Hi! Arriving and departing Zurich - Friday to Friday around 1pm both times. May 4 to 10, 2013
Have 6 nights/7 days. No set plans for length of time in any city/village and totally open.
Only priority is to see Jungfraujoch weather permitting, and perhaps a scenic train or two or just 'hop on/hop off' regional trains on the same route.
Don't necessarily want to cram everything in a few days but to get a nice taste of Switzerland. I'll be back again...
Best use of 7 days (6 nights) in Switzerland
Lucerne and area
Head directly to Lucerne. It's only about an hour by train from the airport. If you are not too tired, explore the city the same afternoon, easily done on foot.
No matter what you are going to do in this area, a cruise on Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) is a must. You can take a round-trip cruise or just hop on regular boats, and explore the surrounding areas and mountain peaks at the same time.
The views from the Rigi range are awe-inspiring, and the towns Weggis and Vitznau are pleasant to spend some time. This video was made in May, right at the time you want to visit. As you can see, there's still some snow to expect at higher altitudes.
Right across from the Rigi Range, Klewenalp (from Beckenried) is a popular spot for paragliding. Of course, you can take the gondola both ways or walk back to Beckenried instead of paragliding.
Pilatus Golden round-trip is another worthwhile option for a day out.
Another close by destination worth visiting is Einsiedeln with its Abbey and Black Madonna:
When you are ready to continue your trip, the Zentralbahn takes you from Lucerne via Brünig-Hasliberg to Interlaken Ost. You could do this trip in one of the Golden Pass coaches, but I do prefer the regular coaches because you can open the windows and make better photos. What's more, you could leave the train in Brienz and take the boat for the last leg to Interlaken. I have mentioned it here. Scroll down to Luzern to Interlaken Ost.
The Bernese Oberland has so much to offer that you easily could spend two weeks in this area and not be able to see it all. Of course, the Jungfrau region is stunning, no matter which way you turn. All tickets are round-trip tickets, meaning you can see Grindelwald - Jungfraujoch - Wengen and Lauterbrunnen on the same day. Although to explore more of Lauterbrunnen with its waterfalls (Trümmelbach/Staubbach falls) and Mürren you'd need an extra day.
View from Wengen to the Lauterbrunnen valley and its Staubbachfälle (water falls)
Let me take you a little off the beaten path:
A postal bus takes you from Reichenbach i.K. to Griesalp - the steepest postal bus route in Europe. You could drive one way up to Griesalp (the Alpine ticket applies no matter which pass or ticket you have) and then walk back to Kiental Dorf (Kiental Village). From there take the bus back to Reichenbach where you board a train to Spiez and Interlaken. If time permits, walk from the train station Spiez to the gorgeous bay of Spiez and return by boat to Interlaken (all train tickets are valid on all boats).
Excellent views to Lake Thun and/or Lake Brienz areas and to Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau:
View to Lake Thun and Niesen (Swiss pyramid) in the distance
Niesen (Interlaken, Spiez to Mülenen where the Niesen funicular takes you all the way up to the mountaintop)
Stockhorn (Interlaken, Spiez to Erlenbach in the Simmental where the Stockhorn cableway is located)
A lake cruise from Interlaken West to Thun - stop at the Beatus Caves, then board another boat to Thun for a stroll through the medieval city.
Castle Oberhofen on Lake Thun
Rothorn mountain rail (from Brienz) is not open before mid-May, but a stroll through the lakeside town of Brienz and a visit to the close-by Ballenberg Open Air Museum that demonstrates the life of ordinary people is a worthwhile alternative if the Jungfrau is shrouded in clouds.
On to the Swiss Riviera?
If you want to spend a little less time in these two regions in favour of another scenic train ride, you could leave Interlaken via Spiez and Zweisimmen to Montreux. Again, you can travel by Golden Pass Line or just take regular trains. For example, leave early and have coffee in Gstaad, lunch in the medieval town of Gruyère and dinner in Montreux.
Return to Zürich the day before your departure flight back home. Although Swiss trains are known for their punctuality, delays occur. In doing so, you'd also have time to explore Zürich a bit.
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