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Late April: night in between Lucerne and Montreux

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Canadian1
Canadian1
2 posts
new member
Nov 3, 2019 - 1:31 AM

I am planning a trip for my parent’s 35th anniversary. They will be traveling to Europe, Asia, and Australia for the first time and the S/O and I will be joining them on the European section of the trip.

We are arriving on the morning of April 20th at ZRH and travelling immediately to Lucerne where we will stay until the 22nd. We will be celebrating my father’s birthday there and hopefully finding a nice place for dinner, On the 23th we have a night booked in Montreux and depart from GVA on the 24th.

From the 22nd-23rd we were originally planning on taking the Golden Pass down to Interlaken and booking a night in either Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald/Wengen. However, it seems like late April would put us between seasons for the region making transportation difficult.

Currently, I am considering Zermatt as an alternative for the 22nd-23rd as my father loves trains and I’ve read the ride down is very scenic. We will not be renting a car and my father has a bad leg, so walking extensively can get difficult for him. Would this be a viable alternative for late April or is there another place that should considered?

Rail Europe
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7535 posts
expert
Nov 3, 2019 - 2:03 AM in reply to Canadian1

Hi Canadian1-

Welcome to My Swiss Alps -

<<"From the 22nd-23rd we were originally planning on taking the Golden Pass down to Interlaken and booking a night in either Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald/Wengen. However, it seems like late April would put us between seasons for the region making transportation difficult.

Currently, I am considering Zermatt as an alternative for the 22nd-23rd as my father loves trains and I’ve read the ride down is very scenic. We will not be renting a car and my father has a bad leg, so walking extensively can get difficult for him. Would this be a viable alternative for late April or is there another place that should considered?">>

The issue is altitude. Zermatt and the Jungfrau region are at high enough altitude that the Winter is still there in April. Zermatt is higher than parts of the Jungfrau region.

Luzern is good. Try Montreux, for one obvious choice.

This detailed map can show you altitudes:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=swisstopo&lang=e n&bgLayer=ch.swisstopo .pixelkarte-farbe&catalogNodes=139 2,1538,1396,1430,1436& layers=ch.swisstopo.sw isstlm3d-wanderwege&E=2636424.1 1&N=1153985.47&zoom=5

Otherwise, rearrange your dates to accommodate the weather, and travel to high altitudes after June 15th. ;-(

<<"my father loves trains">>

www.myswissalps.com/ac tivities/scenictrips/t rain

Slowpoke

Last modified on Nov 3, 2019 - 7:30 PM by Suzanne
Canadian1
Canadian1
2 posts
new member
Nov 3, 2019 - 2:35 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Thanks Slowpoke.

We already have a night booked on the 23rd in Montreux before our departure from GVA on the 24th.

I don't think the winter weather will be that bothersome, we are from Canada after all. I think what we are more concerned about is accessibility. From what I understand the train goes directly into Zermatt, while for the Jungfrau region we would depend on smaller connecting trains, which may or may not be operational.

rockoyster
rockoyster
8888 posts
expert
Nov 3, 2019 - 2:39 AM in reply to Canadian1

Hello Canadian,

If your father loves trains then perhaps the Glacier Express might appeal? See www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/lucerne-to-zermatt-2 for Lucerne to Zermatt via that route.

If you don't want to stay at Zermatt you could always change at Brig and continue to Montreux.

Otherwise I would suggest an additional night in Lucerne. Rigi, Pilatus and Titlis will all be accessible at that time of year. You can search this site for details on getting to all three.

Last modified on Nov 3, 2019 - 7:35 PM by Suzanne
rockoyster
rockoyster
8888 posts
expert
Nov 3, 2019 - 2:42 AM in reply to Canadian1

The trains into the Jungfrau Region from Interlaken will be operating. No problem reaching Lauterbrunnen/Grindelwald/Wengen. Jungfraujoch is open all year round. Some cable cars may not operate. If you search the mountains you are interested in on this site then open the "Route" tab you will find details of when accessibility is limited.

Last modified on Nov 3, 2019 - 7:38 PM by Suzanne
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7535 posts
expert
Nov 3, 2019 - 8:31 AM in reply to Canadian1

<<"From what I understand the train goes directly into Zermatt, while for

the Jungfrau region we would depend on smaller connecting trains, which

may or may not be operational.">>

Rockoyster has thoughtfully filled in what I forgot to say.

Indeed, the meter gauge cograil trains to the population centers of Lauterbrunnen, Wengen and Grindelwald run all year long. The train up to Wengen from Lauterbrunnen is inexpensive inter "city" public transport. The same rolling stock continues to Kleine Scheidegg for some trains, and from Wengen onward to Kleine Scheidegg is a more expensive excursion train. At Kleine Scheidegg you may change for the cograil meter gauge excursion line down to Grindelwald Grund ( in the valley) and Grindelwald itself, just above that station. Or you may change at Kleine Scheidegg for the expensive run up to Jungfraujoch.

Also, on the Lauterbrunnen Valley side of the Männlichen ridge, access from Lauterbrunnen to the village of Mürren is provide by two public transport routes. One is a cableway from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp, on the plateau above, from which a train ( more like a trolley) runs along the plateau to Mürren. The other route runs by bus on the valley floor to Stechelberg, where the starter of a series of cableways runs up to Mürren. At least one of those two routes runs all year; maintenance is scheduled to always have one running.

From Mürren the cableways to Schilthorn run most of the year.

www.myswissalps.com/sc hilthorn

Here are the previous years' dates of maintenance shutdowns, quoted from the section about "Route."

"The cable car from Mürren to Schilthorn does not operate from 23 to 26

April 2019 and from 11 November to 6 December 2019. Services on the

route Lauterbrunnen-Grütschalp-Mürren won't run from April 29 to May 3,

and from October 21 to November 8 2019."

It is running on April 22 and 23 next year.

Checking the timetable for any specific date will tell you if a service is ( or is not) running.

This useful link provides few necessary tips and tricks:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Once you are comfortable with the subtleties, this is the direct link:

www.sbb.ch/en/home.htm l

That site is full of many layers of information about rail travel.

The SBB has a free smartphone app.

www.sbb.ch/en/timetabl e/mobile-apps/sbb-mobile.html

Rockoyster uses it for all his rail, bus, boat and cableway planning. I find it to be invaluable while on the road, but prefer to do my pre-trip planning with the timetable mentioned above. I like the larger screen on a desktop computer.

Scenic trains have been mentioned. The route from Luzern to Interlaken Ost is one (meter gauge) segment of the Golden Pass routes. It has some nice scenery. It continues to Montreux from Interlaken Ost on standard gauge tracks, with a change back to meter gauge at Zweisimmen. That latter section down to Montreux is usually considered the most scenic section. In the future, through transport on the same rolling stock will be managed by changing the trucks(UK) (bogies in the USA) at gauge change points. A scheme to insert meter gauge tracks inside the standard gauge tracks on that section was abandoned in favor of rolling stock with changeable bogies.

www.myswissalps.com/go ldenpass

Check this:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/i-had-a-vip-front-seat-on-golden-pass-7-april-2019.

Serious rail fans find this book by Anthony Lambert invaluable. It is published periodically with various titles:

Switzerland - Rail, Road and Lake-

smile.amazon.com/Switz erland-Rail-Bradt-Travel-Guide/dp/1841621323/re f=sr_1_3?keywords=Anthony+lambe rt+rail&qid=1572769356 &sr=8-3

Switzerland by Rail -

smile.amazon.com/Switz erland-BRADT-GUIDES-Anthony-Lambert/dp/1564407012/ ref=sr_1_5?keywords=Anthony+lambe rt+rail&qid=1572769356 &sr=8-5

It describes each segment of the rail system, including history, track/gauge, and sights along the route.

This map is well designed for travel in Switzerland, although Google Maps may show more hotels and stores. I like this one because of the features available from the menu under points of Interest/Traffic:

map.search.ch/?pos=640729,162352&z=32

At zoom level 32, as shown (last number in the URL), the rail lines pop up clearly.

If you turn on "Traffic" under Points of Interest, you can get an overlay of icons for every station stop in Switzerland. Mouse over the icon, and you get the exact name of the stop, including cableways, city trams and buses, for use in the timetable:

map.search.ch/?pos=637068,160472&z=64 &poi=bergbahn,halteste lle,zug

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
7535 posts
expert
Nov 3, 2019 - 8:52 AM in reply to Canadian1

<<"I don't think the winter weather will be that bothersome, we are from

Canada after all. I think what we are more concerned about is

accessibility.">>

Low temperatures are not the issue.

In April,the higher trails e.g.

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/maennlichen-kleinescheidegg

are partially blocked by snow, and are susceptible to snow slides. And, by late March, grooming of Winter hiking trails has been discontinued.

Skiing tends to stop in early April. The snow is not good (Zermatt may have skiing longer into Spring, because of the higher altitudes). No skiers and no hikers means that many Alpine cableways shut down for lack of customers, and many but not all hotels and restaurants in the high Alps close for vacations or maintenance.

Since your father is not a hiker, the point is not important. But, the logic explains why public transport runs all year, but excursion transport has more restricted schedules for some modes and locations.

Slowpoke

Suzanne
Suzanne
344 posts
top member
Nov 3, 2019 - 11:26 AM

Hello Canadian1,

Thanks for your question!

Have you perhaps considered staying an extra night in Lucerne and seeing the Museum of Transport?

If you haven't made reservations yet for your father's birthday, look into Scala restaurant in Lucerne; the view is breathtaking, along with the superb service and food.

Alternative suggestions to Zermatt would be Thun. Thun is town, and you wouldn't have to worry about the altitude changes since you mentioned your father having a bad leg. Altitude changes can put a strain in blood circulation/pressure, so you might put that in consideration and watch out for swelling.

Thun:

I hope this helps you out!

Best regards,

Suzanne

Last modified on Nov 4, 2019 - 7:36 PM by Suzanne

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