Travelling to the Swiss Alps in Sept 2019

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swiss11
swiss11
58 posts
active member
Jan 4, 2019 - 11:35 PM

I'm a solo female traveller, from Australia, wanting to visit the Swiss Alps in Sept. 2019 for 5 -6 nights.

I've been on the forum for the last few days browsing through various posts which have been immensely rewarding yet am finding it hard to plan a trip for myself since the information provided on each link is so overwhelming. My questions to you are:

1. Would it better to plan the trip myself or I found the following guided tours. Since you are local to the place and would know of the reputation of each and also which of these tours would be better since one of them is on a van and the other in a train? Or, would you be able to suggest any other tours. I find it's easier to travel with these tours for they are reasonably priced, include accommodation and take away the burden to plan on my own.

jungfrautours.ch/en/pa norama-train-packages/golden-pass#itinerary-route-map

www.viator.com/tours/Z urich/4-Day-Switzerland-Tour-from-Zurich-Including-Mt-Titlis-Cable-Car/d577-2460TYPICALZRH

Both these plans are for 4 days. I would have 1-2 nights extra depending on my flights. I still haven't booked my flights, wanted to plan this first. I will be flying from Melbourne in Australia on 7/8 Sept 2019 to Zurich and then have to fly to Athens on either 14th evening or must be in Athens positively by noon on 15th to fly to Skyros. It'll be a very long flight from Melbourne to Zurich and therefore would be quite jet lagged. Where should I spend the first night recouping on arrival? Would it better to spend in Zurich or in Lucerne?

Would it be better a book a flight from Geneva or from Zurich to fly to Athens for the next leg of my trip?

Thanks

1960man
1960man
1878 posts
top member
Jan 5, 2019 - 1:01 AM in reply to swiss11

If I were you I would plan my own itinerary. To a certain extent in Switzerland you can just have a Travel Pass and decide where you want to go each day. You will find it fairly easy to do that once you are in the country.

However, I would recommend you obtain the hard copy book by Anthony Lambert which exclusively covers what to see and do using only public transport:

www.bradtguides.com/sh op/switzerland-without-a-car-3300.html

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6336 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2019 - 2:08 AM in reply to swiss11

G'Day Swiss 11 -

Since 1960sman forgot to welcome you to My Swiss Alps, I'm please to say -

Welcome to My Swiss Alps!-

<<"It'll be a very long flight from Melbourne to Zurich and therefore would be quite jet lagged. Where should I spend the first night recouping on arrival? Would it better to spend in Zurich or in Lucerne? ">>

We usually recommend Luzern (German spelling) because it is a more manageable size, with better scenery.

<<" Would it be better a book a flight from Geneva or from Zurich to fly to Athens for the next leg of my trip?">>

In general, Zürich has more flights. Otherwise, it is up to you , from a perspective of convenience. Both airports have excellent rail links.

<"since the information provided on each link is so overwhelming.">>

<<"I find it's easier to travel with these tours for they are reasonably priced, include accommodation and take away the burden to plan on my own.">>

Indeed. However, many of us find the planning to be as much fun as the traveling. I'm one. I have traveled over many regions of the world, and have never paid someone to take me around to see selected sights (except once in Japan, to Nara). And, since I do a lot of photography, I find it helpful to avoid the time constraints of keeping up with the tour guide. It does seem overwhelming at first, but the tools available for Switzerland provide a lot of support.

However, guided tours are a valuable way to bypass the work, and get the enjoyment. Especially on the first "Get acquainted" visit. Viator has a good reputation.

<<"since one of them is on a van and the other in a train?">>

Don't miss the trains. They are a wonderful part of the experience.

The forum moderators will surely add comments.

Australia has well over 100 times the area of Switzerland , with about 3 times the population, so the information density for travel is much higher, more complex, more intense, and more overwhelming.

The population density in the arable regions requires a dense public transport network, too. Good for you, once you learn to use it.

Slowpoke

rockoyster
rockoyster
6732 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2019 - 3:18 AM in reply to swiss11

Hello Swiss11,

Would it be better a book a flight from Geneva or from Zurich to fly to Athens for the next leg of my trip?

That's going to depend on your itinerary as well as flight availability and airfares. You may even find flights from Basel to Athens.

The problem wit organised tours is that it can be quite difficult to find one that appeals AND fits in with your desired timetable.

As others have pointed out travelling around Switzerland using public transport is a breeze.

I wouldn't worry too much about jet-lag and go direct from the airport to Luzern. It is only 1 hour by direct train (avoid the ones that have a change at the Zurich main station). You can easily find enough to keep you interested in and around Luzern for a few days. See www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne/activities.

Have you had a look at www.myswissalps.com/pl antrip?

Last modified on Jan 5, 2019 - 3:34 AM by rockoyster
swiss11
swiss11
58 posts
active member
Jan 5, 2019 - 3:30 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Slowpoke, thanks for your response and for welcoming me into the Swiss Alps.

I think we are both on the same page, one way or the other, last year when i visited Japan and Nara as well, I went about on my own and hadn't engaged a tour guide but found your websites really overwhelming so thought would avoid the pain and if only someone could just take me places and hence the tour guides!!!

Jokes apart, 9th Sept - land in Zurich, i take a train to Luzern, recoup, visit lake Luzern in the evening if time permits

1oth Sept - visit Mount Pilatus or would it better to go to Titlis? after a visit to either of these, i travel late in the evening to my next destination and take the train to Lauterbrunnen. Would you recommend staying overnight in Lauterbrunnen or wengen or Jungfraujoch? I just like to be at my next destination by the evening so that I am fresh in the morning to visit that place.

11th sept - Already in Lauterbrunnen or wengen or Jungfraujoch (as per your recommendation) In the morning I take the cogwheel train to visit Jungfraujoch, visit the Sphinx Observatory?Travel in the evening to Zermatt

12th Sept - Already in Zermatt - visit Matterhorn, Gornergratt, experience the Zermatt local life. Travel in the evening to Montreux

13th Sept - Already in Montreux - visit Rochers-de-Naye. What else would you recommend here? Is it worth staying for 2 nights in Montreux or would you recommend extending another night in any of the above mentioned places?

14th Sept - Could you recommend any other place around Montreux which is worth visiting or should i travel back to Zurich and then fly to Athens. I have to take a flight by 12.30 on 15th Sept from Athens to attend the Skyros holidays for a week so as I mentioned earlier I could stay overnight in either the Swiss Alps or in Athens on the 14th night depending on anything else i could do here.

This is in terms of the places which i wish to visit. Now comes the accommodation, could you recommend some reasonably priced accommodations in these places? The hotels mentioned in the links provided seemed pretty expensive. Would Airbnb or Inns be cheaper? I primarily only need a bed and a toilet and yes a roof!

rockoyster
rockoyster
6732 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2019 - 3:36 AM in reply to swiss11

I was too slow - sounds like you have it all figured out.

I used bookings.com to find places close to stations.

Happy travels 😎

Lucas
Lucas
10496 posts
top member
Jan 5, 2019 - 9:41 AM in reply to swiss11

Hi Swiss11,

The tour vs. independent travel is an old question. It is easy to travel solo in Switzerland (English is great everywhere) but if you don't want to do the planning then the tour is the way to go. :)

It looks like you've gone the planning route though! I'm a fan of staying longer in one town and making day trips (to a certain extent). For 5 or 6 night I'd try to do only 2 towns, maybe 3 if needed. But some people don't mind moving around more often.

Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen/ Wengen, Zermatt would be my 3 choices. See each town link for hotel suggestions as well. Perhaps 2 nights in each place could work well. Do note you can't visit the Matterhorn itself - Gornergrat is as close as you get. :) www.myswissalps.com/go rnergrat

From Zermatt, trains to Geneva airport or Zurich airport are similar. www.myswissalps.com/ti metable. If you have a full day you can stop in Montreux to see the city on the way to Geneva airport (if that is the airport you use).

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6336 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2019 - 11:28 AM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas -

Thanks for jumping in.

One comment about the Jungfrau region -

Lauterbrunnen and Wengen are 15 minutes apart by frequent, cheap train, running twice per hour unless there are heavy passenger loads, when they will add extra trains not shown in the official schedule.

So your way of writing the two names is a good shorthand.

I like the views better in Wengen, as attached, but would consider Lauterbrunnen if I were going in and out of the valley on multiple day trips.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 5, 2019 - 11:29 AM by Slowpoke
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Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6336 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2019 - 11:35 AM in reply to swiss11

I see that Lucas gave you a good start.

I'll catch up on the rest later,

I recall that there is a nice hostel in or near Wengen. Swiss hostels are up to Swiss quality standards. ;-)

Someone will surely help my memory.

I don't use Air BnB because I love the inns, and they are having a hard enough time with the strong Swiss Frank. Eurpoean visitors are scarce compared to previous years.

Slowpoke

AitchAitch
AitchAitch
19 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2019 - 7:40 PM

Hi, hope it is ok for me to jump in here but I am doing a similar trip to Swiss11 from New Zealand and in the planning phase and have found this thread very helpful. Just one question though, Slowpoke mentions staying at inns - is this the same as a hotel, or something different? Thanks.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6336 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2019 - 8:18 PM in reply to AitchAitch

Hi HH -

In the simplest - oversimplified - terms, inns are restaurants with rooms, or small hotels, family owned and run.. Many have "Hotel" in their name. Some inn keepers are rather well -known chefs. There was one in the Emmental that I stayed at from the late 1980's until recently. . The parking lot held expensive cars with French and German license plates, as well as some of the richer cantons of Switzerland. Most of the business faded away in the past 10-15 years as the Swiss Frank appreciated substantially in value, relative to the Euro.

In Switzerland, though traditions are fading, they were in the past and to a significant degree still are often a focus of village life. The inn keepers know the people of the town, have been among the more "important" citizens of the town, and almost all have a table where townsfolk gather to talk, perhaps farmers to do business, or, maybe play cards. Many have large meeting halls, much larger than might be found at a restaurant or even a hotel, which were heavily used in the past for community social functions. Some have excellent, even Michelin-starred kitchens, other are simpler. Many have only a few rooms, others may have 20 or 30 rooms. Many are restaurants with rooms. Some are enough a part of the community that they host musical events for the community. Those who come are expected to buy a few drinks t0 help the in recover costs. Weddings are common.

As the Swiss have gotten more and more personal mobility with cars everywhere, and families no longer celebrate every event...such as Uncle Albert's 70th birthday - with a party at the inn, the inns have less business these days. Many in smaller villages have closed.

Here are some inns where I stay routinely:

www.kreuz-ligerz.ch/

www.baeren-sumiswald.ch/kontakt-oeffnungszeiten.html

This one has recently changed owners. It had been a superb restaurant with about 20 rooms and wonderful views over Lake Lucerne:

www.bergsonne.ch/

As I looked at my bookmarks, I find quite a few that have closed...;-(

This link shows many in the Emmental a region that I visit often:

emmental.ch/en/taste/r estaurants-traditional-inns/

Many are called hotels, indeed. Some are "Gasthofs" - which translates as "inn"

Slowpoke

swiss11
swiss11
58 posts
active member
Jan 6, 2019 - 4:39 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke

Thank you so much for your feedback. I checked the links of the inns you had provided and love each of those places. I've always been passionate to help the local communities in whatever little way I can. I would love to stay in any of those properties, however i found that these are situated quite some distance away from Luzern, Wengen or Zermatt. Since I initially planned to stay in these places, have a few questions of you:

1. is there any of those inns that you mentioned, centrally located, so that I can use that inn as a base and go sightseeing in the morning and then return to it in the evening?

2. Or would you recommend as Lucas mentioned that I spend 2 nights at each of those places? I think staying at 2 different places for about 3 nights each would be ideal. If you could please specify any 2 of those inns which are closer to Luzern, Wengen or Zermatt, i would love to book them since some of them were quite reasonably priced.

3. Would you also recommend that I buy the Swiss Travel pass? For how many days should i buy it? Since I'll be there from 9th Sept - 13/14th Sept.

4. When would it be ideal to buy the pass, closer to when I am coming or when i book my flights in a day or so?

5. You mentioned that you went to Japan and as you know that every place in Japan is famous for its own traditional regional dishes, whether it was the Ramen or Okonomiyaki and so on. Do you have any food speciality there as well? I would love to experience as much of the local life as possible.

Look forward to hearing from you and till then will think of some more questions of you :)

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6336 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2019 - 10:47 AM in reply to swiss11

Hi Swiss11 -

I'll have to think about your questions a bit, particularly with regard to travel distances and times.

I've got a full day coming up, so I'll try to get back in a day or so.

Generally, the closer you get to the famous destinations, the more you pay.

Slowpoke

Lucas
Lucas
10496 posts
top member
Jan 6, 2019 - 6:39 PM in reply to swiss11

Hi Swiss11,

For a 6 day trip, the 8 day pass probably makes more sense then getting a 4 day plus extra tickets, but it depends on your itinerary each day.

To know which Swiss rail pass (if any) will save you the most money on your trip, you'll have to first decide on your day to day itinerary.

Once you've got a rough itinerary set you'll need to find regular ticket prices for your trips, and then compare those prices to a rail pass's offered discounts (and its own purchase price). Rail passes can cover between 25% and 100% of a ticket's cost for a particular route.

The following link gives you instructions on how to find prices and compare various rail passes www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass (we even have a spreadsheet there to help with the math).

Pickergal
Pickergal
80 posts
active member
Jan 6, 2019 - 8:17 PM

Hi swiss11,

You mentioned that you like to be in your next destination by evening so that you are refreshed and ready to go the next morning. Most of the time, I would agree with you but Switzerland is unique in the fact that traveling by train to the next destination is actually one of the great activities in itself. It would be a shame if you missing seeing the beautiful scenery from the trains if you are always traveling in the dark. Make sure, you also travel in the daylight so you don't miss out on the awesome sights!

Have a great trip!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6336 posts
expert
Jan 6, 2019 - 11:09 PM in reply to Pickergal

Hi Pickergal -

Great point! Glad you thought of it.

Sunset in September is at about 1940 (7:40 PM) on the 15th, 2010 on the first and 1912 on the 30th.

Slowpoke

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6336 posts
expert
Jan 7, 2019 - 12:25 AM in reply to swiss11

<<"5. You mentioned that you went to Japan and as you know that every place in Japan is famous for its own traditional regional dishes, whether it was the Ramen or Okonomiyaki and so on. Do you have any food speciality there as well? I would love to experience as much of the local life as possible.">>

I live in the USA, but visit Switzerland frequently.

Here is a start. It is generally accurate; meats, cheese, potatoes are common:

www.myswissalps.com/ab outswitzerland/culture history/food

One cultural issue -

Rösti, or Röschti as noted in the link, are shredded and pan-fried potatoes. Der Graben is "the trench."

The Röstigraben is the imaginary and somewhat satirical line which separates the German-speaking regions form the French-speaking regions. On the French side, there are "frites." On the German side - die Röschti.

The term is used as a shorthand for the cultural differences between the regions, much over-used by the press.

As for reality, you'll be in the German-speaking region. It is interesting to find out how much better or worse Röschti are from one restaurant to another. They an be amazingly good, or merely ordinary.

And, since they are potatoes, with a bit of a garnish, they can make an inexpensive meal, not dissimilar in that regard to pasta in Italy.

Slowpoke

swiss11
swiss11
58 posts
active member
Jan 7, 2019 - 10:27 AM in reply to Slowpoke

Hi Slowpoke

I thought you were a Swiss citizen since you are so well informed about this country. Thank you so much for sparing your time to reply to my queries. You mentioned you had a long day ahead and I understand your commitments.

1. Whenever you have time, kindly let me know the inns at 2 places, that are centrally located, that I could stay at for about 3 nights each to be able to visit Luzern, Wengen and Zematt during the day and return to these inns in the evening.

2. Regarding my query about the Swiss Travel pass Lucas mentioned in his post that i would need to have a detailed itinerary to compare the cost of the available passes. I had mentioned in one of my previous posts about the places I would like to visit. Keeping that in mind, which travel pass would be advisable to buy and for how many days? Perhaps it would depend on the inns I wish to stay at.

3. And, thank you so much about your suggestion to try out the Rosti. I was looking at the culinary tours and this looked interesting. www.viator.com/tours/L ucerne/Trendy-Taste-My-Swiss-City-Luzern-Selfguided-Food-Tour/d576-56576P4

Thanks once again.

swiss11
swiss11
58 posts
active member
Jan 7, 2019 - 10:28 AM in reply to Pickergal

Thanks for your suggestion, really appreciate it. It was very thoughtful!

Monica

Lucas
Lucas
10496 posts
top member
Jan 7, 2019 - 10:41 AM in reply to swiss11

Hi Swiss11,

The only pass that covers (either partially or fully) all the areas you are visiting is the Swiss Travel Pass. If you want the most convenient and simplest option (and aren't too concerned that you must get the absolute cheapest option) then I'd buy the Swiss Travel Pass for 8 days (it still could be the cheapest option in the end).

Other options are to get the Swiss Half Fare Card: www.myswissalps.com/sw isshalffarecard or other regional passes combined with point to point tickets. www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses

If you want to know for sure what pass or passes are the cheapest for your trip, the spreadsheet is the only way to know unfortunately.

Happy travels!

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