First time family trip to Switzerland 9 days July

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3 posts
new member
Apr 5, 2018 - 8:24 PM

Hello MySwissAlps

My wife, 2 daughters (12 and 14 yrs old) and myself are planning a trip to Switzerland in July.

We are planning on (not booked yet) taking TGV train from Paris to Lausanne. And the end goal is to get to Montreux, without stopping off in Lausanne.

So 3 days stay in Montreux - during that time sightseeing in Montreux, Vevey, Chillon, Zermatt, Lake Geneva and also wanted to do Chocolate train.

Then head from there to Interlaken. Again not stopping in Interlaken but head to Grindewald. stay there 3 days. Go to Mr.Jungfrau (top of Europe), enjoy other nice sightseeing areas around that place.

Then head to Lucerne. 3 nights in the Lucerne area. My plan is to do Rhine falls, Mt.titlis and if time permits go to Zurich.

I know the plan is sketchy. Was looking for some advise/input as to what would be the best way to spend 9 days in Switzerland starting from Lausanne and ending in Lucerne (or Zurich) as I am heading to Austria from there.

Kids want to indulge in all things chocolates (And cheese/fondue) and we want to enjoy in the scenic beauty of Switzerland.

Any help/advise will be appreciated.


12109 posts
expert &
Apr 6, 2018 - 5:40 AM

Hi Isunomad,

Welcome to MySwissAlps! You e-mailed us the below message and said you were not able to post it here. It is standard procedure for new users like yourself to be reviewed after their first post. You should have received an e-mail explaining that (if not, please check your junk mail folder and white list our domain if the mail is in there). This procedure is to prevent forum spam. During the review you can't post. You've been reviewed now, so you should be able to post. If not, please let us know which error message you are getting. We'll get back to you soon. Thanks for your patience.

Hello there

Let me start again…after reading plenty of commentary on this forum I am definitely overwhelmed but happy I finally found a place where I can get some assistance in planning my trip.

So let me start with a clean state and give some info..

As mentioned, family traveling for the first time to Switzerland in July. We have about 9 days in total in Switzerland. we are coming from Paris and heading to Austria. I also plan to buy Eurorail pass for 3 country traveling 5 days.

Given 9 days - I was planning to have 3 bases - (a) Montreaux (b) Grindewald and (c) Lucerne. I am flexible to change them …this is from all my reading that I have gathered.

And then move around from each of these base areas to do sightseeing around these places. We as a family like to enjoy our trips by not rushing like crazy. Soak in the place/people/scenery but at the same time if and when possible try to see some of the must-see places, especially as this is our first time to Switzerland.

We are looking to see the scenery of Switzerland…the “wow” scenery, enjoy the chocolates, cheese, the train rides, the lakes, the mountains..and hike a bit as well.

Given this background here are my many questions

(A) Is taking the train from Paris to Lausanne TGV train, the best option for a nice scenic trip? or is there a better option? I want to avoid if possible too many train changes and also don’t want to spend an entire day in train if possible.

(B) Is it a smart idea to stay in Montreaux area or should I be considering stopping of and staying in Lausanne as my first base?

(C) While in the south side - my plan was see Montreaux, Chillon, Vevey, Zermatt, Lake Geneva, do the chocolate train and visit the Charlie Chaplain museum. Anything else I should think about doing in addition or instead? I have 3 nights and 3 days in south area. I am not sure how close or far these places are from the base area.

(D) based on what I read on the forum, it looks like I should take from Montreaux to Grindelwald the Golden Pass train. Is this a good option? the only option?

(E) How long does this ride take? And can I take it late in the afternoon or early evening? so that I get almost a full day in Montreaux or wherever I am staying in the south?

(F) Once I get to Grindelwald. My plan was to again spend 3 nights 3 days - doing 1 day Jungfrauch/Top Of Europe, looking for ideas for the 2nd and 3rd day?

(G) Should I invest in a Bernese Oberland Pass? based on your suggestions in question (F) above.

(H) Anything to see in Interlaken itself?

(I) then head from Grindelwald to Lucerne for another 3 nights 3 day. where do I get a train for this from Interlaken to Lucerne or is there a train from Grindelwald to Lucerne?

(J) Once in Lucerne - from here I would like to think about doing Rhine Falls, Mt.titlis. Is this doable?

(K) what else should be done around Lucerne? Should I look at going to Zurich for a day?

(L) other ideas? thoughts on how I can spend 3 days up in this Lucerne/Zurich area? The intent being I am heading off to Innsbruck from here.

(M) Do I need a Swiss Rail Pass given that I have a Eurorail pass?

(N) I will have luggage at each of these stops when I am moving from base to base and would like to limit if possible the number of train changes as I dont know how much time I will have to unload and reload from one train to another

I am flexible and have the time to redo my planning, as I am still in my draft phase, if there is a much better 9 day itinerary to see Switzerland as a first timer with a family. I appreciate all your help in advance and eagerly await for some feedback to start my bookings.


Last modified on Apr 6, 2018 - 5:41 AM by Arno
246 posts
active member
Apr 6, 2018 - 11:31 AM

Hi Isonomad

Regarding what to do in Grindelwald, it somewhat depends on what your family enjoys. First cable cars leave from the middle of Grindelwald. Along the way up, your daughters might enjoy riding the trottibikes at Bort, the mountain carts at Schreckfeld, or the Zipline at First. Additionally the view at First is very good and there is a short scenic hike along a paved trail from First to Bachalpsee which is popular.

Im not sure how it would fit in you itinerary, but the side trip to Schynige Platte is very scenic

Last you might enjoy taking the gondolas from just outside Grindelwald up the valley floor to Männlichen then taking the short walk to Kleine Scheidegg and then the train back to Grindelwald Mark

10385 posts
expert &
Apr 6, 2018 - 12:00 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Isunomad,

Let me take a look at your email questions and we'll go from there. I think your rough itinerary has the right idea!

  1. From Paris you can get to Switzerland arriving at Lausanne or Basel. If you want to avoid changes then stick with the direct route to Lausanne.
  2. I like Montreux better as a base town.
  3. I think those plans will fill up your 3 days nicely for the Montreux area. Zermatt will be a full day on its own. Use the Swiss Railways timetable to see the timings between your destinations.
  4. The Golden Pass route is the most scenic option yes - I'd stick with it.
  5. Check the timetable. You'll be changing trains in Zweisimmen and Interlaken at least. I would expect about 4-5 hours to Grindelwald
  6. Look at Schilthorn, especially with the Swiss Travel Pass (free). Mark has added other great suggestions
  7. The Swiss Travel Pass for your entire trip may be the best option. To know for sure though read our web page here: How to choose the best rail pass.
  8. Nothing major know - suggestions here.
  9. You'll take a train from Grindelwald and change in Interlaken - nothing direct. Take the Luzern - Interlaken Express train from Interlaken, it is the most scenic option.
  10. Rheinfalls are a bit far from Luzern but doable. I wouldn't put them at the top of my must-see list. For ideas closer to Luzern look here.
  11. See above. I wouldn't worry about Zurich too much unless you are interested in museums or art galleries are a "bigger city"
  12. See #10
  13. Ah. there is the question. Probably not worth getting both. You can see what is covered fully, partially or not at all by a Eurail Select Pass here. (and see point #7).
3 posts
new member
Apr 13, 2018 - 6:28 PM

Hello Mark and Lucas

Firstly, thank you so much for your very quick and insightful response. It gave me a lot of good pointers.

Below is my 9 day plan as of now.

As mentioned before our plan is Paris to Montreaux - Grindelwald - Lucerne - Innsbruck (or Salzburg). Coming in from Paris and leaving to go to Austria are the only two things that are absolute fixed. Rest is flexible. Selecting Montreux, Grindelwald and Lucerne is something I determined out of the many blogs I have read. So I am happy to change them.

As for us what we like to do on a vacation - as a family we like to do enjoy our holiday leisurely by doing sight seeing between 10am to ,say, around 7pm and in between enjoy time off for lunch and relax and have a coffee and all. We are not a big hiking or adventurous family but sure we like to take short hikes. But the important thing is to see Switzerland’s picturesque beauty all the while eating delicious cheese, chocolates and fondue!

Here is my Itinerary (so far)

Day 0 Paris to MontreuxAccording to Train Times we will reach Montreux Station by 4:15pm.

Day 1 Chocolate Train (from Montreux) Leaving 9am to 6pm back

Day 2 Trip to Rochers De Naya

Day 3 Sight seeing around Montreux - Chateau de Chillion - Charlie Chaplin Museum

Take the Golden Pass Train from Montreux to Grindelwald (depart : 3:45pm arrive into Interlaken at 6:55pm).

Then take train from Interlaken to Grindelwald

Questions :

(1) Either Day 0, stop off at LAUSANNE (not Geneva) and do Lake Geneva cruise and then continue to Montreux? How long does this cruise take?

(2) Or Day 2 can I do Lake Geneva cruise in the evening?

(3) Is there a recommended cruise company? We dont want to have dinner on the boat. we just want to see the beauty on the lake.

(4) Is it even worth doing Lake Geneva? Between Lake Geneva vs. Lake Lucerne vs. Lake Interlaken - if one was to be chosen which is the best one?

(5) What train line goes from Interlaken to Grindelwald?

(6) Would you recommend the chocolate train ride? Is it worth it? Or are there better chocolate places that I should consider and skip on this whole thing??

(7) In the last week, the more I read about Zermatt/Matterhorn I feel like it would be much better to spend a couple of days here then what I have documented in my itinerary above. For example day 1 and day 2 - can that be removed and then just do Zermatt? But then why even bother going to Montreux?? Your thoughts? suggestions?

Day 4 - As per Mark suggestion, loved that idea, First cable cars leave from the middle of Grindelwald. Along the way up, ride trottibikes at Bort, the mountain carts at Schreckfeld, and also do Zipline at First. Check out views at First and do short scenic hike along paved trail from First to Bachalpsee.

In the evening, go to Interlaken for 6pm session to do chocolate making @ Funky Chocolate Club .

Day 5 - From Grindelwald go to Top Of Europe/Jungfrau.

On way down from Top Of Europe, stop at Kleine Scheidegg before heading down to charming town of Lauterrbrunnen, and go check out Trummbach falls

Day 6 - Grindelwald to Schynige Platte - take the 2hr tour on the cog wheel train

Head to Interlaken - take 2 hour boat cruise Brienz

Head from Interlaken to Lucern (using the Luzern - Interlaken express)

Depart : 7:04 pm

Arrive : 8:55pm


(8) Does Day 4 seem like it is doable? As mentioned, we usually don't start our day till 10am in the morning. We can of course adjust if we have to do it. But normally we like to start our day relaxed.

(9) Day 5 - I mixed this plan reading multiple blogs. Is this feasible? Again probably start our day at 10am. Unless that it is recommended to start very early to go to the Top OF Europe.

(10) Can we go to Top Of Europe from Grindelwald or do I have to go to Interlaken to go to Top of Europe?

(11) Likewise, does day 6 looks like it is feasible or is it too crammed.

Same question as #2 above applied here. Is it worth doing Interlaken Lake? I really want to just see the falls Trummbachfalle which I believe I have covered above in Day 5.

Day 7 - Go to Mt.Titlis

Day 8 - Bern??? or Rhine Falls?? or ???

Day 9 - Check out Lucerne leisurely walk-around and then head to Innsbruck

Questions :

(12) still trying to figure out what to do on Day 8…any thoughts? suggestions?

(13) Is it worth checking out Bern or Zurich? If yes, which one? For 1 day?

(14) Or should I reduce 1 day from Lucerne and add to Montreux and do Zermatt/Matterhorn??

Overall Questions

(15) In LAUSANNE, Interlaken and Lucerne do they have a place at the station where we can securely store our large bags while we sight see during the day? or alteast for 4 to 6 hours?

(16) In the month of July how late is daylight till? For example in US, it is till 9pm, even till 9:30pm it feels like afternoon!

(17) Given what our family likes to do on vacations and there is so much to see in Switzerland, what would you suggest would be an ideal trip to Switzerland, how would you lay out the 9-day itinerary with all your experience?

Again thanks for your response (in advance)

10385 posts
expert &
Apr 14, 2018 - 7:20 AM in reply to isunomad

Hi isunomad,

I'll try and run through as many answers as I can for you below:

  • It's a nice boat trip in Lake Geneva if you have the time. All the lakes are different of course - Lake Luzern is the most popular I think. There is no Lake Interlaken (Interlaken is German for "between Lakes" There is Lake Brienz on one side and Lake Thun on the other.
  • The Lake cruises covered by the Swiss Travel Pass are public transit. All noted on timetables are run by the same public company
  • The train between Interlaken and run by the BLS company I believe - It is just a regional Swiss name to it I don't think.
  • The chocolate train isn't running normally this summer due to line construction. Buses are being used
  • I can't chose between Montreux and Zermatt for you. It really comes down to the town and activities nearby. Which area looks more interesting to you? Both are very popular destination (Zermatt more for hiking and mountains certainly!)
  • Yes, day 4 is doable I think
  • Same for day 5
  • There are two ways to get to Jungfraujoch, one from Grindelwald - see here.
  • Are you staying in Lucerne on Day 6? Otherwise I wouldn't go to Lucerne
  • Day 8 I'd choose Bern over the Rhein Falls.
  • Otherwise leave day 8 open in case the weather prevented you from going on a mountain excursion. Keep it flexible and decide the night before what to do
  • Yes, those train station have lockers you can rent for the day for 6-8chf (they've taken the prices off the SBB website for some strange reason
  • Sunset around 9:30pm sounds about right - check here: https://www.timeanddat lucerne
  • Looks like you spent a good deal of time on your itiinerary and it looks quite good!
Last modified on Apr 15, 2018 - 5:51 PM by Annika
Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Apr 15, 2018 - 12:11 AM in reply to Lucas

>> The train between Interlaken and run by the BLS company I believe

This line is run by the Berner Oberland-Bahn (BOB), but as you said, the route does not have any special name :-)

The routes run by the BLS are shown here: men/ueber-uns/streckennetz

And just to head off any follow-up questions from travellers new to Switzerland:

  • All trains are included in the Swiss Timetable, regardless of which company operates any given route.


Last modified on Apr 15, 2018 - 5:52 PM by Annika
3 posts
new member
Apr 16, 2018 - 2:20 AM

Thank you Lucas and Aplenrose666 for your quick and insightful responses.

@Lucas - to your question - yes we are going from Interlaken to Lucerne on Day 6 - in the evening - and then staying there for a couple of nights to check out Mt.Titlis.

Hence the idea was checkout from Grindelwald and go to Interlaken. At the station drop of all the luggage. And then do sightseeing such as "Schynige Platte - take the 2hr tour on the cog wheel train" and then do a lake tour, if time permits, for Lake Thun or Brienz.

Go back to Interlaken station and head off to Lucern taking the Luzern-Interlaken Express train.

And then shift the base in Lucern.

Hope this day 6 is still feasible.



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