Zurich & nice small town in late April - 6 days

Print this page
Create an account to receive an e-mail when someone replies to this thread
Posts: 23
This thread is closed. You are welcome to log in and submit a new thread.
DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 16, 2018 - 7:18 PM

Hello from Chicago USA,

My wife and daughter (age 12) and myself have a trip to Europe planned for this April 15 - 29th. We begin with our arrival in Zurich on Sunday April 15th. We have until Friday in Switzerland at which time we need to head South to visit with friends near Monaco.

I would like the forums help in determining how much (and how little) to do while we are in Switzerland. Here are our ideas based on reading what you have on this great website:

1) Stay in Zurich overnight at a nice hotel in or near the alte Stadt. This is to relax from our flight and get on the timezone by walking, eating, and sleeping.

2) Take a scenic train to a nice small town or city where we can stay overnight Mon/Tuesday. While there we would like to walk, see sights, get outside, eat, eat, and drink some wine (not my daughter). Places that look nice: Interlaken, Chur, St. Moritz ...

3) Do the same thing (scenic train to a different small village) on Weds morning, stay until Friday at which time we will head South via train or airplane.

So I am asking for ideas on the towns to visit, which trains to take, and also is this a good way to spend our 5 days or would you suggest other ideas? We do not want to ski (well my wife and daughter at least) but rather explore the country, people, and food.

Very many thanks in advance.

Derek Torrey

rockoyster
rockoyster
4028 posts
expert
Mar 16, 2018 - 11:02 PM in reply to DerekT

G'day Derek, greetings from Australia and welcome to MySwissAlps,

There are a million options.

Let's say you like the look of St Moritz. You could go there for a few days then catch Bernina Express (www.myswissalps.com/be rninaexpress) to Lugano for a few nights. Experience the Italian part of Switzerland.

Monaco is just over 6 hours by train from Lugano with 1 change in Milan.

Another alternative would be to spend some days in the fabulous city of Lucerne (www.myswissalps.com/lu cerne/activities), just 1 hour from Zurich. Unfortunately you are just to early in the year to take the boat and train Gotthard Panorama Express (www.myswissalps.com/go tthardpanoramaexpress) to Lugano but you can follow the exact same route on regular boats/trains. Or go from Lucerne to Andermatt and follow Glacier Express ((www.myswissalps.com/gl acierexpress) route to Chur and Bernina Express from there.

Another alternative . . . . . . . (await more suggestions from the forum members less biased towards scenic trains and Ticino). This recent post from 1960man is one of my favourites goo.gl/HHD62A. 😎

You ought to read “How to choose the best travel pass” (www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass) and become familiar with the Swiss Train Timetable (www.myswissalps.com/ti metable) which you'll find an essential tool to plan your travel.

This recent post from 1960man is one of my favourites goo.gl/HHD62A.

Lucas
Lucas
9647 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 17, 2018 - 8:54 AM in reply to DerekT

Hi Derek,

Yes, there are a million options in this small little country! Be aware that April is low season here so some hotels and mountains will close for maintenance etc. We can give more details once you have decided on some towns or regions. Also you may get a little snow or left over snow in some of the higher elevation towns like St. Moritz and Zermattetc.

I think a good place to start is St. Moritz after Zurich for a few days. From there you can go to Lugano as Rockoyster noted. Another option is the Glacier Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn and then on to the French side of Switzerland and Montreux...before heading to Geneva and catching a flight or train to Monaco.

Have a read through our links for more ideas:

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 20, 2018 - 2:55 AM in reply to Lucas

Lucas,

Thank you for the reply and advice. I am really stuck now. I have 3 things I would like to do with my 12 year old daughter:

1) Take a nice train from Zurich just after arrival from US to a nice town where we can stay 1-2 nights and explore and do day trips. Arrival 10 AM Sunday, April 15. I believe 2 - 4 hour train ride this day is enough for us. Museums, hiking, good food, and an old section of the town preferred.

2) Scenic route like Glacier Express or Golden Pass for 1/2 - full day to another town where we can stay again for 1-2 nights and do day trips. If first town is near a lake, maybe this is in the mountains?

3) End the trip in Geneva to catch our flight out on Friday morning April 20.

I cannot determine a good 1st town from Zurich, I am thinking of Lucerne (close to Zurich and good day trip options), Interlaken (same), Chur (smaller and further, but on the Glacier Express route), or St. Moritz (looks more for shopping/dining than walking/outdoors). And then the second town is also in question.

Advice appreciated!

Derek Torrey

Chantal
Chantal
944 posts
top member
Mar 20, 2018 - 10:42 AM in reply to DerekT

Hi Derek,

As Rockoyster said, Lucerne is a beautiful city and there are lots of things to do. You could then make Zermatt (which is in the mountains) your second base.

From Lucerne you can take the following scenic route to Zermatt: from Luzern to Spiez via Meiringen (2h16) and from Spiez to Zermatt (1h30).

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2018 - 8:03 PM

Rockoyster, Lucas, Chantal;

Thank you for your information. I have made one decision/reservation only, we will depart Zurich and go directly to Lucerne for two nights (I have made hotel reservations). I have 3 follow-up questions for you:

1) Best train option from Zurich to Lucerne (we are not in a hurry, and would like to enjoy the ride and relax) on late Sunday morning. I know to check the timetable for exact times, I am rather looking for your recommendation on which train to take.

2) Less touristy activities in Lucerne for Father & Daughter (hiking, walking, eating, and riding train/cablecar or other)? There are many options on this site, I wonder about your favorites?

3) A good choice for a 2nd town for last 3 days? Friends have recommended Interlaken, and my research on this site also leads to Zermatt. Would like something walkable and with options that are different than in Lucerne. Do either of these sound great? Would you split time and do both? Would you recommend a different option based on our time in Lucerne?

Our final trip will be Friday morning from wherever via airplane to either Nice or Monaco.

I very much appreciate your time and thoughts!

Derek Torrey

Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 22, 2018 - 11:30 PM in reply to DerekT

>> 1) Best train option from Zurich to Lucerne (we are not in a hurry, and would like to enjoy the ride and relax) on late Sunday morning.

If you travel from Zürich to Luzern/Lucerne via Arth-Goldau, you will travel high along a hillside on the eastern side of the Zugersee, and have scenic views down to to the lake, lakeside villages, and the mountains (including the Rigi) on the other side of the lake. Sit on the right.

>> A good choice for a 2nd town for last 3 days? Friends have recommended Interlaken

Interlaken itself has the least to offer of any town in the Jungfrau Region in my opinion. It's a good transport hub and has a lot of shops, restaurants and hotels, but has little charm. Personally, I would give it a miss.

The charming traditional chalet-style villages of Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Grindelwald and Mürren all have wonderful scenery, so I would recommend staying in one of those villages.

Wengen and Mürren are car-free, which makes them extra special in my opinion. Hotels usually have small electric vehicles, which they use to pick up guests and their luggage from the station on the day of arrival, and to drop them off on the day of departure - but check before booking.

>> and my research on this site also leads to Zermatt.

Zermatt is also a wonderful car-free village. You can go up to the Gornergrat to view the Matterhorn, or take the cableway up to Klein Matterhorn for a view from a different perspective. Zermatt also has a charming and interesting area with historical wooden buildings.

Alpenrose

Last modified on Mar 23, 2018 - 7:31 AM by Lucas
Lucas
Lucas
9647 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 23, 2018 - 12:52 PM in reply to DerekT

Hi Derek,

The Swiss museum of Transport is pretty cool - I think you'd both like it. Also, while it is touristy, Mt. Rigi and/or a Lake cruise would be nice on a good day.

I haven't done any hikes around Lucerne but a few that are listed here could work. I'd stick to under 1000 meters at this time of year and check with the local tourist office as well to make sure they are in good condition (and for other hike options).

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 23, 2018 - 8:52 PM in reply to Removed user

Alpenrose,

Thank you for the detailed and thoughtful response. After reviewing the 4 options in the Jungfrau region - Wengen appears best suited to our goals (altitude, offerings, etc.). I asked my daughter if she was up for 3 days of outdoors and hiking and she was very excited (the remainder of our trip in FR, and IT will be more fancy). Two final questions (I hope):

Are there specific locations or attractions in Jungfrau that I need to be concerned about being open or closed due to the April (between seasons) timeframe?

Do you have a train recommendation from Luzern - Wengen?

Sincerely,

Derek Torrey

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 23, 2018 - 8:56 PM in reply to Lucas

Lucas,

Thank you for the great info on Lucerne - if the weather is nice we'll do a Lake Cruise - and if not we'll do the museum!

Sincerely,

Derek

rockoyster
rockoyster
4028 posts
expert
Mar 23, 2018 - 8:57 PM in reply to DerekT

Have a look at www.myswissalps.com/fo rum/topic/gondolarail-access-to-mountains-in-aprilmay-2018.

Best train route Luzern to Wengen is via Meiringen.

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 23, 2018 - 9:23 PM in reply to DerekT

Well let me try again - of the 4 hotels I looked at - all 4 were closed during our visit (April 17 - 20). This makes me worry that the whole town will be closed?

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 23, 2018 - 11:34 PM in reply to DerekT

OK, due to everything in Wengen being closed in April we changed to a second destination of Zermatt and I booked a nice hotel for 3 nights.

Thank you all for the great assistance above, I will be sure to journal our trip on the site and share photos (I shoot a Leica and my daughter a Canon). If I have more questions I will post in the relevant areas.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Derek

Lucas
Lucas
9647 posts
expert &
moderator
Mar 24, 2018 - 6:22 AM in reply to DerekT

Yes, April is a tricky time to visit - especially the smaller villages.

Zermatt is a lovely town - half cozy village / half fancy ski resort. Again, plan ahead to see about what hiking trails are open at that time, many won't be over 1500 meters or so. They got an amazing amount of snow this winter - you may be able (have to) to snowshoe! You'll have to check in with the toursit office to get up to date trails conditions when you are there.

In the end there is a lot to see and do there I think if the hiking is limited.

https://www.myswissalp s.com/zermatt/activiti es & https://www.zermatt.ch /en

Last modified on Mar 24, 2018 - 6:23 AM by Lucas
DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 27, 2018 - 7:14 PM

Alpenrose,

To your answer "If you travel from Zürich to Luzern/Lucerne via Arth-Goldau, you will travel high along a hillside on the eastern side of the Zugersee, and have scenic views down to to the lake, lakeside villages, and the mountains (including the Rigi) on the other side of the lake. Sit on the right."

This is the only leg of the trip that I am going to purchase point to point (I purchased a swiss rail pass for the following 4 days). Hopefully this was a good move.

Where/how do I purchase this type of ticket?

Do I begin at the Zurich Airport or from Zurich main terminal, I could do either - but leaving from the airport would be easier I suppose?

When I search this on happyrail I see the following:

10:09 Zürich HB (Main station)

10:46 Arth-Goldau

IR 2417

11:14 Arth-Goldau

11:41 Luzern

IC 672

Is that the type of train you are recommending, or did I miss something?

Also from looking at a map it appears the lake Zugersee and scenery should be on the left side of the train (East) while to Lucerne (South)?

I'm almost done with questions on this! Thanks again.

Derek

rockoyster
rockoyster
4028 posts
expert
Mar 27, 2018 - 9:23 PM in reply to DerekT

You want Zürich Airport to Luzern via Zug and Arth-Golhau. Use the Swiss Train Timetable (www.myswissalps.com/ti metable). You’ll need advanced search to add multiple via.

Route looks as per attached. Lake Zurich on left, Zugersee on right.

Last modified on Mar 27, 2018 - 9:24 PM by rockoyster
Please login to see the attached documents
Removed user
Removed user
0 posts
new member
Mar 27, 2018 - 11:25 PM in reply to DerekT

>> Also from looking at a map it appears the lake Zugersee and scenery should be on the left side of the train (East) while to Lucerne (South)?

Rockoyster is correct - the scenic stretch is where the Zugersee is on your right when travelling in the direction of Zürich to Arth-Goldau. From that side, you are looking across the lake to the Rigi and other mountains. When you are travelling on the other side of the lake, you are between the mountains and the lake, and the scenery looking across the lake is less impressive.

Alpenrose

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 28, 2018 - 9:54 PM

Rockoyster/Alpenrose;

Thank you again, apologies but more questions.

Would you purchase these tickets in advance or simply upon arrival at the Zurich airport?

Same question for my travel from Lucerne to Zermatt, and Zermatt to Geneva, purchase in advance or upon depart from Lucerne?

I have a 4 day Swiss Rail Pass, that I will be using From Lucerne > Zermatt, around Zermatt, and then Zermatt > Geneva.

Sincerely,

Derek

rockoyster
rockoyster
4028 posts
expert
Mar 28, 2018 - 10:57 PM in reply to DerekT

Hi Derek,

If you are using a Swiss Travel Pass you don't need tickets except at Zermatt for the local attractions. Just hop on/off your trains of choice and go.

Did I mention going via Kandersteg between Spiez and Brig? Adds about an hour to the Lucerne to Zermatt trip but is way more scenic as it avoids the long tunnel the faster route via Visp.

If you are not using your STP Zurich to Lucerne than you can buy ticket on-line from SBB and print off at home and carry with you or at airport. If you have a mobile phone with the SBB Mobile App you can even use that to display the barcode for your on-line purchased ticket to the conductor on the train.

DerekT
DerekT
14 posts
new member
Mar 28, 2018 - 11:27 PM in reply to rockoyster

Hello Rockoyster!

I purchased the Zurich > Lucerne via SBB using your directions - thank you! But you guessed it, a follow-up:

Where can you make reservations with your STP, or should we really just "hop" on? Seems like for the trip to Zermatt reservations would be good so that I take the best/scenic route?

The direct route appears to be Lucerne > Brig > Visp > Zermatt. What do you recommend? Another member recommended Spiez via Meiringen, but there is no train service (and I'd rather not get onto a bus).

Derek

More on MySwissAlps.com

Swiss tips in your mailbox

Sign up to receive our newsletter and the latest forum messages. The best way to prepare for your trip!

Sign up

Get a customized itinerary for your trip

Let Swiss travel consultants create a customized itinerary. They will book your entire trip.

More
© MySwissAlps.com 2002-2018