Zurich winter break on the cheap

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Overseas Holidays & Travel Planning
13 replies 2.1K views
dilby00dilby00 Forumite
123 Posts
Hi all -

My wife and I would really like to get away for a quick 3 day break to Switzerland. We aren't skiers, but do like the idea of taking it easy in the alps in a chalet or the like for the sake of the views, so need to be based in a town that has a little bit to do. We plan to take it easy, go for a few walks, maybe a toboggan ride or two, and access to a thermal bath would be a huge plus.

I'm concerned however that Switzerland is terribly expensive, so does anyone know of any deals or places to go that help cut costs? (general tips including where to do would be appreciated as I'm an Aussie expat here and have never been to Switzerland before).

Also, is it weird to go to such a place and not ski or is that normal?

Thanks!
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Replies

  • CoolhandlukeCoolhandluke Forumite
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    You won't get much skiing in Zurich being as it's a city and your right Switzerland is expensive.
    Why not look at Austria , not as expensive but you will still get the scenery etc
    Zell am Zee would be a good choice , nice town with frozen lake and great views plus good train links to Salzburg for a day out and good choice of accommodation .
  • edited 27 February 2017 at 12:20PM
    Blue264Blue264 Forumite
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    edited 27 February 2017 at 12:20PM
    dilby00 wrote: »
    My wife and I would really like to get away for a quick 3 day break to Switzerland. We aren't skiers, but do like the idea of taking it easy in the alps in a chalet or the like for the sake of the views, so need to be based in a town that has a little bit to do. We plan to take it easy, go for a few walks, maybe a toboggan ride or two, and access to a thermal bath would be a huge plus.
    Zurich is a business city, very expensive by UK standards and not blessed with a lot of cheap or mid range hotels. You can do a lot of day trips from here, but would spend 4hrs+ of each trip travelling into the alps. As an example, we took a trip to Mount Säntis on Saturday, but it took over two hours and 4 changes each way. Stunning place and well worth the effort and the trip was through gorgeous scenery.

    https://saentisbahn.ch/en/

    For what you have in mind, I'd say base yourselves in Lucerne, Interlaken, Zermatt or Davos/Klosters (search Magic Mountain).

    Lucerne / Luzern is stunning in itself, you'd have Mount Pilatus and Mount Rigi on the doorstep and plenty of boat trips on the lake. Easyjet fly into Basel, then you get the bus to Basel station, and Lucerne is 1hr direct by train from there. If you fly into Zurich, it's a smidge over 1hr by train, direct from the airport to Lucerne.

    I haven't been to Interlaken yet, but it's on my hit list, plus a trip up the Jungfrau mountain. We're off to Davos & Klosters in 2 weeks time and I want to go up Schatzalp 'the magic mountain'. There are some great altitude walks there and the chance of a 1.7km toboggan ride down, but I doubt my OH will go for that.

    For ideas about some of the scenic rail journeys available, check out the Bernina Express and the Glacial Express.

    http://www.seat61.com/BerninaExpress.htm

    http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/holidays--short-breaks-in-switzerland/scenic-trains/glacier-express-landingpage.html?keyword=glacierexpress-lp

    And for the thermal baths, you'll find many of them listed as 'wellness spas', but even the waterparks are open all year round and have outdoor thermal baths.
    http://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/thermal-baths.html

    Just to add, for anyone who thinks you won't get much skiing in Zurich, Chur is only 1hr away, and every weekend until the end of April, you can expect to see literally hundreds of people at Zurich Hauptbahnhof with their skis and snowboards. I was in a shop there last night (nipped in for milk and bread) and was dodging all the people shopping whilst carrying skis, and it's always like that :)
  • Blue264Blue264 Forumite
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    Just to give you a better idea of what's on offer r.e. thermal baths, this is the closest water park to where I live. It has all the fun of water slides, plus the outdoor thermal baths you might be wanting, but without the more refined atmosphere (and expense) of wellness centres.

    https://www.alpamare.ch/en/
  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
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    Switzerland is a fantastic destination, and far more than skiing.

    For affordable accommodation, check out Interhome, which works a little like AirBnB: I used them about ten years ago and was very satisfied. Most of their rentals are for a week, but if you search you will find some for three days. Several of their properties are only accessible by car, so look at the location carefully before booking.

    Zurich is actually beautiful and interesting (with easy access to the lake), but it is not exactly cheap! Lucerne would probably be a more enjoyable place to stay, so long as you don't mind spending time on the train there.
  • skint_chickskint_chick Forumite
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    Blue264 wrote: »
    I haven't been to Interlaken yet, but it's on my hit list, plus a trip up the Jungfrau mountain. We're off to Davos & Klosters in 2 weeks time and I want to go up Schatzalp 'the magic mountain'. There are some great altitude walks there and the chance of a 1.7km toboggan ride down, but I doubt my OH will go for that.

    Davos is lovely - we went up Schatzalp last summer and it was just stunning, it's my favourite Swiss mountain. Jungfrau is super expensive, even with resident's cards for 2 of us 4 adults was about 500chf - eeek!

    Also be careful of the Sommerodelbahn in Switzerland - there appears to be zero health and safety in Switzerland and I got some huge bruises from falling off a very unsteady toboggan when I'd previously had no issues in Austria/Germany.
    "I cannot make my days longer so I strive to make them better." Paul Theroux
  • dilby00dilby00 Forumite
    123 Posts
    Hi all - thanks for the responses. Because it's only a short 3 day break I want to keep things simple. We'd be flying with BA (using avios) so flying into Zurich basing ourselves in lucerne seems to be a good option. I'm still just concerned that with the extra travel and logistics it wont be a relaxing 3 day break and I'm better off keeping it for a bigger trip. A quick break in prague or barcelona might just be simpler!
  • Blue264Blue264 Forumite
    1.6K Posts
    dilby00 wrote: »
    I'm still just concerned that with the extra travel and logistics it wont be a relaxing 3 day break and I'm better off keeping it for a bigger trip. A quick break in prague or barcelona might just be simpler!
    Not really. The transfer from Barcelona airport into the city centre is about 30 mins. The train station at Zurich airport is immediately beneath the airport, easily accessible by lift or escaltor from the main concourse, and it's an hourly direct service into Lucerne, which departs at 47mins past the hour and takes 1hr 2mins through some gorgeous scenery.
  • dilby00dilby00 Forumite
    123 Posts
    Hmm interesting, thanks BLUE264. Will check that out now. I guess my other concern though is if the weather isn't great, isn't the Swiss alps region likely to be more of a write off than a city? I'm worried about going there, it's foggy and rainy (like it's been lately) and you don't get the views etc.
  • andrewf75andrewf75 Forumite
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    I think you need to decide whether you want to be right in the mountains i.e. in a ski resort or in a city. While Lucerne is beautiful it’s still quite far removed from the kind of thing you might be imagining. You will obviously see the mountains all around from Lucerne, but they will be in the distance. Travel is very efficient in Switzerland so you would be able to get some kind of resort transfer taking an hour and a half or so.
  • dilby00dilby00 Forumite
    123 Posts
    Thanks Andrew - a valid point. If I base myself in a resort, will I still have good access to amenities, food, restaurants etc? (I've never done the ski resort thing before) and will we be considered strange for not skiing?
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