A relaxed and Bern-based month in Switzerland

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Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 20, 2019 - 1:07 AM

I am spending a month in Switzerland in July. I chose ONE home base (I want this vacation to be mellow and not like all the ones I've been on when I lived out of my suitcase). I am settling in Bern and will take day trips for the most part. IF I go somewhere that is more than 3 hours away, I'll just get a room for the night. Otherwise, my thought is to get up and out early, travel to different places in Switzerland, then come back to Bern. Also, the exceptions will be when I go to Germany for a couple of days and to northern Italy for a couple of days. Those of you who REALLY know tSwitzerland: what woudl YOU recommend as day trips?

rockoyster
rockoyster
6572 posts
expert
May 20, 2019 - 3:12 AM in reply to Carole Ann

Hello Carol Anne and Welcome to MySwissAlps,

That sounds like a very nice thing to do.

Switzerland is small enough that you could just about go anywhere for a day trip from Bern. Start here www.myswissalps.com/wh eretogo.

Get yourself a Swiss Half Fare Card (www.myswissalps.com/sw isshalffarecard) and use the timetable on the SBB website (bit.ly/2HH1U7B) or the highly-recommended SBB Mobile app (bit.ly/2ICIUHi) to plan your travel, find fares* and buy tickets if required. If you are not familiar with using the timetable it will pay to first read the instructions on this page - www.myswissalps.com/ti metable. *SBB website shows half-fare prices by default, mobile app allows you to nominate full or half-fare and is also smart enough to offer you the Saver Day Pass (www.myswissalps.com/sa verdaypass) if that offers the best fare.

One of my favourite day trips would be to head from Bern to Lauterbrunnen. From Lauterbrunnen a very nice circuit to do is to Grütschalp (cable car), Mürren (train), Gimmelwald (cable car), Stechelberg (cable car), Lauterbrunnen (bus). From Mürren you can easily visit Schiltorn (don’t miss The Thrill Walk at Birg) and even Allmendhubel if you have time. In between Stechelberg and Lauterbrunnen the bus stops at the Trummelbach Falls. Well worth a look.

Also a day trip to Zermatt would be a must.

Steph
Steph
1444 posts
top member &
moderator
May 20, 2019 - 10:22 AM in reply to Carole Ann

Hello Carole Ann,

I also agree that your plan sounds fabulous and moreover, Switzerland is a superb place to explore from one base, thanks to it's small size, as Rockoysters says.

For details, information and inspiration of the Bern and the area use below links:
- www.myswissalps.com/be rn
- www.myswissalps.com/re gionbern

I personally love the Jura mountain range and again agree with Rockoyster on the Bernese Oberland being worth a visit.
- www.myswissalps.com/no rthwestswitzerland
- www.myswissalps.com/be rneseoberland

You don't really mention what your interests are, if you're looking for hikes, culture, etc. Some more information on this will help provide more accurate input.

Best,
Steph

Also check:
- www.myswissalps.com/tr aintickets/germany
- www.myswissalps.com/tr aintickets/italy

Last modified on May 20, 2019 - 10:23 AM by Steph
Sharpl
Sharpl
41 posts
active member
May 20, 2019 - 12:50 PM in reply to Carole Ann

Bucket list goal!!!!!!

1960man
1960man
1799 posts
top member
May 20, 2019 - 11:46 PM in reply to Carole Ann

Wow, you have a month in Switzerland and you are basing yourself in Bern - very central - well done!

You can get to just about anywhere in Switzerland and back in a day from a central point. After all, in the past I've visited the eastern border of Switzerland in one day from Geneva.

I would recommend you buy a traditional hard copy guidebook and take your choice from there.

I would buy one general guidebook, plus this Anthony Lambert's book:

www.bradtguides.com/sh op/europe/switzerland/ switzerland-without-a-car-3317.html

Peterli
Peterli
867 posts
top member
May 21, 2019 - 1:01 AM in reply to Carole Ann

Hello Carole Ann,

You say a month in July. Does this mean arriving on July 1 and leaving on July 31st ? I ask this because I am thinking of the Swiss National Holiday on August 1.

One thing I will mention right away is La Fête des Vignerons which will take place in Vevey from July 18 until August 11. I mention this even though you have said you want your visit to be "mellow". This celebration takes place in Vevey about four times in each century, the last one being in 1999 and the previous one in 1977. I have lifted the following sentence from Wikipedia: The 2019 edition of the festival is recommended as one of National Geographic's "world's most exciting destinations", one of The New York Times's "places to go in 2019" and is listed in The Guardian's "Where to go in 2019" list.

I will get back to you with my thoughts about having one place where you unpack your suitcase (except for possible overnights in Germany and Italy). Have you put together a list of places you are planning to see and the type of activities you are interested in ? That will help others who contribute to this forum to make suggestions. I agree 100% with Rockoyster's suggestion of going to Lauterbrunnen and the surroundings. I notice that he did not include the Jungfraujoch ascent and suspect that was deliberate.

Peterli
Peterli
867 posts
top member
May 21, 2019 - 1:41 AM

Hello again,

Here is an animation showing the volume of passenger rail traffic over the course of a day in Switzerland. api.video.swisstxt.ch/ html5/html5lib/v2.73.3 /mwEmbedFrame.php/p/13 1/uiconf_id/23476493/e ntry_id/0_m9w6o0nz?wid=_131&iframeembed=t rue&playerId=kaltura_p layer&entry_id=0_m9w6o 0nz

You will note that the two peak travel times each day are at around 7:20 AM and 5:30 PM. In 2016, on workdays, approximately 210,000 passengers per day board or get off trains in Berne, second only to Zurich's 466,800.

Last modified on May 21, 2019 - 1:56 AM by Peterli
Snowman
Snowman
567 posts
top member
May 21, 2019 - 6:44 AM

Hello Carole Ann,

I am Swiss and know following places, which you may consider :

Cities: Geneva, Fribourg, Olten, Basel

Lakes: Lake Geneva(section between Lausanne and Montreux, in the vinyards overlooking the lake), Murten and Neuchâtel, Biel (and St Peter's Island), Joux.

Landscape: Creux du Van, Emmental,

These places can all be visited as one-day trips from Bern, but Creux du Van has no public transport access.

You are aware of the famous places (Jungfraujoch etc.). If you want to see the Alps and avoid crowds, consider Niesen or Stockhorn (both near Lake Thun), o Brienzer Rothorn. I haven't been there myself.

Have a great time!

Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 22, 2019 - 2:04 AM in reply to rockoyster

Thank you so much! I value your opinion and will explore your suggestions! I am SOOOOO excited for Switzerland. I was there for 5 hours (St. Moritz) in April 2017- a day trip from Milan. I can't wait to return!!!

Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 22, 2019 - 2:07 AM in reply to Steph

Good pojnt! I want to explore both nature and culture. I want to do a LOT of walking (but not extensive hiking) and a LOT of sightseeing. I do not want to do only the tourist things. I want to experience Switzerland as a cultured traveler. I am quite energetic and look forward to full days and wine and cheese-filled nights!

Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 22, 2019 - 2:08 AM in reply to Peterli

Hey thanks for all of the info. I will be there form the second week of July until the 2nd week of August. So I CAN explore your suggestions!!!!

Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 22, 2019 - 2:14 AM in reply to Sharpl

YUP!!!!!!

Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 22, 2019 - 2:15 AM in reply to 1960man

Thank you! I have 2 books but you NEVER have enough books and info!

Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 22, 2019 - 2:19 AM in reply to Peterli

Thank you so much! Yes I MUST do the festival and will research it. I will use this weekend (we have a 4-day one here in the states) to do LOT of reading and planning. When I get the list of all the places I want to see ( I have about 50 post its in my DK Switzerland book) I will post it. That is a wonderful suggestion!

Carole Ann
Carole Ann
20 posts
new member
May 22, 2019 - 2:21 AM in reply to Snowman

Thank you so much! Anything I will need to book in advance?

Arno
Arno
13516 posts
expert &
moderator
May 23, 2019 - 10:18 AM in reply to Carole Ann

Hi Carole Ann,

You're rarely required to book day trips in Switzerland in advance. You can, but you don't have to. Exceptions are very popular attractions like Jungfraujoch on busy summer days: www.myswissalps.com/ju ngfraujoch/tickets. A seat reservation might then be useful.

Last modified on May 23, 2019 - 10:18 AM by Arno
Peterli
Peterli
867 posts
top member
May 24, 2019 - 5:39 AM in reply to Carole Ann

Hello again Carole Ann,

Back on May 21 I mentioned that I would get back with my thoughts about staying in one place for the entire month, so here goes.

First, I should say that I totally understand your desire to not be living out of your suitcase. Going to a new place every night and having to lug a suitcase and check in for each move is not what I would want to do. Second, I suppose I should ask if you have already booked your accommodations in Berne ? If your answer to this question is "yes" and there is no way to change this, then that is it, I guess, and I hope you enjoy your travels each day away from and then returning to Berne for the night. If, on the other hand, your answer is "no", or if there is any way to change this, I was wondering if you might consider having three or four bases (say one per week) to cut down on what will be repetitive train travel time. I would suggest staying up to one week in some place in the Ticino, one week in the French-speaking part of the country (called Romandie), and two weeks in two different places in the German speaking part. I read earlier in this thread that one can go by train from Geneva to St. Gallen in 4 hours. Well, that is 8 hours if you return in the same day. That's fine if you are on a business trip, but for a tourist, it doesn't leave much time at the other end. But you are not thinking about Geneva, you are thinking about Berne. I checked the schedules and find that even from Berne to St. Gallen, you are looking at about 3 hours one-way, so you'd spend 6 hours on such a day trip. You can't do justice to north-eastern Switzerland in one day, or even two or three, so the number of hours going back and forth on the train begins to add up. I'm kind of afraid that as you pass through Zurich Hauptbahnhof for the umpteenth time, you will start to feel more and more like one of the almost half million people (466,800 in 2016) who board or alight in this station every working day. Berne is the second busiest station in Switzerland, with 210,000 (in 2016).

So what bases would I suggest ? I would suggest Lugano for the Ticino portion. It is a short trip to Italy from there. I don't know where you were thinking of visiting in Italy, but if it was Milano you could get there quickly from Lugano, much more quickly than from Berne. For Romandie I would suggest Montreux, as this would make Geneva, Lausanne, Gruyères (just to name a few places) and the canton du Valais easy to get to. You could even make Berne your location for exploring Romandie as it is not far from Lausanne and actually closer to places like Morat, Fribourg, Neuchâtel, and the Bielersee than is Montreux. Berne is also in easy striking distance of Interlaken and the Lauterbrunnen area. For the other two weeks, why not choose some place near Lucerne and another place up in the north-east (perhaps St. Gallen). I don't know where you are thinking of going to in Germany, and that might affect where I would suggest for the two weeks in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.

The other day I posted an animation of passenger traffic and from this you can see the major hubs (with Zurich at the top) and others. These hubs are also where you will find the most daily connections to do your explorations of Switzerland. You will probably want to spend your overnights fairly close to these hubs.

By the way, in closing, I should say that I almost never try to dissuade a person from where they want to go or what they want to see (I can't remember how many times I have read less than positive comments about the Rheinfall) but I just thought I would pass along my thoughts. I have already mentioned la Fête des Vignerons and if you are looking for any ideas about what else I think might be interesting in any of the areas I have mentioned, I'd be happy to do so. I should admit that I probably do over-emphasize the French-speaking part of Switzerland. I do notice that Snowman has mentioned a few places I like. Indeed there is no public transport to the Creux du Van but one can take the train to Noiraigue (see attached map) and there are two walking routes up from there. If you have a car, you can drive up from Bevaix, park at La Grand Vy, and it is a very short walk from there. You can eat and even stay over at La Grand Vy.

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Peterli
Peterli
867 posts
top member
May 24, 2019 - 6:51 AM

I got timed-out on the post above, and wanted to add that one can also stay and eat at La Ferme Robert.

Last modified on May 24, 2019 - 6:56 AM by Peterli
1960man
1960man
1799 posts
top member
May 24, 2019 - 11:28 PM in reply to Carole Ann

No problem.

I heartily agree about the Fete des Vignerons as a must as it so occasional, like Halley's Comet or some such.

Can I just say: Jura, Jura, Jura, Jura, Jura.

I virtually grew up in the Jura mountains and they are largely ignored by large elements of the incoming tourist to Switzerland. The walking can be much more 'sedate' than in the Alps but doesn'thave to be.

Bear in mind that some of the most spectacular views of the Alps can be seen from the Jura. I grew up sking and summer walking in the Jura above Geneva, from where you can get this effect:

photos.cols-cyclisme.com/10792.jpg

The photo is taken from the 'Vue des Alpes' pass between Neuchatel and La Chaux de Fonds

Ste Croix, for example is a lovely quiet resort is easily accessed from Bern

Peterli
Peterli
867 posts
top member
May 25, 2019 - 12:35 AM

Jura, Jura, Jura, and more Jura ! I couldn't agree more with 1960man. This region of Switzerland and neighbouring France just does not get the attention from tourists that it deserves. I love the photo from Vue des Alpes, with Savagnier tucked into the edge of the Val-de-Ruz, and then the panorama of the Swiss Alps way off east of Lake Neuchâtel and the central plain, all covered in a brouillard (type of fog). You were lucky to get this photo with the Alps so clear, as many times the Alps are obscured by the brouillard. By the way, one can walk about 2.5 kilometres along a narrow road to the south-west of La Vue -des-Alpes to the Tête-de-Ran, which at 1422 metres is higher than La Vue-des-Alpes (1282 metres), with fewer trees, and therefore affords a better view (weather permitting, of course) towards the Alps. I will see if I can dig up a photo I took when I went there a few years ago.

I attach a photo of a book which is most useful for people interested in hiking in the Swiss Jura. It details what the authors consider the 50 most beautiful hikes in the Swiss Jura. It is entitled Jura Suisse du Lac Léman à Zurich, Les 50 plus belles randonnées. Each of these is summarized with a small map, a departure spot, the duration of the hike, the change in elevation (dénivelée), a rating of its difficulty, places where one can stop to eat and sometimes stay for the night, reference to the Swiss National Map (scale and sheet number) , and other interesting features to see along the route, often with photographs. It is also available in German.

Last modified on May 25, 2019 - 1:06 AM by Peterli
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