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8-9 nights Zurich / Interlaken late May

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2 posts
new member
Jan 23, 2017 - 7:16 PM


My husband and myself are coming for a delayed honeymoon to Zurich the last week of May / first week of June. We will be visiting some family in Stuttgart as well for a couple of days but our plan is to spend 3-4 days in Zurich --> shopping / museums / churches [specific suggestions welcome!] as well as the cheese and chocolate tour [through the Lindt outlet and Appenzell]. We are looking into Hotel Placid - has anyone been here? The prices seem excellent and we don't mind taking the public transit into town.

After that we want to spend about 5 nights in the Interlaken area. We debated between Grindelwad / Murren / Wengen and landed on Grindenwald since we'd like to have some activities to do in the evenings etc, the sense I get it Murren and Wengen are much quieter? Here we are leaning towards the Sunstar Hotel. Activities we hope to do are hiking, visiting Murren / train to Jungfraujoch and the "James Bond" attractions, plus a day in Interlaken with a lake cruise and perhaps a chocolate making class I found.

Does this seem feasible? I really hope the weather cooperates for some hiking and sightseeing. Will grindelwald be quite cold and should be plan to bring heavier winter clothes?

Lastly - my husband loves cars and would love to rent a manual transmission sports car for a day. What are some good mountain / winding roads around Interlaken we could check out, and how can I ensure we have a "fun" car for him? We are from the US and will get him an international permit, but anything else we should know or plan for?

Thanks in advance!

7356 posts
Jan 24, 2017 - 2:27 AM in reply to karunapa

Hi Karunapa-

Lots of good ideas. You are very wise to spend several days in each of your bases. You have avoided the disease of trying to see too many things in too few days. I do have some concerns about your choice of bases.

1.- Car rentals.

Automatic transmissions are optional, although they have become more common. Manual transmissions are the norm on rental cars.

If he cannot find a sports car, consider a VW Golf. Excellent handling. You should note that Swiss speed limits are rigorously radar-controlled at many, many places, and that speeding fines for even modest infractions can exceed 1oo CHF or even 200 CHF. If you are careless, your rental car company will send you a notice that the police would like you to pay a very large bill... If you do not pay , don't plan to go back to Switzerland. Their computers are very alert.

I rent and drive with a US license. An international license is not needed.

This map may help choose roads:


Zoom in.

This extremely detailed and flexible topographic map can give altitudes:

map.geo.admin.ch/?topic=ech&lang=en&bgLa yer=ch.swisstopo.pixel karte-farbe&layers=ch.bav.ha ltestellen-oev,ch.swisstopo.swiss tlm3d-wanderwege&layers_visi bility=false,true&X=16 3750.00&Y=633225.00&zo om=4

I have turned on "Hiking Trails."

2.- Weather and locations.

Late May and early June are not yet Spring at the higher altitudes at or above 2000 meters, such as near the Jungfrau. Most high altitude hiking trails will be closed by residual snow that is not very good for skiing. So, no skiers, no hikers, no customers, and many hotels and other services are closed and do not reopen and begin to serve the hiking season until mid- June. A good deal of the transport services do open on about May 25. There are still good things to do, but it is truly "low season." Trails at lower altitudes, such as on the valley floor, will be clear. See attached image.


www.myswissalps.com/hi king

Weather is highly dependent on altitude. Most high Alpine road passes do not open until early June, as a rule of thumb. There are exceptions, depending on snow pack.

Zürich - Most first timers do not find that Zürich holds their attention for 4 days. If you have specific activities in mind, then you should, of course, spend the time there. If you are interested in cultural activities, and, even better, if you speak or read German, there are many ways to explore cultural and artistic venues. English signage is common in places such as museums, but not universal by any means.

Generally, first time visitors find that Luzern has more variety, more scenery, and more tourist-focused activities or scenic places.

www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne

www.myswissalps.com/zu rich

If you use the timetable, you will see that Luzern and Zürich are only 45 to 50 minutes apart, twice per hour, by quite nice trains.

www.myswissalps.com/ti metable

The timetable will help you plan all your travel.

I'd stay in Luzern and commute to Zürich as needed.

By late May, Spring is well advanced at the altitude of Luzern (and Zürich).


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10495 posts
top member
Jan 24, 2017 - 7:31 AM in reply to karunapa

Hi Karunapa and welcome to MySwissAlps!

A few notes to go along with Slowpokes excellent recommendations.

Zurich is the largest town in Switzerland and if you are looking for shopping, museums and churches it is the best option I think.

I haven't seen Hotel Placid but I know the area it is in and Zurich quite well. The area is West-Zurich and Hardbrücke is is the main train station. Very cool-hip area of Zurich. Check out other hotel options for Zurich here.

Its an easy 5 minute walk to tram #2 from Hotel Placid that will take you downtown in about 15 minutes. Get off at Paradeplatz which is the heart of the business and banking district in Zurich (and one of the busiest tram stops in Europe). Beside Paradeplatz you will find Bahnhofstrasse with a lot of shopping options for you - however it is often noted as the most expensive in Europe! See our page here on how to travel in Zurich.

The 2 main churches to see are Fraumünster and Grossmünster. For museums check out Kunsthaus for a great art gallery and Schweizerisches National Museum (beside the main train station).

As Slowpoke mentioned, Luzern is also an excellent town to visit, a little more Swiss in character (Zurich is the business and financial heart of Switzerland). There is also has some shopping and museums but it is also much smaller.
A day trip to Luzern from Zurich or to Zurich from Luzern (depending on where you decide to stay) is well worth the (easy) effort.

As for rental cars it won't be an issue getting a manual transmission car or finding a proper sports car. Its surprisingly easy to rent a Porsche or Maserati from rental car agencies here (ignoring the cost of course) and it's on my bucket list as well!).
You should look at the agencies at the airport first - they seem to have the best selection of sports cars, rather than the downtown locations. You also don't need an international permit for your visit -your US licence is fine. DO NOT Speed here. As Slowpoke mentioned a 100-200 chf fine is given for going 5-10% over the speed limit (even in a 30kmh/20 mph zone) and patrols and remote photo and laser is used here. You may be able to relax and take a chance on some of the mountain passes (but be careful/aware! the passes are scenic and but also often lack guardrails)

Some of the higher more well known mountain passes don't open until late May/early June. Look here for names and rough opening times (weather dependent) here and driving information including car rental details here.

For the Interlaken area I would recommend Interlaken or Grindelwald as good bases for hiking for you as well. Check out our what to do page for information on hiking, scenic trips and natural sites in Switzerland to help you plan your days around the country and the Jungfrau region (Interlaken being the largest town in the area)

Have you thought about a Swiss rail pass for your trip? Take a look at How to choose the best rail pass for help (the Swiss Travel Pass also covers all city public transit as well and may be a good choice for you).

I hope this helps, let us know if you have more questions/concerns.


Last modified on Jan 24, 2017 - 7:35 AM by Lucas
Removed user
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new member
Jan 24, 2017 - 1:18 PM

Hello, mine is not a reply but a question. I am also planning a visit to Switzerland in late may and will be coming from Germany by car. I have planned to make base in Interlaken and will like to travel to mount Jungfrau. There will be kids aged 8 and 11 with me. Kindly suggest other places I can visit in Interlaken. I would also like to visit Luzern. Kindly suggest if driving would be comfortable or I should opt for Train. Also kindly suggest which pass should I buy to save on toll charges and Jungfrau train and gondola ride for my family.

In India we have Right hand drive whereas it's reverse in Europe. I hope it won't be difficult to adapt. Any suggestions?

Sorry for interrupting the thread.


Last modified on Jan 24, 2017 - 4:15 PM by Lucas
10495 posts
top member
Jan 24, 2017 - 4:14 PM in reply to Removed user

Hi Sukesh,

This thread is specific to karunapa, can I ask that you make your own post here?

Thank you!


2 posts
new member
Jan 29, 2017 - 3:14 PM

Thanks for all the great suggestions! Slowpoke, that map is excellent!

I am looking into Lucerne - I did not quite realize travel between there and Zurich would be so easy and it seems more charming.

We have procured the Swiss Half Fare card, I ran the numbers on a spreadsheet and I think we'd save a bit since the mountain trains are pricier and still only half-off with the Swiss Travel Pass.

One more query - from Grindelwald, is it worth it to plan a trip to Zermatt / Matterhorn? It seems like it would be a very long day with most of it spent on a train but if the view is worth it we'd consider it.



7356 posts
Jan 29, 2017 - 3:58 PM in reply to karunapa

Hi Karuna -

<<"I am looking into Lucerne - I did not quite realize travel between there and Zurich would be so easy and it seems more charming.">>

It is. The train ride is nice, too.

<<"We have procured the Swiss Half Fare card, I ran the numbers on a spreadsheet and I think we'd save a bit since the mountain trains are pricier and still only half-off with the Swiss Travel Pass. ">>

I travel with a half-fare card. It works best for me with my trip timings, partial use of rental car, and my travel locations. I do not find it a burden to buy tickets for each journey.

<<"One more query - from Grindelwald, is it worth it to plan a trip to Zermatt / Matterhorn? It seems like it would be a very long day with most of it spent on a train but if the view is worth it we'd consider it.">>

Purely a personal decision. I offer no opinions on whether one beautiful mountain area is better than another beautiful mountain area. You have enough time to fit it in. It is possible that weather might influence it....the weather south of the Alps can be different. If you have clear sunny days near the Jungfrau, make sure to take advantage of them.

At the risk of taking valuable time from seeing Zermatt, the old route via Kandersteg and Brig, then Visp, is quite scenic. A train with large windows "The Lötschberger" makes the run from Bern to Spiez ( you would pick it up there and on to Brig by the high route. The new lower, faster route, via the "Lötschberg Basis Tunnel" direct to Visp is about an hour shorter. The scenery inside the tunnel is not very interesting.

www.myswitzerland.com/ en-us/bls-regioexpress-loetschberger.html


Grindelwald is a fine base.

I like Wengen, because it is less commercial. Some like Grindelwald because it is more commercial. ;-)

6216 posts
expert &
Jan 29, 2017 - 7:03 PM in reply to karunapa

Hi Karuna,

Good to hear you've been able to decide on a rail pass. Yes, mountain rides are discounted with the Swiss Travel Pass, but there are exceptions. Rigi and Pilatus near Lucerne are free, as well as Schynige Platte near Interlaken. These don't seem to be relevant for your itinerary though, so a Swiss Half Fare Card may very well be a good choice. Please find retailers at myswissalps.com/swissh alffarecard/price.

Last modified on Jan 29, 2017 - 7:04 PM by Annika


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