We were in the country for a week (Sep end – Oct 1st week) and later wanted to travel to France. We wanted a mix of experiences ranging from lakes, mountains, scenic villages, fall season, cog wheel trains, wine yards and many others. Taking help from this forum, we devised an itinerary which may not be ideal but served our requirements 😊
We landed in Zurich and stayed in 3 cities Hergiswil – near Lucerne, Oberried near Interlaken and Planchamp near Montreux before proceeding to Geneva from where we flew to Paris.
To make the best of the entire day, we landed early in Zurich and travelled to Hergiswil, a location close to Lucerne. Hergiswil, is a very charming town and we enjoyed the view of the pretty houses present there.
We further travelled to Lucerne and explored the Chapel bridge and Museggmauer that presented a good top-level city view. We explored the city of Lucerne by foot and in the evening returned to Hergiswil. Just near the Hergiswil station is a beautiful lakeside front by the name of ‘’Schifflande” and it houses a good lawn, benches and a restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed the lake and mountain views from this location.
We travelled to Engelberg and visited the cheese factory there at ‘’ KLOSTER SCHAUKÄSEREI” also called as the monastery. An hour is enough for the factory visit. From the factory we proceeded to Mount Titlis. We would recommend the Ice Flyer activity at the top of the mountain. While returning from Titlis to Engelberg we spent time near Trubsee Lake which had benches, hammock and peaceful ambience.
We had planned to cover the Golden Pass train route which stretches across 3 sub routes. One of them is Lucerne to Interlaken.
We reached Interlaken through Golden Pass and had reserved our tickets in advance in Bistro (restaurant) section. We tried the in-train restaurant and found the food to be good and reasonably priced. The route gives you scenic views of Lake Lungern, Lake Brienz and small villages. We strongly recommend at-least this phase of the Golden Pass journey.
We checked in Oberried which had a lake view from our house. We first took the cruise from Interlaken to Brienz and further took the cog-wheel train from Brienz to Rothorn. Cog wheel and Rothorn provides brilliant top view of Lake Brienz. We spent the evening exploring Lake Brienz and its vicinity.
Grindelwald considered one of the most scenic villages was on our list and hence we first reached Grindelwald. We found it to be very scenic and beautiful. Just 10 mins walk from the railway station is the cable car station for Grindelwald First (Mountain top). We reached the top – Grindelwald First through the cable car and continued our hike for Bachalpsee Lake.
Lake Bachalpsee is a beautiful lake having view of fall colors on the mountain top and its an easy hike from Grindelwald First with one-way journey taking ~ 1 hour. This hike was a unique experience since it allowed us to witness sun, rain and snow in a period of 2 hours. Later we went for Cliff walk at Grindelwald First.
Grindelwald offers a host of adventure activities and we preferred Trotti biking. We descended from Brot to Grindelwald village through Trotti biking. . It is suggested that you do your research on different adventure activities provided at Grindelwald first in case it interests you
Just 5 minutes from Grindelwald cable car station is the Pfingstegg cable car station. Pfingstegg is reachable via cable car and has ‘toboggan’ thrill slides. But due to bad weather conditions we couldn’t carry on with this activity
The day was reserved for exploring beautiful villages around Interlaken. Our first stop was Lauterbrunnen from where we took cable car to Grütschalp. The train route from Grütschalp to Mürren is simply breathtaking and recommended. Once at Murren, through cable cars, we explored the village of Gimmelwald as well as Schiltorn mountain top. Where Gimmelwald was a small peaceful village, Schiltorn was snow covered had restaurants, cable cars and even washroom designed with James Bond 007 theme.
We returned to Interlaken in the evening and explored the city on foot. For sunset as well as the top view of Interlaken we travelled to Harder Kulm via the funicular. It’s a viewing platform that provides a scenic view of Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau along with the intersection of lakes Brienz and Thun and off-course the city of Interlaken.
From Oberried we headed to Montreux covering other two phases of Golden Pass i.e. Interlaken to Zweisimmen and Zweisimmen to Montreux. We had specifically selected the Montreux region for seeing vineyards. We reached Montreux by noon and spent the second half visiting vineyards between Vevey to Mount Pelerin. Evening was spent on Montreux promenade with stunning backdrop, gardens with architectural buildings of city on other side.
The day was reserved for exploring Gstaad region, which is known or its scenic villages. Went to Saanen roamed around station visited a church and a bridge on top of a river. Took a bus from Saanen to Gstaad going though the city. Roamed around in city of Gstaad and back to Montreux.
In the evening we visited the Chillon Castle and again exploring Montreux around the promenade area.
a. The Swiss Travel Pass is extremely useful and covers majorly all public transport. Also, it facilitates discounts on some cog wheel trains, cable cars, funiculars, etc. Few routes are not covered through Swiss pass and therefore keep a swiss pass map handy which clearly indicates the same
b. The transport system is very efficient and punctual. SBB and Postbus apps are very helpful and are updated for any changes. In case you are contemplating whether to buy a swiss pass or not, you can check ticket train rates for your itinerary on SBB app.
c. Majority of train stations would have a Railway Help center in the proximity and the staff is very cordial. You can surely rely on them to assist with your day plans.
d. With reference to reservations on special trains such as Golden Pass, it’s recommended for peak seasons. For, September- October period it comes down to your luck if you wish to travel without reservations.
e. For distant cities, the trains sometimes are at a frequency of an hour and hence it is advisable to plan your itinerary in advance to not miss out on such connections.
f. For weather dependent activities, its advisable to purchase the tickets on the day itself and not in advance. The relevant websites are also updated with all the necessary info.
g. If possible, try to keep your trip flexible as it gives room to accommodate weather dependent activities on an alternate/backup day.
h. Majority of rail stations will have a ‘Kiosk’ which caters to necessities such as newspaper, bread, few snacks and chocolates. Coop and Migros are two major supermarkets here. We always found a Coop near the major stations. For Asians, whose meal preferences include vegetarian options exclusive of eggs, you can opt for ‘Vegan’ labelled breads and sandwiches which are easily available.
i. Although it’s a given but do keep a physical map and google maps handy as it will help you select the best transport mediums, time for connectivity and places to visit nearby at the planning stage itself.
j. We were in Switzerland for a week and overall found the country very hospitable and safe.
k. My Switzerland website also has a chat support and we found them to be extremely helpful in planning the itinerary
l. All major villages, cities, regions, mountains, adventure activities have their websites along with a very efficient customer support via email as well as calls. You can rely on them for planning assistance
m. If your major stay is in a select region, do explore regional passes as well as city wise visitor cards for discounts/offers