Switzerland trip was as important to me back in 2016 to me as my Norway trip in 2018. This was the first time I was planning such a huge trip. Along with my in laws we were planning our first long trip within Europe (France-Switzerland-Germany). But as we had further plans, again a mere four day span was kept including travel times for Switzerland. Though it might seems less, we achieved the best out of these four days!! I am sharing my itinerary and hope that you have a similar rocking experience in Switzerland.
Things to consider for the trip
- Plan a trip for a family – 4 adults including 2 seniors
- Include visit to atleast three cities in Switzerland
- Visit a mountain in Switzerland
- Explore Switzerland in an unusual way
- Include train journeys to enjoy nature in most natural way
Itiernary of the trip
Day 1: Take a train from Colmar till Basel. Spend the day in Basel. Take a train till Lucerne
Day 2: Take a train till Interlaken. Explore Lauterbrunnen. Take train back till Interlaken
Day 3: Explore Mount Pilatus and Lucerne in the evening
Day 4: Explore Lucerne. Take a train till Zurich, spend few hours in Zurich and wait for the bus till Barnen.
Booking of accommodation
We just had one hotel to book for our stay in Lucerne as we were spending three nights in that city. We booked two rooms in Hotel Alpina and had a very pleasant experience. It was very close to Central station and had excellent service. Room price included breakfast and Wifi. We were lucky to get rooms with balcony view of the mount Pilatus. Only point to say about booking accommodation is that it was one of the most expensive stays for us when I compare all my European travels. I am not sure if it was Lucerne factor but I think it was just the ‘Switzerland’ factor, like Norway things are not cheap.
Booking of train travels
Colmar to Basel
We booked tickets for this particular train journey (Colmar to Basel) on Rail Europe website. It took only 40 minutes to reach Basel. Hence we could spend the entire day in Basel. Only thing to remember is that even though online booking is done actual ticket needs to be printed again on the station.
All Switzerland train journeys are best to be done with SBB, national railway company of Switzerland. What is particular about these train journeys is that the train tickets can be booked only a month before your travel date. Hence, one has to keep track. But, what I strongly recommend is looking out for their SuperSaver tickets. These tickets have a (%) ‘percentage’ sign on the left corner on the price & timetable. The prices are considerably lower and will serve as the best option when you are booking for many people. Here is the link to find more details about these tickets: https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/supersaver-tickets.html
Basel to Lucerne
Direct train journey from Basel to Lucerne will take only an hour.
Lucerne to Interlaken and back
We booked our train tickets for this return journey on SBB website. It was an open ticket. As in we had the date blocked but the time was unspecified. Hence, it was very convenient to plan the journey according to our convenience. It is approximately two hour journey and I would highly recommend to you to sit on the right hand side of the train to get some exceptional views.
It is one of the best and most recommended train journeys while reaching Interlaken as well as while visiting Switzerland. It is extremely crowded train and I would highly recommend to reach early and catch your window seats for your family.
Lucerne to Zurich
This train journey took only about an hour.
Booking of Bus travel
Zurich to Freiburg
Instead of a train journey we found Flix Bus travel much easier for this part of the journey. It was one of the most surprising bus travels for me. For the first time, I saw an European Bus Depot. It was crowded and comparable to India. At least back in 2016, Flix Bus services were both new and trending , hence our bus was delayed by more than an hour. With no fix seats allocated, we got back end seats and I remember, I felt like a ‘private bus’ journey from India – where buses are crowded and drivers were managing the bus with their own rules. Since we were crossing borders, we had to show our passports at the border check. Today, Flix buses must have become more professional in maintaining times I hope. These bus services have cheap tickets and hence the rush and demand. They are ideal for students. Here is a link to their website https://global.flixbus.com/ Back then, it costs us only 69 kr per person for a two and half hour journey.
Booking of bike travels
Not the seniors but me and my husband did the best bike journeys of our lives (till now) from Interlaken to Lauterbrunen and back. It was the best thing we did on this entire Switzerland trip. I am going to highly recommend this to families with young adults who love biking. It can be taxing on body (sun burn in summer and exhaustion) but it’s highly recommended from me.
We booked ourselves Electric Bikes from a company called Flying Wheels in Interlaken. We booked these bikes by corresponding with them through their website and via email. We were thoroughly surprised how smoothly this process went. There were no hassles and confusion with our requirements. I am not an experienced biker. Hence, I got a bike which was e bike but less complicated not compromising on it’s functionality , while my husband took a bike with more gears than I would personally appreciate 😀
These bikes were ready when we reached at their shop in Interlaken. We were given maps of the different cycle paths that can be taken in and around Interlaken. Since we had rented the bikes for the entire day (10 am – 6.30 pm), we chose to bike till Lauterbrunen. We explored the Trümmelbach waterfalls and returned back. I have written about this journey and can be found on these links.
Booking for Pilatus trip
Out of the different mountains that are worth visiting in Switzerland, we decided to see Mount Pilatus. Since it is the one overseeing Lucerene, it was our obvious choice. For this we booked a complete packaged tour via Viator. This tour included the gondola ride, aerial cableway ride till the summit, cogwheel train journey back to the base and then a beautiful 1 hour boat journey on lake Lucerne. We spent amazing time appreciating the Swiss alps. I will highly recommend this company and this tour.
Points to consider while planning a trip to Switzerland
- Money, money, money: Switzerland uses Swiss francs as their currency. It’s an expensive place but remember that line we have been listening since forever ‘my Europe trip will include Paris, Switzerland’..Yes.. You are visiting that much coveted Switzerland.It’s nature is worth the money and you know it, splurge once in a while.
- Cleanliness: Switzerland is pristine clean and organized. So be a responsible tourist and abide by the rules.
- Photography or Not? Yes, I am talking about this point because when one visits a country like Switzerland, every damn thing is beautiful. Of course you should and need to photograph and take videos. But I myself struggled with this. It was a struggle to not remove my camera. But please I request you to once in a while during those train journeys to keep that camera aside, gaze out of the screen and just look directly at those natural colors and scenic beauty. Hence, I chose one part of the journey to experience and other half to enjoy every single time.
- Which mountain should I select? When a country has Swiss alps and some amazing mountains whichhave been successfully been converted to tourist locations, it can be difficult to select where to go? Jungfrau, Titlis or Pilatus for example? Most travel companies from India will take you to the mountain where they have kept a cutout of Shahrukh-Kajol but try to chose something different for itinerary, unless it was your childhood dream to feel like Kajol in violet Saree in snow and look out for your Shahrukh.
- When to go to Switzerland?? Summer is extremely busy from what I understand but best months so be proactive in booking your air tickets and hotels in advance. Though a friend of mine had visited Switzerland in Winter and had described to me the most amazing visuals of train journeys within Switzerland when it turns into Winter wonderland.
Hopefully all these tips are useful for you and your family. Hope I see many of you visiting Switzerland in next summer. I am yet to write about Lucerne, Basel, Pilatus trip and Zurich.So keep watching this space. If you have better suggestions do let me know. 😊