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Help with 16 day Switzerland itinerary please

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3 posts
new member
Jan 14, 2022 - 11:00 AM

Hello all,

I'm planning a 16 day Switzerland trip in late May 2022 - it’s my first trip to the country, and would greatly appreciate if I could get some advice on the itinerary please!

To provide some context, I'll be travelling with my parents and aunts - I'm in my 30s and fairly fit, but they're not, so any form of extreme sports, long hikes and ski-ing are pretty much out of the question. Not really into big cities and museums as well. We love natural scenery and scenic views, so our itinerary will consist of mainly visits to the mountains, lakes and valleys/waterfalls. We’ll be travelling entirely by train and public transportation, no driving.

Day 1 - 2: Zurich (2 nights)

Day 1: Exploring Zurich city

Day 2: Rhine Falls and Schaffhausen

Day 3 - 4: Zermatt (2 nights)

Day 3: Travel from Zurich to Zermatt. Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Hängebrücke and Gorner Gorge

Day 4: Gornergrat and Lake Riffelsee

Day 5: Interlaken (1 night)

Day 5: Travel from Zermatt to Interlaken. Boat tour on Lake Brienz, Giessbach Waterfall, Iseltwald, Interlaken.

Day 6 - 8: Wegen (3 nights)

Day 6: Check out of Interlaken, head to Wegen. Visit First Station, Lake Bachalpsee, Gletcherschlucht, explore Grindelwald

Day 7:Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Mt Schilthorn

Day 8: Jungfraujoch

Day 9 - 10: Lucerne (2 nights)

Day 9: Travel from Wengen to Lucerne. Visit Mt Pilatus, Kapellbrücke.

Day 10: Mt TItlis, Lake Trubsee, Engelberg

Day 11: Empty day (Advice please!)

Day 12 - 14: Locarno (3 nights)

Day 12: Travel from Lucerne to Locarno. Visit Bellinzona

Day 13: Verzasca Valley, Sonogo Village, Froda Waterfall

Day 14: Ascona/Morcote

Day 15: Zurich (1 night)

Day 15: Spend some time exploring Locarno. Travel from Locarno to Zurich.

Day 16: Departing Switzerland

Some questions I'm hoping you guys can help me with:

1) Swiss Travel Pass - can I buy them at the airport itself? Would there be a chance it wouldn’t be available or is sold out?

2) I've read that May is off-season in Wegen and Zermatt. Would most of the restaurants and shops be closed, or close really early?

3) Since I'm not doing any hiking/skiing, would weather be an issue in May for Zermatt and the Bernese Oberland?

4) Would the mountain lakes (Riffelsee, Bachalpsee) be frozen in May? if yes, would they be still worth the visit?

5) I’ve got 1 empty day and am wondering if I should add that to Wengen or Locarno - any advice? Open to other areas as well.

Any other suggestions to improve the itinerary welcome as well, many thanks in advance!

55 posts
active member
Jan 14, 2022 - 2:12 PM in reply to jmnsm


Your agenda seems very interesting and feasible. I would give you two suggestions: (1) if you reverse the order of Lucerne and Locarno, you could take advantage of two scenic train routes: the Centovalli train to Locarno and the Gotthard Panorama express to Lucerne (which combines a train part and a boat part) With these route, you will be able to see beautiful scenery that you would otherwise miss. (2) For Jungfraujoch I would recommend to be flexible on the day. To get your money's worth do not go up there on a cloudy day! It is wonderful up there and even more with clear blue sky.

While in Lucerne, with your extra day, I would recommend the journey to Rigi which is beautiful (if you go and if it's open, there's a wonderful cheese producer up there were it's very rewarding to taste some of their products). In Vale Versasca, make sure to stop in Lavertazzo to see the famous medieval bridge. Morcote is beautiful, with several "streets" that are actually staircases. Going there by boat is a must! Finally, the way from First viewpoint to Bachalpsee is not a difficult hike but still a hike (about 50 minutes, if I remember correctly). Again, it is better to go there on a clear day.

Enjoy your trip! I can't wait to go back to Switzerland!

3 posts
new member
Jan 14, 2022 - 2:39 PM in reply to LeVoyageur

Thanks for the suggestions! Just one thing, I'm not planning to stay in Lucerne for that extra day on Day 11, rather to add that to either Wengen or Locarno (or anywhere else, really) - 3D2N seems sufficient for Lucerne, so I'd rather add that extra day elsewhere.

Should I add that additional day to Wengen (making it 5D4N, rather than 4D3N), or add that to Locarno (again, that would make this 5D4N instead of the current 4D3N)? Or anywhere else outside of Lucerne?

55 posts
active member
Jan 14, 2022 - 3:00 PM in reply to jmnsm

It depends on what you want to do; both area offer plenty to see and do. If your extra day is in Wengen, then I would recommend going to Schynige Platte, it is wonderful up there and the views on Lake Thunes & Lake Briens are amazing as well as the panorama on Eiger, Jungfrau and Monch is quite unique. I would also recommend Trummelbach Falls near Lauterbrunnen (which is an waterfall inside a mountain). The loop from Lauterbrunnen to Mürren is also worthwhile (going up on the gondola from Lauterbrunnen, train to Murren, gondola down to Stechelberg and walk or bus to Lauterbrunnen; or in reverse order!).

In Locarno, you could go up to Madonna del Sasso which offers a great panorama, you could spend more time in Lugano, visit Gandria, go up one of the mountain or simply enjoy the Italian mood and la dolce vita.

In all locations, hiking is incredible. I know that you mentioned to keep this to a minimum but some trails are fairly easy, for instance, the Panoramaweg, from Männlichen (gondola from Wengen) to Kleine Scheidegg (return by train to Wengen) is wonderful.

We did lots of hiking during our trip (14 days in Wengen, 4 in Locarno, 4 in Lucerne and 2 in Zurich). We could return and discover many things we didn't see...

Hopefully, other members will be able to comment on visiting these places in May as we were there from late-June and there was still spots of snow on higher mountains.

2314 posts
top member &
Jan 14, 2022 - 3:59 PM

Hi jmnsm,

When exactly are you travelling? I think this is well-planned itinerary but you might need to do a little adjustment with your plans in Wengen. May is considered an off-season in the Jungfrau region and most mountain destinations in the region may not be accessible during this period. The trail to Bachalpsee won't be open yet in May. The cable car to Grindelwald First will only start operation again for the summer season beginning middle of May. Similarly, the cable car to Mannlichen will also be closed for maintenance from April to at least 26 May. However the train to Jungfraujoch operates all year round. So do take these into consideration when your are planning your itinerary.

To answer your questions:

1. yes you can buy the Swiss Travel Pass from SBB travel centre at the airport. You can also conveniently but them online here: www.myswissalps.com/swisstravelpass/price

2. As I mentioned May is considered off-season in the Jungfrau region. Mountain top restaurants may be closed but those in the centre of the village generally will remain open. Same with the shops. In Zermatt, I think most of the shops and restaurants will be operating as usual.

3. It might not be snowing in May but it could still get foggy and cloudy especially in the mountains. It's always good to check the weather forecast daily before you set out on your trip: www.myswissalps.com/weather/forecast

4. The trail to Bachalpsee won't be accessible before 14 May. The trail to Riffelsee should be accessible and I don't think it will be frozen in May.

5. I would add the extra day in Locarno or Lucerne :)



Last modified on Jan 14, 2022 - 4:00 PM by Anna
3 posts
new member
Jan 14, 2022 - 4:24 PM in reply to Anna

Thanks Anna, this has been really helpful! I'll be in Wengen from 26 - 29 (or 30) May, so I'm hoping that most shops and more trails/cable cars would be operating by then.

212 posts
active member
Jan 15, 2022 - 10:29 AM

I visited in May 2017 with my parents (in their 70s)

It is good period to visit. Less crowd than peak. Shops were open everywhere

653 posts
top member
Jan 15, 2022 - 11:07 PM in reply to jmnsm

Hi jmnsm

Just a couple of thoughts. I would consider not staying in Interlaken for a night then moving to Wengen The towns are very close and it is very easy to visit Interlaken and Lake Brienz etc from Wengen Otherwise you will waste half a day checking into a hotel in Interlaken, unpacking, repacking, checking out, and transporting yourself and luggage to the train station Most people think Wengen is superior to Interlaken in about every way but especially the views and atmosphere.

I think Locarno is a good choice A bus pass will likely be included in your hotel stay and the old part of Ascona is quite interesting I also would highly recommend going up to Cimetta (via tram, gondola, and chair lift ). Very nice views of Lake Maggiore and the surrounding area. You can also visit the Madonna del Sasso church on the way up or down. Also worthwhile.


38 posts
active member
Jan 17, 2022 - 3:48 AM

I agree with Mark on not staying in Interlaken. Just stick to Wengen, or consider spending the night at Grandhotel Giessbach for a historical hotel experience. If you could get a lake view room, the morning view of the mistry lake Brienz is fairly magical.

If you have just one extra day, I can make 2 suggestions -

1. Extend your stay in Zermatt. There're a lot more to explore in the area, e.g. an easy walk towards Zermutt (<2 hours return walk on wide trails with very little elevation changes). The Cons for this option is that Zermatt more comercialized compared to other towns you're planning for so there's a chance that you might find the stay less appealing, considering you've mentioned you're not into Cities.

2. Make a trip to Aletsch Arena area to see the Great Aletsch Glacier. It's about 2 hours train ride from Zermatt. If you do not wish to walk, I would recommend taking the gondola up from Bettmeralp to Bettmerhorn to just view the Glacier, walk a little around the viewing point then return from the same route to Bettmeralp and do a little walking in the village. There's a small but beatiful lake at Bettmeralp, you could picnic or just sit for a chill there before heading back to Zermatt. Staying at Bettmeralp is another great option if you'd like to avoid the round trip.


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