.

Distances are short, and, if there is no congestion ( common on pass roads on weekends) travel by car can be faster than travel by train on many faster train routes off the main lines from Zürich to Geneva, for example.

Switzerland rail is moving toward a model of fast intercity transport. For main city to main city trips, times have been shortened and you will often find a good fast connection every 30 minutes. For city to city you cannot beat that with a car; the train stations are in the heart of town.

In the countryside, car travel will be pleasant, and can be faster than local trains. But, if you are in mountainous regions not so much. And, you miss the striking train ride from Montreux to Montbovon to Gruyeres if you choose to drive instead.

It is certainly inconvenient to haul luggage on and off trains. What you may not have considered is that driving a car has inconveniences and disadvantages, too. I often use the train system to send luggage ahead. It works. See the link Arno provided.


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

Arno mentioned "day trips."

My model is to stay in villages a modest distance outside cities, going from village to village by rented car periodically. The car often sits at my inn while I use the train to get into a city or make other trips to see the scenery, or get to one end of a hike which may return me to my car by a bus at the end, or may consist of a cirdular route out in the country..Many well known hikes have bus service to and from trail heads, at least on weekends, also.

Staying in the cities is a lot more expensive than staying at inns, as I do. If I leave a car overnight in Luzern, I spend about $50.00 on parking fees. At an inn in Affoltern, no cost. Probaly true for you in Hergiswil. That stay fits my model.

Of course, each person needs a train ticket or discounted rail pass, so a rental car can save money for a group.


7567 posts
Apr 17, 2016 - 6:20 PM in reply to shelleyp

Hi ShelleyP-

<<" So Zurich to hotel in Hergiswil would mean 2x train changes ie 3x trains that day!">>

I don't understand that.

There are frequent trains from Zürich HB to Luzern, change once, ride to Hergiswil.

It is not easy to get to the major rental agencies ( Avis, Hertz) in Zürich. Don't know where the others are. You could go by public transport, which I do, but likely will take a cab if you choose to get your car in the city.. You won't like the taxi fares.

You could take a train to the airport ( 70-80 CHF taxi or cheap train 6 to 8 times per hour) to rent, but there is an approx. 10% surcharge for the whole cost if you rent there....

Moving luggage around the main stations on handy luggage carts (2 CHF in the slot to get one, get it back when you "plug" the cart back in at one of the many locations) is rather easy.

It is just as hard to get it to the cab line, where you have to manhandle it to the cab.

Once you have the rental car, and manhandle your luggage into it,you have to drive it out of the city. With GPS, not to bad. if you were flying in and were jet lagged, it could be different. In that case I would definitely recommend a direct train from the airport to Luzern, change for Hergiswill and rent your car when you leave Hergiswil (Avis is in Kriens- don't know who you prefer.) Driving in a strange country is tough enough; jet lag makes it unsafe.)

It would make sense to take a very scenic train to Interlaken or a nearby town in the Valley. One train to Interlaken., if you choose to stay there) for a three day stay. Change only if you do go into Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, etc.

There are plenty of car rental agencies in Interlaken. It is easy to drive around.

From the Interlaken region there are some very scenic train rides that you cannot reproduce by car. You could come close if you take the car train through the upper Lötschberg tunnel..

If you drive that route, you could go via Zweisimmen, rather than Bern. If you go to bern, park outside somewhere and take the train in.

With a trip organized in that fashion, you would not have a lot of luggage schlepping if you went by train.

There is good trans alpine service from Montreux direct to Milan via the Simplon. However, if you must go to Lugano, you really ought to travel the Gotthard route, from south of Luzern.

Just some suggestions. There are certainly good reasons to go by car, but don't consider ease of handling luggage or ease of access to cities as part of them.



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