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Itinerary ideas for a short 6 day trip in April

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Jan 12, 2016 - 7:23 PM

Hi there,

My husband and I are planning to travel around Switzerland in April and I wondered if you could give us some advice on how to make our itinerary work?

We arrive in Zurich on 9 April and then need to be in Milan by evening of 10 April to join an 8 day tour of the Italian Lakes. We were thinking of perhaps spending 9 April in Zurich and then travelling to Milan via the Bernina Express on the 10th. Or would we be better to start the journey to Milan on the 9th and stay overnight somewhere along the way?

The Italian Lakes tour ends in Lake Maggiore on the morning of 17 April and from then we have 6 days to explore Switzerland. Our thoughts were to perhaps head to Zermatt for 2 nights, Lausanne/Montreaux for 1 night, Berne for 1 night, and end in Appenzell for 2 nights (staying with a friend) before we fly out of Zurich on 23 April.

We are in our early 30’s and are more scenery/culture/outdoors people than shopping/art galleries/museums. We realise April isn’t really the greatest option in terms of weather being ‘in-between’ seasons. If possible we were hoping to be able to snowboard for a day somewhere (but may be pushing our luck) or to do a short hike/walk to enjoy the beauty of Switzerland.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated to maximise the little time we have in Switzerland (and being the weather may be a bit hit and miss). Would we be better to base ourselves in one place? Are there any other places you would recommend we visit? I have been to Lucerne before but my husband has never been to Switzerland. Being we have a short amount of time,would hiring a car to get around be a better option than travelling by train?

Many thanks,


7567 posts
Jan 12, 2016 - 10:56 PM in reply to Letty

Hi Letty -

Welcome to the Forum. You are certainly lucky to have friends in Appenzell. One of the centers of old and traditional Swiss culture, and with some beautiful scenery.


Perhaps you will be there at the time of Appenzell Innerrhoden's Landsgemeinde, held on the last Sunday in April.

www.appenzell.ch/en/ap penzell/landsgemeinde-open-air-assembly.html

In my opinion, the train is by far the best way to see the scenery in April, especially since mountain driving could be treacherous. And, it allows everyone to look out the window and not have to concentrate on driving,

The routing of your trip sounds like it is well planned and would be an excellent rail journey.

I would have some concerns about April in Zermatt. I think that Arno and Annika (the forum moderators) know that area very well; perhaps they can comment. In other alpine regions that is sort of between seasons....the snow is not so good for skiing, but the trails are not open yet for hiking, and many facilities r shut down for vacations for staff, maintenance or lack of customers. Zermatt is at high enough altitude that winter may linger there , and the visit might be worthwhile. If you do go to Zermatt, some of the ideas below might be incorporated in your trip. If you decide not to, then the suggestions below might deserve careful study.

At lower altitudes, you will see the beginnings of Spring. April is often rainy with intermittent sunny days, but the weather is quite fickle in Spring.

I usually go to the countryside in May, but in 2014 schedule conflicts required that I move my trip to April. In mid-April 2014, there were one or two weeks of beautiful, sunny , mostly dry weather. Very unusual. I was able to capture a panoramic photograph on April 17th in the Emmental which shows the state of Spring. Plenty of snow on the Alps, the grass was only really bright green in the lowest regions, some fields were plowed and planted and the trees did not yet have leaves, but were in full flower. See attached, taken from the ridge above Sumiswald.

I'm not sure just how long the trip from Zürich to Milano via the Bernina route would take. The timetable will help you decide, but I think it would be a very long day to get to Milano that way. I think an overnight stop would be needed. Hope I'm wrong. The fastest route is probably via the Gotthard Pass.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

A look a the map - here is a good one - could suggest alternatives.


You might consider going over the Gotthard Pass , to or from, Italy ...on the northbound trip, that would offer a magnificent rail journey to Luzern and thence Montreux. There are some high mountains within reach of Luzern, which might permit snowboarding. Might. Perhaps your husband would enjoy your service as a guide to Luzern. ;-)

Or, you might go north over the oldest trans-Alpine rail route through the Simplon Pass via Domodossola to Brig, then via the upper Lötschberg tunnel though Kandersteg on a very scenic route. (Of course, Zermatt is an easy trip from Brig.) That route over the Lötschberg would take you to Spiez...from which you could go to Montreux on the "Golden Pass" Route, or to Luzern via Interlaken and over the Brunig pass....also quite scenic. Thence to Bern, or even Montreux.

Whether any of those or part of them would work for you would depend a lot on transit time vs. stopover time, and could risk diluting your trip into a bunch of quick snapshots. The only way to tell is to work the time table. But,Switzerland's rail network gives you a huge number of choices.




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