Visiting Brig and Chur - Making the most of it

Visiting Brig and Chur - Making the most of it

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caro69
caro69
16 posts
new member
Dec 7, 2017 - 8:01 PM

Hi

I've just found the forum and would be very grateful for any tips you can give me.

My husband and I are doing the following trip to Switzerland in January 2018. I am a complete newbie to Switzerland and have booked this trip as a surprise for his 60th birthday. I am so looking forward to it so I want to make the most of our time there and would be grateful for tips and ideas on how to make this very special for him.

We are arriving at Zurich airport from London then travelling by train to Brig staying for two nights. We will then travel on the Glacier Express (on his birthday) to Chur where we will stay for three nights. We will use one of our days in Chur to make the trip to Tirano on the Bernina Express. We will then return to Zurich from Chur. All accommodation and train travel has been booked.

I want to incorporate trips on cable cars and I understand both Brig and Chur have cable cars that are easily accessible. I have read about the Brigenbad thermal baths in Brig. This is of particular interest but I am just wondering what this is like in January. Can we get from Brig to the baths easily and would this be by bus? It may sound rather silly, but there is little information on the website about visiting in Winter. I'm just looking at the practicalities of taking my clothes off and walking outside! Do you need to take towels and bathrobes are are these provided?

Obviously, good waterproof walking boots and thermal underwear will be the order of the day, but does anyone have any guidance of the clothes to wear. The trains presumably will be warm, but then we have to get off. I guess layering is the best option.

As I say, I am a newbie and not well travelled. Any thoughts would be gratefully received.

Many thanks.

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2419 posts
top member
Dec 8, 2017 - 1:17 AM in reply to caro69

Hi Caro, and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Brig

Brig has only one cable car that I am aware of – the gondola to Rosswald, a 10-minute ride, which is probably of more interest to locals and people who are regular visitors to that area and have already seen the more spectacuar sights.

So if it were me, I would give the Rosswald gondola a miss and take a trip on the train to Zermatt instead. At Zermatt, you can take the Gornergrat train up to view the Matterhorn if the weather is clear. That is a spectacular and memorable experience, even though it doesn’t involve a cable car. From Brig, you can be at the top of the Gornergrat within about 2 hours. Alternatively, you could take the cableway up to Klein Matterhorn for a different view.

Check the webcam to ensure there is good visibility before going up:

www.zermatt.ch/en/Webc ams

Even if the Matterhorn is in the clouds, Zermatt is a beautiful village to stroll around in. There’s a charming historic area too, which is well worth a look. The good waterproof walking boots you mentioned will be helpful to keep your footing on sloping snow-covered paths.

www.myswissalps.com/ze rmatt

www.myswissalps.com/go rnergrat

www.myswissalps.com/kl einmatterhorn

Chur

Compared with what other areas of Switzerland have to offer, Chur just isn’t in the running, but can be useful as an accommodation base for the Glacier Express and Bernina Express trips.

There is a local cable car, but if I were you, I would give it a miss and spend a day in St Moritz instead. The trip up to Piz Nair by funicular and cable car, starting from the centre of St Moritz, is a great trip. It would take around 3 hours from Chur to the top of Piz Nair, but would be far more memorable than anything I can think of in the vicinity of Chur:

  • Chur to St Moritz - train, 2 hours, very scenic (but duplicating most of the first section of the Bernina Express route)
  • Walk from railway station to funicular station - 15 minutes; alternatively, town bus #3 or #9 from St Moritz railway station will take you to the stop called "Schulhausplatz", which is very close to the funicular station.
  • Funiculars and cable car to Piz Nair - about 35 minutes.

www.myswissalps.com/st moritz

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-au/piz-nair-directly-above-st-moritz.html

>> I have read about the Brigenbad thermal baths in Brig … Can we get from Brig to the baths easily and would this be by bus?

Yes, you can get bus 511 from Brig railway station (direction: Saas-Fee, Busterminal) to the stop “Brigerbad, Thermalbad”. It departs half-hourly at -15 and -45 minutes past the hour and takes 20 minutes.

>> I am just wondering what this is like in January. It may sound rather silly, but there is little information on the website about visiting in Winter. I'm just looking at the practicalities of taking my clothes off and walking outside!

I’ve never been there, but apparently over half the facilities are open year round, and some facilities are indoors.

>> Do you need to take towels and bathrobes are are these provided?

You can rent towels. Bathrobes are for sale, or you can bring your own.

thermalbad-wallis.ch/en/spa/price s/

>> Obviously, good waterproof walking boots and thermal underwear will be the order of the day, but does anyone have any guidance of the clothes to wear. The trains presumably will be warm, but then we have to get off. I guess layering is the best option.

Yes, layering is the way to go. I have written about my preferred “winter wardrobe” in a previous post on Apr 26, 2017 - 4:59 AM on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/december-attire-advice-for-antipodeans

You can plan your excursions with the Swiss Timetable, which covers trains, buses, boats and cable cars - use the advanced version:

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Hope you and your husband have a wonderful and memorable trip!

Alpenrose

Arno
Arno
10735 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 8, 2017 - 10:04 AM

Hi Caro69,

In addition to the many good suggestions by Alpenrose: with 3 days you could consider staying in Davos or St. Moritz instead. For Davos you would stay on the Glacier Express until Filisur and change for Davos there. For St. Moritz you simply stay on the train until its final destination. In both cases lots of good scenery all the way. And a lot of things to do and see, including cable car rides.

caro69
caro69
16 posts
new member
Dec 8, 2017 - 9:12 PM in reply to Alpenrose666

Thank you so much alpenrose for your detailed reply. I will check out all then links. I've just found the forum and I'm so glad I have. No doubt I will have more questions.

thank you for being so generous with your time

Caro

caro69
caro69
16 posts
new member
Dec 8, 2017 - 9:15 PM in reply to Arno

Hi at No

Thank you for your reply. Accommodation already booked. Will read around the forum and will no doubt have more questions. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply.

caro

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
570 posts
top member
Dec 8, 2017 - 10:58 PM

Hello Caro

There is a cablecar in Chur which goes to Brambüesch - we went on it in July last year - it is a nice experience at that time of year because of the wild flowers and views but I don't know about it being so good in January - in any case you would need to check whether it operates at that time of year. It tends to be popular with locals because there are many cycle trails up there which obviously would be less of an attraction for them in January.

So Alpenrose's suggestion of Piz Nair makes sense though it will be a longer trip and you will need to time it carefully to make the most of limited daylight hours.

Maggie

caro69
caro69
16 posts
new member
Dec 10, 2017 - 3:31 PM

Thank you all so much. You've all given me great food for thought.

I like the idea of a day trip to Zermatt from Brig and seeing the Matterhorn etc. I really wouldn't have thought of that and it will make full use of our day. We have Saturday afternoon and evening to look around Brig and I think this will suffice. Then on Monday morning we are off on the Glacier Express to Chur.

We would quite like to soak up the atmosphere of a ski resort and I am wondering about a day trip to Arosa from Chur where I notice there are 'easy' winter hiking trails. We could do some cable cars around here it would seem. It looks as if the train journey is only just over an hour from Chur. Any thoughts on Arosa greatly appreciated.

I like the idea of St Moritz but I'm thinking we might be spending too long on the train, particularly as we are doing the Bernina the day after and some of it will be repeated.

I'm trying to soak up the the wonder info on this site. Things are becoming a lot clearer now

Caro

Arno
Arno
10735 posts
expert &
moderator
Dec 11, 2017 - 3:17 PM

Hi Caro,

The train ride from Chur to Arosa is short but stunning. Just the ride is worth the effort. I have good memories of the 360° panoramic view from the Weisshorn, which is easy to reach by cable car from Arosa.

Staying in St. Moritz won't result in repetition. It just means you will stay longer on the Glacier Express on your arrival day. The last leg of the Glacier Express is the Northern leg of the Bernina Express, so no need go back there. From St. Moritz you can do a day trip on the Southern leg of the Bernina Express line. So you will see it all, it's just a different schedule. When going back to Zurich you can travel via Klosters and Landquart to avoid repitition of the section to Chur. Do make sure you will be traveling in day light though, or the views will be less impressing!

maggiehorswell
maggiehorswell
570 posts
top member
Dec 11, 2017 - 7:12 PM in reply to Arno

Hi Caro

I agree that Arosa is well worth a visit - we enjoyed the train ride and the views from Weisshorn - the restaurant on Weisshorn is to be recommended. I believe there are trails which you could do - ask at the tourist office - we found staff there to be very helpful. I think there is a forest trail where you can see lots of busy squirrels. One of the experiences on our wish list!

Maggie.

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2419 posts
top member
Dec 12, 2017 - 3:13 AM in reply to caro69

>> I like the idea of a day trip to Zermatt from Brig and seeing the Matterhorn etc.

If it turns out that the Matterhorn is in the clouds in the morning, you might want to consider a walk around the village in Zermatt. This will also give you the advantage of being close by if the clouds do happen to clear later in the day and it becomes worthwhile to go up to the Gornergrat.

The last trip up to the Gornergrat is at 19:24 (arriving 19:57), and the last trip down is at 20:07 - but sunset in January will be between 4:54 at the beginning of the month, and 5:32 at the end.

Here are some links to inspire you:

Village walk

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/zermatt

When you cross the Mattervispa again towards the end of this walk, if the clouds have moved off, you will have a good view of the Matterhorn.

There's a picture of that view here:

tinyurl.com/y7fpumnd

Historic quarter

www.zermatt.ch/en/vill age-experience/Village-Tour/Old-part-of-the-village

I have attached a few photos of Zermatt with snow (November 2010). A couple show the Matterhorn from Zermatt village. I think I took them in Obere Mattenstrasse, approaching Hofmattstrasse.

Alpenrose

Please login to see the attached documents
Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2419 posts
top member
Dec 12, 2017 - 3:19 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Here are some more photos from an overcast day in September last year, when the Matterhorn was nowhere to be seen, but the village was still charming. Most of them were taken in the historic quarter.

Alpenrose

Please login to see the attached documents
caro69
caro69
16 posts
new member
Dec 12, 2017 - 4:45 PM in reply to maggiehorswell

Maggie & Arno. Thank you. The forest trail at Arosa sounds wonderful. All that snow on the trees sounds such a delight. Cable car to Weisshorn a must. I think that a day to Arosa is a definite then!

Thank you Alpenrose for the detailed info and photos of Zermatt. It looks absolutely stunning. We can set off early and spend the whole day and evening there. It looks lovely after dark as well. And it appears that trains run back to Brig late into the evening. That's sorted then!

Seems as if I should have booked a longer stay - or we could come back again of course!

Thank you all so much for your help. Can't wait to tell my husband what I have in store for him. He is going to be thrilled.

Caro.

caro69
caro69
16 posts
new member
Dec 13, 2017 - 8:18 PM

Oh my goodness! Just when I think I've got it sorted I've just noticed that Montreux is only an hour on the train from Brig. It would be lovely to see a lake and also as a massive Queen fan the Queen recording studio is open. I know this holiday is for my other half but wow, I think he would enjoy it too! What is Montreux like in January? I'm guessing not too much snow so that might be a really nice contrast.

But the choice has to be Zermatt or Montreux. I would really love to do both but not an option.

Any thoughts gratefully received.

rockoyster
rockoyster
3684 posts
expert
Dec 13, 2017 - 8:31 PM in reply to caro69

If the weather is good, Zermatt. If the weather is ordinary, Queen Central. 😎

Or if you have the stamina, Montreux in the morning and Zermatt in the afternoon.

caro69
caro69
16 posts
new member
Dec 13, 2017 - 9:05 PM in reply to rockoyster

I reckon we could do both. Why not - there's plenty of life in us yet! I'm off to research train times now - so much to see, so little time. :)

rockoyster
rockoyster
3684 posts
expert
Dec 13, 2017 - 9:18 PM

I wonder what time you get into Zurich Airport? The fastest train from there to Montreux only takes about 30 minutes longer than from the Airport to Brig. So if you had time you could “do Montreux” on the way to Brig.

If you arrive real early in Zurich then the Golden Pass Panoramic train between Zweisimmen and Montreux may even be a possibility. www.myswissalps.com/go ldenpass

If you go Zurich to Brig add via Kandersteg for the most scenic route. Or via Lucerne and Meiringen and Kandersteg to fit in the first part of the Golden Pass route

Last modified on Dec 13, 2017 - 9:22 PM by rockoyster
Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2419 posts
top member
Dec 13, 2017 - 11:56 PM in reply to caro69

>> What is Montreux like in January?

In a word - grey ;-)

Only you can assess the relative importance to you of going to the Queen recording studio, but I would not recommend going to Montreux for lake scenery in January.

Montreux is at its lovely best under a sunny sky, when the lake is blue, the trees are in full leaf and the flowers are in bloom. In January, it is unlikely there will be any snow in Montreux itself, the deciduous trees will be bare and the flowers will be gone. Chances are that both the sky and the lake will be grey.

If I were you, for a January trip I would concentrate on what makes Switzerland beautiful in the winter - the snow-covered alps.

I have been to Montreux 4-5 times: in September, October and February. In September and October I took hundreds of photos in Montreux and surrounding areas, as well as on the lake, when trees, flowers, the vineyards and the lake were looking their wonderful best. In February, I only took 6 photos, as grey is not such an attractive colour in photos. Hmmm... maybe I could convert them into black-and-white and increase the contrast - that might give them a bit more appeal!

But in the end of course, it's your holiday, so you have to decide what's right for you!

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 14, 2017 - 12:05 AM by Alpenrose666
rockoyster
rockoyster
3684 posts
expert
Dec 14, 2017 - 2:29 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Hi Alpenrose,

Some moody monochrome Montreux pictures might be good. Does you description mean that the Golden Pass Panoramic run is less desirable at this time of year? Or is arrival in a gloomy grey lakeland likely to be offset by a winter wonderland passage for much of the way between Zweisimmen and Montreux?

Alpenrose666
Alpenrose666
2419 posts
top member
Dec 14, 2017 - 2:55 AM in reply to rockoyster

Hi rockoyster,

>> Does you description mean that the Golden Pass Panoramic run is less desirable at this time of year?

No, the Golden Pass route is superb under a mantle of snow. The reason we ended up in Montreux in February is because we wanted to do the Golden Pass route, and it was wonderful.

You can see some pictures I took on that excusion in my post of Jun 24, 2015 - 3:50 AM on the following page:

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/seat-reservation-montreux-zweisimme-interlaken

My comments were specifically directed to the OP's thoughts of "I've just noticed that Montreux is only an hour on the train from Brig. It would be lovely to see a lake ... What is Montreux like in January?"

If they were going to Montreux from Brig, they would not be travelling on any part of the Golden Pass route.

Trains on the route to Montreux from Brig travel along a broad valley through sizeable towns and cities with modern buildings, where commercial and industrial activity features fairly prominently in the landscape. There are some vineyards too, but they will be bare and grey in January.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Dec 14, 2017 - 3:07 AM by Alpenrose666
rockoyster
rockoyster
3684 posts
expert
Dec 14, 2017 - 3:08 AM in reply to Alpenrose666

Thanks Alpenrose. I expected that but just wanted to check as I had earlier suggested to Caro "If you arrive real early in Zurich then the Golden Pass Panoramic train between Zweisimmen and Montreux may even be a possibility."

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