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Base towns for 2 weeks across Switzerland in Sept


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Posts: 8 
Laura88keys
Laura88keys
3 posts
new member
Aug 3, 2022 - 11:05 PM

My husband and I are traveling to Switzerland the last two weeks of September with his 84-year-old father for an epic cross-country adventure to visit the land of our ancestors. My father-in-law is in good health and quite mobile, but I'm trying to determine a reasonable route for our itinerary that allows for flexibility if needed. My initial thought is to find some "anchor cities" to stay in for several nights at a time (then take day trips to our other destinations) We will be in Switzerland for a total of 14 days but would like to take at least 2 days to visit Bavaria (Neuschwanstein castle in Germany) and Salzburg, Austria on our way to fly out of Vienna at the end of the trip. We fly into Geneva, Switzerland and will make our way across the mid/northern Swiss regions (largely just French and German Swiss areas this trip, no Italian).

These are the major cities we are hoping to visit during our stay, but I'm just not sure how feasible it is to fit in day trips to the Interlaken/Murren/Lauterbrunnen area if we stay in Bern, or if we're better off moving every few nights? We will have Eurrail passes and traveling by train everywhere we go. We aren't looking for intense hikes, but more taking in the culture and beauty of the landscape in more low-key ways (boat tours, train rides, easy walks/trails) Here are the cities in Switzerland we are wanting to explore:

Geneva/Lausanne/Vevey (stay in Lausanne)

Charmey (for Desalpe on September 23/24) - should we try to stay in town/nearby, or could we conceivably take a train back to Bern that night?

Bern

Thun/Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, Murran, Jungfrau (stay in Bern, or find a different place in Lauterbrunnen or Interlaken?)

Lucerne

Aarau/Kuttigen (stay here...lots of family history in these towns)

Basel?

Glarus

Zurich

St. Gallen

Any help or suggestions you could give would be greatly appreciated. The last time I was in Europe/Switzerland was 30 years ago when I was much younger and surrounded by fellow college-students (and full of energy & naivety) :-) This will be a much different type of trip, in a much different era of travel so it's difficult to draw on past experience!

1960man
1960man
3919 posts
expert
Aug 4, 2022 - 12:35 AM

Don't forget how small Switzerland is, how efficient the transport system is, and how short the journey times are - especially thanks to the modernisation and new fast railways built in the last 30 years. You can do a day trip to almost anywhere from almost anywhere else. The only limiting factor is the east - west distance across Switzerland, whereby you should base yourself (for example) in somewhere like St Gallen for north East Switzerland. Even as far back as the 1970s it was possible to do a day trip to Zurich from Geneva (as my late father did many times to see the trams)

Specific to your question, you can easily visit many places in one day from a base in Bern. The Jungfrau region is close to Bern (Bern - Interlaken is less than 1 hour from Bern by fast train.

Any of the towns / cities you mention would make decent bases for days trips.

Arno
Arno
15415 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 4, 2022 - 12:32 PM in reply to Laura88keys

Welcome to MySwissAlps Laura88keys!

Great that you have the opportunity to visit several Swiss areas, especially given your family history :-). I think your plan to stay in one base town for a couple of nights, making day trips from there, and then moving on to a new region, makes perfect sense. It's more relaxed than switching hotels nearly each night.

The timetable is a great tool to plan journeys. You can use it to find out how long day trip from several towns take. That can help you decide what is and isn't doable for the three of you. This page explains how to use it: https://www.myswissalps.com/timetable.

Lausanne is a good choice, with easy connections to both Geneva as well as the eastern part of Lake Geneva. Please find information and tips below:

I'd choose either Bern or Thun and not both, as they're close to one another. Bern is larger and offers good connections several regions, including the French-speaking area of Neuchatel and its lakes. Thun is closer to the Jungfrau region, plus it's a good base to explore the western areas of the Bernese Oberland. Whether or not a base within the Jungfrau region is recommended, really depends on the trips and sightseeing you have in mind. As for Charmey: a single trip Charmey-Bern takes 1h40 to 2h15, and you can leave as late as 21:40 pm. You can find more information about the cities and regions below:

Lucerne and its lake are wonderful and have lots to offer: https://www.myswissalps.com/lucerne.

Basel is pretty close to Aarau. That could be a reason for you to skip Basel as a base town, since you're set on staying in Aarau. Basel has a beautiful old town though, which would be worth day trip from Aarau: https://www.myswissalps.com/basel.

As for north-eastern Switzerland: Zurich (https://www.myswissalps.com/zurich), St. Gallen and Glarus would all be good. You can spend a few days in each of them. If you prefer to strongly limit the amount of base towns, you could opt for St. Gallen only, as it's sort of in between Zurich and Glarus. It's a beautiful town, famous for its monastery and library. Zurich is 1h to 1h15 away by train, Glarus 1h10.

A nice order could be: Lausanne - Bern / Thun / Jungfrau region - Lucerne (I suggest traveling via Interlaken and the Brünig Pass: https://www.myswissalps.com/goldenpass/gettingthere) - Aarau or Basel - Zurich/St. Gallen/Glarus. Of course there are many more ways to compose your itinerary; this is just one.

These practical planning tips may help you out: www.myswissalps.com/plantrip/doityourself.

More information about the Eurail Global Pass is here: https://www.myswissalps.com/eurailglobalpass.

Last modified on Aug 4, 2022 - 12:33 PM by Arno
My Doodles
My Doodles
5 posts
new member
Aug 4, 2022 - 1:54 PM in reply to Laura88keys

Hi. My husband and I are traveling to Switzerland the 12-26 of September. We fly into Zurich from Houston and out of Geneva. We chose for our “base camps” Lucerne (5 nights); Wengen (5 nights) and Lausanne (3 nights). We wanted to take our time.

We are still trying to decide on buying half fare card combined with oberland regional pass or Swiss travel pass.

MyDoodles

Arno
Arno
15415 posts
expert &
moderator
Aug 4, 2022 - 2:28 PM in reply to My Doodles

Hi there MyDoodles! Welcome to MySwissAlps and thanks for your valuable input. You've selected great base towns.

If we can help you with your rail pass choice, please feel free to open a new thread here: https://www.myswissalps.com/forum/rail.

EASW
EASW
41 posts
active member
Aug 4, 2022 - 9:07 PM in reply to My Doodles

Hi My Doodles! We also live in Houston and recently came back from a trip to Switzerland and flew into Zurich and back to the U.S. from Geneva, which worked out wonderfully! Our "base camps" were similar--we stayed in Lucerne, Wengen, Zermatt and Geneva. We bought a Swiss Travel Pass to use the entire trip.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Laura88keys
Laura88keys
3 posts
new member
Aug 5, 2022 - 6:39 AM in reply to 1960man

Thank you so much for your wonderful suggestions. I really appreciate the expertise of people on this forum as I'm trying to make our plans.

My Doodles
My Doodles
5 posts
new member
Aug 5, 2022 - 10:59 PM in reply to EASW

That’s awesome. Did you do anything that you think is a must or a miss? We’re you happy with the Swiss Pass? I can’t wait to leave Houston for a few weeks. I’m practically packed. Did you check bags? We are thinking of carry on only as I’m worried about a rolling suitcase on gondolas etc. 🙂

Charli

MyDoodles

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