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My Swiss experience - 9 days trip in April 2019

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abdul qadir
abdul qadir
25 posts
new member
Feb 1, 2020 - 7:47 AM

My wife and I visited Switzerland for 9 days in April 2019 and had an amazing experience. My trip went super smooth and a lot of its credit goes to this forum where I found tons of useful information. So, I am trying to give something back to the forum here.

Below are some points that I thing made my trip awesome and I hope it would help someone who is planning a trip to Switzerland.

  1. The best thing that I had done was I had bought a Swiss Travel Pass (STP). It gets you unlimited access on all public transports covering trains, buses, boats, trams and gets you discount on mountain excursion tickets. This was really worth it. Not just I saved money, but I didn’t have to worry about buying a ticket every time I needed to go anywhere. I could just hop on any bus, train, boat or tram. Note that there are some express trains that this pass won’t cover, but those are very few and are meant to be scenic excursions themselves.
  2. Install an app called “SBB” on your mobile. It has full timetable of all the transports (bus, boat, train, trams, cable cars) across Switzerland. So any time you can put origin and destination in it and it will show you the best route to get there. It also shows for each vehicle there current location. And the Swiss transport system is amazingly punctual, so you can completely rely on this app and the ETA, it tells you about anything. You can buy tickets on this app too but if you have bought the STP, then you would just need it to check the timetable.
  3. Anytime you are going up to a mountain, check the weather forecast. It wouldn’t be fun if you go up and it is cloudy there. I cannot stress this enough, keep checking the weather. I just used to google like “weather on Mount Titlis” and the hourly info that it showed using “weather.com” was pretty accurate always.
  4. I didn’t buy any tickets to the mountains in advance because I wanted to check the weather before going up. I’d recommend you do the same. Buy the mountain excursion tickets directly on the spot instead of buying it online in advance.
  5. You should definitely include Mount Titlis in your plan. It was so beautiful up there on a clear day. I took many cable cars during my Swiss trip but all of them were too big where many people would be put at one time which won't give you a complete view from the car. At Mount Titlis though, they have small cable cars that run at a frequency of 10 seconds approx. Since the frequency is so high, everyone takes a personal cable car. So you'd have the entire cable car to yourself and have a 360 degree view from it.
  6. To reach to Titlis, you’ll have to go to a town called Engelberg. Mostly people stay at Lucerne and take train to Engelberg. This train would have big panoramic windows with awesome views. And it would be free on STP. Then from Engelberg station you’d have to go to the cable car pickup point. There would be signs all over on how to reach there. I’d recommend you walk there instead of taking a bus. The walk is only 5 minutes. On the cable car pickup point, you’d buy a ticket to Titlis, if you have STP you’d get 50 % discount. Then you’d take the small very frequent cable car I talked about. This cable car first makes a stop at a mid-station called “Trubsee”. You can chose to hop off here, take a look around and come back to cable car. Or you can chose to stay seated. Then it will take you the the next station called “Stand” which is terminal. From here you have to switch to a bigger cable car called “Rotair” that will take you to the tip of Mount Titlis, this cable car rotates while going up so you will see 360 degree view.
  7. I’d really recommend that you take a ride on Ice flyer when you are up there on Titlis. It is super awesome. In case you don’t know what it is, google it and see images.
  8. The second excursion that I’d highly recommend you is going to Mount Schilthorn. It has two routes. So you should go up by one and come down by second to get the entire experience. I just watched this youtube video www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QXM3VJFrGU and followed it blindly. I’d really recommend you do the same. And this entire trip is free on STP including the james bond museum, thrill walk, cable cars etc. that are mentioned in the video. One thing that is not covered in the video is, there is a bus ride in the itinerary while coming back. From that bus you can see so many waterfalls. There will literally be a waterfall every half km. Sit on the left side of that bus to view them.
  9. The third excursion that I’d recommend that you should try to fit in your schedule if time permits is going to Mount Rigi. Though this is not so popular, the reason why I suggest you this is that going to Mount Rigi involves travelling through boat and cogwheel train which were not there in Mount Titlis and Mount Schilthorn trips. So if you do this, you’d cover all types of scenic commute experiences. And this full trip is free as well on STP.
  10. To reach to Rigi, you’d take a boat from Lucerne to Vitznau. From there you’d change to a cogwheel train which will take you all the way to Rigi Kulm. There are another routes as well to Rigi in case you want to come down from a different route. So first option is you can come down the same route you went up. Second is you go down from Rigi Kulm to Rigi Kaltbad via the same cogwheel train you came up with, then change to a cable car that brings you down to Weggis, then walk to the boat pick up point (15 mins) and take boat back to Lucerne. We didn’t do the second option because the cable car to Weggis was not operational when we were there.
  11. There is a mountain called Jungfraujoch which is called the top of Europe. I chose not to go there because the ticket to it was very very costly even after the STP discount. And I had asked some people and they said the view seems almost similar from there as you’d see from any other high mountain like Titlis. But in case you want to boast later that you’ve been to the highest point of Europe then you can consider it. You have to start from Interlaken city to get there. There are two routes to go there. One from Lauterbrunnen and one from Grindelwald. You can go up by one and come down by second. If you go to Schilthorn, you’d have gone to Lauterbrunnen anyways.
  12. About where to say, what we wanted to do is stay in the country side locations. So I had picked some towns near the famous cities so that we weren’t far from cities too. For example, we stayed at Zug near Lucerne instead of staying in Lucerne itself. Similarly we stayed at Brienz instead of Interlaken. At both of these places train would take 20 minutes to take us to the city and the frequency of trains was pretty high too. Or there was an option to take boat to the city via Lake Zug and Lake Brienz respectively. That is something that you can consider because towns were much peaceful and prettier than cities nature wise.
  13. For chocolates go to shops called Laderach and Bachmann. These are there in almost all big cities. I liked Ladrerach more. Note that they have alcohol in many of there chocolates, so ask about it in case you want to be alcohol free.
  14. For grocery shopping, we used to go to a supermarket called "Coop". These are literally everywhere in Swtizerland and have everything and are cheap as well.
Anna
Anna
670 posts
top member &
moderator
Feb 1, 2020 - 8:39 AM in reply to abdul qadir

Thank you abdul qadir for sharing your Swiss experience!

I'm sure MySwissAlps members appreciate your tips and recommendations.

Regards,

Anna

harveyshot
harveyshot
19 posts
new member
Feb 1, 2020 - 11:44 PM

Thanks, Abdul, great information.

No offense to the fine people on this forum but personal experiences such as Abdul's is much more informative for me. I never considered Mt. Titlis but it's now on our radar for our trip. The information on the smaller cable cars is very useful for those of us that try to avoid crowds whenever possible. The forum people do add an immense amount of help and technical knowledge but as you know, the type of pass to buy, where to visit, what to see and scheduling information is very complex and often confusing.

Another site to consider if you're looking for personal experiences in Switzerland is earthtrekkers.com. It's about a family of four that spent 13 months traveling the world. Their experiences in Switzerland, like Abdul's, has helped us plan our trip; what to do and what to avoid.

Thanks to MSA for this forum.

abdul qadir
abdul qadir
25 posts
new member
Feb 2, 2020 - 5:10 AM

@Anna, sharing my experience and tips was the least I could do :)

@harveyshot, I'm glad that you found my post helpful. If you do end up including Mt. Titlis in your trip, I'm sure you won't regret it. It was one of the highlights of our trip actually. If you are looking for more personal experiences, then there is a whole section called "trip reports" for that on this forum, below is the link to it.

www.myswissalps.com/forum/tripreports

Jenn Chuah
Jenn Chuah
27 posts
active member
Feb 2, 2020 - 8:48 AM

Hi Abdul Qadir,

Thanks for yr sharing which is very helpful for members who are trying to plan for the trip.

May I know you purchased your Swiss Travel Pass for how many days?

Did you go on any of the panoramic train ride like bernina or glacier express?

There are so many places of interest and can be rather challenging trying to decide which places really worth visiting.

Thanks.

abdul qadir
abdul qadir
25 posts
new member
Feb 2, 2020 - 10:24 AM

Hi Jenn Chuah,

1. I had bought Swiss Travel Pass for 8 days. Our trip was of 9 days, so we spent the last day without pass.

2. I thought of including Glacier express, but then eventually didn't do it because of multiple reasons. Firstly I couldn't find time to fit that in into our itinerary as it was already pretty busy. Besides that, we anyways took a lot of trains through the course of our trip. Some of these normal trains too had big panoramic windows for example the train from Lucerne to Engelberg which we took to go to Mt. Titlis. When I was planning my trip, I too was in dilemma about whether to take Glacier express or not and I had asked about it here in forum. Below is a link to that post. Hope that would help you.

www.myswissalps.com/forum/topic/glacier-express-dilemma

Jenn Chuah
Jenn Chuah
27 posts
active member
Feb 2, 2020 - 12:09 PM in reply to abdul qadir

Hi Abdul Qadir,

Thanks for your prompt reply. For the Swiss Travel Pass, how many days/months in advance you purchased prior to your trip to Switzerland?

At the point of purchase, do you already have to confirm the date that you will start using this pass?

With the current coronavirus outbreak, I am a bit hesitant to commit too early in case the situation become worst and we have to postpone the trip. By the way, my trip is currently scheduled for end March.

Thanks.

abdul qadir
abdul qadir
25 posts
new member
Feb 2, 2020 - 12:48 PM

Hi Jenn Chuah,

I had purchased the Swiss Travel Pass about a month before my trip. Yes, I did have to mention the dates while purchasing it.

I think you can wait till last moment before buying the pass. You can even purchase it after you have arrived in Switzerland from a rail station, but you would have to check which stations sell the pass and what are the timings. Below link might help.

www.myswissalps.com/train/ticketspasses/practical/wheretobuy

Jenn Chuah
Jenn Chuah
27 posts
active member
Feb 2, 2020 - 1:12 PM in reply to abdul qadir

Thank you so much, abdul qadir for your useful info. It is much appreciated.

abdul qadir
abdul qadir
25 posts
new member
Feb 2, 2020 - 1:20 PM

Glad to be of help Jenn Chuah. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

harveyshot
harveyshot
19 posts
new member
Feb 2, 2020 - 5:29 PM in reply to Jenn Chuah

Hi Jenn

As you mentioned, my wife and I are also concerned about the Coronavirus outbreak in China. We are also going in late March. We're hoping it won't start sweeping across the world but if it does reach high numbers in Europe or the U.S. we may be forced to cancel our long awaited trip. We bought trip insurance but that will only kick in if the U.S. or E.U. State Departments issue a "no travel" warning or ban. I don't think it will pay if we just decide not to go due to health concerns. Fingers crossed!

SAC0042
SAC0042
7 posts
new member
Feb 2, 2020 - 5:38 PM in reply to abdul qadir

Thank you very much for this information, abdul qadir. You have made it so much easier for me to plan my trip to Switzerland in June/ July this year.

your tips and the information you have provided are very helpful.

i would like to know if you found any halal places to eat there and also the type of accommodation you rented . Thank you.

abdul qadir
abdul qadir
25 posts
new member
Feb 2, 2020 - 7:04 PM

Hi SAC0042, I'm happy to know I could help you.

You can just search for "halal restaurants" on Google maps and you will find many options. We used to eat at Indian restaurants, because we are from India and couldn't live without home food for too many days :)

For accommodation, we stayed at Airbnb and didn't find any issue. Just make sure to check the reviews and ratings of any place you book.

Last modified on Feb 2, 2020 - 7:50 PM by abdul qadir
rockoyster
rockoyster
8753 posts
expert
Feb 3, 2020 - 5:30 AM in reply to abdul qadir

Hi there Abdul Qadir,

Nice report. Thank’s for sharing. I love the SBB mobile app.

Just for anyone following along the trip to Schilthorn is now only free as far as Mürren in 2020. From there it is discounted 50%.

For anyone requiring written instructions - From Lauterbrunnen a very nice circuit to do is to Grütschalp (cable car), Mürren (train), Gimmelwald (cable car), Stechelberg (cable car), Lauterbrunnen (bus). From Mürren you can easily visit Schiltorn (don’t miss The Thrill Walk at Birg) and even Allmendhubel if you have time and are there at the right time of year. In between Stechelberg and Lauterbrunnen the bus stops at the Trummelbach Falls. Well worth a look. The entire circuit and side trips were free with the Swiss Travel Pass in 2019 apart from the Allmendhubel Funicular (50% discount) and the Falls (modest entry fee). In 2020 Mürren to Schilthorn will be 50% discount. No change to the other parts of the trip.

harveyshot
harveyshot
19 posts
new member
Feb 4, 2020 - 10:11 PM in reply to rockoyster

Rockoyster

I was trying to price out that circuit you mentioned but not having any luck. I used the SBB timetable for the following trip: Lauterbrunnen/Grutschalp/Murren/ Birg/Schilthorn/Birg/Murren/Gimmelwald/Stechelberg/Lauterbrunnen for FEB 6 at 8am. It showed me the trip with all the stops/changes and the red rectangle on the page states "Tickets from CHF13.40". I clicked on it but it just keeps coming back to the same page. I don't really want to buy tickets yet but how do you find the actual cost?

What am I doing wrong?

rockoyster
rockoyster
8753 posts
expert
Feb 4, 2020 - 11:19 PM in reply to harveyshot

The SBB app tells me full fare is CHF63 on the way up and CHF61.20 on the way down.

See also schilthorn.ch/cmsfiles/Tariffs_Schilthorn_2020_English_1.pdf.

If your have a Swiss Travel Pass you only pay for Mürren to Schilthorn at 50% discount. Test of the circuit is fully covered.

abdul qadir
abdul qadir
25 posts
new member
Feb 8, 2020 - 8:27 AM

Hi rockoyster, thanks for the update on pricing of Schilthorn excursion.

rockoyster
rockoyster
8753 posts
expert
Feb 10, 2020 - 10:07 AM in reply to abdul qadir

Glad you could interpret my garbled English which should have said “If you have a Swiss Travel Pass you only pay for Mürren to Schilthorn at 50% discount. Rest of the circuit is fully covered.” 😉

TUKAIKOL
TUKAIKOL
33 posts
active member
Feb 10, 2020 - 2:52 PM in reply to abdul qadir

Hi abdul,

Many thanks for your informative and helpful report. I am planning to visit in June 2020 for seven nights. I will be staying three nights at lucerne, three nights wengen and one night zurich. My intentions are to cover mount titlis, schilthorn, Jungfraucjoch and zermatt. I was just checking your itinery and would like to ask you

1. Since I will not stay at zermatt and it's around 4 hours from lucerne should I replace it with either mount rigi or pilatus.

2. How was glacier 3000 ..is it possible as a day trip from lucerne.

3. Regarding boat trips. which boat trips you did and what you will recommend to me.

Regards

Arijit

Steph
Steph
2190 posts
top member &
moderator
Feb 10, 2020 - 5:51 PM in reply to TUKAIKOL

Hello Arijit,

Sorry to jump in to your questions addressed to Abdul, I'm sure he'll get back to you too soon.

1. I don't think that you can compare Zermatt and Mount Rigi and Mount Pilatus, they are located in quite a different part of the Swiss Alps. However, all of them are mountains - I tend to say "same, same but different!!" See:
- www.myswissalps.com/rigi
- www.myswissalps.com/pilatus
- www.myswissalps.com/zermatt/activities

2. I'll have to leave this to Abdul, have never been there!

3. If you're talking about boat trips on the lake of Lucerne you can find options in below link. The "Golden Roundtrip to Mount Pilatus" includes a boat trip (back to Lucerne, with fantastic view onto the just visited mountain!)
- www.myswissalps.com/boatlakelucerne

Best,
Steph

Best,
Steph

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