Luzern - Interlaken - Zermatt Dec. 2-9 ideas?

Luzern - Interlaken - Zermatt Dec. 2-9 ideas?

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Posts: 16
firsttimer
firsttimer
6 posts
new member
Nov 11, 2017 - 4:34 PM

Hi Everyone!

My parents and I are flying into Zurich on 2 December for a 8 day 7 night trip in Switzerland. We've been trying our best to do whatever research we can online (and this website too!) but we're still coming up short on several bits of information, so I hope you don't mind me asking here.

We're fully intending to buy a Swiss Travel Pass for the entire duration of the trip and we're happy to travel by trains everywhere. We're also nature/mountain-people, which is why Switzerland was so appealing to us. Right now, we're considering splitting our time between Zurich (one or two nights at most, to fly in and out of the country), Lucerne, Interlaken and Zermatt.

The main problem I've encountered is that I understand from some threads here that several of the mountains/railways will be closed during this period due to maintenance for the peak winter season. On that note, are the above places still feasible to visit and do you guys/ladies have any recommendations for the main attractions in these places and how long we should be spending there?

We're also really keen on trying the panoramic trains, but we understand that the Glacier Express won't be open then - what alternatives do we have?

Thanks a million in advance! I'm sorry if the answers to any of my questions can already be found online, I'm just having trouble interpreting all the information and train schedules.

Lucas
Lucas
3339 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 11, 2017 - 6:05 PM in reply to firsttimer

Hi firsttimer and welcome to MySwissAlps!

We're always happy to help answer questions!

Your rough itinerary of towns seems like a good one. I think most railways/cable cars will be operating in December - it depends on which ones you are thinking about? Each mountain has a website that talks about maintenance periods. All the mountains near Luzern for example are closed partially in November only.

The Glacier Express train isn't operating until Dec.10 but you can take the exact same route on a regular, regional, trains if you like. Use the timetable to plan out the route noted on the link above from Chur to Zermatt.

Other panoramic trains that could work around the areas you are in would be the Golden Pass route: Luzern - Interlaken - Montreux.

I'd also recommend looking at a smaller alpine village over Interlaken. Something like Lauterbrunnen, Wengen or Mürren. Interlaken isn't a terribly pretty city - though it is good for train connections with the large train station.

I hope that helps with your questions - let us know if you have any others!

Oh and to buy the Swiss Travel Pass online (to print at home) click here.

Lucas

firsttimer
firsttimer
6 posts
new member
Nov 11, 2017 - 6:43 PM

Hi Lucas, thanks for the warm welcome!

Regarding the railways cable cars, I actually have no must-sees in Switzerland besides Matterhorn - that's like crack for photographers. I was hoping to get some recommendations here actually! People have pointed me to Titlus and Pilatus, and even Jungfraujoch. It's great to hear that the Luzern mountains will be open then!

Thanks also for the link for the timetable and recommendation for the trains from Chur to Zermatt, that's really helpful.

Regarding Interlaken, would it then be better for me to continue staying in Interlaken and taking day trips out to Wengen and the like, or just skipping Interlaken entirely and use it only for train connections?

As of now, I'm thinking of something like 2 nights in Zurich (the first and last), 2 nights in Luzern, and the remaining 3 nights to be split between Zermatt and Interlaken (or Wengen, as it has just come up). Does this sound proportionate to the activities we can do in these respective places? I see Montreaux coming up a lot too, though I don't know if that's just for the Golden Pass!

Thanks again for the help Lucas, it's really appreciated.

rockoyster
rockoyster
910 posts
top member
Nov 11, 2017 - 9:46 PM in reply to firsttimer

Hi firsttimer,

Lucerne is only around 1 hour from Zurich. Hop a train from the airport to Lucerne on arrival. Save yourself one hotel swap and get a head start on the good stuff. 3 nights shared between Jungfrau Region and Zermatt is a bit tight. I would think 2 nights at Zermatt.

What time are you flying out of Zurich at the end of your trip. If late in the day it may be possible to follow Glacier Express (GEX) route from Zermatt to Chur and still arrive at Zurich Airport in time for flight.

If you use the SBB timetable to go Zermatt to Chur you need to enter via Andermatt otherwise it will take you via Bern and Zurich! Timetable always defaults to fastest route. If you don’t have time for full GEX route you can hop off at Andermatt and go via Göschenen to Zurich. Although then you will miss the Oberalp Pass which is probably the best part.

For a visit this short I think Montreux is too far out of your way. But if you think otherwise you could always follow Golden Pass Line Interlaken - Zweisimmen - Montreux then Montreux to Zermatt. It will take over 6 hours though even without stops.

Have a great trip and be sure to post some of your photos here. 😎

Last modified on Nov 11, 2017 - 9:47 PM by rockoyster
firsttimer
firsttimer
6 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2017 - 5:54 AM in reply to rockoyster

Hi Rockoyster,

1 hour is closer than I had expected, I think I'll take your advice and head straight there after landing in Zurich! There will be trains from the airport to Luzern I expect. However, my flight out of Zurich at the end of the trip is at 2:30pm, so I think I'll have to spend the last night before that in Zurich either way.

Which leaves me with 6 nights between the Jungfrau Region, Zermatt, and Luzern. Do you think 2 nights at each place is ideal, or should I be paying particular attention to any one of them more?

Ah, the SBB timetable is something I'm still trying to work my head around. I think I'll have to study that a bit more to understand it better, but thanks for the heads up! I take your point on Montreux too, I'm happy to cut that out for now.

Thanks for the tips, and I certainly will post my photos as an expression of my gratitude!

rockoyster
rockoyster
910 posts
top member
Nov 12, 2017 - 6:37 AM in reply to firsttimer

Some trains run direct from Zurich Airport to Lucerne, some require a change at Zurich Main Station. Check the timetable.

I'm not sure how long your flight is but is a 3h 30m train ride from Zurich Airport to Zermatt too much for you on your day of arrival?

If you did that you could have 2 nights in Zermatt then make your way back with 3 (or 2) nights in Jungfrau region then 2 (or 3) nights in Lucerne then catch the 1 hour direct train from Lucerne back to Zurich Airport.

firsttimer
firsttimer
6 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2017 - 6:51 AM

It's 13 hours, so I think my parents would appreciate a shorter train ride haha! But we'll consider it no less! Speaking of the Jungfrau region, I've been searching up on which town it's best to stay in that time of the year. Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Wengen have obviously come up, but will these places be quiet during that time especially given maintenance periods?

Lucas
Lucas
3339 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 12, 2017 - 8:42 AM in reply to firsttimer

You will have no shortage of mountains for some great pictures in the towns/areas you are choosing.

Luzern area is fully accessible, the Schilthorn mountain is closed for maintenance until Dec.7. Jungfraujoch is open, as are the two main mountains to visit in Zermatt (for Matterhorn pics) Gornergrat and Klein Matterhorn.

My thoughts would be:
Dec 2 & 3: Luzern
Dec 4&5: Zermatt
Dec 6, 7 &8: Wengen or Grindelwald or Murren or Lauterbrunnen
Dec 9: Early train to Zurich airport - this idea isn't for everyone but if leaving by 8am or 08:30 it would work. But perhaps you want a more relaxing last day before your flight.

It will be hard to fit the while Glacier Express route in your timetable but a partially trip as Rockoyster notes could work for you.

For the most relaxing option I might skip Luzern entirely (personal choice) and do 2 -3 nights in the other two areas plus your last night back in Zurich.

rockoyster
rockoyster
910 posts
top member
Nov 12, 2017 - 8:48 AM in reply to firsttimer

I've never actually been to Switzerland in winter (or the cusp of winter) so I would rely on the advice of Lucas over mine. One thing you will find about travelling in Switzerland is that there are far, far more desirable options than there ever is available time.

Lucas
Lucas
3339 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 12, 2017 - 8:53 AM in reply to rockoyster

I'm more of a sucker for mountain villages and their landscapes any time of year!

Luzern most probably will be rather lackluster in feel (rainy and chilly but no snow) whereas the other two...well it could be the same weather but prettier surroundings and there is a little better chance of snow (but not a whole lot in early December).

rockoyster
rockoyster
910 posts
top member
Nov 12, 2017 - 8:54 AM in reply to Lucas

"I'm more of a sucker for mountain villages and their landscapes any time of year!"

With you there Comrade! 😇

Last modified on Nov 12, 2017 - 8:55 AM by rockoyster
firsttimer
firsttimer
6 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2017 - 9:15 AM

Thanks guys! You've both been most helpful. Any opinions between Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen, and Wengen at that time of the year? I've been coming across many forums which express hesitance due to the low season, or less sunlight in Lauterbrunnen due to its geographical location and other things like that. Should I be spending more time in Zermatt instead?

rockoyster
rockoyster
910 posts
top member
Nov 12, 2017 - 9:23 AM in reply to firsttimer

Wengen is unbelievably scenic (thinking photography) and a great starting point for (the rather expensive) trip up to Jungfraujoch.

Last modified on Nov 12, 2017 - 9:25 AM by rockoyster
Lucas
Lucas
3339 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 12, 2017 - 11:02 AM in reply to firsttimer

The Jungfrau region will be quiet at that time of year but always scenic - Wengen especially is great as is Murren. Both are very small and quiet villages so be prepared for some closures of restaurants and hotels due to it being low-season.

Zermatt will be busier fur sure (its a world-renowned ski resort) but still relatively low-key at that time of year. It's all up to what you prefer.

firsttimer
firsttimer
6 posts
new member
Nov 12, 2017 - 4:45 PM

Alright, I think we're settling for 2,2,2,1 at Luzern, Wengen, Zermatt and Zurich. Will post photos here when I'm back, thanks!

Lucas
Lucas
3339 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 13, 2017 - 10:18 AM in reply to firsttimer

Good luck with the trip!
We have a trip report forum here to post any details on pics after you return.

Cheers!

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