Geneva to Basel sightseeing for 4 days in May

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Quirky
Quirky
6 posts
new member
Oct 30, 2017 - 11:13 AM

My husband and I are planning a trip to Switzerland in May 2018. We fly into Geneva internationally on the 8th at 10 in the morning and need to get to Basel 3 to 4 days later to stay with friends before heading to Germany. We are wondering if it’s best to use Geneva as our base and do day tours or whether to travel to Basel by train or coach, stopping off at places of interest along the way? We like nice scenery but won’t have time to do any hiking. We prefer small, quaint towns rather than large cities. We want to make the best use of our limited time. Any input gratefully accepted.

Lucas
Lucas
9622 posts
expert &
moderator
Oct 30, 2017 - 7:34 PM in reply to Quirky

Hi Quirky and welcome to MySwissAlps!

I usually recommend traveling around Switzerland by train - read here for more details on this and click here to use the Swiss railways timetable to plan out your trips.

There is a lot of nice scenery everywhere in Switzerland so I can't say where the best place to go is without further details on what you really want to see. Using Geneva as a base is ok depending on where you want to go, if you are interested in staying in the French region then it is a good option - as is Montreux.

The most popular region to experience the mountains (Swiss Alps) would be the Jungfrau Region. If this area interests you I would train to a town like Interlaken or smaller villages like Lauterbrunnen or Wengen and stay for a couple nights to explore the area before heading to Basel.

For more information on Swiss rail passes click here - a Swiss Travel Pass would work well if you venture out of the Geneva area before heading to Basel.

Last modified on Oct 30, 2017 - 7:35 PM by Lucas
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5170 posts
expert
Oct 31, 2017 - 8:33 AM in reply to Quirky

Hi Quirky-

Lucas has certainly given you some good pointers.

It is useful to keep in mind that Switzerland is a small country with an excellent rail network.

The timetable and a map can help you get a sense of how long it takes to get to the places he mentioned, and how they are related to each other geographically. Lucas has linked you to the timetable.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

I'll add this map:

map.search.ch/

Zoom in far enough, and you will see the train lines on that map.

The menu on that map offers useful tools, too. The search function works well, too.

Just for example, to illustrate the ease of train travel, there are two trains per hour all day long from Geneva airport to Basel, leaving at xx05 and xx32. Each requires one change ....at either Bern or Biel. The route via Bern at xx32 takes 2 hours and 57 minutes. The route via Biel at xx05 takes 2 hours and 48 minutes.

Or, Geneva airport to Interlaken, a possible base for the Jungfrau region, takes 2 hours and 56 minutes, once per hour via Bern at xx32, or there are other connections including ones at xx50 which take a bit over 3 hours.

One other note-

May in the high Alps is in between Winter (skiing) season and Summer season, and some but not all restaurants, hotels and cableways are not operating. It is kind of late Winter, rather than early Spring at high altitudes. Hiking trails above about 1500 meters are often blocked by snow. Since you won't be hiking, that is not an issue. Spring is in full bloom at lower altitudes. There are many places throughout Switzerland, including places near small villages where you can take a short walk scenic , on easy trails. Or, old towns in major cities can be attractive.

Links on this page will give you more details about weather, etc.

I have attached a few random photographs to illustrate the point. Not that I am suggesting those particular ones, they are just for examples.

Slowpoke

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Quirky
Quirky
6 posts
new member
Nov 1, 2017 - 10:16 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas, Thank you for your reply. Looks like we have some more research to do but we will definitely travel by rail as it seems very efficient and everything is very close. May need a few more pointers down the track.

Many thanks Quirky

Quirky
Quirky
6 posts
new member
Nov 1, 2017 - 10:19 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke, Thanks for your reply and many links. We will definitely travel by train but now need to research the route which will be most useful. Thanks also for the weather report! Didn't realise how cold it could be in May.

Many thanks, Quirky

Snowman
Snowman
258 posts
top member
Nov 1, 2017 - 10:33 AM

Hi Quirky,

Depending on your standards, one might say there is no large city at all in Switzerland. By Swiss standards, Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Berne and Lausanne are large cities.

I support Slowpoke's hints, he knows what he is talking about. I would add that Bern is worthwile a day, and so is Olten that has a lovely old town. If you are prepared to rent a car you could go to Creux-du-Van, in the Jura mountain range, with a great view on Lake Neuchâtel and the Alps. Start from Neuchâtel.

Trains are not cheap by any non-Swiss standards, but look into day passes and the other hints supplied by Lucas.

Enjoy your trip!

Snowman

Quirky
Quirky
6 posts
new member
Nov 4, 2017 - 4:23 AM in reply to Snowman

Hi Snowman,

Thanks for your input. I think we will stick to the trains as driving can be a bit stressful in a strange country and on the opposite side of the road. I think Bern looks good so will probably go via there. We need to do more research yet.

Many thanks,

Quirky

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5170 posts
expert
Nov 4, 2017 - 9:48 AM in reply to Quirky

Hi Quirky -

<<"Thanks also for the weather report! Didn't realise how cold it could be in May. ">>

Please note that I mentioned altitude.

I've been up at Männlichen ( above Wengen at about 2230 meters, or Kleine Scheidegg, near the Jungfrau, at about 2060 meters in early June and found the trail between the blocked by snow a few meters deep in the shaded parts of the trail. Although that particular trail is usually not open until about June 15th, it can be earlier or later than that, depending on the snow pack from the previous Winter.

On the other hand, at low altitude....say Luzern, Montreux, Bern, May is definitely Spring.

I forgot to put this next link in my last post. Links on this page will give you more details about weather, etc.

www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland

In particular -

www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland/nature

and,

www.myswissalps.com/be sttimetovisit

April can be the start of Spring at lower altitudes. it is often rainy, and the weather is very changeable.

In 2014, in the middle of April there was a very unusual stretch of warm sunny days over most of Switzeland, lasting about a week.

I was in the Emmental, above Sumiswald, at a "Lueg" ( Swiss German for viewpoint or scenic viewpoint) with wonderful views of the alps, if the weather is clear. It was. I was at about 800 meters altitude on the hillside; Sumiswald is at about 680 meters.

(By the way, if you need a detailed map of Switzerland which shows altitudes and a whole lot more stuff, try this one. it has more information for professionals buried in it than the map I linked you to earlier. I use it when I want altitudes and hiking trails.

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLa yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swiss tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=false,false&E=2 668410.66&N=1211047.00 &zoom=4

I have set it for Luzern. The search function works well for place names, for example.)

I was able to get a series of photographs which I combined into the attached panorama. Note that on about April 15th, the lowest area were just barely becoming green, the trees were blossoming but are only starting to have their leaves, and there was a lot of snow left on the Alps. Spring was coming.

Usually, you have to wait for may to get that much good weather. I think you have picked a good time for your trip. The later in May, the better. But, even by the 8th, there will be plenty of greenery. And, the lower altitudes in the Alps (such as Lauterbrunnen) will be pretty much free of snow.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Nov 4, 2017 - 9:49 AM by Slowpoke
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