Itinerary help - 16 days in Switzerland in October

Itinerary help - 16 days in Switzerland in October

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slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 13, 2017 - 12:29 PM

Hello all!

My husband and I (early 30s) are planning to visit Switzerland with our daughter in October (she will be turning 1 in October). I have looked through various threads on Fodors, TA and myswissalps and have come up with a draft itinerary based on the many recommendations I've seen. I would greatly appreciate any advice and suggestions on my initial draft!

Some background: we are a fairly fit couple and are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city living. We love the nature and quaint towns. We would love to go on hikes and are comfortable with moderate day hikes (but this will be the first that we will be doing with our daughter). I'm not familiar with Western Europe and have only visited the UK and several places in Eastern Europe. My husband, however, have traveled to Switzerland, France, Germany as a child but not as an adult. We are looking to experience Europe together and have chosen Switzerland as our first destination to enjoy the nature and get a flavour of European culture and living.

The tentative flight details are as follows:
Arrive Zurich: 1 Oct Sunday @ 6am OR arrive Geneva: 1 Oct Sunday @ 9am (stopover at Zurich)
Depart Zurich: 16 Oct Monday @ 10pm

We will have 15 nights and my initial thought is to split it into 4 bases. I'm considering these 4 as my bases in chronological order: Vevey --> Lucerne --> Wengen --> Murren.

3 nights in Vevey
- staying the nights of 1-3 Oct (Sun to Tues)
- day trip to Montreux
- my initial plan was to do Lucerne --> Vevey --> Wengen --> Murren to reduce the travel time on Day 1. However, I'm interested to visit Farmer's Markets and it seems that arriving in Vevey as our first stop allows us to visit it on Tuesday morning.
- should we fly into Zurich then take a train to Vevey? Or fly to Geneva (includes an internal flight from Zurich to Geneva) then take a shorter train ride to Vevey? There is no cost difference between the 2 flights.

4 nights in Lucerne
- staying the nights of 4-7 Oct (Wed to Sat)
- interested to do day trips to Bern, Basel and Zurich
- day trip to Basel -- I would love to visit the zoo. If I visit the zoo, will I have enough time to walk around Basel to enjoy the city?
- day trip to Zurich (my husband LOVES flea markets and he would be thrilled to visit one of them in Zurich. I've checked that the flea markets only open on Saturdays -- also one of the reason why I swapped Vevey and Lucerne)
- am I spending too much time on day trips and neglecting the nature in Lucerne area? Will the landscape in Wengen/Murren area more than make up for it? I know I can take the above day trips from Wengen too on a bad weather day, but I will be in Lucerne first and can't anticipate the weather in Wengen (or are the weather forecasts pretty accurate in general?)

5 nights in Wengen
- staying the nights of 8-12 Oct (Sun to Thurs)
- aim is to enjoy the area and to do walks/hikes in the region and to just relax completely
- should I reduce 1 night here and add it to Lucerne?

3 nights in Murren
- staying the nights of 13-15 Oct (Fri to Sun)
- I know Wengen and Murren are really close by, but I have read that people do split up the stay and enjoyed Murren. I am still undecided between splitting Wengen and Murren. Thoughts?
- should I reduce 1 night here and add it to Lucerne?
- I am aware it'll be a long journey from Murren to Zurich. Will you suggest I stay somewhere closer Zurich? My flight is at 10pm on 16 Oct though.

OR should I do Vevey --> Wengen --> Murren --> Lucerne? I thought it would be more enjoyable to end my trip with the beautiful nature of the Jungfau region but this arrangement seems to make sense too. This intersperses the cities with nature instead of having it as 2 big chunks, and allows me to be closer to Zurich on the final day. Decisions, decisions!

Thanks for taking the time to read and I welcome any suggestions to make my itinerary better!

p/s: I cross-posted this on Fodors too. I'm new to this and hope it's fine!

Travel4biz
Travel4biz
1 post
new member
Jul 14, 2017 - 7:03 AM in reply to slothrabbit

Hi - I'm Liz... I can help you with some of this. #1 with a 1 year old you will need to slow your trip down so that you don't wear her out and yourself too. there are plenty of places where you'd be able to get the full enjoyment of Switz and not be hectic. She may travel very well... but it could possibly be hard on her.

Regarding Murren vs Wengen - I feel like Wengen is more expensive where Murren is slightly removed but still with great views. You have to take the cable car to get to Murren and you may enjoy that. I know we did. This is an impt note... most places in Switz will want you to stay 2 nights... I believe that some require it. And by staying everywhere 2 nights, that will slow your trip down. Your ideas about doing day trips out are very good... just check the hours of the places you want to visit and make sure they are open then as you are going in a slightly off season time for non-skiers. And I would check the Swiss calendars for any holidays so you'll be prepared for that - if there are any.

Wengen and Murren certainly are more dramatic than Lucerne but Lucerne has an old world charm that makes the visit well worth it and they have some good sites too. Lucerne is definitely more of a city whereas Wengen/Murren is remote.

Your departure from Switz is late... I think what I'd do is do what you can the night before your departure to get ready for that and then pack up everything that you can and stash into a locker or with your hotel. Then early dinner... pick up luggage and go to the airport. I think you still need 3 hrs at the airport but you should check that... could be 2 hrs. If you are flying Swiss you may be able to send your luggage ahead in the morning to the flight... I've actually done that and it's incredibly wonderful to have that freedom on the last day of the trip.

I've stayed in Gimmelwald - extremely quiet but still my all time favorite - AND I've stayed in the Lauterbrunnen Valley at the Staubbach Hotel. If I were traveling with a child, I would definitely choose the Staubbach Hotel. They have a fantastic breakfast, lovely views of the valley, great resources, an ice machine (hello... we do love our ice), and a lovely play area for children on the main floor. The rooms are nicer than some of the other places and the staff is also very adept.

one last thing... don't try to see everything... esp when traveling with a baby. one of my friends stayed in Murren for 3 days and did nothing and said it was the best time they had ever had with their daughter on vacation.

Have a great trip!

Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 14, 2017 - 9:30 AM in reply to slothrabbit

Hi slothrabbit and welcome to MySwissAlps!

A few thoughts before I talk about your itinerary. I think I would choose to either fly into Geneva and train to Vevey or train from Zurich (and not take the little flight from Zurich to Geneva and then train). Personal preference and it takes some time to wait for the connecting flight to Geneva etc.

With your baby I would consult with your doctor about going up into the mountains. Typically you would want to stay under 2000 meters - depending on what your doctor says, that will help you decide what mountain tops you visit on your trip - they range from about 1800 meters to over 3000 meters typically.

As for your itinerary I would lean to Vevey, Wengen/Murren and then Luzern as you note at the end of your post.

Splitting your stay in the Jungfrau region between Wengen and Murren is personal preference. You can easily visit Murren from Wengen as well - but it is a charming town to stay in for a few days as well. Gimmelwald is also nice but quite small and a little remote, with fewer amenities than other towns. So if you stay there I would do so with a plan to sit and relax for a few days. :) Don't stay there with big plans to travel around a lot..it can be a little tricky.

I think the number of nights you are planning at each town is appropriate. Splitting the nights between Murren and Wengen (or Gimmelwald or Lauterbrunnen etc.) is the hard part. But 7 or 8 days in the Jungfrau region is a good number I think!

Click on the town links above to see what is available to do nearby (click the What to Do tab) and hotels in the town that we recommend (Hotels tab).

Late September and early October are good times to visit Switzerland, but things will start to shut down by the end of your trip....even moving your dates back by 3 to 5 days might help, but isn't totally needed if your original dates work best.

That information should get you started on refining your itinerary. If you have further questions don't hesitate to ask!

Lucas

Last modified on Jul 14, 2017 - 9:34 AM by Lucas
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4705 posts
expert
Jul 16, 2017 - 1:43 AM in reply to slothrabbit

Hi Slothrabitt-

Lucas said it nicely, but I'll be more blunt.

I'd reverse your trip.

Regarding schedule issues - check the timetable to understand the excelent train options before you consider any kind of flight within Switzerland. It is a tiny country, with frequent excellent train service.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

In late October, and definitely in November, much of the Jungfrau region is shut down....between seasons. That is most true for the Alpine regions. High altitudes are colder. Cities at lower altitudes such as Luzern are still going at full strength. . You'll probably be there early enough to be OK...some hotels may be closed...but you have much better chance to enjoy the trip if you go first to the Jungfrau region. By the end of October, you may find snow blocking the higher trails (or may not) but the skiing will not yet be good enough to attract many customers. If I recall correctly, many of the cableways shut down at approx October 25th for a month or more. No customers; maintenance time.

And, Luzern is definitely a city, but has a lot of "nature" visible and close by. A lake boat ride is worth considering.Mountains nearby. See attached photos.

Consistent with the comments by Travel4biz, Gimmelwald is a tiny village with not much to do, see or eat at. It's major feature for tourists is other tourists carrying Rick Steve's book. Just joking, but it is not a very substantial experience. That is of course, my personal opinion, and each person has their own idea about what appeals.

This link has a lot of useful information about the region, from an experienced traveler.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

From travel4biz-

<<"Regarding Murren vs Wengen - I feel like Wengen is more expensive where Murren is slightly removed but still with great views. You have to take the cable car to get to Murren and you may enjoy that. I know we did. This is an impt note... most places in Switz will want you to stay 2 nights..">>

You take the cograil from Lauterbrunnen to Wengen, and the views to the right as you approach Wengen are stunning. You can get to Mürren by the really nice and scenic cable car up from Stechelberg after the bus from Lauterbrunnen ( as noted by Travel4biz) , or a more "ordinary" cable car from Lauterbrunen to Grütschsalp, followed by a "train" (more lke s couple of trolley cars) to Mürren.

In off season, you are less likely to run into the "2-night stay" issue. There are more choices of where to stay in Wengen,at least through September.

To get an idea of the lay of the land, check this map:

map.search.ch/?pos=640856,160560&z=32

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 16, 2017 - 2:04 AM by Slowpoke
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slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 17, 2017 - 12:06 PM in reply to Travel4biz

Hi Liz!

Thanks so much for your reply! You're right, we intend to travel at a very slow pace! No rushing about places so we can fully enjoy the area. A few of my friends have asked "what? 2+ weeks in Switzerland alone?!" but I am perfectly happy doing that!

I am still undecided between my stays at Wengen/Murren/Lauterbrunnen Valley! I know each have its pros and cons -- so tough to choose! Why was Gimmelwald your favorite?

I might totally do what Slowpoke suggested and swap things around. That way, I will end my journey in Lucerne and have an easy journey to the airport. And yes! I will be flying Swiss! Definitely checking out the luggage forwarder service once I get my dates sorted out.

Thanks again for the tips! I really appreciate it! :)

slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 17, 2017 - 12:17 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas!

Thanks for the warm welcome and all the information you've shared!!! I'm learning lots of things from this website and am glad I found it! Tons of information (and gems) on this page!

Gotcha on the flights. I only have a direct flight to Zurich and not Geneva. A connecting flight is needed to land in Geneva. I will go ahead with your suggestion and fly direct to Zurich instead.

I think I'm inclined to do Wengen/Murren >> Vevey >> Lucerne as Slowpoke had suggested! That way, I can still visit Vevey's farmer's market and the flea market in Zurich!

I am aware of the typical 2000m limitation for babies (all thanks to the many posters on the forums!). Thanks for highlighting it! I do not plan to go too high with my baby. That said, one of the walks I'm interested to do is the one from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg and I understand it's ~2230 to 2061m. Will definitely check with the doctor. One question though -- Is Jungfraujoch a *must-see*? My parents might come on the trip with us. If so, is it so awesome that we should take turns to go up Jungfraujoch?

slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 17, 2017 - 12:36 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke,

Thanks for your honest opinion and helpful reply! I was not aware that visiting the Jungfrau region in the early-Oct vs. mid-Oct period will be such a drastic change. I had intended to end my trip in the Jungfrau region as I wanted to leave the best for last. Now that you mentioned that the Jungfrau region might be better enjoyed in early Oct, I am definitely switching my itinerary around. So thanks for pointing that out! So now my itinerary will look like this -- Wengen/Murren >> Vevey >> Lucerne.

Thanks for sharing more info on Lucerne. I think I'll keep it to 4 nights -- will love to spend more of my time in Wengen and Murren.

Now that I think I am comfortable with the current number of nights planned for each town, I'll start looking at the hotel recommendations on this page and do my bookings. I have also downloaded Kim's 50-page guide. Will look through it and come back if (or more accurately, when) I have further questions! I can already think of so many questions that I will have on transportation and the likes. Let me read up first :)

Thank you so much once again!

Last modified on Jul 17, 2017 - 12:38 PM by slothrabbit
Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 17, 2017 - 12:43 PM in reply to slothrabbit

I think it is a must-see for a lot of people. I am not in a rush to go up there though - quite expensive and there are a lot of other mountains to see as well!

Having said that, it is quite unique - read all about the mountain and the trip up there here. I think everyone that has gone up there has not regretted the trip! In your case, it is indeed a little tricky with the baby and "taking turns" to go up but perhaps if you spread it over two days (one morning for you and one morning for your parents) while you are in the area could work.

I would leave the decision until the day before you possibly go anyway - be sure that the weather up there will be good before making the trip!

Lucas

Last modified on Jul 17, 2017 - 3:24 PM by Lucas
slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 17, 2017 - 12:56 PM in reply to Lucas

Oh wow. The views are indeed impressive! You brought up a good point about the weather! I'll leave the decision-making till when I'm there. At this point in time, I'm also uncertain if my parents will be joining us. Thanks for sharing!!

slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 19, 2017 - 12:30 PM in reply to Lucas

Lucas, would you suggest spending 11 nights in the Jungfrau region instead of 8+3 in Vevey?

slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 19, 2017 - 2:03 PM in reply to slothrabbit

Also, would you recommend staying in Lauterbrunnen or Wengen first? Thank you!

Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 19, 2017 - 3:38 PM in reply to slothrabbit

Hi slothrabbit,

I cant make that decision for you about where to stay...it sounded like you really wanted to visit Vevey though? I think, depending on exactly everything you want to do in the Jungfrau region that 8 nights is sufficient and, I think, seeing one other area while you are here is nice as well (especially since you are splitting up 11 nights and not 4 or 5 nights). If you were just 5 nights in Switzerland I would suggest spending all your time in the Jungfrau region.

As to Wengen or Lauterbrunnen first...I would be tempted to stay in Lauterbrunnen first (the larger town with better rail connections) and then explore the area as much as you can. After you've done most of your exploring hear to Wengen to relax (and maybe explore a little still of course). Just my 2 cents. :)

Lucas

Last modified on Jul 20, 2017 - 6:52 AM by Lucas
slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 19, 2017 - 3:53 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

I appreciate the prompt response! I will sit on the 1st question a bit more first. Thanks for providing your views. I understand that it's low season in October for tourists -- but will it be risky if we book our accommodations in Vevey only upon arrival? I'm just worried about poor weather and if so, I'd like to hang around the Jungfrau region a bit more just to give myself a higher chance of enjoying the beautiful scenery in its full glory.

As for the order of stay for Lauterbrunnen and Wengen, your response is exactly what I've thought! I've gone ahead and booked my 1st 4 nights of stay in Lauterbrunnen already! I can't wait!!! :))

Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 20, 2017 - 6:58 AM in reply to slothrabbit

Hi Slothrabbit,

Yes, it is quieter at that time of year. I think you would be ok waiting perhaps until maybe the week of arrival in Vevey before booking a hotel in October. If you do wait, I would have a few hotels in your head that you want to stay in, just in case your first choice is booked - or the only rooms it does have available are 300 or 400 chf per night :).

We often use hotelscombined to book our accommodation here. Have a look, it may be of use for you.

Lucas

slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 24, 2017 - 3:46 PM

Thank you Lucas! We decided to have a bit more variety and explore other parts of Switzerland! So 8 nights in Jungfrau region it is! Besides Vevey and Montreux, would you have other suggestions for a 3-night stay between the Wengen and Lucerne portions of my trip? Just wondering if there's somewhere more interesting we should visit. Thanks!

Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 24, 2017 - 4:01 PM in reply to slothrabbit

After spending 8 days in the Jungfrau region I think the Vevey/Montreux area will be quite a nice change for you. There are other mountains to see like around the country but like you said variety is good and this is a good area to spend a few days in for sure!

Lucas

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4705 posts
expert
Jul 24, 2017 - 4:11 PM in reply to slothrabbit

Hi slothrabbit:

<<"Besides Vevey and Montreux, would you have other suggestions for a 3-night stay between the Wengen and Lucerne portions of my trip? Just wondering if there's somewhere more interesting we should visit. Thanks!">>

There are approximately 33 other interesting places, give or take a dozen. ;-)

Vevey and the vineyards of La Cote, with the short train to Puidoux, as well as the trains up the mountains from Vevy and Montreux , plus Chateu Chillon make for good variety. That is the sunny side of the lake and it will still be very pleasant outdoors in October.

www.switzerlandbyrail. com/trains/scenic/lava ux_wine_train_vevey_ch exbrex.htm

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/wine-train-lavaux-please-advice

www.myswissalps.com/ro chersdenaye

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/sunny-day-trip-around-lake-geneva-vevey

In France. a nice boat ride and a beautiful village -

www.lake-geneva-switzerland.com/hautes avoy/yvoire/yvoire-medieval-floral-town-on-lake-geneva-france/

www.yvoire-france.com/

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jul 24, 2017 - 4:12 PM by Slowpoke
slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 25, 2017 - 7:06 AM in reply to Lucas

Got it! Will do Vevey and Montreux then! By the way, for my final 4 nights, will you recommend I stay at Lucerne or Weggis? I was doing some research and saw that some people preferred Weggis. It's a little inconvenient though, given that I will be doing a few day trips out...

slothrabbit
slothrabbit
40 posts
active member
Jul 25, 2017 - 7:11 AM in reply to Slowpoke

<<There are approximately 33 other interesting places, give or take a dozen. ;-)>>

Haha! You made me chuckle.I will stick to the experts' suggestion and go with Vevey and Montreux.

Lucas
Lucas
7106 posts
expert &
moderator
Jul 25, 2017 - 7:33 AM in reply to slothrabbit

I agree with staying in Luzern for transport and things to do nearby, but having said that I haven't been to Weggis ;)
But another member who has can chime in with their thoughts.

Lucas

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