Home bases for June holiday in Switzerland

Home bases for June holiday in Switzerland

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lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Mar 28, 2017 - 7:58 PM

I have just started reading about Swiss Alps travel in order to plan a June vacation.

Before I start on the specific itinerary questions, I have a logistical question. We are planning on traveling with a suitcase each. We are interested in all the wonderful train trips but would like to stay put for a few days as well so that we are not dragging the suitcases every day.

Is there a recommendation for 2, maybe three regions (towns, cities) to use as a home base and travel in day trips (train trips) from each? I promise to do my homework as soon as I have a handle on this.

Lucas
Lucas
5570 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 29, 2017 - 6:45 AM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi Lauriejnee and welcome to MySwissAlps!

We certainly do recommend the 2 or three base towns as well - good idea.

Where to stay however depends on what you want to see and do. For mountain trips, the most popular base towns are Luzern and/or Interlaken (larger towns) and for smaller alpen villages, Lauterbrunnen, Murren and Wengen are popular.

Another nice town to base yourself in is Montreux if that area interests you.

I hope that helps gets you started on your planning - feel free to post more questions once you have a rough itinerary.

Lucas

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4488 posts
expert
Mar 29, 2017 - 7:47 AM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi Kauriejnee -

You did not say how long you will be in Switzerland.

Do you have any special interests besides train rides? Hiking, museums, lake boat rides.....?

I like to visit Switzerland in late May or early June myself. However, when I do that, I don't go up into the Alps that are mentioned by Lucas. I tend to visit the cities and countryside at lower altitudes.... and I do like to walk in the countryside.

Altitude is everything,

www.myswissalps.com/we ather

and, in general -

www.myswissalps.com/ge ttingstarted

and, although there are some nice train rides and cableway rides ( to the villages mentioned or the Jungfrau or Schilthorn), the high trails above 1500 or 2000 meters are generally snowed in until mid-to late June ( depends on snowpack). It's too early for hiking on high but the snow is no good for most skiing, so there are few customers. The floor of the Lauterbrunnen Valley (at about 700 meters altitude ) will be nice. The villages tend to be very quiet, and many,but not all hotels and restaurants don't really open up until mid-June. Some will be open.

www.myswissalps.com/be rneseoberland

Check the links under that main heading.

The Swiss rail network, as you have apparently figured out, is really good for the base+day trip kind of travel that you plan.

Please make sure that you study the timetable thoroughly. There is a tremendous amountof information buried in layers and menus. The introductory page here is valuable:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Also, the main SBB website has a lot of useful data:

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

You can find out about various services with different speeds and costs to transfer luggage from station to station ( I use it often) :

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/services/lugg age-and-flight-luggage/luggage.html

and also details of the equipment, services, and opening hours for various services at each station:

Under "Stations and Services" on the home page enter the name of a station in the box labeled "Find your station.".

Here is what I get if I follow the menus for Luzern:

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/am-bahnhof/railway-stations/bahnhof-finden.posid.5000.html

Look under "Services" and "Equipment."

Famous towns with excellent rail connections in many directions include Zürich, Luzern, Bern.

As you get further awy fromm big city hubs, the frequency of service diminishes, but there is almopst always service once per hour from early morning until the veening...and late at night on the main lines.

Zürich is an interesting town, but is not in the Alps and is not usually the best city for sightseeing. On the other hand,the density of cultural features is high....museums, etc.

We usually put Luzern first on the list of base towns, but others can make sense, too.

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne

www.myswissalps.com/zu rich

and - in general -

www.myswissalps.com/wh eretogo

Slowpoke

lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Mar 29, 2017 - 2:35 PM in reply to Lucas

Thank you Lucas and Slowpoke for your quick responses. For some reason this seems like an overwhelming trip to plan. I think we will be in the Alps for about a week of more, and then spend a week or less in the Italian lake region. So my initial thought was to start in Switzerland and end in Italy. Now I'm thinking

we could start and end in Switzerland by taking a different route each way. I will start by researching the

links you both sent out to me, but if you have any thoughts on this plan I would appreciate it.

Lucas
Lucas
5570 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 31, 2017 - 9:24 AM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi Lauriejnee,

Just be careful with leaving and returning to Switzerland in regards to the rail pass you buy. The Swiss Travel Pass (consecutive days) is a fair bit cheaper than the Swiss Travel Pass Flex. You may wish to do once country at a time to save a bit of money. It all comes down to the routes you decide on and where and how much traveling you do on your 2nd stint in Switzerland of course.

Good luck with the travel planning!

Last modified on Mar 31, 2017 - 11:17 AM by Arno
Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4488 posts
expert
Mar 31, 2017 - 12:36 PM in reply to lauriejnee

<<" For some reason this seems like an overwhelming trip to plan. ">>

Probably, because there are too many good things to do in Switzerland. ;-)

Slowpoke

lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2017 - 3:58 PM

Thank you for bearing with me!

Does this make sense (very preliminary but a place to start) I never did mention

that we will be taking about 12 days, and want to combine train rides with easy-moderate

hiking.

We fly into Zurich and take the train to Lucern, where we stay for 3-3 days as a base for the region.

Then we take the train into Italy and stay at Lake Maggiore for 5 days to explore.

Then train back to Lausanne (stay in Wengen) and explore that area for 3 or so days.

Then train back to Zurich to fly home.

ANY suggestions on this preliminary itinerary would be appreciated.

Laurie

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4488 posts
expert
Apr 1, 2017 - 6:13 PM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi Laurie-

That will work, and you'll get a flavor of Italy ( only better organized in the Swiss fashion) in the Ticino.

It's good to set only a few bases and explore nearby.

My own preferences would be to put some serious time in the Jungfrau region, by far the single best scenic and tourist destination in Switzerland.

So, I'm not sure what this means:

<<"Then train back to Lausanne (stay in Wengen) and explore that area for 3 or so days.">>

The areas around Lausanne are nice...I use to work in Geneva, so I have been there a lot. I'd visit many places on different weekends, and stay in Geneva. Many choose Montreux as a base instead of Lausanne; both are nice, but hilly. However, when I did stay in the area nearer Lausanne, I tended to stay in Murten ...both of the "name" cities are too hilly for me, I really prefer to have a level territory to walk in, right by my inn or hotel.

But, I think the Bernese Oberland is grander and better than the Lake Geneva region for the first time tourist...unless you have specific interests in the French language region.

Slowpoke

lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2017 - 8:49 PM

Thank you once again for responding to me. Eventually I will post my itinerary and you will

think, "Ah, NOW she gets it!!). I realize my mistake in my last posting, and I am also realizing that splitting Switzerland between Italy may not be the best idea.

New thoughts:

Fly into Milan- 5 days in Stresa.

Train from Stresa to Montreux. Montreux for 3 nights.

Train from Montreux to Wengen. Wengen for 4 nights.

Fly home from Zurich.

I feel comfortable about Wengen and being in the Junfrau region. It seems like there are things to see and hikes to take around Montreux to warrant 3 nights. I just want to make sure I see the best of the Alps in my limited time.

Am I heading in the right direction ( literally and figuratively!)?

lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Apr 1, 2017 - 8:58 PM

And I just realized I did not put myself in the vicinity of the Bernina Express, a ride I would really like to take. Would it be doable or do I need to switch the Montreux region for a different base?

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4488 posts
expert
Apr 1, 2017 - 10:51 PM in reply to lauriejnee

<<"And I just realized I did not put myself in the vicinity of the Bernina Express, a ride I would really like to take. Would it be doable or do I need to switch the Montreux region for a different base?">>

You are demonstrating why planning is difficult. There are many things to do...too many. ;-)

Just to add the the confusion -

1.- Your trip makes sense.

2.- You are skipping Luzern.

3.- I don't agree with -

<<"And I just realized I did not put myself in the vicinity of the Bernina Express,">>

That train goes from Chur to Tirano. You will be considerably to the west of there.

4.- I'd try to fit Luzern in on the return from Wengen to Zürich. it is a scenic route, and you could stop for lunch and a look around. The route thruugh Bern is probably faster...not sure...but, if it is, the timetable will default to that...whatever is fastest. To get the route through Luzern, simply enter "Luzern " or "Meiringen" as a "via.

That will put you on the Luzern Interlaken Express, which is one of the trains on the Golden Pass Route.

www.myswissalps.com/go ldenpass

Slowpoke

PS - make sure you have a map in front of you as you do this planning.

Lucas
Lucas
5570 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 2, 2017 - 7:44 AM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi Lauriejnee,

It looks like you are now getting a great itinerary plan. I like your latest Idea to do Italy first!

If you want to really do the Bernina Express I would do so first, from Stresa. Head to Lugano and Take the Bernina Express bus to Tirano and then the BEX train to Chur. From here you could then head to Wengen. I'm not sure if you have/want to spend the extra time doing this but perhaps you can take a night from Montreux?

Lucas

lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Apr 3, 2017 - 2:22 PM

Thank you Lucas and Slowpoke for your sage advice.

I'm still struggling with this itinerary. If we leave Stresa and head to Wengen via the Bernina Express,

it seems that we should divide that trip into at least 2 days. Is Pontresino a good stopping point, both for

distance and interest, or should we head a bit north?

After maybe 4 days in Wengen I would head to Luzerne for maybe 2 days before flying out from Zurich.

My other option (and I am now officially torturing myself) is to head to Montreux for 2-3 days from Wengen and fly out of Geneva. The more I research the more I realize how much there is to miss.

But I also think 2 bases in the Alps are plenty.

Thank you again for your patience and your help.

Laurie

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4488 posts
expert
Apr 3, 2017 - 2:39 PM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi Laurie-

Montreux has a lot to offer, if not in the city, then nearby, so you can't go wrong there. And, the Golden Pass Trains from Interlaken to Montreux are quite scenic, especially the last leg after you change trains at Zweisimmen.

Personally, I like Luzern lot, and there are many things to do nearby. I'd pick Luzern, but I really like that area and spend a lot of time there. I think that it is themost varied and beautiful lake in Switzerland, although others have different opinions. ;-)

And, you get a scenic train ride from Interlaken to Luzern, also on part of the Golden Pass route ( the Luzern -Interlaken Express.)

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/the-swiss-path-and-southern-lake-lucerne

Slowpoke

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Lucas
Lucas
5570 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 3, 2017 - 4:31 PM in reply to lauriejnee

I think I would end the day in Chur once you have completed the Bernina Express. Then move on to Wengen the next day.

You won't be disappointed with Luzern or Montreux.
Luzern is more mountain and hike focused I think and Montreux (which also has hikes of course) is focused on Lake Geneva, vineyards and cheese and chocolate factories in Gruyeres. It comes down to personal decisions at this point. :)

Lucas

Last modified on Apr 3, 2017 - 6:25 PM by Arno
lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Apr 7, 2017 - 8:23 PM

Thanks to all of your help, I think I have settled on an itinerary.

1-fly into Milan- Stresa for 4 nights.

2- Stresa to Wengen via the Bernina Express or another fabulous train ride.

Break this up overnight (Chur, St. Moritz?)

3- Wengen for 4 nights.

-Jungfrau; Schilthorn, Mannlichen to KS (or the other way around),Lauterbrunnen

4- Luzern for 2-3 nights

-Mt. Titlis; Mt. Pilatus; Stanserhorn; cheese factory

5- Fly out from Zurich 1 night in Zurich

My main question (and I HAVE been researching but once again getting confused!)

Can you tell me what train rides I can do that are the beautiful Swiss Alp rides, either getting to my

destinations or as a day trip from my destinations.

Thank you again for all your help in my planning!!!!

Laurie

lauriejnee
lauriejnee
20 posts
new member
Apr 7, 2017 - 8:25 PM

I also want to add that the trains TO my destinations can be the long way around. I want to get the most out of them and not rush.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
4488 posts
expert
Apr 7, 2017 - 11:06 PM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi Laurie -

I think you have a good plan. It is a very good idea to stay a few days at not too many bases, rather than short stays at many bases. You got that right. ;-)

I have just read through the entire thread, trying to find when in June you will be there. Did not find it. In one of my early posts, I did comment on how important it is to know when in June, because you want to walk or hike, and the early June weeks have a lot of really spectacular trails above 2000 meters that are still blocked by snow.

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

That is one reason that starting in Italy is a good idea. Gets you to the Alps near the Jungfrau later.

And, there are great trains to Switzerland from Italy.... I prefer the scenic ( not the new fast tunnel) route over (instead of under) the Gotthard pass. That is best done to go to Luzern, so you might want to put Luzern before Wengen.

However, either way still has nice rides. if you choose go from Italy to Wengen via Domodossola and Brig, you might be able to pick up the slower scenic route from Brig via Kandersteg to Spiez as part of the journey. Much more scenic than the tunnel (which goes from Brig to Visp then underground to near Spiez).

Using the timetable, and inserting "via" stops in the optional box, lets you compare fast vs. scenic.

When will you be there?

That is my one unknown before giving unqualified support from my personal perspective for your proposed itinerary.

Slowpoke

Annika
Annika
4924 posts
expert &
moderator
Apr 8, 2017 - 6:12 AM in reply to lauriejnee

Hi lauriejnee,

Please find information on the Gotthard route mentioned by Slowpoke at myswissalps.com/gottha rdpanoramaexpress. Apart from his tips on scenic trains, also consider the Golden Pass line for your transfer between Wengen and Lucerne: myswissalps.com/golden pass.

elbarcosr1
elbarcosr1
44 posts
active member
Apr 8, 2017 - 1:17 PM

Laurie, I'm not an expert, but am planning a similar trip to you in reverse. Might I suggest you look at Varenna on Lake Como instead of Stressa. It has a train station like Stressa and is similar time from Milan. But from there you can take a 1.5 hour train to Tirano and get on the Bernina Express to head into Switzerland - from everything I read, this is the most scenic train ride there is (though there are many great train rides, I see most people gush over this one above the others). You can look at the Italy train website to figure out Verenna-Esino to Tirano http://www. trenitalia. com/tcom-en and then use the SBB website to figure Tirano to Wengen through Chur, I think. If you want to do it in one day it would be a long full day (probably 1.5 hours to Tirano and then 4+ hours to Chur and 4+ hours to Wengen), but that would just be your panoramic train day. There would be a lot of changes, so your how much luggage you have would be a consideration. Or if you stay in Chur, the next morning you can take the slow Glacier Express part of the way from Chur to get to Wengen (not sure where the best change would be for that - it might be Chur-Visp-Spiez-Interlaken-Wengen) and that would be another long train day. One note, I can be corrected by the experts on this, but you can take the route of the Bernina Express or the Glacier Express on one of the no-change panoramic trains that require seat reservation etc... or you can travel along the same route in regular trains (perhaps with some station changes) without reservation. Anyway, have fun!

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