Chur, Spiez, Montreux, Zurich in second week April

Chur, Spiez, Montreux, Zurich in second week April

Print this page
Create an account to receive an e-mail when someone replies to this thread
Posts: 10
This thread is closed. You are welcome to log in and submit a new thread.
2sk21
2sk21
23 posts
new member
Mar 3, 2017 - 1:24 AM

I should start by introducing myself: I will be visiting Switzerland in the second week of April for the first time with my wife and 13 year old daughter. I am myself am a railway fan and have a model train layout (I have a model of a Ce 6/8 Crocodile among others).

Strangely enough, it was my daughter who proposed Switzerland as the destination for our vacation this year and I did not object :-). Our plan is to spend 5 days and see the alps (and for me to ride a variety of trains).

I will be buying 8 day passes. It appears that I do not have to buy a separate pass for my daughter (is this right?).

My current plan (feedback welcome)is :

  • April 8: Arrive in Zürich from the US. Take train to Chur and spend the night there.
  • April 9: Take Glacier express Brig and then BLS to Spiez on the classic route (not the new basis tunnel) as I wish to travel over the famous Bietschtal bridge.

    • Apart from the Glacier express, would it be interesting to take a RhB local train and change in Disentis/Muster to an MGB
    • We will stay in Spiez for three days. Spiez seems like a nice base camp as it is directly on the main line and should have good service to Interlaken and Bern as well as the MOB. Any hotel recommendations for Spiez?
  • April 10: Take MOB to Montreux, take a lake cruise and then return via Lausanne,Bern to Spiez
  • April 11: Jungfrau
  • April 12: Morning cruise on Thunersee,travel to Zürich and stay near the Hbf
  • April 13: Return to the US (early morning flight)
Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 3, 2017 - 8:44 AM in reply to 2sk21

>> I should start by introducing myself: I will be visiting Switzerland in the second week of April for the first time with my wife and 13 year old daughter. I am myself am a railway fan and have a model train layout (I have a model of a Ce 6/8 Crocodile among others)….

… Our plan is to spend 5 days and see the alps (and for me to ride a variety of trains).

… April 8: Arrive in Zürich from the US. Take train to Chur and spend the night there.

In keeping with your wish to ride a variety of trains, if one of the departure times suits you, you might like to do this sector on a Railjet train. The Railjet is an Austrian train, and it runs on the route between Hungary, Austria and Switzerland. Railjet services (identified in the SBB timetable as RJ) leave Zürich at 6:40 am, 10:40 am and then every 2 hours until 18:40. You would change to an urban S-Bahn train at Sargans for the final 20 minutes to Chur.

>> April 9: Take Glacier express Brig and then BLS to Spiez on the classic route (not the new basis tunnel) as I wish to travel over the famous Bietschtal bridge.

Apart from the Glacier express, would it be interesting to take a RhB local train and change in Disentis/Muster to an MGB

Yes, you could do that: take a Rhätische Bahn train to Disentis/Mustér, a Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn train to Brig, then the Lötschberger to Spiez. Taking these local trains along the Glacier Express route will usually involve a change of trains in Andermatt as well as Disentis/Mustér. If I remember rightly, there is no raised platform at Andermatt, so that might make it a little more awkward if you are travelling with luggage. I’ve always travelled that sector luggage-free, so I’m not 100% sure.

However, it would be a shame to miss out on the offical Glacier Express train! The Glacier Express doesn’t leave Chur until 11:26 though, so you would get into Spiez much later than if you took the regional trains.

>> April 12: Morning cruise on Thunersee,travel to Zürich and stay near the Hbf

Your boat travel will be in the direction towards Interlaken West, I presume? (No morning services in the other direction).

I don’t know what aspects of trains interest you, but many of the services from Interlaken West/Spiez/Thun to Zürich have a family coach with play area. I’m not suggesting this for your daughter, as she is far too old ;-D, but it is interesting to see one if you have never seen one before. The trains with this feature are identified in the SBB timeable by “FA” in bold italics. There is more information here:

www.sbb.ch/en/station-services/on-the-train/family.html

>> I will be buying 8 day passes. It appears that I do not have to buy a separate pass for my daughter (is this right?).

She’s 13, so that’s right, as long as you also get a free Swiss Family Card when you order your Swiss Travel Passes (or else get it at a staffed railway station in Switzerland by showing them your Swiss Travel Pass).

Alpenrose

Last modified on Mar 3, 2017 - 1:05 PM by Arno
2sk21
2sk21
23 posts
new member
Mar 3, 2017 - 12:37 PM

Alpenrose; Many thanks for this useful reply. Based on your observation, I think I will indeed stick to the Glacier express for travel from Chur to Brig. If I was traveling by myself, I would have definitely taken the local train but with my family, I think I'll take the more comfortable option.

A couple more questions about the RhB:

  • How far in advance does one have to book for the Glacier express?
  • I noticed from the glacier express web site that you need to enter the Swiss pass number when making reservations. How will that work for my daughter since she will be covered by the Swiss Family pass?
  • Finally, would I have enough time in the morning to make a quick trip to the Landwasser viaduct from Chur before boarding the Glacier express at mid day?

Also I had to change from Spiez to Bern as my base as I was unable to find a hotel with WiFi in Spiez (the joys of traveling with a thirteen year old :-)) but it appears that this will not cause any problems.

Thanks!

Annika
Annika
4949 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 3, 2017 - 2:30 PM

Hi 2sk21,

You've outlined a great trip! As for your further questions:

1. One can generally book about 3 months in advance, so now would be the time to do so. Please visit myswissalps.com/glacie rexpress/tickets for more information and the appropriate booking links.

2. You're probably confusing the Swiss Pass (a product for Swiss residents only) with the Swiss Travel Pass for tourists. The page I linked to explains the difference. You won't be using a Swiss Pass, so no need to fill out any number when reservering your seats. As long as you have your Swiss Travel Pass and your free Swiss Family Card at hand while traveling in order to show it to the train conductor, it's fine.

3. To be honest I doubt that. The Landwasser viaduct isn't that easy to reach, especially if you'd like to take a few pretty pictures. It requires some hiking from the railway station of Filisur to reach a good viewing point, about 30 to 45 minutes I think, and it's in the opposite direction from Chur if you're actually heading for Brig. If you don't mind leaving really early it's doable. You'd have to make sure to reach Filisur well in time, head for the viaduct, get back and then catch the 10:01 Glacier Express from Filisur, rather than the same Glacier Express leaving from Chur at 11:26 you'd otherwise board.

A hotel in Bern is fine too for your plans. Thun might be a bit better, and I'd expect you should be able to find hotels with WiFi there as well.

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 4, 2017 - 1:16 AM in reply to 2sk21

>> Based on your observation, I think I will indeed stick to the Glacier express for travel from Chur to Brig. If I was traveling by myself, I would have definitely taken the local train but with my family, I think I'll take the more comfortable option.

I agree, I think that would be a good idea!

I found some photos I took at Andermatt station a few years ago, which confirm that there is no raised platform there. However, the train steps are quite close to the ground, so dealing with luggage would be less awkward than I was thinking. I will attach them to this post, mainly so that others reading this thread won't be unnecessarily put off using the regional trains by my comments about Andermatt station.

What time do you arrive in Chur the day before? If there was enough time, and you weren't exhausted after your flight, you could consider one of these little trips, both giving you an experience riding local Rhätische Bahn trains:

--a trip to Arosa (one hour each way). I haven't done this trip myself yet, but I believe it is very scenic.

--a trip to Versam-Safien (20 minutes each way). It's on the Glacier Express route, but you would use a local Rhätische Bahn train. I don't know what it's like there in April, but if conditions were suitable, you could get off the train at Versam-Safien and walk down to the Rhine to photograph it with its white cliffs. The station is quite close to the Rhine at that point, and there is a track down to the river. It only takes 5 minutes or so to walk down to the river. I've attached a few photos taken there. Trains run hourly there and back from Chur.

>> Also I had to change from Spiez to Bern as my base as I was unable to find a hotel with WiFi in Spiez (the joys of traveling with a thirteen year old :-)) but it appears that this will not cause any problems.

Have you considered getting your own mobile Wi-Fi?

www.myswissalps.com/si mcard

Alpenrose

Last modified on Mar 4, 2017 - 1:18 AM by Removed user
Please login to see the attached documents
2sk21
2sk21
23 posts
new member
Mar 4, 2017 - 10:38 AM in reply to Removed user

Thanks for the extra info. As it happens, I have already made the reservations for the Glacier Express.

We should be getting in to Chur soon after lunch time on Saturday and the Glacier express does not leave until noon on Sunday so that does give us a lot of time in Chur.

I downloaded the RhB timetables and found that there are frequent services to many locations nearby. Your suggestion of Versam-Safien looks very interesting. The other options are Arosa to ride over the Langwieser bridge and Filisur to ride over the Landwasser viaduct. Both Arosa and Filisur appear to have hourly service and are one hour travel time from Chur. If you had to pick one, which would you choose?

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 6, 2017 - 4:51 AM in reply to 2sk21

>> The other options are Arosa to ride over the Langwieser bridge and Filisur to ride over the Landwasser viaduct. Both Arosa and Filisur appear to have hourly service and are one hour travel time from Chur. If you had to pick one, which would you choose?

I haven't been to Arosa yet, so I can't compare from personal experience.

However, the Landwasser Viaduct is iconic, and probably one of the most photographed places in Switzerland. As this is your first time in Switzerland, I would probably choose that.

Of course, being in the train on top of the viaduct, you don't get the view that's seen in photos, which are taken from other vantage points. However, I do think it is a special experience to go over the Landwasser Viaduct, brief as it is - about 20 seconds!

Travelling in the direction from Chur to St Moritz is the direction that provides the best view in my opinion. In this direction, you see the front of the train disappearing into the tunnel at the end of the viaduct. Sit on the right, in the back half of the train so you can see the front of the train ahead on the curved viaduct.

On the official Glacier Express train, there is often an announcement over the public address system to alert passengers to the approach of the viaduct, but this will not happen in the local trains, so you need to keep an eye on where you are.

The Landwasser Viaduct is between Tiefencastel and Filisur, but much closer to Filisur. There are a couple of other stations after Tiefencastel and before the viaduct (Surava and Alvaneu), but not all trains stop there.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Mar 6, 2017 - 4:51 AM by Removed user
Arno
Arno
10751 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 6, 2017 - 4:53 PM

I've stayed in Filisur and visited Arosa on day trips. Both places are wonderful scenery wise. The views from the Weisshorn near Arosa are amazing. However as a railway fan Filisur makes more sense. The Landwasser viaduct is worth a visit, and so is the Wiesner viaduct. Also there is a railway museum in nearby Bergün, and a very nice walk along the railway from Preda to Bergün, and on to Filisur. So much to do and see!

2sk21
2sk21
23 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2017 - 12:17 AM

After considering all of the useful information on this thread, I think I'll try to make the trip to Filisur. I would have dearly loved to see the Albula line museum in in Bergün but the timings just don't work out unfortunately.

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 7, 2017 - 3:14 AM in reply to 2sk21

Have a great trip, and let us know how it goes!

If you ever have the chance to go back to Switzerland, there are all sorts of other experiences you might like to try as a railway fan, for example:

Furka Steam Railway

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-au/full-steam-ahead-on-the-furka-pass.html

Riding beside the train driver (expensive!). There are many different opportunities - these are two of them:

www.rhb.ch/en/world-of-railway-experiences/footplate-rides

www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/day-trips/erlebnisreisen.a ngebotdetail.tagesausf luege-erlebnisreisen-fuehrerstandsfahrten-fuehrerstandsfahrten_e tr_610.html

Then there are various train excursions through beautiful scenery to mountain-top viewpoints, such as Schynige Platte and the Brienzer Rothorn.

The SBB has special "train" events from time to time. However, these are usually confined to a very limited number of dates, so not particularly convenient for tourists. Nevertheless, you might be interested to read about them:

www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/day-trips/ideas-for-your-freetime.html?_charset_=utf-8&leisureTripItem=even t_trips&keyword=train

This next suggestion is totally off-topic for Switzerland, but I thought it worth mentioning, although you quite possibly already know about it if you are a model railway fan:

http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/

Alpenrose

Last modified on Mar 7, 2017 - 6:44 PM by Arno

More on MySwissAlps.com

Swiss tips in your mailbox

Sign up to receive our newsletter and the latest forum messages. The best way to prepare for your trip!

Sign up

Get a customized itinerary for your trip

Let Swiss travel consultants create a customized itinerary. They will book your entire trip.

More
© MySwissAlps.com 2002-2018