Hi, I'm travelling alone in 2 weeks time for 1 week and wondering if it is best to fly to Geneva or Basel? I want to do some hiking/ biking in the alps - as a beginner. Which would be the best place to fly to and stay for 1 week? Are there any reasonably affordable companies that can help arrange this? I don't mind doing it on my own but it may not be the best to wander around in the alps on my own! I can't seem to find any hostels in Geneva either.. is it not common for travellers to stay around this area? Thank you
Welcome to MySwissAlps! You can best first pick a region you'd like to visit. Then see which airport makes sense, although you can reach all of Switzerland from both without too much trouble. Geneva and Basel itself are not the best places to stay for hiking as they are not in the Alps. There are plenty of tourists in Geneva, and accommodation as well: www.myswissalps.com/ge neva/hotels.
As a beginner, you can hike about anywhere in the Alps, as long as you avoid the most difficult trails. And the highest trails may not be accessible yet for the summer. All about hiking can be found here. Biking is quite different. If you don't bike much at all, Switzerland is not a good place to start. Biking uphill isn't much fun then. Biking along a lake is doable though. Here's two regions you may want to consider:
Arranging for a guided tour in two week's time might be difficult, but you can have a look in our trip planning section for tips and links: www.myswissalps.com/pl antrip.
Does this get you started?
What are your skills as a hiker? Are you comfortable hiking at 1 mile high ( 1600 meters, more or less) or significantly higher?
The Jungfrau region - linked by Annika - is a great place to hike, with a wide range of difficulties. There are many safe options in the Jungfrau region, but safety will be determined by your skills and equipment.
www.jungfrau.ch/en/som mer/tourism/destinatio ns/kleine-scheidegg/hiking-trails/
What are your plans for maps, if any?
thank you annika - those are some really helpful tips and links that i didn't spot before!
I've only found 3 hostels in Geneva so far and they seem to be sold out. I'm not sure if it's just summer or something going on there at the moment. There are nearby hotels by the airport or Ferney-Voltaire that seem to be available, is that generally easy to get into Geneva for a few days?
Would it be better to fly in via Geneva, travel up to Montreaux, Lausanne, Interlaken by train and then fly back via Basel maybe? Or would it not make much difference coming back to Geneva to fly back? I heard that Basel has an art festival on at the moment so a lot of the accommodation may be very busy.
Slowpoke - thanks for the links also. I think i will stick to the easy/moderate trails as i'll be on my own and although have been up about 1,200m i haven't hiked it for a prolonged amount of time . It's a bit last minute so I guess I will have to try and get some maps when i'm there?
<<" It's a bit last minute so I guess I will have to try and get some maps when i'm there?">>
I've not got a lot of time to answer fully at the moment, but maps of all kinds are readily available all throughout Switzerland There are also Smartphone apps.
This site has all the information, as well as a superbly detailed online topo map.
It takes a bit of work, but you can learn about all options here, and also can "view map on Swisstopo.admin....."
map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=swisstopo&lang=d e&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo .pixelkarte-farbe&layers=ch.swisst opo.zeitreihen,ch.bfs. gebaeude_wohnungs_regi ster,ch.swisstopo.swis stlm3d-wanderwege,ch.swisstop o.landeskarte-farbe-10&layers_visibility=f alse,false,true,false& layers_timestamp=18641 231,,,&X=246846.00&Y=6 83371.00&zoom=10
Go to home page for products....
Geneva is an interesting town, but I like the Alps better.
The cheaper accommodations tend to fill up quickly. Your travel date is near so some accommodations may actually be booked out. Are you sure you want to stay in Geneva and Basel? I would recommend to go straight to one of the regions Annika mentioned and spend a week there. Those are the places to hike. The timetable will help you with details on how to get from A to B.
I also suggest to take a look into the rail passes. They also get you discounts on boats and cable cars. Those tickets can be pretty pricey without a pass. A Swiss Half Fare Card might be your best best if you will mainly be hiking.
Slowpoke - thanks for the link, have downloaded a few iPhone apps too for the maps
Arno - good suggestion. Given that only have 7 or 8 days I think I might fly to Basel and take the train from there to Interlaken / Grindelwald as only 2hrs away I think? If I stay around there for a week, is it still worth getting the rail pass if I'm only getting the train there and back? I think it's about 60CHF return so saving 30 with the half fare card which is about 80, would cable car use generally be enough to reach 50CHF? Thank you for the suggestions!
It depends on your exact plans, but it's unlikely that buying regular tickets will be the cheapest option. Basel airport to Grindelwald return is CHF 150.80, so you save CHF 75.40 on that journey alone. The timetable page explains how to find the correct fares. A cable car trip like Schilthorn costs CHF 80, so that's another saving of CHF 40. You can do the math based on your plans, but I don't think you need to. A Swiss Half Fare Card will be worth it unless you don't plan to use cable cars, which is not realistic if you want to visit the most beautiful places.
As you live in the UK I'd recommend to visit www.swisstravelsystem. co.uk?currency=GBP to obtain the Swiss Half Fare Card for a slighter lower price than in Switzerland. After filling out your address, they will show the delivery options. Pick "Online Ticket" from the bottom of the list. They will e-mail the card (no delivery fees), so you can print it at home. The added advantage of printing at home is that you will save time by skipping the ticket office at the airport. You can get a discounted ticket from the machine and go straight to the bus to the Basel train station, which is included in the ticket. Note that it takes a few business days to process and e-mail your order, so don't wait to long.
I think you will like Grindelwald better than Interlaken. Please see below for details and hotel suggestions:
<<"would cable car use generally be enough to reach 50CHF? Thank you for the suggestions!">>
You are likely to exceed that substantially.
shows ticket prices on the initial listings for journeys.
It is desirable to read the instructions for using the timetable on that link, which explain the pricing and default scheduling modes
You will use both cable cars and the cograil trains.
Those prices which first appear are for the average Swiss traveler, almost all of whom have half-fare discount cards. They are already shown with a 50% discount.
I have attached a screen grab showing the prices for Basel Airport to Grindelwald. Note that the fares listed are 35.50 CHF. That is already half fare. Full fare one way is 71 CHF.
(If you follow the link for "Fare/Buy" it quickly leads you to the ticket shop where the options to purchase include full fare ( usually twice what is shown in the first view) or half fare, etc.)
I gave some details with screen grabs in this link at the end:
Here is the price of a trip from Wengen to the lift station on Männlichen at the LWM (name of cable car route) lift top station;
22 CHF one way; 11CHF one way with half-fare card.
Here is the price for Grindelwld (Grund) to Männlichen GGM -
www.maennlichen.ch/en/ grindelwaldmaennlichen -gondola-cableway.html
With no discount - 29CHF. With Half fare card - 14.50 CHF.
Arno and Annika have detailed knowledge of all of the various passes, and they can best refine this discussion.
This map shows the variety of transport and main trails in the region:
www.swissholidayco.com /Public/Assets/User/fi les/Map-of-Jungfrauregion1.jpg
These links show hikes:
www.jungfrau.ch/en/som mer/tourism/destinatio ns/kleine-scheidegg/hiking-trails/
Note that some are not yet open due to snow, rockfalls, etc. For example, Männilchen to Kleine Scheidegg, whic is a really easy spectacular walk.
This is a useful link for the region:
Here is an extremely informative bit of light reading about the region, which includes details about a lot of hikes:
That should get you started.
Keep asking as you learn more. It is a fantastic place to visit.
I think that the chair lifts generally do not run in the summer
Thank you Arno for the discount advice, much appreciated! I think the price I worked out before was from Basel SBB station itself to Interlake so it seemed much cheaper then. Amazing how much adding a few extensions to that journey really make up the price . Airport to Basel is 4.4, Basel to Interlaken is 60, Interlaken to Grindelwald is 11 which makes up to 75 one way and 150 return so yes it does seem to add up quickly! Thanks for the links Slowpoke - I'm pretty sold on the half fare card now!
I was actually thinking of staying in Basel town for the first night as my flight wouldn't get in until 9/10pm so arriving past midnight and wandering in Grindelwald sounds like it might be tricky! Doesn't seem to be any reasonable budget hotels around the airport either and I think I needed to transit into the town anyway to get the next train?
Is 7 days a reasonable time to spend in Grindelwald itself? And would be advisable to stay in the same hostel in Grindelwald for that duration or just leave it open a bit and stay in a mountain hut at one point depending on the hike? Guess it is hard to plan if I don't know the exact trails i'm taking but would the easy/moderate trails generally be just for the day anyway?
Also know that weather is unpredictable but given that the UK has been hot/cold and showers in-between I'm guessing it might be similar? Will I need a lot of waterproofs? Have not really got any as been in Australia last few years where it never gets cold even when it does rain!
Thanks again! Having a look at those other links too and will probably come up with more questions.
Edit: Am actually flying in to Basel and then returning from Geneva now, forgot had some airmiles I had to use but unfortunately only enough for a flight from Geneva! So maybe I could do Grindelwald for 4-5 days and somewhere else in-between there and Geneva for 3-4 days? Not sure what would be the best way to split it.
By the way those pictures you attached were amazing! Really hope there will be a bit of sun.. forecast looks promising but no doubt it'll be upside down by then. I note the articles for the light reading mentioned having lots of Goretex outerwear which is quite pricey!
Did you check myswissalps.com/ baselairporthotels for hotels? A week in Grindelwald is fine. There is plenty to do. People stay in that region for weeks and do something different every day.
You do need waterproof clothing, just in case. See Annika's link to our hiking section (in her first post) for all about preparation.
I would not want to stay in Geneva for 3-4 days. Montreux, an hour east of Geneva, is near the Alps and offers many more options.
Yes, have had a look at the basel airport hotels but a lot were either full or apparently terrible on reviews. There seemed to be more choice, availabiity and basic hostels like YMCA in the centre near the train station. I'm guessing it wouldn't make too much difference to stay by the airport or Basel anyway as I'd still need to change stations in Basel town on the way to Grindelwald - if I read the timetable correctly!
Also, for the remaining 9 nights i'm wondering which of these would be best situated for accessiblity to the hikes and to get to other towns? They both seem to be decent although the latter appears to be slightly more positive.
booking.com/ - Mountain Hostel - Swiss Hostel
Grundstrasse 58, 3818 Grindelwald, Switzerland
booking.com/ - Hotel Alpenblick
Obere Gletscherstrasse 16, 3818 Grindelwald, Switzerland
Sure, you can stay in the center of Basel as well: myswissalps.com/ basel/hotels. For Grindelwald hotels, please see myswissalps.com/ grindelwald/hotels. Both hotels you selected are not in the center of town. One is near the Grindelwald Grund station, the other about 500 m beyond the First gondolas. Both are doable, but if you prefer a more central location, please check the link.
Yes seen those hotels thank you. I'm thinking about splitting the stay so that weds - sat (4 nights) are in Grindelwald and sun-thurs (4 nights) are in Lauterbrunnen ? Choosing hostels as it would seem more sociable whilst on my own. The hostels in Lauterbrunnen seem a bit more catered to this and central as the ones in Grindelwald are more of hotels i.e. the one near the gondola i think most of the rooms are in the basement? Is there much sense in spending a bit of time in both? Thank you
<<" Is there much sense in spending a bit of time in both? Thank you">>
There are activities and hikes that are most easily accessed from one side (Grindelwald) or the other side ( Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Mürren) of the Männlichen ridge.
So, it could be better to split your time, for convenience. However, if weather dictates your travel plans, you can go from one to the other in an as little as 36 minutes ( infrequent fast connection) or, more typically, somewhat over an hour....slow connections.)
see this map to visualize the geography:
Thanks, that map is very helpful. Is it better to buy this half fare card for the train before I go? And is it safe and reliable to buy tickets online on the app? Thank you
I assume you're referring to the Swiss Half Fare Card? Yes, you'd best buy this in advance. Earlier in this thread Arno already explained that it's easier (and even slightly cheaper than a local purchase) to get it as an e-ticket from www.swisstravelsystem. co.uk?currency=GBP.
The SBB app is a reliable way of purchasing your additional discounted tickets. If you're not sure how it works, you can also get your tickets from ticketing machines or manned desks at the railway stations.
Hi, thanks Annika . Unfortunately I missed the bit where Arno said to buy it in advance!! Is there any way I can get it quicker? I will ring the swisstravelsystem company tomorrow and see if they are able to process it quicker. Can I buy the swiss half fare card from the train station when I get there tomorrow? Thank you
Sorry just read that you can buy it at the train station if it is open. Would there be a stall at the airport I could get it from at 9pm when I arrive or will it be Basel train station? Do the ticket offices tend to be open at that time? If not, I will get it the next day. Thank you
Sorry to hear you missed that! You're too late to buy online now, and the staffed ticket offices at the airport and at the train station in Basel will be closed when you get there. You'll have to buy a full fare bus ticket to Basel and buy the Swiss Half Fare Card the next morning.