Hi - We are a family of 4 - 2 adults and 2 teens, 15 and 17 - travelling to Switzerland for 10 days at the end of July/beginning of August 2014.
After a lot of research, we think an 8-day Swiss Pass will be the best (2 adult 'savers' and a youth pass for 17-year-old, with 15 going 'free' with family card). Because we are in Switzerland for 10 days, we believe if we pay for our first day of travel (airport to Montreux) and last day of travel (from central Geneva to airport) this will be cheapest/easiest.
Our itinerary looks like this -
Day 1 - arrive Geneva Airport, go straight to Montreux. If travel is free to central Geneva, can we just pay for Geneva central to Montreux? Do we have to pay for our 15 year old? Will we have to pay 'adult fare for 17-year-old? Can we buy 'open' tickets online for this journey before we travel - we do not want to commit to a certain time because we don't know how long it will take to clear immigration etc. Depending on what time we get to Montreux (our flight is due at lunchtime) we will have time for sightseeing, chateaux Chillon etc.
Day 2 - Already have reservations on Golden Pass, Montreux to Interlaken, and booked accommodation in Wengen for 3 nights. Should arrive Interlaken mid-afternoon. Is it worth putting luggage in left-luggage and exploring in/around Interlaken for several hours ... or going straight to Wengen to explore around there?
Day 3/4 - ideas would be appreciated - we are all fit and healthy and enjoy walking, but have never visited the Alps before and some of the warnings ('children need to be roped' etc) concern us! We like the idea of walking to a hut for a good Alpine lunch and then back a different route ... I have seen lots of weather warnings about the Jungfrau, so am not expecting to necessarily go up. We are Sherlock Holmes fans - so perhaps a trip to the Reichenbach falls would be good. Also, one of our 2 days is Swiss National Day - will this make places extra busy, and will all the local transport be running? We understand there are festivities in Wengen, but are not sure whether we should give up a day walking to stay to enjoy them.
Day 5 - we will leave Wengen for Zermatt. I think this journey can be done in several ways (via the tunnel or not). Do you recommend the longer route for the view - or the tunnel for getting to Zermatt quicker and giving more time for sightseeing there? We have booked to stay on the Gornergrat - if the weather is bad would it be better to walk in/around Zermatt rather than go straight up the mountain? We still intend to stay on the Gornergrat, even if it is cloudy - I assume the transport will still run. Are there nice walks at the top if the weather is kind to us. We could be up there by mid-afternoon.
Day 6 - We have reservations in first class on the Glacier Express to St Moritz - we wanted to travel 2nd class (free with the Swiss Pass) but despite going online on what we thought was the opening day of sales there were no spaces left. I understand we can get a 1-day upgrade (online) for this day. Please reassure me that the Swiss transport system is well integrated and we can come down the Gornergrat in time for our GEX. If we miss it for any reason, I assume we can just find a local train on the same route, so we can still get to St Moritz?
Day 7 - ideas appreciated for 1 day in/around St Moritz - we like the idea of 'barefoot trails' (Celerina?). The Muottas Muragl walk looks lovely ... are these weather dependent?
Day 8 - Our whole trip was inspired by a picture of the Ascher guesthouse near Ebenalp - so we will leave St Moritz early-ish to get there by early afternoon (in time to eat, hopefully). We then want to walk to Seealp ... which is 'easy' according to one website and 'difficult' on another. Any advice?
Day 9 - we need to get back to Geneva - but don't mind arriving late (though our hotel is apparently in the red light area!!) One idea is to walk back to Ascher/Ebenalp, possibly by a different route? We may need to put most of our luggage in storage overnight (on day 8) but will have to return for it (on day 9). How good is the food on (non-tourist/non-panoramic) trains? - as we may not be able to pick up supplies - and our train back to Geneva looks like 5 hours ... arriving early/mid-evening
Day 10 - morning to explore Geneva a little, before lunchtime flight. Might our hotel provide us with free local transport ticket back to the airport as our pass will have expired?
Lots of questions - but we have found your forum so informative, we hope you can help.