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Swiss travel agents

Chicago, Illinois
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Swiss travel agents

My wife and I are planning a 3 week trip to Switzerland next Sept. It will be independent and mostly by train. I think it would be helpful to work with a good travel agent--to give me ideas on where to go, where to stay and what to see. Depending on the circumstances, I would be willing to have the agent make some or all of the arrangements. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Anchorage, Alaska
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for Anchorage, Zermatt
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1. Re: Swiss travel agents

Hi, joandust and welcome to TA! Traveling in Switzerland is so "user friendly" that you have no need for a travel agent! You simply choose where you want to visit and then get on here for recommendations for hotels, restaurants, activities, etc. and then book your hotels! I don't know of a Swiss hotel that doesn't have a website and online reservation system. Do you have an itinerary in mind? What is the attraction of Switzerland for you? What do you like to do and see when you travel? Some folks love great hotels, great restaurants and others love museums, others architecture, others lots of history, some love the countryside, some the cities - that's the kind of information we would love to have in order to make good suggestions. Do you have any mobility issues, what is your budget range?

Many of us on here have been traveling to Swtizerland for years and most of us haven't used a travel agent at all.

The Swiss Tourism Office has a great website in English where you could start to discover all that is available to you

www.myswitzerland.com

Start with the places you think are on you itinerary and work from there. You have plenty of time because September is not a peak season so you should be able to get your choice of hotels for at least 4 more months and very likely longer. If you don't mind a little bit of chance, you can very likely book as late as next July or August and, if you are a bit flexible, you can just show up and very likely get a room that will be to your liking though maybe not in a hotel that's top of your list.

There really are so many possibilities for a 3 week trip! You will have a great time!

Hope this helps and please do believe that this is sooooo easy to do for yourself. We're here to help.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Swiss travel agents

Thank you for the prompt reply. Since we will have 3 weeks and want to see as many of Switzerland's highlights as possible, I am a little overwhelmed at organizing the whole process. I usually plan all of our trips myself and enjoy doing so. But I would welcome any help in figuring out a great itenerary. We want to travel exclusively by rail. If some boats or an occasional coach are needed that would be OK. We would prefer 4 or 5 star hotels. Of course, we will be moving around quite a bit, but would like to stay for a few nights in some select locations (e.g. Zermat, Lucern). We would like to stay in a combination of cities and smaller towns (e.g. a few years ago in Italy we stayed in Bellagio on Lake Como and then travelled to other towns on the Lake by boat.) We primarily like outdoor sightseeing (as opposed to museums) and want to experience cable cars, cog railways, funiculars etc. We like walking, but not uphill. Finally, I need help in planning all the rail travel. I want to make as few connections as possible and we want to travel 1st class. I would be happy to make any reservations now or as soon as possible. I think that for trains like the Glacier Express that would be advisable. Also, we would like to travel in so-called Panorama cars on trains like the Golden Line. We will fly into and out of Zurich. As for advance planning, I am someone who likes to plan things very far in advance. I know that limits my flexability, but I am willing to give that up for peace of mind. So once we have our itenerary and know our actual dates I will first book our air. Then the hotels and rail when it can be done.

Sorry to ramble on for so long, but any suggestions you can give will be very much appreciated.

Anchorage, Alaska
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3. Re: Swiss travel agents

Hi, okay, you have mentioned Zermatt and Lucerne. Let me suggest something like this

Arrive Zurich, stay overnight to get over jet lag etc. Then head for Bern (it's only an hour by train so you can take it easy) and enjoy this lovely city. From Bern head to the Berner Oberland for a couple of days - skip Interlaken but head for Lauterbrunnen etc.. Then head to Zermatt. You have to do some changing of trains in the Oberland and on the way to Zermatt - it's just a fact of life but we'll get to how to ease the connections.

After Zermatt, take the Glacier Express to St. Moritz or some of the surrounding towns (I like Samedan) and then back to spend a night and day in Chur (the oldest settlement in Switzerland). From Chur you can head up toward Lucerne and Lake Lucerne and then take the Golden Pass to Montreux and visit the area along the north shore of Lake Leman/Lake Geneva including Geneva if you wish. From this area, head back towards Basel and then on to Zurich. I would spend a day or two in Zurich - it's nothing like you think it will be.

You can get all the train timetables on the English pages of the Swiss Rail website

www.sbb.ch/en

Swiss Rail has a terrific baggage system. If you want to travel with just a carry on each rail day, you can ship your bags for a relatively small fee! If you get the bag to the station before 9AM, it will arrive at most places in Switzerland about 6PM that evening for a fee of 22 francs. You can also skip stops so to speak - I send mine not to the next stop if it's just for an overnight or two nights but to the next place. If you can do without the bag, it's only 11 francs to have it at the next stop 24 hours later than the express service. If you ship after 9AM, add 24 hours to each of these. We can explain this in more detail later.

Most Swiss towns and villages have their own websites. It's usually the place name dot ch - for example www.zermatt.ch

Spend a bit of time on myswitzerland getting some thoughts together on what you really want to see and do and see how it works out for trains. Post when you have questions as we are glad to reply.

Hope this helps.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Swiss travel agents

Thank you Kileysmom for taking the time to "educate" me about Switzerland. I will now start the process of planning our trip.

Anchorage, Alaska
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5. Re: Swiss travel agents

You're very welcome. Please let us know when you have a question!

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
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for Montreux, Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
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6. Re: Swiss travel agents

Hi joandust,

kileysmom has given you some terrific ideas and done a whole lot of homework to make planning that much easier for you. However, I do think the itinerary outlined could be improved a bit. To me, it has some back-and-forthing that can be eliminated.

I would arrive Zürich and go immediately to Luzern, stay 3nights. From Luzern, you can easily visit Basel and Zürich, as well as seeing the nearby mountains and cruising on the lakes.

From Luzern, take the Golden Pass to the Jungfrau area and stay in one of the car-free villages like Wengen or Murren for 4 or 5 nights. You can spend your time visiting all the villages in the area, doing walking or hiking as you wish, and of course ascending the Jungfrau and the Schilhorn.

Then continue on the Golden Pass to Montreux and stay there for 3 or 4 nights (stop off in Gstaad for lunch to see and experience that beautiful setting). From Montreux, you can visit the vineyards of the Lavaux, the castle of Chillon, the wonderful town of Vevey, and just soak up the beauty of the flowered lakeside promenade.

Then go to Zermatt, spend 2 or 3 nights.

Then the GE to St. Moritz, spend 3 or 4 nights

Finish up by returning to Zürich for your flight out. This itinerary is a big circle around the country.

Have fun as you plan!

s

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Swiss travel agents

Thank you Swandav. You present some interesting ideas. I like the idea of a circle trip around the whole country. Are there any particular reasons to chose one "car-free" village over another? Thanks.

Joandust

Martigny...
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8. Re: Swiss travel agents

Frankly put, some car free villages have lots more to offer than others... most people really like Zermatt because of the ambiance, superb choice of restaurants, and above all the amazing scenery - many of the 45 or so 4000m+ peaks are easily viewed from the mountains around Zermatt. Car free villages also have a down side. Getting there and back. so do not make a good base for sightseeing in other areas. for that you need some of the normal towns on the plain like Luzern, Bern, Montreux etc.

If you are flying in ZRH and want to sightsee in Zürich it makes no sense to go to Luzern and then go back to Zürich. What I would suggest is spending the first night there, walking around in the afternoon and getting a feel for the city. the old town is very lovely. then go on to Luzern unless you wish to visit the Rhine Falls or Basel...

Eventually, anyway, do stay in Luzern for a few days, or at least near Luzern along the lake (Weggis, Vitznau etc). From there you can go up Rigi (old cog railway although a very low mountain it has nice views over the lake), and make a day excursion to mt Titlis.

if you are going to Zermatt I would skip the Oberland simply because of time constraints... up to you.

Then in the Grisons I would suggest you look at staying in one of the small villages near St Moritz, not in the larger towns in the area. Villages include Champfèr, Silvaplana, Sils and others. There are some rather nice hotels in these places and if you liked Bellagio you will love the Engadine! take a day trip to Tirano on the Bernina Express.

then return to Zürich, stopping in Chur defintely, but maybe not for a night as it is a small town an can be visited in a couple of hours. AND you have to change trains there anyway...

this makes for a nice circle route but totally omits the Suisse Romande (French speaking area) and the Ticino (Italian speaking area). Since you have spent time on lake Como perhaps omitting the Ticino makes sense but it would be a shame to come here and not visit montreux, Vevey, or even Geneva...

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Swiss travel agents

Now we're "cookin". Thank you Hambagahle for more great suggestions. It is obvious that you are a true "Swiss expert". All of this information is a little overwhelming, but I am now getting a better "feel" for the country and some of the many options. One question---does it make sense to stay in Lucern for a couple of nights and then also stay on the Lake at one of the picturesque little villages? Also, since we will have 3 weeks in the country I don't want to skip the French or Italian speaking areas. And where is the Oberland region? I assume it is in the center of the country (Interlaken?) and wouldn't want to miss it either.

Thanks--Joandust

Garmisch-Partenkirch...
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10. Re: Swiss travel agents

Hi again,

Well, choosing which car-free village is a very personal choice. For instance, I'm one who just isn't that crazy about Zermatt; I find it overbuilt and overcrowded (it sits at the end of a valley, and folks keep putting up chalets!). On the other hand, Wengen in the Jungfrau area is quiet and peaceful and serene. Lots of folks like Mürren as well, but it is a little more remote and smaller than is Wengen.

With any of these car-free villages, yes, you have to deal with the problems of access. I think most folks enjoy going there to hike/walk in the mountains, ascend the mountaintops, or just soak up the views over to other mountains. It's a really unique experience, and I hope you will make time for one of them!

If you want to experience the French speaking part, then Montreux is a good spot, and it is fabulous in Sept. If you want to go somewhere less touristy, Vevey is an excellent choice, and it's just next to Montreux.

Have fun!

s