My wife and I have been to Switzerland before in the Spring back in 2005, this year we are up for the winter experience and are privileged to be going in December for 18 days.
How does this sound for an easy paced itinerary:
Not into ski-ing, but keen on rail transport - looking to do the Golden Pass, Bernina Express and hopefully jag the Glacier express from St Moritz to Zermatt should it be running again by the 14th December. Will take in the Christmas markets, enjoy the scenery and generally just relax should the weather be not so kind. Hopefully we manage a few good days to visit as many peaks as we can.
Open to suggestions from all and sundry...... :)
We have made 2 visits to Switzerland in early Decembers, specifically to visit the Christmas markets. If you can find them I have written 2 reports on these visits.
I have a couple of suggestions to make regarding your plans which look good in general terms and you will certainly cover a lot of beautiful and interesting places.
When we were looking for the Christmas market in Geneva the first time we went we couldn't find anything worth the effort and still don't know whether that was because there was only the small one we found or our navigation was rubbish and we missed it somehow! The Montreux market is brilliant - probably our favourite. I notice you only plan one night stay there - I would add an extra night so that you can enjoy the castle as well as the market.
Changing hotels frequently takes time from sight=seeing so I would skip staying in Zurich - that will give the extra night for Montreux - It will be an easy day trip to Zurich from Lucerne and you could do that if one of the days is not suitable for a mountain visit, leaving the decision till last minute when you see the weather forecast.
Nearer the time Check out the opening dates for Christmas markets on the internet as while the market in Montreux is long-running there is an extra one at the Chillon castle on some dates, Zurich is long-running as is the one in Lucerne station but there are others in Lucerne on restricted dates as well. There are 2 markets in Bern and a very large one in Basel but that is not near enough your planned route I suspect. Quite a lot of places have markets just for a few days so a lot depends on luck as to whether you happen to be in the right area at the right time - it is always worth asking in the tourist office about any which happen to be taking place where you are. For instance we were lucky last year and were able to visit the excellent one in Einsiedeln.
So my main recommendation is to add a night in Montreux and skip the overnight in Zurich - have a wonderful time!
Thank you Maggie for your excellent reply.... and your suggestion regarding an extra night in Montreux. We will definitely consider this as it is not yet too late to change a few details before we get too close to departing end of November. Yes, changing Hotels can be annoying but as you see from our Itinerary, we do have 18 days up our sleeve and plan to be 3 days in most places we visit. The main reason for our one night in Zurich is that our train departs for St Moritz from Zurich and seeing as we must travel there anyways from Luzern we thought we may as well spend a night there so we can check out the Christmas markets there in the evening before departing for St Moritz the following day. But thank you so much for your suggestions, especially in regard to Montreux.
Here are some links to Maggie’s trip report on the Christmas markets, and the dates for last year (which will give you a general idea for the corresponding dates this year):
The SBB also has some handy tips for visiting Christmas markets.
>> Interlaken 3 nights Jungfrau, Harder Kulm
If you will be there by 26 November at the latest, you will be able to take the funicular up to Harder Kulm. It closes for the winter from 27 November.
>> Luzern 4 nights Pilatus, Rigi, Titlis, Old Town
Pilatus will be accessible by cable car, but the cogwheel railway from Alpnachstad will be closed for the winter from 20 November.
>> Zurich 1 night Christmas Market
You might find this link useful:
>> Glacier express from St Moritz to Zermatt should it be running again by the 14th December.
Yes, I think it starts up again on 10 December 2017.
The main "Christkindlmarkt" in Zürich is inside the main station. The one at Sechselaütenplatz ( near Station Bellevue) is nice and has different "feel" to it. More food.
There are a bunch of small ones all around the city.
The two best Christmas markets in Switzerland are usually considered to be the ones in in Basel and Montreux.
Zürich is only an hour or so from Luzern by frequent trains. Luzern has more scenery and Alpine opportunities; Zürich is a more cosmopolitan city, but not close to major mountains.
You have links for both cities earlier in this thread, in Maggie's post.
Thank you for the links Alpenrose..... and thank you Maggie again for the information which was most useful and also entertaining.
I had noticed just over the weekend reading elsewhere that Harder Kulm will be closed while we are in Interlaken. I believe this could also be the same for Schilthorn.? Never mind, there is still plenty to see from Interlaken.
Fortunately we have done the cog wheel railway at Pilatus back in 2005, (fantastic) so while it is a shame it wont be running while we are actually in Luzern, we will still most likely go up via the Gondala and Cable Car anyways for old times sake.
>> I believe this could also be the same for Schilthorn.?
The Mürren-Schilthorn cable car will be closed for maintenance between 13 Nov and 8 Dec 2017.
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