Train plans for short January trip to Switzerland

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rosyaffairs
rosyaffairs
7 posts
new member
Nov 24, 2017 - 9:11 AM

Hi MySwissAlps,

I'll be travelling to Switzerland for the first time in January 2018 (from 1st Jan to 6th Jan), and I'll be flying in from Zurich and departing from Geneva.

I have a very short time frame and wish to discover Switzerland's beauty as much as I can :)

Here's my itinerary for the trip, as this will be my honeymoon trip therefore I hope to cover as many as possible even thought it's gonna be a real tight schedule :)

1 jan arrive zurich

2 jan zurich to st moritz - stay 1 night in st moritz

3 jan saint moritz to interlaken - stay 1 night in interlaken or Grindelwald

4 jan interlaken to zermatt - stay 1 night in zermatt

5 jan zermatt to geneva

5-6 jan at geneva

6 Jan: Depart Geneva

A couple of questions:

  1. I would love to visit Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe but I noticed that the tickets via Jungfraujoch Scenic Train Journey for Swiss Travel Pass Holders are not available for sale on 3 Jan or rather the whole of January. Any idea why is this so? And will the tickets be available for purchase at the railway station directly on the day itself?
  2. I have heard many beautiful stories of the Glacier Train Express from St Mortiz to Zermatt, however, taking into consideration on my planned route - what is the best route on this?
  3. I understand my very tight schedule and I may not enjoy every town to the fullest - but that's fine. However, I would need any kind advises on my route.

Many thanks in advance,

Nicole

Lucas
Lucas
9627 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 24, 2017 - 10:12 AM in reply to rosyaffairs

Hi Nicole and welcome to MySwissAlps!

  1. You shouldn't have any problem buying tickets online - try here (you only need tickets from Wengen or Grindelwald the trip from Interlaken to either town is covered by the Swiss travel Pass.
    Having said that though I would wait until you are in Interlaken to buy tickets so you can be sure the weather looks good (don't go if all you will see are clouds!)
  2. You can't really do the Glacier Express fully with Interlaken in the middle of your trip. You can take part of the route from Andermatt though. Read about the trip details here.
  3. Our advice will depend on what is most important for you to see while you are here.

    I would not stay in Zurich on Jan.1 though - go straight to St. Moritz.
    At this point I would decide on what is more important to you - try to see the Jungfraujoch or take the Glacier Express train to Zermatt.
    The weather could really ruin your plans at Jungfraujoch and being there only 1 night you don't have an extra day to try and go if the weather improved.
    I would also not stay overnight in Geneva on your last day either (unless you have an early morning flight.

    Zermatt to Geneva airport is 4 hours by train with only one change of trains in Visp. Use the Swiss railways timetable here to plan out all your trips. When looking for the Glacier Express trains they are denoted as GEX on the timetable. Reservations are mandatory and an extra cost above a ticket (or rail pass).
  4. If you haven't bought the Swiss Travel Pass you can do so on that link and have it emailed to you to print at home. :)
rockoyster
rockoyster
4027 posts
expert
Nov 24, 2017 - 10:44 AM in reply to rosyaffairs

Hi Nicole,

Go Zurich - St Moritz - Zermatt (via Glacier Express) - Grindelwald (or better Wengen) - Geneva (via Golden Pass line to Montreux).

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5170 posts
expert
Nov 24, 2017 - 6:25 PM in reply to rosyaffairs

Hi Nic

Rockoyster has condensed a lot of high quality information in his clear and straightforward reply.

Using the time table, linked by Lucas, will help you sort out the timing.

To force the timetbale to use the Golden Pass route section from Interlaken Ost to Montreux, enter Zweisimmen in the "via" box in the timetable.

www.myswissalps.com/go ldenpass

If you combine those sources with this map, you'll have a good et of trip planning tools. You may need to alter timing for weather in the Jungfrau region, for example.

map.search.ch/

:Zoom in and you can see the train lines.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Nov 24, 2017 - 6:29 PM by Slowpoke
rosyaffairs
rosyaffairs
7 posts
new member
Nov 25, 2017 - 11:00 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

thank you for your reply.

I'll reach Zurich rather late, around 5plus in the evening and I thought it would be better for me to stay a night in Zurich before travelling again the next day.

Thank you for your advise on Jungfraujoch, however I do have a couple more questions. The nearest town to Jungfraujoch would be Interlaken or Grindelwald?

Seems like it would be difficult to do a full Glacier Express from St Moritz, in that case. As per your suggestion, I should take part of the route from Andermatt to Zermatt right?

In this case, what's the fastest route to get from Interlaken or Grindelwald to Andermatt?

Yes, you are right. I have a super early flight on the 7th Jan actually, at 4am in the morning to catch from Geneva airport therefore, looks like I have to arrive at Geneva the night before, on the 6th. What do you suggest?

Thank you so much

Nicole

rosyaffairs
rosyaffairs
7 posts
new member
Nov 25, 2017 - 11:04 AM in reply to rockoyster

Hi rockoyster, thank you for your reply.

Are you suggesting I should take the glacier express from St Mortiz to Zermatt and from Zermatt back to Grindelwald (or better Wengen) and from either Grindelwald/ Wegen to Geneva via Golden Pass line?

I have a super early flight on 7 Jan at 4.30AM to catch from Geneva, therefore I have to be at Geneva the night before. What's your best suggested routes on this?

Apologies, but as this is my first time there, I am trying to gather as much information as possible on the shortest route to enjoy most out of it for the scenery, the experience and the towns :)

Hear from you soon.

Many thanks,

Nicole

Lucas
Lucas
9627 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 25, 2017 - 1:08 PM in reply to rosyaffairs

Hi Nicole,

Ok fair enough on the night in Zurich and Geneva with those flight times!
Are you arriving from Singapore? If it isn't a long haul flight I'd still be tempted to overnight elsewhere on your first night - otherwise yes overnight in Zurich.

Grindelwald or Wengen are the closet towns to Jungfraujoch. It will be difficult to do the whole Glacier Express route yes (8 hours long) but doable if you really want to.

There are a couple of options for you.

Option A: Zurich - Lauterbrunnen/Interlaken/Grindelwald - Andermatt or Brig - Zermatt - Geneva

Personally, unless there is something you must see/do in St. Moritz I'd skip it. Go straight to the Jungfrau region and stay in one of the towns there: Wengen is the most popular, followed by Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen (Lauterbrunnen probably offers the best mix of staying in the mountain area but having decent train connections).

From Lauterbrunnen or whichever town you choose train to either Brig or Andermatt and take the Glacier Express route to Zermatt (so you get to experience some of the Glacier Express). If you can't make the schedule for the actual Glacier Express train then any regional train will do (they run the same route to Zermatt).

Then from Zermatt head to Geneva for the night before your flight.

Option B would be as Rockoyster suggested:

Zurich - St Moritz - Zermatt ( via Glacier Express, 8 hours) then to Grindelwald (or nearby town) -then to Geneva (via Montreux on the Golden Pass).

Use the timetable link in my first post to help you understand the train schedules and durations for all your trips to see what makes the most sense for you.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4027 posts
expert
Nov 25, 2017 - 7:56 PM in reply to rosyaffairs

Hi Nicole,

With those flight timings I would agree with Lucas: skip St Moritz.

If you choose Option B you could fly in and spend your first night at Zurich or Chur (about 1h 30m from Zurich Airport). Next day catch Glacier Express from Chur (denoted GEX on timetable) to Zermatt. You will get to go over the Oberalp Pass which is very scenic. GEX departs Chur at 11:26 and you need to make reservations. See shop.glacierexpress.ch /gex_en Well that seemed like a good plan but appears GEX is already sold out on 2 Jan so you would have to follow route Chur - Andermatt - Zermatt by regular train.

Golden Pass Line is not the fastest from Interlaken to Geneva but is the most scenic.

Choices, choices - it is always the way with Switzerland. So much to see! So little time.

Last modified on Nov 25, 2017 - 8:03 PM by rockoyster
rockoyster
rockoyster
4027 posts
expert
Nov 25, 2017 - 9:27 PM in reply to rosyaffairs

Just to confuse you even further . . . .

Option C

1 - Arrive Zurich Airport, train direct Airport to Lucerne

2 - Morning City tour, afternoon train to Interlaken or other village. Many people mark Interlaken down but it is a great transport hub if time is tight.

3 - Round trip to Jungfraujoch (weather dependant)

4 - Day trip to Zermatt and return (weather dependent)

5 - Golden Pass Line to Montreux (maybe Chateu de Chillon if you have time) then on to Geneva. With a 4:30 am flight you might consider a hotel at the airport.

6 - Fly out

Last modified on Nov 25, 2017 - 9:52 PM by rockoyster
rosyaffairs
rosyaffairs
7 posts
new member
Dec 9, 2017 - 7:21 AM in reply to Lucas

Hey Lucas,

Thanks for your responses, appreciate till far:)

Are there any concession passes for the glacier express trains? I'd probably go for option A which you've suggested.

On the other hand, are hotels or Airbnb suggested for our stay in either Wengen or Grindelwald to experience the alp views (I'm pretty lost as the scenery's too good hah).

I am actually also considering to stay a night in Wengen and a night in Grindelwald - what's the best route to get around this?

Lastly, with Zurich as my starting point, I will be taking the Glacier Express train from Chur to Andermatt. With the Swiss Travel Pass, are there any discount rates i could enjoy when i book the train tickets for Glacier Express?

Hope to hear from you soon.

Many thanks :)

rosyaffairs
rosyaffairs
7 posts
new member
Dec 9, 2017 - 7:31 AM

Hey Lucas,

Further to my enquiries, I'm having troubles booking the seats on Glacier Express though there's availability shown.

Have included the screenshot of the booking page within this reply.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Cheers,

Please login to see the attached documents
Chantal
Chantal
944 posts
top member
Dec 10, 2017 - 9:09 AM in reply to rosyaffairs

Hi rosyaffairs,

The Glacier Express is included in the Swiss Travel Pass. Please note that reservation costs are not included. Are you still experiencing difficulties when making the reservation? Which date are you planning to take the Glacier Express?

We don't recommend Airbnb. Here you can read why. It is of course our personal opinion. Other forum members stayed in Alpenruhe Kulm hotel in Wengen. There's this topic related to it, including a link to the hotel.

Here are three options to get to Grindelwald:

1. by train via Lauterbrunnen and Zweilütschinen. This is the valley route. It's entirely covered on a free travel day with the Swiss Travel Pass, but less scenic than the other two.

2. via Männlichen. Cable cars from Wengen and to Grindelwald are discounted by 50% during free travel days. The views up there are absolutely beautiful;

3. via Kleine Scheidegg by cog train, discounted by 25% on free travel days. This is a very scenic ride, and the views from Kleine Scheidegg are special as you're literally at the foot of the famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau trio.

I hope this helps.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4027 posts
expert
Dec 10, 2017 - 9:21 AM in reply to rosyaffairs

I'm guessing you are wanting to book 2 January. Definitely something weird happening with the Glacier Express Booking page. You should see your default seat coloured green and you should be able to pick another if that doesn't suit.

Arno
Arno
11363 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 10, 2017 - 11:11 AM

Hi Rosyaffairs,

It looks like the Glacier Express is nearly fully booked on your travel date, but you should be able to click on the few seats that are still available. Please see www.myswissalps.com/gl acierexpress/packages for other websites to book the seats. By the way, personally I would not take the Glacier Express for the Chur to Andermatt leg. It's only 2.5 hours and you can easily take a regular train instead. That takes the same amount of time and you do not need to book a seat. There will be no panoramic windows, but still a good view. There would be one easy switch in Disentis if you take the regular train.

I'm not sure if you meant to spend the night in Grindelwald and Wengen, or one of them? Switching base takes quite some time. I'd stay in one of the villages only, as they're very close to each other. Regional day trips can be done from either.

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