Plans in Switzerland late April/early May - 9 days

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Tamival
Tamival
35 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2017 - 2:11 AM

Hi again,

I previously posted some basic questions, but am now looking for more information on this itinerary. We are traveling after arriving in Basel from a River Cruise. We are two couples early 60s and first visit to Switzerland. Here is my plan:

From Basel (April 28) - train to Lucerne for two nights. Day 1 Lucerne river cruise and general sightseeing. Day 2 - Mt. Titlis excursion (probably booked with Viator). I have a hotel booked but am looking at a 2 bed/2bath apartment in the Old Town that is about the same price and offers more room and amenities.

Train to Montreux - two nights (April 30 - May 2) Would like to take the Golden Pass Panorama train (I think) to Montreux. I have booked a hotel for two nights at the Lake. Unsure of sightseeing in this area. One couple leaves on the fifth day (May 2) back to US from Geneva (the airlines changed their flights so we were able to get them out of Geneva - however Montreux is a bit of a distance from Geneva airport I think....)

My husband and I plan to take the train on to Wengen where I have booked a hotel for two nights (May 2 - 4) in order to see Lauterbrunnen and area sights in this region. From there, we go back to Basel (via train) to see my nephew who is in a PhD program there (two nights May 4 - 6), then train to Zurich May 6 to stay overnight for morning flight back to US on May 7.

Some "tours" seem to go from Lucerne to Interlaken to do a tour of Jungfraujoch-Top of Europe, then move on Montreux. But that means just one night in or near Interlaken then moving on to Montreux (or Geneva area) so our friends can catch a plane the following day. I hesitate to do this since my husband and I plan to return to this area after our friends leave.

Does my plan seem decent for a 'first' visit? Any recommendations within this itinerary? What about things to do once in Montreux area? I have had some difficulty finding available hotels (some seem to say they are booked, but I'm wondering if this is between seasons and they may not be open?) I have researched through this site and many others.

Haven't mapped out the trains yet but getting a feel for the itinerary before I move on to more detailed planning with transportation.

Thanks in advance for any insight. I love using this site for planning and help. It is really enlightening!

Tami

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Nov 16, 2017 - 7:40 AM in reply to Tamival

Hi Tami,

>> Day 1 Lucerne river cruise and general sightseeing.

Cruises are on the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Luzern).

You will be there during the Spring timetable period. The timetable is here:

www.lakelucerne.ch/fil eadmin/lakelucerne/con tent/Dokumente_Downloa ds_PDF/01_Fahrplan-Preise/01_Fahrplan/Sai sonaler_Fahrplan/2018/ 2018_Fahrplan_Fruehlin g.pdf

Make sure to read the explanation of symbols, especially "Days of Operation".

>> Day 2 - Mt. Titlis excursion (probably booked with Viator).

Is there some special reason why you want to do this with Viator? Do you have to book in advance?

Going to the Titlis from Luzern is very straightforward, simply involving a train from Luzern to Engelberg, a free shuttle bus between the railway station and the gondola valley station (or you can walk), then gondolas up to the top of Titlis.

There is no need to buy tickets in advance, and in fact it is not a good idea to buy a ticket until you are sure the top will not be in the clouds.

Before buying a ticket to go up, you can check visibility at the top via the webcam:

www.engelberg.ch/en/we bcams/

>> Train to Montreux - two nights (April 30 - May 2) ... Unsure of sightseeing in this area.

There is plenty to do in the area. The following links should assist:

  • What to do

www.myswissalps.com/so uthwestswitzerland/act ivities

  • Golden Pass scenic train

www.myswissalps.com/go ldenpass

  • Lake Geneva boats info and timetable

www.myswissalps.com/bo atlakegeneva

www.cgn.ch/en-gb/accueil.aspx#timeta ble

(You will need the Spring timetable, which is not on the website yet.)

  • Les Avants-Sonloup funicular

(train from Montreux to Les Avants, then funicular to Sonloup)

www.goldenpass.ch/en/g oldenpass/offer/view?id=8

  • Funicular Territet (Montreux) to Glion

www.mob.ch/en/goldenpa ss/offer/view?id=9

  • Les Pléiades (train from Vevey)

www.goldenpass.ch/en/g oldenpass/offer/view?id=85

  • Funicular railway Vevey-Mont-Pèlerin

www.mob.ch/en/goldenpa ss/offer/view?id=10

You can use the Swiss Timetable to plan your trips.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

>> One couple leaves on the fifth day (May 2) back to US from Geneva (the airlines changed their flights so we were able to get them out of Geneva - however Montreux is a bit of a distance from Geneva airport I think....)

There are direct connections from Montreux to Geneva Airport, which take 1 hour 10 or 1 hour 19, depending on the number of stops they make. The Swiss Timetable will reveal all.

>> My husband and I plan to take the train on to Wengen where I have booked a hotel for two nights (May 2 - 4) in order to see Lauterbrunnen and area sights in this region.

The following mountain transport will be operating while you are there:

  • Train to Jungfraujoch via Wengen or Grindelwald
  • Cable car Mürren-Schilthorn
  • Gondola Grindelwald-First
  • Funicular Interlaken-Harder Kulm
  • Boats on the Brienzersee (Lake Brienz)
  • Boats on the Thunersee (Lake Thun)

Trümmelbach Falls will also be open.

These will not be operating:

  • Cable car Wengen-Männlichen - closed 3 April till 18 May 2018
  • Gondola Grindelwald Grund-Männlichen - closed 3 April till 18 May 2018
  • Funicular Mürren-Allmendhubel - closed 9 April till 22 June 2018
  • Train Wilderswil to Schynige Platte - reopens on 26 May 2018 after winter closure
  • Cable car Lauterbrunnen-Grütschalp - closed 30 April till 4 May 2018. You can still get to Mürren via bus Lauterbrunnen-Stechelberg, then cable car Stechelberg-Mürren

Alpenrose

Last modified on Nov 16, 2017 - 7:54 AM by Removed user
Lucas
Lucas
9868 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 16, 2017 - 7:49 AM in reply to Tamival

Hi Tami,

Glad to hear you're finding the site and forums useful!
It looks like a pretty good plan for the time you have.

Montreux is a nice town and hopefully in May you'll get some nice weather. Late April and May is low season in general (mostly in the mountains) but I would be surprised if hotels were closed in Montreux.

You will find some closures in Wengen and nearby as in the mountains it is definitely low-season, so be aware of that.

For ideas of what to do on those towns click on the following links:
Montreux, Wengen, Luzern, Zurich & Basel.

Use the Swiss railways timetable to plan the trips between towns and up to mountains.

It sounds like you are probably better off not doing any of the tours based on your itinerary. You shouldn't have any issue getting to Mt. Titlis, Jungfraujoch or other towns on your own:

Getting to Mt. Titlis
Getting to Jungfraujoch

Hope that helps with your plans!

Tamival
Tamival
35 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2017 - 12:25 PM in reply to Removed user

Thank you thank you! Your information is appreciated and so helpful. I will use it to move forward and continue to ask questions.

Tamival
Tamival
35 posts
active member
Nov 16, 2017 - 12:26 PM in reply to Lucas

Thank you thank you! This is a great help and I will continue to plan and ask questions!

Tamival
Tamival
35 posts
active member
Nov 17, 2017 - 6:10 PM

OK - so I've started investigating the train schedules to build an itinerary. Most are easy, but I'm wondering if there is something I need to do to get info on the "panoramic" trains (Golden Pass, as an example). I do see where you can book VIP or other seats but it takes you to another site. If you look at the timetable from Lucerne to Montreux via Interlaken Ost and Zweissimmen, is this route considered the Golden Pass? Is the Golden Pass a ''special train" that needs to be booked differently? I know you gave me links and I'm using them, but again just confused on if these trains are the same ones used through the regular timetable or if there are special trains/cars?

When I put in Montreux to Wengen, it gives me four stops. I experimented and did Montreux to Lauterbrennen then on to Wengen and it seems a better, more direct route. Is experimenting on routes the way to do it?

Traveling from Basel to Lucerne, should we 'visit' anywhere on the way to Lucerne since it's a short distance anyway?

Thanks for your help.

Tami

Lucas
Lucas
9868 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 17, 2017 - 7:53 PM in reply to Tamival

Hi Tami,

So you are pretty much correct in your thinking on the Golden Pass - it is a route, not a specific train like the Glacier or Bernina Express trains. There are panoramic trains running between Zweisimmen and Montreux only.On the timetable they are denoted as MOB panoramic (where you can get VIP seats) or MOB Belle Epoque (heritage style trains).

The other sections are normal regional trains - although the trains that run between Lucerne and Interlaken have large windows like panoramic trains.

The timetable will give you the most direct/fastest routes by default. Depending on the train departure you take some departures may take longer than others - a train going via Lausanne takes longer than another going via Visp for example.

Tomorrow, the quickest trip to Lauterbrunnen from Montreux is 2h47 (plus always 18m to Wengen). The timetable shows some trains from Montreux to Wengen as 3h09 (same as above including your wait time in Lauterbrunnen) and other departure times as long as 3h33.

In the end I would stick with searching between the two towns you want to travel to - much simpler and you'll still get the quickest options displayed. Whether you can travel on the quickest option depends on your own schedule on your travel day.

Last modified on Nov 17, 2017 - 7:54 PM by Lucas
rockoyster
rockoyster
4072 posts
expert
Nov 17, 2017 - 7:53 PM in reply to Tamival

Hi Tami,

The Golden Pass line is a train route rather than a single train. See www.myswissalps.com/go ldenpass/gettingthere

Reservations on the Montreux to Zweisimmen leg are optional but recommended in peak tourist season. You can make reservations at www.mob.ch/en/reservat ion-procedure

On the SBB timetable trains are denoted MOB Panoramic (modern) or MOB Belle Époque (classic).

Between Montreux and Wengen you will need to change at Zweisimmen, Spiez, Interlaken OST and Lauterbrunnen. A few departure times omit the change at Spiez.

I would go direct to Lucerne from Basel. Much to see and do in and around Lucerne.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4072 posts
expert
Nov 17, 2017 - 7:55 PM in reply to Lucas

SNAP!

Lucas
Lucas
9868 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 17, 2017 - 7:56 PM in reply to rockoyster

We're clearly on the same wavelength Rockoyster! haha.

rockoyster
rockoyster
4072 posts
expert
Nov 17, 2017 - 7:58 PM in reply to Lucas

Didn’t expect you to be working so late. 😉

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Nov 18, 2017 - 12:37 AM in reply to Tamival

>> Is the Golden Pass a ''special train" that needs to be booked differently?

Yes. As others have pointed out, it is not one train, but a series of trains (due to a mixture of standard and narrow gauge tracks along the route). These trains are regional trains. Reservations (which are usually made on the SBB site) cannot normally be made on regional trains at all - only on long distance trains with fewer stops, such as InterCity and EuroCity trains.

However, an exception is made for the trains on this route (no doubt because they are immensely popular with tourists and can get very crowded), and reservations for all sectors of the route can be made on the website of the Montreux Oberland Bernois Railway Company (MOB), which operates the Zweisimmen-Montreux sector of the route.

>> confused on if these trains are the same ones used through the regular timetable or if there are special trains/cars?

  • Luzern-Interlaken Ost - all trains on this route are the same, and all have extra-large windows.
  • Interlaken Ost-Zweisimmen - all trains are the same, and don't have panoramic windows.
  • Zweisimmen-Montreux - some trains have panoramic windows extending into the ceiling (designated in the SBB timetable as MOB PANORAMIC), some trains are heritage trains with extra-large windows (MOB BELLE EPOQUE), and others are just ordinary trains with ordinary windows. The SBB timetable will show all trains, including the ordinary ones, but the MOB reservation site will only offer reservations on the special MOB Panoramic and MOB Belle-Époque trains.

>> When I put in Montreux to Wengen, it gives me four stops. I experimented and did Montreux to Lauterbrennen then on to Wengen and it seems a better, more direct route. Is experimenting on routes the way to do it?

When I did what you did, the routes that came up were identical in each case. Once you get to Interlaken Ost, there is only one way of getting to Wengen by train, and that is via Lauterbrunnen. Aside from the Golden Pass route, the standard routes are:

  • Montreux > Visp > Spiez > Interlaken Ost > Lauterbrunnen > Wengen
  • Montreux > Lausanne > Bern > Interlaken Ost > Lauterbrunnen > Wengen

The route via Lausanne goes along the beautiful Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and past the Lavaux vineyard terraces (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). That sector takes around half-an-hour, then it is fairly unremarkable until the last half hour, when you travel alongside lovely Lake Thun.

If you go the other way, I would put "via Kandersteg" into your timetable search to get connections that travel along the beautiful Lötschberger mountain route instead of underneath it in the 35-km Lötschberg-Basistunnel. The mountain route takes about an hour longer than the base-tunnel route, but the scenery is wonderful.

>> Traveling from Basel to Lucerne, should we 'visit' anywhere on the way to Lucerne since it's a short distance anyway?

I wouldn't recommend getting off anywhere, but you might like to consider taking a scenic route through the Emmental (Emme Valley), rather than the fastest route from Basel to Luzern/Lucerne. That takes about an hour-and-a-half longer. To get that scenic route in the timetable, put "via Trubschachen" into your timetable search. For convenience, choose a departure time that involves only one change of train (in Bern).

To save time orienting yourself when you alight at Bern, look up at the blue and white signs along the platform to see what sector of the platform you are on (A, B, C, D). You can get to your next platform by ramp, escalator or lift. (I assume you would prefer to avoid the stairs!) This is where to find them:

  • Sector B - ramp
  • Between Sectors C and D (closer to D) - lifts and escalators.
  • The stairs are in Sector A

Alpenrose

Last modified on Nov 18, 2017 - 12:53 AM by Removed user
rockoyster
rockoyster
4072 posts
expert
Nov 18, 2017 - 1:02 AM in reply to Tamival

Hi Tami,

I now see from your original post that you are actually taking the Golden Pass route from Lucerne to Montruex. In my earlier response I assumed you wanted to take the Golden Pass back to Wengen. You probably don't want to double back along the same way you got to Wengen so I would say you would find the Kandersteg route, that Alpenrose has suggested, appealing.

If you go through Visp then you are getting quite close to Zermatt and may want to consider a side detour to take a look at the Matterhorn if you have the time and the weather is good. I went through Brig after coming from Kandersteg last May and have been kicking myself ever since that I didn't take the time to pop up to Zermatt.

Last modified on Nov 18, 2017 - 1:04 AM by rockoyster
Lucas
Lucas
9868 posts
expert &
moderator
Nov 18, 2017 - 10:10 AM in reply to rockoyster

I usually pop in twice a day but the times vary depending on my own schedule each day - I can appear at any time! haha

Tamival
Tamival
35 posts
active member
Nov 18, 2017 - 1:13 PM

Lots of great information! Thanks again...I'll be working on it.

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