Help for 2 week Switzerland September trip

Help for 2 week Switzerland September trip

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quaiquai
quaiquai
6 posts
new member
Jan 18, 2018 - 5:24 AM

Hello!

My husband and I are planning our first visit to Switzerland this year, arriving in Zurich on 9 September early morning and leaving on 23 September night, a total of 15 days.

We don’t know much about Switzerland and are at a loss of where to go and what to do. We love walking around cities, towns and villages (in our 60s but are used to walking 5 - 6 hours a day on holidays), natural scenery and waters, not that much into nightlife and museums (will visit some well-known ones though).

After browsing through the internet and reading travel guides over the last 8 weeks (it’s rather overwhelming and confusing), I have come up with the following tentative itinerary. If anyone could provide some advice, suggestion or comments, it would be most appreciated.

Day 1 Arrive in Zurich, check in at Winterthur (5 nights at Winterthur), back to Zurich

- Walking tour; Swiss National Museum; Kunsthaus Zurich; river or lake cruise

Day 2 From Winterthur to Schaffhausen

- Rhine Falls;

- All Saints Cathedral; Fronwagplatz; Munot

Day 3 From Winterthur to Lucerne

- Mt Rigi;

- Walking tour Lucerne

Day 4 From Winterthur to Lucerne

- Mt Pilatus;

- Sammiung Rosegart; Richard Wagner Museum; Bourbaki Panorama; Lion Moniment; Glacier Garden; Chapel Bridge

Day 5 From Winterthur to Lucerne

Boat to Fuelen; Gotthard Express to Bellinzona; return to Lucerne by Gotthard Express or regular train

Day 6 From Winterthur to Thun

Golden Pass from Lucerne to Interlaken, change train to Thun (5 nights at Thun)

- Ballenberg Open Air Museum;

- Three castles at Thun

Day 7 From Thun to Interlaken

- St Beatus Cave;

- Interlaken walking tour

Day 8 From Thun to Grindelwald

- Mannlichen – Kleine Scheidegg hike;

- Train from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen for Trummelbach Falls and Staubach Falls

Day 9 From Thun to Lauterbrunnen

- Lauterbrunnen - Murren via Grutschalp ride;

- Murren to Schilthorn

Day 10 Thun to Interlaken

–Schynige Platte;

–walk around Wengen, Gimmelwald, Murren

Day 11 From Thun to Interlaken

Golden Pass from Interlaken to Montreux. Train to Fribourg to check in (4 nights at Fribourg); train back to Montreux;

- Chateau de Chilon;

- Vevey;

- Walk around Fribourg

Day 12

- Gruyere (not visiting cheese or chocolate factories);

- Lausanne

Day 13

- Bern : Bear Park; clock tower; Kunsmuseum; Paul Klee Centre; Bundeshaus;

Bern Cathedral

- Basel :The Munster

Day 14

- Lausanne : boat ride to Evian

- Geneva - UN Building; Jet d’Eau; Cathedrale St-Pierre

Day 15

Zurich; walk around city centre and last minute shopping;

Fly back to Australia at night.

Given the amount of travelling on trains and boats, the 15 day Swiss Travel Pass is the way to go? Is this itinerary realistic? Are we overly ambitious in trying to see as much as we can? Are we spending the time efficiently – there seems to be some backtracking involved but we don’t know how to minimise it. Should we cut out some of the sights or is there any “not to be missed” places that we have left out? We have purchased the air tickets but haven’t booked the accommodation.

My apology for this rather lengthy request for help and many thanks for the informative threads from the forum members.

Lucas
Lucas
8846 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 18, 2018 - 4:26 PM in reply to quaiquai

Hi quaiquai and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Why did you choose Winterthur as a first base? I might just stay 1 or two nights in Zurich itself if you want to spend time in that area and then go straight to Lucerne and stay there for 3 or 4 nights.

Thun is a nice base for a few nights but I'd also recommend staying up in the alpine villages like Grindelwald or Wengen. Montreux may make more sense than Freiburg (except for visiting Bern).

Just a few thoughts to start - let us know if they make sense or if you have other reasons for picking those towns originally.

With your plans taking you around a lot of the country a Swiss Travel Pass definitely makes sense I think.

quaiquai
quaiquai
6 posts
new member
Jan 19, 2018 - 12:45 AM

Hi Lucas,

Thank you for your reply. The reason I picked Winterthur was that some reviews recommended it as a home base due to its proximity to Zurich and it's a lovely town in its own right. But as we will be visiting Lucerne on a few occasions, we may base in either Zurich or Lucerne as suggested. As for Thun, it was also based on other people's recommendations. They said it was handy to many beautiful sites and close enough to make day trips to Bernese Oberland. The reason I did not pick Grindelwald or Wengen was that they might be a bit too quiet for my husband. He is not a nightlife person but he prefers staying at places that are lively and vibrant. According to Fodors and Rough Guides, Fribourg is a charming city with splendid medieval Old Town and one of the finer ensembles of medieval architecture in Europe and this is what we are interested in. I will review the itinerary upon your suggestion. I will need again without doubt. Thank you for your help, much appreciated.

Mark
Mark
190 posts
active member
Jan 19, 2018 - 12:20 PM

Hi Quaiquai

like you, my wife and I are in our mid sixties and like to walk or hike. I would strongly consider staying in Wengen for part of your trip. It is a favorite on this forum and generally preferred over Interlaken, Grindelwald, or Lauderbrunnen. We have stayed several times at the Beausite Park Hotel with half board and found it wonderful. It was rated #1 hotel by TripAdvisor in Wengen. Several other couples have gone with us and loved it also( they were mid fifties to sixties in age as well) It is well maintained with delicious food and first rate scenery. But even more important is it is a good base for some world class hikes that are easily doable. Both hikes you mentioned ( Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg and Schynige Platte cliff walk ) are easily accessible from Wengen. You might also consider a walk from First to Grosse Scheidegg or First to Waldspitz. The Eiger trail from Eigergletcher to Alpiglen is spectacular as well. You would not be disappointed in any of there hikes and the are not too difficult. I also doubt you would find Wengen too quiet and would love the vistas.

It may be too ambitious but we liked hiking in Zermatt as well. It’s a very different experience than Wengen but wonderful in its own way. Mark

Lucas
Lucas
8846 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 19, 2018 - 6:17 PM in reply to quaiquai

Yes, don't get me wrong, Winterthur is a lovely town - It is close to Zurich (20 minutes or so by train) but why not just stay in Zurich? :).

Thun is a good option for sure - a lot of people like the quietness of Wengen but it isn't for everyone! With 2 weeks of travel I'd go for a couple nights at each though. All your town choices are nice certainly - just make sure they make sense for your itinerary and what you are doing each day. :)

Let us know if you have further questions!

quaiquai
quaiquai
6 posts
new member
Jan 20, 2018 - 5:10 AM

Hi Marki and Lucas,

Thank you for your advice. I have decided to base in Zurich for the first 5 nights and just take a day trip to Winterthur instead. I have also had second thought on Thun. Whilst it is close to Berner Oberland and train travel is fast and efficient, given the amount of time we will spend in walking and hiking in the region, a home base at Murren, Wengen or Grindelwald definitely makes more sense and since we are out on the road most of the time, it shouldn't be too much an issue for my husband that these towns may be too quiet. I have read so much positive reviews of these places that it would be a pity not to spend the nights there and make the most of it. I will look into the accommodation and the hotel recommended. I am aware of First but have not heard of the other sites mentioned. Will check them out in the map and thanks for the suggestion.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3911 posts
expert
Jan 20, 2018 - 5:58 AM in reply to quaiquai

Hi quaiquai,

I'm intrigued by your decision to base in Zurich when most days while there you are doing something in Lucerne. That means you will use up 2 hours per day just going to Lucerne and back before you even start whatever it is you are planning to do there.

I wouldn't make Rhine Falls a big priority but you could always do it on your last day from Zurich. Rhine Falls is definitely more impressive in spring when the snow melt swells the Rhine rather than in autumn.

Just a personal opinion.

Mark
Mark
190 posts
active member
Jan 20, 2018 - 3:09 PM

Hi Quaiquai

Regarding your home base, Murren is the smallest, Murren and Wengen have the best scenery, and Grindelwald and Wengen have the easiest access to hiking. When looking for accommodations , I believe it's helpful to check lists based on user reviews. Not all websites do this. Some like TripAdviser have the default filter as best deals( usually paid advertisers) and you haft to change the filter to list by ranking.

you mentioned you were familiar with First but not the other sites. Attached are some photos you may find helpful.

1. Bachalpsee the halfway point from First to Waldspitz/ Bort.

2. Eiger trail.

3. First to Grosse Scheidegg.

4. view of Lauterbrunnen valley from Wengen train station

5. Wengen from Beausite Park Hotel.

6. Waldspitz trail.

Maps available at Wengen hotels show all these trails and approximate hiking times. Most take between 1.5-2.5 hours.Once you make hotel reservations you can ask the concierge to send you phamplet with map and list of hikes. Of course, good weather makes a big difference but it often changes 180 degrees one or two times a day.September is generally a very good time to go weather wise but be prepared. We had snow, about 2 inches, the first week in September 2017.

I agree with rockoyster about Zurich. Many fine restaurants and old city nice to walk around in for a half day, but would think 1 day would be ample. Mark

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Mark
Mark
190 posts
active member
Jan 20, 2018 - 3:37 PM

I would also suggest if you like waterfalls, to consider the hike through Lauterbrunnen valley, from Lauterbrunnen to Stechelberg. There are many waterfalls along this hike, as well as beautiful scenery. It can be combined with visit to Murren and Schilthorn summit. see attached photos mark

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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5006 posts
expert
Jan 20, 2018 - 8:11 PM in reply to quaiquai

Hi quaiquai-

I vote for the Ostschweiz!

It is too far from Luzern, but accessible from Zürich. Even more so from Winterthur, but Zürich offers a lot on its own....but no Alps. That is why we don't usually recommend Zürich for first time visitors- no mountain scenery - even though it is my favorite city in Switzerland. Zürich has some nice nearby walks, for example , along the ridge of Uetliberg, a wide choice of cultural features...I'd place Museum Rietberg way way up on the museum list. Restaurants....

www.rietberg.ch/en-gb/home.aspx

I have stayed in Winterthur a few times, and agree that it is a nice town.

In no case would I miss Reinhardt's Römerholz. Even better experience than the the wonderful Rosengart in Luzern due to a varied and powerful collection in wonderful setting. My only complaint is that the cafe does not know how to prepare a meal quickly, even a simple one. ;-)

www.bundesmuseen.ch/ro emerholz/index.html?lang=en

Winterthur is nice. Not nice enough on its own to be good for 5 days, but it certainly could be a good base. However, I'd go along with the recommendations for Zürich.

And, based on your interests in -

<<"one of the finer ensembles of medieval architecture in Europe and this is what we are interested in.">>

I'd go to St. Gall three times before I went to Schaffhausen once. There is substantial and lively old town, and the Abbey and especially its library and the surrounding area - more baroque then medieval - are Unesco World Heritage sites. Their history goes back to the 7th century.

I have a few pictures to dig up for you, but these links are a start:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ St._Gallen

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/st-gallen.html

Rhine Falls-

Lot's of publicity. Very[powerful falls, more so in the Spring with snow melt. Not very high.

Since I have seen the Niagara Falls here in the USA, I consider the Rhine Falls second rate. Depends a lot on what other waterfalls you have seen.

We went once and felt no need to go back.

I've a few more things for you to consider, but have to fix my computer right now. I wanted to add my perspective on Winterthur vs. Zürich, and offer a few forceful votes for St. Gall.

I'll pick up later.

By the way, September is wonderful month to visit Switzerland. On average, the best weather, important in the Alps.. The crowd are substantially diminished, so accommodation is easily booked and changed, but all the tourist focused things are still available. Don't rush to book. ;-)

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 20, 2018 - 8:13 PM by Slowpoke
quaiquai
quaiquai
6 posts
new member
Jan 21, 2018 - 7:11 AM

Hello,

Thank you all for the helpful information! We have decided to base in Lucerne, Wengen or Grindelwald and Fribourg for easier access to various sites. St Gallen is actually one of the "go to" places on my wish list. My original plan was to visit NE and SW Switzerland along the routes of Bernina Express and Glacier Express, taking in St Gallen, Appenzell, St Moritz and Zermatt and down to Venice. But it seems most visitors rave about Berner Oberland, especially for first timers. Thus I changed the itinerary to go to Central and NW Switzerland instead, leaving the original plan for the next visit (I am quite sure we will fall in love with Switzerland and can't wait to go back).

It's rather disappointing re Rhine Falls. We have been to Niagara Falls twice. The first time we were simply mesmerised. It was incredibly beautiful. We went back a few years later but this time we felt nothing! The magic was no longer there. Hopefully, Rhine falls is still worth a 1/2 day visit.

Thank you for the attachments and recommendations. I will check them out and may have to revise the itinerary accordingly.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3911 posts
expert
Jan 21, 2018 - 7:19 AM in reply to quaiquai

If you are still keen on St Gallen, it is just over 2 hours from Lucerne on the Voralpen Express. Search timetable via Raperswil and look for train denoted VAE.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5006 posts
expert
Jan 21, 2018 - 9:48 AM in reply to quaiquai

<<"We have decided to base in Lucerne, Wengen or Grindelwald and Fribourg for easier access to various sites. St Gallen is actually one of the "go to" places on my wish list.">>

Well, as Rockoyster illustrates, you are not really far from anywhere if you are based in the middle of Switzerland.

However, my suggestion was simple.

You have a strong interest in older towns...architecture, ambience...if I read your preferences correctly.

Based on that, I simply suggest that you go to St. Gallen instead of Schaffhausen. If you go there from Luzern, it adds about a half an hour to the journey, vs. Schaffhausen.If you want to you can make a loop with St. Gallen and the Rhine Falls, but If anything, and in spite of the tourist density, Stein am Rhein would substitute on my priorities for der Rheinfall.

For me, partly because we stayed in St. Gall on our first trip, there is certain emotional appeal. We came into town on a train from Liestal, and it was the last day of the Federation Jodlerfest. There were a bunch of people wandering around the old town in traditional clothing (or costumes, if you will). Some with with alphorns, and one guy was playing his alphorn on the sidewalk just outside the station. Those memories stick.

I work hard to go back to have a meal at Weinstube zum Baümli, near the Abbey. It has been there a long time. The building is over 500 years old. One floor up from street level. Wonderful ambience and good Swiss food.

www.weinstube-baeumli.ch/Startseite/

I was not suggesting that you skip the Berner Oberland. That is by far the best known and most impressive tourist attraction in Switzerland, in my opinion and that of many others.

If you really want to see Schaffhausen, you could add it to your hypothetical next trip. ;-)

However, we each have our own opinions and interests

Regarding the rest of your trip, I share your interest in Fribourg. I have visited there many times, from Zürich, from Ligerz, from Geneva. Stayed there a couple of times.

It is a good base to do the things you have listed. When I am near there, I usually stay at Ligerz at the Kreuz, because I have become friends with the innkeeper and his wife. Simple, comfortable. Excellent cook, nice rooms.

kreuz-ligerz.ch/

Or, Hotel de l'Ours, in Sugiez ( that commune is now consolidated into Bas Vully) , for bit of luxury. The innkeepers are really nice people.

www.hotel-ours.ch/en/

www.romantikhotels.com /en/hotels/romantik-hotel-de-lours-sugiez/overview/

I used to do overnights in Murten/Morat when i worked in Geneva, and would suggest it as a place to consider for a visit. The old town walls are intact, and you can walk on them.

I have a couple of favorites in Fribourg.

The first is a restaurant.

In Fribourg, the restaurant au Sauvage ( a.k.a, der Wilder Mann), in the old town ( which nominally still speaks German) is probably the best in Fribourg. They have rooms, which are very nice, but not particularly cheap. They are a bit farther from the train station than you might like, but if you are not in a rush, there is a bus or you can walk 5 minutes to the funicular and then another 5+ to the train station.

www.hotel-sauvage.ch/en/

The second is an interesting walk. The Gotteron Schlucht.

We have walked out to the end at Ameismühle, , turned right to go up the hill a bit and then right again across the meadows to le Bourgillon, then down the hill to the main square in the old town.

www.outdooractive.com/ de/wanderung/freiburg-und-umgebung/durch-die-gotteron-schlucht-nach-fribourg-/24959796/

This one shows the route:

www.wandersite.ch/Tage swanderung/806_Fribour g.html

And,an initial comment about your days near the Jungfrau:

As proposed, day 7 will be the least "Swiss" of your days there.

Interlaken is a good place for rail connections to the rest of Switzerland, and Harder Kulm is fun. But, the city itself is more a place to sleep than a place to explore. That is why we always recommend the villages, such as Wengen ( my favorite) . I'd explore Thun before I'd explore Interlaken.

Read the pros and cons and recommendations here:

www.myswissalps.com/in terlaken

www.myswissalps.com/th un

Wengen draws enthusiastic fans:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

Beatus Caves -

I have not been to the caves, but from what I can tell, they are much like other caves around the world. I've been saving them for rainy day, and always found other things to do, even after a dozen or so trips to the region. Never been there. We all have opinions. ;-)

One thing I am sure of. There is only one Jungfrau. I go with the attitude that I'd rather see the "Swissy" stuff.

Slowpoke

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quaiquai
quaiquai
6 posts
new member
Jan 22, 2018 - 1:37 AM

Hello,

If it takes just 2 hours from Lucerne to St Gellon, we can definitely take a trip there. As for Schaffhausen and Rhine Falls, if we can't make it on our last day in Zurich, then we will give them a miss this time. I have found the information on Balchalepsee, Eiger trail, and First to Grosse Scheideff (I assume that includes the First Cliff Walk which is high on the recommendations of many blogs). The photos indeed look stunning. Haven't got to Waldspitz trail yet but it must be on par with the others.

Thank you for the helpful suggestions and information. Two months ago I couldn't tell the difference between Lucerne and Lausanne nor pinpoint the locations of Zurich or Geneva on a map. I am still finding my way through and getting there. Thanks Slowpoke for the attachments and links, I am getting to them one by one.

Mark
Mark
190 posts
active member
Jan 22, 2018 - 3:42 AM

I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. The cliff walk is a short walk at First and could be combined with the hikes to Bachalpsee or Grosse Scheidegg ( which go in opposite directions). The hike to Waldspitz is a continuation of the trail to Bachalpsee and the portion from Bachalpsee to Waldspitz is my personal favorite. From Waldspitz you can enjoy a nice outdoor cafe and return to Grindelwald by bus or take the short trail to Bort and the cable car to Grindelwald. If you hike to Grosse Scheidegg you will need to return to Grindelwald by bus. GS also has a nice restaurant. If you do the Eiger Trail you will find going downhill from Eigergletcher is much easier than the uphill opposite direction from Alpiglen. When you hike from Männlichen ti Kleine Scheidegg it will take about 1.2 hr. You can extend the walk br going up to Eigergletcher or down to Wengernalp. Both beautiful sections. We did all 3 easily in one day and were back in Wengen by mid afternoon.

Logistically, Grindelwald is obviously closer to First but Wengen is closer to Männlichen and Kleine Scheideggand and Eigergletcher. But in my opinion all of these hikes are readily accessible from either town and Wengen has significantly more charm. Mark

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5006 posts
expert
Jan 22, 2018 - 10:51 AM in reply to quaiquai

Hi quaiquai -

<<"If it takes just 2 hours from Lucerne to St Gellon, we can definitely take a trip there. As for Schaffhausen and Rhine Falls, if we can't make it on our last day in Zurich, then we will give them a miss this time">>

That is a good solution for Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls. That is an approach I would use, myself.

If you use the timetable, it will show various routes from Luzern to St. Gallen.

I just looked through the thread and I realize that no one has linked you to the timetable. ;-(

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

The timetable is the the single most useful and critical element of trip planning, after a map. (More on the map below). I wondered a bit about timing in your first itinerary and in our discussions - it seemed that you did not understand timing. The timetable fixes that. It is simple to use for straightforward trips, and the advanced version lets you string together stops or destinations. It also allows you to select travel mode....buses, trains, lake boats, mountain transport/cableways, etc.

That link gets you to an instruction page, then onward to the SBB timetable.

Please look carefully at the instruction page that first appears when you follow that link.

If there is one important thing to remember about using the timetable, it is that it always defaults to (or offers) the fastest route.It may not show a slower, more scenic or roundabout route unlessyou force it to do so.

( However, especially for intercity travel, it also shows some of the slower routes ...for example, trains with more connections or local stops, listed in between the fast trains. See attached screen grabs. If you get your list of journeys, click on the timeline for one to expand it. Once it is expanded - 2nd screen grab - then click on the "+" to get intermediate stops and details about the train. For example, it might say Glacier Express or GEX))

If you want to take a scenic route, which is often slower, then you need to use a map to find an intermediate town or station, and enter it in the "via" box. That will force the timetable to your preferred route.

Once you understand how to use it, you can go directly to the SBB website for all trains, buses, lakeboats and cableways that are public transport between towns or cities, plus some excursion transport, such as the Jungfrau railway or the routes up to Schilthorn.

www.sbb.ch/en/

There is wealth of information buried in the menus. I keep finding new things very frequently.

There is information about lockers and left-luggage offices at the stations which have them, for example. Shopping in the main stations. Many station maps.

Once you have a route defined in the timetable, you can create a map of the route.

There is an SBB smartphone App - useful while you are traveling, although I find a real computer better for planning.

Map -

There are many good maps available. Google maps works fine for straightforward stuff, but it is less reliable as you get into back country travel.

I like this definitely Swiss map for travel planning:

map.search.ch/?pos=777344,195456&z=1

It lets you easily see the relationship between Zürich, Schaffhausen, Winterthur, etc.

If you zoom in to zoom level 32 or larger, the train lines appear, so you can see how they run from place to place easily. I find that clearer than Google maps, personally.

map.search.ch/?pos=668880,211544&z=32

The menu is very useful, although the titles are a bit odd.

Under "Points of Interest" you may select Traffic. That allows you to overlay on the map the location of all the stations for a particular mode of travel.

Once you have done that, you can mouse over a station icon, and get an abbreviated near term timetable of transport going away from or coming to that particular station.

Under Points of Interest/Gastronomy , you can find restaurants, of course, but also hotels . Many restaurants have a few rooms, by the way. It is not a complete listing, but it is useful for finding a few restaurants or hotels in a locality to see exactly where they are.

I'd not plan a trip to Switzerland without the timetable and a map.

Slowpoke

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quaiquai
quaiquai
6 posts
new member
Jan 23, 2018 - 5:08 AM

Hi Marki and Slowpoke,

The detailed explanation is much appreciated. We should have no problem with the suggested hiking trails. Yes, I have not paid much attention to the timetables yet as I was not sure where to visit and I got confused with the names of many places. I just checked the travel times for the popular sites given in the travel guide, got a rough idea, and drew up a tentative itinerary. Once the itinerary was settled, then I could start looking at the timetables in more details. My IT skills are rather limited but it seems the myswissalps link is easier to follow than the sbb one . I will play around with it and see how I go. Thank you both for the explanation and instructions.

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