May itinerary St.Gallen, Zermatt, Wengen, Lucerne

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23 posts
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Nov 27, 2017 - 11:37 PM

Hi All,

I'm working on planning our itinerary for our first ever trip to Switzerland, and we couldn't be more excited! We're coming from Seattle, WA and will be in Switzerland the first two weeks of May. I know it is shoulder season, which means less crowds but also less options available. We land in Zurich and are renting a car for the first few days and driving through southern Germany and Northeastern Switzerland. Below please find our tentative itinerary.

Any and all comments and suggestions welcome....


Arrive in Zurich at 8:25am

Explore Zurich:

-Alstadt (old town)


-Frau Gerolds Garten and Gerold Cuchi Umbrellas


Take shuttle to airport and rent a car

Southern Germany


Southern Germany


Drive to Wasseraun and park car

Take Cable Car from Wasseraun-Ebenalp

Wildkirchli Caves

Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli

Drive to Schwagalp Santis Schwebebahn

Take cable car up the mountain

Old Santis is restaurant on top of mountain

Stay in Urnasch


Drive to St. Gallen and visit Abbey Library

Drive to Zurich Airport to return rental car by Noon

Take train to Zermatt

Take Gorgnerat bahn to Gorgnerat OR

Kleine Matterhorn to Matterhorn Glacier Paradise

<Peak to peak is CLOSED>

Back down to Zermatt

Stay in Zermatt


Train from Zermatt to Jungfrau Region (Staying 4 nights in Wengen)

5/4, 5/5, 5/6 and 5/7: Activities interchangeable based on weather

Day 1:

Wengen to Muerren

Muerren to Schilthorn

Piz Gloria

Thrill Walk

Schilthorn to Gimmelwald

Gimmelwald to Stechelberg

Trummelbach Falls

Walk through the valley of 72 waterfalls to Lauterbrunnen

Back to Wengen

Day 2:

Wengen to Kleine Scheidigg

Kleine Scheidigg to Jungfraujoch

Jungfraujoch to Grindelwald

Grindelwald to First Cliff Walk

Either First Mountain Cart or Trottibike Scooter down the mountain

Explore Grindelwald then back to Wengen

Day 3:

St Beatus Caves

Harder Kulm

Two Lakes Bridge

Boat on Lake Brienz – visit Giessbach falls

Oberhofen castle

Day 4:

Train to Kandersteg

Hike to Oeschinsee Lake

Chocolate making workshop – Interlaken ( /workshops/)


Take the train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen to Meiringen

Leave luggage at Meiringen station

Walk to Aare Gorge

Skip Riechenbach Falls

Train to Lucerne, stay in Lucerne

(Do the things listed for the 10th if decide to do Andermatt and Gotthard Pass trip on the 10th)


Take the Burgenstock shuttle boat from Lucerne to Kehrsiten – Burgenstock

Take funicular to Burgenstock resort

Explore and have lunch at Burgenstock resort

Bergenstock Felsenweg hike to Hammetschwand lift

From the top, walk to Villa Honegg

Spa 7pm – 11pm

Make it back to Burgenstock in time to catch last funicular and boat back to Lucerne (11:30pm). Stay in Lucerne



Breakfast in Old Town Lucerne

Boat to Brunnen

Swiss Army Knife Museum and Visitor Center

Boat back to Lucerne

Lion Monument

Chapel Bridge

Jesuit Church

Explore Lucerne

Train from Lucerne to Zurich airport

Stay in Zurich

OPTION 2: (also can be done on 5/11)

Train to Andermatt

Rent via ferrata gear

Bus to Diavolo via ferrata

Return gear

Bus to gotthard pass to:

I assume the bus stops at the pass itself, near the restaurants and hotels. It’s not a long walk to the look-out. Just south of Lago die Bianchi, just off the main (not busy) road is the view.

Train to Zurich. Stay in Zurich.


Train to Stein am Rhein and Rhein Falls

Train back to Zurich. Stay in Zurich


Shuttle to Zurich Airport

Depart at 10:15am


Via Ferrata Diavolo – this is the only via ferrata I could find for beginners that will be open in May. Do you recommend? Good views?

Tremola – Gotthard Pass: I am really wanting a view of the Tremola, does it sound doable in the itinerary as such?

Oeschinsee Lake: Sounds like the Gondola won't be open to the lake yet, but the hike to the lake sounds to be pretty doable. Do you recommend in May, weather permitting?

Closures due to season, so sad :-(

Murren via ferrata - closed

Schynige Platt – closed

Aletch Glacier – closed

Mannlichen – closed

Panoramaweg – closed

Rhone Glacier ice cave – closed

Trift Bridge - closed - especially sad about this one

So this is as it stands currently. I will do the calculations as to what rail pass to purchase once we've finalized the itinerary.

I very much welcome your feedback!

Thank you so much!


Last modified on Nov 28, 2017 - 12:22 AM by Lanab206
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Nov 28, 2017 - 3:24 AM

Hi. If I am reading things correctly, you will arrive in Zurich on April 29, and on the 30th you will go back to the airport and rent a car and then set off for Germany and Eastern Switzerland. Why not rent the car when you arrive on the 29th and then start off on your trip to Germany that same day ? This way you can move up everything else by a day and when you get back to Zurich at the end of your two weeks, you can do what you would have done on the 29th. You could even do the Rheinfall and Stein am Rhein on your way to Germany and this could possibly free up another day later on. Just a thought.

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Nov 28, 2017 - 6:37 AM in reply to Lanab206

Hi Lana,

>> 5/2: Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli

They reopen at the beginning of May, which conceivably could be any time in the first week or so, depending on the weather. As you plan to visit right at the very beginning of May, it would probably be a good idea to check if it is open before going up.

>> 5/4: ... Jungfrau Region ... 5/4, 5/5, 5/6 and 5/7 ... Day 1: Wengen to Muerren

The cable car Lauterbrunnen-Grütschalp reopens on 5 May, but you can get to Mürren on 4 May via the cable car from Stechelberg.

>> Day 2: Either First Mountain Cart or Trottibike Scooter down the mountain

They reopen on 5 May, so this should be OK

>> Day 3: Oberhofen castle

The park will be open, but the castle museum is closed until 13 May.

>> 5/8: Walk to Aare Gorge

Only the west entrance will be open, so you will need to retrace your steps through the gorge rather than exiting at the east end.

>> 5/10: OPTION 2: (also can be done on 5/11) Bus to gotthard pass

There will be no buses running over the Gotthard Pass until 23 June. Even for cars, the pass will probably not be open, as it has only been open by this date in 2 years out of the last 26 years - not the best odds!


23 posts
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Nov 28, 2017 - 8:56 PM in reply to Peterli

Hi Peterli,

This is indeed a wonderful suggestion. The thought process behind that is we'll have been flying for 15 hours and although morning in Switzerland, it will be shortly after midnight in our time zone so I wanted to take an easy day before setting off on a car driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road adventure :-)

I want to ensure we're well rested before we take on our first time driving in Europe.

That being said, perhaps we can leave our luggage and take the train to Stein am Rhein that day and still open up that last day. I am ok skipping Rheinfall since we'll be going to Lauterbrunnen later in our trip and those waterfalls look much more incredible.

Thank you for this suggestion!


23 posts
new member
Nov 28, 2017 - 9:04 PM

Hi Alpenrose,

Thank you so much for this detail!

I will certainly keep it on my radar to check the Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli will be open on May 2. If the restaurant itself is not open, will we will still be able to take the cable car up to the caves and at least SEE the Berggasthaus?

Thank you for the feedback on our days in the Jungfrau region, I will bear this in mind when calculating how to get around.

RE: Gotthard Pass. I did read that, but I must have assumed that transportatiopn would still run to the pass, just not over the pass itself as this is how it works when our passes close here in Seattle. That being said, is there no transportation at all that would allow us to get to a viewpoint of the Tremola?

Thank you again, so much, for your help!


751 posts
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Nov 28, 2017 - 10:20 PM in reply to Lanab206

Hi again, Lana.

The attached map shows how easy it is to go by car from Kloten to Stein Am Rhein via Neuhausen (where the Rheinfall is located). It is all of 54 kilometres, which works out to less than 34 of your miles. Your car will probably have a TomTom or other satnav device in it which will facilitate your movements. And when you rent in Switzerland it will have a "vignette" up on the front windshield which allows you to travel on all of the Swiss autoroutes. You will also notice, if you haven't already, the crazy border between Germany and Switzerland. You'll pass through Germany to get to Neuhausen and probably again (depending on which roads you take) to get to Stein am Rhein. All this to say that in very little time you can visit the Rheinfall and Stein am Rhein and then find yourself a nice place to relax for the night, either in Stein am Rhein or across the very nearby German border. As for jet-lag, it may take you more than one or two days to get used to the time differential of nine hours. I read your comment about skipping the Rheinfall but I just want to say that the waterfalls in the Lauterbrunnen area are very different. They have a much greater vertical drop and most are rather wispy, if that is a good word. Not so for the Rheinfall, where you feel and hear the power of all that water, even though the vertical drop is not very much. I'd say they are as different as are Niagara Falls in Canada (USA) and the Angel Falls in Venezuela. Anyway, you decide (of course) but I don't think you will regret seeing them both. Here is a video with drone footage of the Rheinfall: And here is a video (in Swiss-German) about the waterfalls in the area around Lauterbrunnen: Now,having said all this and if I was only allowed to choose one or the other, I would choose the ones around Lauterbrunnen, mainly because of all the spectacular scenery that is all around. When I was going to school in the French part of Switzerland and my Summer vacation arrived, I purchased a GA (General Abonnement for trains) and the very first place I headed to was the Lauterbrunnen valley. You are going to love it, and I hope you have great weather.

Last modified on Nov 28, 2017 - 10:24 PM by Peterli
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Nov 28, 2017 - 11:50 PM

Hi Peterli,


That drone footage was incredible. Maybe a boat trip to the rock with a cold mist on our faces will help with the lack of sleep. I think you might just be on to something! I definitely do not want to skip this.

Meanwhile, I agree with you completely - the scenery in Lauterbrunnen looks absolutely incredible and I cannot wait to lay eyes upon it.

Thank you for the well wishes for great weather and thank you so much for this great information.


5954 posts
Nov 29, 2017 - 1:02 AM in reply to Lanab206

Hi Lana,

Spring is the best time to visit Rheinfall. The flow is greatly boosted by the snow melt. I was there late May and found it very impressive. Whereas my son who lives in Konstanz had visited in September and said it was a bit boring.

Konstanz is a lovely town if you happen to get that far in your drives.

Not sure how far into Germany you plan to head but we found Gengenbach delightful for an overnight stop.

751 posts
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Nov 29, 2017 - 2:00 AM

Hi Lana,

Rockoyster has made a good point. You will be seeing the Rheinfall during the period when it has its greatest flow. I was there in late September not that long ago and it was still pretty impressive. I think I will have to make an effort to visit it in late May. I can just imagine what it would like to be up on top of that rock (Rheinfall-Felsen) out in the middle with all that water roaring by.

I was also kind of wondering where you are planning to go in Germany, and since Rockoyster has mentioned Konstanz, I will mention Insel Minau (Island), which is very close (about 4 kilometres) from Konstanz. ng-hours-prices.html If you go, be sure to visit the Butterfly House. Here is another site with a number of photos from Insel Mainau. gsziele/insel-mainau In case you miss it, here is a video all about what you can see in Spring (Frühling) at Insel Mainau: If you want to know more about the history of this wonderful place, look up Lennart Bernadotte in Wikipedia. Such an interesting man to learn about.

5954 posts
Nov 29, 2017 - 2:09 AM

A few Rheinfall shots . . . .

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Nov 29, 2017 - 2:47 AM in reply to Lanab206

Hi Lana,

>> I will certainly keep it on my radar to check the Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli will be open on May 2. If the restaurant itself is not open, will we will still be able to take the cable car up to the caves and at least SEE the Berggasthaus?

The cable car will be operating. What you can do on top will depend on weather conditions at the time.

>> That being said, is there no transportation at all that would allow us to get to a viewpoint of the Tremola?

No, the PostBus is the only public transport over the top of the pass, and it will not run until 23 June regardless of whether or not the pass reopens before then.

Given the location of your morning activities, I assume you were planning to start from the Andermatt side of the Gotthard Pass. The Tremola is on the Airolo side of the pass. So travelling from Andermatt, you go over the top of the pass and start heading down the other side before getting views of the Tremola.

If starting from Airolo, the point at which you start getting good views of the Tremola is when you go through the avalanche gallery after emerging from a tunnel. That is fairly close to the top of the pass (see attached aerial view). Even if there were a partial reopening of the pass (as happens with some passes) I would imagine that would be the last section of the pass to open.


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Nov 29, 2017 - 5:22 AM

Well that settles it, we definitely will not be skipping Rheinfall. I am determined to take the boat trip to the stairs in the middle of the falls, it looks epic. We are fortunate to have many waterfalls here in Washington, but nothing quite like that.

Our two days in Germany were allocated to visiting castles - first a day exploring Hohenzollern castle and Lichtenstein castle, then staying in Friedrichshafen (I have an abundance of hotel points with IHG that I am trying to use wherever possible and they have a hotel there). The next day to Neuschwanstein castle and Hohenschawangau castle and staying in Fussen. The following morning we head on to the Ebenalp and Santis adventures.

If I can find a better deal on the car rental then it sounds like my best bet would be to rent the car right away on the 29th and head to Rheinfall, Stein am Rhein and then stay in Singen (where there is also an IHG hotel) which will then open up the last day of our trip to fit in any of the many options I couldn't fit into our itinerary.

When I looked earlier the price to rent the car from the 29th- 3rd was almost double what the rental fee is to rent the car for the 30th - 3rd. I know rental car rates fluctuate so I will certainly keep an eye on it and look for a better deal. We need an automatic, which seem to be quite more expensive then the manual transmission.

I will look into Konstanz, Insel Mainau and Gengenbach to see what we might be able to fit in our itinerary. These are all wonderful suggestions and at first glance all look amazing, thank you!


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Nov 29, 2017 - 5:30 AM in reply to Removed user

Thank you, Alpenrose.

You're right, the plan was to head from Andermatt to a view of the Tremola from the Lago die Bianchi. Sounds like this is not possible due to the pass closure. To confirm: there is no reasonable route from Andermatt to view the Tremola in May?

I suppose I can accept that. I've already mourned the closures I listed in my original post, some of which were heartbreaking (like the Trift bridge, Schynige Platt, Brienz Rothorn Bahn, etc..) so I can survive this one as well if I have to :-)

I suppose I'l have to plan a return trip in the true summer months and a third in the deep winter months to get the full scope of the Swiss experience!

Thank you so much for your help with this!


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Nov 29, 2017 - 7:14 AM in reply to Lanab206

>> I suppose I'l have to plan a return trip in the true summer months

For a summer experience, September (although technically autumn) is a good month - all the mountain transport is still in full swing, the weather is mostly pleasant, and the crowds have thinned out.

From the second half of October until the ski season starts, your options are much more limited, as summer-only transport and attractions start closing down, and year-round mountain transport starts closing for 4-6 weeks do undertake maintenance.

>> and a third in the deep winter months to get the full scope of the Swiss experience!

Switzerland in the snow is magical! Make sure not to go too early in the winter, or you may be disappointed with the lack of snow. February is a good month, but if you don't like crowds, you should avoid the school holidays - winter-sport breaks tend to happen around that time, and the dates vary a bit from place to place.

There is a calendar here to help you avoid the school holidays. You can click down several levels to get to specific localities, and can select the relevant year. There is also a link underneath the table that takes you to the source of the data:

www.feiertagskalender. ch/ferien.php?jahr=2017&geo=3056&kla sse=5&hl=de&hidepast=1

If you are interested in seeing other mountain passes in the Central Alps, as well as the Gotthard Pass and Tremola, I can recommend the Vierpässefahrt (Four Passes Trip) on the PostBus from Meiringen. It only runs between the end of June and mid-October (23 Jun to 14 Oct in 2018). I have written a report about it here: rum/topic/postbus-through-four-passes-of-the-central-alps


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