Best base towns in Switzerland for 1 week mid May

Best base towns in Switzerland for 1 week mid May

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Linekinlady
Linekinlady
5 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2018 - 4:19 PM

We are 4 seniors (over 65) who will be disembarking from a cruise in Basel. We have 7 days for travel through Switzerland and intend to purchase the 8 day Swiss Travel pass. There are so many beautiful places to visit in Switzerland, it has been hard to narrow down where to base ourselves. I realize that we are traveling during an off time in some locations, and that some mountain villages may not have shops and restaurants open. Lucerne is top on our list. We would also like to visit the villages in the Jungfrau region, in particular Wegen, Lautenbrunnen, Grindelwald. We are also interested in Zermatt and Montreux. We would use Montreux as a base to visit Gruyere. Bern is also on the list since it is a UNESCO site, though I think we would do a day trip there from a base city/town. After disembarking in Basel, we plan to board a train that same day for Lucerne. Not sure how long we should stay there.....one or two nights? Would like to visit Mt. Pilatus and Jungfraujoch. We are leaning toward staying in Wegen for a night or two....choosing Wegen over Lautenbrunnen as it seems to have more to offer with accommodations, and not sure about being engulfed by cliffs. If we stay in Zermatt, would one night be enough, or should we make it two? Planning on one night in Montreux. Not sure where to fit a day trip in to Bern. Maybe we should go there before Lucerne on the first day? We will be flying out of Zurich but are not intending to spend much time there. As you can see, we are trying to fit a lot in during a short time frame....we only have 7 nights and need to figure out the best way to divide our time.

We are able to get around pretty well, though one of us just had a knee replacement. We love to walk through the old town centers, villages, and gardens and are interested in the history of the region. We look forward to seeing mountain views....Jungfraujoch would be a highlight and of course, the Matterhorn would be the icing on the cake, but from what I have heard, it's behind clouds a good part of the time. Thank you for any help you can give us. Your forum is extremely helpful!

Lucas
Lucas
8820 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 5, 2018 - 5:56 PM in reply to Linekinlady

Hi Linekinlady and welcome to MySwissAlps!

Your rough idea/itinerary seems like a good start and quite logical. I would do at least 2 nights in Lucerne (maybe a day trip to Bern from there). The Jungfraujoch trip would be from Wengen (a good choice, though this is the town/area most likely to be quiet when you are there) where as Lauterbrunnen is a bigger town.

I would try to do 2 nights in Luzern, 2 nights in Wengen and 1 or 2 nights in Zermatt and then a final night in Montreux before heading to Zurich.

Use the links above to read more about the towns, what to do and where to stay there.
The Swiss railways timetable can help you plan out your trips by train, bus, cable car etc and you can buy the Swiss Travel Pass online here (it will be emailed to you to print at home so you already have it when you get off your cruise ship).

I hope that helps with your planning - let us know if you have more questions!

Linekinlady
Linekinlady
5 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2018 - 6:21 PM in reply to Lucas

Hi Lucas,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply and the links! Since posting this, we are now looking at flying out of Geneva instead of Zurich, as we haven't made reservations yet, and seems like it would be better choice from Montreux. I think the amount of time you have mentioned for each city is exactly what I had been thinking. It sounds like you think Lauterbrunnen would be a better choice over Wengen? I thought I read somewhere that there are more accommodations and restaurants in Wengen. Also, do you think that Lauterbrunnen has a feeling of being closed in because of the cliffs on either side of the valley?

Thank you again for your help and I am sure I will have more questions in the future!

Linekinlady
Linekinlady
5 posts
new member
Jan 5, 2018 - 6:50 PM

I had meant to title my post best "towns" to use as base, as I know it would be very hard to base ourselves in one town for 7 days. Didn't know how to edit my post to read plural!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5006 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2018 - 8:11 PM in reply to Linekinlady

Hi Linekinlady

I read Lucas's comments about Wengen and Lauterbrunnen to be neutral, and I personally would recommend Wengen. I like the views better.

www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/tips-about-wengen-and-the-jungfrau-region-by-kim

The cliffs around Lauterbrunnen are far enough apart, and the valley beautiful enough, that you would not feel claustrophobic.

In mid-May, the Valley floor would be mostly free of snow. The waterfalls will be at there best, working hard to drain snow melt. There could be residual snow around Wengen, or you might get lucky with the snowpack from the Winter, and have it all melted by then.

The wonderful easy trail from Männlichen ( well up above Wengen) will not be hikable. Blocked with snow or danger of snowslides until mid-June, usually.

www.myswissalps.com/hi king/maennlichen-kleinescheidegg

As the altitude increases, you get more and more into the remnants of Winter.

Around Luzern and Bern, Spring will be well started.

Both have really nice old towns.

In most areas, there will be more to do than you have time for. So, reading and planning as you are doing is a good way to try to figure out ahead of time what you will focus on. The itinerary looks good, Lucas suggestions make sense to me, too.

I have attached a few random relevant pictures.

Since you are already in Europe before you arrive in Basel, you won't have to deal with jet-lag on your first day.

Basel, Luzern and Bern are all close to each other by train,by the way. The fastest trains run about an hour or less, and there are frequent trains.

The timetable will be valuable for you, and the SBBoffers a smartphone app, useful on the road. I like a bigger screen for planning.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

Read the into page carefully; it is very helpful.

www.sbb.ch/en/timetabl e/mobile-apps/sbb-mobile.html

Departure from Geneva could be easier than from Zürich, if your last night is in Montreux. It is closer. Zürich has a lot more choices of international or intercontinental service. It is about 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer on the train, however.

Slowpoke

Last modified on Jan 5, 2018 - 8:23 PM by Slowpoke
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Lucas
Lucas
8820 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 5, 2018 - 8:54 PM in reply to Slowpoke

Title edit made :).

Wengen is certainly the choice of most people - nice views of the mountains.

Lauterbrunnen is quite nice as well but perhaps the views aren't as good as Wengen...The town is larger though which was my only real point. :) more shops, restaurants that could/will be open at that time of year (not that everything will be closed of course).

The towns are quite close so there is nothing stopping you from staying in Wengen but spending time in Lauterbrunnen if need be.

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
5006 posts
expert
Jan 5, 2018 - 10:28 PM in reply to Linekinlady

Hi linekinlady-

<<"and that some mountain villages may not have shops and restaurants open.">>

The btter way to phrase that is to say -

"some restaurants and shops will not be open in the mountain villages." Some hotels, too.

However many will be, and you won't have to deal with crowds of tourists.

;-)

Slowpoke

Linekinlady
Linekinlady
5 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2018 - 3:28 AM

Hi Slowpoke,

Thank you so much for all of your excellent information. Your description of what to expect in May in Lauterbrunnen and Wengen is very helpful for our planning. I had not realized that we would be visiting at an optimum time for seeing waterfalls.....an added bonus. Kim's information on Wengen is amazing .....she has certainly done her research. Also, I am happy to hear that we will see signs of spring in some of the lower areas. I will definitely use the timetable information and the link for app to my smartphone.

Great to see your pictures in anticipation of our trip! Thank you for sharing.

Linekinlady

Linekinlady
Linekinlady
5 posts
new member
Jan 6, 2018 - 4:03 AM

Hi Lucas,

Thank you for making the edit in my title. I appreciate your views on Wengen and Lauterbrunnen. We are leaning toward staying in Lauterbrunnen at this point because, as you said, it's a larger town and will have more shops and restaurants open at the time we will be visiting. The fact that the two towns are so close will allow us to easily visit Wengen. We are also interested in visiting the village of Grindelwald. Will it be easily accessible from Lauterbrunnen and/or Wengen?

Thanks again for all of your help. This forum is great!

Linekinlady

Lucas
Lucas
8820 posts
expert &
moderator
Jan 6, 2018 - 7:29 AM in reply to Linekinlady

Yes, you can easily stay in one village and visit the other - maybe base it on what hotels you can find and prices at each town: Lauterbrunnen hotels / Wengen hotels.

Grindelwald is easily accessible from Lauterbrunnen (via either Wengen & Männlichen by cable car or by train via Zweilütschinen). The cable car doesn't start operating until June.1 from Wengen (it may be open the holiday weekend of May 19 - 21 if the weather is good).

Use the Swiss railways timetable to plan all your trips.

Last modified on Jan 6, 2018 - 7:31 AM by Lucas

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