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First timer here planning to go to Switzerland

Travel Forums Europe First timer here planning to go to Switzerland

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1. Posted by sudipta (Budding Member 11 posts) 10y

sudipta has indicated that this thread is about Switzerland

Hi,

I am new to this sight and planning to travel in Europe for the first time. I have tons of question and I am not sure if you would have time to answer all of them but here they are anyways.. J

1. What is a good time to go to Switzerland/Austria. I am talking about cheaper flights form North America (Toronto,Canada or NY). I know July/August is peak time but how about June or September? What do you suggest?
2. Would it be cheap to fly to Germany and then take a train to Switzerland, in that case I would buy a pass for Germany/Switzerland/Austria? What would be the nearest city in a bordering country that I would get a cheap deal from North America.
3. I am planning to spend 7 nights in Switzerland/Austria, although I would like to spend at least a day in Vienna but I am not into cities and I would rather spend time hiking in the mountains or around a lake and enjoy the scenery. Given that, where should I go? Should I stay in hostels? What would be the budgeted way to travel there.

Once again not sure if you would have time to answer all these but I appreciate your time and consideration.

Sudipta

2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 10y

If you buy a railway pass, you will want the Eurail Austria - Switzerland Pass. If you fly into Germany, book your tickets to Switzerland via www.bahn.de a few weeks in advance. This way you get better deals.

For cheap flights from the US, try zoom or orbitz.com. Don't worry so much about what city in Europe you are flying to from the US. Dublin or London are good, if you can get a good deal for a connecting flight to Germany or Austria with Ryanair, airberlin or easyjet. Frankfurt am Main in Germany also has good flights to and from the US.

Anyway, best prices are almost always two-legged flights, ie change planes at least once. British Airways used to offer good deals to Zurich. Shop around.

Also take a look at this thread:
http://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=22257

and www.thomascook.com for flights out of London.

Combining Switzerland and Vienna will be difficult in just 7 days, better do just one country. Austria is a bit cheaper, if that is the decisive factor.

I guess it can be a bit more dangerous on the peak of the mountains in June or September because of bad weather, but please ask an expert. AFAIK it changes from region to region. BTW, are you into rock-climbing or just plain old hiking? On the mountains there are mountain huts for rockclimbers and serious hikers, most people stay in them for about 30-40 EUR per night. Hostels are more city-based.

Some more interesting threads from this forum:
http://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=21152
http://www.travellerspoint.com/forum.cfm?thread=19290

3. Posted by sudipta (Budding Member 11 posts) 10y

Hi Maria,

Thanks for your reply. Very informative reply and so are the threads that you recommended.

As I said, I am looking for a reasonable airfare to one of the European cities close to Switzerland/Austria. Unless someone corrects me, I found out that the cheapest deals from Canada are for Frankfurt. Any other flights to France, Italy or even Hungary are not as cheap. So primarily I am leaning toward that.

Now, what I still need to figure out is the mode of commuting after I arrive at Frankfurt. So far I think that for traveling in Switzerland and Austria, the rail pass is very flexible (flexi pass is rather cheap too comparing to other passes), train journey will be scenic and more relaxed and I can stop anywhere I feel like. That being said, I still need to find out few things,

· What about to and from Frankfurt? Should I fly from Frankfurt to Zurich? The airfare seems pretty cheap in Europe. And then buy a pass to travel within Switzerland and Austria!

· Or just buy a 3 country pass for Germany/Switzerland/Austria.

· Or Fly from Frankfurt, buy train ticket as and when required and then fly back to Frankfurt (this apparently seemed costlier because of the train fares but I can be wrong and I need to do more research on this)!

But overall I believe that train journey in Switzerland and Austria will be the way to go.

Now as far as the choice between Switzerland and Austria is concerned, frankly speaking I don’t have enough info. I heard and seen (pictures) a lot about Switzerland but not that much about Austria. How does Austria compare to Switzerland given that this trip is mainly geared towards scenic beauty, mountain ranges, lakes and glaciers. If I do find out that Austria has the same to offer and it is cheaper then I wouldn’t mind spending more time in Austria but in 8 days I would still like to touch both the countries. So far I am writing down all the places to visit in Switzerland and then I will do the same for Austria and based on that list I will finally make my itinerary (probably by dropping few places from the list).

And no, I am not a rock climber or an expert hiker , just few mid-level day hikes (4 to 5 hours) would be what I am looking for, but I will like to know more about those mountain huts and the hikes.

Once I am done with my tentative itinerary, I will run that by this forum again.

Once again thanks a lot for your time.

Sudipta

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 10y

Should I fly from Frankfurt to Zurich? The airfare seems pretty cheap in Europe.

Only fly from Franfurt to Zurich if you fly with Lufthansa. Flying to Zurich instead of Frankfurt a. M. International with Lufthansa might be cheaper, and your only chance to catch that direct flight Frankfurt-Toronto, which is always booked solid for months. Catching a flight with Ryanair from Frankfurt/Hahn (totally different airport!!!) to Zurich is not worth the hassle, but might be worth wile if you go to Vienna.

Or just buy a 3 country pass for Germany/Switzerland/Austria. Then you would have to buy the full Eurail Flexi pass valid for 10 days in all countries - not worth the money. You are only staying 7 days - talk about throwing away money! Book ahead through Deutsche Bahn, they have special offers "Surf and Rail" for 39 Euros one way Frankfurt a.M.-Zurich. Eurail pass holders for Switzerland/Austria get special discounts too. Travel time from Frankfurt to Zurich is only 4 hours, the train station in Frankfurt International is directly in the airport itself.

5. Posted by ChIqUiTtA (Respected Member 278 posts) 10y

hey sudipta!
sounds like you're planning a great trip! i also travelled to switzerland a couple summers ago with my mother and we cycled through the alps!! definately a country worth spending a lot of time in!!
as for recommendations, you said you would like to go somewhere to hike and close to a lake...
i would suggest going to Interlaken and touring around Wengen and Grimmelwald area... we spent over a week just in that area because we loved it so much! Interlaken itself is more of a touristy town, with a lot of people, but it is a SMALL city, so it isn't so overwhelming,... but i would say that you should definately get up to Wengen (pronounced Ving-gen!!) there are great hiking trails and the most gorgeous scenery i have ever experienced!!
hopefully this helps!
anyways, i hope you have a great trip!! ;)
lauren

6. Posted by sudipta (Budding Member 11 posts) 10y

Thanks guys for taking the time again.

Maria, I was thinking about getting one of those last moment deals, I am seeing many of them for Toronto-Frankfurt, and they are really cheap. My only problem in that case will be getting a visa. Being an Indian passport holder I will need visas for all these countries and I believe they will want to see my plain tickets. Well, we will see.

Now for the rail pass, I still think that will give me real flexibility. There is this SelctPass for 3 countries and it says ‘5 days in 2 months and 1 adult traveling 3 bordering countries’ costs 383 USD. Would it be too bad to go for that, given that I will probably go for couple of scenic train rides in Switzerland (included in the pass) and will stop and see at least 5 to 6 cities/towns in Switzerland/Austria and will also include Franfurt-Zurich and most likely Vieanna-Frankfurt trip and can take advantage of the 7 PM rule? What do you think? I might be wrong but I was checking individual train rides on Eurail site and the sum of all those prices is way more than 383 USD. Are there other train companies that will be cheaper? But then again one scenic train ride may cost me around 160 USD alone.

What do people think about bus rides in Europe? Too slow? Not comfortable?

Lauren, yeah I got your other post under Austria as well. I bet you guys had a great time over there. I would definitely go to Interlaken and also will keep Wengen (thanks for the pronunciation tips, I am already having hard time with Swiss/Austrian names ;)) and Grimmelwald in mind. I will probably have a day in that region but yeah, gorgeous scenery is what I am looking for. I wish I had time to bike like you guys did but I know I won’t.
Thanks again guys.

7. Posted by mee (Full Member 138 posts) 10y

hey

nobody I know takes busses in Austria. There are trains nearly everywhere. Only if you want to see a valley you will have to take a bus.

Which cities do you want to see in Austria? If you go from Vienna to Switzerland by train, you'll "traverse" (sorry, french) whole Austria. Personally I enjoy the way from Innsbruck to Feldkirch (last small city in Austria) most, then the train will go to Zurich (you will also be in Liechtenstein for about 10 minutes), or you'll have to change it. I know only one private train which is no touristy thing (goes into a valley, Montafoner Bahn)

if you want to fly to zurich (from europe) try helvetic.com. Sometimes it's cheaper than by train.

from London there is a plane that goes to Friedrichshafen, which is in Germany, but very near to Austria and Switzerland. If you want to go hiking in the very western part of Austria, I can give you some advice, cause that's where I grew up.

8. Posted by moscowmetr (Full Member 267 posts) 10y

Hey Sudpita,

I am from Toronto and now live in Switzerland. Other posters are right, Vienna is too far east from Switzerland to comfortably get to see both within 7 days unless you want to fly to Vienna from Zurich or Geneva and spend some money.

Everyone knows how much Bollywood loves the Swiss and Austria countryside. I am just guessing that you want to see this type of scenery.

Cheapest way to get to Suisse is to Fly Pearson to London Heathrow or Gatwick. Check out Travelcuts on College near Beverly. Otherwise the Flight Centres usually have great prices aswell. The one under 1st Cdn. Place or the locaton on Bay just north of Adelaide on the East side are really good.

From London, it is Euro discount Airfare time. Most done online and the prices if booked relativly well out in advance are incrediably priced. Get to Geneva. Easyjet flys this route. There is a train station just under the airport in Geneva and you can start your trip.

Buy a Halbstax. Gets you half price on all swiss rail tickets (for a year no less). Which are ridiculously expensive. just make up some adress at the train station and the will give you a temp card before they send you the real one. It only cost 150 francs and you will save this before you round Lake Geneva already.

From Geneva suggested itenerary: Montreax, french city on the lake has the famous jazz fest. Next Martigny, then through Vallis to Visp. From here take the GGB train up through the Matten Valley to Zermatt and see the Matterhorn.

From Zermatt head back down the valley. This is one of the most amazing train trips I have ever taken. From Brig you can either follow the entire Matterhorn Mountain Express to St. Moritz. A big tourist train trek acoss southern to eastern Swiss. from there you may even consider following across Austria.

Alternative would be head north from Brig toward inner swiss, make your way, whist changing in Bern... toward Vierwaldstädtersee. One of the most beautiful places in all of Swiss. stop off in Lucerne before carrying on to Brennen. take a ferry to where the swiss federal charter was founded after an great hour long hike.

Taking the mountain train from there to Engelberg and see the great Titlis is quite incrediable aswell.

Could go through the Gotthard tunnel into the italian part of switz. Locarno, Bellinzona, Lugano. then head into Milan to get you back to London and connecter back to Toronto.

Have fun, and make sure to get some film of you dancing in the mountain meadows. hehe, love those movies man.

9. Posted by aleah (Full Member 400 posts) 10y

Hi,

about the visa recommendation...I'm not shure, but I think since the Schengen/Dublin treaty was accepted in Switzerland, you will only need one visa for the EU countries and Switzerland, which will allow you a stay of three months no matter in which country (European Union countries and Switzerland).

But please do verify this!

Cheers,

kat

10. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 10y

Re: visa

Kath, you are both wrong and right. Yes, Switzerland has joined the Schengen treaty, but they aren't full members yet. So a visa for Switzerland is still necassary. There are a few exceptions, but India isn't among them.

So Sudipta needs two visa - Schengen for Germany and Austria, Swiss for Switzerland.

@ Sudipta

A lot of it will depend upon your ability to convince the person issuing your Schengen via that you are really a tourist. If you have a multi-entry unlimited 90 days Schengen tourist visa, getting your visa for Switzerland will be a piece of cake.

As your plane will land in Germany, the German embassy should be the one responsible for you. I recommend that you tell them you want to visit Germany, Switzerland and Austria. But don't tell them how much time you are going to spent in Germany and how much in Austria, because they might decide that the Austrians are responsible for you since your final destination will be Austria. The Austrians however might decide the Germans are responsible for you, since you land in Germany. See the problem?

If you can/have to arrange a personal meeting with the person behind the desk:
1) dress snappy in very western fashion
2) bring some documents proving your intent to return, like a letter from your employer
3) proof of a minimum of approximately 45 EUR a day for every intended day in Europe, 70 EUR will be much better - bank statement or letter from your employer how much you earn will do the trick
4) if you have been born in Canada or have been going through the moves of getting Canadian citizenship, bring some papers to prove it
5) tell them you intend to get a a last minute deal on the flights Toronto /Franfurt/Toronto and/or prove that you have the means to buy a flight ticket from Germany to Canada - then you don't need to show your flight tickets
6) specifically ask for a multi-entry Schengen visa, since you will be going Austria via Sitzerland.
7) telling them that all your family lives in Canada is always a good idea - it is a strong indication that you have no incentive to stay within Schengen territory

They probably won't ask for all that, but it is always good to be prepared!