<<"Mainly asking for advice right now on my location progression and length of stay in each city. Reasonable or need some tweaking before I book hotels? Need to lengthen or shorten the stay in any one city?">>
Hi Sharpl -
Lucas and I and many forum members have a good general sense of how long it takes to get from one place to another in Switzerland. To refine it, we use the timetable, as Lucas has pointed out in his first post to you. Our sense of how much time to take at any one specific tourist attraction is less reliable, because that depends so much on individual preferences.
So, you have been getting general advice...comments that it is not possible to do all the things listed on a particular day.
The next finer level of detail is much harder to develop.
<<"I am very open to additional suggestions and critique as I have no sense of direction whatsoever. Are these days and locations reasonable? I know this is a lot of moving around, but I fell in love with each ofthe cities planning this trip and want to stay in each.">>
I had the same dilemma when I planned a trip to the UK a couple of years ago. We cannot easily make judgements for you, at the next level of detail.
If you said "we want to visit art museums", we could say - Basel is great, Zürich and Luzern as well. But, we can't tell you how to trade off museums for scenic trains, to pick one simplistic example.
So, here are a couple of approaches to use. The simplest is to accept that you have planned too much to do, and that there are many nice things that can be accessed from almost any base. A first visit will always be a revelation. So, pick bases.
Then, do what you can from each base.
We always suggest Luzern, and then in the Summer, the Bernese Oberland. But, there are plenty of nice bases.
Decide if you want to cope with transferring bases frequently, using the timetable to judge how long it takes to go from one place to another, and the map that I linked to get a general sense of where these places are. That will tell you where you will stay and how long and in which order.
You have picked Zermatt, for your first full day - surely jet-lagged. It should be a light day. Then, Montreux, then Grindelwald, then Lucerne, then a last night in Zürich.
That is a good flow, of good bases, with a tough full first day. Each has enough to do and then some. Most would have one less base for that length of time, but you can do it if you want to. It is not unreasonable if you keep in mind that the travel between the bases is pleasant and scenic even without panoramic trains.
Then, looking at the map with your list of desired places written down, make choices of what activity to assign to each base. Use the map, followed by the timetable. It is iterative.
Just say- "we'll set our base and do what we can from the list on each day," knowing that you can't do it all. Assign the targets to a base city, and realize that some will not be possible. Then, use the timetable and information on this website and others to judge how much time to take to get there, do what you will enjoy, and return to your base. From your comments, I wonder if you are not using the timetable. It defines what you can reach and return from. Look at the map. Perhaps a couple of things are close to each other on the map. Check the timetable to see if they are close in time. It seems that you may not be doing that critical part. We cannot do that for all of your ideas.....you have to do it yourself.
You'll end up with a realistic list of what you can do, and what might fit or might not.
The second approach is much harder. It is what we did for our trip to the UK. It requires more detail work with the timetable and the map. It is to make your list of the things to do, and force yourself to put priorities on them. It requires someone to answer the question that we so often get here: "Is it worth it?" We can only help a little but this website s full of information to help you make the judgements about what is "worth it" for you. I think you may have made your list, but have not organized it against the timetable and your judgement of how long a place or event will take.
Then, put your bases in place. They'll change a few times. We finally had to take Edinburgh off our list, because we had to some places of family significance in Wales. We made a poster with the map of Great Britain on it, and stuck pins in it. Then, moved them.
A third approach- a new base every night - covers a lot of territory, is tiring, and usually doesn't give you a chance see much detail. Good for a survey. We did it on our first couple of trips, knowing that we would definitely be returning to Switzerland many times. I was based in New York, but had responsibilities in Geneva.
You've got good bases, but you cannot do all the things you have listed and spend any time at them, even if you can, technically, get to and from them..