Scenic train rides & itinerary help in early April

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MarvellousM
MarvellousM
7 posts
new member
Mar 14, 2018 - 7:48 AM

Hello to all Swiss Alps contributors.

Thanks to all the amazing contributors who are so knowledgeable and helpful! I am a matured age solo traveller, travelling to Switzerland for about 14 days, in early April. I am hoping for a nice relaxing holiday, planning for easy walks/hikes and also to enjoy rides on the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express. I am hoping to have a little taste of Switzerland's mountains, lakes, scenic train rides etc.

I have purchased a Swiss Flexi Travel pass, for 8 days non consecutive travel. I have a very rough itinerary as follows: (would appreciate comments/advice....thanks:))

Day 1 Arrive in Zurich from Singapore, and staying in Zurich for one night,( to get over jetlag:)) and do some easy sight seeing.

Days 2 to 4 staying in Lauterbrunnen - making day trips to Wengen and its surrounds; just enjoying the Swiss villages etc.

Days 5 - 7....Question: Which would be an ideal town/village (with easy access to train station), to stay for a couple of nights, so that I can board the Glacier Express? Also similar question, for the Bernina Express. Would the Swiss Flexi Pass cover both these rides in full, or would I have to pay extra $ for these train rides.

Days 8, 9 - A trip to one of the mountains? (weather permitting?)

Days 10 - 14 Would like to base myself perhaps in an area with beautiful lakes.

Question: With such a free and easy itinerary, would it be possible to get accommodation, at short notice when I arrive in Switzerland?

I have yet to book my accommodation for Days 5 onwards.

Looking forward to advice . Thanks,

MarvellousM

Lucas
Lucas
9632 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 14, 2018 - 8:33 AM in reply to MarvellousM

Hi MarvellousM and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Please keep in mind a lack of access to hiking trails and some mountains due to weather (still winter in the mountains) and cable car maintenance schedules. Read here for more details: https://www.myswissalp s.com/forum/topic/gond olarail-access-to-mountains-in-aprilmay-2018

That being said:

Day 5-7: Zermatt would be a perfect base for the Glacier Express. You can take it to Chur or St. Moritz for a layover before getting the Bernina Express (a connecting train is required to Pontresina from St. Moritz).

Your Swiss Travel Pass Flex will cover the train ticket but mandatory reservations are an extra cost for everyone on the Glacier Express & Bernina Express.

Day 8,9: If you are taking the Bernina Express you are ending in Tirano, Italy. You can take a train directly back to Switzerland if you like?

Days 10-14: Finding a nice lake won't be hard in Switzerland - almost as many lakes as mountains.
You'll be near two great lakes when you are in Lauterbrunnen: Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. You could also head over to Lucerne as it is a very popular town and you can explore Lake Lucerne easily. Sarnersee and Lungernsee are also nearby lakes you can explore. Of course, if you'd like to see the French side of Switzerland, head to Montreux and Lake Geneva.

April is low season here so I would not see any problems finding last minute accommodation wherever you go.

Last modified on Mar 14, 2018 - 8:33 AM by Lucas
MarvellousM
MarvellousM
7 posts
new member
Mar 14, 2018 - 11:03 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas

Many thanks for such a quick reply. Appreciate the information provided. I am sure I will have some more questions, as I fine tune my travel plans. Thanks again,

Arno
Arno
11365 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 15, 2018 - 11:31 AM

Hi MarvellousM,

One more comment on last minute accommodation. April is indeed low season, so fully booked hotels should be an exception, apart from Eastern (April 1 and 2) perhaps. But some hotels will be closed in the low season, particularly in the mountains. So the number of options might be less than in high season in some places. I think it should work out for you, but do note that many hotel booking sites allow free cancellation until the afternoon of arrival. So you can secure a spot with the option of changing your plans. Do double check this for each booking though.

You'll find suggestions and links here: www.myswissalps.com/ho tels

Last modified on Mar 15, 2018 - 11:31 AM by Arno
MarvellousM
MarvellousM
7 posts
new member
Mar 19, 2018 - 12:45 AM

More food for thought: Slowly and steadily revising my itinerary:))

Thanks Arno and Lucas for your input thus far.

Revised itinerary for a laid back almost senior solo traveller

Day 1: Arriving in Zurich after a long haul flight. Staying in Zurich, accommodation booked

Days 2 - 5 From Zurich to Lauterbrunnen, . Accommodation booked for 3 nights, but am open to staying longer here. Scenery at Lauterbrunnen looks amazing from videos ...Can't wait to see what the rest of the Alps looks like.

Question: What are some recommended day trips out of Lauterbrunnen? I can use Lauterbrunnen as a base, as I don't particularly want to lug my bags every other day and stay at different places.

Days 6 - onwards: nothing set in stone yet. Open to suggestion by travel experts.

(I enjoy nature, easy walks, nice cafes and historical buildings, architecture, and meeting travellers from around the globe)

Possibly from Lauterbrunnen to Zermatt? (so that I can board the Glacier Express? On my bucket list: To do the Glacier Express Trip and the Bernina Expresss trip. I can either do the panoramic train rides or just go with the ordinary trains. I have looked at the train timetables. However I do have a couple of questions.

Where would be a good town to stay for the night, before/ after the Glacier Express, if I want to avoid Zermatt/St Moritz?

Where would be an ideal station to board the Bernina Express, after the Glacier Express trip?

Also for the Bernina Express, I understand it concludes in Tirano. Would it be possible to do the Bernina Expres trip from Chur to Tirano in a day ? Sorry if I am repeating someone else's question. Or would it be more do-able, if I stay on in Tirano for a night or so.

Last day of trip, is day 16: Flying out of Zurich, will stay in Zurich (I think) to board my flight leaving around 11am

Totally blessed and spoilt for choice.

Looking forward to advice/comments from experts, Thanks all

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 19, 2018 - 7:14 AM in reply to MarvellousM

>> Where would be a good town to stay for the night, before/ after the Glacier Express, if I want to avoid Zermatt/St Moritz?

Why do you want to avoid Zermatt and St Moritz? Both are beautiful towns, and ideal overnight stops given your wish to travel on the Glacier and Bernina Express trains. Both have budget accommodation if expense was your concern.

Even if you don't want to go up to the Gornergrat to see the iconic Matterhorn, a village walk in Zermatt is a great experience, and there is an especially charming historic quarter. You can also see the Matterhorn from the village if the weather is clear.

Alternatively, you could stay at Brig, but would miss the scenic trip through the Mattertal (Matter Valley) and the chance to see the Matterhorn.

St Moritz will be pretty quiet, with most of the mountain transport closed for maintenance after the end of the ski season. Some shops and hotels will also be closed. Pontresina would be a good alternative, or else Chur.

>> Where would be an ideal station to board the Bernina Express, after the Glacier Express trip?

At that time of the year: Chur or Pontresina. If you were staying at St Moritz, you would get a normal train or bus for the short hop to Pontresina, to connect with the Bernina Express, which passes through at 10:22.

>> Also for the Bernina Express, I understand it concludes in Tirano.

The train terminates in Tirano. You can then get the Bernina Express bus to Lugano if you wish. Until 1 Apr it runs Thursday to Sunday; from 2 Apr it runs daily.

>> Would it be possible to do the Bernina Expres trip from Chur to Tirano in a day ?

Do you mean Chur-Tirano-Chur in one day? Yes, but I would get a regional train one way, as the regional trains have more frequent departures.

>> Or would it be more do-able, if I stay on in Tirano for a night or so.

Tirano has little to offer the tourist, apart from good, inexpensive Italian food in the square around the station: take some Euros with you. I would either carry on to Lugano, or return to Pontresina, St Moritz or Chur.

Alpenrose

MarvellousM
MarvellousM
7 posts
new member
Mar 19, 2018 - 7:29 AM

Hi Alpenrose

Thanks so much for your prompt reply. Yes budget and the crowds (?) were reasons why I thought of skipping Zermatt and St Moritz. I will now be looking into accommodation at these places.

Thanks for answering all the other questions too.....I will have more questions to follow

MarvellousM
MarvellousM
7 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 8:01 AM

Hello again,

Here we go...My itinerary now looks as follows:

Day 1 Zurich, Days 2 - 4 Lauterbrunnen;

Days 5 - 7 Spiez

Days 8, 9 - Zermatt

Days 10, - Booked and reserved my seat for the Glacier Express, and staying at Pontresina for two nights

Day 11: May do the Bernina Express train ride? From Pontresina to ?

I do have the Swiss Travel Flexi Pass for 15 days, so hope to make good use of the 8 available days for travel.

Days 12 - 15 Any recommendation of my next base after Pontresina? and places to visit before heading to Zurich on day 16 to board my flight.

Thanks again :))

Lucas
Lucas
9632 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 21, 2018 - 4:11 PM in reply to MarvellousM

You could take the Bernina Express to Tirano on Day 11. And take a regional train back - check the timetable to see if that can work for you. The Bernina Express is labeled BEX.

What do you mean the 8 days of available travel on the 15 day Swiss Travel Pass Flex?

You could head to St. Gallen and the Appenzell region for days 12-15.
Have a look at the following links: http://www.appenzell.c h/en/home.html & http://www.st.gallen-bodensee.ch/en/

The Ebenalp and Säntis mountains are quite popular but not maybe the best time to visit in April...

MarvellousM
MarvellousM
7 posts
new member
Mar 21, 2018 - 11:58 PM

Thanks for your reply Lucas.

Kindly ignore the sentence about the travel pass. Thanks

1960man
1960man
653 posts
top member
Mar 22, 2018 - 12:38 AM

Please note that you can take any train on the Swiss railways without reservation or extra fees over and above your ticket.

As I have mentioned in several threads recently the Glacier Express is overhyped. The route of the Glacier Express can be travelled by ordinary trains - and is a much more 'Swiss' experience. The Glacier Express is a historical quirk. At one time it was just one train, then it became a 'product' with its own specialist coaches, but you don't really get any worse view from the coaches on the ordinary trains that ply the route. There is no need to go to Zermatt or St Moritz just so that you can board the Glacier Express, they just happen to be the two extremities of the route (although there are short workings from this year - an acknowledgment by the operators of the issue I am highlighting). It's not worth staying in St Moritz IMHO, but Zermatt is worth a stay (and a ride up to Gornergrat).

To do the Bernina railway, just take an ordinary train. I see you are now staying in Pontresina, which is perfect. Just get the first local Bernina train of the day (and beat the crowds).

One tip for the Bernina railway is to break your journey in Le Prese (and experience an ordinary Swiss-Italian town) and watch the trains run right along the middle of the main road, battling with road traffic

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2018 - 2:13 AM in reply to Lucas

>> The Ebenalp and Säntis mountains are quite popular but not maybe the best time to visit in April...

The cable car from Wasserauen to Ebenalp is closed for maintenance from 3-27 Apr 2018 inclusive. The Schwägalp–Säntis cable car will be operating though.

Alpenrose

Lucas
Lucas
9632 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 22, 2018 - 7:28 AM in reply to Removed user

So...not the best time to go to the Ebenalp! :)

Lucas
Lucas
9632 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 22, 2018 - 7:32 AM in reply to 1960man

A fair point 1960man - both Glacier Express and Bernina Express routes can be done in regular, regional trains.

I quite enjoyed the Glacier Express train myself - perhaps it is because it is a unique experience, especially considering I am on regular European trains all the time these days and a change was nice (and so was the food and drink brought to my seat!).

But the views are definitely the same regardless!

MarvellousM
MarvellousM
7 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2018 - 1:16 PM

Thanks everyone for your input. Will chew on it some more!

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